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Chhena Poda (standard:other, 1536 words)
Author: JuggernautAdded: Nov 05 2010Views/Reads: 1718/1068Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
Experiences of a student in a foreign land.

Chhena Poda 


Subba Rao 

Some people get inspiration from reading Bible, Gita or Khuran, while
others read biographies of great leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson 
Mandela, Mother Theresa, George Washington or Abraham Lincoln for 
inspiration. Strangely, as a boy Juggernaut read Indian railway guides 
for excitement and inspiration. Indian railway system is vast and slow 
moving. If one were to write a slogan to promote Indian railways “Slow 
but Safe” or “Better Late than Never,” best depicts its operation. 

The Railway department publishes railway guides for information on
departing and arrival timings for each train, scores of them, for each 
region. For a particular train, one can find arrival and departing time 
for each station, the train is scheduled to stop. This is voluminous 
data given the number of trains that run across the country carrying 
millions of people in a day. Juggernaut's father was an ardent 
collector, collector of books (any kind including Railway guides) and 
other stuff. On a quarterly basis, every time, a new railway guide is 
received at home, Juggernaut would grab it for safe keeping to read at 
leisure. The front and back sections of each guide carries 
advertisements of various motels/hotels/restaurants etc. These are the 
sections that Juggernaut loved the most to read. 

Just from reading town names like Bhubaneswar, Khurada Road Junction,
Kanpur, Itarsi Junction, Varanasi or Udaipur from Railway guides, 
Juggernaut got excited and fantasized travelling to various towns far 
away from home, living there in cultures with different languages and 
eating local cuisines. When most students apply in-state colleges for 
graduate studies, despite good grades at undergrad level, Juggernaut 
opted for out of state colleges in places like Bhubaneswar, Varanasi, 
Udaipur, towns hundreds of miles from home town. That's how he ended up 
in Bhubaneswar. 

Bhubaneswar is a modern city built around Lingaraj temple, known for
ancient Kalinga type architecture, depicting Lingam, a symbol of God 
Shiva. Some people in town, wherever they live, after morning bath 
would turn in the direction of Lingaraj temple for a quick prayer like 
Muslims turn towards Mecca for prayer. 

Misra, Routray, Behera and Das were Juggarnaut's classmates at the
campus. Misra was a gold medalist at undergraduate level and he wants 
to repeat his performance at graduate level by whatever means. His 
rotund body gave a priestly appearance but he laughed like a villain. 
Routray was Misra's sidekick, a fair skin person with loose limbs. 
While walking, his arms moved diagonally to his body thrusting it 
forward while his weak legs followed involuntarily. Routray looked more 
oriental with his deep set narrow dark eyes and facial hair spread 
intermittently. Behera was always humming the same tune, again and 
again. From listening repeatedly, Juggernaut developed a brain worm 
from it (a condition in which a tune is played involuntarily in 
somebody's mind). Das was from a tribal background, a small man 
perpetually grateful and humble to all the professors, all the time. 
Among this gang of four, Juggernaut's dream of living in a different 
culture took an unexpected journey. 

Misra didn't waste time to let Juggernaut know was the boss is while it
was in a class room or laboratory or in the dorm. He boasted openly 
that he and he only were eligible for the gold medal at the end of the 
course. At the end of the first semester, Juggernaut scored the highest 
GPA followed by Misra, a close second while the rest were far behind. 

At the end of second semester, Misra's score came pretty close but still
couldn't surpass Juggernaut. With only few semesters left to complete 
the entire curriculum, Misra turned desperate. 

One evening, Patro, a fellow graduate student appeared at Juggernaut's
room in the dorm. “Do you know Biju Patnaik?” asked Patro. 

“Yeah, I know of him, a big time politician.” 

“I can meet him, anytime I want,” said Patro, pointing his finger

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