Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Smith"s dielemma

The sole credit goes to him, our overseas expert Dr J.J. Smith, a reputed geochemist(his name is altered here for some reasons). We were enjoying our work and now it is more lively because we implemented his suggestions and shall continue to do so. We all work in a multinational exploration company, globally exploring the economic mineral deposits. Currently in eastern India we completed a preliminary part ending with geochemical sampling where we invited Dr J.J smith to guide and advise us. He preferred calling us by the first name and vice versa.

A view of the part of the work spot

Our day began at 5.30 A.M, walking for about 8-10 Km by traversing two hills separated by valley in between. After a while, departing from the common traverse, We used to get divided in small groups. Each group consisted two tribals for digging work as well as guiding us the path to return to base camp. A pit for geochemical sampling at hill top.

A pit sampling begining
Smith suggested that everyday after completing the work in first hill we meet at a common point, the small fountain flowing in the valley, for a break. During work let us avoid talking as far as possible and use more signals. But at this common meeting point we discuss not only the work but also some recreation along with some food. The next discussion should be after climbing the second hill and meeting at the camp. This made our entire work lively and less tiring.

A Hill fountain in Valley Common meeting point after part I work
This being his fourth visit to India, Smith was little fluent in Hindi and soon became close to the entire team including the tribals. He had genuine interest in our social systems and culture and a part of our discussions consisted to answering his queries. In one such session he asked one unmarried tribal about his plans to get married. He answered " It is difficult to get married in our society." Smith said " if you pardon me please tell us the hurdles." A senior tribal accompanying us told " The boy and girl meet each other in Carnivals held during the festivals. If they like each other, the community chief calls them and confirms the mutual consent. Following this, the boy have to pass a test. He has to lasso a running bull or Buffalo before it crosses the village boundary and then garland it. This is part I. The part II is the boy's family shall take this animal but shall compensate the village chief with two such equally good animals and feed the whole village. Many are able to pass through part I but fails in part II for poverty. As a result few in a family are able to marry. Smith was seriously noting the narration in his pad.
Back in the camp Smith was assured by us that this procedure was limited to tribal of this area. I told him that Tribal from other part of India may have other methods.

Following our common dinner he asked "Tell me , How, you, the non-tribal get married." The geostatistian of our group told " There are two modes. In the universal mode they meet each other, fall in love and decide to marry by conventional method with the approval of Parents or just simply they marry through a Marriage officer with or without the approval of parents. In Mode II, The parents or elders, mostly from the girls family, approach a suitable groom's family either from known circles or matrimonial advertisements. The groom's family who continually receive such proposals further shortlist the possible brides keeping in view the criteria the family fix up in which the groom may have some say. Following this the elders of the groom's family further interview the bride and bride's family and further shortlist the possible candidates. Now the bride and the groom meet each other and let the parent's know their choice who upon further discussions fix up a date of marriage. But there are also several derivatives of Mode I and II and Mixed modes also." Smith noting down seriously said appreciatively " My heart is filed up with great respect. But tell me what is the frequency of Mode I and Mode II ?" None of us in the group which is a mini-India have ever thought on this so seriously. But we discussed among ourselves counting the no. of marriages we happen to know. The total no. of marriages that took place in the known circles including their own are more than 200 and more than 70% marriages fall in "mode II." The next day being week end and we all shared our story books and movie Cd's. Smith took a no. of Novels(Hindi and translated into Hindi) and Indian Movie CD's with subtitles.

Work proceeded rapidly in the following week and we completed the work including packing, processing and elementary analysis at our mini lab in the camp one day before schedule. At the end of the camp fire, Smith returned all the novels and Books and said " If all of you are not going to be busy with packing's may I have a few minutes with all of you." We all nodded affirmative. Looking at our anxious faces he said " It is nothing technical. I am referring to our discussions of the last week about your social systems of marriage. I have gone through all these novels and seen all these movie Cd's. The novels are from well known novelist as you say and some of the movie CD's are the work of international reputed directors. They well represent your social systems from age-old times to recent and from many states of your country. In all these, the marriages took place mostly through Mode I. Your opinion poles are also from several states and varied age group and this sampling is also quite representative. The opinion poles that you gave me say that marriages are mostly through Mode II. I am in a dilemma and confused. Why your opinion poles are different from the Novels and movies dealing with your social systems." Looking at our silent faces with wrinkles in foreheads he said " You may take your time and may e-mail me later on. Good night folks."
Dr. J.J. smith sent his report on the geochemical finding but we could not reply him on his last personal query and are still trying to find out an answer. Do you have an answer to his quarry?

Monday, April 6, 2009

From Conversations in a local train: A lovestory to begin.

For a Fortnight, I am a city dweller in Kolkata along with a part of my team. During the last reconnaissance survey we located a new iron ore mineralised area and now some primary confirmatory lab. tests are to be performed for making further decisions of prospecting.

While my team stays at the saltlake guesthouse, I commute from my flat at Barrackpore, a suburb town of Kolkata,by local train. The live comments of the commuters on the daily happenings and the lectures of the Hawkers soliciting to buy their products make my journey, from Barrackpore to Bidhannagar(the nearest boarding point for Salt lake) and back, very interesting and thought provoking. For safe and quick boarding into compartment and landing at destinations I learnt to become a flexible object to "crowd pressure".

But today, the waiting crowds for boarding from the Bidhannagar station was much more than usual. The previous technique as applied by me in other days did not work. Missing my usual galloping "Shantipore" local , somehow rather I could manage to board an all stoppage "Gede" local to Barrackpore

By now overhearing from the conversations I learnt despite the market recessions some companies, at the close of the financial year, are making bulk recruitment. The crowd, dominated by job aspirant youths, was divided into two categories"haves"and "have nots"i.e. Those who pocketed the "Appo-letters" and the angry faced"sorry this time" the rest.

The great pushing power instantly transferred me from the entrance to corridor of the compartment. "Lady Luck" has been kind enough to place me the coveted position of "under the fans"position. I had a glimpse of the two rows of of sitting accommodations facing each other. Both were occupied by more than the capacity.
Four all fatty elderly gentlemen occupied the row left to me and five young girls chirping continuously occupied the opposite row. Each girl was trying to let the whole compartment know how they outsmarted the "boys" competing for the posts and they bagged all the jobs except one.
The train started moving and some young men pushed sideways and soon they managed to stand between the rows of benches. The cool airs from the windows are now blocked. The chirping group immediately opposed this blocking.

"Why all of you are here only, You are choking us to die."

The youth standing next to window snarled" You are lucky to be seated, people standing here are managing with this"

" If we are lucky today that is none of our fault and that does not limit us not to have air."Hearing this reply from the girls one of the youth standing in a farthest corner said " you and your group should have taken little effort to walk one compartment further and gone to Ladies compartment, you are trying to eat the cake both the way"
Another joined " Why should girls have all the fun?"(copying the tone of a popular TV ad. Jingle).

Opposing strongly the young lady sitting next to window flared up"Come and sit here and have some share of the fun we are enjoying and shall continue to do so."
The youth sweating and standing next to her said dryly" You may be having great time with those appo-letters but these were meant for us at least they advertised like that and at the end of the day...."
The youth at the furthest end of the passage shouted with his shrill voice" They told us before the GD the office posts are for the girls and the outdoor jobs are for the boys. But at the end, except Ritu, all were girls. Well! after all Ritu maintains a long hair and unlike us he has a sweet face so he could made it to the final round, the session with the H.R."
These hot discussions soon attracted other co-passengers. Discussions, comments and suggestions came flowing one after another. By now people are aware of the fact that these boys and girls attended an interview today. The girls bagged all the jobs except one.
The elderly gentleman sitting in the opposite row and dozing often now straightened up " I work in a small refrigeration agency for servicing, maintenance and repairs of branded products. Ladies maintain the front office as well as well as the outdoor jobs including attending the clients problems at their premises. Both the boys and girls received on the job training and clients give us good feedback when girl attend the the problems" With applause from the opposite bench the gentleman carefully remained silent about the performance of the "boys" in his company.

The discussions soon turned around with related topics like "Survival of the best", " economic islands"etc. Someone said" I am in H.R. I find it difficult to distinguish the shortlisted candidates after we conduct on the spot tests. The failures or successes depends whether it is the candidate's day or not."
His friend said " when the jobs are scarce and you find all the candidates almost at per you make another criteria. Take the family employment status into account." 
The H.R man scratching his head said" I do not get you there" 
His friend replied" out of the two otherwise equal candidates, take the one in whose family no one is employed or earns significantly to maintain the family" 
Another elderly gentleman, now nearing his destination, vacated his seat and made room for one of the youths said "He made a good point. The candidate so chosen shall work better than the other for the survival of his family." 
Girls sitting and enjoying all the conversations now broke the silence" Excuse me sir. You are possibly encroaching into the right to earn and do you mean to say that in today's nucleus family both the husband and wife should not work.?"
The gentleman now joining the queue towards the exit passage said in a loud voice " Many of your rights are now only in the pages of that constitution book. Do you protest there? Further, an unemployed man, when employed, possibly may marry another unemployed woman. But do any one of you with fresh appo. letter in your pocket shall agree to marry another unemployed man?" The gentleman was pushed out in a moment to his destination point leaving the girls silent.

I was lucky at the next station to sit beside the "today's angry young man". During the heated conversation, I came to know his name as well as the name of the girl sitting opposite to him as Sudeb and Krishna. 
I saw them gazing at each other with exchange of smiles. Let this happening mature further to a "love -Story". If I assume Sudeb to continue as unemployed I do not know who may propose and who shall give the approving nod. Do you know?