Many decades ago, coming from a small town then in the North-East of India (Shillong) to a hep and solidly strong in engineering railway town in Bihar (Jamalpur, ER) to the big city (Delhi) via the beacon ot the East (Calcutta), and then headed for another big city (Bombay), I got kind of over-awed by the way evolution was pushing me “upwards”. From there onwards, it was pretty much each and every big city in the world, across all Continents.
On my own steam, on work, and for whatever reason – I always used public transport wherever possible for the local movements. Bus, train, ferry. Aeroplanes were and are the same the world over, and have just become more of a chore, while public transport globally is going from peak to peak.
Consider this – in a few weeks from now, I hope to be able to experience first hand a medium-speed ferry which operates on a combo of LNG and Batteries. 1200 passengers seated on wide chairs without seat-belts and lots of leg room. Plus about 25 trucks and 250 cars. Full bar and food outlet onboard. What I would not do to try and get one of these to India, same day return Mumbai to Goa, for example, at prices well below air-fares and matching 1st AC / Executive Class on trains.
In terms of mobility it was from by foot to by bicycle to by car to by double-decker buses. At all points, of course, Indian Railways helped connect the points. All those memories of pleasant train rides in the ‘60s and ‘70s were kind courtesy reservations managed because of parental unit or family/friends, but on trains connecting larger cities, I often used to wonder what it was like for the people huddled around the Travelling Ticket Examiner (TTE) at wayside stations, flipping the chart like God for the Moment, as the future of the potential passenger depended on His Mercy.
Today, cut rapidly to the present, my internet bandwidth speeds are way better the further away I am from urban centres. So are my air and water qualities. My neighbours are more grounded, in more ways than one, and the vegetables I consume were in the ground till a few hours ago. The village school, till High School level, is better than most urban Government schools and the children there certainly do not have to travel cooped in buses and exposed to all forms of pollution.
So, work from office, work from home or work from village?
Depends on what we work for. My parents worked so that their children could do better, so did we, and I expect our children do the same.
The least we can try to give them is clean air and water to live with.
Note – there are very few villages in India which are not within an hour of a railway station or bus terminal and a few hours from an airport. That’s about the same time that it takes me to reach a railway station or airport in Delhi, Mumbai or Bengaluru.
(Veeresh Malik was a seafarer. And a lot more besides. A decade in facial biometrics, which took him into the world of finance, gaming, preventive defence and money laundering before the subliminal mind management technology blew his brains out. His romance with the media endures since 1994, duly responded by Outlook, among others.)