An American Blessing!
By: Sanjit Laishram
It was a cold Delhi morning when I boarded the Delhi-Dehradun Shatabdi Express from NDLS (New Delhi Station). On the way to the platform I pick up some newspapers from the street vendor to read in my five hour journey, to my destination. It was more of a tourist train then the regular trains which we normally travel. I was going to Dehradun for my office work; it was a three day official trip to meet my company clients in and around Dehradun. Since, it was my second visit to Dehradun; I was familiar with the terrain and areas of the surrounding area. When I reach my coach I found out that I was in the last row, right window, seating beside an American family. A lady accompanied by two little girls. I presumed it as her daughters and rightly so.
After a few minutes of early morning hustle and commotion, things began to settle down after the train started moving form New Delhi station. There were a lot of foreign tourist in the train; I could see American, Australian, Israeli, French, German and a few Dutch tourists in our coach. Most of them, were all heading for Haridwar, a holy place for the Hindu, famous for the Ganges and the Hindu temples. As we were moving out of Delhi, I saw the American lady whispering on to the ears of her younger daughter, I believe the young girl was asking her for some candies or potato chips. She was convincing her young daughter that it was too early to have those stuffs. Instead, she gave her daughters a DVD player to watch movie on to the journey.
Only then she settles in her seat right beside me. She shook her head and whisper to me about her little daughters “girls they want to have chocolates & chips, in the morning” I smile back and replied “it’s ok, it will keep them occupied in the journey” Then, she introduce herself as Linda , I told her my name and we shook hands. Then she continued, saying she was going for her daughters’ school summer camp in Mussorie, a hill station 35 kms form Dehradun. This hill station is situated in the foothills of the Garhwal Himalayan ranges, it is also known as the Queen of the Hills. It was that period of the year where schools conduct special camps in hill stations away form the city buzz. When, I asked about her daughters, she introducing them as Michelle, the older daughter and the younger one as Jane. We had a candid conversation after that.
Then she enquired whether I was from Nagaland, I was surprised to hear an American asking about the North Eastern state of India, when our own mainland citizens of India doubt about its geographical existence (they rarely does). I replied that I was from Manipur. She said that there are three naga women working in her husband’s trust in Delhi. Her husband works for an educational trust, stationed in New Delhi and covers many Indian states including the north east. When I asked about the trust existence in Manipur, she said that they were planning to start the trust in other north eastern states including Manipur. As Nagaland & Mizoram had sizable number of Christian population it was easy for them to established their network easily. It was heartening to see an American family working in India, promoting education for children’s for the underprivileged sections of the society.
She told me that, they live in Greater Noida and her husband’s office is in Noida(Delhi Border). When asked about Indian education system as compared with America. She said that “Indian education focus more on text book studies with less extra curricular activities, only a few handful of schools in India conduct those activities on a regular basis. As in America, schools focus more on developing value added activities along with the text book studies” As we were having our conversation an Australian lady intervene us and asked Linda, whether she will get down in Haridwar. The American lady told her that, she along with her daughter was going to Mussorie for a school summer camp. Their conversation last for about 15 minutes only then Linda spoke to me again. She told me that, she heard about the militancy problem in North east and about the Indian Army stationed in the states. Before I could reply back, she continued saying about North east people are very hard working, friendly and dedicated lots. It was overwhelming, hearing form an American.
When I asked about her life in America, she told me that they are now more used to the Indian way of life, then that of America as it was their seventh year in India. She loves to shop in Delhi, the fashion market of Sorojini Nagar, Khan Market and Connaught Place. She loves the Indian Rajasthani handicraft at Delhi Haat. Her husband loves Indian Dal, Chicken Tikka & Tandori Chicken. She even shares her experience on Indian Bollywood Movie, her favorite actor was Aamir Khan and watched Rang-De-Basanti five times and she would love to watch again, any day. Her family took two weeks of holiday to visit Pennsylvania every Christmas. It is there only chance to meet her family members who live in different States of America. One of her, cousin brother is an American Marine presently serving in Iraq. She was happy with India’s growing relation with the America, the recent signing of the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal, FDI liberalization, Indian Defense Forces buying form American defense suppliers like Lockheed Martin, Boeing etc and she hopes, Obama Administration would bring the ties with India more closer then before.
The conversation was so intriguing, I was informed that the train will be reaching Dehradun in another 15 minutes. Only then Linda along with her daughters got ready with their heavy camping bags (four in totals) to be used in the summer camp in Mussorie. The heavy bags were too much for the little girls to carry on their back. Without a thought, I offer Linda, to help her carry the bags till the Taxi Bay in Dehradun Railway Station. She humbly accepted my request. After reaching the station, I carry two of their camping bags till the Taxi Bay. Linda was so overwhelmed when I helped her with the bags. And before I could leave, she holds my head and blesses me with a short prayer. I couldn’t understand what she whispers during the prayer. But, I feel a lot better after all. I knew I would never meet them ever again. I would never know what she blesses me, but I will live with the Blessing!