Wednesday, March 4, 2009

This is tolerance

I sometimes wonder why we 'citizens' tend to react even at trifles and trivialities.  For instance, in traffic when someone honks behind us or someone overtakes from the left we get easily annoyed and shout at them.  Or worse still, in the rainy season when someone else’s wheel splashes dirty water from a puddle on us, we know at what speed the adrenalin shoots up and how impulsively we react.  Someone has to remind and calm us “Okay, cool down, cool down”.  They say, such impulses are due to stress, if not a bad habit!

I was traveling in a 'passenger train' recently.   True to its reputation, the compartment was overcrowded with passengers, its typically awful dirty condition what with missing planks of seats and the luggage shelves [which are also climbed and occupied].  The Railways perhaps know how tolerant people are and give lowest priority for mending these trains!!  But that is not the point here.

I had managed to get a seat in one such compartment filled with its own class of people on the whole, mostly daily commuters either from villages or traveling from work.  This train stops at every little station.  This is one train that also satisfies many vendors - tea/coffee, fruits, peanuts, snacks, churmuri and really, whatnot.  

There was one clumsy man comfortably sitting cross-legged on the broken luggage shelf above me.  He bought a ‘chota tea’ from a vendor who supplied in an environment-unfriendly plastic cup. Such was the rush that both the tea and the money had to be passed by someone!  He was already been opening shells and eating peanuts, he had just bought.  Shells were being pushed on to the passage, between standing passengers. So his hand was not free for tea.  He kept that cup precariously on the broken part of the shelf.  A minute later, his knee tipped the cup accidentally.  He was careless to keep there in the first instance.  The cup and entire liquid came down on the trousers of a young man, who looked like from hailing from a village, sitting next to me. I thanked my stars as I was not in line of the tea-fall.

I expected a fistfight to add to the 'entertainment'.  Now what he did?  He just paused for a second, got up holding the messy part with his thumb and index fingers, went to the tap for cleaning the part, passing through the cheek by jowl crowd, returned with a one-side-half-wet pant!  No words passed.  He did not seem to mind one bit at all.  All others continued their gossip as if this was commonplace!   

Could his calm behaviour be attributed to the less stressful ‘village atmosphere’ or his own nature?  I wonder.  Anyhow, that exposes us city-dwelling ‘so-called-educateds’ what we might be lacking!  Why cannot we show a level of tolerance he showed?



Makes you want to think - the thoughtlessness of the passenger with his peanuts and tea, and the calm, cool nature of the young man.

LakshmiBharadwaj said...

wow, that is amazingly tolerant...this makes you want to think further too...are we so stressed out in the cities that we fail to be calm in such situations? or does tolerance have nothign to do with our background? Is it natural to us? Very interesting post.

GW said...

This reminded me of a quote which, though originally spoken of women, applies to all people:

"A woman is like a tea bag. You never know how strong she is until she gets into hot water."

-- Eleanor Roosevelt