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|Chhena Poda (standard:other, 1536 words)|
|Author: Juggernaut||Added: Nov 05 2010||Views/Reads: 1718/1068||Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)|
|Experiences of a student in a foreign land.|
Chhena Poda By 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 Click here to read the rest of this story (111 more lines)
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