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Fat Always Floats to the Top (standard:travel stories, 4150 words)
Author: JuggernautAdded: Nov 18 2010Views/Reads: 1684/1163Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
A short biographical sketch

Fat Always Flows to the Top 


Subba Rao 

“Why does fat always float to the top of water, Samantha?” I asked. 

“I don't know, dad, and I don't care,” she said. 

“Take your time and think,” I said 

Then, I went into our kitchen, brought a cup of water and placed a piece
of butter into the water. Then I asked my daughter her observations. 

“Yeap, I see it floats,” she said, in a mater-of-fact way without much

“You know why?” 

“No, and I don't want to know,” she said. That was her style of

“Because, fat is lighter than water,” I said. 

“I don't care if is lighter or not,” she said, watching TV. Our
education class ended for that day. 

With my background in chemistry, I could have given her more details,
but she was only ten years old. A piece of fat dropped into water, 
floating to the surface, was a simple physical phenomenon that could be 
seen by anybody with good vision. My thoughts traveled back into the 
past to scan some inexplicable human behavior that did not make sense 
at that time but later, as time passed, I understood it all fit into 
the simple phenomenon such as how fat always float to the top. 

The zoo and botanical garden at Queen's Park in Trinidad was not a great
place for amusement or fun. Once, a mentally derailed person jumped 
into the lion's den at the zoo and offered his food; rice and peas to 
the animal. The confused lion with its powerful paw knocked the crazy 
man dead before the zookeeper could save him. The lion left the corpse 
intact, and withdrew to a corner for somebody to come up and cleanup 
the mess. This incident was big news and improved the zoo's poor 
attendance for a while. Once, I visited the botanical gardens to find 
Raw Beef Plant, named after its deep reddish color bark, for a small 
sample for my research work. After walking around, I found a few of 
those trees in the park. The park manager, while sympathetic to my 
unusual requests for a piece of the bark, refused on the grounds that 
the tree could be harmed, even by peeling off a few inches of bark. 
Each tree was almost two feet in diameter and thirty feet high. After 
my repeated requests were rejected, I came out of his office dejected, 
since I badly needed the sample for my research. 

As I walked through the park, an East Indian groundsman came behind me
running and said, “Man you can have a small piece of bark, it won't 
kill the plant.” 

“Are you sure, your boss said it was against the rules?” 

“I am an Indian just like you, naah. Look at my hair, straight like
yours. Come with me, I will cut a piece for you,” he said. 

I followed him towards the Raw Beef Plant with hesitation. 

With a cutlass (or machete, a heavy long knife), he cut a small piece
and gave it to me in a brown lunch bag. 

He refused the lunch money I offered as a gift and just walked away with
cutlass in his hand whistling an old Indian melody. I felt so humble by 
his generosity and kinship. Here was a man who did not know who I was 
and yet went out of his way. His gesture was based on simple thought 
process; he identified with me because I came from his ancestral home. 

Ms. John an old woman of African decent worked as a janitor in the same
building where I worked as graduate student. Every morning, her son, a 

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