I was having coffee at a small place when a gentleman wearing good clothes, polished black shoes and sounding intelligent approached me and asked me if he could join. Well usually being a cynic I do not appreciate random people talking to me but somehow I respected his age, which was twice of my time on earth, and nodded with a yes. Following is the conversation which led me to have 3 more coffees.
Gentleman (With a foreign Indian accent): So what are you doing alone sipping coffee at this place?
HT (Himanshu Tomar) <Smiling>: well I had nothing to do this Sunday morning and was bored at home. Being navratras I don't eat regular food for 9 days, though this is not because I fast for religious reasons but more of a cleansing process for me.
Gentleman <smirking>: isn't that overdoing something just for the heck of it? Are you religious?
HT: Well I was born in a religion and I am definitely dying with the same. So yes if that's called being religious, I am. And as far doing something just for the heck of it goes, we do 90% of things for the heck of it even when we don't want to do them.
Gentleman: Hmm interesting.
HT: So what do you do?
Gentleman: Well I am retired. I am in India to attend a function. I will head back to XYZ (a city abroad) where I stay and have spent last 30 years. I so feel good to know that I have only few days before I will head back.
HT <judging and ordering another coffee>: So you don't like to be here in India ?
Gentleman: Well I have lived abroad for such a long time that I feel I belong there. I am assured of my family's safety back in XYZ. I was 30 year old when I left and at my age now, I advise everyone to look beyond and settle abroad. More money, more safety and most important- there is a charm of living abroad. Have you been abroad?
Gentleman: Why don't you think of settling abroad?
HT: Because I am 30 and I have spent 30 years of my life in this country and I don't have to feel, instead I know that I belong here.
Gentleman <laughing>: that's a very philosophical thought.
HT: Well I can explain it you in detail if you have time and you don't mind my philosophical ways.
Gentleman <ordering another coffee>: Go ahead, make my morning Swamiji.. (giggled)
HT: Ha ha ha, you sound like an interesting person. Were you the same before you left India or the water of XYZ city has made you this interesting ? (taking a jibe at him)
Gentleman <grumbling>: Go ahead young man, enlighten me with your philosophical knowledge.
HT: Ok so I was born in a small place and I remember the hospital name where I opened my eyes. I owe it to that hospital where there was a bed booked for my birth, may be someone needy couldn't get that bed that day. I owe it to the land where my house is built coz there are so many people without a shelter on their head. I owe it to the rickshaw vaala who pulled my weight and took me to school. May be I reserved one seat in his rickshaw which could have been used by someone else. I owe it to the teachers who tried their best to make me learn new things in life, may be I reserved a seat in that class which could have been used by someone else. I owe it to the numerous Bus Seats, train berths that I traveled on. The seats and berths which couldn't take someone more needy to another place coz I was there. To those young and old men who stood in the bus for long hours coz I reserved one of their seats. I owe it to the food I ate all my life, mind you I ate a lot (hand on my belly), that food was grown by some farmers without knowing who would consume it. I did consume it but someone else didn't just because I did, I owe it to that person who missed out. I owe it to the student who couldn't get the seat that I took during graduation. I owe it to young chap who couldn't get the job which I took. I owe it to the people who made my numerous trips memorable. I owe it to the police who made me feel safe, mind you that I am still alive. I owe it to that unknown person who stands on the border facing the bullet just to make sure that I am safe. Moreover I owe it to my parents who belong to this place and wish to spend their life here. There are so many more things, places, objects, feelings, people whom I owe more than I am yet to realize. Then how can I say that I don't belong here. The day I manage to thank everyone who made me become who I am, I will think of moving abroad.
Gentleman <after 5 seconds of silence>: But all this sounds so philosophical and this is not the reality. You know you are not safe. There are people dying every other day, terrorists attacks, rapes etc.
HT <Ordering another coffee>: By changing my place of residence, I am not changing anything. I am not bringing safety. I am not making this country strong. Instead I am making it weak. When the majority of people who know what is right and what is not, becomes more than the ones who indulge in terrorist attacks, rapes- that day this country will also become safe to stay. But by leaving this country behind, I am leaving behind all those murderers and rapists to rule this nation. We need to be here, hold hand in hand and tell these people that we are soooooo many that a small step from them towards us will send them to gallows.
Gentleman <almost furious>: What the hell are you saying? This is not how life should be lived. This is bullshit to see young people like you living with this orthodox philosophy.
HT: Can I order a coffee for you? It's on me. That way you might not mind spending 10 more minutes with me.
Gentleman <now panicking with my thoughts>: No I don't. I think India will never change. People like you don't get it. You don't really know the realities of life. Someday you will understand how much you can earn if you go abroad.
HT: I don't mind earning abroad sir. Given a chance I will head out today but may be just for couple of years. I will make some money and come back coz as I said before, I belong here and I owe a lot to this place.
Gentleman <Slowly banged his hand on the table and got up>: I think I will leave now. It was mmm ... nice... talking to you.
HT: Thank you sir, it was pleasure knowing that. Now I owe it to you too.
Gentleman <Surprised>: What do you owe me ?
HT: A thank you for your time. You made me feel nostalgic, patriotic and connected to my own thoughts. Thank You.
The gentleman left and I ordered another black coffee, it was called AMERICANO :P