A few months back when I was in Delhi, I was returning from an yet another official trip from the hills. I was relieved that my boss stayed back and I would have some "me-time" while travelling back. Got the aisle (aargh!) seat with a guy occupying the window seat. Middle seat awaiting.
Then a tall non Indian girl entered the coach followed by her travel agent with her ticket copy at her hand. She stopped near me and said "that's me" pointing to the middle vacant seat. She had this huge huge suitcase probably weighing more than 20 kgs. She tried to attempt to lift it to put it above the seats, but she could not. Male passengers around pretended to be very busy on the phone. And she was talking to her agent that how will she get it down, how will she leave it at the aisle etc etc. Then i intervened and told her "you sit down, we can ask the pantry staff to help pick it up and put it down".
Suitcase above our heads, all well seated and the train started with a jolt. And of course, when two ladies are sitting side by side, there will be few exchange of words. Lets refer to her as M. An Ukrainian tall blonde lady in her early thirties. With a bright blue covered Ukrainian book in her hands. My eyes kept going to the book. And we started talking.
She has worked in Delhi for a period of almost 1 year previously. But this time, she was in India with a mission. To find peace and some meaning. She was returning after attending a program in an ashram somewhere in the hills. She is a revolutionary, actively involved in the ongoing Crimean crisis. She described her entire experience. How people have died, how people are surviving, the attitude of her old friends and grandparents towards the revolution of Ukrainian versus Russia. How her mother is actively involved in this and how her father prefers to support this war monetarily and not physically. She narrated how this war has broken her mental strength and she was no longer able to cope with the death and sacrifice of her countrymen. She could no longer be happy. She started to hate people laughing around her because how can they laugh with so much pain around. How can one find happiness and peace amidst this war.
She stumbled upon this ashram after much research. Coincidently last time she was in the hills partying with her friends, she had taken a photo of the same ashram name and then completely forgot about it (realised later). But then it was meant to be. She registered and she is so glad she made it. She felt the connection and successfully experienced the "spinning mantra". The program did her good and she says she feels much stronger now. My eyes were still darting towards that book in her hand.
After some time, I went back to my book and she, to hers. She started telling me the plot of the book. Author was Viktor Frankl writing about his experiences of surviving a concentration camp. WAIT! I told myself I know about this book I quickly opened my lap top and there it was in pdf formal, the e book "Man's Search for meaning" by Viktor Frankl!! My God, what a coincidence! Out of all the million books, we both had the same book, one in pdf format in English and hers in bright blue cover in Ukrainian.
Finally after 6 hours of travelling, we finally reached Delhi. She would be staying in a hotel in central Delhi and since it was on my way, I offered her a lift in my radio cab. After taking down her fb contact, we said our byes and I left for home. Imagine what my driver said. "Madam, you became friends with her in train? I had picked her up from XYZ Mall around 3 weeks back at 2 :30 am in the morning with a man and dropped her to this very same hotel". There was a slight undertone in his voice which I did not like. I understood what he was trying to say. And I thought to myself that maybe we need to revolutionize ourselves and our society. People are dying in some part of the world for the sake of their country in gruesome circumstances. We can do better than being judgmental, I guess.