Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Boot Polish @ 1.00 Rs.

Sitting in the waiting room in Sealdah Station, I was busy writing some columns. Suddenly a boy aged 9-10 came to me with his polish box. “Babu (Sir) Polish”, he told me. I ignored him first since this is a common site at this Station. Seeing no response from me he repeated the same. I replied, “No”. But he kept reiterating few more times. I was unable to hear him more. “I don’t allow children to polish my shoes”, I replied. He could not understand my words. He tried to interpret my words and replied, “No Babu, I will make your shoes shine”. Naturally why should he be concerned with the waves in my brain about child labour in India? He was still near to me. “Ok sir, no polish, only cleaning”, he told me looking at my shoes. My leather shoes were covered with dust, since it could not be cleaned since last day .This time I forgot to carry my shoe brush and polish as I am accustomed to do on my trips.

His patience attracted my attention towards him. His face was dry, hairs unkempt, full shirt with sleeves folded up to his skinny biceps, buttons were missing and a safety pin was carelessly tied in place of buttons. He was carrying the polish box several brushes tucked in it .But he had nicely arranged the down portion of shirt (under shirting) in his blue half pants. Obviously he looked the little cobbler. He had still hopes from me seeing my considerate eyes. “I will clean your shoes, 1 rupee Babu”. Oh! Child Labour @ 1.00 Rs. I was shocked. Naturally I was more inquisitive in him than his brush. I told him to sit on the chair near to me. Now he felt easy and started telling how he left his school, how his right hand burnt, how his younger brother earns more than him. But still his gaze was more interested in my dirty shoes than my queries. I wanted to avoid his innocent gaze. I asked him if I give money without polishing the shoes, will he leave me. He nodded his head and told, “Yes”. I gave him the coins available to me in my upper pocket. I did not have any better option at that point of time.

He went unaffected taking coins from me. He gaze was still on the shoes of other person’s .Similarly he requested the other gentleman sitting near to the gate. And he was busy shining his shoes. The “gentleman” was helpful to the boy. I was feeling helpless……..

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Conveyance in Kolkata

Before today,I have been here several times.
And the among the many unique things here, I have found the traffic so busy because of facilities, you are provided at a single point.You can see hundreds of Yellow taxies, plying on the road.If you know the route the drivers will happily start their faulty meters.If You don't know the route they will ask whether you will go on meter or shall prefix the fare.This is where a new comer fails to decide, if he/she takes the meter option then be sure the driver will explore a new longer route that day for the destination If u take the second option of prefixing the price the poor traveler will loose the bargain to prefix the fare.

If you are smart and can take the the medium class's poor vehicle,the local buses.On the buses be prapared to sit on "high rise seats",nothing to hold for support. Yes if you are standing, you will be provided the facility to hold the bar on the roof. Beware! when the driver will take the sudden brake, you can never guess. Sitting inside the bus you cannot see, what the driver is seeing in front of the bus,how hard you try, I bet!

I cannot miss to describe the Tram , you may call it the mini train on road. But if You are an outsider, you may not know the source and destination.I have travelled in it from MG Road to College street.When I asked for ticket to the contactor or TTE ( I don't know what they are called) after I have travelled 2 minutes and got struck into the jam for 5 minutes. They did not gave me ticket. Because I had travelled hardly 200 meters. I got down. It was a free trip.

You have another option of autorickshaw but few in numbers.

But if you like to enjoy sitting higher and an inhuman ride. Seek for the rickshaws pulled by some human.I feel more sorry when I see my Bihari brothers have adopted this profession in large number. What a pathetic situation is it? One man sitting like BABU and other person full of sweat and red face pulling the so proud Babu !

Ok you are tired of these transportation on land. Get down the earth of Kolkata, you will find Metro railway. Oh I remember it when I travelled 11 years ago in my Navodaya Vidyalaya sponsored trip. You will feel in a better position now. At least below the earth there are some travel rules existing.

Water tranport on the Hugli river is also nice experience. But If you don't know to swim the big rivers, be good at putting your legs when you get on it and get down from it.

Otherwise who knows there are professional lifesavers or not!!!!

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Who Am I ?

"Sir, I am Prem Piyush on the motherland with a purpose to lead my life in such a way that I can remain alive in the heart of the People"----was my answer when ,the chairman,an army officer asked me to define myself during the interview at Army School, Khaprail, Darjeeling.

Surprise to me the Madam Principal along with other members in the interview board, started laughing with other members and told me to tell about my educational background, family background etc". I answered accordingly and my interview lasted 15 minutes.

That day I got a lesson from the interview. Adding to my surprise, next day my name was enlisted on the notice board among selected candidates. Still I would like to introduce myself this way except interviews of course. What I believe that,the person himself is more important than his family background and educational background.

Yes I have an identity, of course nurtured by our parents, society, and the culture I belong. But can it be judged only by parental and educational background? Even if it matters for me , it does not matters for other millions.

Again There are millions who are devoid of such identity of educational or parental background. Millions die, so millions born .Sure, I am not an exception. The infinite string which connects everyone is the humanity and it's pain, it's joy. So we together need to strengthen the string.

I and you should be replaced by we. Yes, I agree that Self Help is the best way to Help the world. One should explore one's capacities to full extent. And are not millions who underestimate their capacity? Don't they need elixir to revitalize themselves? What is the call of the time is, to know their heart, their brain, not only their qualifications, money, status, etc.

In my context free language I would mention a short episode:

Last December I had traveled with one of my elderly relative on a "passenger train" crossing a railbridge over a river called Mahananda. He indicated me the sand down to bridge which was a cremation ground with a small pucca shelter. Alas! He could not return through the bridge.When he died of illness, I accompanied his abode body to the same cremation place for last rituals. Now we were down the bridge, at the cremation ground. Suddenly I heard the long whistle of the same "passenger train" again and saw it passing over the bridge. We don't know where are weat what point of time. Every body's state changes with respect to time.

We are just the fortunate travellers of the passenger train which completes one trip in 24 hours. How many trips we make ( I thank God since he allowed me for 27 X 365 + trips till now) is upto Him. How we behave with your co - passengers is upto us .What impressions we create among the co-passengers who will remain travelling while I have to get down.

So this is just not an episode. This episode will replay for every one of us some or the other way. What we can leave is our essence . "I" cannot travel long. Long live "our journey".