A Train Journey Into The Soul of India

I was really anxious as my car entered through the gates of Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Chembur. I hugged my mom and dad goodbye, and moved on for possibly the most adventurous journey I had been on. Moreover it was like an intellectual expedition through India where we strived to find the right blend of modern ideas and our ancient wisdom, and I am being modest here. The journey started with 500 yatris, over a period of 8000 kms across India, by the end of which the train became our home and all these guys, family. The journey took me through most of the India and all of Bharat. I first realized the ethos of Jagriti Yatra in its full glory when Mr. Shahsank Mani took the stage; his words have been a source of determination and inspiration ever since. Mr. Kishor Mandhyan took us through the journey of his life in words which was mesmerizing to say the least. The calmness of adam Woodward of Kalkeri Sangeet Vidyalay still intrigues me; and the laughter of the children there makes me believe that I saw the happiest school which might not be a school in the classical sense. Working with my group members on our case study was a fun and learning curve as was listening to Senthil Kumar talk about SELCO. Everyday on the journey was a nice surprise, right from waking up and sleeping to the sound of rails which became a lullaby for me for those 15 days. Mr Aravinda of Aravind Eye Clinic was an amazing example of how a ecos-ysytem is created if your idea is noble and your thoughts, pure. At Banglore Hemalataha Annamala, is the textbook definition “Nari Shakti”, her story, inspiring as it was, urged me to not stop for the right time to come, but make the this the better times. Osama Manzar, in all his charm and swagger, taught me the importance and power of medium of knowledge in ways I never knew. Mr. Reddy and his dream Sri City and his vision of making India and industrial powerhouse is a dream which most of us engineers share. At Vizag were two awe inspiring scenes, with on one hand Satya Chandra Gaura Prabhuji talking about the paramount importance of our fight with hunger and his crusade on taking it down, and on the other hand the magnificent frigates and ships at the Naval Dockyard, seeing the marvelous view of the dockyard still gives me goose bumps. Joe Madiath at Berhampur exemplified grit and standing up for the right and playing down the odds. His efforts of getting the people out of the dark ages and into the light are worth bowing down for. Strolling down in Nalanda gave me a sense of satisfaction and pride as I walked on the land where once those great scholars lived, and where the great traveler monk Hiuen Tsang came in search for knowledge. Anshu Gupta at Goonj,Delhi by his words, took me into this boat which sailed high as the waves of our harsh reality struck that boat even harshly, urging us to open our eyes and start rowing till we as a community reach the promised land. At Barefoot College, I was star struck as we met Bunker Roy. I have been a huge fan of his ideas, work and his persona. The journey ended at Sabarmati Ashram, which I found to be poetic. Jayesh Bhai there explained the beauty of Gandhian philosophy. As the train raced towards Mumbai, there were mixed thoughts running through my minds. The train had been a wonderful cocktail of knowledge, insight, wisdom, fun, emotions and it taught me much. The most important thing I learned is you cannot have limits, it maybe your work, your life or just you, you need to learn and you need to move on. I realized that the fun lies in solving the puzzle and not thinking over it. My journey started externally in the train through India, but I ended up travelling internally, finding myself. Jagriti Yatra is a revelation for the youth who want to make a difference, it’s for the people who want to design machines and not be a clog in the existing ones. Yaaro Chalo!

  • Siddharth Yedgaonkar (Yatri 2016)