Sunday, September 30, 2007

Engg students : Best Vs Rest

You enter the lab to fetch the forgotten lunchbox from the otherwise empty bag and here they are….doing the assignment that has been assigned in the lab just preceding lunch….u feel “ boss assignment to agle week submit karni hai naa”. The next week ,the same day ,someone from the majority mob has their assignment in hand ….standing in the photocopy shop………..requesting, ”uncle is red right par aur signatures par white paper rakh ke 7 set photocopy nikal dena….” And someone shouts from the back ”abe oye…..2 set aur bol de yaar”

Accessibility to them and possibility of getting a response is directly proportional to your aggregate percentage…and inversely proportional to the row no of your seat[counting starts from front to back….gosh! had it been the other way round!!!!!]. They are like seasonal vegetables….we eat these brains only during exams. They are like chief guests….centre of attraction and away from action[action of course takes place in the backbenches]. They eat books ….drink ink…..and breath chalk powder on the first bench. They are toppers !

Toppers. They are a rare species. They are the lions of the jungle. The beast ! These carnivorous living beings eat out your head until you succumb and your grades die out in the viva. Lioness is better at praying than a lion. Following this analogy, the toppers also predominantly consist of the fairer sex. These Hermoine like girls always give other scholars [err, losers] a run for their money. They are peculiar, Identifying these people from a distance requires one to have a look at their attire….if somebody seems like first year ragging-afraid student, with a book , file ,or assignment pages hand-held , then there is a high probability of him/her being a member of this elite class. Other necessary and sufficient symptoms for identification are: spectacles[myopic of course!] , raised hand in classes, marks in midsem>=20, and-band beautiful handwriting, and variable x tending to 100% where x denotes attendance. The surroundings of these geeks is comparable to quinine…..good for health , bitter , and avoided in cheerful health.

Humour creeps into the situation when these are nominated as class representatives, while the rest of the class is classier [I am biased….can’t help it!]. They are also student representatives….rightly so, coz they probably are the only ones who can be referred to as students. The others better be referred as attendants [;)]

Attendants. The crowd ,the mob , individuals working in perfect harmony of an unbeatable team whose one and only aim is to survive. To Survive the hailstorms of shortlists [of attendance] , to survive the dreaded dragons in form of teachers who spit fire in words when an innocent attendant comes late to attend the massacre, and to survive the unnecessary semesters that somehow always manage to fall in between the prescribed sem-breaks [;)] . They have survived and they have flourished as a race, casting spells over upcoming innocent students and comminating them to expand their own race. Outside the classroom, they are the kings, living life on their own terms , obeying no one but their selves. Over the years they have outnumbered and outclassed the toppers but still they could not make their rivals extinct. The toppers still rule and continue to pass on the throne among generations.

Teachers, have the perception that toppers are god sent and attendants probably must have grown out of wild shrubs mushrooming down the road side. If topper commits a mistake, its perfectly human! If the guilty is an attendant then he better shield his butt…coz a kick is just coming in! Teachers are mentors for toppers, they are gods …second to none. To attendants they are like vampires that suck fun out of their veins. Teachers are biased ! For an example If someone inks into pages an answer that has already been penned down by the author of the book then what good is he? But still he[sorry to the she-toppers…U r gods too :D] gets the grades .On the other hand the innocent and morally correct [so called farzi] attendants who do not copy the text thus abiding by the patent agreement of the publisher get low grades because they follow the rules. Not fair!! [:)]

Thus ,with the referee[teachers] on their side, the toppers have dominated thus far .But with the arrival of newer and farzier teachers[छर्रे !! ] ,the tussle is getting more fierce day after another .The war between the two races will probably continue till eternity, and the farzis will just hope that some day they have their own king….The king of attendants. That day engineers will rule the world and the era of knowledge will doom!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Little things work big !!!

Sunday morning, morning stroll, cold and somewhat wet breeze…..thele ki chai. These are perfect settings. We guys have a seat discussing how Robin Uthappa made the day the last day by hitting two fours in the last over, and how exuberant young blood adds to cricketing excellence. Meanwhile, shaun[a friend] shouts out “chhotu ….teen chai” and I am left wondering how this whole species of waiters across uncountable chai-thelas got the name chhotu. My friends discussing crappy newspapers with such interest slowly faded from my thoughts and I started observing chhotu.

Three fingers partially dipped in tea, and a feeble support of the thumb enabling him to hold on to 3 tea glasses in each hand. He served us tea. A worn out shirt, followed by dirty knickers and bare feet was the output of my head-to-toe scan of this lad standing waist high. I got the answer …the name chhotu seemed justified. I though, was amazed to see how cheerfully that child was doing all what he does. He serves tea and poha, cleans up everything , collects the emptied glasses and when you offer him money he redirects you towards the owner of the thela . And in the process, he seems perfectly at ease with no regrets at all.

Sipping tea, I had a look at children playing cricket and football on the playground stationed opposite to this chai-thela. Little brats kicking the ball for a few meters and some others chasing a ball down to the boundary somehow seemed extremely ecstatic , rejoicing every moment of the Sunday that comes after 6 days of toil in their respective schools. “Schools, which chhotu might not have ever been to” This thought was about to brush me , but before that I thought of something else. I thought of Sundays he had missed, I thought of friends he could not make and I thought of this ecstasy which he could not experience. And then came the lessons he could not learn too . Had he invested all that enthu he has into something more fruitful , it might have helped him and his family more in the time to come. But then when today carries a much bigger question mark over their survival, how can he afford to go to school or learn something that is not of any immediate use. At least, he is not begging .He is helping his family, if any, to survive in this forest of much stronger animals.

In India we have growth, not development. Growth is vertical and development ,on the other hand , is horizontal. And that’s why rich are getting richer and poor are getting poorer. In such climate, Children belonging to the lower echelons are bound to get suppressed, hence when they grow up, the next race is poor too. Its a vicious circle. The government provides them with midday meals, but what about them once the bell rings .Reality strikes them once they get out of the premises. And then we find these young but matured blokes doing an over time on Sundays to make up for the time they wasted in schools for one meal a day.

My cousin is working for an NGO that works for child labour , she keeps talking enthusiastically of how they are helping children break the shackles and pursue a better life. But the enthu gives way to disgust when she talks about her visits to slums, where half naked malnourished people demand for money and food even before listening to them. In these slums , the she-child goes begging or helps her mother out and the he-child finds himself something to do. Books supplied by schools or NGOs find uses which they are not meant for. Hands that should be holding a cricket bat look out for screw-drivers or empty glasses and dirty plates. But, still the child is angelic on his or her end. If breathing and learning are two options….I would choose breathing!
The next time I visited the thela,I heard chhotu blurting out hindi slangs [gaaliya] to someone,and instead of despising him, I tipped him. His hard-headed give-it-in attitude at this tender age made me exclaim “Hats off!”

Monday, August 13, 2007

The God Of Waters

Water ,One of the divine panchatatvas according to Hindu mythology and one of the major necessities of life. A necessity for photosynthesis and a universal solvent, this sacred liquid is of unexplainable importance to sustenance of every living being on earth. Specially my family and my neighbors .I do not believe in the mythological phenomenon of reincarnation [life after death or rebirth], but if it is true then it is no exaggeration to say that all these people must have been aquatic species in their last life looking at the way they crave for water. And god of death Yama must have said “Vatsa! you have done enough sins in this janma , now you won’t get enough water in the next birth” And he sent them all to my locality.I can imagine all of us chanting “ trahimam trahimam”.
And then Yama must have added with some benevolence “Your sins will be washed off in this janma ,and for that you all will have to chant the name of the god of waters”.
It was only two years back when the nebulous enigma of his statement unveiled to us and we had no choice but to laugh at the satire within. The god of waters he had mentioned was not the rain-god Indra ,it rather was the substituted dummy god of kalyuga, “TankerWala”.

Our small little nest is much like an apartment of 8 families. Eight dehydrated families at that. Hitting ground-water in our locality while digging a bore in dry dust enveloped by a coal tar road has the same odds of success as that of finding a mosquito-less region in the same locality during the rainy season. Talking of seasons, opposite to the general perception, we are happier with the supply of water in summer as compared to the rains. The reason being, the god of waters “TankerWala” goes on vacations in the rains. Opposite to other localities which enrich their water tanks through the divine water- rechargement shloka in the rainy season ,our recharged water probably drains down the slopy land that we are living on, leaving us in sheer disappointment and no option but to cherish the memories of good old wet-summers ;). Others who are not of the locality feel pride in ridiculing us unfortunates, but we give them the reply in the summers with the blessings of our newly found GOD.
Just like Santa rides his cart cheerfully and distributes much aspired presents to children. In the same manner here comes our tankerwala on his divine ratha called tanker, with presents in the form of water. The day he arrives is no less than any Christmas as well.On Christmas people wear new clothes, but the day the tankerwala comes, we wear washed clothes.

The tanker is a phenomenon in itself .It defies all the established definitions of a machine or a vehicle. The thing has thousands of creaking and squeaking components with the horn as the only silent one amongst them, all these loosely held by some hallowed binding force of magnitude assumedly of the order of the nuclear force which binds together repelling protons in the nucleus. Meanwhile, the nucleus of this supernatural phenomenon, known as the engine in the unsophisticated and naïve language of lesser mortals, can be initiated by only some godly touch on the keys which can be provided by who else….the god himself. Just like the lord Rama is surrounded by a luminous and radiant aura around him, the TankerWala is also surrounded by an invisible aura which can not be seen in the absence of flies, but can definitely be smelled in his divine vicinity which increases at exponential rate until a time period of about 7 days ,after which this hardworking creature probably finds free time to take a bath himself. If the tankerwala appearing in your locality is a senior pro ,then along with the sweaty odour, you may even be able to inhale some smell of the local daaru better known as khamba . Just like we pray to god and leave some coins in the daan-peti of temples, this god is also bribed by all the devotees so that he does not get angry over them. The only difference is that, mere coins won’t serve the purpose here.

I have been reliving the mythology for the last two years. I have relived the Mahabharata. All by the grace of lord Krishna in the form of tankerwala who is the driver to cart[tanker] with Arjuna on the other seat. Arjuna , whose arrows never missed the target and caused incurable wounds, materialized to me in the form of the the tankerwala’s assistant. Yes he has an assistant too. But this Arjuna of Kalyug does not have arrows ,he has the pipe of the water tank in his hands and the people get wounded by his words .His amazing vocabulary of slangs in hindi [I mean presumably hindi] can not be explained to any degree by allegedly cultured people like me here.In the mahabharta I saw on TV,krishna intiated the battle by blowing his shankha. This mahabharata is initiated by tankerwala not by using the horn but by the creaky sounds[which still somehow sound melodious to us] of the brakes of the just arrived tanker. And then all the soldiers of our locality enter the kurukshetra with weapons in the form of buckets and water tanks. Arjuna, takes out his water pipe and lawfully distributes the water to all the aspirants .if anyone tries to cheat then Arjuna takes out his bhramastra ….his words. In the mean time, the Krishna ,or the driver of the tanker, finds time to light up a beedi or to intake a pouch of vimal gutkha. At the end of this distribution of prasaad-roopi-jal, if there are any confusions in our minds then the tanker- wala gives us the brahmagyaan from his geeta which is his small copy which carries the information about when he will come the next time.

And then all of us enjoy the day by the blessings of this GOD of ours. We celebrate by bathing and washing our vastras and the utensils, not even worrying about storing water for the time to come. Such is the trust we have on this almighty god of waters.