Malankara World

General Interest Reading

India is Changing

by Lakshmi Kaul

An experience shared by someone who went out with his wife to Varanasi aka Benaras)

There were two rickshaw-walas vying for our business when we wanted to go to Sankat-Mochan temple in Benaras. I agreed to go with the one who was about 20, seemed like a regular young rickshaw-wala, but I found something interesting about this fellow in his eyes. I was not proved wrong.

He wanted Rs 50, we said Rs 30. We settled for 40.

Here are the highlights of the conversation that ensued while he rode the rickshaw:

"aap kahan se aaye hain" (Where have you come from?)

" Delhi "

"bijness ya kaam karte hain?" (Are you in business or service?)

"naukri karte hain" (I am in service)

"kismein" (Where?)

"internet mein" (In the internet business)

"humara bhi kuch wahin kaam lagwa do" (Get me into some jobs there)

I just chuckled

"main try kar raha hoon engineering padhne kee. achchi naukri lag jaayegi tab" (I am also trying to do my engineering, and expect that I may get a good job then)

"achcha?" (Is that so?) I asked a little interested

"haan, delhi mein Guru Gobind Singh Indraprashta University mein engineering ke liye apply kara hai. achchi hai woh university?" (Yes, I have applied for engineering in Guru Gobind Singh Indraprashta University at Delhi. Is that a good university?)

"haan, achchi hai", (yes, it is good) I agreed.

"haan, kal hee maine JEE bhi diya" (yes, and yesterday i also gave my JEE)

"JEE matlab, IIT ka?" (JEE meaning, for the IIT?)

"haan, Joint Entrance Examination" he pronounced it perfectly just to make it clear to me what JEE stood for. "mushkil hota hai exam" (It is a difficult examination)

"haan, 2 saal toh log padhte hee hain uske liye, asaan nahin hai" (yes, people study for it for 2 years, so it is not easy)

carried on the conversation

" Delhi mein Akaash coaching institute hain na?" (You know, there is Akaash coaching institute in Delhi ?)

"haan, hai" (yes, there is) . There is a lull in the conversation, and then he comes turns his attention to me.

"aapne kya padhai kari?" (What have you studied?)

"main engineer hoon, aur phir mba bhi kiya" (I am an engineer, and then I did my MBA)

"kahan se engineer?" (where did you do engineering from?)

"IIT delhi se" (from IIT Delhi )

He swung back, surprised, a little delighted, and smiled. "Ok, aapke liye Rs 30" (OK, for you Rs.30)

Swati and I laughed

Swati asked "padhai kab karte they IIT ke liye" (When do you study for IIT?)

"bas, rickshaw chalaane ke baad raat mein". (In the night after I finish my rickshaw trips) Then he added "kismein engineering kari aapne?" (What was your branch in engineering?)


"toh aapki chemistry toh badi strong hogi" (So, you must be strong in Chemistry?)

"nahin, aisa nahin hai" (No, it's not like that)

He continued "yeh bataiye....jab Mendeleev ne Periodic Table banaya tha tab kitne elements they usmein?" (So, tell me ... when Mendeleev made the Periodic Table, how many elements where there in it?)

Now it was my turn to get surprised. He was quizzing me. I said "shayad 70-80" (Maybe 70-80?)

"no, 63" he said sharply.

"kaunse element kee electronegativity highest hai?" (Which element has the highest electron-negativity)

Swati was laughing, and I didn't try too hard and said "pata nahin" (Don't know)

"Flourine", he said confidently. Without a break he asked,"kaunse element kee electron affinity highest hoti hai?" (Which element has the highest affinity for free electrons?)

Now I was laughing too and said "nahin pata" (Don't know)

"Chlorine. toh aapka kaunsa subject strong tha?" (Chlorine, so which was your strong subject?) clearly having proven that my chemistry wasn't a strong point.

"Physics", I said

"achha, Newton's second law of motion kya hai" (Good, what is Newton's second law of motion?)

I knew this one I thought, "F=ma" I said

"Physics is not about formula, it is understanding concept!" he reprimanded me in near perfect English. "Tell me in statement"

I was shocked. Swati continued to laugh.

I said "ok, Newtons second law, er....was...."

" 'was' nahin, 'is'!Second law abhi bhi hai!" (It isn't "was"! the second law is still current!) he snapped at my use of 'was'

Surely, my physics wasn't impressing him either. "yaad nahin, I said" (I don't remember)

"Force on an object is directly proportional to the mass of the object and the acceleration of the object", he said it in near perfect English. "aapne mtech nahin kiya?" (You didn't do your MTech?)

"nahin, mba kiya" (No, I did my MBA)

"mba waale toh sirf paisa kamana chahte hain, kaam nahin karte" (MBA fellows only want to earn money, they don't do any work)

"nahin, aisa nahin hai, paisa kamaane ke liye kaam karna padta hai" (No it's not like that. To earn money we have to work)

He said "arrey, rehene do" (Oh, let it be) or some words to that effect. He didn't think too highly of me apparently anymore.

In a minute we reached our destination. We got off and I told him that he must and should definitely study more, and that I think he is sharp as hell. He took only Rs 30, smiled and began to leave. I got my camera out and said "Raju, ek photo leta hoon tumhari". (I'll take a photo of yours) He waved me off, dismissed the idea and rode off before I could say anything more....leaving me feeling high and dry like a spurned lover.

Damn, what a ride that was! India is changing, and changing fast.

See Also:

Sashi Tharoor on Kerala
Look around the planet, and you see Keralites everywhere, working extremely hard, from menial jobs in the Gulf to professorships in the States, displaying their entrepreneurial energies and achieving remarkable successes. So what is it that holds them back here, in their home state?

Poignant answers that makes the person who ask the question speechless.

For Indians Its 'Me' - No 'We' or Teamwork
One thing I have noticed being in the east is 'we' is always more important than 'me'. Japanese, Koreans, in particular, and Chinese included are willing to work for their country, company, society ahead of individuals.

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