Hariprasad Asawa has over 1,450 railway tickets preserved since 1966, and is aiming for a place in the Limca Book of Records

Hariprasad Asawa is one name the public sector giants fear to hear.

This 65-year-old from Sirpur - Kagaznagar revels in laying bare the claims of accuracy and perfection by institutions held high in the public consciousness.

After poking fun at the Reserve Bank of India (The Hindu, August 12, 2009) for its innumerable gaffes pertaining to the repeated serial numbers on the currency notes, the absence of the maxim ‘Satyameva Jayate’, and the picture of Parliament building printed without pennant and dome, he is back with the satirical smile yet again, this time to attack another megalith, the Indian Railways.

Mr. Asawa, a record-holding numismatist in the Limca Book, now aims at its annals once again for his collection of railway tickets. He has over 1,450 railway tickets from all divisions, preserved since 1966, when one could buy a ticket for 10 paise.

“I rarely surrender my ticket to the Ticket Examiner and there were times when I had to fight for it. My collection reflects the length and breadth of India. Once I clocked 1800 kilometres in 36 hours between Jodhpur and Kagaznagar via Jaipur and Delhi,” Mr. Asawa recollects.

The collection includes platform tickets, tickets for supplementary charges, reservation tickets, luggage tickets, and simple journey tickets. Even the National Rail Museum in New Delhi does not have a few tickets that Mr.Asawa proudly displays.

Prized among his possessions is a 30-paise ticket for the four-kilometre journey between New Delhi and Old Delhi.

“In those times New Delhi belonged to Northern Railway, and Old Delhi, to the Central Railway,” Mr. Asawa chuckles.

Eye for minute details

His passion does not end with the collection.

His eye looks for details that are out of the ordinary, more so if they display the failings of the issuing organisation. Thus emerge the tickets with discrepancies in distance and price, a ticket costing 3.01 paise, and even a waybill for livestock issued as a ticket for human travellers.

“The train to Nizamuddin is called Nizamuddin Express on the onward journey. But on the return journey, the ticket shows it as Dakshin Express even while the announcement mentions it as Nizamuddin. How can a first-time passenger know that that Dakshin is in fact Nizamuddin?” he questions.

Juxtaposed in his album are two tickets from Sirpur-Kagaznagar to Nizamuddin, one citing the distance as 1375 kilometres and the other issued ten years later, but showing ten kilometres less!

“I have tickets issued in succession, but showing different distances. How does the Railway server explain that?” he questions. One is tempted to ask the authorities if the Earth actually breathes!

Mr. Asawa can be contacted on 92913-35555.

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