Delhi, Agra, Shimla Study Tour|
by: Jennifer Kumar
Before detailing the exploits of the North Indian Tour, I would like to give a brief introduction to the readers about this tour. As a course requirement of M.A. Social Work, each year the senior (II years) class will plan as a class to visit places outside Chennai on a study tour. The purpose of the ten day tour is to gain a broader understanding regarding the scope of social work in different cities and villages outside of Tamil Nadu. The class will elect a secretary and a person to moderate discussions. The class had narrowed the selection to Delhi, Agra and Shimla after debating other routes such as Darjeeling and Calcutta, Hyderabad (Andhra Pradesh), Bubeneshwar (Orissa) and Patna (Bihar), and Bangalore, Pune and Bombay. The purpose of the trip is realized through the visiting of social work agencies in various fields and practice settings. The students also choose and plan the agencies which are visited, the sight seeing and accommodations.
This was the schedule as planned before leaving Chennai. While reading my accounts, you will notice the drastic changes!
Schedule of events:|
9:30 pm Departure from Chennai to Delhi by train.
Traveling on train.
6:55 am Arrival in Delhi.
Today’s scheduled visit: World Vision, India.
Scheduled visits: Delhi School of Social Work, Indian Social Institute
Travel to Agra.
Scheduled Visits: Lok Kalyan Samiti, Bharatiya Adimyati Sawak Sang.
10pm – board train to Kalka.
Go to Shimla.
YMCA visit. Leave Shimla at 5pm.
Visit Central Social Welfare Board.
9:30pm depart Delhi by train.
Morning arrival in Chennai.
My class at Taj Mahal
Foreign scenery in India - foothills of Himalayas - town of Shimla
The Bahai'i Lotus Temple, Delhi
Today the class is leaving for the trip.
Once I read that Gandhiji had said the best way to see India is by train. So far, I have traveled to Hyderabad and Bangalore by train, now I am able to visit Delhi by train. The difference this time is that I will be on the train during the day time (previously I rode only at night, so I couldn’t see anything), and this train will take 2 nights and 1 day.
I had no particular feeling before going, no excitement, anticipation, fear, nothing. This trip is being taken with my class only, so I have to adjust to them. This means I know I can’t go see any temples. I am a bit sad about this, but then life is long, maybe I will get another chance later in life!
I packed only three dresses, two light dresses and one heavy dress for Shimla. My classmates tell me Shimla is cold, but how cold can it be if it is in India? Anyhow I did pack a pair of socks and my friend Kavitha has brought me a heavy headscarf. I also have a thick blanket and hope to buy a shawl in Delihi since I heard you can get good shawls in Delhi. Let’s see.
Well a few of my classmate’s families had come to see them off. They stayed in the station a few hours, then saw us off. It is so nice that their families come like this. When they asked me if my guardians would see me off, I said no.
One of my classmates gave a big shock to me today. She comes from a poor background, and she has out of her own will and funds prepared and brought with her enough food for 25 persons (all classmates and our two teachers) to last us for two to three meals! This was the kind of caring and generosity I never saw before. Even my classmates who were ‘richer’ did not think of doing this, but this girl, who is so selfless has done this for us. I was really touched.
Today we were on the train for the full day. Indian trains are very comfortable in some aspects when compared to Amtrak. For one, we all had sleepers, or berths. It is not that much more costly. The train is set up such that there are ‘open compartments’ where the ‘inner compartment’ holds six members for sleeping, and the outer compartment, or the one ‘in the isle’ holds two members for sleeping. The berths are one on top of another, each berth is about 6.5-7 feet in length and about 3 feet high. During the day the top two berths are ‘chained’ up so the passengers can sit freely. There are fans in this class, as we did not get a/c class. The biggest problem with Indian trains, though, are the toilets.
Toilets usually aren’t that clean and not so much water is available to flush the toilet. They have both a western commode and Indian toilet. I suggest that you would never use the western commode because usually most Indians do not have proper etiquette and dirty the toilet seat. The Indian toilets aren’t much better, but at least you don’t have to sit on any ‘seat.’ In both cases the toilets empty straight onto the railway tracks. Hence, don’t go walking on the railway tracks in India, it is very dirty!
The train did not pass through any big cities, just small towns and mostly villages. Especially as we approached North India, we had the opportunity to see a lot of monkeys!
We reached Delhi early in the morning. Just before reaching the station, a big group of eunuchs jumped on the train. Eunuchs are quite common in India, especially in big cities. If you see them, give them at least Rs 10 or they will bug you. But as we were a big group, we did not give any money to them. They can be really very mean to people if you tease them in public and/or don’t give them money. Eunuchs are persons born with both male and female genitalia. Usually, in India, they will wear sari, as the majority of them decide to become women. They almost look like women, but they are very tall and also a bit masculine, especially in their voice, or they may have facial hair. If you see them, please don’t tease them. Once, I was in another part of Chennai, and my classmate, not knowing who these people were, started laughing upon hearing a sari dressed person sounding like men. These Eunuchs almost came and bashed us. They followed us around Chennai for about an hour. We got so scared because they will bring a whole crowd of ‘friends’ back to do you in. Luckily, we got away without being mobbed by them. Just beware!
Delhi train station was so clean and also this was the place I saw the first vending machine in India! There were no beggars on the platform (this day), so we freely walked out of the station. There was a police van arranged to take us to our accommodation. Driving on the streets of Delhi in this location was not like any place I ever saw in Chennai. The roads were wide, well-planned, clean and free of pavement dwellers and beggars. I also did not see any slums on this route, hence these roads were very clean! On this route, I also saw many big shopping complexes with shops like Lee and United Colours of Bennetton. I also saw many western fast food restaurants like McDonald’s and Wimpy Burger.
Actually, yesterday was Krishna Jayanthi (Lord Krishna’s Birthday). This holiday is celebrated only one day in Chennai, but in Delhi, it happens for two days. Hence, even today while passing the temples, we saw them brightly decorated and lit up nicely.
We arrived to our accommodation, a church which was owned by our classsmate’s family. Actually, they live up stairs and the church is downstairs. The arrangement was that the thirteen of us girls would sleep upstairs in two rooms, each the size of about 12 ft by 12 ft, and the boys would sleep in the church downstairs. I was feeling this was so crowded because there were two queen size beds in the rooms. Instead of sleeping two per bed, we ended up sleeping four per bed and the remaining persons somehow crowded into the small spaces on the floor. Also, for all 13 of us girls, we had only one bathroom! I knew this would not make the morning bathing rituals easy, but at least their ‘bathing room’ was separated from the room with the toilet, so this eased some tensions!
Actually their apartment was above the church to the backside, so directly above the church was a flat roof. Many houses in India have flat roofs. Usually this space is used for gathering when people come, for drying clothes or even for sleeping! In the summer when the nights become too hot to stay inside the house (especially if the power goes out), the people may spread water on their roof and lay up there to sleep, since it will be a bit more cooler. We did not sleep there, as we managed to squeeze like sardines into the two rooms inside their apartment. We used the flat roof area to dry our clothes and for eating our meals. There was also a tap to the back right of the roof, where we washed our plates and hands after eating. One eating habit I could and still can’t adjust easily to are two. One is why is it that most people do not wash their hands before eating, especially when they use their hands (not fork, spoon or other utensils) for eating? And the other, is why after finishing, don’t people wash their hands thoroughly? They do wash their hands before and after eating, but only with plain water, no soap! I never can understand that. Anyhow, that is just my pet peeve I guess, since I was raised to wash my hands with soap before and after eating, though we hardly touched our food with our hands while eating!
Around four pm, we went for our first agency visit, to Christian Medical Association of India. This agency was within walking distance, so we went by walking. After returning from the agency, which was hurried since they closed at five pm, we went to a nearby park.
I guess Delhi has a lot of parks. This is something I missed in Chennai. There are, of course parks in Chennai, but mostly people don’t go to them since they became unsafe due to infestation of beggars laying around pestering all who come in for money. Here, in Delhi, it was just like any park in US city I have seen. Families were here, some people came jogging, I saw a few lovers holding hands, and even some mothers pushing babies in baby strollers! It was so peaceful inside. There was also a section of the park with jungle gyms, slides, swings, and other outdoor toys for children. Our class decided to play some tag-like games, and this proved to gather passers by into a crowd to watch these college kids run and tag each other!
After finishing the park, it was already dark. We started back to the resting place. On the way, we stopped and had a few Delhi treats from the roadside vendor. I strongly suggest foreigners do not take these things as they are not usually prepared under sanitary conditions, but I tried my luck. First, I had my favorite, pani puri. Pani puri is a snack which consist of puris – small one inch diameter round puffed breads, and a spicy water mix with dhal and potato pieces. First you take the puri (breads) and puncture the top with your finger and pour the pani (water) into the top and stick the whole thing in your mouth at once. As this is a North Indian snack, my classmates minus the girl from Delhi, did not know how to eat this, let alone have seen it before. So, in some way, I guess I taught my classmates about this North Indian delicacy! We also went for a nice fruit juice at the nearby juice stand. This was very refreshing.
Every evening before sleeping, the class will gather and have an evaluation. The purpose of this evaluation is really to discuss how we can do better. But mostly people end up spitting out a lot of criticisms, and it is mostly dominated by the boys.
We have one classmate in particular who is elder to the rest of us by 3- 5 years, and for this he is called thatha (grandpa). Anyhow thatha is really a serious guy and will bring up good points in the evaluation. Tonight he brought out how he did not like the model of development taken by the Christian Medical Association. They will go into villages and set up a toilet thinking the people there will learn sanitation from having a toliet! Usually, as we noticed in our village visit, this does not come close to solving the problem. The giving of a toilet and hoping that fixes all the problems is more a way towards ‘western model’ of development, thatha said, and not easily assimilated in the Indian system. He also pointed out that in the CMA, they only prefer to hire doctors which are Christians. He said he did not like this because there are good doctors coming from other religions too. But I came to realize in India, especially the religious minorities feel in order to protect themselves (and possibly to grow in numbers) they propagate themselves like this. I am not in favor of this so much, though I understand the reasoning behind it.
Yes, this morning we realized how painful it is for thirteen girls to share one bathroom! Not to say, I was the last one in. But no complaints but the waiting. At least, god willing, there was enough water and power to last until the end!
For all of us girls to be ready by 9am, the first one had to wake up at 4:30! By 9 am we ate breakfast, and then started hoping to see three agencies today.
The agency we visited this morning was Sulabh. This, I have to say immediately, was the most interesting agency I feel we visited, and the most professional. The founder of Sulahb, Dr. Patak, met with us. The agency, he said focused mainly on liberating the scavengers (caste of people who have to manually remove night soil or human excreta), through education, job training and community awareness. Dr. Patak is not an average social worker, he is of the Brahmin caste, and in order to learn the hardships of these people, he, against the caste taboos and restrictions, left his family in a clean home, and lived with these scavengers in their sub human conditions for three years! I took the opportunity to ask this man questions. Actually for each agency visit, the students are given a chance to ask questions, but usually no one ever takes this opportunity, and for those (like me, thatha and a few others) who do, we usually get mocked. I guess I asked the question everyone asks, “As a Brahmin, how did your family accept you after you went to live with the scavengers?” He said his family wouldn’t let him in their house. He was so brave. It is almost like having a love marriage in India to someone your family totally object. Well, maybe not in some ways! But Dr. Patak is surely married to his job!
Sulabh is famous for having a toilet museum. Actually, most laugh when they hear this, a toilet museum! Yes! They have so many types of toilets from different countries and time periods on display as well as some written history of toilets and culture of sanitation. I really liked this agency because they were very professional, and they hired persons doing many different types of jobs. There was even a department which tested and treated waste water, so it was not your ordinary social work agency!
For lunch, the Sulabh people fed us nicely. We had mixed rice, chenna dhal and a Bengali sweet. The food was the best food I had while we stayed in Delhi!
After finishing this agency, we went back to our accommodation, and then later after tea, went for Indian Social Institute. Again, due to poor timing, we made it at 4:45, so only hand 15 minutes to find out about this agency. Again, I was dejected because this agency mostly works on research. It would have been nice to learn more about social work research in India.
The way back to Janakpuri from this place was a horrible pain! We had to take three fully crowded buses. On top of that it was ‘rush hour,’ and unlike Chennai, where the traffic keeps moving, here it is constantly stopped! The normal 30-40 minute drive ended up lasting us 3 hours in this traffic! If you go to Delhi, please avoid traveling in the rush hour! You will get really pained because you won’t move, it will be dry and hot and sweat may not come, making you feel stuffy because of the hot, dry heat.
Today we woke up at 5am, and left by 6am to go to Agra. Agra is where one of the seven wonders of the world is located—the Taj Mahal.
It took us four hours to travel from Delhi to Agra with a one hour break for breakfast. On the way, I saw a nice sight I hadn’t expected to see: A CAMAL CART. It was so nice to see this in the place I saw it, but unfortunately as it was so unexpected, I did not get a photo of it, hoping I would see it again, but was not so lucky! Upon entering Agra, we went for lunch. Sometimes I wonder about Indians in general! I understand Indians are attached to their regional food, but if you are a social worker, shouldn’t you try to adjust to new things? Give Indians a choice to try American, French, Chinese, or any other country food, they pick Indian. If you give a Tamilian a choice to eat Maharastra food, Kerala food, Andhra food, or Tamil food, it is not hard to guess what they will choose! So, here in Agra, where the North Indian food is not only the cuisine of the locals, but also cheaper than the south Indian meals, my classmates died for their racam, sambar and curds without even a thought of trying something new. On one hand I understand them because the North Indian taste is very different compared to the south Indian taste, but at the same time isn’t it ok to try something new once in awhile? So, I became the odd (wo)man out, opting for Palak Paneer, my favorite, but a dish only known to two or three of my 23 classmates!
So, first we went for the Agra fort, which is a massive structure lying across from the Taj Mahal. Then we went to see the Taj Mahal. When you go there, try to carry a pair of socks in your bag. When it is time to go ‘into’ the Taj, you have to remove your shoes. The marble surface of the palace which faces the sun is unbearable to stand on. It burns your feet. If you go with socks, use them here to protect your feet from burning as much as you can. You can’t really go too much into the Taj, only to see that tomb. It is very exotic and beautiful but hadn’t caught me as much as other things I have seen. The romanticism is especially lost when you realize that those who helped build the mahal had their hands chopped off on completion so as they could not replicate this work in any other place!
The other sad thing regarding the Taj is the river which runs by the palace is full of industries and the smoke emitted from these factories has given the palace a yellowish tint. Previously, they say, it used to glow from the shimmering white marble. But, today when the sun shines on it, it almost, unfortunately, looks like the yellow stained teeth of a habitual cigarette smoker!
We were also lucky to have gone on a Friday, since Friday’s are free days! Which is also especially good for foreigners, since foreigners are charged a lot more for entry than Indians. Beware white skin means more money! On that topic, in Agra, do NOT buy anything from these vendors who sell by walking around on their two feet. And do not buy film from any place except the camera shops. In Agra many street vendors sell film, but it is not good to buy film from these guys, they may charge less, and it may look like the real thing, but sometimes it is not. Some say that film may ruin your camera! Talking about photos, there is a famous photo that the photographers inside the Taj complex will take of you for Rs 20 (ask for the negative also). The person posing will hold their arm out and their hand down as though they want to drop something. When the photo is developed, it looks as if the person is ‘holding the Taj up with their fingers’!
After finishing Taj, we went for our agency visit. This was no agency, but a church. They told us how they were going into the villages and helping people build wells and educate themselves. This is all fine, but the thing that bothered me was the pastor said in his tirade that ‘before we came and built up their village, they had no morals, and now they do.’ What he really meant, was that before his people came to that village, the people had no morals because they had no ‘Christian morals’, but now that they have built a church there and follow the Lord, they have morals and live a life full of God. Sometimes people wonder why Christian missionaries are not treated well in some countries. This is why! It is a great insult, I feel to be called ‘godless’ and ‘without morals’ just because one doesn’t follow the same religion! Anyhow, I don’t like to enter this tirade too fully because I will get myself in trouble!
Today we went to a tribal agency. It was very interesting to learn about tribals, but the thing which I felt most was missing was a proper definition of a tribal. I wanted to know how is a tribal different from a village person.
From here, we went to Palika Bazaar. This is a famous shopping area in Delhi which is underground. If you go here, go with someone who knows the good price and can bargin. Though, you should see this place once, there are better places for shopping we did not get a chance to see, but only heard about! On the way back, I saw something I never saw before and will never forget.
We were stopped at a traffic light. To our left was a slum right on the street side. These people had no space at all. Their small huts were built on the back side of a shopping complex. Each hut was about 6 ft. by 6 ft and about that tall. There was a small island on the street for taking a left, in that island were two children. One was a boy about 8 years and a girl about 6. Neither was wearing a stitch of clothes, but both were washing their dress. I supposed that these two children were washing their only dress that is why they were not wearing anything! They barely had enough water to wash these two dresses also.
Today we were scheduled to take a train at 9am to go to Kalka. To reach the train station, we went by bus. This time we were on the bus at night. It was horrible. These men in Delhi who ride the bus at this hour are mostly drunk and though there is space for them to stand away from us girls, they will press themselves on us. First, I thought it was just me being a foreigner, but the other girl classmates were also facing this problem. We had to call our male classmates to stand in between us and the men. I can say that in Chennai this never happened to me. In Chennai the bus is even more crowded than this bus on this night, and the men keep their distance. If they do accidently bump against a woman, they say ‘sorry.’ But not here in Delhi, if the man hits against the woman and a dirty look is given to him, he tries to come closer! These men are too much!
When we stepped on the train, it was a train which started in Calcutta and ending in Kalka. I saw the toilet as I entered the train. It was horrible. In South India, I never saw anything like that. Then I heard the rowdies coming, and immediately reminded of what my anna (Indian elder brother) in US told me about trains in North India. I immediately got scared. In North India many more rowdies come on without a ticket or with an open ticket and will steal your seats. If you try to fight them, you may be putting yourself in danger. In addition, the conductor and train officials can’t and won’t do anything about these vagrants who jump in and out of the open doors throughout the night. These guys also only speak in Hindi, and so there is no reasoning with them in English or even Hindi for that matter! I told my classmates about this as they never came on trains in North India. I was scared for us all because if a man can be hurt by these rowdies, what situation can the girls be in? No one seemed to take my fears seriously. Then one of the male classmates started an argument with a rowdy who jumped on and took his seat. It almost broke out into a fist fight as he could not speak Hindi and this rowdy was shouting in Hindi and getting his roudy friends in on it too!
We arrived in Kalka at 5am. Kalka is at the base of the hill, and Shimla is at the top. It is here we had to wait for the train to Shimla. Luckily, this station is quite clean and the surroundings pleasant. The train finally came at 8 am, so we got on it. This train is different from the long distance trains. It doesn’t have any berths. The cars are small and cute and the seats are all made of wood. There were also a lot of army men on the train. This train stopped at every stop along the route to the top of the hill. If you ever get a chance to take this train, at every stop try to get down and get a cup of tea. At each stop they serve a different variety of chai (spiced tea). At each stop, the chai has a different taste, but each variety is so good. For a cup of about 2 measuring cups it costs from Rs3 to Rs5. I would love to go on this route again just for the chai!
The Shimla train station is so clean and nice. There are many sign boards there that have nice sayings. One saying is something like “The God of the Christians, the God of the Hindus and the God of the Muslims is the same God.” Then another sign said “The root of all evil is yourself.”
But the thing which my classmates tried to prepare me for in Shimla, but I did not believe until it hit me so hard, was the cold weather! It surely was cold! In August, the warmest it got was about three pm, when it reached probably 75 degrees F. The nighttime was very cold. I was wearing all my gears, plus made a blanket my coat. I looked as if I should have been in the mountians of Switzerland, not the hills of India! But this place is like a foreign place in India! Shimla is called the summer capital. The British used to retreat here for the cool and pleasant climate compared to the ‘mainland.’ Besides the weather, the aesthetics of the place also is very foreign. Many building are made of wood and look very Eurpoean. Shimla is like a foreign country within India! There are also many foreigners who live here, as I found by talking to a Canadian lady I met on the street.
One interesting thing in this place was on Sunday in the early afternoon the shops open, close in the evening then open back up at night. On Sunday night the place is so lively! All the shops are open and people come out in the streets. The nice thing in Shimla is there are not many cars at all so the narrow streets are used for walking only. It seems like something from the olden times. It is so peaceful there, especially without cars and pollution found in cities. During the day and early evenings, a photographer comes to the main area and brings the Shimla traditional dress. For Rs 20 you can dress in this and he will take your photo. Luckily, our outspoken classmate bargained with the photographer, so that he even gave the negative.
This morning we had a nice breakfast at a Panjabi dhaba nearby. We ate a paratha (Rs 6) with curds and had a tea. This food was very filling and satisfying.
Besides the houses having a foreign look, the construction of the house is different. As Shimla is a hill station, this place was very steep. Mostly the houses are built into the mountain, which mean that the houses kind of look like steps from a distance. Many homes are also made of wood. This is foreign, as in Chennai, you will see cement constructions.
Today, our agency visit was YMCA in Shimla. Many foreigners come to stay here. There was a funny sign in the lobby, it said ‘Beware of Monkeys’! Apparently, monkeys will make themselves at home in your room if you leave the windows open. They even can become fierce and bite the people inside the room. Even as we sat outside waiting for our session to begin, many monkeys came and tried to tease us!
After the visit, we were standing out on the foyer and it seems one of my classmates knew a pastor there, and introduced me to him. So, he started asking me why I did not read bible and go to church. Apparently, my classmates had told him how they thought I viewed religion, and asked this pastor to set me straight. In India, it is best not to argue with any of these people. I have learned they won’t understand me. Even if I tell them I believe in Jesus, they feel that since I don’t go to church or read bible regularly and prefer temple, that I am obviously ‘godless’. I just shrug it off. There is really a fine line between being friendly and trying to ‘convert.’ I feel to each his own, and who am I hurting by believing in God the way that I do?
Later on in the afternoon, we went around Shimla for shopping. We went to the part of town called Tibetan Bazaar. Many Tibetans live here and they have set up this bazaar. It was so funny because I wanted to buy a shawl and my classmate who is blind came with me. He actually bargained with this guy. Instead of paying Rs. 200, I paid only Rs. 50! I bet that shopkeeper did not even realize my friend was blind!
In a few hours from this, we were back on the train back to Kalka then to Delhi. On the train to Kalka, we met a few Punjabi guys. One guy said he wanted to take up a job in Chennai, so my classmates were trying to teach him a little Tamil. One guy talked to me, he was interesting because we was a Brahmin whose mother tongue (first language) was Sanskrit! He had a plan to live in the U.S., since his sister was married and living in California. So, we had an interesting discussion about unity in diversity in India. India prides itself that it is full of persons of many ethnic and religious backgrounds and there is a unity in this. I said I did not know how there is unity because there is always some communal disruption between castes or religions (ie. Ayodhya). He told me the way you find ‘unity’ is to ask any Indian one simple question – “What makes you Indian?” He thought that if enough people were asked the answers would be similar, hence demonstrating unity among all Indians. I have not tried this. I wonder if it is true? If any readers out there have any comment on this, please let me know1
This morning on the way to the agency, we stopped to see the Qutab Mira. This is an old Muslim fort, it has a very tall pillar in the center. It is so overwhelming sometimes to see these very old monuments, as we don’t have such history in the USA.
From here, we went to the agency, then went ‘by’ the Lotus Temple. Actually, again my class wanted to skip this place, since it was not a Christian religious place. Somehow we managed to get it. The Lotus Temple is for the Bah’ai faith. This place was breathtaking. IT is a temple shaped like a lotus, surrounded by pools. This faith doesn’t believe in a particular god, nor does it believe in being loud about collecting money. They inside of the ‘temple’ is just like a large meditation hall with many chairs. It is quiet inside. There is no picture or symbols of any God or religion nor is there any money collection plate. I was so happy to have gone inside. Again a few of my diehard classmates, trying to convert people, went and ‘argued’ how there can be a place of prayer without any “GOD” as it’s main force. I kept to myself!
The funny thing, when we were exiting the temple, we saw the same Punjabis from the night before we met on the train!
Following this, we went to India gate. Here we girls god mehendi designs on our hands. The women doing this are tribal women from Rajasthan. They charge Rs. 10 for painting on one hand.
We were scheduled to leave Delhi tonight, but had come to hear some bad news. There had been heavy rains in Andhra Pradesh, which had forced bridges on the route to become unserviceable. Due to this, the train would be delayed til the following morning and rerouted. The train would not take it’s regular route through Madhya Pradesh, Maharastra, Andhra Pradesh, and into Chennai, but go through Madhya Pradesh, Maharastra, Karnataka, into Chennai. This meant it would take the train 53 hours and not the normal 32 hours or so! So, we stayed in Delhi one more night.
Today morning we boarded the long trip home. It was just the most horrible train ride ever. There was no good food along the way, and one of our classmates came down with malaria. Finally we managed to pull into the Chennai railway station and make our ways home. We were supposed to come back the day before Ganesh Chaturthi, but due to the rerouting of the train, we made it back only the night of Ganesh Chaturthi. Which made me sad I missed the festivities, and at the same time was teased very much by my classmates for wanting to celebrate this great festival.
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