I have been traveling a lot lately and have had no time to really write. Unfortunate, for I have so much to share yet no time to put it into words. I got around to reading a few blogs from those I like reading and was looking at a post by wildflower where she talks about how she likes observing people and this reminded me of something. Being an actor I do this almost unconsciously.
I wish to narrate an incident that occurred many years ago during my college days. I had got involved with a friend in doing business across Madhya Pradesh and this took me across the length and breadth of the state. Needless to say this involved a lot of traveling, and traveling in the best possible way as Gandhi had explained. The Indian Railways truly is a great learning arena. You meet and can observe all sorts here. I was on a journey from Jagdalpur an obscure town in the district of Bastar in the erstwhile large state of Madhya Pradesh before its division. My destination was
What I am about to tell you might sound completely unbelievable but I assure you it is a true story. I am one who does not like to differentiate between people but the world has evolved such that people behave and appear different and this helps us identify each other among the 6 billion plus that we are. I would like to state my disclaimer at this point as the community I am preparing to speak about is truly one of
I am a Malayalee and I have often heard the two communities clubbed together when people make statements like, ’cockroaches, Sikhs and Malayalees can be found anywhere on earth’. Now I take this as a compliment and I am sure my Sikh brethren too would. Through the rest of my post I shall refer to them as ‘Sardars’ as it sounds grander- incidentally Sardar is a term of respect for those of you who did not know loosely meaning ‘Chief’. Fortunately or unfortunately they, like Malayalees, are also the butt of numerous jokes probably due to jealousy arising out of their affluence and achievements – or so I thought. All this went through a process of rethinking that night.
At around 12 midnight (and I am not making this up, it really was 12 midnight), I saw a huge extended family of Sardars walk onto the railway platform to see someone off. The family included mothers, grandmothers, adolescents, men and cute children with their unique headgear. They were a very vocal group and the silence that had almost made me doze off had now been broken and I was on high alert. I went about my business of observing.
A few moments later I saw a child jumping excitedly next to a weighing machine – the typical one with a large multicolored wheel spinning in the glass encasing on top. He wanted to weigh himself. An elder, probably his father, walked up to him at which point the child stopped his commotion. The man asked him to stand on the scale and was about to insert a coin into the machine’s slot when the boy started screaming again. The boy wanted to insert the coin himself; a perfectly understandable emotion among children – they want to feel in charge. The father promptly gave the boy the coin. The boy tried to reach the slot but couldn’t as it was too high for him. The next thing that happened got me rattled and this is the point I had to reassess my views on ‘Sardar Jokes’. The man lifted the boy off the scale and asked him to insert the coin.