Sunday, October 30, 2005

Runaway train

Runaway train never comin' back
Runaway train on a washed away track
Runaway train, another dead, its just a name
Runaway but it always feels the same

My phone rang. There was a hint of winter in the air or maybe it was just the north wind. I glanced at the number. "Unknown", I said to myself. I picked it up and the lady's voice on the other end seemed a bit shaky. "Err is this Alistair". She was making an effort to maintain her composure but there were cracks in the cover. I responded in the affirmative giving her my complete attention since I knew something was wrong. "I'm Apurva's mother. Do you know which train he is coming in. He phoned me up before he left Bangalore and said that he would reach Secunderabad and would catch a connecting train at 7am for Nagpur. His mobile seems to be off."

The south of India had been at the receiving end from nature. It was pouring everywhere due to the low pressure in the region. Roads were washed away. Localities and homes were flooded. In Bangalore some lakes overflowed and caused floods in the surrounding areas. Ayush used to carry his mattress and change of clothes etc in his car just incase his place got flooded as there was a lake nearby. The railway service between Bangalore and Chennai was stopped temporarily. AJ and Ashu were off to spend the coming Diwali week at home in Nagpur. They left on Friday. But then for reasons unfathomable to the soothsayers from amongst the populace, the support system of the tracks at one point were weakened. Eventually being washed away, by the excess water due to the heavy rains. This manifested itself in the form of a train accident near Secunderabad at about 5am types.

I assured AJ's mom that I would call her back. Thats all I could do at that point in time. I surfed through the channels on the TV. Time seemed to have slowed to a crawl as the signals from remote took their own sweet time to reach the TV. I saw some glimpses of the train compartments that were crushed. It looked pretty bad. I knew the train name which they were travelling in. The channels did not mention the name/number of the train. Maybe they did but I didn't see it. I then decided to surf the net and found that my friends were travelling by a different train. I called up AJ's mom and apprised her of the situation. The shakyness in her voice seemed to fade away as we continued our conversation. Parents are same everywhere :-) Someone once said that you don't need to tell your parents that you love them, they already know. Well someone else said, that the someone who said that was probably not a parent :-)

As daylight faded, I heard the news about the 3 bomb blasts in Delhi. The next day I was discussing with Sridhar about the events of the previous day. Sridhar was of the opinion that in India human life is not valued. Agreed that we couldn't do much about the bomb blasts but maybe the train accident could have been avoided. Trains could have been diverted since it was a known fact that the area was under a heavy lashing of rain. In India, we come up with technology for others but don't use it ourselves. I had worked on a compact high processing device that could do a lot of things. It had wireless capability in addition to other stuff. Ppl in another country were contemplating using it for remotely monitoring railway tracks and informing authorities about possible hazards. The key word here is 'another' country.

Maybe a few lives have to be lost for others to even start thinking about improving the quality of life. There is this email floating around where they say that you should be proud to be an Indian cause our ancestors invented/discovered so and so thing thousands of years before the rest of the world did. Applause please. Yeah right does past glory really matter now. My roots are from Goa and I may have a bit of Portuguese blood running in my veins. Well I can't speak Portuguese but I can speak Hindi. But you know what I really don't care cause it doesn't matter if you are proud of your ancestors or not. What matters is if your ancestors can be proud of you.

1 comment:

Etchen said...

As I was reading youor post and came to the part about the email saying to be proud that the ancestors had done such and such, I felt a great sadness, b/c i always feel that it is a shame when we look to our past to be proud of something. How wonderful it was to read your end line of what matters is if they are proud of us. Well said indeed! I think you are what we call a "stand up man" ;-)