• Ishvar and his nephew Om are traveling by train from their home to apply for jobs as tailors. The train jerks to a halt, sending another passenger's textbooks hurdling from storage onto Om's back. Om's body is described as very frail. The owner of the books is introduced as Maneck Kohlah, a student.
• The passengers are informed that the reason for the sudden halt is because the train has run someone over. The passengers grumble that they wish people would find other ways of committing suicide. The village where the train has stopped is full of poverty. The air smells of raw sewage and the streets are lined with armless beggars.
• Manecks asks Ishvar and Om for directions and it becomes clear that the three men are traveling to the same place. Om becomes defensive, thinking that Maneck will also be applying for the tailoring position, but...
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