Life in an Indian Prison, or . . . ?
My wife and I were traveling in India back in 1990. Michelle had just finished her medical school residency and we decided to take a long trip to celebrate. Being young and not having very much money, we were traveling on a very tight budget. One evening, we were sitting in the lounge of our hotel in New Delhi and struck up a conversation with two Australian women. They had purchased Indian rail passes before leaving home and had used them during their vacation. The passes were valid for ten days after being stamped for the first time, but their passes had never been validated and therefore had no expiration date. Since they were heading home the following day, they generously offered us their passes. Michelle and I were very happy to take the passes because they would save us a few rupees in transportation costs, and after a little forgery, I changed one of the names from a female name to a male name.
Several days later, we took the train to Agra to see the Taj Mahal. We were comfortably seated and deeply engrossed in our novels when the conductor entered the car. Handing our tickets and passports to him, we both turned back to our books, trying as hard as possible to look innocent. For what seemed like hours, the conductor looked at the tickets, then the passports, then at us, then back to the tickets. The oppressive heat and humidity were taking its toll on me and I was dripping buckets of sweat.
After what seemed like an eternity, the conductor finally cleared his throat. "Ahem," he said loudly and with a lot of authority. Suddenly, I began to regret taking the train passes from the Australian ladies. What if the conductor notices that the names on the tickets are different from the names on the passports? My mind raced with visions of spending the rest of our lives in a decrepit Indian jail, jammed into a cell with dozens of other people who did not speak our language, having little to eat, and having no contact with the outside world. "I am terribly sorry," continued the conductor, "but you are sitting in the V.I.P. section." I began to apologize profusely, but was interrupted by the conductor. "You are supposed to be in the V.V.V.I.P. section."
Michelle and I were stunned and for a second didn't know how to respond. Finally, I blurted out that we were very comfortable where we were and that, if it was alright with him, we would stay in our seats. With a polite nod, the conductor left us and continued down the aisle, checking tickets. When he left our car, Michelle and I finally looked at each other and broke out in uncontrollable laughter. What a relief!
Message Edited by thepiranha on 03-13-2008 11:31 AM