I was waiting at a crowded metro station for the train to come. It was hot and sultry, my shirt was sticking to my back. I was dreading the jostle that would follow the arrival of the train. My companion was oblivious; she seemed not to have a care in the world. The crowd did not daunt her the way it got to me. How I envied her!
I hate traveling in crowded public transport in India. So many times, I have picked up a fight. I remember an educated young guy, who was sitting too close for my comfort in a bus, telling me to travel by auto when I objected and asked him to move aside. Another time, I just took a cigarette from a guy’s hand and threw it out of the bus window because he would not stop smoking even after repeated requests. There have been wandering hands (on so many occasions) in my direction and my loud protests, even an occasional pushing away someone rudely and physically. All these scenes were passing through my mind while I was waiting.
Finally, the train arrived and I moved along with my friend to board it. Somehow, we were the first few people to get inside. I was bracing myself to face the crowd as they started pouring in. My jaws dropped up to my knees as I found people, guys actually, tiptoeing around me to get in.
No, I was not dreaming. I was boarding the train in Singapore (it was way back in 1999) and it was my first ever visit abroad. Having experienced only the Indian crowd (which is rowdy in most of the cities, apart from a few exceptions) I expected the same hassles there. My friend had been staying in Singapore for the past three years and thus was totally unconcerned.
How I wish this scene would become true of India in my lifetime, but I have very little hope.
-Action Hero Mridula