|Most railway goods yards resemble buildings like these!|
At times, there would be no loads to handle and the men used to chit-chat and discuss everything under the sun. I was posted with a fifty something lady colleague, imagine how she would have felt when she first met me- a girl in her late teens with shortly cropped hair and brimming with worldly knowledge on communism and socialism. Well, all those 'isms' did not help me that fateful day. It was break time, all of us were happily seated in the enclosure called Dining Room having vada and kesari. The 'dining room' was actually a corridor hidden out of the office hall by a few rickety cupboards and we used to sit atop old wooden boxes, gifted by Hyder Ali to Tippu Sultan, probably! We were supposed to wear uniforms then, gentlemen in green shirts and navy blue pants and women in white blouses and blue sarees- uniform 'uniform' code! You won't know the difference between a clerk and a waterwoman, both in same sarees! Men usually come in colored attire and when someone comes for inspection, they keep few green shirts handy and change them in a wink. A few such green shirts always hung in our dining area. It so happened that day someone spilt kesari on the boxes and we cleaned the 'sitting area' with a green shirt hanging there. I promptly returned the used dirty shirt to the peg and after a fine break we were back to the office.
Who would not sleep after a hearty meal? Feeling too drowsy to even speak to my colleague, i folded my hands on the table and started sleeping in the sitting position ( i became a pro now, i can snore in any given position after working in Railways!). Officers of our department have the knack of doing surprise inspections at the most inopportune moments! That day, a senior officer from Chennai had come on surprise check and we absolutely had no idea of it. We usually have some 'night watch' and he came screaming - "abeeeeeeesar! abeeeeeeeesar!". Everyone sat upright, men ran into the dining room for uniform shirts and came back wearing them. Blessed me, i was still the 'sleeping Angel'. The Officer had walked in and saw me asleep. He tapped on my table and went forward. Hearing the tap, i opened half the eye and the person i could see was my supervisor in a green shirt! Something in his shirt front caught my attention- cleaned kesari splashed generously on his shirt all over!!! He was rather oblivious to this and was saying-" Good morning sir! Good morning Sir!" to the visiting official. I could not control my laughter looking at his kesari drenched shirt and his 'good morning'! I roared in laughter and only then did i notice a gentleman in front of me! Oh my! I stood bolt upright and said my " good morning" pensively. The official's face was masked, devoid of any expression, as it is, of all inspecting officials. He enquired my name and designation. Oh no! Not a good sign at all!
The after math of the sleeping episode was horrible, i was transferred to Reservation Office, where i could simply not sleep. As a mild punishment(?) i was posted in Enquiry- God i really sympathise with all those working there! There were four phones that would ring incessantly and i would keep on saying like a broken record- " Good morning Enquiry!" All my good mornings became gooey mornings after my sleeping escapade!!! Rule Number one that i learnt from this episode- " Never ever clean tables with green shirts!"