Dream Come True Part 7
This story is basically about a boy who is very lazy and boring, but he has a unique hobby. It is to listen to the stories of other people. He is an arm-chair traveller, who roams from one place to another and comes to know about different people, cultures, beliefs, enchanting and not- so-enchanting places, superstitions, miracles and super-natural encounters as also about the inner thoughts that at times bother us as human beings - all through the stories of other people or casual conversation with interesting characters.
Table of Contents
Visit to an Enchanting Place
Home Sweet Home
Siberian Winds in Hokkaido
Trek to Himalayas
Story in Revenge
Backlash at Payback Time
Familiar surroundings; after all I have lived there for almost the entire century since the world war. First, as a student and then as a teacher. I can recall even today the incident that changed my life. His name was Aditya. He was from some village in the Indian state of Bihar and had come to London School of Economics to research for his PhD in economics. It was just after India got independence. Ruled by the British for more than 200 years, Indians knew, rather admired the British universities. The Raj effect, some say. So there came Aditya from India, funded by the US of A. Exceptions for sincere scholars; US Taxpayers money to pay for an Indian’s studies in the UK.
Aditya was a committed student. He came from a family of farmers. He was, like the guy from Singapore I talked about earlier, interested in doing something good for his state. He believed education and jobs would help his folks. But, first he had to educate himself. Soothsayers and astrologers consulted, off he was at 45 minutes past 3 o’clock in the morning to the railways station. 14 hours ahead of the scheduled departure of the train to the city of Calcutta. ‘What kind of times?’ did I hear you say? Yeah…pressure cooker-free times! You never had last minute rushes. No experiences like this poem I penned during my last trip back to my Cambridge home from Singapore:
“We woke up at six,
And headed straight to airport
To catch the flight at eight to Heathrow
Enough time I thought there was
To sip a cup of cappuccino,
Before whizzing past the immigration
Little did I know,
Cyclists from across the globe,
Busy cruising down the freeway
Called Eastern Express highway.
With the road closed to motorists
Didn’t know where to go,
A policeman came to rescue
Asked to take a detour to pan-island route
Adrenaline started flowing into veins
No need for coffee.
All roads lead to Rome
But Changi seemed to be so afar,
Till the chauffeur pulled in the car
At entry gate to terminal three.
With the heart pounding at 130
Times a minute, checked in
And off to aerobridge
To board the flight
That was almost missed! “
I marvel at the focus people had in those times. Focus on the big picture. No chasing squirrels. If you wanted to study, you studied no matter how much time and trouble it meant. Just before Aditya left for the railways station at the auspicious time, his father gave him what he thought was a one-rupee silver coin. That was supposed to pay for his travel expenses, food and drinks included. After the day break, Aditya inspected the coin in the daylight. Couldn’t believe his eyes. It was only a nickel; barely enough to pay for the ticket. What to do? Going back? No ways. So he bought his ticket, waited for the train to arrive and boarded it without a morsel of food.
In Calcutta, he shared his room with some other students from his state, who took turns to cook the food. It was quite usual for students to support their fellow villagers. Tuition and stuff like that paid for his college fees and living expenses; a little bit also saved to send some money to his father. Time flies. Very soon he graduated. Became a teacher at a school in his own state; had to teach his own boys. Idealism ? Necessity ? I don’t know. A lectureship at a college followed. Time to get a PhD. Nothing less than the best; the LSE. Topic for research had to be something good for India. So, something about agriculture in his own state. USA helps him out catch up with the latest in economics at LSE. Studies over, doctorate awarded, Aditya heads back to his state and becomes president of a university college. He teaches his boys and girls and I get the job at LSE, later move to FAO and then land the tenure at Cambridge. I must admit the teaching job would have gone to Aditya had he stayed back. Good that he didn’t. Shouldn’t say that. No guilt. It was his choice.