We all scoff at those German and Korean backpackers who tie their shoes to their bags with their shoelaces. We look at them, sometimes with disgust and at times, just smirk at their stupidity. No Indian - no matter how poor - would do that. Shoes are for the feet, that's it. That explains my bewilderment when I saw a man tucking his Lee Cooper shoes under the pillow before going to sleep.
Now, you don't see that often in the first class AC sleeper compartments of trains. I would have pardoned our man had he reasoned that he did not have place to tuck his shoes between two giants suitcases that were chained to his lower side berth. But what I saw next left me speechless. He started emptying the shoes.
I was scared - 'drugs, cigarettes...bombs?'. What fell out were pens - mostly ball point and one parker - toffees, tablets, chits and even a small diary. He caught me looking at him curiously and hastily put them all into his shirt pocket and the shoes on his feet. Can't blame me for thinking if I actually saw what I saw.