Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Man Who Met Mahatma...

It was supposed to be a regular client visit. I knew she was Indian because her name was Pushpa. It was sunny saturday afternoon and her house was in this beautiful private area, mostly for retirees. I met her, we worked on her system problem. She introduced me to her husband, Kris. After I was finished with her, I went to meet Kris in his basement, as he had some technical questions. I solved his problems and he told me that he is working on publishing a book. As we were taking the stairs towards their dining area, I curiously asked,

"Are you working on some fiction book?"

"No, I am writing about my experiences with Bapu", he replied.

"Are you referring to Mahatma Gandhi?", I asked curiously again.

"Yes, I am talking about Gandhi", he replied with a wry smile.

"What are your views on Mahatma?", was my instant question as I myself have very strong views about him.

"I have mixed feelings about Bapu, both good and bad", he replied while showing me the chair in his beautiful kitchen overlooking Mt. Washington.

"I think current Indian generation identifies more with the likes of Bhagat Singh and Chandrashekhar than Mr. Gandhi", I said assertively.

"Interesting. Its actually more interesting for me to know that current generation still remembers us because I thought we freedom fighters were a forgotten lot", he said with a genuine smile. He added, "I was there in Lahore when Bhagat was hanged. Old Lahore was a city with narrow alleys and I still remember that every alley was jam packed with people shouting Bhagat's name."

"But he was hanged one day before his due time, right", I added.

"Yea, and that was a big mistake that English made because no one should be killed before he is due", he added.

"Don't you think Sir, that Gandhi could have stopped it?", I questioned

"But he didn't wanted to stop it. He had a very different ideology, which was against say the likes of, Netaji's or Bhagat's ideology. My cousin was a top lieutenant in Netaji's INA. While, I decided to choose Bapu's path even though I didn't agree with him on number of key issues", he said.

"Yea, I have lots of respect for Netaji because I think Gandhi got us independence a bit too late because most countries were already independent by 1940s", I gave my views.

"Yes and that's where I disagreed with Bapu. My views were that if each Indian kills one Britisher, they would have been wiped out in a week. But Bapu had "something", when he said that we would only use non-violence, people listened and so did I. We would go on our knees saving our head when the Britishers would come and beat us with sticks. They would even come to our Universities and beat us even though we were always peaceful. Although, today when I look at corruption in India, I think if it was all worth it.

"Yes Sir, I think every Indian has come across some form of corruption in our day to day lives. It has become part of Indian life. Although, things are improving but not fast enough", I said with a slight shame in my voice.

"I am glad but its improving for people like you and me. I think an average Indian living in small towns and villages still faces the situation everyday", he said with a tinge of sadness in his voice.

I had no answer to his observation. By this time, Pushpa, his wife, came with garma garam samosas.

"Eat something too because he could go on and on about this", she said.

We continued our talk. He talked about how there was one issue he agreed upon with Bapu and that was about partition. India should not have been partitioned but Nehru and Jinnah had their eyes set on leading their respective nations and by that time Bapu was a liability for both of them. He told me how he left for US dejected, came back and worked for Homi Bhabha (but he never met APJ Abdul Kalam, as mentioned in the story, which was fictional). He left India for Canada and has been here since then.

He went to India recently when he was honored by a honorary degree by Benaras Hindu University but was dejected to see corruption everywhere. He narrated me one incident when he met a Japanese professor and booked his tickets with him from Delhi to Benaras. On the way a Railway TT came to check tickets and told Kris that the ticket of the Japanese professor was not confirmed. A couple of students were accompanying them and so they took TT on the side, came back and TT said that the tickets are confirmed, he had made a mistake. Kris was skeptical but one of the students told him to not ask what happened. The only thing the student could say was, "Its a shame on our country". Kris never told this incident to that Japanese Professor, who is still one of his good friends and always talk about the good time he had in India.

It was evening by the time we finished talking. He asked me if I plan to goto India after finishing my degree and I told him that I am applying for jobs in Canada, US and India, but working in Canada is my first priority. He looked at me and said, "I achieved a lot in my life, worked all over the world, published 30 books, 100s of papers, made great friendships but I still consider everything I did outside India as my failure. It never gave me 100% satisfaction. I am comfortably retired but that's not everything to life".

I told him how privileged I was to meet him. He promised to give me a copy of his book on Mahatma whenever it will be published. I shook his hands and left the place.

For all its worth, it was good to meet Kris and share my views with him. I found it interesting that it is still intriguing to meet someone who has met the Mahatma.

I came home and started writing the story, which came out a bit random but that's what life is, a series of random incidents, where we all try to make sense of it by putting them in sequences at the end of it.

"Yahoo!! Pipes" are here....a new techinical post up at Creative Minds


Blogger Colors said...

Me first!! Looks v interesting...but nothing can beat food! So will read after I finish dinner :)

7:02 PM  
Blogger The Bhandari's said...

me second!!! very thought provoking and I can understand the excitement of meeting a person who has met mahatma personally, must be a wonderful experience.
Very true u said "life is series of random experiences, where we all try to make sense of it by putting them in sequences at the end of it"

7:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WOW Ricky...What a grt post & a grttt experience...I got sooo involved in this post...thinking about British rule...Partition...Politics...Corruption.

This post undoubtedly is added in my list of favs on 17tomatoes !!!

7:51 PM  
Blogger Colors said...

Wow! You actually met someone who knows Gandhiji and even ate his samosas! That must have been an awesome experience (the meeting part not the eating part, silly :P). No wonder u got inspired enough to write the story. And u certainly had some heavy and thought provoking conversation with him. Had I been in your place, I would have been awed dumbstruck!

7:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

O.K. He was the inspiration of your story. You know what I like the story behind story.

It was really a thought provoking conversation that inspire to write a story.

My salute to Mr. Kris.

1:39 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

finally, the mystery is revealed... and we know the gentleman who is the protagonist... i can imagine what the visit must've been like for you, if it inspired you to write a story about it....

have you sent it to Kris????

4:06 AM  
Blogger Fuzzylogic said...

Wow,it was great to know the real hero who inspired the story.Your conversations with him hit home to me because those were some of the very things how even I feel about Gandhi,I find it very conflicting and hard to agree with some of his stuff at the same time there are some which I totally admire.It must have been an awesome experience.I agree with Mehak,this indeed would be one of the posts I really loved here at your blog,absolute favorite.The last sentence sums it all so well.Thanks Ricky for a great write up as well as the real story.

8:21 PM  
Blogger Ricky said...

colors - Yes, you are FIRST after a while and LOL

the bhandari's - Yes, you get the SILVER jee. Yes it was a good experience. Thanks!!

mehak - Thankoooooooo!! You made my day.

colors - Ha ha!! Yea, ate his samosas too :P Yes silly, I know it was a very good experience. Maybe I was that way because I was not expecting anything profound but was pleasantly surprised.

10:28 PM  
Blogger Ricky said...

juneli - Thanks!! Yea, he is a very interesting and thought provoking man.

anks - LOL!! Yes. It was a very surprising visit that lead me to write that.

No, I haven't :)

fuzzylogic - Thanks!! Yes, it was an awesome experience. I am glad you liked it.

10:31 PM  

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