Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Have you got the Balls?

If you live in India and don’t know anything about cricket then I can’t help you, because you happen to be an atheist as per the definition of the game. It’s a kind of religion with millions of ardent followers. I don’t remember when I was baptized into the game; probably it was when I came to high school and was old enough to throw the ball up to full length of crease. We (I and younger brother Pushpendra) got our first bat carved out of a scrap wooden plank and then what followed was like an obsession of a newly inducted believer.

After some time we got our new bat and a plastic ball. Team size kept increasing, some time even more than conventional eleven. I kept on being sluggish in all three departments namely batting, bowling and fielding, while other friends were budding promisingly. One day Pushpendra was bowling and I was on the facing side, rooted like obstinate tailender, neither scoring nor leaving the bat to another boy. Next ball was full toss, directly came at the handle of the bat and struck at right hand thumb, as there were no gloves, it took off the nail. I came home taciturnly hiding blood soaked palm. But it could not be hidden for long from the caring gaze of my grandmother (Dadiji). The bat was snatched and used as firewood, and ball was hidden out of reach. For the next two weeks there was calm but after that the bug of cricket won’t let us be at rest. Dadiji would not let us buy a plastic ball as it was too hard to play according to her. There didn’t seem to be any option other then getting a soft ball. Tennis ball was unheard of for us by that time.

So we decided to make a soft ball by using cloth and jute yarn. First attempt was not up to the expectation. Ball was totally out of shape and could not be used. Second time we used another method, tore off the cloth in inch wide strips, wrapped these tightly over small ball made of jute threads, and then the damn thing was sewn with plastic strings taken out of empty cement sack. It was perfect sphere, looked nice and we were proud of our efforts. But it didn’t bounce enough and lost its shape in few rough shots. Now the only choice left was to get a plastic ball somehow.

That time around I read news that waste plastic can be reused for making roads and other purposes to dispose it off. So we decided to make our own plastic ball instead of buying a new one as we didn’t had any money for that. The task was tough and required ingenuity and willingness. We started collecting polythene bags. I took a fused bulb and removed it aluminum cap carefully such that the glass didn’t break. Now the idea was to burn the polythene and put it in this glass mould. We took the stuff to rooftop so that nobody notices our plans. I stated burning the plastic bags and dropping the liquid plastic in the glass shell. But the job was not as easy as we thought; one bag burnt fast and clung to my fingers. The wound was not big but I was severely in pain. We dropped the things there and came down silently. The plan was canceled. But we wanted to make the ball again; this time may be just for curiosity rather than the use of it. We took another fused bulb, lot more plastic bags than before, and started burning it. The bulb was filled in almost half an hour and we left it to cool down.

We broke the glass shell after some time, removed the glass pieces and there it was, the ball. It was like a black stone and too heavy to be used as a cricket ball. But we could not stay without testing it; after all it was made by so much effort and inquisitiveness. We played with it only to break a friends head.

Well, quite an “October Sky” effort. Isn’t it?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Need for education

When we have something, we hardly think about unusual questions like “what if we don’t have it?” Whether these are day to day basic needs like food, clothing and shelter or little more ensuant things like medical care, education or entertainment. Earlier I never appreciated my education because it was really boring to dig into the books which I never liked or may be because it was hard to meet the expectations of my parents. But I never thought about the life of the people who could not afford the formal education. Some time I even envied them because they don’t have to go through the hardship of classes, assignments and exams. But then an incident occurred which changed my perspective about the need for education.

It was when I was preparing for a competitive exam to get into a good college after my school education. I came to Kota, rented a room and joined a coaching class called “Bansal Classes”. Exam date was close and everything was working fine. But life is not that easy, very next day ran out of luck. I had an accident and was bedridden. My father came with my grandmother and left her with me to take care. It was the first time she came out of village to live in a big city like Kota. I had my books to pass the time but for her it was really difficult. She felt like being in self made prison. She used to pass the time looking at the pictures in the news paper, sleeping and talking about the happenings in village. First week glided by, but soon it was too difficult for her to stay with me in a shell like room, she had no one to talk except me, nowhere to go. It was totally opposite to the village life she was used to.

Then I asked my landlady to take my grandmother along with her whenever she went to vegetable market. It turned out to be better; she now started adapting herself to the surroundings. For the first two days she went with landlady, who showed her the way to grocery shop, fruit market and nearby temple. Next day the landlady was not at home. My grandma insisted that she would go alone as she knew the way. I denied first but then gave way and asked her to be careful of the unruly traffic.

She took some money and went happily. I was back to book, flicking through the pages. Clock kept ticking and to my utter surprise it was more than one hour since she left for a job which could not have taken more than 15 minutes. I was worried, waited for another 10 minutes. Then I could not stay in the room, I thought she was lost. I ran out of the house with plaster on my right hand and severe pain in the back. I rushed to market looking for her. She didn’t even know the house address and telephone number. I was really disturbed and felt. On the other side she was more upset then me. It has been more an hour for her roaming in the wrong directions. People could not help her as all she knew was color of house. Then she told a gentleman that her grandson studies in Bansal Classes. He took her there. Receptionist at the institute looked through the student’s record, found my address and sent her with an office boy. I also came back to inform my landlady about the situation.

I was relaxed after seeing her in the room with landlady sitting beside her. She started sobbing as soon as she saw me. Landlady scolded me for letting her go alone and asked me to teach her at least about home address. For the next few days I spared some time and taught her the rudiment of alphabet and counting. She learned house address, telephone number and how to look for time in clock and set a morning alarm.

Well, now she would confuse between the Hour and minute hands of the clock. When its quarter past midnight she would say that it’s three in morning and I should not study so late.

So, this incident was a kind of eye opener for me about the people who are illiterate. May be you also got some insight about it. Friends!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Terrible moments of life.

well, I'm stuck again, fingers on keyboard....forgot all the ideas, I was think about to write in this post.....but i have got to begin because this is the only way i can reach unto you all and share my feelings and experiences and all those things we care about.

OK, let me ask one absurd question.... Have you ever been stung by a Scorpion?....yeah you're right. I'm talking about a Scorpion bite. if you have experienced it then there is no need to move your eyes further.....otherwise get along with me.

I was around 12 yrs old, preparing for "Gramin Pratibha Khoj Pariksha (Rural Talent Search Exam)" after my 8th std passing exams. It was 16th June 1997 and my first competitive exam was scheduled on 2oth June just after few days. My parents were off to my maternal parents village and I was at home with my brother and grandmother. I put down the notebook happily as soon as light went out, and felt relaxed after hours of cramming. Suddenly the sand clouds came up in sky, as it regularly does in Rajasthan in summer time, and it was total dark as the moon was engulfed by the sand storm. My brother and I ran towards verandah dragging our cots in darkness.

The next moment was something which I had never felt before. I could not figure out what happened. My body dropped loose, my mouth wide open trying to inhale as much air as it can, and suddenly i cried as loud as Al pacino did at the end of God Father movie. My brother left the cot and hold me in has arms asking vehemently...."what happened to you? what happened to you?" and he started crying as well. My grandmother came running towards us, so did the neighbor, and whoever heard the hollo. I could not describe what happened to me, I was just saying something had bitten me. In the meantime somebody came with a torch and noticed the deadly scorpion, hiding few meters away from the scene. Now they came to know what a terrible thing had happened. I was bitten by it in my right toe. someone took his footwear off and destroyed the little beast in a slug.

On the other side i was inconsolable, feeling thirsty and praying to all the Demigods, whose names i could recall. some one called the Ojha. He broke one Neam tree branch and started revolving around my body, chanting something enigmatically. But it was of no use as i was still crying at full volume. my body was burning. my brain felt the electric pain. Next, some body suggested to soak a cloth in water and wring it hard to extort the water out of it and drop it on my toe. The supposed concept was to expel the pain out of my body like the water out of cloth. But all of this was useless. Then finally some sane person suggested to rush me to a doctor. one of my cousin loaded me on his back and others followed as i was busy with the squall, drinking water in between to wet my throat.

The doctor was trained in Ayurveda medicine but he rolled a small rubber ball over my diseased toe to take the sting out of it, but nothing came out. Finally, he took a big bottle of wine out of his wrack and a glass syringe out of his small bag. He filled the syringe fully with the Liquid and drained it in my toe. The pain subsided and i was relaxed in few minutes and stopped crying after almost two hours. I felt terrible exhausted and couldn't stand on my feet. the doctor gave the bottle and syringe to my cousin and asked him to give me the dose whenever i feel the pain again.

All the night i could not sleep, kept drinking water to quench the unsatisfiable thirst. Finally I slept in the wee hours of the morning after many insertions of the alcohol filled needle.

This was the second most pain I ever felt, first being a broken heart in teenage. I was alright in next two days, and cracked the exam being the first in the district.