Friday, July 10, 2009

conversations in the car


We’re driving down to Ranchi thorugh an alternate less used route. The road is full of potholes (a reason why no one uses it) and the climb is steep. A faint drizzle has started. There are fields on both sides. Beautiful green, lush fields, small hamlets (very british!) and small hills. I try sticking my head out of the window expecting a nice breeze to greet me and encounter thewindow glass on the way. Everyone in the car suddenly notices my presence. I massage my forehead embarrassed.
“Haan Appa!”
“Dekho! Jharkhand dekh rahe ho.”
“Tab se toh dekh rahe hain appa! Suddenly aap ko yaad aaya.”
“Arrey! Tab se toh tum aur jharkhand dono so rahey the.”
“Kahan Raghavan babu! Bangalore toh aurho sundar hain.”
My father and me smile wryly at each other.
Remind me why I’m doing this project again.


“Tell me. Why have I heard of Daltanganj.”
“Manne ki! What do you mean ‘why have I heard of it?’ You just saw a signboard.”
“Arrey! What is it famous for?”
A chorus of voices reply back
“Poverty, injustice, feudalism, tribal exploitation. Aur kya !”
The chorus is followed by laughter.
I am in a car with a couple of my dad’s friends driving back home after a nostalgic ‘bachelor’ dinner. It’s been an interesting evening, where the theme of discussion has been my sudden interest in Jharkhand, frequently punctuated by all things 70s.
“Feudalism! Matlab. Still existent?”
“Ummm..... not anymore I think.”
“Ek Mahuar jaat tha. They used to whip the indigineous tribes and treat them as slaves.