Auspicious day?

Promotion in government service often entails change of station. Years ago, I had to move from Bombay (as it then was) to Ahmedabad, a virtual exile for a ‘Madrasi’. Tickled by the prospect of a new place, I rejected all ‘advice’ to seek a change. My father had consulted an astrologer for the most auspicious date for me to travel and my railway ticket was booked well in advance. I would go alone, find suitable accommodation and return to take the family.

After ‘handing over’ charge at Bombay, I could avail ‘joining time’ before taking over at Ahmedabad. I decided to hand over to a colleague on the afternoon of my departure in order to use the entire joining time at Ahmedabad. My office would complete the paper work by then.

The appointed day began ominously. News broke, just before noon, of a national leader’s demise. Announcement of holiday due any moment, pandemonium ensued as people started leaving office in droves. My staff were gone before I realised it, locking the forms store, leaving the paper work to me. Where do I get the requisite forms? I ran to the office next door. Same exodus again! Lucky for once, I found a person with a form.

Clasping it gratefully, I returned to my office, but my colleague had just left. Rushing down three floors, I nabbed him at the entrance and handed over the form signed by me, for necessary action.

Taking time to collect my personal papers, I stepped out finally, to find bus services in disarray and queues winding through side streets. Running hither and thither, I found my queue, only to stand still the next hour! All passing cabs had been taken. When one stopped at last, the driver demanded double the fare. Pressed for time, I agreed. My wife and a friend who was to drive me to the station were waiting anxiously at home. Downing a quick meal, I was ready to leave, but my wife couldn’t find the train ticket! One hour left for the train’s departure including half an hour to reach the station, I dumped my things hurriedly in the car and left, not knowing what I would do.

Hurrying into the station breathless, I cornered the ticket checker. “I had a reservation to Ahmedabad but misplaced the ticket,” I explained. “Would you let me travel please?” “No.”came the reply. Softened by my persistence, he said, “But you have to buy a new ticket.” I did, and sprinted to the train heaving my luggage weighing a ton as haggling with porters would eat up invaluable time. No sooner had I boarded, the train moved, marking the end of an eminently forgettable, yet ‘auspicious’, day!

The next morning, I found myself in Ahmedabad. My wife called up to say she had found the ticket. I didn’t ask where. Confronted with the trials I had endured, the astrologer countered, unfazed. ‘You did reach Ahmedabad in one piece, as planned, after all!’

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