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The story has all the essentials of a bad joke: A transportation worker, a drunken man, and a pigeon all get onto a bus. Unfortunately, after receiving a monetary fine and a written warning, the transportation worker is not laughing.


On a typical Thursday night, a 44-year-old bus conductor rested in his seat during a long journey. His government bus was the only one that connected Ellavadi, an isolated tribal village, and the regional urban center of Harur. As the bus worked its way through a large forest, the bus driver saw transportation department inspectors waving from the side of the road. Inspections were a typical part of this route. Neither the driver nor the conductor, who sells tickets to passengers, expected a controversy to erupt.


 As one of the transportation inspectors began checking tickets, he quickly focused his attention on one passenger. The individual, a 45-year-old man, drunkenly held a pigeon in his hands. He was speaking loudly at the bird, which did not have anything to say for itself. Rather than citing the passenger for disorderly conduct, the inspector asked the conductor if the pigeon had a ticket to ride the bus.


 The conductor stated that he had not issued the pigeon a ticket because the drunken passenger did not board the bus with the bird. Instead, the pigeon landed on the window ledge and the man simply grabbed it. Not believing this story, the inspector cited an official government rule. The rule states conductors must charge an additional one-fourth of the standard fare for any passenger transporting 30 pigeons.


 The conductor on the Ellavadi to Harur bus argued that the rule did not apply to a single pigeon. Nevertheless, the inspector wrote a memo (citation) against Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation (TNSTC). Additionally, he fined the conductor an undisclosed amount of money. A representative for TNSTC stated they are working hard to ensure no more pigeons fly into the buses.

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