DICKSON – THE RAILWAY GUARD

22 Jan

Just about half a century after his grandfather retired from the railways in 1957, Chris began his steady climb up the ladder of positions on the Indian Railways. Chris wasn’t around when his grandpa, Remigius Dickson, retired (after several years of service on the former Assam-Bengal Railways) as Station Master from the busy Assam railway junction, Pandu, on the Brahmaputra. Remigius chose to call it a day in this rather laid-back but fairly large railway junction, Bhusaval, on the Central Railway as he believed that he could, with his lifetime savings, cope with the cost of living in this semi-urban town in Maharashtra. He also found that, in his retirement, he would be close to some of his relatives who had settled there earlier. Chris’ Dad, Neo, in the late fifties, and an elder brother of Neo, also became railway employees, in Bhusaval, long before Chris came onto the scene.

Chris probably didn’t realize that he would one day enter the ranks of one of the largest public sector undertakings in India, the Railways, which began operating as early as 1853, on the first line, built by the British, Mumbai to Thane (in Maharashtra). Today, a little over 160 years later, Bhusaval (geographically not too distant from Mumbai or Thane) ranks among India’s leading goods and passenger hubs. Actually Bhusaval, which came to its own, in 1892, barely 40 years after the start of the Mumbai-Thane route, has one of the largest railway yards in the world. Moreover, the Indian Railways use a very profitable goods transportation business to subsidize the passenger traffic fares so that the common man can benefit from inexpensive travel. In fact, today the railways have improved and widened the railway network to inner and distant regions of this sprawling country offering ever greater numbers of people to travel by train.

Chris’s Mom, Caroline, was also a railway employee as she was a teacher in the railway school. When Chris’s Mom passed away in 1997, the railways offered him the vacant ‘railway position’. Chris took on the ‘Dickson Brand’ (-the diligence and commitment trade-marks of his grandpa and his father) and he soon climbed the ranks. We find him in the 2000s getting to the position of Guard, after doing his rounds in the (traffic) Controller’s office where he operated as a TNC (train clerk) from 2002 to 2008.

Adventures of a Guard
A Guard on a railway goods’ train is a lonely figure, sort of pigeon-holed in his brake van, with anything between 50 to 60 wagons (bogies) away from the driver of the train, who is the only other human being on this rather longish ‘moving juggernaut’. Goods’ trains carry freight varying from coal to petrol, from bananas to brinjals (both items being specialities of Bhusaval) and other utility items like onions, sugar, wheat, rice and heavy goods like iron rods, ballast and a variety of other materials.

On a goods’ train (or any train really) it is the driver who first sees the signals ahead and then links up with the guard (using walkie-talkie, and mobile phone, if necessary) to decide on when to stop and later start the train. The railways provide them with walkie-talkies and mobile phones. This communication usually works but there could be situations where the guard could still be left a lot on his own. The guard has to carry sufficient supplies of food and water because he often does not get to a ‘human’ station for a snack or a meal as a goods’ train does not always stop (or park) at a functioning railway station. Quite often the driver gets to stop closer to an actual station (where there may be a halt) while the guard is left about 50 wagons away often in not very friendly settings where security or human-support is concerned.

Living through the risks
Restricted by the narrow space within which he has to cope in his guard’s van Chris sometimes gets off his van to answer ‘nature’s calls’ when the train is stationary. However, this can prove risky if he is in some ‘wild-animal-infested’ areas. Many guards have had pretty narrow shaves from other unwelcome situations as well. On one occasion soon after a train had entered a yard a mad man climbed on to the brake van and beat up a guard. The poor man could not defend himself as he didn’t see it coming.

On another occasion when a train, going towards Khandwa (on the north, 124 km away from Bhusaval) stopped for a signal, a leopard was seen roaming around the train, near the guard’s brake. The driver who had got off the train for a break was alerted by the guard. In a sort of panic he ran for safety to a nearby hut. Linking up with the guard he was able to get back to the safety of his engine. However, leopards can jump huge distances, and could perhaps attack the driver or the guard if their cabin doors are not shut.

Chris had an experience once when he got off the guard’s van during a stop near a station. He got down to attend to his needs but soon had to get back quickly without having completed his job! He hadn’t washed up and, with one hand on the walkie-talkie and the other hand on the water tumbler, he scrambled back on to the safety of his guard’s van. On another occasion the driver who was annoyed with the railways because he had been not given relief (after he had completed his scheduled hours of work) started off the train without informing the guard. The guard, who had got off his van for a breather, literally had to cling on to the hand-rails to get back to the safety of the train he was responsible for. The driver, who always has the advantage of seeing the signals first, should have waited for the walkie-talkie message from the guard before taking off. Trains can be held up for long periods, from a few minutes to a few hours, and both driver and guard can often find their patience running out.

On other occasions there could be problems arising from the way the actual train behaves or performs. If a train is not checked it can emit fire from wheel axles. If the brakes are not released properly the area near wheel (axle) can get red hot and can catch fire. Such trains cannot be kept standing. These wagons have to be detached because the heated areas could become rock-hard and the wagons could fall down. In such conditions the guard has to walk with the train till the nearest station which has loop lines, where such an operation can take place. Sometimes he may have to walk distances for up to 10 or 12 kms, which even in reasonably ‘safe’ times can be risky and unpredictable.

On another occasion, a guard returning to Bhusaval ‘spare’ (i.e. not actually ‘working’ on a train) was sleeping in a coach. He heard a train passing in the opposite direction giving off a peculiar noise. He immediately called up the Station Master of the nearby station to check the train. They found that one wagon was jumping off the tracks and making a huge noise. They were able to stop the train and prevent a serious accident. Another time a guard was attacked in the Bihar section of the railway. The train was standing by when a gang of 4 or 5 men attacked the lonely guard. A chance railway employee passing by noticed the injured employee. He called up the Station Master who discovered that the guard had been attacked and that his phone and his purse had been taken.

Another time, something happened when a train had reached the point just outside Bhusaval station where the guard usually has to get off and stand and wait there for motor-transport to take him to the yard. This happens when a train comes on to a mainline station. This van/car usually takes the driver first and then returns for the guard. This incident happened around 1.30 am when people are not around. Three drunkards came by on motor-bikes, beat up the guard and robbed him. They got little from him but he was badly beaten up and had to be hospitalised.

Another interesting incident took place again on the Bihar sector. After a train had been on the run for 10 hours a memo had to be passed on by the guard to the station master, who had to repeat the message on to the Controller. This was done so that he could make arrangements for a replacement guard. In this instance, quite unpredictably, and for no plausible reason, the station master and the points-men beat up the guard. They locked him up in his own small store room. The Assistant driver, when out to get a refill because his drinking water had got over, chanced to discover what had happened. He of course released the guard.

Climbing the ladder
Christopher Dickson, 44, who has now been a guard for around eight years, on the Central Railway based at Bhusaval Junction seems to take it all in his stride. He is the eldest of three boys of Neopole Dickson, his dad, who spent a lifetime, actually 36 years, in the railways in Bhusaval occupying different positions of responsibility. In 1958 Neo started off teaching in the senior section of Saint Aloysius’ High School, the local Convent School, before he got on to the Railways in 1959. Neo retired as Loco Inspector after spending several years in the DRM’s (Divisional Regional Manager) office. Sylvester, 40, Chris’ younger brother, now works in that office. Neo was highly regarded by the bosses and was always called for by those responsible especially when there was need for emergency preparations for inspections and things of the sort, as he was efficient both in assessing railway traffic as well as in issuing instructions in precise English. He was as good when working as a driver on goods trains, and spent many hours, and years, ‘on line’, facing all the hassles that train operators have to encounter –not least of all the hazards of lack of food and rest.

Chris met his wife Liliyan, a nurse, at her sister’s place. They have two children, Megan 11 and Regan 15 months. They live in a house Chris’ Dad, Neo, set up years back. Sylvester lives with him. Oliver, 35, Chris’ youngest brother, who got married in January 2017, has moved to Pune where he is an Events’ Manager. Chris, from the time he began working in Bhusaval got into the swing of events and has become quite a leader both in social as well as church circles. His Christian faith sustains him and his family (and his Dad too) must surely be proud of him keeping up the family traditions.

Facing the challenges
A guard is given a 12-hour rest if he has done less than 8 hours duty. If he does more than 8 hrs duty he gets 16 hrs at home or as per the requirements of the time depending on the trains that require guards and on the number of guards available for duty. If he goes to an ‘outstation’ (a station not in the vicinity of Bhusaval) he could get a maximum of 8 hours rest. There are other scenarios too. If he takes over a train that has come in from Nagpur (on the eastern side) to Badnera, he goes to Bhusaval with that train. If he goes on this run he could get a minimum break of 16 hours after a 12-hour shift, or longer perhaps. If there is a shortage of staff these runs come oftener. Now, with most guards’ vacancies filled up he gets more regular rest periods sometimes ranging from 30 to 60 hours. It is helpful to get an idea of distances. Bhusaval to Badnera is 220 kms, Bhusaval to Khandwa is 124 kms, Bhusaval to Nandgaon is 160 kms. Chris does line runs on all these sectors.

Chris usually has to take trains which have between 50 and 60 bogies (wagons). In his guard’s van, he has about enough space to sit and do his logs. He has just a hole for toilet and seldom gets to stop at a shop/civilized spot for a meal or a drink while he is with his train, travelling. Surprisingly, he does get WiFi on line and can access his emails or his Facebook or other social media sites or perhaps read a magazine or book which he may have brought along –that of course is if his work has not exhausted him. In addition, he has to be alert all the time, even if the train has to halt every hour. Each time the train has to stop or to move again the guard’s signal is required. If for any reason he is not alert (technically ‘caught napping’) he could be in trouble.

However, there seems to be some sort of silver lining showing up on the horizon. Some helpful changes seem to be coming his way. Without having to wait months or years for promotions, he could soon be functioning as a guard on passenger or mail trains, which in railway terms is an upgrade. But this won’t mean any difference to his salary. It will basically keep him a guard, for life perhaps, with just the annual increment to his pay. So, really the sky still seems to be somewhat fuzzy where his future is concerned.

His immediate boss is an Area Manager who reports to a senior DOM (Divisional Operations Manager) who reports to a COM (Chief OM) who is the head of operations of Central Railway and is based in Mumbai. He comes round for Inspections once or twice a year. He is also in charge of all Divisions. There are 5 Divisions: Mumbai, Bhusaval, Nagpur, Pune and Sholapur (closest to Daund). The highest official in Bhusaval is DRM (Divisional Railway Manager) who is in charge of all Bhusaval Division, which has 18 departments. There would roughly be 100 to 500 employees in each Division. So, Bhusaval division might have a total of around 5000 employees.

One of the developments taking place is that ‘performance-related-pay’ will enter the equation for increments in salaries. It’s a new ball game and employees are apprehensive about how this will work and how their lives could be affected.

The Indian Railways
The Indian Railways is one of the world’s largest railway networks comprising 115,000 km (71,000 mi) of track with over 7,100 stations. In 2015-16, Indian Railways carried more than 8 billion passengers, i.e. more than 22 million passengers a day. The Railways also carried over 1 billion tons of freight in the same period. While freight revenues are around ₹1.118 trillion (US$17 billion), passenger tickets account for only around ₹451.26 billion (US$6.7 billion), which is why the Railways use freight revenues to subsidize passenger travel fares.
The Railways today operate all over India and also have connectivity to Bangladesh and Pakistan. The organization also exports ‘railway expertise’ to other countries like Bhutan, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand and Vietnam. In earlier days technical assistance was also given to Uganda.

The Indian Railways today run three gauges: broad, metre and narrow. Chris works on broad gauge. Today the Railways offer excellent service in state-of-the-art services like the Rajdhani Express (between Delhi and Kolkata) or the Shatabdi – Bhopal Express (between Agra and Faridabad), or the Gatimaan express (between Agra and Nizamuddin) which is the fastest train in India at 160 kmph. A few areas also have double-decker AC trains. Besides long-distance trains there are also very good local or suburban services in cities like Mumbai or Kolkata, with some cities (like Kolkata) now offering excellent ‘metro’ (overground-underground) services. The Indian Railways run steam, electric and diesel systems.

People who work for the railways in India enjoy privileges: they get housing and medicals, and free ‘pass’ travel, e.g. an annual family travel package on the Indian Railways. They also get some benefits for children’s education (-a maximum of ₹ 18,000, after bills are submitted) which was really introduced only about eight years back. They get 3 passes a year to anywhere in India, which is a 1st Class Pass (2 tier). They can also claim money in lieu of housing. It is calculated on 10% of the basic pay. However, they face the hassles of transfers, especially if they work in certain sectors.

The Railways have 18 departments, some of which are: operations, carriage and wagon, mechanical, electrical, lighting, engineering, personnel, budget and audit, traction (TRD –traction running department), overhead equipment, health and safety, medical, housing and training. The Zonal Training Institute (ZTRI) in Bhusaval is one of the leading Zonal Training Centres for the Indian Railways.

Bhusaval – the railway town
Bhusaval, the railway town (near Jalgaon in Maharashtra), is close to the famous Ajanta Caves, which are only about 60 km away. Bhusaval railway yard is the largest in the subcontinent, and Bhusaval stands at the cross-roads, if not the cross links of four railway networks –the Central, the South-Central, the Northern and the Western. So the junction offers connections to Delhi in the North, Mumbai in the West, Kolkata in the East and Hyderabad and Chennai in the South.

The famous 1956 American movie, Bhowani Junction, was shot around Bhusaval station. ‘27 Down’ a Bollywood movie was also created around Bhusaval junction. The Catholic graveyard, which is about 150 years old, is the largest one of its kind in the region. Families who have emigrated to Australia, Canada, UK, USA or elsewhere still visit Bhusaval graveyard to pray for the souls of their relatives who are buried there. Neo often called Bhusaval the ‘one-horse’ town probably influenced by the one-horse carry-vans (called ‘Jhatkas’ in Hindi) that were plentiful in his day, meaning of course the minimum facilities the town provided –i.e. market, railway station, church, police station, and basically just one big busy road link to towns and villages around. Today Bhusaval is a much bigger trading point as well with hotels, multi-storey buildings and quite of lot of entertainment as well.

Many Anglo-Indians and Christians (including several Catholics) who were employees largely on the Railways were based in Bhusaval. In the fifties and sixties there was a very large English-speaking population and they formed a strong supportive group both as part of a ‘railway-population’ and as part of the Catholic population. These families, who linked up informally and formally for several functions especially around Christmas time, are no longer around. Many of them have migrated but every so often some of their traditions and functions still see revivals in wedding and anniversary celebrations. Recently, in January 2017, Oliver, Chris’ youngest brother, got married to Priya Thomas (of Bhopal) in the Sacred Heart Church in Bhusaval where colourful celebrations were held both in Church and at the reception.

The Schedules
When Chris gets a call on his mobile he has to report to office promptly in about an hour. His office is about 20 minutes away on a motor-bike (in what is called the 15-Blocks area). There the Area Controller (ACOR) will inform him about which train he has to take. He has a lobby (a comfortable waiting room) where he has to wait till the train he has been allotted is brought to within a reasonable walking distance of 15 to 45 minutes. If the train is some distance away a motor-transport will take him there. The Mumbai-side trains are close to the Bhusaval station. The trains to Nagpur and Itarsi are usually close by in the yard.

To get an idea of destinations: Mumbai is on the west, Itarsi on the North, Nagpur on the East, and Badnera and Wardha on the South. Khandwa is the shortest distance that Chris does and is somewhat the easiest and fastest to reach. Badnera is the longest distance and so is the best paid. The payment is by kms multiplied by 10, 20, 30 & 40%. Khandwa e.g. is 124 km away. If Chris does over 125 to 150 km he gets a 10% bonus; if he does from 150 to 175km he gets 20% bonus. To Nandgaon e.g. which is 160km he gets paid for 191 km @ Rs.2.28 per km; or to Badnera, a distance of 220km he gets paid for 307 kms.

On Mail or Express trains he is paid less. So there is more money to be made on goods’ trains, and there’s more time for rest at home. But there could possibly be more runs on Mail trains and so the financial deficit is sort of made up for. Pay is regulated by the Government Pay Commissions, which takes place every 10 years. The last one was in 2016.

The Reality of the Job
Chris enjoys his job and takes it all in his stride. However, perhaps what would perhaps be a bother just now is that he has to spend so many hours away from his family –his loving wife Liliyan and his two lovely daughters –Megan and Regan. Sometimes he has to spend anything from 22 to 32 hours away from home. Sometimes he has to leave for work in the middle of the night. He has to be on call literally all day, when he has completed his scheduled rest period. He has to carry sufficient supplies of food and water and quite naturally his wife has to help with getting his travelling pack ready. He has to carry at least 8 kg of water and quite a pack of vegetables and ‘chappatis’ to last him possibly for about two days. Sometimes he has some unspecified delays caused by the priority given to Mail and Passenger traffic over goods’ trains. This naturally affects not just his health but also the anxiety of the family back home. His little one especially, Regan (just 15 months old now), misses him badly. When back home Chris just relaxes and mixes it all up with family joys and plentiful doses of TV, music and sleep! Chris probably prays with John Bunyan, ‘I am content with what I have, little be it or much; and, Lord, contentment still I crave, because thou savest such.’ He is indeed quite content with his lot as a ‘Railway Guard’ and stays close to his family and …to the Lord!
–(c)tds—most facts checked with Chris Dickson – Jan2017-
contact trodza@ymail.com for comments/corrections.

Flight to Bangkok

10 Oct

FLIGHT TO BANGKOK
Romance in the Air

Flight to Bangkok covers an eventful journey that has an unexpected outcome for some of those on board. It is not a travel odyssey and really deals with two individuals, who meet accidentally, ‘in the air’.

The two travellers on this flight from East Africa to Thailand sitting side by side get to know quite a lot about each other. Turbulence over the Indian Ocean compels the airline to take an unplanned stopover on a tiny island. In the hotel arrangements, passengers are allotted only the limited double rooms available, according to their pair-seating on the plane. The two from Africa –a man and a lady— have to share a room. The lady has an anxious request for a separate bed at least, in the room.

After less than an hour in the hotel, the lady, who appears to have emotional baggage, uses the room situation to seek help from the man. The chat earlier on the flight leads her to believe that he is the ideal person to rescue her from the uncertainties in her life. She finds him knowledgeable, supportive and trustworthy and wastes no time in thinking out a plan to win the man’s sympathy and confidence. She employs ingenious moves to get closer to the man.

The narrative describes how the two quickly slide from a casual acquaintanceship to a closer relationship. Flight to Bangkok, a fascinating tale of how two people get drawn to each other, also deals with snippets of African and Thai history and culture, and of some eastern traditional practices.

This story whose alternative title is ‘Romance in the Air’ is and isn’t about ‘romance’. It is a tale that could easily be played out in today’s world where ‘religious’ involvement in ‘secular’ situations can lead to surprising outcomes. The book seeks to portray situations that even those living committed lives could have to face. Dedicated living by definition is moored to established principles and statutes. However, varied influences from social pressures and from work situations could in subtle ways misdirect the focus of individuals from a commitment to laxity or perhaps even to frustration. The book seeks to analyse what happens when cracks appear in training or performance schedules. The narrative takes up a few instances of committed individuals who veer away from their goals and objectives under unexpected pressure.

Flight to Bangkok serves up some typical examples of how pitfalls occur or perhaps of how constructive programmes might bolster flagging dedication. Romance is a natural phenomenon, and people who live committed lives are not above its influences. Managers who are responsible for training may be able to take a leaf out of this book and include wholesome and perhaps innovative programmes to add to their training schemes.

The Author draws from his experience of travel and of working across a few countries delivering programmes, and projects. His involvement with people and cultures comes across in the six books he published earlier. In some of these books he tries to be the ‘voice of the voiceless’ or perhaps the ‘speaker’ taking up causes. His books attempt to delve into what happens when theories, systems and traditions collapse, and human emotions take centre-stage.

Flight to Bangkok, his seventh book (published: September 2016), picks up this emotive theme and shows how relationships do not always develop or evolve. They can sometimes just happen, as incredible and refreshing surprises, with people walking into them or perhaps ‘flying’ into them, as happens in the story.

The Author’s books throw up sensitive flashpoints and show how empathy helps in resolving tangled human issues or settling complex emotional situations. In Flight to Bangkok he seeks to demonstrate how what often really only matter are Understanding and Love, and perhaps Patience as well.

[See http://www.trodza.wordpress.com for more on his books.](Flight to Bangkok: published September 2016)
[Order copies: Amazon price: $9.63 or £5.86 or €6.50- Kindle price: $3.49, or£2.68, or €3.13]

–T.D’Souza (oct 2016)

Rescue by unlikely Hero

17 Apr

The Picnic with a Story
Kornelius had no plans to join the college picnic that morning in January 2014. He just could not afford the fee. A close friend, with a load of pocket money to spare, paid the extra Rs.300 (app $4.00) and got him on board. The annual picnic serves as a breather between the intense period of academic activities with projects and examinations. With the harsh winter gradually wearing off in this busy town, Siliguri, at the foothills of the Himalayas, the college Staff felt that January 15 would be the ideal date for the picnic convenient for all the faculties.

Kornelius Hembram, 18, was fortunate to get on to this graduate (BA) course in English Honours in this prestigious and popular700-strong college in West Bengal that caters to a wide range of social groups. His family, who were Santhals residing in the Malda district also in the state of West Bengal, India, about 250 km away from Siliguri, earned their livelihood by farming. The Santhals, the third largest tribal group in India belong to the Austro-Asiatic family whose migrations go back to pre-Aryan times. They have established settlements in Jharkhand, their considered ‘home’ state, and in other states in India like Assam and Odisha, as well as in Bangladesh and Nepal. In earlier times, they hunted game the traditional bow-and-arrow way. The animal sanctuary craze drove these natural skills underground, but the Santhals survived on forestry, fishing and agriculture. They integrated into broader Indian society and culture contributing effectively towards India’s development and progress without losing their identity and values. At one point in history, they had to fight the British colonial power as well to establish their rights and their existence.

Kornelius’ parents, using their own limited resources, tried to keep pace with the growing aspirations of an emerging India. They too wanted the best for their children and had put together their savings to get him through high school. He did them proud by scoring over 70% in the state Madhyamik (Class 10 –end of High School) exam. The stringent evaluation systems used in some states in India are sometimes equated in other states (or indeed outside India) at a much higher value, e.g.as A Grades in the ICSE (Anglo-Indian equivalent exam) or in the IGCSE (UK equivalent exam) especially in progression or employability terms. So, in reality, Kornelius did brilliantly and showed he was capable of higher academic goals.

However, it was a different ball game passing the entrance procedures at Salesian College, Siliguri, affiliated to the University of North Bengal. Kornelius qualified in the academic tests but nearly stumbled when faced with the financial requirements. Fortunately, the college selection committee had a backup fund to support deserving students who show talent and ability. A college club, Savio Youth Centre Society, more than willingly offered to pay his college fees for his second-year studies as his application to study and his achievements were impressive.

The Fun Day
The students at college go through a range of activities, including drama, music, dance and creative projects in addition to their academic work. Yet they need more than the typical day-off or academic break to re-charge their batteries. The annual picnic is possibly that outlet when they can literally let their hair down and enjoy a carefree and fun-filled day. The college authorities always do a careful spot choice keeping in mind that these motivated college students have the opportunity to experience an outing that is both entertaining and refreshing. The idea is also to give the students a chance to meet up with students from different departments in an atmosphere that offers a reasonably free social interaction. It is important as well that security concerns are addressed and basic facilities are provided at this once-a-year outing.

The 500 students out for the picnic that day were off to two different destinations, not really far apart. One group of around 350 students went to Sevoke, an hour’s drive from Siliguri, a little town on the River Teesta while the other group went to Panighata, a village not far from Sevoke. One of the Lecturers, Father James, took charge of the first group, where Kornelius was, and headed for Sevoke. Mr Peter (another Lecturer) also assisted with the first group, while the other group was led by Father George (the Principal).

The River Story
The River Teesta is the lifeline of the Indian state of Sikkim, flowing through almost the entire length of the state. It originates in the Pauhunri glacier, nearly 7,000 metres high (23,000 ft) in the Sikkim-Himalayas and gathers momentum and bulk as it takes in water from three rivulets flowing into it at this point near Sevoke. In fact, it was originally called ‘Trisrote’ (Three Streams). While generally providing a verdant Himalayan and tropical vegetation along its path, in its ‘monsoon’ moods it has also caused incalculable damage to the surrounding villages with floods. The river then forms the border between the states of Sikkim and West Bengal before joining the River Brahmaputra as a tributary in Bangladesh.

The rivers in India besides being among the largest in the world are also some of the most unpredictable especially after the peak monsoon seasons but can also be quite a problem off-season if dam and barrage controls along their tributaries or rivulets are not properly regulated. The Brahmaputra and the Ganges, two of the largest rivers in India, belong to this category.

The Sand-Banks and the Dam

The morning started off brilliantly for both groups, with the pleasant bus ride and then the informal pleasantries that help to form little posses that generally tend to wander off to exchange news and college gossip. The Sevoke group encamped on the banks of the River Teesta which had wide sand-banks with large rocks and little dry islands in the middle of the river at that time of the year. With low rainfall in the winter months, there wasn’t an exceptionally large flow of water in the river. In spite of the scorching sun, the cool breezes added to the pleasant atmosphere full of happy chatter and fun. However, at around midday, after about two hours that the students had been at the Teesta, the situation suddenly took a dramatic turn.

Before the picnic, the planners had checked out the feasibility of the location with the authorities in the Sevoke area, including the controllers of the upstream dam nearby. They had got the all-clear for any student activities on the bank. However, without informing even the Police authorities of the area, the controllers of the dam sluices suddenly decided to release water either because of pressure building up in the dam or because of requests from the users of the water downstream.

Whatever may have been the reasoning of those in charge of water controls, and apart from the fact that even the Police authorities were not informed about plans, our bunch of students were totally unaware of the gush of water flowing towards them almost like a tsunami. However, Lecturers James and Peter noticed the speed at which the levels of water were rising and issued warning calls especially to the students on the sand stretches in the river to move away to the safety of the higher sand banks on the sides. Gradually all the students got the message but two girl students who had wandered off a bit further failed to hear the initial warnings. By the time they realized what was happening the water flow had almost become a giant wave. At first these two girls rushed for safety to the top of a large rock. However, the water-flow soon became a massive power and eventually washed the girls off their perch.

The Agony and the Suspense
The two girls were soon engulfed and it was agonizing for everyone watching the two of them being sucked away in the water and finally disappearing. James attempted to reach out to them with bamboo poles and ropes from the safety of the side banks but the sudden rise of the current was too powerful for the girls to grab the lifeline thrown to them. The horrified onlookers looked on helplessly, just praying and hoping that someone would do something. It would appear, in poetic more than in dramatic terms, that ‘time’ was the better gambler over ‘fate’, as something happened. ‘Time’ would appear to have stood still and to have recorded one of its most incredible moments.

Nothing can really prepare us for desperate times or for emergencies. Plane crash and sea-wreck survivors, and injured victims of terrorist attacks, usually have stories to tell that they themselves cannot truly explain. The fact is that no amount of training can save human beings when the odds are stacked against them. However, human survival instincts combined with personal skills, ingenuity, quick thinking, courage and daring have often rescued people from disastrous situations.

For our second-year student, Kornelius, this was his moment. He had not planned it. It just happened. All that was human in him pressed the ‘emergency-button’ and he swung into action. He acted instinctively. He had the presence of mind and the practical intuition to run downstream along the bank and then plunge into the raging river close to the point where the two girls were floundering. From that point on it was just Kornelius all the way: fighting to save others while trying to survive himself. In those vital moments all the tribal skills he had acquired in forestry, fishing and swimming just fell into place. For the bystanders it was painful agony watching the two girls disappear. For Kornelius it was just focus and action even though his wildest dreams may not have thrown this up ever.

Though not very tall his sturdy build had to take the brunt of the challenge he never imagined he would ever face. He kept forging ahead in the raging tide trying to spot the girls. As soon as their heads surfaced he swam towards them struggling to grab them as they kept sinking due to the water they had taken in. Kornelius, however, drew from his reserves and kept holding on to them. In just about fifteen minutes, he brought them both out, one by one, to the safety of the higher sand bank to everyone’s relief. Saving the first girl wasn’t too difficult as the adrenalin rush was strong, but it took a lot more power, determination and effort to save the second girl as he was nearly exhausted with the energy he had used up.

Selfless Heroism
Kornelius had not planned on being at the picnic that day but his presence made the difference that mattered. The girls were first given artificial respiration by the college first-aid team. The Police, as seems to happen in all dramas, then turned up, before the ambulance could, and rushed the two girls to Dr Nayak’s Nursing Home nearby.

Kornelius when asked why he threw himself so selflessly into the rescue, perhaps aware that his own life could be in danger, said quite simply, ‘I just wanted to save my fellow human beings in danger. I somehow knew I could. ….Someone had to do something. …I don’t think I did anything great.’

Actually he did. The College thought his quick thinking and his rescue were super-human. His mates just can’t stop talking about their quiet hero whose actions spoke more eloquently than his words. The two girls will have a lifetime to tell their grand-children how someone they didn’t really know gave new meaning to their lives. Paul Olaf Bodding (1865 – 1938), the famous Norwegian anthropologist who pioneered records of Santhal social history in India would probably have put Kornelius on a pedestal, a model for Santhal youth. Kornelius is indeed the pride of his family, the glory of his college and the star for young people today.

[Story and facts from Fr George T, Fr Nirmol G, Wikipedia] Edited by T.D’Souza for TRODZA-240315

Anastasia Redeemed

17 Apr

The Anastasia theme
The Author would appear to have latched on to an ‘Anastasia’ theme that seemed to have captured people’s attention during that particular time when the book idea was conceived. Readers apparently were eager to explore human physicality when enmeshed in ‘shady’ areas emotionally over-played. But his Anastasia experiences emotional tensions in another dimension. Her natural spontaneity and exuberance get reined in by manipulative and intransigent control-freaks almost with impunity.

Yet, in the book, Anastasia Redeemed, Anastasia courageously sings her song! She somehow uses her inner strength and her reliance on prayer to confront her partial and dodgy Managers. She needs to be heard and to be taken seriously even if her simplicity gets mistaken for naivety and her honesty for arrogance. She plainly doesn’t need to escape to ‘shady’ areas that her Managers escape to in clandestine ways to relieve their own tensions. She’s outspokenly clear and simple, sincere yet powerful.

‘Anastasia’ is the story of a Kenyan girl who wants to dedicate her life to serving others. The Author, Trophy D’Souza, in his third book, cleverly disguises powerful argument and passion in descriptions and details that make the book an exciting read! It’s a tale that resonates with Kenyan folklore and is packed with African snippets and religious insights. In some ways it is a delicious banquet served up, not with run-of-the-mill dishes, but with a succulent Kenyan main course and a tasty African dessert. Anastasia who goes through painful traumas at the hands of incapable religious Managers uses her faith and self belief to come out triumphant. It is a book that Managers who are Trainers should read. Managers who are responsible for mentoring trainees for religious living have valuable lessons to learn. The average ‘lay’ reader has a story that touches deep human emotion and cries out for justice and for solutions to situations that will always be part of growing up.

Reactions to the Book
The book may not have got the wide publicity it might have needed possibly because themes of a religious setting by their very nature get read only in certain circles. Yet apparently the response has been encouraging wherever the book was read.

A Nun, who is responsible for training postulants in a city in East Africa, said, ‘The book opened my eyes to issues I may not have looked at earlier. I have got my team of trainers to read the book and to discuss how we could avoid some of the pitfalls identified in the book….I have also made the book available in the Community Reading Room where other Nuns too could have access to it.’

A Manager in a multi-tasking ‘Call Centre’ in the UK said, ‘I found the book threw up some problems that may have escaped me. We get many young trainees who need to be understood. In spite of the busy schedule we run I think we need to give some space and time to help them grow up not only to be effective workers but also into better social human beings. ‘

A Director in a College in India, that doubles up as a centre for religious studies as well as for university studies, found ‘gems of wisdom’ and ‘practical advice’ to guide him in his task of training future religious and priests. He had to admit, ‘I didn’t realize that power could be used to control and hinder the growth of sensitive and needy human souls. It clearly needs to be used more positively.’

Reviewers of the Book
‘An easy read and a compelling book,’ said Menon, who trains teachers for the British Council in India. She added, ‘Anastasia’s trials….. have been presented through a sensitively crafted narrative, which seem to speak to the reader from deep within Anastasia’s being.’

‘The story is truly gripping, full of the realities that life throws up….’ said Gomes, who has a varied education experience in Australia and in India. He believes that the Author’s ‘inimitable style’ helps ‘to blend the African setting’ with ‘the Christian influences that seem to guide the outcomes.’

While Menezes, a Media and Library Specialist in New York, feels that the typical ‘western’ reader,’ immersed in a hi-tech world, should relish this exotic experience presented in an easy-to-read style’, Lazar, a training consultant for Religious Training Services in East Africa, believes that the book is more about Anastasia’s ‘search for meaning in life by staying close to her culture and…to the spiritual values of her religion.’

Other Books with similar themes
The Author, who has experience of dealing with people in different settings in life, has a way with words in dealing with dysfunctional situations. His first book, A Bumpy Ride, shows how ‘incompetent Managers’ can affect people’s lives, very much the way Anastasia’s ‘bumpy ride’ hits an iceberg [‘intolerant Management’] that nearly destroys her. His second book, The Singh Saga, elaborates how ‘shady’ characters can make a family dysfunctional, while his fourth book, The Silence Beyond the Pain, once again explores how arrogant Managers can make life unbearable for unsuspecting and genuine clients. Always concerned about a reader’s possible emotional spill-over his books provide inspiration and resolution. Realization and repentance find redemption in his books which constantly seek not to disparage but to explore human dimensions and possibilities!
Details of the Author’s books can be seen at his blog: http://www.trodza.wordpress.com . Trophy D’Souza is on FaceBook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Anastasia Redeemed, published in March 2013, is available from New Generation Publishing and from Amazon.

The Story and the Issues
Anastasia needs to be heard and to be taken seriously even if she does not dabble in ‘shady’ areas that usually get headlines. She’s outspokenly pure and simple, honest yet powerful. It is a tale that resonates with Kenyan folklore, packed with African snippets. In some ways it is a delicious banquet served up, not with run-of-the-mill dishes, but with a succulent Kenyan main course and a tasty African dessert. Anastasia who goes through painful traumas at the hands of incapable religious Managers uses her faith and self belief to come out triumphant and successful. It is a book religious Managers who are Trainers must read and keep alongside their Bibles! It offers insights for the average lay reader as well, exposing the ‘fault lines’ in this African ‘rift valley’!

‘Anastasia’s trials with facing the loss of her family, with living up to her brave decision to stick with Akamba tradition and with accepting her fatherless child have been presented through a sensitively crafted narrative, which seems to speak to the reader from deep within Anastasia’s being. It is as if her voice grows, from that of a little girl with a simple and naive perspective of the world and from that of a young woman in her quest of the Almighty, into a strong woman who has matured through the challenges life has thrown at her.’

Delta Flight 15

6 Mar

The amazing story of how good people always turn up.

Frankfurt Flight diverted
On the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001, we were about 5 hours out of Frankfurt, flying over the North Atlantic. We were more than half-way to our destination in the USA suddenly the aisle curtains parted and I was told to go to the cockpit, to see the captain. As soon as I got there I noticed that the crew had that strained business look on their faces. The Captain handed me a printed message from Delta’s main office in Atlanta, ‘All airways over the Continental United States are closed to commercial air traffic. Land a.s.a.p. at the nearest airport. Advise your destination.’

No one said a word. We knew it was a serious situation and that we needed to land quickly. The Captain determined that the nearest airport was 400 miles behind us in Gander, Newfoundland (Canada). He requested approval for a route change from the Canadian traffic controller and approval was granted immediately. We found out later, of course, why no questions were asked and there was no delay in getting the request approved.

While the flight crew prepared for landing, another message came through from Atlanta telling us that there had been some terrorist activity in the New York area. A few minutes later the news got a bit clearer when we were told about the hijackings and the attacks on New York. We decided not to tell the passengers any of these bits while we were still in the air. We told them the plane had a minor technical problem and that we needed to land at the nearest airport, Gander, to check it out.

More planes grounded at Gander
We promised to give the passengers more information once we’d landed in Gander. There was quite naturally a bit of murmuring among the passengers which is understandable. Forty minutes later, we landed in Gander; at 12:30 p.m.! [11:00 a.m. EST]. As we were landing the passengers couldn’t help noticing that there were already around 20 other airplanes of different world airlines on the ground that had also taken this detour on their way to the USA. Did all of them have technical problems at about the same time?

After we had parked on the ramp, the Captain made the much-awaited announcement, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, you must be wondering if all these airplanes around us have the same technical problem as we had. The reality is that we are here for a totally different reason.’ Then he went on to explain the little bits we were told about the situation in the USA. There were loud gasps and stares of disbelief. The Captain then informed the passengers that Ground Control in Gander had informed all aircraft to stay put.

The Canadian Government was in charge of our situation and no one was allowed to get off the aircraft. No one on the ground either was allowed to come near any of the aircrafts. Only airport police would come around periodically to look us over. In the next hour as we waited more planes landed and soon Gander had 53 airplanes cramped into the little airport, 27 of which were US commercial jets.

The ‘plain truth’ of the situation
Meanwhile, bits of news started trickling in over the aircraft radio and for the first time we learned that airplanes had crashed into the World Trade Centre in New York and into the Pentagon, in Washington DC. Some passengers were trying to use their cell phones, but were unable to connect due to a different cell system in Canada. Some did get through but were only able to get to the Canadian operator who would tell them that the lines to the USA were either blocked or jammed.

Some hours later, in the evening, the news filtered to us that the World Trade Centre buildings had collapsed and that a fourth hijacking had resulted in a crash. By now the passengers were emotionally and physically exhausted, not to mention frightened, but everyone stayed amazingly calm. We had only to look out the window at the 52 other stranded aircraft to realize that we were not the only ones in this predicament.

We had been told earlier that they would be allowing people off the planes one plane at a time. At 6 p.m., Gander airport authorities told us that our turn to deplane would be 11 a.m. the next morning. The passengers were not at all happy about this but stayed calm as they prepared themselves to spend the night on the airplane. The Gander authorities promised us medical attention, water, provisions and satisfactory toilet facilities. They were true to their word. We had no medical situations to worry about, but we did have a young lady who was 33 weeks into her pregnancy. Many of the experienced mothers and medically trained women stepped forward to take really good care of her. The night passed without incident in spite of the uncomfortable sleeping arrangements.

No ‘Red Alert’ –but Red Cross
About 10:30 on the morning of the 12th September a convoy of school buses showed up. We got off the plane and were taken to the terminal for Immigration and Customs. We then had to register with the Red Cross who took charge. We (the crew) were then separated from the passengers and taken in vans to a small hotel. We had no idea where our passengers had been taken. The Red Cross told us that the town of Gander which had a population of 10,400 people was faced with the challenging task of taking care of about 10,500 passengers who had got off the planes! The Red Cross told us to relax in our hotels and that we would be contacted when the US airports opened again, but that we should not expect that call for a while. Only after we got to our hotels and turned on the TV, 24 hours after it had all started, did we really find out what had actually happened.

Meanwhile, as we began to settle into our situation, with quite a bit of time on our hands, the passengers soon found out that the people of Gander were really an extremely friendly bunch. They started by calling us ‘our friends the plane people’. We enjoyed their hospitality, explored the town of Gander and ended up comfortable and cared for, almost as though we were back in our homes.
.
Two days later, we got that call and were taken back to Gander airport. Back on our planes, we were reunited with our passengers and began finding out what care and kindness they had experienced over the two days that they had been away from the airplane. We heard incredible stories of kindness, friendliness and generosity.

Lewis Porte and ‘people support’
Gander rose to the occasion. All the surrounding communities (within about a 75 km radius) had closed all high schools, meeting halls, lodges and any other large gathering places. They converted all these facilities into mass lodging areas for all the stranded travellers. Some had cots set up, others had mats with sleeping bags and pillows set up.

All the high school students were required to volunteer their time to take care of the ‘guests’. The 218 passengers on our plane ended up in a town called Lewis Porte, about 45 km from Gander where they were put up in a high school. If any women wanted to be in a women-only facility, that was arranged too. Families were kept together. All the elderly passengers were taken to private homes.

What about that young pregnant lady? She was put up in a private home right across the street from a 24-hour Urgent Care facility. There was a dentist on call and both male and female nurses remained with the crowd for the duration. Phone calls and e-mails to the US and around the world were available to everyone once a day. During the day, passengers were offered ‘excursion’ trips. Some people went on boat cruises of the lakes and harbours. Others went for hikes in the local forests. Local bakeries stayed open to make fresh bread for the guests.

Food was prepared by all the residents and brought to the schools. People were driven to restaurants of their choice and offered wonderful meals. Everyone was given tokens for local laundry mats to wash their clothes, since luggage was still on the aircraft. In other words, every single need was met for the stranded travellers.

The passengers were literally in tears just recounting the kindness they were shown. Finally, when they were told that US airports had reopened, they were dropped off to the airport right on time and without a single passenger missing their flights or getting there late. The Red Cross had all the information about the whereabouts of each and every passenger and knew which plane they needed to be on and the departures of all the flights. They coordinated everything beautifully. It was absolutely incredible.

The flight back –a party mood
When passengers came on board, it was like they had been on a cruise. Everyone suddenly knew everyone by name. They were swapping stories of their stay, impressing each other with who had experienced the better time. Our flight back to Atlanta looked like a chartered flight with everyone in a party mood. The crew wisely just stayed out of this friendly reunion of people who hadn’t really known each other. It was mind-boggling. Passengers bonded and were on first-name terms, exchanging phone numbers, addresses, and email addresses. But perhaps the best was yet to come. Something unusual happened.

One of the passengers, on our plane, approached me and asked if he could make an announcement over the PA system. We never ever allow that. But on this occasion the mood was different. ‘Of course,’ I said and handed him the mike. He picked up the mike and reminded everyone about what they had just gone through in the last few days. He reminded them of the hospitality they had received at the hands of total strangers. He continued by saying that he would like to do something in return for the kind folk of Lewis Porte.

He said he was going to set up a Trust Fund under the name of DELTA 15 (our flight number). The purpose of the trust fund would be to provide college scholarships for the high school students of Lewis Porte. He asked for donations of any amount from his fellow travellers. When the paper with donations got back to us with the amounts, names, phone numbers and addresses, the total was more than $14,000!

A Gentleman’s word
The gentleman, an MD from Virginia, promised to match the donations and to start the administrative work on the scholarship. He also said that he would forward this proposal to Delta Corporate and ask them to donate as well. As I sat to write this account, some weeks after I got back to base I had reliable news that the trust fund had reached more than $1.5 million and that it has already assisted 134 students with their college funding.

I just wanted to share this story because the world needs good stories. It gives me hope to know that some people in a faraway place were kind to some strangers who literally dropped in on them. It reminds me of how much good there is in the world. In spite of all the not-so-good things we see going on in today’s world this story confirms that there are still a lot of good people in the world and that in moments of need they will always come forward.

–Story narrated by Jerry Brown: attendant on Flight Delta 15 on 09.11.2001]
[Thanks to Isabel Roche fmm, Gabriela Martins fmm & PeterLourdes sdb for circulating the story]
—Edited by T.D’Souza for TRODZA – 050315

A Taste of Convent Life

3 Mar

When Akiko and Fumiko arrived at the Trappist° Convent of Our Lady of Imari in the Saga Prefecture° (northwest of Kyushu island in Japan), they were not there to join the Order. They were not casual visitors either. They had set aside three months in their lives for a program in which they would live with the Nuns as temporary members of the community. The Convent started this program to give young people a chance to make prayer the center of their lives, not only during their stay but in their lives later too. The Convent sits on a mountain overlooking Imari Bay in Saga Prefecture, some 940 km west of Tokyo.

Prayer is like the pulse of this convent. The first prayers begin promptly at 3:50 am, and the day ends with a Marian hymn at 7:40 in the evening. The traditional form of Christian devotion at Our Lady of Imari focuses on the Mass° and the daily office°. Akiko and Fumiko joined in this experience and devoted more than four hours to prayer each day, in addition to three and a half hours set aside for study and about three hours for manual labor.

Fumiko (23), who lives in Fukuoka Prefecture (Kyushu Island- southern Japan), heard about this program by word of mouth. ‘I was in a tough spot psychologically, so I wanted to get to know God and find my path in life,’ she says of her motivation to participate. Akiko (28), from Aichi Prefecture (between Osaka and Tokyo), had embarked on a career but maintained an interest in the consecrated life. She learned of this opportunity during a chance visit to a church that she did not usually visit. She quit her job, persuaded her non-Christian family members to give her decision their blessing, and filled out the application.

When they first joined the program, the two women primarily worked in the garden ‘with a sickle in the hand, morning and afternoon,’ says Fumiko. ‘It was really hard at first,’ she added with a pained laugh. Under the Nuns’ instructions and supervision, Fumiko and Akiko not only helped grow rice and vegetables for the community’s table but also assisted with the production and packaging jelly to be sold.

It was about a month into their participation in the program before they were admitted to the private cloistral living area of the nuns and, thus, into the innermost communal life of the convent.
The two had bedrooms on the second floor. ‘Really, there’s the bed, and there’s the dresser, and that’s it,’ says Akiko. In this new life, they exchanged cell phones for simple poverty. They prayed from early morning until night. It is a life they could scarcely have imagined before, but it helped them turn toward God. As with all Benedictine orders, the Rule of Saint Benedict° governs life here. ‘I don’t really know much about the specifics of the Rule,’ says Fumiko, ‘but I can see it is aimed at helping people love both God and man.’

For Our Lady of Imari Convent, the program was something of a trial run. Sister Setsuko Shibuya, Prioress at the Convent, says, ‘The life of this community is something that you can’t really grasp just by thinking about it. We take joy in coming together to praise God; that’s really what it is. We think of it as ‘getting close to God,’ but that’s something that you can’t do if you don’t make space for it.’

That is why the Nuns made this ‘wholehearted’ decision to open a portion of these ‘religious practices dating back to the sixth century’ to women who are not consecrated. For Fumiko, occupying the space provided by the program had a crucial impact on her faith. ‘When I was working, I would not even go to Mass on Sundays. But now, I really understand the meaning of the words, Happy are those who are called to his supper.’

[Edited for TRODZA by T.D’Souza: taken from ucanews.com –Sept 2013]

Notes: [signposted at these words in the text with a ° sign]
Benedict: Sant Benedict (480-547 AD), is the patron saint of Europe. He founded 12 communities of monks in Subiaco, Italy (about 60 km to the east of Rome). His main achievement is the ‘Rule of Saint Benedict which has precepts for his monks, which later influenced many religious Orders.
Mass: the main liturgical function, held daily, in the Catholic religious belief and practices.
Office: a set of psalms, readings and prayers: said seven times a day –basically a call to prayer.
Prefecture: an administrative division in Japan, with a Governor at the head.
Trappist: The Cistercian Order had become lax in their observances in the monastery in La Trappe, in France, and so the Abbot there enforced stricter discipline. Later, all monks and nuns who follow these new revised laws are called Trappists. Ordinarily the Cistercians are also known as Trappists.

Indian Treat in Charleston

3 Mar

It’s really a misnomer. It’s not so much a dish for the Charleston tables as a feast for the South Carolina music world. Vaibhav, now 16, hit the headlines with his music compositions. It isn’t easy to imagine that a talent from Orissa [Odisha] in India would capture the imagination of music enthusiasts in America.

He began playing the piano when he was four and saxophone at the age of nine, the same year he composed his first original western music piece. He composed ‘Floodgate of Happiness’, which won the first prize at the school and later the state level. His composition also received an honourable mention at a national level.

‘Altitude,’ which he wrote when he was 13, was performed by Piedmont Wind Symphony at Winston-Salem, North Carolina by about 50 musicians and by All-National Honour Band of National Association for Music Education at Grand Ole Opry House, Nashville, Tennessee, using more than two dozen instruments. The winner of the National Young Arts Foundation award later showcased his musical talent in Miami, Florida, during the National Young Arts week where he was selected by Young Arts as a gene U. S. Presidential scholar (academics).

‘Verve Street’ which Vaibhav wrote at 15, was performed by 20 professional musicians of Charleston Jazz Orchestra in October 2014. He was honoured at the South Carolina Music Educators’ Conference as the gifted young musician of the year. Earlier he also won six national and international music competitions. After turning into a professional music composer, JPM Music Pushing in Festus, Missouri, USA, published his music compositions: ‘Scherzo’, ‘Train Ride’ and ‘Humoresque’; while Lighthouse Music Publishing in Ontario, Canada will publish: ‘Altitude’ soon. Several of his compositions are in the process of review for publication.

Vaibhav Mohanty lives with his parents in Charleston in South Carolina. He loves to compose for concert bands, small ensembles and jazz bands. The Odisha press (odishasuntimes.com) reported that his performances have brought him several national and international awards leading to performances at different venues in America, including one at the world famous Grand Ole Opry House. ‘We are extremely happy with our son’s achievements,’ said his parents Bidyut Mohanty and Sangeeta Mohanty, speaking over the phone from the USA to the Odisha correspondent.

Vaibhav has got admission to Harvard University and plans to pursue his studies there. Music, however, which would appear to be his first love, will for sure still be on his agenda. He said, ‘I want to compose more and more music and win laurels.’ When asked about his future plans, Vaibhav said, ‘I want to be a doctor.’

[Adapted by T.D’Souza for TRODZA – Original story by Malay Ray in Matters India- 260215]