I know it’s been a long time since the Republic Day and Independence Day is far away. But I did want to post this on a regular non-teaming-with-patriotic-sentiments day.
I boarded a bus to go to my college one day, it was mostly empty (an unusual thing), and so I chose a comfortable window seat, looking out the window. A few stops later a woman boarded the bus, with a child in her arms, inspite of many empty seats to choose from, she sat beside me. I gave her a smile and resumed my gazing out of the window exercise.
She opened the conversation after a few idle minutes. Asked me where I was going, in return told me the place she was headed to, she asked what I studied, in what year I was and so on. We chatted genially asking a few more general questions to and fro and then she dropped the bomb on me.
“You are a Patel?”
I told her I wasn’t; she was mildly surprised, told me I looked like one. Moments later she asked me again, “So what caste do you belong to?” With respect and the same genial manner I told her that I was a Christian.
She put her baby on her shoulder, grabbed her bag, and without a word got up from my seat and went to sit on another far away seat at the back of the bus. I was numbed with shock. Unable to believe what had happened. After a while I collected my thoughts, chose not to take it too personally and began gazing out of the window again!
The incident shook me to the core. The India about which I studied in a Social Studies class and the India I met in real life where stark opposites of each other.