Wednesday, April 3, 2013
The Olympic Express
A few days ago, I was Kharagpur bound on the Amravati Express. A mini holiday at
home, with all the ghar ka khana and maa ka pyar, although rejuvenating, makes
it very hard to come back and face ordeals like mess food for another semester or
so. I was missing it already.
My reverie was broken by the loud beating of a drum at my end of the
compartment. From the other end, a little girl, 6-7 years old, somersaulted her
way to where I was sitting. With the blink of an eye, she did three continuous
somersaults in the narrow aisle, without much difficulty. After she was done
with the stunts, she pulled out a thin ring, roughly a foot in diameter, slid it over
her head, and dropped it to her waist. She started swinging it with gracious
movements of her waist that would make any gymnast green. Then she was
joined by a small boy, perhaps her younger brother. The girl lay down on the
floor; face down, the ring positioned vertically around her waist. The boy slipped
into the ring by sliding above the girl. In from this end and out from the other in a
smooth slithery motion.
Both of them stood up; the girl brought up a small steel bowl. The boy following
at her heels, they moved about the compartment hoping that the entertainment
they provided was worth a few pennies. They sure made me happy. In fact, I
was dumbfounded. I could see similar astonishment on the face of the other
passengers, most of who willingly shelled out a few bucks.
Recently, an article was doing the rounds on the web about how China trains her
kids the hard way, for Olympic glory in the years to come. I guess its India’s way
of training them. Their kids do it in the quest of medals; our kids do it to quench
their hunger. I mean, if they could do gymnastics on a running train, bring on the
Ah! Almost forgot! Playing the drum was a lady, most probably their mother. She
must be in really dire straits to make her small kids work for food. Imagine the
pain. At least, she did not resort to in-your-face-begging. So much to provide her
kids with ghar ka khana and maa ka pyar!
Later in the evening, as the train rushed through the lush green farmlands, I saw
two small shirtless kids, chasing each other on the muddy fields. It must not have
been an easy run considering they were barefooted, the fields were filled with
water and it was raining slightly. But they seemed to enjoy the drizzle with vigor
only children can have. I wondered- give them a pair of shoes, put them on a
racing track and give them a proper purpose; who is to stop them from flying!
In the distant horizon, the sun was calling it a day as it set behind the hills. The
spirited kids looked as if they were running into the sunset. If only they were
allowed to rise in the first place!
Dept. of Mechanical Engineering