good God, bad God

the little pamphlet lay there, on the floor.

I had, by then, climbed on to my berth, on top. I was exhausted by the day’s work, and sleep was beginning to take over. it was that pleasurable feeling of tiresomeness, when the body has worked hard and longs for rest. the rhythmic sway of the train always puts me to sleep, and I was only glad. the solitude, amidst the multitudes of people – families, children, couples and what not – was a silent reminder that bums are, at the end of the day, essentially alone.

for a while, I took pleasure in watching these kids. she must have been about 12, he a few years younger, not more than 6, by my estimate. she would, every now and then, look into my eyes, and then quickly whisper something into her mother’s ears. she seemed perceptive, I once heard he telling her mother, “he is looking at me”. indeed I was, for aren’t children a joy to watch? yet, for fear of being mistaken as some pathetic paedophile, I turned away, every now and then. the boy was the more boisterous kind. his age, I surmise, hadn’t yet taught him the way of the world. he was blissfully unaware of the strange co passengers around him, his curiosity still alive, he was hell bent on knowing how one could get to the top berth and wouldn’t allow his dad to rest until it was actually explained to him. he was the typical boy, he wasn’t impressed by the constant attention that his elder sister gave him, by nudging him, pinching him, tickling him and kissing him alternately.

earlier, I’d just managed to board the train. my dad, every time I’ve had to travel with him, was always well in time, be it for a bus, train or plane. he’d want to play it safe, it was wiser, according to him, to go wait in time, rather than run in, just in time. unfortunately for me, I never took to my dad in this aspect. I’m always rushing, usually praying the train or bus is late, which works out in most instances! I have to admit I get lucky, even though there have been funny situations. like this once when I rushed to the station, boarded just in time, as the train was moving, only to figure that I’d boarded the wrong train! or this other instance, when I was well in time, but got to the station and realized I hadn’t carried my ticket. or even this once, when I figured I was there, only, in the wrong station – my train was departing from a different station in the city!

coming back to this time, I’d managed to finally find my place, settled down, was taking in the surroundings, the co travelers, who, in this today’s strange world, hardly cast a glance at you. strangers are strangers, and strangers they will be, such has become this world, why, even my own dear India, She who is known to have welcomed strangers with open arms for centuries now.

as I sat there, somebody unobtrusively walked by, and dropped this little piece of paper on our seat. I hadn’t at first bothered to look – it isn’t uncommon to find physically disabled folk, to pass on a note written by someone, seeking alms. I don’t normally need endorsement to give – if I have, and if I can afford to part with, I do so. yet, this time, my eyes inevitably ran towards the piece of paper.

“Yesu yaar?”, it read (“Who is Jesus?”). it was obviously some kind of promotional material. I wouldn’t think of myself as someone who was intolerant, but proselytizing, in mind, is a crime against humanity. I wouldn’t know or understand why some religions ever resorted to it, except for political power. I was angry. I had, on earlier occasions, confronted some of these people in own bummy ways. like this once, when this guy, on a Sunday afternoon, knocked my door, claiming to be distribute free copies of the bible. I’d picked a copy of the Gita from my bookshelf, offered it to him, and asked him, if he’d like to read it. he stepped back, gave me a scandalous look, and flatly refused. I thanked him too, and said I’d read the children’s bible, and that I wasn’t interested. the expletives that followed, I shall not describe.

before I could break my chain of thoughts and look for who had dropped of this pamphlet on the Prophet, the person had disappeared. I gritted my teeth, and climbed up to my berth. not that I have anything against Jesus Christ – far from it, I am a great admirer of him. I believe he was born human, yet his greatness lay in transcending every barrier, that was essentially man made.

so I sat up on my berth, readying myself to sleep, I noticed the pamphlet had flown, and was now lying on the floor. as I sat there, wondering what the prophet himself would think of this, I noticed somebody, every now and then, walking across the compartment, was stepping on the literature. I got up, climbed down, picked up the pamphlet, crumpled it, flung it out of the window, and climbed back.

He deserved more than being trampled upon. He was free now, out in the wilderness, nobody knows where. Ironic how a bum had to free Him! the kids had gone to sleep, the silence was beginning to descend.


The use of travelling is to regulate imagination, and instead of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are.

– Samuel Johnson


49 thoughts on “good God, bad God

  1. Nice move with the Gita, Bum! I’m usually too unnerved by surprise visits (or anything that unexpectedly diverts my course for that matter) to relax and think properly at all, let alone think of something clever! Why can people who try to push things down others’ throats not learn from their own reactions to people trying to push things down their throats that people do not like things pushed down their throats?! LOL! Most clever of all, I thought, was the personification of the pamphlet at the end. Although I can’t believe you crumpled Jesus, I guess it’s better to be free and crumpled than not free and trampled! 😉

  2. well written…i wonder what the people of that religion would have done seeing that pamphlet being trampled…this also just proves how man sees god…but dont we get upset when someone says something wrong about our gods? i wonder what that signifies

  3. JACKFRUIT,sad sometimes, i get angry too :)ANON,not easy though :)COCONUT CHUTNEY,hi ya – how u been? :)yep, i second your thought!MISS ALISTER,hola :)thinking back, i am not sure if i did crush it – or if i did, then if it was intentional. u’ve made me think. i was a few drinks down, and VERY sleepy when i wrote this – just after all this happened, and just before i was going to sleep, in the train…one thing this has made me think – that i should carefully think over every word that i pen. but then, i’m an impulsive writer, mostly, at times, i don’t even proof read :)lol @ pushing down the throat :)ANON,saying offensive things about one’s personal belief certainly ought to provoke anger, and rigthly so! however, i believe the anger to lead to more critical thinking, and possibly an informed debate on the issues rather than impulsive reactions!ANON,hey, no thanks to us bum folks. the fact that it makes u think, dear nameless friend, only speaks highly of u.may there be more thinking, leading to a surer path towards light :)D,hear hear, well said! to me, it comes from the fact that the state and religion, have for ages now, been closely inter linked. possibly, not sure!D,

  4. Pardon me, but I do not understand the ways of a bum.. and I know you will tell me that the bum doesn’t have one way or another, or doesn’t know himself. But, i have question: Is it that bums are alone or want to be? :)Love you loads, my dear brother. Some of the things you say, I think. But I have never put it down in words. Thank you for all the beautiful things you say.

  5. Machi…love the post. pretty cool thing to do…asking the person 2 read the Gita :). Sad isnt it…Hinduism is tolerant to other relgions whereas the reverse isnt always true. blog thing..yeah..recent start 🙂 (restricted access at work)-shek

  6. Good post. I live vicariously through your exploits…Most of the things you do and situations you describe yourself in are places I would like to be and things I would like to do.But then the grass has always been greener and real-life has no place for fantasizing idly…Keep blogging for the benefit of the slaves to the system such as myself!

  7. Hey, in the States we have people knock on your door at the crack of a Saturday or Sunday dawn pushing their ideas of heaven and God on you. Feel your pain!

  8. I’ve experienced the same thing in local trains in Chennai. I can relate to what you must have felt. The positive side of it – not using God to “push something down your throad”, is ironically sad. This is because even though there are some in the train who donot make use of these pamphlets, but some folks especially the ones who are blind, sing songs praising Christ and beg for alms within compartments! They are not pushing something down you, rather they use prayers to get you pushed to give money….

  9. loved the post and the ease with which one thing lead to another – never reaching on time for the train, the idea of religion and your perception of God.

  10. dharma,if it is a trip related to my job,i always reach the station early.but when i travel for a break,i take my own time.if there is a train when i reach the station,i get into it.i can never have enough of tamilnadu,beaches in kerala,commercial street in bangalore…ah!incredible India!kansas city(KC) is also a beautiful place.what i liked the most is snow and the sparrows.

  11. SISTER DEAR,thats an interesting question i say! put simply, i’d say i rather want to be alone. its basically a selfish desire – stemming from the idea that alone gives me a lot more space, more freedom to do what i choose, go where i want, when i want to.that said, it is probably this that also makes bums that way. they are, alone u too kid.CHITRA,:)ABS,hinduism is a continuous discovery, a set of experiences of various people all coming together in a pot pourri of sorts. the idea of it being a religion itself canbe contended. because of its myriad ways, there is no one single god or holy text, which are primary characteristics of all other religions. which is what makes it accomodative.if there is a belief in one and only one way, it naturally leads to less and less of tolerance.BACKPAKKER,hehe, late latif – welcome to the club. it exciting ain’t it, to board a running train, that victorious feeling of having done it in spite of all odds!ZEUS,we’re all slaves to the system, in one way or another. those who claim aren’t – are truly free. or are bums like me – who choose to create imaginary alternate systems, and then become slaves to that!real life is fantasy. for what is real. i keep asking myself that.GAURI,:) – thanks. i am mostly simple. was brought up that way. may be it reflects on my writing too?CM,do come back CM – most welcome!ASH,thank you!YOGA GAL,oh yes, have heard about it from one of my american friends. KESHI,you can’t stand a lot of things, i’ve known that much from your blog :)SHINI,good to have you here.hehe, i know what you’re talking about. i don’t find it particularly annoying. we’ve not given the poor folks too many options, and so they resort to begging. i am generally sympathetic to beggars. i don’t think people would opt for it if they have a choice – for after all, it should be hurting their egos quite badly?BHUMIKA,welcome to this space :)well, thanks for that wonderful comment. after i read it, i went back to the post to notice that it does lead from one thing to another. probably show my impulsive nature and my vagrant mind :)thank you!GAURI,u’re right in that i don’t need it. but thank – running there right away!MONSOON,u’re a beach person? TN has got quite a lot of them too…less known ones, but beautiful all the same. the bay of bengal is a lot rougher than the arabian sea – gels with my own mind that is always in turmoil :)KC…wish i could visit sometime 🙂

  12. 🙂 As always, you see the most intricate things in daily lives Dharma. Undoubtedly, the perfect bum that you are! :)About catching the train in the last min, I could NEVER do that. I’d get all worked up if I weren’t at the train station at least a half hour before its departure. Except once, when I ran to the platform and just as I asked “Is this the train going too…” and it was moving 😛 phew! that was close 😀

  13. **you can’t stand a lot of things, i’ve known that much from your blog oh ok then Im such a picky person am I? Being very judgemental there Dharma! :)Keshi.

  14. uhmm, with beggars, I think it’s become their easiest source of getting whatever little they do. I donot encourage treating them like beggars.. Their ego gets hurt, yes, but only when someone throws a coin or two at them. Not while they sing…Sometimes on the tambaram rail station, lots of them sit.. and in case you listen to what they say.. you’ll be surprised. They donot like what they do… Vagaries of life,I’d say…

  15. ANON,thank you, it’ll be there soon.IWOBM,its the most effective way of keeping them silly folks at bay!IYER,imperfect bum. the imperfections constantly keep glaring, and the effort to transcend these is undying.but yes, i do tend to notice details, and thanks for noticing that :)i don’t know about word verification, how to turn it on or off, but it sure it irritating :)KESHI,u get me wrong my dear friend. i didn’t mean to be come out strongly against those you don’t like in your blog, thats what made me infer that. no offense was meant.SHINI,i don’t exactly understand what you’re trying to say.for me, its simple. i have some, i can afford to share it, i do, irrespective of who it is who asks 🙂

  16. I can’t stand to see a god go underfoot – anybody’s god.well…all I can say is I’m glad for the Bhagavad Gita – I’d have never known who Krishna was…so I guess a pamphlet on Jesus ain’t such a bad thing – In my opinion, they were kinda into the same thing: love.xxpinks

  17. have been thro some of those rushing moments too….wrong train…wrong boogie…wrong station….wrong ticket!!!wonderful stories of valour,we share…god and religion are in the mind and not on pamplets…but yes you did a good thing!!!loved the post

  18. Hey.. would you beleive if I said I had similar experience.. ala the Gita offering?No offence, but some Christians do have a way of pushing things down your throat! There was an looooooooong-distance relative, an aunt, who had converted to Christianity and one day, she came home with some 2 other friends of her’s from her office, who were also Christians and prolly the ones who convinced her to take up the religion too.They came & argued a bit about how Christianity was greater and things like that, but my mom & grandad gave better explanations on why it’s individual beliefs and how no one religion is the greater one. They left irritated and this time, the other 2 friends came home with another lady, but without my aunt! And can you imagine? There was a war in my home! Those ladies actually said Ramayana and Mahabharata are FAKE! 😮 And ONLY Jesus is true because there is proof! She talked like Hindus were fools to be believing in ‘myths’! And not beleive in Christ! I almost lost my cool, but didn’t dare to speak since I was young!I still respect the religion as such and cherish the friends that I have had from childhood, but somehow after that incident, I have ended up being careful with them around and try my best not to veer the topic into anything remotely religious or spiritual!And better off throwing it out rather than have it in mind disturbing you! And that applies to all religious pamphlets! [And yeah.. this is an advert that I updated my post :))]

  19. Main problem originates from any religious idea itself…no one has ever seen any such thing as god…because there is no such thing as that…people with too much money do not know what to do…people with too little money also do not know what to do…so comes the middle man with nice product call god / love / peace and all this shit…if there is no such shit all problems will vanish…so eventually control / influence is what creates problems…

  20. enriching blog……… have raised some pertinent points……these facts will never be embraced by the ‘ideologues of the virtuousness óf secularism’ in India……what a pity! Proselytisation is an execrable commission, not worthy of receiving any justification…..

  21. KESHI,come on now, i’ll simply take back what i said :)PINK,a pamphlet isn’t a bad idea perse, what happens here is that they literally shove the pamphlet and a lot else down our throats :)GAURI,thanks for the constant prompts – u inspire me :)GAZAL,thank you!god, i think, is beyond the mind. beyond everything.ZEUS,in fact, yes :)KANNA,coming soon da…been busy. also not found the sight ‘setting’ to write i guess :)MISSALISTER,can’t stop smiling at your comment 🙂 thanks ever so much for being here….will post soon, hopefullyMEHER,interesting experiences, and clever advert too :)ANON,your last sentence, i am unable to understand.i feel you’ve come out strongly. God is a question of faith to many. to me, it is seeking what lies beyond our comprehension, seeking the Truth. truth being simple defined as that which was true in the past, is true now, and would continue to be true in the future. if you look at things in that light, nothing is true. but for it to come across as false, there sure ought to be something that is true, no? and thats where the quest begins.i wouldn’t blame u though – i guess every mind has a right time and stage in evolution before the quest beings. good luck to you!BRAIVILLE,you are right – we have a completely messed up notion of secularism, and it isn’t doing anybody any good. wonder when people will wake up to it though.thanks!ANON,i completely second your comment. have written to the other anon. i wonder if in calling it shit, anon has gone against what he/she has said 🙂

  22. well… well… well.After ages Bum, it sure feels good going through your posts. This was a nice one!(Although I wonder if it would have been any different if that little pamphlet would have still managed to get trampled upon, spat upon, and eventually eaten by hungry cattle) :-/

  23. JENNY,long time indeed. good to have you back.i guess it would have been different, but then again, there are perspectives to everything!ADI,you’re too sweet i tell u.yet, your poetry – what would we do without all those wonderful words in hindi?thanks brother!

  24. 1) Our TV airs endless series on ramayan, mahabharat, krishna, aiyapa, devi and what not since the 80s2)Now animation movies are made on hanuman and ganesha wooing little kidsIs your anger at a paltry pamphlet meekly distributed telling “yesu yaar” justified?When you were taught about hinduism as a baby by your parents had you asked for it? No. it was pretty much shoved down our throats too…Anyone, from any religion growing up in india wantingly or unwantingly knows everything about all the major hindu Gods and their significance…(is it not being shoved down their throats?)i searched for all your posts wiht the tag ‘sickular’ and found more insights into the mind of someone who finds India ‘sickular’ :)i am simply sharing insights into my mind

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