Monday, March 19, 2012

Ganga again.

After more than three decades, I was at the Sangam, the confluence of the rivers Yamuna and Ganga,in the city of Allahabad.
After visiting Ganga ghats of Varanasi and Kanpur , this was my third rendezvous with her within a year.

Accompanied by my colleagues and frens, I couldn't hv asked for a more enjoyable trip with a lot of pranks, jokes and laughter.But haggling with boatmen and escaping the beggars and sadhus was quite annoying.
Sailing through the green water of Ganga and enjoying the sight of Siberian birds hovering, we reached the point where Ganga and Yamuna meet. Water was just waist-deep.

The boatman who had become quite friendly by then after discussing recent election in the state and enlightening us about the third river of the confluence named saraswati, asked me to throw some coins into the river to follow a ritual."The little boy out there will be happy to collect those coins", he insisted. Then I saw a pair of eyes hopeful to get some coins while I looked for some change in my sling purse.

I could visualize that boy as one of my students.I called him near. Like a fish he was at home in water.He glided towards me in a jiffy.

"School jaate ho?" (Do you go to school?)
My joy was inexplicable when he said, "haan", (yes) because when last month I asked this question to a little older boy Nishad, who rowed our boat across the same river in Kanpur,the reply was a casual 'No".
I was sitting on the edge of a boat with my feet in water. So I couldn't pat his back.Prakash told me that he was studying in 5th grade.
-Pahaarde (Multiplication table)aate hai? I asked him.
-Yes, he smiled back.

I struck a deal with him that if he knew the table of 4, I would give him Rs10/.
He began quickly
Chaar ekkem chaar.( 4 ones are 4.......)
Chaar duni aath .
Chaar tian baraah.
He couldn't continue after a while.

I didn't want others to know abt our deal.But a few curious ones were already interested to know the result.
I gave him one more chance.
Achha Chey ka suna.(ok tell the table of 6)

He began in a parrot fashion
Chey ekkam chey.
Chey dooni baraah.
Chey tien attahra...and he finished well.

Bravo...we all , the boatman , a man who had just finished his puja/rituals and I clapped for Prakash and I handed him over his reward. The boatman congratulated me for making a child happy.
The other man Asked me,
"You don't look from Kanpur,where r u from?"
Before I could answer a male colleague stared at me and gestured not to talk to the strangers.

Nishad, 14 the boatman from Kanpur was an articulate speaker and street smart .He had predicted Samajwadi Party's win in then upcoming election in the state,didn't go to school.Whereas shy and less confident Prakash did.

Does it tell something about the two cities? About culture,people and Allahabad being an educational hub and Kanpur an industrial one? Just a thought.


Anonymous said...


Manish said...

It means that parents of Allahabad boy were aware, proactive and more industrious than the parents of the boy from the industrial city.

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