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Lessons on a train journey – Part 1

Modern education is not synonymous with human culture or healthy value systems. I have heard of a highly educated MBA grad from the prestigious IIM and an engineer from the IIT, commit suicide. He is one of the 360 Indians who end their lives daily. Every four minutes a man or woman kills themselves in India and most of them have gone to higher secondary school. I have also often heard of educated and wealthy men cheat innocent masses for more money. And ironically, during my travels I even come across not so well-to-do men and women who uphold human values against all odds.

Recently while travelling back from Mathura to Mumbai in the Rajdhani express, I made friends with a coach attendant who reconfirmed my theory.

I rose at 2.30 am and was unsure of chanting my prayer mantras on beads because fellow passengers were fast asleep. I didn’t want to disturb them. I came to the door of the coach and made myself a seat on the floor. Against the backdrop of the loud rattling of the speeding Express, I softly murmured my prayers. At Vadodara my eyes fell on our coach attendant who hurried with an empty bottle at the station, eyeing for drinking water. He couldn’t find a tap close and he didn’t have the confidence to rush a little further away. The train halts only for a few minutes, and the next stop would be more than two hours away. Unsure, he paced back and forth and finally boarded the coach back with an empty bottle- he couldn’t get water. Intrigued, I stopped my chanting and asked him if he was thirsty and he vigorously shook his head in the affirmative. I rushed to my own seat and picked up a one litre bottle and no sooner I gave him, he gulped the whole thing in one go. I knew he was really famished. Relieved, he smiled at me- that’s the Indian way of saying a big thank you.

I probed him. “If you were thirsty, you could have picked up a bottle from the seventy plus passengers in this compartment. They are all fast asleep and each one of them has two bottles. Over a hundred bottles are lying here; why didn’t you pick up one and quench your thirst?”

To be continued….

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