By-Two Kaapi in an oilfield

The weblog of Abhilash Ravishankar, India.

Here I blog about my personal experiences [posting rarely]

At my tumblelog Intoxicated by possibility I blog about my opinions/likes/dislikes [posting heavily]

Musings on a diesel locomotive

As I travelled alone yesterday from Bangalore to Mysore, I was missing something - a book to read - which I always carry on my frequent train journeys between these two cities. I just had Jack Welch's 'Winning' in my bag and I had just a couple of chapters to finish, which I devoured in less than 20 minutes. So, there I was stranded on the railway platform - 1 hour ahead of schedule - just staring at people who looked more lost than I was.

  • I saw one familiar face, a man who had travelled in the same coach on my last journey. A grumpy young man. We exchanged silent grins.
  • And then, I needed a capuccino, but had to compromise for an ordinary coffee due to the non-availability of the former.
  • As I boarded the diesel locomotive, I managed to get a seat next to a chirpy Malayali Kannadiga. And then came in one more friendly old guy to the vacant seat on my right.

This seems so natural a journey, but for me it was different because I am used to either chat the whole journey with someone or read a book throughout. Here I could do nothing. So, I just sat back and let out the philosopher, the thinker, the psychologist, the scientist, the engineer, the entrepreneur in me. (Whoah! Am I a mixture of all that ?)

  • The usual scuffle for seats - reserved by a mucus-laden handkerhief. There was a woman travelling with two of her children and one cousin of theirs. Unable to find a seat in that extremely overcrowded train, she somehow managed to snug in her two little kids in some vacant space and she stood through half the journey. I remembered one incident - Rewind 6 years - A teacher of mine had remarked, "What is the driving force for the progress of the society ?" - "The unstinted wish of every parent that his/her child should lead a much better life and all that they do towards making that wish come true"
  • Outside the window marked by 3 iron grill rods, I could smell the stink as we just left Bangalore - Vrishabhavati. The river(if you can call any form of flowing liquid - a river) formed by all the drainage exits across the city. And next to it was an endless sea of huts and slums. A herd of ragpickers fighting over a pile of polythene covers. A line of naked children waving at us. A young boy being sent by his mother to defecate in front of their own hut. I felt a strong sense of emptiness. Here I am talking of VHDL and its likes when I see people who are suffering at the very rise of civilisation that I shall be abetting by devising faster chips, faster machines, bigger buildings. What can I do that can improve thier lives? Isn't seeing a smile on their faces much satisfying than getting a promotion for implementing a new design on a chip? I thought about the rural housing idea that I had, which after hours of discussion with a civil engineer, none other than my Dad, was rendered infeasible. And about Prahalad, who also rebutted the concept of providing basic necessities to such people in his book on the BOP and emphasised the issue of giving them a 'luxurious' life they always crave for. And about the endless raving about charity when people know that its not sustainable. If only I could do something.......
  • As the train chugged along, shouts of 'tea-coffee-maddur vada' rose in unison and faded into obscurity alternately. I heard cries of 'Peanuts' . Easily recognisable as a old lady's cry. She walked into our compartment. A basket on her head - It couldn't have weighed more than 5 kgs but her frail body looked as if it would almost collapse under its weight. The kids I talked abou earlier bought peanuts worth 3 bucks. I made some crude calculations. On a single train, she would sell around 15 such packets - thats 45 bucks. Probably a profit of 40 bucks. With the energy that I saw in her, the maximum that she could cover per day, aorund 10 trains. Thats around 400 bucks. Thats pretty close to 250 bucks that she could have made by just begging. I saw in her 'dignity' - She chose to earn bread when she could beg. That is a spirit I salute.
Well, I could make a day-long documentary on my thoughts on that journey, but I am feeling sleepy and I better end at this.

Reading: Soon to begin 'Blink' - Malcom Gladwell

Listening to: Kishore Kumar: Chalte Chalte yeh mere geet yaad rakna

1 Comment:

  1. Aravind said...
    Ahem, Vrishabhavathi definitely qualifies as a river, when Cooum here at Chenna does!

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