Dependence… To Interdependence…

Friday April 29, 2016

4 Sundays ago…

7am… DEPENDENCE…

He knew these were the last moments in the nest… his father brought the seed, the berries, the fruit and the nectar home… his mother kept his nest warm and protected him from the weather, at times taking him under her wing… his younger sister provided for playing the occasional bully that she allowed him to be…

7am to 11am… INDEPENDENCE…

A thousand revolutions blowing in his mind… away from Mummy and her tantrums when he does not complete his homework… away from Papa – at least he will not be forced to watch that stupid sport called Cricket anymore on TV, he can share the TV in the common room with friends, and cheer Messi… do things that he wants to do in all the spare time between 0540 to 2200…

iGovern… iControl…

11.04am…

“Hi… I am Krtin…” my son extends his big palm… factually yes – he is as tall as I am at 14, and his palm is bigger…

“Hi… I am Parth… I am Kshitij… I am Jitesh…”

4 adolescents… 4 different sizes… 4 different backgrounds… 4 different cities… yet, it takes 4 minutes for them to walk up, stand tall and short… shake hands… and meet their eyes for a lifetime…

… Because… some of these relationships that you forged early in life at the hostel… do last… a lifetime…

——————-

“Hey you… Pharst Year…” roared Pradeep Sinha’s (name changed) voice from the corridors of the Pharst (first) floor of the hostel… almost 30 years ago when I stepped into one at the Institute of Hotel Management in Bhubaneswar…

Sinha sounded like God and the Devil welded into one… Yama… far from benign… and you could just imagine two horns jutting out of the top of his head and a couple of teeth hanging out of the upper lip… and with all the air of whip-handedness that he could muster, Sinha stopped us in our tracks…

Thank Yama for small mercies… we were on the ground floor… fairly grounded… else we would have been bumbled away by the boom and the rumble…

My newfound friends of about an hour – Rakesh, my roommate in Room No 3, for the next 3 supposed years… and Sanjeev from Room No 6… almost took to a flight to hide in some yet-to-be-discovered corner in the open corridor… you see… they were in hostels before… and all of 19 years of age that I was, I hadn’t been in any…

To my friends, Sinha’s call tolled a death knell… a clear call that was expected to bring in the charms of a much-loved and sure-to-unfold process called… RAGGING…

The next thing I was doing… was peeling and chopping onions in the hostel kitchen… now that’s something that I had done at home before… except here I was… with a sack of 20 kilos of onions… and with Sinha supervising me…

Sinha was a second year ‘student’ for the last 3 years… from Jamshedpur (Tatanagar, Bihar of those times)… balding… potbellied… smelly… with the best of public mannerisms that they do not bother to teach you even in a Hotel school… and those that many of us envy deep down our hearts… like drumming your nose… or scratching your private parts… all this with an air of nonchalance…in public…

And for all that I know, Sinha would not be reading this… not because he is incapable, which he truly was these many years ago… but the very fact that he was still making Pharst Year students peel and chop sacks of onions in the Bhubaneswar Hostel when I had graduated 3 years later… was testimony to the premise that he was gifted to humankind to turn the art of peeling onions into a cognitive and a psychomotored science…

Trust me… I have ‘Facebooked’ Sinha… he isn’t there… the onions must have got him eventually…

The onions would not leave me during all those years at the hostel… and in the ‘Industrial Training’ – a 6 month mandatory deployment of troops into various hotels that the Hotel School did during the second year of the scholastic curriculum… when I slogged in a hotel doing the onions in… a sure sign in the hotel kitchens that thaws the ice between the Chef and you when the Chef deposits the sack in front of you…

Till the onions did me in… one of the early warning signs that I did not belong here…

After all… in 1990, I could not presuppose my Facebook Profile Picture with a Chef’s Cap on my head… a knife in my small palm and a sack of onions on the table…

I am told one of my Great-Grand-Uncles used to run a restaurant… till the Economic Depression of 1930s in the west did his restaurant in… in Bobbili in Andhra Pradesh… well… that was the most plausible postulate that my father had for an explanation…

——————–

Krtin is in his Pharst Year of his hostel life… he hasn’t met the ‘Sinha’ of his life yet… yet, he wants to be a Chef… is it genetic…?

And since he wanted to be a Filmmaker last month… an Actor last year… and an Astronaut the year before… I would not run the microscope on his DNA…

He started good though… Krtin, Parth, Kshitij and Jitesh… from Navi Mumbai, Nai Dilli, Hyderabadu and Amdavad… quickly figured out the best way to arrange their cupboards and the suitcases that they brought along with them…

“Let’s arrange Jitesh’s cupboard first… all of us… and then we could go to Parth… Kshitij… and finally we could do my cupboard… what do you say”

Krtin’s natural leadership was palpable… after all he has a ‘Trainer’ father… and there was a definite pre-orientation to the first 10 minutes of his hostel time that I had trained him on…

But what he said and did in the next half hour… I had not trained him on…

Krtin was the tallest… they used him to place the empty suitcases in the top shelf… Jitesh, the shorty… helped them all with arranging the bottom most… they were done in the next half hour…

From DEPENDENCE… to INDEPENDENCE… to INTERDEPENDENCE…

A short journey that took Krtin through an experience that will stay with him for many lives that he will live…

Happy Weekend…

Ravi Kodukula

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4 thoughts on “Dependence… To Interdependence…

  1. Today’s generation has a peculiar way of looking at so many options in front of them and you shouldn’t be surprised if he takes chef training and any other professional role in one.

    Like

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