One more thing ! ......

About a trip to Washington !!


|| om tat sat ||

A trip to Washington !

The other day I had an impromptu chance to talk at Willards in Washington.

It was not exactly impromptu.

I knew I might have to talk, though I was not sure if it is a welcome in beginning or a few thoughts in the middle or a thanks at the end. Finally it was the thanks at the end !

That was a talk after some special American roasting , as well as some pleasing words of praise etc by the young ones !

I was the odd man following those young ones roasting and my agenda was nothing more than a vote of thanks in a very traditional sense !

But once I got up I got carried away by the remembrances of my seven year stint in US which started exactly forty eight years ago when I went there as a student. I also had my parents visit us at that time and we even walked past Willlards in Washington.

When I went back to India I never imagined that I would be back in US , back in Washington and deliver a 'thank you' speech at Willards !

That such a thing happened probably required a thanks to the "Lord" above, but more definitely it required a thanks to the young couple that made it happen.

So my thank you speech was instantly made with a few more appropriate lines and was mumbled in a hurry.

As I was saying those lines I glanced at my sister who was also in the audience. I realized that being the key protagonist , she too remembered that trip of my parents to Washington.

And my thoughts moved back to those times in a moment. Those times could probably be described along those famous opening lines in Charles Dickens novel "The Tale of two cities". It was the best of times. It was the worst of times etc. Being a student I would summarize those times as the most exciting times with Vietnam war , Watergate , Pentagon Papers and even Bangladesh war pounding the headlines.

Our visit to Washington was just a few days after the resignation of President Nixon and his departure from the White house!

As my thoughts raced back , they raced beyond those headline making events to another story, the story behind that trip to Washington by my parents !

At that time I just finished my Ph.d at Minnesota and was set to move to Vermont. My sister at Boston was insisting that our parents visit us in US and be there possibly for my graduation too. Surprisingly I was trying to dissuade her from that venture arguing that it is a waste of money!

I was making arguments saying that that visit will make no difference to the parents. That they have seen enough of life. I even added that after the visit we will be the only people left with those memories and the albums. It would be better if we spend that money more usefully. I even ran up a calculation showing how the money that would be spent by us could spiral into a crore of rupees by 2020 following the interest rates of those times which doubled the principal every five years!

I told her about the many students we can support with that much capital.

Of course none of that cut ice with her. She had a good laugh at my foolish venture. The girls in the family are always with a stronger voice on emotional matters concerning parents. This is not necessarily something specific to our family. Probably in most families the girls claim a higher stake in the emotional bonds with parents than the boys. Boys will be boys is a statement that is probably true in this context if it is meant that boys are more independent.

Some how boys with multiple responsibilities slowly drift from emotional ties. In any case I did not pursue the argument to get support from other siblings. I knew it would be a hopeless case to pursue. I was sure nobody would see my point.

But the thoughts of those days remained.

Much later a Kasarabada Trust was started by my mother with her meager resources. It continues now as ' Athato Foundation, a Kasarabada Trust'. The Trust is nowhere near reaching a crore by 2020. But it is a tidy sum supporting a few students with scholarships. By 2020 may be we can support a larger number students !

My thoughts raced back to the present.

I wound up my " Vote of thanks" speech.

For a fleeting moment there was a sense of delight at the way things panned out. My wife probably noticed that. She added to that by saying my vote of thanks was nice.

I was not so sure, since I forgot all the things I really wanted to say and drifted on to a Washington trip that no body would know.

Yes ! I was more than happy with that Washington trip! Thanks to the young couple who made it possible.

I was delighted.

||om tat sat||