Thursday, August 10, 2006

This day 16 years ago

On this day 16 years ago a young soul decided to distance him from the comforts of home and set out on a journey to explore the world outside his home. I used to think about a life when I will be completely on my own. No one to question what I do or why I did or more importantly, where am I going. I really hated if someone throws me the question ‘where are you going’. I am often tempted to say, where I go is my not anybody’s business. But the words that very often came out were like going to X’s or Y’s home though in actuality I might be heading to Z’s place..

The premature loss of my father at a very crucial juncture of life had made me more independent as I had to control the helm of my future. So when it came to the time of engineering admission, I had to decide myself where I get admitted. My position in the merit list of state engineering entrance was around 110. This excluded the possibility of getting a Computer Science or Electronics seat. Other than that, it was largely unto me to decide. My mother has been a source of encouragement, but she could offer very little guidance on this. I had always wanted to do something different. I thus decided against getting an engineering degree which thousands other might be getting. Thus I opted to get myself admit for BE (Production) in Lukhdhirji Engineering College in Morbi. At the time of admission, I had very little idea of where the place Morbi is located or what the course content will be. Only later I found out that Morbi is a remote town in Gujarat and the Degree of BE in Production Engg. was considered equivalent to Mechanical Engg.. It represented a tiny dot on the railway map of India. And four years further, I found that I would have been better off doing a Degree in Mechanical Engg. as I had to carry the equivalency certificate issued by the university to interviews because even the industry was not much aware of this relatively new stream of engineering. New and something different is not always better. A big learning curve. Gujarat had only four engineering colleges then one of which was in Morbi. There also was a private engineering college, the first of its kind in Gujarat, probably at Vallabh Vidyanagar near Anand.

About a month after admission, the day had finally arrived when I had to set out on my new voyage. One of my cousin brothers, who had some textile business had offered to accompany me. One of his business associate had also joined later. I had a sudden bout of fever the evening before scheduled departure. But that could not dampen my spirit. There is something in me that had egged me on and made me forget all worries that might be lurking in a new environment where I would be alone to defend myself.

We were to start from Guwahati by the Kamrup Express and were to catch the Howrah-Ahmedabad Express from Kolkata. My mother had teary eyes and had even cried. She might have felt as if a chunk of her being detached. My young brother was probably at loss of words. He was just 1 ½ years younger to me. We grew up like friends. I was his friend, mentor, enemy and everything else. It was really sad to get separated from them. I had decided to go myself. So, I had to go. My best pal Shankar had also come to see me off.

Changing trains at Kolkata, and traveling more than 3000 kms over 3 days, we had arrived at a station named Wankaner, located some 200 km from Ahmedabad and 27 km from Morbi. One has to travel by road from here to reach Morbi. For your information Morbi is the town made famous by its Ajanta Clocks made by the ORPAT Industries Limited. In fact, watch making is a cottage industry in this small town that was the capital of erstwhile Morbi state. There also is a mention of the ‘Queen of Morbi’ in the Sidney Sheldon novel ‘If Tomorrow Comes’. There was a meter gauge train that runs between Morbi and Wankaner twice a day. After getting down at Wankaner, we got shoved into a cramped taxi that normally caries 7 passengers. While I was accommodated in the hostel by seniors from Assam, my cousin brother and his friend checked into a hotel. By the time we sat for our first dinner (my first hostel meal), it was almost 8 pm and yet it was not even dark. It took all 3 of us by surprise. For my cousin brother the surprises were over soon as they had left after 3 days. But for me, more and more surprises were waiting to unfold!

Sixteen years ago it started just because I wanted to see and feel the world outside my home. But sixteen years hence I have to live 350 days a year away from my hometown and now I could go home hardly for about 15 days a year. It was destined to happen that day. That is life.


Anonymous said...

Loved your post about Morbi. Came here while searching about our queen :-)

Although you must have gone through far tougher periods than me, I can relate to your experience as I travelled as a dehati teenager from Morbi (yes, that Morbi :-))to Warangal to become an engineer!

Btw in Morbi, we now have broad gauge (!!) and a train from Morbi to Wankaner runs four times a day to connect passenger to the major trains towards Gujarat (from Saurashtra)

I guess you must remember a few things about Morbi like Natraj, Thaker lodge, cricket ground, hanging bridge (jhulto pool)!

I am also in a similar situation like you; can't go home for more than a few days every year. But aah, going there next week :-)


Rups said...

Dear Hiren,

Your comment had made me nostalgic. yes I do remember everything from the Thakkar Lodge to tthe Lassi shop at Ghanta Ghar to the cinema halls. I will love to visit the place again. I will certainly do. As I work in ONGC, i am expecting my next posting to be in Gujarat. May be then.

I would have loved to have your email so that I can know more about Morbi. It is 14 years since I have left Morbi!!!!

Dhiren said...

nice article
I M also A lenco


Dhiren said...

you must visit morvi now pl do it
it s nice place now
I M also BE Mech from that institute

Dhiren Jogidas