Thursday, August 23, 2007

Stench of poverty...

As I boarded subway (we call it LRT) back to home tonight and took my seat on the corner seat, an unfamiliar sight caught my attention. Six African Muslim women were sitting in the front row in their burqas. The sight would not have been odd, if it was some other part of the world but here in Canada, it raises a few eyebrows. As the subway was crossing the North Saskatewan river, my mind crossed seven seas and seven years back in time.

It was my last year in degree and me and my friends were returning back from Delhi to our hostel in Bidar (Karnataka). Usually, we would take luxury bus from Hyderabad, which would take 2.5 hours to reach Bidar but this one time we missed the bus as our train from Delhi got delayed. Our only choice was to take a local train that used to take 6-7 hours for the same route. We boarded the train late at night for an overnight journey. The train didn't had any booking left, so we had to buy general tickets. As soon as we boarded the train, we knew that this won't be a regular train journey.

The light inside the train compartment was flickering and was so dim that one wouldn't even realize it was there unless you noticed the flickering. The mood inside the compartment was even dimmer. It was the train of poverty. I had never seen so poor people before, maybe didn't even knew that such poverty existed in a country whose economy was booming or as our government was calling it, "India is Shining". 90% of the train was filled with poor Muslim families from Bidar and surrounding areas, returning from Hyderabad. One could see a sea of black burqas, which was making the dim room even dimmer. The look on the faces of the people could have depressed even the most happy soul.

The train would stop at the smallest of stations, which were never more than a shed with small kids selling water and tea like in the movie Swades. The stench of poverty in the train compartment would force us to come out to these small stations to get some fresh air but the women in those burqas would keep sitting inside tending to their crying babies while their men would go out to get some water/chai to drink. To me that train itself looked like a burqa of poverty that many people are never able to get out of. They can only see outside with their piercing eyes and only imagine what life would be without one.

We were relieved when we reached Bidar, our destination, but it seemed we left the train with its poverty and the people behind. We never talked about that train journey except that we would never take another one again.

I am not sure why but after seven years that same train journey came in front of my eyes tonight, as I saw those women. I think even though we may ignore certain images in our mind, they remain somewhere at the back of our head and some random images, like today it was the burqas and the train journey, may bring it back even though you tried your best to forget that stench of poverty.

7 Comments:

Blogger mehak said...

Main aa gaye!! ha ha ha ha

8:58 PM  
Anonymous kaush said...

I had dry gulp down my throat while reading this post. I think all of us somewhere have seen such poverty and we keep this image and this reality shut out of us until a similar event brings it all back. I guess life is such, there is a balance for everything.

9:26 AM  
Blogger Marlee said...

The Old one is reminiscing! :-P but I understand wat ir saying...I for one, live in the City amidst everything nice and comfortable aloneside with poverty. And yet I am oblivious to it, too caught up with my job and college, which i know is wrong. I also tend to forget how unsafe the situation is back home. But isnt that wat most of us do? put away the uncomfortable and "bad" things?

11:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmm...well yes...certain images do tend to invoke a whole train of thoughts related to it..and our subconcious mind is so powerful that no matter how much we try to forget certain events...they stay back....and then later...can even haunt us.
~~~~Aindrila

8:59 PM  
Blogger Well Heeled said...

Well, some images are like that, they just continue to stay and haunt. I really liked this post..it gets easy to get caught up in comforts around us and lose all perspective!

1:05 PM  
Blogger Ricky said...

mehak - Aake chali gayee, phir kab aayege :P

kaush - Yea, its true but I think we Indians have to do that to live a normal life. Although, I admire those people who spend their lives serving the less privileged. I am not that brave.

marlee - Yea yea, I prefer saying the more mature one...he he. Its not wrong to live your life Marlee because as I said, we won't be able to live normally if we keep feeling bad about poverty surrounding us. So, we Indians need to filter few things to live a normal life. I am not sure if its a right thing to do but that's the way I lived back there.

I agree with you on the last part. I know you won't be able to live if you keep thinking about things happening in your city/state. We sometimes need to trust that everything will be fine.

1:27 AM  
Blogger Ricky said...

Aindrila -Yea, I remember so few days of my hostel days but remember that journey vividly though I never talked about it or even felt bad about the journey then as I was more concerned about my own discomfort.

Well Heeled -Welcome to my blog!! Yea, it was almost a surreal experience for me. Thanks for liking the post.

1:30 AM  

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