About 10 more women ran into our box on the train at almost every stop…there are no other words that can be used to describe the scene other than every inch of the train was being used to it’s full capacity.
As the woman from the UP got up to move her things above her seat, along came a slightly older woman and quickly sat in her spot: an argument erupted. The most hilarious thing was that not only were the two women
who actually should be the only ones involved in this argument) were fighting back and forth, but four or five other women, one outside the train had joined in and taken sides.
“Aaji, you should know better than to take this UP woman’s seat, she has been sitting there for over 2 hours”, a college going girl scolded.
The best line was what I like to call a mar-hindi mix (mar means hit in marathi), or a marathi person’s way of completely destroying the hindi language.
A lady outside of the train exclaimed:
“Aree insaan manuski nahi dikhayega toh kaun dikhayega” (In english, if man doesn’t show compassion for his fellow human beings, then who will?)
The ladies spent about 10 minutes arguing and swearing at each other and then decided to make a compromise and share the remaining seat (it was a VERY tight squeeze).
As the journey went by, I heard the same argument over and over from almost every end of the train. Halfway through the experience, two elderly women stepped on the side corner of my seat and climbed up to the top compartment where ONLY luggage is to be stored, decided to use it as a top bunk, and settled in for a nap.
Through all of this though: all the arguing, fighting, swearing, discomfort of 50 people in a tiny compartment, the same women that had been grabbing at each others throats also chatted and laughed together the rest of the journey. The woman in the burkha showed me pictures of her grandchildren and the UP woman’s daughter came and sat in my lap to listen to music with me. The women complained to each other about the alarmingly expensive price of certain crops and how the next rain season would go.
Something I learned through observing all of this is that regardless of the discomfort that comes with a nation with a gigantic population sharing a tiny piece of land, there is still a sense of ownership and care for one’s “own”. That “I care for my own” attitude starts with living in large family units and never seems to end. If the other human being is of a different caste, its alright, shes still Hindu so shes one of mine. If the other human being is of a different religion, its ok, she is Indian so shes one of mine. If there is any 1 thing that I have learnt so far, its that no one people live by the phrase “love thy neighbor” more than the people of India.