Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Colonel Rai

Clad in his spotless white pajama kurta, Colonel Rai walked along the edge of the garden tending to the flowers, giving instructions to Ramesh, the gardener to clear a patch of weeds and all this while smoking his customary cigarette. That along with many other images make up the collage of my memories of Col. Rai.

It was the year 2003 when I went to Ahmedabad for an engineering internship at Viral Controls Private Ltd. In my search for accommodation in Gandhinagar, I came across a National Youth Hostel. It was an imposing structure and I walked in with a trace of trepidation. I met the warden's wife as the warden was not in and she gave me all the instructions about rent and meals.I returned the next day with my luggage and met the warden, Col. Rai. He must have been 65-68, neatly trimmed white mustache, glasses, a skin that had faced the vagaries of nature and yet seemed ready to take on more and a lean frame.He asked me a lot of questions about what I did and why I was there and also gave me all the instructions regarding the stay in the hostel.It was off-season then and so the hostel was empty.I was the lone occupant along with the Colonel, his wife and Ramesh.

I hired a cycle to take care of my transport issues and started my internship the next day. As the internship progressed I realised that I was beginning to learn more from my stay at the hostel than on the factory work floor.Every evening I would return to the hostel and take a nap for an hour.I would wake up and go take a stroll in the vast gardens that surrounded the hostel and I would see the Colonel performing the same chores I recounted in the begining.He would then ask me to come over and we would walk around talking about a lot of things. As a matter of fact, he did most of the talking.

He would talk about his days in the army, the people he met, the relationships he built.I was fascinated to hear him recounting his experiences of the 1971 Indo-Pak war and his memories of the days of emergency. He would talk about the lawlessness in his state of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. While narrating some of these stories it felt like he wished that these states were also run like the Army; with discipline,dignity and honour.He was a BHU graduate who had decided to join the Short Service Commission during the '71 war. After the war, he took up a permanent commission and then spent 20 years in the army. He believed that it was the army that made one into perfect model citizens and that the army had so much to offer to the youth.

Our walks turned into a melting pot of discussions; be it civilian life or the impotence of our ministers or the spread of drugs in educational institutions.He had been the warden of a famous Indian education institute and had on many occasions caught students with dope on them.As I approached the end of my internship, I realised that the world had so much to offer and how much more there was for me to experience.We bid each other farewell and I am sure that today if I went back I would find the Colonel clad in his spotless white pajama kurta, walking along the edge of the garden tending to the flowers,giving instructions to Ramesh, the gardener to clear a patch of weeds and all this while smoking his customary cigarette and shaking his head at the way the world was run.


Blogger ioiio said...

"we would walk around talking about a lot of things. As a matter of fact, he did most of the talking."

Well that speaks volumes for ur claims on the Colonel..I know how difficult it wud have been for him..lol

8:47 PM  
Blogger Saraansh said...

I am happy to see that your sense of humor is intact and infact it seems to have magnified or should I say 'amplified'.

1:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

nice post....

need u to call me asap

pavi :)

1:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


ivap :)

1:56 AM  
Blogger Saraansh said...

You are too kind

4:14 AM  
Blogger ioiio said...

Only today I noticed that u have a link to my blog..

That will bring in a lot more hits to my page..

On a serious note.. Im honored dude.. I dint think u wud do that! I that thats a coveted space.. lol:)

Also, gr8 not to c rama there. I got another to pull his legs today!

10:21 AM  
Blogger adel said...

a nice short story. Although you've mentioned this to me a lot of times, it still did make for a good read!

10:26 PM  
Blogger ioiio said...

Oh! rama too in ur rolls now!

11:52 PM  
Blogger CP said...

Nice post

12:16 AM  
Blogger Saraansh said...

I don't remember telling you about this but then maybe I did.


3:54 AM  
Blogger Emma said...


Thanks for your blog related to post viral fatigue. I have a post viral fatigue blog that you might want to have a look at. It's in the early stages, but I'm hoping it will be useful for other sufferers of PVS and related illlnesses.


11:19 AM  

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