Showing posts with label experience. Show all posts
Showing posts with label experience. Show all posts

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Celebration of Untouchable Scientific Spirit

This happened at IIT Kanpur. On 15 June 2017 at about 8.30 am IST.

I stay on campus at SBRA (Single Bed Room Apartment) provided for married scholars of Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur (IIT Kanpur). The campus was all set to receive the President of India, and dignitaries like PT Usha, MS swaminathan, Mriganka Sur, and Ajay K Sood. The spirit of scientific scholarship was tied to trees in the form of led bulbs and illumination chains. Humble proclamations scientific knowledge was proclaimed on large posters on all walls. We printed huge flux boards to celebrate invention of new eco-friendly initiatives in our laboratories. We were about to consecrate knowledge, education and scientific spirit. Hundreds of youngsters would be awarded their degrees the following days. They will move to different parts of the world holding the tricolour, singing glory to the nation and its high intellectual range and amplitude.

Meanwhile, I needed to drink some water- a petty human need. You see, we all have such needs irrespective of our status, knowledge, number of degrees and amount of power wielded on others. So I went to collect some 'purified' drinking water at the SBRA. There are only two taps for drinking water for SBRA residents. People from around SBRA also collect water from these taps- including maids, construction workers, vendors and passers by. 


I was walking to the drinking water taps. There are two taps that give 'purified' drinking water. I saw that a worker from the construction site of Girls Hostel-2 was collecting water from one of the taps. He must have been working. There is dust on him. The other tap was idle. There was another woman-saree clad-waiting a few feet away from the taps, with an 'I-don't-care' attitude on her face. I wondered, why she was waiting while one tap was free. Since the other tap was free, I started collecting water from that one. I thought, may be she wants water from that specific tap! Some people have very specific choices. This pipe. ONLY. I was mistaken. It became clear when the labourer left, carrying his filled bottles and specks of dust back to the construction site.

When he left, she came up, carefully opened the tap with the tips of her fingers, collected some water in an empty steel mug, and began washing the tap thoroughly. When the ablution was over, she began filling her big Milton cooling flask! I hope you understood what the disease was! I pitied the saree-clad woman with an 'I-don't-care' expression. She needs education, I thought. What is wrong with her? What is so polluted about the construction worker? After all, she is collecting water from the tap installed by people like him. And she stays in a building constructed by people like him! Baah! And the campus was filled with ribbons (many of them saffron in colour) and posters and flux boards talking about scientific spirit and state-of-the-art inventions!

This is not the end of the story. I was thinking it was the 'labourer' status that made her wash the polluted pipes. I was mistaken. AGAIN! When I left with my bottles, I turned and saw that she was washing the tap I used! Wha...! Yes. She washed the tap I used, carefully opening the tap with the tips of her fingers. Then she began collecting water from that tap too! Oh no, I was mistaken. She was not particular about collecting water from the other tap! So, I am also untouchable. I too pollute what I touch (I am glad that water could remove the pollution caused by untouchables though). Good. I turned and walked feeling happy that I became one with the construction worker. After all, I am also an untouchable black South Indian!

Meanwhile, somewhere in the universe, so-called gods, angels, deities, holy spirits and their minions were being burned on stakes erected by people who worshiped their images in their holy buildings on Earth!

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

ജീവിതം നമ്മെ പഠിപ്പിക്കുന്നത്

ഒമ്പത് വര്‍ഷങ്ങള്‍ക്കുമുമ്പ് ഒരു മെയ് മാസം.

അമ്മ ഉമ്മറത്ത് കസേരയില്‍ രണ്ടുകാലും കയറ്റിവച്ച് കൈകള്‍ മടിയില്‍ വച്ച് കൂപ്പി എന്തോ ചിന്തിച്ചിരിക്കുകയായിരുന്നു. യാത്ര പറയാന്‍ പോയതാണ് ഞാന്‍. പഠനം കഴിഞ്ഞ്, അടുത്ത കോഴ്സിനായി ഞാന്‍ ചെന്നൈക്ക് പോകുന്നു. പതിവുപോലെ അമ്മ ചായയും പലഹാരവും തന്നു. ചിരിച്ചു. എന്‍റെ സുഖവിവരങ്ങള്‍ അന്വേഷിച്ചു. സുഖമാണോ എന്ന് ചോദിച്ചപ്പോള്‍ മങ്ങിയ ഒരു പുഞ്ചിരി മാത്രമേ എനിക്കുതന്നുള്ളു. ഒരുപക്ഷേ ഉള്ളില്‍ നീറിയ കനലിന്റെ ഒരു തരിയായിരിക്കാം ആ കണ്ണുകളില്‍ വിഷാദത്തിന്റെ നേര്‍ത്ത നിഴല്‍ വീഴ്ത്തിയത്.

നിശബ്ദത നീണ്ടുപോയപ്പോള്‍ യാത്ര പറഞ്ഞ് ഞാന്‍ ഇറങ്ങി. വാതില്‍ക്കല്‍ നിന്ന് അമ്മ എനിക്ക് എല്ലാ നന്മകളും ആശംസിച്ചു. എന്തോ ഒരു നൊമ്പരത്തോടെ ഞാന്‍ നടന്നകന്നു. എന്‍റെ സുഹൃത്തിന്റെ അമ്മ എന്‍റെ അമ്മയെപ്പോലെയായിരുന്നു. അടുത്തൊരമ്മ.

ഒരാഴ്ച കഴിഞ്ഞ് ചെന്നൈയില്‍ വച്ച് ഒരു സുഹൃത്ത് ആ അമ്മയുടെ മരണവിവരം വിളിച്ചുപറഞ്ഞപ്പോള്‍ ഹൃദയമിടിപ്പിനൊപ്പം ശ്വാസമെടുക്കാന്‍ ബുദ്ധിമുട്ടിയപ്പോള്‍, ഓരോരോ ഓര്‍മകളില്‍ അമ്മ തന്ന പലഹാരങ്ങളുടെ രുചിപോലെ അവരുടെ പുഞ്ചിരികളും വാക്കുകളും നിറഞ്ഞപ്പോള്‍ ആയിരം മൈല്‍ ദൂരം ഒരു നിമിഷം കൊണ്ടില്ലാതായിരുന്നെങ്കില്‍ എന്ന് ഞാനാശിച്ചു. അപ്പോഴും എന്‍റെ കൂട്ടുകാരന്‍റെ നൊമ്പരത്തിന്റെ ആഴം എനിക്ക് അളക്കാന്‍ കഴിഞ്ഞില്ല. അവന് കരയാന്‍ ഒരു തോള്‍ കൊടുക്കാന്‍ എനിക്ക് കഴിഞ്ഞില്ല. അവനെ കെട്ടിപ്പിടിച്ച് അവന്‍റെ കരച്ചിലടക്കാന്‍ എനിക്ക് കഴിഞ്ഞില്ല.

ജീവിതം അങ്ങനെയാണ് അല്ലേ? ആഗ്രഹങ്ങള്‍ ആഗ്രഹങ്ങളായി അവശേഷിക്കുന്ന ഒരു പ്രതിഭാസം?

പക്ഷേ, അങ്ങനെയല്ല ജീവിതം എന്ന് തെളിയിക്കുന്നതാണ് അനുഭവങ്ങള്‍. രണ്ട് വര്‍ഷങ്ങള്‍ക്ക് മുമ്പ്, വേദന നിറഞ്ഞ ഒരു ഡിസംബര്‍ മാസത്തില്‍ എന്‍റെ ചാച്ചന്റെ വേദന നിറഞ്ഞ നിശബ്ദതകൊണ്ട് ഞങ്ങളുടെ വീട്‌ നിറഞ്ഞു.  മരുന്നുകളുടെ ഗന്ധം നിറഞ്ഞ ആശുപത്രിപ്പുലര്‍ച്ചകളും സന്ധ്യകളും കടന്ന്, കണ്ണുനീരൊലിക്കുന്ന പ്രിയപ്പെട്ട മുഖങ്ങളുടെ മങ്ങിയ കാഴ്ചകല്‍ക്കപ്പുറത്തു വച്ച്, എന്‍റെ ചാച്ചനും വിട പറഞ്ഞു. ഇനി വരില്ല എന്ന് പറഞ്ഞ്, ഇനിയും ഒത്തിരി സ്നേഹം തരാന്‍ ബാക്കിവച്ച് ചാച്ചന്‍ പോയി. ജീവിതം നിറഞ്ഞ ശൂന്യതയില്‍ എനിക്ക് കരയാന്‍ ഒരു തോള്‍ അവനാണ് അന്ന് കൊണ്ടുവന്നത്.

ഓര്‍മ്മകളുടെ ചില്ലുകൂടയില്‍ ഒരിക്കലും മായാത്ത ഒന്നായി ഞാനത് സൂക്ഷിക്കും. കുന്തിരിക്കത്തിന്റെയും ദുഖത്തിന്റെയും ഗന്ധം നിറഞ്ഞ സെമിത്തേരിയില്‍, ചാച്ചന് അവസാനമായി ഒരു മുത്തം കൊടുത്ത് യാത്രപറഞ്ഞപ്പോള്‍ എനിക്ക് തലചായ്ച്ച് കരയാന്‍ അവന്‍റെ തോള്‍ അവിടെയുണ്ടായിരുന്നു. ബലമുള്ള ഒരു താങ്ങായി. ഒരു ജന്മത്തിന്റെ കടം ഒരു നിമിഷം കൊണ്ടെനിക്കുണ്ടായി. പിന്നീട് ഒരുവാക്കുപോലും പറയാതെ പഴയൊരു അമ്മപ്പുഞ്ചിരിയെ ഓര്‍മ്മിപ്പിച്ച് അവന്‍ മടങ്ങിപ്പോയി. പക്ഷേ ആ അഞ്ചുനിമിഷത്തെ കടം ഒരുജന്മം കൊണ്ടും വീട്ടാന്‍ എനിക്കാവില്ല.

ജീവിതം ഇങ്ങനെയാണ്. ഇങ്ങനെയൊക്കെയാണ് ജീവിതം നമ്മെ പഠിപ്പിക്കുന്നത്. ജീവിക്കാനും, മനുഷ്യനാവാനും.




















ചിത്രം ഇവിടെ നിന്ന്

Saturday, August 04, 2012

An aunt and a crow!


Whenever I go home, there are a few things I make sure I do. Some of them are visiting old Kunjaamma at Neeloor, praying at St. Joseph's Church Neeloor and staying a full day at home. But there are a few more things that I desire to do. One of them is visiting my aunt Eliammachi. 

There are many stories of my childhood that they narrate to me. I was the third child of my mother. And my mother was the eldest of 7 sisters. No other sister was married when I was born. So I was the baby of all those 7 sisters. Imagine how love-rich I was. May be, I was never even put down on the bed if each one wanted to caress me for a while!


'Eliammachi'
Eliammachi was my mother's younger sister. She is an extremely beautiful woman. Lovely woman. She is all love. There is always a smile on her face for me. And a kiss for me when I bid farewell. She has gone through tough times for the last decade. But she has managed to maintain her smile and love through all the hardships.

One story she narrates to me is this. When I was a little baby, she took me to the church once. Since mother's home was on a hilltop, it demanded a lot of mountaineering. Anyway, she carried me down the hill to the church. After church, on the way back, she bought me a bun which i liked. I happily rested on her shoulder, nibbling on the bun I got.

It was sunny and hot and the climb was steep. She opened her umbrella so that I won't be burned in the heat. After a while, when my aunt looked back, she found my bun almost fully eaten. Wondering how the little baby could eat that much, she observed me while walking.

When the story reaches this point, she will stop and break into uncontrollable laughter. It seems, a crow was flying around behind us. It cleverly flew down and pecked on my bun little by little while the little me looked at it eating my bun. I can imagine my own face curiously looking at the crow stealing from my bun. My aunt would top the story saying cutely: "my son, you looked so innocent and calm then; as if you were allowing the crow to have its share".

She would pinch my cheeks saying this. And my eyes would be full of tears of joy and gratitude. Just like it is now... Eliammachi, I love you...

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Cling Cling way to a Young Plant’s Birth


Cling. Cling cling! My browser window calls my attention. It is around 11 pm. I wonder who it will be. Cling. Cling cling!

Oh wow! It’s a friend whom I adore. An artist. A free thinker. One who is not afraid of following his dreams. Reckless non-conformist. Ready to try anything. Handsome and young. I am surprised.

‘Hi’ said he.
‘Hi’ said I.
‘What news’
‘Nothing great. How about you?’
‘Nothing great either. Where are you? And how do you feel after all this turmoil? Are you settled and happy?’

I reply these… I like replying to him. I feel a pint of concern and genuine love in the ‘cling cling’ chat that comes up my browser. It is a human conversation.

Somewhere among these questions and answers, I feel a little seed breaking its shell and poking its first leaf out to breath. It is the first sprout of a friendship. And I love it.

I chirp on in my own way and he listens- that too in my own way!

Its 12 am. A new day is born. 


He says, ‘oh, its time to rest. This is my number' (cling cling). 'Leave me your number. I will call you sometime tomorrow.'

Smiles.

Good night.

The sprout is already a young plant. Green leaves and tender sap. A beautiful young plant. 

Good night.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Another Indian Episode!

Setting: A descent hotel, Sanath Nagar, Hyderabad. A/C Room
Characters: 8 Table full of people, One Waiter, one cleaner, one-god-knows-who character

Shot 1: Long shot of the name of the hotel from the other side of the hotel. Its all nicely decorated, illuminated, etc.
Shot 2: Close shot of appreciating faces of Arun and I on the other side of the road.
Shot 3: We walk towards the hotel crossing the hotel, carefully wading through the Hyderabadi traffic.

Now please dont care about shots.. I have no patience!

Arun and I enter the hotel. There is no free table in the non A/C section. Worried about our pockets, we entered the A/C section.
'Hmm... Nice place.' Exclaimed both of us! We sat at a free table. Waiting patiently for the waiter. Cleaner came, we asked for a menu card. Immediately, he brought us plates and tumblers! Wonderful! Then he proceeded to another table and took a menu. And walked to the cupboard and kept it safely there! Hmmm!

After 10 minutes, there came a waiter... He brought us a menu card on demand and disappeared. When he came that side again, we caught hold of him and ordered what we ate (Won't tell you what it was).

Another long wait of 15 minutes. In the meantime, all the 7 tables around us were empty too.. most of them shouting at the waiter and the hotel. But our waiter maintained his cool!

There comes our order! Good. Tasty, Delicious...
Now I got to tell you what we ordered- 2 Tandoori roti and 1 chicken curry. There were so many pieces of rotis in the bowl given to us. We had noticed earlier that all others were given full round uncut rotis. We smelt a rat.

Since we were hungry, we decided to order another roti. When we did so, the waiter said, "I already gave you 3. I will bring another one." We wondered: 'we ordered only 2, he gave us 3?'

So we arranged the cut pieces of the roti in a round and saw 5 pieces made a round full roti. We had eaten four pieces. That makes a total 9 pieces.

And when the waiter came round the next time, we asked him, 'how many rotis did you give us?'
He said, 'three.'
We asked: 'how many pieces are there in one roti?'
He said, 'four.'
We asked: 'How come then 3 rotis are only 9 pieces?'
He said: "%£$"@*&....."

He went back and brought us another roti. His face was tensed and not so comfortable- Other visitors were shouting at him too...

When we finished, we asked for a bill. While Arun went to wash his hands, he came and told me, 'Rs.130'
I said, 'give a bill'
He said: 'Its 130. 3 rotis and one chicken curry.'
I said, 'give a bill'
He said: "%£$"@*&....."

He fetched us a bill. We paid him Rs.130 exactly. He counted it thrice infront of us!

If we had not doubted, we would have tipped him. That would mean, he would cheat us and we would tip him!

My mind murmered, like one of my professors said, "WELCOME TO REALITY, WELCOME TO INDIA."


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