Saturday, October 24, 2009

Visit to Village

The visit to ‘My Village’: 26th Sep to 3rd Oct 2009

My village is situated exactly 64 Kms from Gorakhpur which is the most convenient railway station for access. Kushinagar, ancient Kushinara and also the ‘Mahaparinirvan place’ of the first Buddha ‘Shakya Muni’, is the district under which my village falls. Kushinagar is 50 Kms from Gorakhpur railway station and visited by people mostly from Buddhist countries or people having faith in Buddhism.

My visit to Gorakhpur has been after an interval of 9 years and that to my village/ Kushinagar after 6 years. To my surprise there doesn’t seem to be any major chagne!! Just the roads have been braodened to an extent. I spent part of my study period at Gorakhpur, while preparing for getting admission into IITs, yet on surface nothing has changed much. The math of Gorakhnath still stands the same way as it used to be at that time. The infrastructure or transportation facilities haven’t seen much improvement as well. I had to argue almost an hour with the taxi driver to start his taxi and take it to my destination – a greedy fellow! As one of the French friends had commented on my facebook profile it sucks BIG TYPE! I couldn’t agree more. Yet it sucks big type for city dwellers, for those who come seeking a big city comfort here.

This place has its own charm. You have to see it the way it is.

My visits

I visited my maternal grand parents and they were elated. My maternal grandfather is educated and had served in the state police services. My maternal grandmother is uneducated by ‘city standards’ but in my view she is one of the most intelligent persons of her time. She has learnt from the larget institution called ‘the life’, if we perceive it as an institution where people come and go. I learnt many things from her and she still manages her large family well with her son & his wife. She has been a great administrator – both in terms of managing money as well as people. I still remember the stories which she used to tell when I was a kid and I used to fall asleep in her lap – the stories of kings, queens, demons etc. My grandmother is no more yet those times came rushing to my memory. How much do I miss the simple life and protection!

My grandfather still walks straight and drives bicycle 18-20 kms, on an average, every day. The guy, though uneducated by ‘city standards’, will put many of my generation to shame with his knowledge of life and his healthy & disciplined schedule. Some discipline me and my father inherited.

Next I visited the fields where I used to roam around till I was 4 years old, also infrequently during the later years. I could feel the fresh air and silence of my childhood and the thought came to me “what have I lost and what I have gained through my life in cities?” Debatable point. During the nights I could clearly hear the sound of crickets, the howling of wolfs and see the stars in the CLEAR sky, a dream for city dwellers. I drink the milk without the ‘contamination’ created by the ‘profit motives’ of commercial establishments and ate the thick curd never to been seen in cities. I could see humans and animals leaving in harmony – fulfilling each others’ need.

I felt peace and in harmony with the things around me. I didn’t have internet connection yet I didn’t feel ‘the need to connect’ – getting hung up to facebook or orkut or checking my emails frequently. Yet not everything is good. The people sometimes fight for mundane things. Many ‘sons’ have gone to cities in search of opportunities, for earning a living, and brought the sense of false ego alongwith them. Each competes with other. The spirit of village life seems to be loosing its strength. People have started ‘living for others’ than for themselves – a term which I often use during my conversations. The way of a city dweller. A question I often raise during my conversation with acquintances/ my friends in cities and I find people don’t want to see the answers. They seem to be afraid – afraid of themselves!

I hope we still save ‘the place’ on which almost 70% of Indian population is dependent.

I travel ahead… see more…seeking more…..

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Visit to Delhi during June 2009

Story of Naveen

Naveen is an auto driver in Delhi. He hails from Bihar. During the course of conversation he mentioned that he doesn't like to stay in Delhi. He has his family staying in Delhi since a long time. He didn't find any opportunities in Bihar, even for propoer sustenance, that’s why he came to Delhi. About Bihar he cited one instance where one bus driver wasn't allowed to take passengers found at designated place as he was handled badly by one of the policeman in Muzaffarpur. He hails from Muzaffarpur which is the second biggest city after Patna. It has been a commercial hub since a long-time. He says “i have my wife and two kids and can't keep them in any place just like that”. He still dreams of doing something in his native town and planning to buy a vehicle to run on rent. He has been a science student at intermediate and writes English perfectly well. When I offered him some opportunities he showed wisdom and said that he would like to start bit by bit and during the course will learn things. He told that though there are opportunities in Delhi this places pushes me away. I want to go to Bihar but I don't have any other options. He earns monthly Rs. 6000/- rupees and managing in such a meagre amount in a place like Delhi is a challenging task. His recent experience to his native place was as if he was in heaven. There are many more like him, from UP and Bihar, in Delhi just being drawn by the supposedly numerous opportunities in capital city but all of them fall sort of their expectations.

The expression which he was making was so touching and so simple that it made me feel why we have failed to provide opportunities to such genuine people who love the region where they belong to. These are the people who if given an opportunity would like to stay and can contribute in a much genuine manner towards the development of their own surroundings and societies.

Visit to the historical city of Gwalior

Visit during May month

At Gwalior:

This is my 3 or 4th visit to the historical city. Just 2 hours from the city of Agra this place is known more for its ancient history than today’s infrastructure. I haven’t seen much improvement in the infrastructure of the city during my above no of visits even though they were quite spaced in time. At Gwalior my visits where mainly to meet my younger brothers who are undergoing their undergraduate studies and sometimes I used to visit ‘the Kila’ which is associated with the Sidhiya royal family.

Musical history:

I would have never known the importance of the place if I wouldn’t have interacted with the director of IIITM (Indian Institute of Information Technology & Management) Prof. Deshmukh. As usual you don’t know much from the locals as the history becomes part of their lives and they don’t remember much about it. It is the outsiders who value it more. Also as a saying goes in hindi ‘ghar ka jogi jogra, aan gaon ka sidh’. We value our own differentiating factors less than that of others. I came to know that it has the tomb of one of the most or I will say the most celebrated Indian musicians in the history i.e. Miyan Tansen or Ramtanu Pandey and this city is also the birthplace of equally gifted musician ‘Baiju Bavra’. Tansen was one of the navratna (nine jewels) in the court of great king Akabar. He was extremely gifted and known for his prowess in music and new compositions. The legendary ragas ‘Rag Malhar’ and ‘Dipak Rag’ was his creation. It is said that when he used to sing ‘Rag Malhar’ the clouds used to rain and ‘Dipak Rag’ has been lost in the history. It was one of the most ‘feared’ ragas which could bring fire to surroundings if sung by a singer and could definitely cause death to the singer due to the fire. It has been lost in history as no body dared to carry it forward. For more information about Miyan Tansen see

Baiju Barva

Baiju Barva was also the contenmporary of Miyan Tansen. He used to be called ‘Bavra’ [crazy] as he fell in love with a dancer in the court of king of Chanderi. After his unsuccessful experience he closed himself in music. He also defeated Tansen once. Some say he was more gifted than Miyan Tansen. Both had the same teacher i.e. Swami Haridas. He also mastered Rag Malhar as well as Dipak Rag. When he used to sing animals used to become so enamored that they used to come to him to listen his songs. He used to make flower bloom by singing ‘Rag Bahar’. For more information visit

We praise today’s singer who are nothing compared to these legendary musical figures and also forgetting the history of this wonderful country. Music is said to be a link between the humans and the gods but today what has been done to music is very sad. ‘Rock’ etc. which create so much noise rather than pleasure are becoming norms. The real purpose of music is getting lost. It is also a means to achieve peace and for some ‘The Ultimate’. The more I travel the more I appreciate this country and more I contemplate about what the people of this country have done to it. Still I see a ray of hope and move ahead to new destinations……to write more!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Conversation on Liquor & Life: 4 people at the dinner table

I and three seniors from HPCL went to have dinner at a nearby hotel. Two of them aged around 35 and third one around 50. Nice place, great ambience & decent food. We ordered food and started having conversation about life at HPCL and how things have been changing. One of the seniors started talking about the student life and how they used to enjoy the liquor & ‘masala’ [a kind of drug which students from NIT Trichy will be better able to explain :)] at Trichy. He mentioned about students screwing their academic career due to using the drug for getting better concentration. It later became an addiction and a topper turned mediocre. My senior, himself, was also a drinker but with great self control, as he mentioned. The other senior narrated his own story. He was a drug addict and big type alcoholic. During his college days at NIT Trichy he used to have the drug three times a day. After finishing his sixth term he went to do internship. He woke up one night, during the internship, sweating and with the realization that he didn’t have any memory of what all subjects he read in the sixth term! He still doesn’t have it. He left the drug at the same instant though later he came to know that he was the second highest ranker in the whole college during 6th term. I shared some instances of IIT Kharagpur students. One brilliant student, papers published more than an assistant professor & went to Michigan University, screwed up his reputation & that of college at US due to drugs. He got deported to India also for continuously harassing a girl as well, of course under the effect of drug. My own experience at Cergy Le Haut. Last Friday of my exchange program at Cergy I drank so much that I don’t have memory of 2-3 hours of my life at the party given by some of Lebanese friends. I slept for almost two days and my room used to smell horribly. Even after seeing my pictures of the party, put on facebook, I couldn’t recollect what had happened. Thanks to two of my friends that I could reach to my room and survive. Anything would have happened to me on that day. I wanted to experience it myself. How stupid as many might think but I don’t have exact explanation for this event.

During the conversation I started contemplating about the liquor and its effect on students’ life. I had an affair with various types of alcohols at quite an early age. During school days I had ‘tasted’ whisky, brandy, rum etc. as my dad used to get it from different friends. He wanted us to taste it so that we don’t become inclined towards it. I never liked the taste of any alcohol except, due to my recent experience, wines esp. rose. Even my younger brothers don’t drink as they have tasted it quite early in their lives as well. They have also seen what it does to people. I thank my father for letting me experience it at quite an early age. If he wouldn’t have done it at that time and told us about the effects we could have been big drinkers during college time with peer pressure, who knows. We do lot of things just because of peer pressure even if we know that the thing is the most stupid thing to do in life. There is need of more and more self control today in young generation. I remember few things from my conversation with Jon, during my visit to Spain, that how smoking and liquor is making younger generation weaker. He mentioned that many from the older generation are healthier than many young people. Utility of smoking or liquor has to be assessed by the people using themselves. Young people/ students need to ‘see’. We can learn from others mistakes rather than making mistakes ourselves or ‘experiencing first hand like me’ as one of my friends from ESSEC would have said. I appreciate her viewpoint now. Thanks to my numerous acquaintances, during colleges as well as my journeys, and friends from whom I have learned a lot. Let us be change agents in our lives first!


Visit to Delhi

19th April- 24th April

I have been visiting Delhi for quite sometime now. Known to many people as the center of power I have never been able to feel at home here. During my working days in Hindustan Petroleum I used to commute from Noida to South Delhi and the problem of traffic jam was horrible. At few instances I had seen people in cars chasing each other due to not letting one go ahead in the traffic jam. Last night (21st April) itself, while returning from Janakpuri to Bahadurgarh, I saw two maruti car owners fighting side by side in the middle of the road. It was quite funny to see them holding each others hand and pulling towards each other from the window of the car even without opening it! How intolerant people are becoming in big cities!! Is this the development we are looking forward to? Development of facilities than that of our minds? Small cities are still beautiful. People are nice & believe in living in communities rather than self proclaimed isolation. Some of my friends, from IIMs & IITs, miss their journeys abroad & wish to get settled in Europe or US where things are quite efficient and environment is beautiful. It surprises me sometimes yet I can understand their views. Though in my view there are lots of things which can be done in India itself. We need to take initiative. India is a country with color, beauty & culture which can’t be comprehended even in many life times. At this instant I remember my conversation with a French faculty/ official at ESSEC who was asking what all places I have seen in France and when I responded that many of the places and now I should move to nearby countries she responded that France has so much cultural heritage & things to see that it will take a life time. France is home to around 60 million people and India is to more than 1 billion. One can imagine the situation. We seem to be a society increasingly becoming critical & as Shiv Khera would have said ‘part of the problem rather than part of the solution’. We need eyes to see how money can be made, if that is the motivator for many people, and there is huge opportunity to make money. But we will have to take initiative. That is why l like the quote by M K Gandhi aka Bapu “Be the change you want to see in this world”. Hopefully I may be able to bring small changes around me.

Now I can feel why some of my foreign friends feel intimated by this city. They get hassled by the auto rickshaws, shop owners etc. only because they are foreigners and must be having good amount of money. I remember my visit to Agra & Mathura, in Feb 2005, with Prof. Bronsfort from The Netherlands. While visiting Mathura he was repeatedly approached by locals for money & some tip. Even one of the locals who acted as a guide, at Mathura, of the travel operator who had arranged our trip approached me and asked me to get some dollars from the Professor. The professor had commented that religion has been commercialized at many places. I had seen it at many places earlier but became conscious after that.

Visit to Patna

From 15th April to 18th April:

I am visiting Patna after more than 5 years. The one thing which strikes me most is the amount of construction work which is going on. You can see it everywhere be it near railway station, housing complexes or nalas. Every place is experiencing the wind of change. I suddenly can vision what it will be 10-15 years down the line if the same pace of development goes on. Bihar will become unrecognizable. Who knows it may start giving many European countries a competition in terms of development!

Still things which disturb me are the poor people on the streets, paddling rickshaws, running roadside dirty shops. Can we ever change this country? Yes! We can. But only government will never be able to do the whole work. The community will have to take the responsibility as well. Be it labor or small amount of monetary contribution people will have to come forward. They will have to start caring. As many feel in Indian society we have stopped caring or why just Indian society I could experience it abroad as well. Yet the student communities abroad are sensitized enough for the need. Indian students still have a long way to go. Hopefully ‘Jagriti’ will be able to bring some change.

The Purpose:

My purpose of visit was mainly to present the pilot proposal related to small chain of food kiosks. The Women Development Corporation (WDC) head wasn’t present. Her place was taken by Erina Sinha. A quite professional looking lady and always asking questions. Later I came to know that she holds an MBA degree from Xavier’s. I had small interaction with her after the presentation and I was impressed by her enthusiasm & forthcoming nature. Women’s development seems to be in right hands.

Visiting the city:

Patna or erstwhile Patliputra doesn’t have the reminiscent of the old glory that it saw at the time of Ashoka or Chandragupta. The glorious past has been overshadowed by corrupt governments and the abysmally bad condition of almost ‘everything’. During the day in the newspaper I read Rabri Devi asking for forgiveness from the voters of her home constituency, Gopalganj, and asking them to vote her again into power. Stupid! Even after sucking the state for so long they didn’t realize that such situation might arise. Changing colors of a politician!

Traveling in the city I could see future. I could find myself comparing it with Europe. The one thing which struck me in Europe was activities around water bodies. The water bodies, which have been meeting points for scholars & places for interaction among groups as well as families, build lot of cohesion. I remember having philosophical conversation with one of my very good friends and group member at ESSEC. It was quite instantaneous for me. I miss that in India. Though the days are not far when India can also experience things like these e.g. Sabarmati River front project. I could see the changed landscape and what it can do to the people. I am hopeful. I always have been. Change is inevitable. It is just a matter of time. As Buddha says “….nothing is static. All the things are in the state of constant flux…” .Bihar, derived from ‘Vihar’ & birthplace of Buddhism, a place having glorious past will rise and so will India.


Sunday, March 29, 2009

Back to KGP after 5 years contd...

I was in my guest house room, at Kolkata, when I came to know about the incident at IIT KGP. I was shocked to learn about what happened to the student. He was from my department. I also came to know that such incident had happened last year as well. A precious life wasted. Gone among us for never to return.

How could we become so apathetic! Students are integral part of our society. They are the drivers of tomorrow's economy. They are the next generation. The resources endowed to us belong to the future generation and we are mere the gurdians. Are we saying to them that we don't care. An academic institution is called Alma matter which creates a homely situation. If the sons & daughters of faculties can't take treatment in the hospitals which are treating the students is the hospital of any worth. Are we creating some kind of class distinction among our student our families. Why does it take an incident to wake us up? Why we are not proactive rather than just followers?

India had been mentioned as a world guru in the past and has knowledge resource which is , in my view, uncomparable in the world. Why we are loosing out on that knowledge? Why we are becoming just money minded and forgeting the type of care structure which our families used to have? Are our parents to be blamed? May be or may not be.

Our student communities feel quite weak but they are also to be blamed. Many of them want to have quick gains which is a fallcy!! Even if earlier generations of people, called alumni, want to give we don't have the abilities to take it. We need to become deserving then only we can desire. We need to change. If not drastically then bit by bit.

Jago desh ke yuwaon jago. Involve yourself 'non-politcally' in making yourself and your fellow countrymen. Politics can only feed power to politicians and it is not going to make much change. You have to realise your strength. Connect with the students, your extended family members (called alumni)..and if you find it difficult then connect to the mother, your alma matter, which binds past, previous & future generations to come. She deserves your care even if it may seem inanimate but it lives in us...will live with us throughout our lives......Sarve Bahvantu Sukhina Sarve Santu Niramaya....