Without my blog, I would have never met this interesting young gentleman
“Remind me again, how do we know each other?”, I asked.
It is a fairly strange question to ask somebody after inviting him to meet you in your hotel. Well, in June, I had tried to meet him but I could not make time. He had insisted that I make some time for him in my future trips. Since my Durgapur trip got canceled, I took a chance to see if he had time.
I knew that somebody called Tirtha Tanay Mandal often posted comments on my blog. Especially the ones about fountain pens. He had surprised me with his knowledge of pens and had made a few shop suggestions for me to visit in Kolkata.
There was a guy a couple of years younger than me in school with a very similar name. I kind of assumed it was that person.
So when Tirtha walked in with his wife Tanushree, I was taken aback a little at how young they were. (barely reaching 30).
“Well, 6-7 years back, I had come across your blog while Googling something. Ever since then I have read your blog posts every single day.”
Looking at his wife, I asked “Have you folks had lunch?”
“No no sir. He has been crazy to meet you. Let’s just sit down and let him talk,” she said.
We moved to the Resident’s Lounge and asked for some soft drinks and cappuccino. And we started talking…
Forget about my blog – the guy is truly aa very interesting person. I was astounded to find out about one of his passions. He collects different tickets that had been in vogue over the years (literally centuries) for the various modes of transportation in India – bus, train, tram, ferries!!
I was not sure how much variety was there in it.
That is when Tanushree fished out an envelope from her bag. And from that envelope came out four ziplock bags. With some tickets in each one of them. That had been in circulation since the earlier part of twentieth century!!
Some of you who grew up in India when I was growing up might remember the bus tickets that used to be made from computer cards. Do you remember those olden days’ train tickets? You can see them in the picture. Apparently, those are called Edmondson tickets. I looked up in Wikipedia. Apparently that used to be a world wide standard in train tickets originally made in the 1840s by a cabinet maker!!
“So where do you get all these?”
Found out that there are forums, collectors’ websites for exchanges and all that. But Tirtha actually goes all over India to collect these tickets. For example, he waits till the crazy crowd Durga Puja season in Kolkata and then goes to buy metro tickets. Apparently, to manage all the crowds that are not used to automated systems, the metro system switches to the traditional mode of tokens!!
In his turn, he loved that I collect pens, old vinyls, CDs and all that.
“I have never found out what you call the hobby of collecting tickets”, said
By the way, trying Googling that. You will be surprised how many websites there are about people collecting bus tickets, movie tickets and all that.
That was not the end of it. Found out that Tirtha and I went to the same residential school (of course, he went a couple of decades after me). But he had the contacts of my hostel warden – who I had been looking for a long time.
As I started putting the ziplock bags back into the envelope and give it back to Tanushree, he immediately said… “No, no. Those are for you!”
“What? These are part of your collection.”
“That is okay. These are extras. I knew a person like you would value them.”
I was truly touched by the gesture.
To say I had one of the best afternoons of my life and learnt a lot would be an understatement.
We also agreed to start writing letters to each other!!!