My privilege

Here I am sitting on a seat; waiting for my train to arrive.

Meanwhile: –

(1)

On the speaker,”Your attention please, train number 8424 — Cuttack-Bhadrak passenger will arrive shortly on platform number 1.” (Repeats in hindi and our regional language — odia) (not my train)

(2)

The kids sitting (read: fighting) next to me, “I’m gonna kill you.” His nemesis reiterates, “No, I’m gonna kill you first!” (In odia)

(3)

<Insert pic — search your memory>

I noticed a pretty girl in the crowd. (Hell no, I dare not click a picture — the law won’t see the difference between appreciating something beautiful, and teasing.) (Also, that does sound creepy!)

(4)

Once a year there comes a time when people make a journey to whatever ‘Shiva’ (a hindu god) temple thay hold dearest. The custom demands them to wear saffron/orange outfit and carry water in earthen pots to be poured on ‘Shiva linga’ (just Google it). The thing is that they have to journey barefoot to the waterbody and then to the ‘Shiva’ temple. This could easily be a 30km walk in total. Yes, these guys have done their job and are now going back to home/work.

(5)

Then there is this railway police staring down the marginalized populace of the country.

(6)

<Insert a melancholic tune>

All this suddenly unearthed a feeling which, with great pain, we have managed to silence. It’s the feeling of how privileged we are for having everything that we have. This feeling is often invoked by Indian parents when they’re guilt-tripping their kids. A person with strong sense of empathy for other’s lack of privilege will find it almost impossible to live in peace. There is so much pain in this world that no one could sleep in peace, if they feel strongly for the underprivileged.

As for myself, I make sure, every once in a while, to offer money/service to someone needy. I also try real hard to be ethical while dealing with people. Politeness and humility are things that I practice everyday. I am planning to dedicate a day every week to serve the community — in whatever way I can. Yet, I feel that this isn’t enough…

.
Am I being a hypocrite…?? I don’t know. It’s for you to judge.

.
P.S. I started this piece while at the railway platform, and finished it while getting shoved around in the crowded train. (I was standing beside the guys shown below, until I got shoved steadily to another place.) (FYI I always travel with a ticket.)

Fortune Favours the Knave

What a tough day!

Too much work and too little play.

What a tough day!

 

Work is worship,

That’s what they say.

Oh, what a tough day!

 

Every morning gives you the same warning.

Walking barefoot on the tender grass,

Just maintaining some distance from the dingy mass;

A “hey!” stops you on your way.

Oh, what a tough day!

 

In the noon – expect no boon.

Tough bread and sweet syrup for lunch,

And things which cows refuse to munch;

On your plate, that’s what hurriedly they lay.

Oh, what a tough day!

 

At sundown, she donned the moth-eaten gown.

Sitting by the stove, with much toil, she did make,

A cup of coffee – before her love’s awake;

Sipping the drink, you mentioned – “I can’t stay.”

Oh, what a cruel day!

 

After nine, you accepted the dinner and the wine.

O’Brien, adjusting his spectacles,

Confirmed the resistance and its various obstacles;

And in favour of the brotherhood, that night, you did sway.

Oh, what an adventurous day!

 

At midnight, you notice that something’s not right.

On the wall, you see a telescreen,

Which, due to the portrait, was left unseen;

The thought police, with their truncheons, gave a menacing display.

Oh, what a terrifying day!

 

All night, with sticks and shocks, they show’d their might.

The enemy in a friend’s guise,

Seemed so confident, composed and wise;

Finally, with patience and tact, he ‘helped’ overcome your mental disarray.

Oh, what is a day?

 

At day-break, you promptly wake.

You see her again – under the spreading chestnut tree,

Where you sold her, and she sold thee;

“I love big brother”, was all you could say.

Oh, Oh, what a rectangular day!

 

P.S. It has been quite some time since I read ‘1984‘. I just hope that I remember its lessons.

This poem was originally posted on Allpoetry (date: – 25th March 2017). Find me there!

Long to Belong

Imagine a place — any place… ready?

So, tell honestly, is the place somewhere you have been to, or is it somewhere that you wish to be at? Whatever the case may be, there is something else that needs mentioning; it is whether or not you fit in there.

A traveller once went to the mountains in search of solace. The pilgrim hoped that the mountains would sprinkle some wisdom onto to the poor wandering soul. The wisdom that it so generously bestowed upon the generations of monks that called it (mountain) home. The wanderer finally reached the monastery. As expected, there was no welcome — just a smile of acknowledgement. The visitor spent days getting accustomed to the new way of life — the way of the hermits.

The tourist did everything that a person could do to adapt to this new habitat.

  • Waking up before Apollo wakes up — check.
  • Routine morning hygiene –check.
  • Meditation, yoga — check.
  • Maintaining the farm and watering the plants — check.

The visitor did everything. Now, there are two possibilities — either the experience was transformative and enjoyable, or it was a constant struggle to fit in.

It is a story which could end with either of the above-mentioned possibilities. I feel that I should leave you here to ponder upon the dichotomy that exists between “where you want to go” and “where you fit in.”

 

P.S.

The Space Between Us

This piece was inspired by the movie “THE SPACE BETWEEN US”.

RSP through an intern’s eye

DAY 1:

Well, well, well. The day finally arrived when I got to go into ‘Rourkela Steel Plant’ (RSP). It was a Thursday (11/05/17).

day1_1_25pc.jpg

(Above: – Autorickshaw ride to RSP)

All the interns were supposed to attend the orientation program at 9:30 am, inside the ‘Gopabandhu Auditorium’, which was somewhere in the HRD Center. I noticed that almost all the seats were taken (around 14rows*14columns*2divisions = 392 seats), yet, there were a number of students who were absent on that day (because the number of registered interns was way more than 400). Theja and I took a seat each — in the fourth row. As usual, the welcome speech was an hour late, yet, the sleep-inducing factor hadn’t diminished.

They talked about safety concerns, past & future of RSP, and what we can expect to learn there. I was initially absorbed in the safety part of the address, but by the time it was over, my attention span had expired. I then started editing my first blog entry and published it there itself.

Here is a link to the audio clip (1hr 42mins long) containing that day’s welcome speech (advance apology for the poor quality audio) – RSP Orientation audio.

It was nearly 11:30 am when it all got over.

DAY 2:

IMG_20170512_085528.jpg

(Above: – Before leaving for Day 2)

It was Friday (12/05/17) when we had to report at the CE(S) department building; we had to meet our guide — Ms. Amrita Samal. She would give us further instructions regarding how to proceed and what to expect during our 2-month long internship.

We had no clue, and no one wanted to make a call to our guide; I guess, we all wanted to remain invisible — just like we do during our lectures. But, Theja braved a call to her cellphone, and we got some directions, which helped us in reaching our destination.

day2_3.jpg

(Above: – A snap by a convex mirror which we came across on our way)

The ground floor of the building was oozing out interns from various institutes. We all crowded Miss’s chamber, but thankfully, she was patient and polite with us all. We received all our instructions and she took care to clear any confusion we had — regarding the instruction. Yes, she couldn’t understand a word that Theja spoke (his Nagamese accent causes a communication blackout).

RSP CE(S) dept.jpg

(Above: – From left – Ibrahim, Theja, Khalid Chuck, and Myself)

The time was up and we were done for the day. Conclusion: we have to follow a list assigned to our group (group – 2).

day2_2.jpg

(Above: – Group 2 timetable)

DAY 3:

Actual work began on this day — 13th of May, a Saturday. We reported at an office; it was nearly two kilometers to the right of the entry gate that we used. The sun pumped the mercury up to 45°C or more. I could tell that because I had downed three liters of water in two hours time; all the while using shades and umbrella for protection against the summer sun. For the love of my lungs, I had a handkerchief over my nose all the time after stepping outside the reporting office.

IMG-20170513-WA0005.jpg

(Above: – We experienced Sun-Sting — Yes, I made that up)

IMG-20170513-WA0003.jpg

(Above: – Our group walking towards reporting office)

IMG-20170513-WA0002.jpg

(Above: – More walking)

IMG_20170515_113557.jpg

(Above: – Me and my stupid hanky covered face )

IMG_20170515_113609.jpg

(Above: – See the reason for the stupid hanky selfie? )

That day we explored how incredibly vital and vast the substructure was. We were led into a tunnel (I read ‘Goosebumps’, so, you can guess what my first thought was!). The tunnel was designed to house wires that connected the machines with the power source. I noticed that there were two parallel channels, each running along the foot of either wall. The channels carried seepage water into a pit — from where it was pumped into a drain outside. It was also pretty cool (cool temperature) inside; I knew that the place had forced ventilation facility, but still the air was coming from the surface (i.e. warm air). On asking, I was told that the reason the place is cool is because it is an underground part; and as a result, it receives much less radiation from the sun. I immediately asked, “Why, then,  are mines warmer even though they are underground constructions?”. The conversation was abruptly halted when we reached the exit, and the day’s quota was up.

IMG-20170513-WA0006.jpg

(Above: – Going into the tunnel)

tunnel wire.jpg

(Above: – This image is taken from the internet; it is similar to what we saw in the tunnel)

IMG-20170513-WA0007.jpg

(Above: – Came back unscratched!!)

I think this gives some idea about how the coming days are going to be. Next, on Day 4, we are to report at a railway platform construction site. It is getting kinda boring, so I’ll let the topic rest now.

IMG-20170513-WA0001.jpg

(Above: – ‘Day 3’ Mission Complete)

Edit 1:

DAY 4 pics:

IMG_20170515_101022.jpg

(Above: – On the way: Day 4)

IMG_20170515_105438.jpg

(Above: – Nikhil He-man and I)

IMG_20170515_110130.jpg

(Above: – Chuck and I)

IMG_20170515_110556.jpg

(Above: – Ongoing isolated footing construction — at the site)

IMG_20170515_112504.jpg

(Above: – These columns are to be erected on the footing)

IMG_20170515_101153.jpg

(Above: – Just as the train left, we take our leave for the day)

THUS, DAY 4 CONCLUDES. I WILL ADD MORE IF ANYTHING INTERESTING COMES ALONG. TILL THEN, DFTBA (DFTBA — not a typo, look it up).

The Internship

The day is Wednesday, the 10th of May, and I had to report at town engineering office complex. It’s located at sector 5, Rourkela — 769002. (map)

 (I don’t own the above image. Source: – here)

The purpose was to obtain the gate pass of the Rourkela Steel Plant.  I, along with 4 others, reached there at 8:40 am — 20 mins before time. We strolled around a bit before we finally met someone who directed us to the proper reporting place.

(Above: – Theja on a call)

Slowly the crowd gathered around the notice board, which displayed the names of the new interns.

(Above: – Courtyard in front of the reporting centre)

There were people from a number of engineering institutes (from all over the state of Odisha) — viz., VSSUT Burla, IIIT BBSR, GIET,  etc.

(Above: – One page of the list containing names of the interns)

Seeing the long queue, Theja and I decided to go and explore the place some more.

(Above: – Theja back on call)

After 10 mins we came back only to see that the queue had gotten longer; we decide to stand in the queue before it got any longer.

(Above: – Initial condition)

(Above: – Initial condition + 10mins!!)

I met Ibrahim, Zakir and Hasib in the same queue. When our turn came, we entered the dilapidated, asbestos roofed building. My serial number was 1459 and they didn’t even ask for the I-Cards. It was all over by 10 am, and we (this time nine of us shared an auto) were on our way back to our respective hostels.

Thus, the tale ends for the day!