Thursday, April 01, 2010

Footprints on the sands of time

Just a few days back I turned thirty. It is true nothing much changed in my life but I somehow got the inspiration to drop by the pages of my own history and revisit the times I once lived. I remember some instances from early childhood. Take for example the day when I broke my feeding bottle and my mother decided I had enough of the bottle. And then started the era of drinking out of a glass which had various forms of liquid till date starting from simple liquid like water. Then I fast forward myself to my first day at school which for most kids is painful but for me it was a big party with some glitches which I would skip here. After that we moved a few places and finally landed up at a place where my parents spent the next 23 years. There I had my whole school life. There are a lot of instances which I remember quite clearly but I would mention only a few here. First being the moment when I got my first cycle. It was a BSA champ. May be I should say that it was my first bicycle because before that I had a tricycle. The part of the memory where the cycle enters my life is quite hazy but somehow it became a integral part of my existence. The best part was, it had side supports which made it easy for me to drive and stop as I pleased. Another incident that I remember quite well is the time when we got our refrigerator. It was in the year 1985 and the fridge is still part of our household though the working parts may have gone through complete replacement. My mother was particularly delighted to have it. I remember it for the wonderful food it always had and the ease with which I could steal them. Then I remember my leg operation in 1987, the same year my grandfather died. Well that was kind of a very painful memory for me but the doctor told my father the operation probably saved my leg. In the same year my father got his scooter. That became a permanent sitting place for me when ever I had free time and the scooter was parked on our ground floor balcony. The years passed and came 1989 when we had our first television. At that time only channel available was DD1 and sometimes if the weather was good we could get DD2. I remember the first day the TV was installed. I watched every program that was being aired that day. Through that little idiot box I came in contact with the world outside our little residential campus. My favorite at that time being "The world this week". I still remember keeping a note of all major personalities. The 90s came and suddenly the world changed around me. The Gulf war happened, Margaret Thatcher resigned as the prime minister of Britain after a series of riots, Manmohan Singh opened up the Indian markets, the babri masjid fell, the cable TV invaded our homes and overnight the famous TV antennas disappeared from our skylines. Well, the cable TV was a very interesting thing. Initially it did not enter the Indian market with all the censorships of the 2000s. I particularly remember my friends telling me about the unedited version of late night movies on Star TV, which, I could never watch while being at home, since late night TV was strict no-no in our house. Then I got busy with my testing years. It was the years I was taking my 10th, 12th school year exams and my college admission exams. Then I had a difficult choice, my father wanted me to become doctor, so that I could serve humanity and my mother wanted me to become an engineer, so that I could fix her food processor or the refrigerator if it broke down some day. I became non. To be frank I tried hard to be an engineer but somehow I did not make it. Instead I went to study the intricate details of the world around us, that is, physics. College was a different world for me. By this time the larger things in world like Gulf war, or the London riots, or the break up of Soviet Union got lost in the midst of my struggle for survival. College gave me, apart from my degree, some of my best friends. The most memorable moments in college being the illogical class bunking, the cold coffee at the campus temple, the numerous hours spent only chatting with friends, the numerous rounds of the card game called 29 to name a few. The college years are still vivid and it seems like it was only yesterday that I traveled to Benares for my admission. I graduated in 2001. The world was changing quite fast. I went to Kanpur for my higher studies and that same year I had my first computer. At that time my computer was one of the few in the whole hostel. By the time I got my PhD in Physics every room in the hostel had a computer and in some cases even two, a desktop and a laptop. It was at Kanpur that I had my baptism with fire, that is, I encountered the real world with all its odds and evens. I saw the last of Kanpur in 2009. In the eight years I was associated with Kanpur I saw the place change at a pace unthinkable in the 90s. By this time my father had retired and he had moved back to the place where he spent his childhood and I had moved to France for my post doctoral research. Well, the reader might say, the history really lacks the presence of any feminine character except for my mother. Well, to be frank a few beautiful people from the feminine community do figure in my history. Mostly, because of my friends who missed a beat the first time they came across the beautiful people. Well thats a story for another time. Here I am writing my own history of sorts. Coming back to Kanpur, it has a special place in our family history as well. It was the place where my father started his professional career back in 1967 and so did I. I think I will stop here. Someday, somewhere at the evening of my life may be I can add many more beautiful things to this post.