i'm in gaya, bihar.
on the way to the village i had to visit today, our car got stopped by some men who wanted us to give them a donation (chanda) for some pooja.
except, he stopped our car, pulled out the keys and said "haramzaada chanda do." my colleague in the back was smoking a cigarette. they grabbed at her and tried to make her give them all her cigarettes. i said i didn't understand why they had to be so rude - they said "tum nahi samjhoge."
we were a car full of women who looked like we were from the city (except for the driver). they didn't let us go till we had paid them 500 rupees for their "pooja". they very nearly punctured our tyres.
this exchange was 3 minutes long, at the very best.
i am troubled. i know why, except i don't know if it's fair to attribute something like this to something like that so very flippantly.
tomorrow, i've told to driver to take the more populated route. that's the way we survive in this country, right? we take solace in crowds. we maintain two feet distance from them (lest we get molested), but we stay in them anyway.
anyway, my driver's response. "aise mere saath kabhi nahi hua hai. aap teen saal pehle aate na, to aise naxal log milte. tab to paise kya, zindagi ka sawaal hota. aaj kal vo sab nahi hota hai." (this hasn't happened to me before, but if you had come three years ago we would have been attacked by naxalites. you would have feared for your life then, not money.)
ps. at the end of the day, i ate very good carrot cake.