Friday, September 29, 2006

The Difference...

At the risk of sounding cliched like another one of the countless Indians in the US of A, I wonder aloud. Why are their cities so clean? Where do all the plastic bags, papers et all go? The answer to this doesn’t require genius. They go where they should, in the waste-bins. And who puts them there? Not the civic authorities. The very people who use them.
The other morning I noticed a well-attired man in a public restroom cleaning his shoes with a tissue. After he was done he tossed the tissue towards the waste basket. It however landed outside. Now if this same situation had occurred in India, 99% of the time the paper would be lying there alongside many others. However the guy took the trouble to pick it up and put it into the bin. Took him a just a few seconds. But he did his part.
When we ape the west, when we go to any lengths to get ‘westernized’, why don’t these things ever get imbibed in us? Why do we ape only what is wrong?

Sunday, September 17, 2006

The Co(i)nman

Early morning at the Chicago Union Station. I wait along-with about a dozen other equally drowsy passengers. Conversation is non existent, most people just staring at the tracks willing the train to arrive. Enter a decent American man dressed formally for work. He carries a briefcase. Having nothing better to do I stare at his actions. All the benches are occupied and I wonder where he plans to sit. However his objectives differ. Without the slightest glance at the other passengers he heads towards the bank of payphones. I chuckle at the thought of the expletives with which he might be greeted if he were to call a fast asleep Indian. However he does not call. With the skill of a seasoned veteran he glides across all the phones, checking the coin-return slot of each with his index finger. In a jiffy he is done and apparently unsuccessful, he heads to earn his living in other conventional ways!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Musings on Rails - 3

I woke up quite early. For a few moments I tried to fathom which direction I was going in. I am not among the directionally challenged but still at times I get the feeling that the train is going in the opposite direction when I do not have the reference of an open window. In a short while the attendant came around with tea and breakfast. Around the same time the train pulled into a station. I looked out curiously. The railway station in the morning displays a different facet altogether. There were quite a few families sleeping on newspapers next to their luggage. The waiting room was overcrowded and woefully inadequate. Predictably, there was a huge line of people outside the loo. While some chose to endure the agonizing wait, others with more urgent needs sought out greener pastures! (literally!) Food stalls were already crowded with patrons. The station was waking up.
Soon the train departed and gradually neared my destination. As we neared the city the track-sides began to get filthier. I have observed this plagues that even the most developed of cities. The approach to the city is always through filth, garbage and tiny children playing dangerously close to the trains. I often wonder why this is the case. Maybe due to the undeveloped railway land around the tracks. But whatever the reason, it is not a pleasant welcome to the city. More like putting ones worst foot forward.
After the mandatory stop at the outer signal, I reached my destination. As I walked away, a part of me was sad at leaving this world behind. But soon others would experience this world from the place I vacated. And I promised myself to get back again as soon as I could. It’s a promise I haven’t fulfilled to date…