Saturday, December 02, 2006

The bane of travelling salespersons

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.


Priya Sivan said...

And how about RSMAW? >> Rhythmically snoring men and women. They are in bliss while we lie down wide awake hearing the music ! BWHB's are more controllable :)

Usha said...

One doubt though, if BWHBs are more controllable why are the parents not controlling them in the movie halls whenever I go to watch a film - why is the child being allowed to bawl, howl, scream, wail almost throughout the film?

Priya Sivan said...

Usha :) You have evoked a separate bloggable topic here:)) However let me not use this space for it. In the movie halls, you must have noticed young dads taking the baby out now and then for consoling them. If only the mom walks out, giving priority and attn to the baby instead of the movie, the situation (BWHBs)will become controllable :))

Sigma said...

hmmm ... thought provking :-)

Well, I am troubled by another melady wherever i go .... train, movie hall, aircraft -- behind my seat will be seated a kid, whose sole entertainment for the entire duration would be kicking the seat in front of him/her (mine), and parents excercising no control on this activity.

PS : the title of your post strongly reminds me of "the travelling salesman problem" that we read in our computer science course (though it was a different problem altogether :-) )

Anonymous said...

Half-responsible - hilarious double-entendre. Chloroform - hahaha. Good idea - need to give it some serious thought (to somehow clandestinely administer it to the sleep-deprivers). Pity you aren't one of those lucky ones who can even sleep in ordinary (rattling, noisy) buses. Once upon a time I had a friend who would be "stand-sleeping" - that's right he would lean against the pole in the bus and you could hear his light snoring! (true story)

Raj said...

Sigma, are you sure it is the baby and not the parent kicking your seat from behind?

Yes, I know that one. Haven't you come across some travelling salesman jokes too?

n : Must meet your friend one of these days and learn the technique of 'stand-sleeping', It will be invaluable for a travelling salesman, trust me.