A train journey across India

After a very long time I traveled long distance by train again. I was visiting IIT Bombay for their cultural festival Mood Indigo. I took the Duronto Express from Howrah to Mumbai CST. Not much to talk about the train itself. I was hugely disappointed by the service, the Rajdhani’s are far superior in terms of food as well as service. I did make a few observations about my fellow passengers and that’s what I will write about in this article.

Its amazing what some people get the time and desire to think about when they have nothing better to do. At one point of time the passengers in my side section were talking about Bengal. There were a Bengali family and a non-Bengali family. (I’ll refer to them as B and nB for ease of reference). One nB woman remarked that nBs don’t care about carrying umbrellas but a B will always have an umbrella ready in his/her bag/purse for rains. Now being a B myself, I might be driven to defend this apparent idea by saying it is a particular problem in Bengal that we may get rain in any season, something people from certain other parts of India may not be able to relate to. However I was much more interested as to why does someone have to make such an observation, why should they even bother to do so. So I started to intently listen to them. I realized from their talk that the woman did not even go out of her relative’s house even for a single day, and yet, here she was making remarks (seemingly very knowledgeable ones). I was further amazed by the B family’s reaction. They thoroughly agreed to her and said that all Bs are fools and always overcompensate in life. I wanted to scream WTF!!!

But I realized something, they were only talking all the rubbish in the world because they had nothing better to do. The nB woman made the remark simply because she had heard it from her relative and was intent on passing it as her own observation and in the process establish herself as a very wise person, she had not gone out of the house even once and had not seen Bengal at all. The B family wanted to look understanding and seem beyond such trivial foolishness, so they agreed and went on to state that none of them do such a thing. The funny part came at this point when the child of the B family remarked that the dad did carry an umbrella all the time, as did the mother and as did the sister (she’s young – school age girl – apparently her mother makes her carry it)!!! I so madly wanted to laugh.

Another laughable event occurred in my own section. I was sharing the section with two nB families – one based in Kolkata and another had come to visit Kolkata and was now returning. The visiting family had a senior woman who at one point was talking about her experience at Kalighat. (Those who don’t know Kalighat can google it up – its basically the primary worship temple in Kolkata, a very very ancient and revered temple.) She showed a particular injury on her arm and claimed that it occurred SPONTANEOUSLY when she was watching the deity idol. She claimed that it did not hurt and she had no idea when it had occurred but was absolutely certain that it occurred when the priest blessed her using the copper ladle to distribute holy water. She claimed that it was clearly like a tiger claw mark (there was no doubt it was a tiger claw mark – she remarked), the other woman also agreed that it was INDEED a tiger claw mark. I wanted to laugh because I could have showed an exactly similar injury on my leg, that didn’t happen anywhere near a temple but in my home when I brushed against a sharp nail jutting out of a furniture.

Strange how faith can twist reality and how easily people come to depend on faith and religion to explain little things in life. The woman claimed to have been blessed by the Goddess, no doubt that’s what she wanted to happen. I suppose I have been blessed many a times in my life then, cause going by the number of “Tiger claw marks” I have endured, I MUST BE SOME KIND OF SAINT.


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