Sunday, August 23, 2009



I take the 234 bus going to Sealdah Station. I'm sharing the back seat with 7 others in a bus so hot that we're almost sticking to each other with sweat. I am with with two close neighbors anyway. It's probably coming from me since I come from a cooler place, But as I bring my legs close to each other I can't help but noticing two wet marks on the outsides of my trousers. The ticket controller comes towards us through the standing and shaking crowd and points his index finger at us, one after each other, those who just got on the bus and have not yet purchased a ticket. We all start look into our pockets / wallets and get the change ready. Alternatively, it is perfectly fine to produce the smallest note available, quite usually a 10 Ruppees note. And that's exactly what the person to my right give to the man. By a lack of synchronisation between the two, the bill falls from the hand and slowly floats its way down to the ground. At this moment, the controller produces a "tkk tkk tkk" sound by slamming the tip of his tongue against his two front upper teeths. He bends, picks the note from the floor with his right hand. He stands again, affixes it briefly on his forehead then to the middle of his chest. He gives the note to the passenger who will do the same as him, before handing it back. The controller can then safely collect it, folding it in two the lengthwide before folding it again in the width around hone of his left hand's fingers ; All the left hand's fingers have one or a few notes placed around them the same way. He then grab a handful of coins from his money bag to count the right change and give it to the passenger, along with the ticket.

The 22:05 Darjeeling Mail to Darjeeling (West Bengal) departs from platform number 9. As it does so, the person sitting right in front of me brings his hands together before his chest and mumble a short prayer to himself, his eyes closed. He raises both his hands, still stuck together, to his forehead for about a second. He opens the eyes again and goes back to chatting with his mates on the same seat (to his right). Two of the three passengers on the seats to my right, next to the window, will do the same a few moments later.

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