Thursday, October 14, 2004

Trains… potting

Lalu Prasad, in his avatar as rail minister, has managed not to screw up the Indian Railways the way he did his home state. Surprisingly, services seem to have improved since he became rail mantri. How do I know? Well, if you happen to have sundry relatives dropping in at your place for the better part of the month, the frequency of your interaction with the biggest public sector employer in the country tends to be a trifle more than is good for your mental health. Which is why I had been nursing homicidal thoughts towards the owner of the voice that would sing-song; "Namashkar, railway enquiry, sabhi operator vyast hai, kripya thori der pratiksha kare". Every time I called up 131 to enquire about train arrival timings, this voice recording would play a trillion times, pushing me to imagine things that would make even Hannibal Lecter blanch, before a bored voice (a real one this time) answered. On the other end, a voice would gruffly enquire why I had dared to disturb him from contemplating the consistency of his snot. And before I could mumble my question he would have rattled off his answer and banged down the phone.
Imagine my surprise then, after having dialed the number and steeled myself for another assault on my sanity, I get a prompt answer from the other side. The female voice sounded helpful instead of being harried. She heard me out, and let me know that the train was on time.
I reached the station at the appointed hour, singing hosannas to Lalu’s administrative skills. And then the PA system crackled to life: “Train No 2313 Sealdah Rajdhani, coming via Gaya, Mughalsarai, Aligarh is running late by 2 hours. The inconvenience caused is deeply regretted.”
Oh yeah! Well, I’ll make sure you regret it, you b****!

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