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   The other day (April 4, 1999)

I met an American tourist in the Taj lobby.

He was on his way to Pune, to visit the Rajneesh Ashram, and asked me for directions.

“It’s very easy,” I said. “All you’ve got to do is get in a cab and reach CSMT, they’ll take care of you from there.”

“Oh, CSMT,” said the American, “I know the place. That’s where I flew into Bombay yesterday.”

“Not Bombay, Mumbai,” I said.

“I beg your pardon.”

“You flew into Mumbai,” I said.

“I thought I flew into CSMT,” the American said.

“Yes, that also,” I said. “However, to go to Pune, you don’t fly out of CSMT. Or, you do fly out of CSMT, but not the CSMT you flew into, though you don’t have to fly out of any CSMT.”

“Is this a game?” the American asked.

“No, it is not a game, Indians don’t play games with American tourists whom they have just met,” I said. “What I am trying to tell you is that to go to Pune, you go to CSMT and take a train.”

“I see, your CSMT airport runs trains also,” he said.

“No, CSMT does not run trains, but CSMT does. But you can still go to Pune by CSMT that does not run trains, but not the CSMT that you arrived at, planes don’t fly to Pune from there, but from CSMT they do. However, I would advise you to avoid that and go by CSMT, it is much more convenient.”

“I don’t want to complain, but it was not all that convenient when I came,” the American said.

“Ah, but you did not come via CSMT, you came via CSMT, which means you had to travel at least ten times the distance you would from CSMT. However, not to worry, you will be going to Pune via CSMT,” I said.

“Is that it?” the American asked.

“Well, yes, unless you want to travel via the CSMT which

is near the CSMT, which is quite far from the

hotel, though not as far as the CSMT. The choice is yours,” I said.

“Is there any other way of going to Pune besides the CSMT?” the American asked.

“Yes, Asiad,” I said.

“What’s Asiad?”

“Oh, that’s the bus used for the Asian Games in New Delhi, but now used on the Mumbai-Pune run by ST,” I said.

“Is there any connection between CSMT and ST?” asked the American.

“Yes, you can travel to Pune by CSMT or ST, but not CSMT and not all ST. Best thing is to inquire with the hall porter before leaving which ST you should take if you want to avoid the CSMT. Though I still think the CSMT is the most convenient and probably faster than traveling CSMT, what with all the time taken in driving to Santa Cruz through the heavy traffic.”

“Look, isn’t there a taxi I can hop in and travel to Pune?” the American asked.

“Oh, yes, but for that you will have to go to CSMT to travel to Dadar to take a taxi to travel to Pune,” I said.

 
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