Finding a place that gives you a space to think, great ‘chai’ and good inspiration is an indescribable pleasure. Tapri in Jaipur (www.tapri.net) is one such place.
When we walked into this place, it was just starting its morning hours and it has an ethereal charm of unoccupied, beautifully decorated space. The seats next to the big-windows overlooking a large open greanspace amidst of which Indian flag was swaying.. this was quite a site.
But what impressed me most is the dash of humour and a lot of thinking that Tapri has put into making their operation more environment friendly. We had paper straw, lampshades made of earthenware, chairs from locally available materials… Great work Tapri team.
Last month, I visited Ranchi for a couple of days almost after
23 years. I was so excited to visit that place, to see my school and go to those places which were slowly getting eroded from my memory. But the menace of ‘Naxalism’ completely ruined my enthusiasm. We could not go to remote villages and surely not in a ‘car or jeep’ as they generated extra attention, and one local naxalite expert told me that in election time Naxals do not think before bashing up any outside face. Their policy.. first bash them up.. we will see the other issues later.
Though Ranchi city seemed quite peaceful, I ventured out on bike to find my childhood school and all I knew about that school was that there used to be a small hillock near the school and at top of that hillock there was a water tank. I called my mother to get more info, she told that the school was near a Hanuman temple in Harmu. We drove in and around Harmu and were able to locate almost 4-5 temples but the hillock was nowhere. That means there was no way to get to my school. New constructions and other developments made this place completely different from the image of this place I had in mind.
So I came back to the guesthouse, disappointed and full of thoughts. Naxalism, Development, Urbanization etc.. My plan to take a road trip to Daltonganj, Garhwa and Ranka stood canceled. I wanted to use this weekend for that. It would have been an experience to visit these places but the fear of Naxalites and poor connectivity to these places have left me with no options. Probably I will dare again, after the elections when the Naxal activities subside.
Next day I was busy in my official chores and I had given up on finding my old school in the concrete jungle, but a local resident and employee of the host organization here in Ranchi, blessed me with his local knowledge. He knew the location of the hillock which has a water tank on top. I realized I can still see my school and I ventured out. He took me near the hillock, in front of a very big nice looking school, St. Francis High School. He was sure that this was my school, but I knew I was not that lucky to have studied in schools like these. But I could still see the hillock and the water tank on top, our favorite place for having lunch around 23 years ago.
I wanted to go there again on the hilltop and somehow I found a way to go there and on the way, I could see an almost dilapidated building and here I was. That’s my school, I shouted. Rajkiya Krit Madhya Vidyalaya, Harmu – 12. Suddenly those faint memories became vivid. I could remember the place I used to stand for morning prayers and the school gate and numerous related incidents. School gate was a common factor in most of the incidents. I jumped the wall to go inside the campus (once inside I realized there were numerous ways, and surely not intended ones, to get inside the campus, the surrounding wall was broken at many places) and saw the menu of the food served under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan painted on the wall.
I pulled out my cam, wanted to capture these moments of relived, realized nostalgia. Great feeling to be there. If I look back on my school days, the biggest complaint (apart from not being able to study in any ‘decent’ schools) is my father’s job forcing frequent school changes for me, that means I could never have those childhood friends. All gone. No trails.
Chennai celebrates its 369th birthday. Though my professional commitments and other constraints deprived me from participating in the celebrations, I did get a chance to attend ‘Chennai 3.0’ organized by Confederation of Indian Industries (CII). The theme of the conference was “Chennai – Evolution Today, Revolution Tomorrow”. And, I have no doubts seeing the growth plans and the people behind the evolution, revolution is bound to happen. CII did a great job to get industrialists, city planners, bureaucrats and politicians all on the same platform and talk different aspects of Chennai today and tomorrow.
While everybody presented their vision for Chennai and how ‘the Detroit of India’ should move forward to become the world class city, it was intriguing (and one of the speakers highlighted this) that none of the Chennai based industries/business houses came forward to sponsor the event. I was bemused seeing most of the speakers talking about inclusive growth and sustainable growth but they did not highlight any of concrete plans to give any indication how they are going to achieve that. Though we had detailed plans on how to solve problems of Car Parking, Shopping Space, satellite cities and how to make Chennai Airport a world class airport, but somehow problems of commoners living in Chennai took back seat like the commoners present in the TAJ Conference Hall. But probably this was not primarily intended to dwell upon that, it was more of a celebrations of achievements of this city and setting up the context for future growth and expansion.
My personal experience with Chennai has been really wonderful, earlier I was a bit hesitant to think Chennai as the preferred workplace, but after my fieldwork in Tamilnadu and now more than one year in Chennai I love the city.