Oh my god! We were going on a pair of tickets – each priced at Rs 50,000. For me it was the highlight of going for the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games 2010. A pair of tickets — albeit complimentary — worth two months' salary. Phew! I spent Sunday morning calling all my relatives and friends about the development.
So there we were, the two of us. I'd checked the previous night with a friend in Delhi Police who had advised me to reach by 4.30 pm for a ceremony that was to start at 7 pm. To be on the safe side, we decided to arrive an hour earlier than that. Friendly volunteers guided us to a queue to gate number nine.
But where exactly did the queue, of people waiting for both gate number nine and six, end?
The man in my life was unperturbed. He was, after all, not a native Delhiite like me, and had never been to any such event. I was a little taken aback but perhaps that was because in the 1982 Asiad, I'd gone in through another gate, holding my mother's hand and escorted by a police officer to the VVIP enclosure.
I thought to myself, "Okay, this is just the security point for the first gate. After that, we'll separate with the minuscule elite group who hold tickets (please note: each worth Rs 50K)."
People who joined the queue included men wearing ties and formal suits and elaborately coiffured women. I'd smartly opted not to visit a beauty parlour on my way for 'bridal make-up'. I smirked because I hadn't worn three-inch golden sequined stilettos either.
After about 20 minutes had passed, a man near me — he obviously could not stand the sweaty odours emanating from all around him — grumbled: "They're treating us like this when we have such expensive tickets."
And back piped a voice: "Each one of us in this queue have the same tickets priced at Rs 50,000. Like you, we haven't paid for them either, they're complimentary." It was the Emperor's New Clothes all over again.
The faces in that queue were a dictionary definition of the phrase 'let down'. Barring a little boy who held a Rs 1,000-worth pass and wanted to see a ticket that said Rs 50,000 (even if it was stamped complimentary), the game was up.
The whole bunch of bureaucrats or their relatives around me realised that there were thousands of people holding the precious Rs 50K, 25K and 10K tickets all around them. Some had the grace to look ashamed when they realised there were in fact people in the queue who had actually paid for their Rs 1,000 tickets.