Not just ticket checking, the Travelling Ticket Inspector (TTI) Valli steals the heart of the tourists through her singing talents on Nilgiris Mountain Railway (NMR) between Mettupalayam and Coonoor. Meet the Nightingale of NMR, who not only entertains but engages them by making them sing songs of their choice.
Singing in four languages—Tamil, Malayalam, Hindi and Badaga, the ever smiling NMR’s first woman TTI keeps the tourists mostly upcountry and within the country in good spirits all through the uphill journey. Quite interestingly, the ‘Antakshari’ is quite popular among commuters on this stretch.
Sadly, her life wasn’t rosy since she grew up in a family of seven members and her father Kuttiman, who was working as a pointman at Shoranur junction expired in 1983.
Luckily, Valli got a placement as a safai karamchari on compassionate grounds at Shoranur junction. Slowly and steadily, she got an upgraded posting from Palakkad to Coonoor in 1991.
Meanwhile, a circular for the TTE exam caught her attention, forcing her to make a try. However, she failed and emerged successful in her second attempt in 2011-12 and was posted to Coimbatore junction and worked at the information centre till 2015.
Following promotion as Travelling Ticket Inspector (TTI), she got posted to Mettupalayam junction.
Sporting a smiling face, she keeps shunting between Mettupalayam and Coonoor right from NMR departure at 7.10am and returning back to the base around 7pm.
The hilly route is nothing new to her since she had worked on station duty at Kallar, Adderly, Hillgrove, Runnymede, Kateri Road, Coonoor, and Lovedale.
Valli takes pride in being the first female TTI to work on NMR.
Valli has to her credit several awards including the ‘Everyday Heroes’ award presented to her in New Delhi by Railway Board chairman in 2018.
With well over 35 years service in Indian Railways, Valli said that NMR is close to her heart feels elated to serve the passengers in all possible ways right from any first aid or medical emergency enroute or at stations.
Blessed with two daughters and a son, she signed off on a sad note by saying that she will get relieved in April 2022 following superannuation.