Monday, December 28, 2009
Orissa, mining, marriage and smartphone
On an early December evening two news agency journalists and an investment banker were travelling in a crowded intercity train into the mining and industrial belt of Orissa. The three hour journey seemed longer than usual.
It was pronounced winter, cramped train coaches and jostling of people from all walks of life - executives, government employees, fruit/chat vendors and daily labourers – catching the last train to the mining hinterland of Orissa. The three from Mumbai were on a their way to a journalist friend’s wedding in Angul, industrial capital and the most centrally located city of Orissa.
The immobility inside the train forced them to converse relentlessly in order to evade the drudgery of the small yet tough journey. Topics discussed varied from whether to sell gold just when it has hit the peak to the charisma of Obama that was worthy a Nobel. Heated arguments followed and the intellectual cells of the brain were stimulated.
The concentrated intellectuality was also lightened by some talk of women, i-pod and twitter, but it couldn’t beat the pursuit of talking about money and economy. The three realised they despite there humble background were talking something incomprehensible to their fellow passengers, who were dumbfounded.
The three realised exposure to metro-life and education has already created a water tight compartment between them and their own people who are pressed against them in this cramped coach, who speak their own language and about their own region.
A quick realisation was enough to stop the discussion about stock market, 8 percent growing economy, mergers/acquisitions, investment banker fees and switchover to local issues. The three spoke to their co-passengers in Oriya about the best trains in the route, new industrial development coming up in their neighbourhood and how is the government paying after the sixth pay commission report was implemented. It was relaxing to all of them.
The three finally reached their friend’s wedding reception and joined the celebration dinner. Here they were surrounded by locals, many of them related to the the hundreds of small and large neighourhood industries.
They overheard two of them talking in distress about China’s pressure tactics about lowering the offer price of some commodity.
One of them soon recalled a coverpage story he did about black gold (iron ore) and China some years ago. The three soon discussed how thousands of small time exporters have turned rich overnight by exporting minerals primarily iron ore from Orissa to China, world’s biggest steelmaker. However, with insatiable demand and import monopoly Chinese authorities are deciding prices in the past few months.
While chatting over Orissa's mineral policy and unknowingly meandering through the large open air banquet space the three spotted the glowing faces of the bride and groom which reminded them of their own families.
The gorgeous pink designer lehnga and neatly tailored western suit was making the couple look like one of those from the Shahrukh Khan starring Bollywood movies. Both of them were sitting on two large princely chairs, ususal in most Indian weddings.
At the entry of the marriage hall there was red ticker going on intermttently --Devidutta Weds Purabi-- all in capital letters. The guys joked, it looked a ticker on a television set or a news platform.
The groom, a telecom reporter and the bride, an engineer were trying to hold eachothers' hands in the absence of few attentive eyes but had to soon stay away from eachothers like a playful couple in a garden.
The groom, 48 hours ago on his wedding day amused everyone by his typing skills on the his smartphone. The instrument was in his hands even as he was tying knots with the bride. Whether it’s his affiliation to technology or effort to update his status on Facebook, the invasiveness of the tech revolution was loud and clear.
The bride also earned some reputation 48 hours ago by beating hands-down the technosavvy groom in a thousand-year-old game of finding the cowdy. The groom complained about the sharp nails of the bride going against him.
The three idiots had a nice wedding experience afterall.
(all characters here are fictitious and don't bear any resemblance with anyone living or dead)