Bread, freshly baked at our school

Some times travel brings life changing experience, especially train journey.  Many of you may have such impactful experiences during your travel.

The purpose of the residential school where I studied is to promote students take up military service as their career.  We were 13 or 14 years of age then.  Our class went for exposure visit to one of the best defence academy in the world, near Pune.  It was a two day journey to reach there from our school.  An incident during this journey remains fresh in my memories.  It continues to push my conviction.

We travelled in our school uniform, including the shoes not allowed to be removed.  In spite of that we had enough excitement during the journey.  To some of us, diesel powered engine for the train was a intriguing experience, when compared to our encounters with steam engines, during our vacation travel back home to down south of the country.  You can stick your neck out whenever the warder is away or extend your hand through windows without getting your face blackened of coal smoke.  We still missed those large chunks of black smoke with coal dust along which gave us feeling of going by train.

We reached Pune railway station in the morning and having our usual breakfast, slices of bread freshly baked at our school bakery with jam, butter and egg.  The school organised to carry our ration for the complete journey except for the time at defence academy.  However missed the dhal we get at school mess that breaks the tedium.  Some of us missed experimenting with different blends of butter, jam and egg to make differently tasting spread.  The bread we had at our school remains the favourite for many of us even these days.  We relish it every time we go for old boys association meeting at school.

Every time school friends meet either as class mate groups or at old boys association meeting, we chatter the same set of stories about our masters and our waywardness.  Anybody else other than school mates watching us for the second time will get bored.  Our family members hate our get together, especially spouses.  However, spouses of some friends have become like school mates and enjoy such narratives every time.

Pune railway station is a busy junction and it still remains so.  Railway lines from three different directions meet.  Though the platforms were fairly maintained, the drainage between the tracks were not, rather it was abused.  At the platform, somebody discovered that we get a dozen plantains just for rupees three.  Most of the students horded the vendor and there were very few of us left in the compartment.

Many students were getting bored with the bread we had and not hungry as well.  One of us started tossing bread slices out of the window while waiting for friends to get some plantains.  The slices were falling into the drain and were getting soaked in black water that stinks of all possible waste.  Like a sponge it absorbed the drain water and became black.  A man walked down the space between two trains.  He came near our compartment window.  He picked up those slices of bread from the drain, squeezed it dry and started eating them.

All of us were stunned witnessing this.  None of us had wildest imagination that the man will pick up those slices of bread and eat.

I was born in an unjust society and I am determined not to leave it as I have found it.


Made in heaven

“It is too long since you finished phase 1, you must write a review before taking up phase 2” said Sharbori with the Program Director around at the lunch table.  As I was driving back after a short meeting from the beach side restaurant on that summer afternoon Jerry called to say there were tremors felt at our office, caused by an earth quake at Sumantra Islands and Tsunami warning is flagged.  More than the thought of evacuating close to 52,000 employees from our high rise offices across the city, I was deeply engrossed in my phase 1 experience.  I decided to write a blog then.

I guess I do have an inner drive to tell the whole world everything I come to know.  Remember Blaise Pascal?  “Pressure exerted anywhere in a confined incompressible fluid is transmitted equally in all directions throughout the fluid such that the pressure ratio remains the same.”  Is that why all break fluids and power steering oil are with high density and viscosity so that the liquid does not compress? Here, I have a drive to transmit my learning to more fellow Homo sapiens every time.  Empty me, so that I can go for more.

Though I have been conscious of what I do most of the times, I got in touch with the rebel in me in phase 1 five years back.  Every time I come across a compulsion to do anything meaningless, I tend to push it back.  I was told, while I was a year old, people at home found it difficult to manage the active child.  Ours is a workaholic agrarian family.  To keep me away from disturbing their schedule, my uncle used to tie me up to the pillar in the Thinnai.  Thinnai is a structure in verandah that is at the door of a house in a traditional Tamil architecture.  This is the place where neighbours, outsiders sit and talk. They tie me up with a jute rope that they use to stitch sacks.  On one such day, I was too furious and snapped the rope pulling it and fell off the Thinnai.  The scar on my forehead keeps the story alive. The pattern of the rebel in me was so clearly perceivable to me, in fact, to my batch mates first and then me.

These days I am carefully guarding this rebel in me.  I realised the importance of guarding the rebel in me here at this phase 1 internship.  The streak of comfort I experienced while recognising the rebel in me.  It was like the pleasure of finding something that you have always thought lost.  Having found I am keeping the rebel with responsible guardianship.

Somewhere during the middle of the 15 days program, I mentioned to the group that one of my core values is ‘By default, trust’.  That was a convenient position for me.  I revelled being there holding on to this value.  I least knew that I am about to throw this out into Bay of Bengal soon.  I perhaps was conveniently feeding the victim in me.  I have gotten in touch with most of the experiences of my convenient ‘trust by default’ position.  I have recognised and healed most of those experiences.  The systems and structures that I live with are not necessarily supportive for people around me to reciprocate trust.

Realising these two phenomena helps me venture into the unknown with confidence.  Universe is made in heaven.  So I am.