You know what I dread the most when I travel? What I fervently pray will not be found anywhere in the vicinity of my seat or berth? Babies. Bawling, wailing, howling, babies (BWHB)
Now, I have nothing against babies. The world certainly needs them. In fact, some of my best friends are babies. I have been half-responsible for bringing a couple of babies into this world. But, when these BWHBs make me lose my much-needed sleep and I have to confront irate customers the next morning with a groggy face, I find myself gaining new respect for King Herod of Bethlehem as well as the Pied Piper of Hamelin.
When I was single and kidless myself, and was once kept awake the whole night by one of these BWHBs, when traveling in the upper berth of a II class compartment, I took a terrible vow that I would produce a dozen kids in the near future,, frequently carry them in trains and keep pinching them till they cried their throats hoarse. Not one person in the entire compartment would be allowed to sleep. That would be my revenge on society at large.
I did manage to take some babies along eventually, but, much to my disappointment, they turned out to well-behaved ones that found the rocking motion of the train so soothing and slept even better than normal. So, I have to find more devious methods now.
I remember reading a blog post (alas, I forget who the blogger was) which wondered whether this phenomenon was unique to babies born in India. I tend to agree. In the course of my travels in Europe or the USA, I don’t recall being troubled by BWHBs. Sorry, that previous statement is not entirely true. It did happen on one of the flights between Amsterdam and Madrid. But, it turned out to be an Indian BWHB!
Are Indian parents more indulgent that babies feel unrestrained? Do parents abroad use chloroform on their kids when they travel? Or, is it that there are so many babies being churned out every hour in India compared to the rest of the world that the probability of encountering BWHBs is higher when one travels here? Or, maybe what I have observed is not a representative sample? Or, Fate has singled me out for special treatment?
Update (3/12/06) : The mystery of the wailing babies is solved. shpriya in her comment has given a vital clue when she talks about RSMAW (rhythmically snoring men and women). Based on feedback from wife, I probably am an RSM, whose loud snoring terrifies normal babies in the railway compartment and makes them BWHBs. So, the problem is not so much on the pediatric side as it is on the geriatric side. Case closed.