Traveling in sleeper class ain’t easy, specially when its a journey from West Bengal (Kolkata) to Bihar, two of the poorest and states in India. But it is far more interesting than difficult – people trying their best to accommodate more people than the number of reservations, authentic village lingo, and the aroma of that ‘freshly’ made ‘ghar ka khana’. But then again a pretty normal scenario. So what was different in this journey?
Yes, leg space. That beautiful blue floor of the train compartment meant for urgent visits to the not so very well kept toilets, were occupied with plastic chairs, drums of 20 lts of paint, plastic water tankers etc.
Now think about it. Why would someone lug such things for over 500 km’s, when they can easily procure it within a 5-50km radius from their homes?
Me whose Kindle Reader & iPhone both were out of charge, and having no other source of entertainment decided to find the cause. So here goes-
The problem lies with the psychology of the mob. They have this notion that, whatever they get far away from home would be,
1) Cheaper 2) Of a better standard
I can’t argue much on (1), though I personally believe that the price difference on these things is never too much. However as far as (2) goes, well, its the bloody same product! “Asian Paints” emulsion being sold in Bihar has to be same as the ones being sold in Kolkata & “Supreme” chairs have to be of the same quality everywhere!
Now why do they carry things like on their way back home?
I get a little insight on this from the staff at my father’s restaurant. Many of our workers in the Andaman Islands are from Bihar. When they return home after earning a considerable amount of money, they make it a point to take home something for their family and friends! It is a kind of a ‘moral obligation’ on them. The Same happens when you go out on a vacation, a gift for every loved one becomes compulsory. Since they belong to the lower income group, their spending power is naturally very less. They cannot really think of fulfilling their wants, so they just match their needs (think of those economic lessons taught in college).
Now when returning home (harboring a moral obligation of taking home something) they just take the things they need and ignore their wants and truthfully I respect their psyche!
Thank you, Snehal Kanodia for editing the post!