In 1893, a London-trained lawyer named Mohandas K. Gandhi left his native India to handle a legal matter for two Indian merchants in South Africa. Soon after his arrival, he was thrown off a train for refusing to leave a ôwhites onlyö compartment. Skeleton-thin and painfully shy, Gandhi spent a bitter cold night in the railway station wondering whether he should stay in South Africa or return to India. By morning he decided to stay and to resist the racial laws of South Africa. The train incident sparked a political awakening in Gandhi, and he would later describe the experience as ôthe most important factorö in directing his future political life.