Wednesday, August 27, 2003
THE 'ONE' NATION : The spirit of the Indian man - I
This is the first post in a new category that I�m beginning today called �It Happens only in India�. The posts that come under this category will reflect the spirit of this country and all that is good about India and it's people.
There are two reasons for this category of posts. One, was Jivha starting a similarly named category which reflects "the disparity, inanity and reality that most Indians silently put up with". The other was the grave accusation by a friend, that my posts border on the verge of fanaticism (and perhaps ranting). Both those reasons, struck me deeply. So without rambling on about it, here goes the first of my "Tribute to India" posts -
We had an earthquake in Gujarat in January 2001. Thousands of people died in that quake and about a few other thousands were rendered homeless. In one such village/hamlet in the district Rapar, most of the houses were completely destroyed and all that remained was a pile of stones (what you would call "khandar").
I was there, with a couple of friends, working on figuring out alternate livelihood schemes for a nearby school/council and was visiting this abovementioned hamlet. We were around there right through the morning, talking to people, looking at the alternate work people could do. The sun was scorching, and we hadn't eaten all day long. Around two o'clock, a wizened old man and his old wife came up to us with a small cloth packet and a bowl in his hand. As their frail hands opened the packet, we saw about 6 dry bajra rotis. The bowl contained jaggery/gud dipped in ghee. We asked what they would be eating, if they gave their meals to us. They replied "Beta, aap humaari madat karne hi to aaye hain, hum itna sa nahin kar sakte aap logon ke liye?" (English translation: "Son, you're here to help us, right? Can't we do this much for you?")
And that was my greatest memory of the place and those people. Surrounded by death and destitution, they offered us their mid-day meal for all that we were doing for them. And that, happens only in India.
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