Monday, February 10, 2014

The Railway Co-passenger Who Removed the Melancholy from the Mind of the Young Indian Engineer !(Story)

Mr Vinod Bhaskar is not a very successful Indian if success is to be measured in the yardsticks of the present day wisdom of the so-called Indian elitists. At the same time, he is also not a ruined failure by any means. In the eyes of millions of his so-called poor country cousins, he is definitely a very successful young man.

He works in a good Indian banking company as an officer and earns nearly Rs.45,000 in a month. He had never imagined that he would be doing a job in a bank doing and dealing with the money of others like him. He was interested in science subjects in the school and his mathematics was calculus, algebra, trigonometry and the like and he never considered simple arithmetic as any important part of his mathematics. His parents had to shell out considerable money, about five lakh rupees for him to complete his four year engineering degree course in mechanical engineering from a new era private engineering college established by erstwhile landlords of his state in the 1990's. 

He had learnt about theory of machines, machine design, thermodynamics, heat engines, strength of materials and many such things which he earnestly studied scoring high marks in his semester examinations. He was serious in his studies unlike many of his classmates and college mates who got in to the engineering college for spending the moneys of their neo rich parents in style and show. He was hopeful to get in to some job where he could put his engineering knowledge to advanced creativity.

But things did not go the way he thought. When he passed out in flying colors in the first decade of the 21st century, he realized with regret he was not any uniquely trained young man who would be welcomed by the Indian industry. There were millions of young men and women like him who are with engineering degrees and a good majority of them had acquired their degrees in flying colors! 

Indian industry and the Indian government did not know how to use these young engineers who come out with many fundamental knowledge and waiting eagerly to put their knowledge to actual professional use. Manufacturing and production of goods have become a non profitable activity in India while selling of items made in China was much more profitable. Companies who had factories working in the Indian soil have closed their units and began outsourcing products that the Chinese made much cheaper. The Indian government and the Indian industry could not find out the magic of the dragon even while they kept thinking over it for years!

So for Vinod there was no engineering job offer. And his parents were not of the kind of the parents of any of his contemporaries either. Those fortunate Indians have either unaccounted moneys in millions that could be easily diverted for sending their wards to the American and Australian universities for higher education and securing lucrative jobs in MNCs. Vinod was also not the son of any fortunate landlord who owned acres of land near to any Indian cities which could have fetched them millions of rupees from the builders and colonizers or their land mafia agents. Again his parents did not belong to any community or castes listed in the Indian constitution for any preferential government jobs.

But it is totally unfair to say that Vinod was going to be unemployed in modern India. He fortunately had a visionary prime minister ruling the country for nearly a decade and his visions had changed India. Youngsters like him passing out in the millions as young electrical, civil, mechanical engineers are finding fantastic opportunities to get transformed as modern software engineers. They were to cut and paste code lines using the computers and the internet for making additional codes for the same and earn money distributed from the USA. It was a fantastic magical business where money transactions occurred in billions without any visible changes any where. It is the modern business. Too abstract to understand even by the most learned wise men!

Vinod too got such a job in Bengaluru. He was getting Rs 15000 per month in 2008 when he joined the company. He did not like the job. It was not about the heat engines or about the strength of materials. Or for that matter nothing to do with the mechanical engineering that he thought about.  He was making some code modifications for computer games that would eventually to be sold to hook up young boys and girls to computers. Some of those codes could perhaps be promoting gambling in some part of the world. He was not sure. Neither was he sure about the code cut-pastes and re-writing his seniors asked him to do. He and millions like him were however toiling hard to make the digital ocean of the world wide web frothy and chaotic and to dig out the nectar of money from that big chaos. His common sense was not able to give his any satisfactory answers to the question that he was asking to himself. Is this digital technology works taking the youngsters like him away from the real world? Does it bring about progress and solve the human problems? Or is it going to be the modern era opium that would sedate the youngsters and keep them in perpetual illusion? 

Vinod Bhaskar could not come to any conclusion. What he realized with pain was that only these software companies are going to support him and millions of young Indians like him with some monthly income to survive. He did not understand how the money kept flowing to the coffers of these software companies of India from the foreign lands. Neither he understood the economics behind it. But he knew only one thing. It was too boring and tiring a job. He and his colleagues were being used as some kind of slaves. They are called software engineers or techies. But he knew, he had no such background to be called a software engineer. He was never ever trained in the field of computers. He was trained as a mechanical engineer! Yet they paid him some money regularly for his computer work that he performed without understanding anything about it.

So, he wanted to get out of it to the real world. But soon he realized that it was not going to be that easy. He now is branded as a software fellow and no one was willing to consider him as a mechanical engineer any more. More over, all the placement companies thrived only because of the software companies.

But in another two years time Vinod was fortunate to get out from his software company. He was picked up by a private bank as a front line officer. They hard bargained for his monthly salary and finally agreed to make a monthly payment which was ten percent more than what he was getting in his previous software company. The new job in the private banking company was also not any thing concerned with his engineering. But at least it gave an opportunity to change, a change that he soon realized as more painful than the earlier one. 

Bhaskar has now totally settled to his fate. He soon realized that he was a fortunate engineer of India. At least he had some job which fetched him some regular income to survive. He is called an officer of a new wave bank. This bank selected people like him to be posted as the front line officers who manned their branches to deal with the individual customers with their small savings and small transactions. For handling these small people small time officers like him are deployed with small time salaries. The small moneys of the individual Indians in millions accumulated as billions of rupees for the bank. And the bank made big deals with big corporate entities using these accumulated billions. And to settle those big deals they needed highly clever managers with high IQs and such big managers they recruited from the elite management institutes and paid them several times more than what they paid their front line officers. The new wave banks of India have been allowed to do play in the financial markets of India in the liberalized economy of India in this manner. 

Bhaskar fumed when he came to know about such class differences in his banking company. He too was an intelligent engineer, but his bank's top brass gave little credence to that. For them he was not having a degree from an elite institute and hence not eligible to become any of their big managers to draw big salaries!

But there was nothing that he could do. His father had told him about the class inequalities that India perpetuated after independence. Now the clever leaders of India are making other forms of inequalities. He was also learning some thing more from his few years of work experience. Cheating of some form was essential for doing any business successfully in his country. Honesty has no place and value. At least that was what he was experiencing.

He was slowly losing his self esteem and confidence. He was becoming melancholic. He wanted to meet some guruji or spiritual saint to discuss his problems. Fortunately there are several of those successful gurujis in his land. But of late, after reading and hearing the news about  the adventures of real life many of these swamijis are supposedly having he was in a dilemma. The conventional image that he had about a guru in his mind was not inspiring any more.

It was in 2013 while on a train journey that he finally met a person whom he has now placed as his guru. The guru who brought him out of his melancholy and his fuming anger to one and all for reasons that he was not in a position to explain. 

Bhaskar's new found guru did not wear any such mystic attires. In fact he was decently dressed and looked like any other white collared working class Indian. He was older by a few years. There was nothing extra ordinary about his co-passenger, except that he had some thing that made Bhaskar to get attracted to him after he began talking to him. 

Talking with him during the few hours of journey in the train was felt as if highly refreshing for Bhaskar. But his co-passenger did not talk about religion or spirituality or any thing of that kind. But he showed a keenness to listen to Bhaskar earnestly and also shared a few of his experiences of life with a kind of honesty that was too touching for Bhaskar. What was appealing was his genuine affection to another human being without the all pervasive selfishness that Bhaskar has been used to. 

Then the time came for both of them to alight the train and catch different trains. They were to part ways in another couple of hours. They had another few hours of togetherness in the station.

Bhaskar felt the urge to smoke and have a drink that he used to do in such occasions. He usually went to a restaurant located in one of the lanes adjacent to this railway station where he could eat, drink and smoke comfortably. But this day, he had his stranger co-passenger who by this time had become much more than a friend to him. And he felt awkward to disclose to his new friend about his usual way of time pass. But anyway, he told him about that.

To his surprise, his friend agreed to accompany him to the joint. Later, he became all the more comfortable when his friend agreed to share a drink and a smoke with him along with the snacks. At least this new guru of his was not one who gave any sermon about these so-called vices!

In the hotel, while continuing their talks about life and life experiences of various kinds, his new guru politely convinced him not to order for more drinks and smoke and taught him about the need for restraints in life. He was not against Bhaskar to enjoy simple pleasures of life once in a while but gently reminded him to think about the folly of drinking and smoking and many such so called pleasures. And Bhaskar was getting his point. Drinking and smoking did not actually gave him any pleasure and yet he was doing it. There was no reason why he did it. His ordinarily looking guru while sharing a drink and a smoke with him for the first time made a lasting resolve in his mind that day. He would use his self determination power of his mind and perhaps would not spend money for this wasteful expenditure that only caused only some discomfort and not any pleasure any way. He realized for the first time that his guru was right after all, and that too while in actual practice. 

He learnt many things. There was perhaps nothing that he could do in a situation that he is. There is nothing he could achieve by being sad about his condition. He is not alone in this world who is facing situations like this. There are millions and billions who are worse than him. Perhaps getting a job of a mechanical engineer also would not have solved his problem. He could find things that are not to his liking even then.

He cannot change the environment. He cannot change others. He cannot change the policy makers. He cannot change his company's policies or the thoughts of its top management. 

What perhaps he could do is to train himself to be cheerful and think good. He could be of some small help to others. He could think positive and make others think positive at least in some instances. On the whole he could remain as a blessing to him and others instead of being a curse to him and others.

His banking job is perhaps the best opportunity. As a front line officer he was blessed with an opportunity to meet people. He could be a blessing and a help to scores of people every day. Perhaps a better opportunity than many of those big officers making big moneys.

It was time to say good-bye to his short time friend. But Bhaskar was a changed man now. He had already taken some firm decisions in his mind.

He was going to be a blessing to others in the days to come.

He was going to be like his modern swamiji who transformed him through some normal but touching human actions and not through those mantras, tantras or magical attires.

It was also very soothing for him to know that there exist so many of such loving gurus all around him. Perhaps they are not showing off. But they would definitely exhibit their godly natures when you need it most.

For Vinod Bhaskar, this land has become an interesting place to experience life! The secrets of happiness of living was unfolding in the minds of Bhaskar. 

The melancholy that was slowly accumulating in the mind of Vinod Bhaskar to become what doctors call as depression has been effectively removed. Vinod was feeling light and cheerful now than before. Had the situation continued he could have even decided to end his life succumbing to such thoughts that pervaded his mind many times earlier. 

While on his onward journey alone, Vinod was a cheerful personality. He thought of his co-passenger, the ordinary looking man who had become a blessing to his life. He thanked him silently in his mind and was now determined to become a blessing to others so long as he lives in this world. Just as his co-passenger was to him a couple of hours earlier.

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