I had left New Delhi for the Himalayas. I was going as far as Bareilly by train and then by car to Ranikhet-an old British Army hill station located on a 6,000-foot ridge opposite a 120-mile stretch of snow-capped Himalayas. The train was slow; and it stops at all the way stations. At every stop I swung open the door of my compartment, and walked the platform.
The platforms were packed with people- Sikhs, Muslims, Hindus; Soldiers, merchants, priests, porters, beggars, hawkers. Almost everyone was barefoot and dressed in loose white garments. I would ask at least three people before I could find one who spoke English. We would talk world affairs and every major topic. In this way I was trying to get a feel of the pulse of the nation, checking opinion against official attitudes and reports.
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