The station master of the local suburban station came and stood near me, “There’s an award for the best kept station,” he said spitting a wad of betel nut onto the platform.

“Interesting,” I said, as I watched the red juice flow all over the concrete surface.

“This station will win that award,” said the man with a determined glare.

“You’ll have to work hard at it,” I said, as a pair of urchins used the railway track as their toilet.

“It will be a great day for the people of this suburb,” he said

“I am sure they will be delighted,” I said and watched horrified, as an old lady slipped on the red paan juice and fell on the ground.

“Stupid woman,” said the station master as he watched the public pour water over the old woman’s face to revive her. “See, how they will dirty the platform. It is very difficult to educate people in our country. Come let us move from here and have some tea.”

The canteen boy at the tea stall poured some soapy water into a glass, rinsed it, threw it onto the platform and then grinned at the station master.

“He always washes the glasses when he sees me,” said the station master proudly. He knows I am very particular about cleanliness!”

“Then the award is yours,” I said.

“Of course it’s mine,” said the station master moving quickly out of the way of a passenger gargling after he had eaten a vada pav. Of course we will win it.”

“You better start working at it right now,” I reminded him again, as asuper fast rushed past the station raising a cloud of dust and blackening everybody’s face.

“I have already worked on it,” said the now sooty station master. “You can be assured the award is mine.”

“The cleanest station in the city!” I exclaimed, trying to wipe the soot off my face.

“All the newspapers will write about it,” he said.

“You have a lot of work to do, you should talk to all your juniors and other workers in the station immediately,” I suggested.

“They are overjoyed,” said the station master happily.

“Overjoyed”? I asked watching a sweeper woman sweeping all the garbage from the platform onto the railway tracks. “Don’t they realize they will have to work very hard to win it?”

“We have already won!” said the station master, giving me a hefty pat and laughing as I just managed to avoid slipping on a banana skin.

“But, the award will be announced only at the end of the year,” I said, holding onto the station master’s coat and nearly fainting with the terriblesmell from it.

“Ah,” said the station master kicking a mangy stray dog on its behind and putting his hand around me. “I forgot to tell you the railway minister’s brother is a close friend of my sister’s husband. What’s a small favour among friends..!”

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