Dec 13, 2005

Train of Thought.....

I spent last weekend, in my hometown, the inundated coastal capital of Tamil Nadu, the land of enduring heritage. This epithetic phrase describing the state of my birth managed to catch my eye, when I was traveling alone on a day train to Chennai. I have seldom traveled on a day train, and alone, never. But, there are certain gains that traveling long distance on a train can provide. For instance, you have countless seconds to reflect upon your life. And then, if you are not the kind to feel uncomfortable about staring at your fellow passengers, and have absolutely no qualms at all about eavesdropping into the strains of conversation that come wafting through the confined atmosphere of the air-conditioned coach, then there’s a world of entertainment in store for you. The coach was half empty with just one person per each three-seater. There was this phirangi passenger who was indianised enough to choose “The Hindu” over the “The Times of India”, and got into my better books by this act of prudent discretion. Then there was this other person, tall and well built, so tall that I can now recollect the buttons of his shirt better than his face *. He boarded the train at Bangalore Cantonment and was such a nervous wreck by then, that he gulped down 1 liter of water in a fraction of a second. Jittery though, his maneuvers were swift enough to produce two more bottles of equal volume from his wondrously spacious backpack. This person too, got into my good books, by virtue of his preparedness**. From now on, I will refer to them as Messer’s Desi Foreigner (D.F) and Super Hyper (S.H) respectively. S.H was so vertically endowed that he was having a tough time, trying to ape my dexterity in fitting myself into a cozy position and dozing off. His long legs kept hitting the tea-tray, and I could feel the ripples of jealousy emanating from the other end of the coach. Self-satisfied at my upper hand, I presently slipped into a pleasant siesta. Meanwhile, D.F was poring over each ever printed space of The Hindu, dated December 9,2005, printed at Bangalore, India. Till about mid-noon, D.F was kept occupied by the stories that The Hindu published, S.H by his hyper active antics and futile fight with the tea-tray, and yours truly, by day dreams accompanied by “Strings” strumming “Duur” through the walkman. About mid-noon, S.H and D.F had some how struck a rapport at the restroom, and came storming into the coach, actively engaged in an animated conversation. Weird is the modus operandi which men use to make acquaintances. We, womenfolk would never comprehend the stratagem that unfolds in a restroom, or over a puff of fag.
My eavesdropping instincts aroused by this flurry of activity in the sonic realm, began focusing on just this dialogue, filtering out the household chatter of the old couple behind me. I happened to gather that D.F was a traveler of sorts, attracted by the mystic east, exploring Japan, the Far East and now India in search of the truths of life and beyond. He was going to Chennai for some event organized by Jiddu Krishnamurthy (J.K) foundation, and was concerned about the Fanoos stirring gruel in the Bay of Bengal. S.H, happened to be a I.T professional, who had traveled the west, on account of “On-Site” trips and was very much a Chennaiite in his phony accent. The conversation took a philosophical bend, when S.H pronounced that “If you have to endure the cyclone, you will have to, whether its close to Chennai or Nagapattinam”.. They went on to discuss about science, pseudo science, metaphysical fields, their equations, Japanese philosophy, The Shiva lingam, its significance, The form of Nataraja.. so on and so forth.. What made it compelling to listen to was that D.F was arguing on the side of metaphysics and spirituality while S.H was insisting on the power of science.. S.H got agitated at points, as all Chennai ites do when they argue, and D.F had to patiently pull him back on track with a demure “Lets discuss one thing at a time”.. Yours truly, had to lie low in the seat, ears conked up like two tiny antennae, to avoid being heard chuckling.. It was first-class entertainment, till this happened…

S.H: “Man hasn’t changed since his conception. The basic genome remains the same. Science has ample proof to this”.
D.F: (Blank)
Yours truly: (Stifling a giggle, mutters) “These phirangis look really blank when they are blank; their white skin looks bleached…at least we can pretend to be thinking of the next law of gravity.”
D.F: (Still Blank)
S.H: (Triumphant) “ Science and argument can prove or disprove anything”. “If it isn’t capable of that, then it is pseudo-science”.
D.F: (Still Blank)
Yours truly: (Thumping a fist in the air) “Now come on D.F, buck up, this has to be countered...”
D.F: (The light returning to his eyes, says in all bluntness) “I don’t believe that”
Yours truly: (Turning Back) Heeeehhhaaa hheeee haaaa heee haaa.. (Girls can giggle at anything)
D.F and S.H : (Glare in unison).
Yours truly: (Turning red, rushes out to the restroom).
Curtains Down.
After this fiasco, I dutifully shifted from the aisle seat, and started looking out of the window. The train was in Tamil Nadu, and for a change, bridges here seemed to serve a purpose, the ravines and rivulets actually carrying water. The recent rains had caused a sudden spurt of greenery and window presented a verdant panorama. It was twilight, and the setting sun, was bidding a goodbye to the flora. They were raising their heads in turn as a last salute to the provider of nourishment and life. As the train swept past the wilderness, paddy fields came into view. Flooded beyond recognition by the cyclone’s fury, head-heavy rice plants were floating as debris in rain water. Farmers working in the not-so-affected fileds, while those in the mini-lakes sitting over the now useless bunds with drooping heads, and heavy heart. “Why, oh lord, why this injustice..” Wanted to lash out at humanity.. “When the plants can thank and reverie their nourisher, why not we”.. Every walk of life thrives on the sweat of these men, and yet they suffer.. Every body’s job ultimately earns money.. Money to feed your mouth, money to satiate your gluttony, while the one who actually toils to feed your tummy, is driven to commit suicide.. Where would you earn your bread when there is no bread to sell??
I heard S.H harping “India isn’t like before, lots of foreign investment is flowing in, the economy is becoming very very techno-dependent”… I felt a white anger seething under my skin… why are we hell-bent on getting rid of the agro-based tag?? Is it an albatross strung around the country’s neck?? If all of us want a white collar job, refuse to put our feet into the muddy fields, what use would all the gold as foreign exchange be of?? Why do farming families migrate to the cities, why is there a mass exodus?? Why cant a farmer go to sleep peacefully at night, if his son happens to show interest in pursuing his profession?? Their livelihood is inherently vulnerable to the hands of fate and the whims of the skies. Why doesn’t anyone even bother to alleviate their burden, modernize their processes, and improve their lot?? Why is so much invested in Six Sigma, Lean management, and process enhancements when people have to bleed their lives to feed you?
Experimenting entrepreneurs are devising ways to tap the rural market for mobile phones.. The Government is trying to regulate the profit the corporates would make by exploiting the exploited.. Why did we stop with the Green revolution and the white revolution.. why didn’t we progress beyond that??
While I was charged up with such thoughts, the old man behind me yelled “ Arey Baarissss..” in typically accented Hindi.. It was drizzling outside.. I had imagined the wet sight was due to the impotent tears that could ve possibly welled up in my eyes at the plight of the bread-breeders of the nation…
S.H and D.F were exchanging phone numbers and e-mail ids.. S.H was suggesting some books on to D.F. D.F was sincerely noting them down. D.F saying something about he being a zoologist and his research in the Savanaahs.. S.H using the chance to refresh his high school geography…
Yours truly calling up her daddy, asking whether he had reached the railway station to receive her, giving minute by minute updates on her location as the train approached Chennai.. The smells of the city obliterating the perfume of the villages left behind.. D.F and S.H back to discussing the rain.., S.H advising D.F to postpone his return journey in case there are floods.. Yours truly getting nervous and calling up daddy dear to hear of Fanoos’ fancies.. The train reaches Chennai.
And Life goes on…

* : Not that its worth mentioning, but I happen to be just short of being a midget. But that is an achievement when your mom is less than 5 feet and your dad just above five.
**: was appreciating S.H’s preparedness, cos I myself forgot to bring water from home and had to be finicky*** about the bottled water that Southern Railways provided.
***: finicky ness courtesy: The Tamil movie Anniyan.


R.Subramanian said...

hehe another nice read..nethikku perusa irunthathala i got scared and postponed the reading session to today :p .. farmers pathi think panni rendu sottu kanneer vitta avanga prachinai theernthuduma.......yea it is true but then....... it is very much unfair to say just coz our staple occupation not doing well, we shud not boast our other strength..... i see one thing across all white collared youth employees (unnaiyum serthu thaan)..all working in MNCs, earn heavily but still frown at your job and the challenges it throws :)

The Soliloquist said...

@rsu: thts wht i intended to say.. tho ppl (including me) feel strongly about social issues, very few bother to do something... thts the difference between the thinkers and the doers.. Farming and agriculture is one area that can never be replaced with anything.. we all earn to survive and food is our key to survival.. agreed there are other things needed for progress, but we shouldnt neglect wht is there, to get wht might be...Thts wht i wanted 2 say..

LUCKY said...

nice read... so u in bglr? well we shud meet!

Anonymous said...

How does reading 'The Hindu' instead of the 'The Times of India' indianise a person?

The Soliloquist said...

@Anony: TI is any day more of a tabloid than The Hindu.. Only a person exposed to both the papers over a period of time would be able to choose between them on this basis.. Which is y, i thght he was indianised enuf... The two said personas, D.F and S.H both had concurring views on this..

Disclaimer: Opinions and views in the blog and comments are purely personal and individual.

The Soliloquist said...

@Anony: m glad anonymous ppl too read my blog.. it isnt restricted to a select crowd of known faces.. :-)

The Soliloquist said...

@Anony: m glad anonymous ppl too read my blog.. it isnt restricted to a select crowd of known faces.. :-)

Anonymous said...

Hmmmmm......Which means that Tabloids are in some way inferior to a regular newspaper. So,being exposed to both species of journalism,the obvious choice(for EVERYONE) is the Hindu. Is that the logic I missed?

Great blog,by the way.

The Soliloquist said...

@anony: Thanks :-)
when the underlying intent behind reading a paper is to gather information, and make sense out of it,sensationalisation takes a back seat.. If this logic stands good, The hindu does score over TOI.. . Do u wish to stay anonymous or would u like to reveal ur identity?Either would suit me, except that the latter makes more sense somehow..
Drop in here every now and then :-)

justrohin said...

hmmm was tempted a lot to take each of your question and answer them one by one but then typing away endlessly is not my usual cuppa

Nice choice of words to begin with..

I believe it is not necessary that agriculture remain the mainstay of the economy forever. Take this country, Sweden for example few decades back they had more than 90% of the GDP coming from agriculture but now its less than 2% and still is a very well balanced nation and a developed one too where people lead good standards of leaving

Green and White Revolution were meant to provide a much needed impetus to the respective sectors. That doesnt mean that the lessons have been forgotten or thrown to the wind, you cant have agriculture as the primary target in all 5 years plans. we are self sufficient in grains we might have hungry mouths to feed but thats a different ball game altogether i believe its all because of population.

Move with the times thats the golden word and adaptation to changing environs.

We in India used to practice extensive farming earlier with the breaking down of landholdings into smaller holdings we have had to resort to Intensive farming, and one nature's fury ruins it all.. This is not problem of govt after 60 years of independence also govt cant hand hold the common man everywhere...

Thoughts are always there where are the solutions? as my prof said "Dont come to me with problems, if you have problems come with solutions too"