Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Hose down!

I was sitting at Rayagada station on Friday evening waiting on the train to Koraput for Hilary's last weekend in placement. Sadly one gets accclimatised to the "sites" of India, the people living and sleeping permenantly at the station, on the platforms, in the waiting rooms and the entrance hallway, the beggers and the hawkers who stalk the platforms, as well as families just sitting on the ground mid platform waiting on trains.  In amidst all this there is always the inevitable kid who comes up to investigate the white face, the parents who make their kids practice their few phrases on English " How are you" , "What is your name?", and the overseen pointing and head turning as folks spot and then discuss my presence. Sun glasses at least let me also do a bit of people watching  in return. This time I am drawn to a man who is standing between the trainlines. There are two platforms at Rayagada, so two sets of trainlines. Between the lines is a blue coloured overhead pipe which stands on supports and runs at about 6 feet of the ground. At regular intervals hose pipes hang down from this pipe. When a train comes in people go to these hoses and place them on the underside of the carriages. I have always assumed they are cooling the shunts.  So at first I think this man is preparing to do just that. But no, he starts to take his clothes off. First his shawl - which would look to you like a chequered tea cloth - then his shirt, which he carefully folds and places over a hook holding the hose on one of the pipe's upright supports. Then imagine, he stats to undo his trousers! At this point I begin to wonder what mental state this man is in. His hair and beard are long and unkept, his clothes have clearly seen better days, he is without shoes, as are many people here. I avert my eyes but they are drawn back. Next he takes his shawl and wraps this round his waist, before dropping his trousers. I suddenly realise what he is doing - he is taking a shower! At stations there are load of water taps, fo hand washing, and I've seen folks face and upper body wash there before, but this is new and I have to say quite ingenious. He stands hose in one hand and gets his wash, no soap, but he hoses himself down and brushes over himself with his other hand. Then the procedure is reversed, and he gathers up his clothes and is on his way. I doubt whether ayone else even noticed it had happened. Only in India!

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