Saturday, January 14, 2012

Coming of age......2012

2011 has taken us to Pangong lake in Ladakh (one half of this lake is in China) and to Matra the southernmost tip of Sri Lanka (from here 2000 Km is Antarctica), from the northern most tip of India to the southernmost tip of our subcontinent with a lot of travel to different destinations in between. While for others traveling comes as a leisurely and relaxing experience for us it is mostly a very stressful and exhaustive affair. When destinations start getting stressful we start enjoying the simple things in travel. Some of the most memorable travel experience of 2011 was not among the beautifully barren landscape of the Trans Himalayan deserts or at the emerald islands but came very near home at Thivim Railway Station while waiting for a local train which would take me to Kudal. It was in the early hours of the day and civilization was just waking up to the reality of modern day travel conveniences. The train I usually catch arrives Thivim at 0630hrs just at the break of dawn in the winter months. Along with me waiting at the platform was a young boy may be of 5 years with his mother. They were both dressed up as to go for a function. The boy was full of energy and was asking questions about the various aspects of the train from how does it move ahead to how many bogeys it has, the boy kept comparing it with a toy train he had received. His mom was patiently answering all she could. Only for education otherwise I could vouch for a brilliant engineer in the making.

The announcement comes that my train is about half an hour late, I did not seem so worried as I was enjoying the boy’s performance but on the other side the Boy’s mom’s face showed a clear regret of not paying attention to her physics classes. She will have to explore her imaginations for another half an hour. The boy also seemed disappointed as he wanted to finally be in probably one of his fascination or temporary fascination. After a while of challenging physics the boy started giving away to other worldly pleasures. His latest fixation was potatoes only that he wanted it in a green packet called Lays. His mom started resisting this demand, instead she offered him delicious aloo parathas (Potato Pancakes). The home made variety of potato did not impress the boy, after all the tried and tested powers of branding and packaging had to work. I wonder if someone in the classrooms of IIM or other reputed business school might have imagined the almost the same scenario while making a presentation supported by data and studies of the percentage of boys who like green color or relate to Saif Ali Khan (brand ambassador). For a moment I felt sorry for myself and the boy as we were all figured out by bunch of analysts and google, they seem to know everything about all of us. 

After persistent demanding by the boy, his mom came up with a deal, he  could buy his favorite Lays, but he had to do it himself, he would be given the money, he had to go to the station vendor himself, ask for his favorite Lays, pay the money and get the change. The boy did not want to go through the efforts and kept persisting his mom to get it for him but his mom was firm on her stand. After a few more minutes of pestering the boy gave in. He agreed to get it himself.

His mom was probably not expecting this from him, was pleasantly surprised, she gave him the money and asked him to get it, the boy started walking to the vendor hardly a few feet away, after a few steps the boy retracted fast to his mom and started again giving a final last try of asking his mom to get it, for the first time in the morning I saw a firm resolute in the mom’s face. She started ignoring his demand and reading a magazine. Once he realized that it was not working out he again attempted at doing it himself. The vendor a few feet away was going through his morning chores unaware of the developments. The boy walked a few steps ahead and looked back, his mom was pretending to be too involved in the magazine, he took a few more steps closer to the vendor and looked back, this time his mom was looking straight at him and was encouraging him to go, he smiled back and then finally went to the vendor and asked him for his favorite Lays.

Happiness and pride were reflecting of his mom's face a moment of coming of age of her little boy. She couldn't stop smiling till he was back with the change and his lays. I felt like she saw the entire life time of her boy and there was a feeling of content in her face that everything will be fine. As soon as he was back, she hugged him and kissed him. The boy after his latest achievement resisted as if he knew now he was big now and was ready for the world and finally he got his lays and started digging into it. As he was enjoying the potatoes of his efforts, I feel that it is going to be a good year ahead.