IT WAS VERY HOT when we decided to travel from Chennai Central Railway Station to the city’s Indo-Saracenic style High Court, which is about a mile away. A policewoman told us that it was too far to walk, so we must take a bus. Following her sensible advice, we boarded a local city bus.
As with all buses in India, there was a conductor on boarf who sold tickets. On enquiring the cost, we were told that the price was 5 rupees. We asked if that was per ticket or for the two of us. The conductor replied that my ticket was 5 rupees and that on his bus women travel free of charge. Then, he gave us two fragile paper tickets. One was marked with a large ‘5’ and the other was covered with Tamil script, but no ‘5’ (except a small one in the ticket’s six digit serial number). A friend, who reads Tamil, explained that the brown ticket without the large 5 reads ‘lady’s ticket’.
After travelling one stop, we disembarked in a busy street market, and walked about a quarter of a mile to the impressive, oriental-looking Court building’s, which were constructed between 1888 and 1892, to the designs of architects JW Brassington, Henry Irwin, and JH Stephens. As we had committed no misdemeanors and had no legal work to do, we could not enter the complex of buildings.
The saying goes ‘there’s no such thing as a free lunch’, but during our visit to central Chennai, we discovered that there is such a thing as a free bus ride!