Saturday, 14 October 2017

Homeland


Raju was born and grew up in a small village in India. He was good at studies from the beginning. Just like others Raju also loved his village a lot. It was his world, his homeland. The neighbouring villages often fight with each other on small issues. Everyone took pride and was ready to die for their motherland. Sometimes there were minor conflicts within the village as well, but those could easily be neglected. But when there was any fight with any other village the entire people would become united. Everyone forget their internal ego, the unnecessary small issues and fight together for their homeland. Raju grew up in such environment. In fact, he witnessed many such fights.

Raju studied at the only school in the village till 8th grade. Actually those days there was no option for the students after 8th grade. Based on the school teacher’s recommendation Raju’s father admitted him at a school in the nearby town. It was for the first time Raju had been to any town, even though it was just 70 km from their village. He studied hard and soon everyone at school started recognizing his talents. Gradually, Raju noticed some major changes. Life was quite different in the village. In the town life seemed to be busy. There were many schools and colleges. Everyone took pride for their institutes. In case of any conflict entire school/college would become united. Raju noticed that religious differences was more in the town. And whenever the prestige of the town was at stake, everyone would get emotional. People were ready to die for their homeland. 

Days passed by. Raju did very well in his higher secondary exams. He took admission at an engineering college in the city. Life was different there. People were more broadminded. Raju noticed that people usually don’t interfere with other’s life, everyone was busy with their own. Most of the issues were created by politicians. Issues based on religion, language, or race were more prominent. Time had really just flown by. Raju graduated. He then lived in many different cities of India, switched jobs. In all the cities life was more or less the same. Even though languages differ, but people are the same, emotional, sentimental. Politicians play the actual game. People take pride on their respective states. They wish and often demand to get preference in their respective regions. When critical situation would arise, people get very sentimental and ready to die of their region, their homeland. Also, all are patriotic towards their country.

Few years later Raju went to the US to pursue master’s degree in Aerospace Engineering.

Raju had lived a good life in the US. He studied hard. He always wanted to travel to the space. Life was different in the US. Clean and broad roads, excellent transportation systems, people seemed to be more educated and liberal. But then human beings are same everywhere, their basic nature remains the same. There also the politicians play the real game. People want to be superior to others. Everybody love to get preference. There also people are very patriotic for their motherland. Raju met many people who actually belong from rival countries, but he noticed them staying together, eat together, and they would laugh together. Sometimes Raju was confused, but then he would simply smile. 

After the master’s, Raju completed his PHD. He worked with NASA as a senior scientist. After several months of training finally it was time for him to fulfil his dream, to travel to the space. He travelled with two other astronauts. The space shuttle took them and cargo into the low Earth orbit. The mission was to do some maintenance activity at the space station. 

Raju was floating in space. He looked at the Earth below. It looked stunningly beautiful as sunlight reflected off of the oceans. Raju was mesmerised. He kept looking at the Earth, and was lost in nostalgia. 




He remembered his small village where he grew up. He recalled how people used to fight on small issues, smiling. He remembered the town where he did the later part of his schooling. He recalled all the cities and countries he lived. He wondered how people are so emotional about their respective homelands. He wondered how over the years the countries were formed, how the politicians play their tricks, how people fight in the name of religion or language or face. Everything felt so meaningless to him. Raju kept looking at the Earth, his home. Now, he understood the true meaning of homeland.




Grab a copy of my debut book Story of Tublu from Amazon or Flipkart. It is a Contemporary Fiction novel, published by LiFi Publications Pvt Ltd. The book has its share of drama, that entertains; humor, that makes one reminisce; love, friendship and emotions that defines the amazing journey that is, life.





Monday, 25 September 2017

One Memorable Train Journey from Pune to Bangalore



About a year after we got married, Anjali moved to Pune. She opted for a PG Diploma course in Emergency Medicine from Symbiosis University. Few of my good college buddies, Dhiru, Diganta and Saikat were in Pune those days. I and Anjali went to Pune, looked for a PG nearby the institute. Well, there were many options in that locality. Anjali liked one of them and paid the booking amount. The duration of the course was one year, and during that period I visited Pune about four to five times. On every occasion I stayed with Dhiru and Diganta, they both shared the same house those days. It was party time whenever I visited Pune. Reunion of old friends, Anjali also joined us in the evening after her classes were over. For the first time we traveled by bus, Volvo. It was pretty comfortable, Rs 1000/- per ticket, took 15 hours to reach Pune. They dropped us somewhere on Pune-Mumbai highway in the middle of the night. From there it was another 25-30 km to my friend’s place. We took an auto. On one occasion I took a train from Bangalore to Pune. Those were the days when Air Deccan entered the market and changed the dimension of aviation industry. It immediately became the pioneer of low-cost flights in India. Even average middle class people started to fly. One day I thought to give it a try and looked in the internet. Bangalore to Pune, Rs 1000/-, exactly same that of bus fare, but it would reach Pune in just one hour and 20 minutes. Also, my friends stayed very near to Pune airport.  

Anjali’s PG course was over. It was time for her to come back to Bangalore. Once again I traveled to Pune by Air Deccan. But the return journey I booked train tickets. Anjali had hell lot of luggage. It was actually much beyond my expectation, almost 100 kg I guess. We boarded our train in the morning. It was stationed on the platform. It came all the way from Mumbai, on its way to take us to Bangalore. We had to take a coolie. I also carried as much I could. The railway platform was crowded. We found our compartment. We somehow placed the luggage. There were many people sitting at our compartment, more than the number of berths. I was already tired, out of frustration I asked, “Itne saare log kaise baith gaye yahan pe?” (How come so many people occupied the seats here?)


All the men were in their middle age, one of them was quite tough looking. Couple of them replied in chorus, “We will get down at the next station.”


Suddenly a lean man grabbed my attention. He was at the window seat opposite to us. He was handcuffed, one hand locked to the window. Both I and Anjali felt weird. I thought the guy must have done something wrong in the train and the Railway police handcuffed him. Soon our conversation started with the co-passengers. They were all policemen. The handcuffed guy was actually a thief, laptop thief. He was from a village in Karnataka. The cops were taking him to Karnataka police to progress with the case, to catch hold of the entire gang. 

"Are you guys from Railway police?" I asked.

"No. No. We are Mumbai police," they replied in chorus. Proudness on their face.


In few minutes the train slowed down, and then stopped. Three of the fellow policemen got down at the very first station from Pune to Bangalore.  They said goodbye to us. All the cops were good friends. They shook hands, wished good luck. They were speaking in Marathi, but we were able to make out everything. Suddenly the train started with a jerk. So from here the real journey starts. I, Anjali, a handcuffed thief, and three policemen.



All the three policemen were very decent. One of them looked quite rough and tough, another a little short with big belly, and the last one looked normal. They seemed to be very friendly. Soon they opened a polythene bag. There were Vada pav inside, nicely packed. Well, Vada pav is a simple vegetarian fast food dish native to the state of Maharashtra in India. It's local Indian burger stuffed with deep fried potato along with coriander, onion, spices and chutney. It is immensely popular fast food dish all throughout Maharashtra. 



They offered us their food. Out of courtesy we were a bit reluctant to accept. But it wasn’t too hard for them to convince us. They also offered a Vada pav to the thief, in fact it was an order. The offender denied. The rough and tough policeman asked him one more time. Again the thief denied. The policeman slapped him hard 2-3 times. They bad guy immediately got hold of the Vada pav and put inside his mouth. Anjali was very shocked.

"Why are you beating him? He might not be hungry," Anjali looked sad.

"Sorry, I shouldn’t have beaten him in front of you. But you have no idea about such people. They are criminals. They have no heart, no emotion. The only think they understand is the stick. We caught him red handed with three stolen laptops in Mumbai. We immediately arrested him. For the first two days he spoke only in Kannada. We were so frustrated. We then applied little dose, and pretty soon few Hindi words uttered from his mouth. We increased the dose, and few more Hindi words came out. In the next few hours as the dose kept increasing he became more and more fluent in Hindi. There is no other way to deal with such people," the policeman explained in details.


Time spent well. Interesting conversation. I asked how they catch the criminals, how they get the leads? They shared few of their stories. In between, our discussion turned to a different direction. Anjali asked their names. One of the policeman, the fat one was very proud of his surname. 

"I’m Rajput. You guys know Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, right? He’s also a Rajput," The man’s proudness showed up.

Then Anjali popped in. She was also very happy. "Yes, we are also Rajput," She said. They asked her name, and the Rajput thing continued for a while. 

"So, are you also a Rajput?" One of them asked me. I was a bit confused. 

"Yeah. Like that only, not very sure," I murmured.  

"What is your name?"

"Jahid. Jahid Akhtar," I replied.

There was a silence for a while. And then things turned back to normal. 



Time passed by. Darkness fell. Stars shinning in the sky. Evening is the best time when we travel in sleeper class. Pleasant breeze. Open sky. The typical train sound effect, so soothing.


"So what are you guys planning to do? How are you going to catch all the gang members?" I asked. 

"Tomorrow morning we need to go to Madivala Police station in Bangalore. We need to submit an application to request extension of his remand for seven more days to gather more information from him," one of the policeman answered.

"But aren’t the Bangalore police going to help you guys? You are only three policemen, and you don’t even know the locality well," I expressed my concern.

The cops looked at each other, smiled. "These interstate investigation cases are kind of complex. They help eventually, but it takes time. There are lot of formalities. For high priority cases the procedure is fast. But for normal cases it’s not that easy. Few years ago our team leader, the policeman pointed his finger towards the fat guy, tried to pull his legs. So, two-three years ago our team leader visited Bangalore for an investigation. He was at the police station for the entire day, and only the next morning his application was accepted. The major problem is that Bangalore police speak only in Kannada or English. Actually, our English is a bit poor," The policeman shared their worry.

Later the cops asked if we could help them in writing the application for them. Anjali was eager to help. They gave the content and she drafted it. They were so happy, felt pretty relaxed. After dinner, the lights were turned off. Everyone went to sleep. The windows were open. I kept looking at the dark sky.


In the morning we reached Bangalore. The policemen thanked us. They gave us their numbers. 

"If you guys come to Mumbai or Pune, and if you are in any kind of trouble, just call us," the policemen expressed their friendship. We were so happy, smiled, "Sure, that’s so nice of you."




Grab a copy of my debut book Story of Tublu from Amazon or Flipkart. It is a Contemporary Fiction novel, published by LiFi Publications Pvt Ltd. The book has its share of drama, that entertains; humor, that makes one reminisce; love, friendship and emotions that defines the amazing journey that is, life.






Tuesday, 19 September 2017

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