India, as a concept, has always made me confused. After being with it for all my life, I ask myself, “Do I know it? What it is being an Indian? How India has made me grow as an individual? What are the problems with it? Why, in spite of so much of diversity, communalism, regionalism, nepotism, corruption, India is still holding itself together”. On my rail yatra to Bangalore from Guwahati, I saw the changing face of my country. I observed it. I analyzed it. I realized it. I had the companionship of two girls. They took the train with me. As majority of the girls are, they were talkative. On the first day, I ignored them. Rather say, I did not care about them. But overhearing them made me realize that if I don’t listen to them, I will miss out a chance to know India. These girls have done their graduation from Guwahati University. One is working in Bangalore and the other was going with her to find one. I also had the company of a family. I listened to them while they talked. Uncle asked them why you are going to Bangalore, so far away from your home, for doing job. You have done your studies. Its time you get married, have children and look after them. Girls looked at each other and then they said and I quote,” Uncle if we do so, the degrees that we have taken will go waste. We want to stand on our feet. We want to contribute to the society.”Uncle said, “Beta, by looking after your family, you will contribute to the society. If you will make your children a good human being, that will be the greatest contribution you can make.”The other girl who was patiently listening argued, “Uncle, who said that by doing job, I won’t be looking after my family or my children will not become a good human being. We know that it will be tough for us, but if we find an understanding life partner, things will fall in place. Uncle, we have studied so much. We want to do justice with our qualifications. Only the chosen one get to study. Not many girls in India are as lucky as we are. We have been blessed with a family where we were not treated less than a boy.” I listened carefully. I realized I have come across several such stories happening around me. They flashed in my mind. I lost myself in them. I kept on pondering how and when things will change. With the train vibrating at a frequency comfortable enough, my eyes got closed. I slept but India was awakening.
The LOC is proud enough to have Paro, Meenakshi, Nupur and Poly as their members. These girls represent the changing times. May India be blessed with many more of them.
Someone touched my feet. I woke up to see the other face of India. There she was wrapped in clothes enough to hide her modesty, a girl…a very poor girl….a malnourished girl….a starving girl…with no emotions on her face…begging for anything….I thought it was a bad dream…I wished it was a dream…why I wanted it to be a dream? Was I trying to hide my face from reality? I was in pain…I gave her five rupees…Uncle said to me,”You didn’t do the right thing by giving her money. Uski aadat kharab ho jayegi.” To it, I reacted very badly. I said,”Uncle, jab bhook lagti hain na, dimaag kaam karna band kar deta hai. Ye jo sab badi badi baat karte hain na, ye tabhi tak jab tak pet mein khana hai. At this moment, I can’t help her. What can I do for her? You tell me, what wrong did I do by giving her money?” Uncle was silent. After few moments, I recovered from the sudden bout of depression and I said sorry to him. Not for the things I said to him but the way I said to him.
Those words of that girl reverberated in my mind, “Uncle, not everyone is lucky. We are the chosen one………… ”
Indian Institute of Sciences:
I went to Bangalore to attend the National Conference on Communication. I reached Bangalore a day before the conference was to start. Bhaiya and Angshuman came over at the railway station to receive me. I bid adieu to the ladies.
We took an auto and headed towards the Tata institute (many auto walas still don’t know about IISc. For them, it is still Tata institute…). The serenity and the peaceful environment of the most prestigious institute of the country bowled me over. The campus has so many trees. Living so close to the nature indeed helps in igniting the minds. Science has developed and progressed not by going against the nature but by closely and meticulously understanding the nature. Nature has so much to offer. It’s for us how we grab it.
The first day at the conference was a great experience. I got to see the stalwarts in the field of communication and signal processing. Professors from the IITs, NITs, other engineering colleges, foreign universities had come to give talks, presentations and for tutorials. Subedar Sir has also come to present one of his papers. One of the faculties from IIT Guwahati got the best paper award in Signal Processing.
I had my presentation on the second day. Bhaiya and Angshuman also came to listen to my presentation. I was the first speaker in my panel. Presentation was fine. Questions were asked and to the best of my knowledge, I tried to answer them. I was satisfied with my performance.
On the third day, Saurav, Mnx, Paro and Nivedita came to the campus. We talked, we laughed. Saurav shared his experiences at Infosys. He is in a company of good people and learning a lot. Flying Officer Mnx had so much to share about her experiences in the Indian Air Force. I must tell you she has grown into a tough lady, thanks to her training at the IAF. Paro was there with her inputs here and there. We were more busy pulling Mnx’s legs J…I talked for the first time with Nivedita. She is working in SBI, Bangalore. She appears to be feeble but is actually a strong lady.
We enjoyed, we roamed inside the campus, took snaps here and there, had lunch, took one or two punches of tea, had a special ice-cream..eat till death or something like that…I forgot…Saurav, please tell me the name of the icecream we had……
India as it looks from heavens……….
I had a return flight from Bangalore to Guwahati via Kolkata and Agartala. It was for the first time that I was going to defy the gravity thanks to the Bernoulli’s Principle and the Wright brothers. Looking at the gigantic and sexy machine, I had goose bumps in my belly. She accelerated, gained great speed and when she took off, it was like she was not moving at all!
I will remember it forever….