Lin, continuing my series on travel, here is something I wrote for the LBC three years ago. We had another blogger participating in the consortium called Paul then, who had suggested this topic. There is a stement there about my father in the present tense. He became past tense two weeks later!
“The Oddest Place I’ve Slept In/On.
Flash back to 1961. I was a happy bachelor enjoying life at Hyderabad. To enable that life style I was also a wheeling and dealing salesman.
My late uncle PK, who was more of a father to me than my father ever was or is, was then in Bombay and had some work with Sirpur Paper Mills located in the backwoods of Telengana in Andhra Pradesh. Like he was wont to do, he decided that since he had to come so far anyway, he might as well come up to Hyderabad to meet up with his nephew and get him out of any scrapes if he had got into any. He sent a letter to me; those were the days when that was the preferred mode of communication as even trunk calls were difficult and to get me near a telephone would have been difficult; and requested, yes, requested, that I hire a taxi and come to Sirpur and meet him off a train from Bombay so that he could finish his work at Sirpur and return to Hyderabad with me in the taxi to spend a couple of days with me there.
Just to ensure that I met the train on time, which was early in the morning, I reached Sirpur the previous evening by around 6 pm. It was then that I discovered that there were no hotels or waiting room in the station and the entire town consisted of the station, a small restaurant and a police outpost. All serving people visiting the mills during the day time. I went up to the Station Master to ask his advise and he suggested that I sleep on a bench on the platform of the station.
I did not relish the idea as the single bench was occupied at that particular moment by an unsavoury looking character and so I went to the restaurant to seek advise. The Head Constable of the Police outpost was having some tea there and when I was talking with the owner of the restaurant over heard me and offered the hospitality of the outpost for the night to me. He added that there was a toilet too and that clinched the deal and I gratefully accepted his offer.
It was thus that I spent my first and not the only night in a police lock up. The cell was not locked as a courtesy to me, but it was an experience that I have never forgotten.
My uncle duly landed up the next morning and was flabbergasted with my story and could never stop teasing me on and off throughout his later life, about my going to jail for his sake.”