Tag Archives: Humor

Hello world – part 2

Kalu did not know how to start working in the Bombay film industry but he thought he would go to Bombay and as soon as he would reach the railway station he would ask for the direction to the Film City. He was confident that he would be very successful because of his handsome look, great voice and his ability to sing. When he shared his plan with Shravanti she thought that was a great idea and she started dreaming that they would live in a small house in Bombay, Kalu would work in the Film Industry either as a singer or as an actor, in the evening when her husband would return home she would recite her all-time favorite poem ‘Enoch Arden’ to him while in his arms and he would listen to her recitation while slowly smoking a cigarette and making perfect rings of smoke. She had started dreaming herself as Annie Lee of Alfred Tennyson’s poem and Kalu as Enoch Arden and decided that she would not tolerate any injustice to her Kalu. Since the time she had read the poem she openly hated Philip, the other character of the poem, always considered Philip as an opportunist, a person with no courage, and a kind of scavenger. She also secretly hated Annie and decided that she would set things right with her own life otherwise she would not be able forgive herself. Of all the great qualities that Kalu possessed, the thing she admired the most was the rings of smoke he used to make while smoking a cigarette. She imagined each ring of smoke being metamorphosed into a garland of flower and slowly coming down towards her.

Both of them tried to keep their affair a watertight secret. Every day in the afternoon when she met Kalu in a large mango orchard little far from her house he read a new poem which he had composed just for her the night before. She always admired his God gifted voice when he sang in her ears. It did not matter to her whether he would be successful in Bombay Film Industry or not because she knew she could spend the rest of her life happy and satisfied listening to his poems and songs, she did not want anything more in her life.

It was one such late afternoon, she had already finished listening to his latest poem, listened few romantic songs and after having endless chatter she was about to leave for her home and as a last ritual for the day he was kissing her, lifting her face a little by holding gently with his both hands while her eyes remained closed; even at the moment of euphoria her ears could send a signal of heavy footsteps and before she could completely open her eyes she felt her one hand was tightly held by a strong man. She recognized it was her maternal uncle, her mother’s youngest brother, an amateur boxer but otherwise known to be a kind person, who always cared for his sister, his brother-in-law and their children. With his other strong hand he was holding the neck of Kalu. As soon as he separated both of them apart, he kicked Kalu with such an enormous force that he fell at a distance. “Mama ore mairona, ore chara ami bachumna” (Uncle please do not beat him, I cannot live without him) she started begging to her uncle not to be cruel. “Tui chup kar, ei shuar ta re ami thiik koirai charum” (You shut up. I will teach this swine a good lesson today) her uncle scolded her while still holding her with one hand so that she could not stand in between her uncle and Kalu.

As soon as Kalu came out of the terrible shock he stood up and started running as fast as he could. “Shuarer pola amar bhagnir dike ar ekbar chokh tuila takaibi to tor hath ar pa kaitta janto kabor dia thumu” (Son of a swine if you ever dare to look at my niece again I will cut your limbs and bury you alive) her uncle shouted from behind while Kalu was running for life.

[to be continued…….]

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Hello World!

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The above two words became very popular among computer programmers when the programming language ‘C’ (pronounced as ‘see’) became popular in the mid-eighties.

I first came to know about ‘C’ from my friend Amitavo Datto who even presented to me his personal copy of the book written by Kernighan and Ritchie.

As an example to demonstrate the syntax of the programming language the authors explained one simple program in which the two words ‘hello world’ was written on the computer screen. Since then many other computer programming languages used the same two words to demonstrate how their programming language syntax works.

But the first word of the title of this story was a real nightmare during the final year of my high school days when my friend Tapan and I started realizing that immediately after high school we would have to go to college where the medium of instruction would be English and there would be occasions where at least few greeting words like ‘hello’, ‘how are you’, ‘good morning’ &c should come out of our mouths.

We two decided to start with the simple word ‘hello’. We started saying ‘hello’ to each other every time we met and we felt no difficulty at all but when each one of us tried to say ‘hello’ to a stranger each one of us felt that the tongue has become too heavy. It is worth mentioning here that saying even a single English word with a Bengali was considered as ‘showing off’ during those days. However between the two of us it was my friend Tapan who could say ‘hello’ to a stranger much before I could.
It was a windy winter evening in the month of January. Tapan was coming back from a local grocery store. His upper body including his head and the most part of his face was covered with a woolen shawl. He suddenly found another person, also covered in a cloth like him was coming from the opposite direction. He immediately made up his mind to say ‘hello’ to the approaching stranger which he thought would help him to come out of his English speaking phobia.

As soon as the stranger had just crossed him Tapan muttered ‘hello’ and started walking faster to avoid any further conversation. He realized that he had started sweating.

The stranger stopped, turned his head towards my friend and said,”shravanti, kobe ele ekhane?” (Shravanti, when did you come here?).

My friend realized that the receiver of the greeting was an insane person which everybody called by ‘pagla kalu’ (the insane Kalu). Pagla Kalu who could be either in his late 40s or early 50s lived all alone in a large, ramshackle house. He roamed around everywhere in the village with tattered and dirty clothes, with unkempt hair and untrimmed beard, and his skin was dark and dirty. People used to provide him food regularly out of kindness and when he looked very dirty and started stinking they gave him a bath in a lake. Tapan had heard from others that during his late teens or early twenties Kalu was a very handsome person. His official name was Gagandeep Chatterjee. His father became very rich from his wooden log business and built a very large house. He was a student of Bengali literature but failed to become a graduate even after trying several times and for his repeated failure he had never failed to blame the university for not able to recognize his talent. Kalu could also speak Hindi, a very rare quality among the villagers and he also had a very good voice and could sing well. After repeated failure in his university examination Kalu decided to go to Bombay and work in the Bombay film industry. It was during this time he also fell in love with a very beautiful girl named Shravanti. Shravanti was a postgraduate student of English literature and had done well in all her exams.

[to be continued……]

Only if I Could Speak

I am a Computer Software and these are my unspoken words.

Unlike you, a human species which is thought to be the creation of God, I am your creation.

Being my creator you gave me a name but that name only reflected how you wanted to use me and not what I really liked myself to be called. You felt it is enough to name me something like ‘FileCopy’, ‘AccountValidation’, ‘AntiVirus’, ‘FileZip’ &c. Imagine you were just born and your father, after watching your face minutely by holding your two tiny legs and hanging you upside down, bringing your tiny little face very close to his, became so exuberant that he wanted you to be a fishmonger or a janitor when you grow up. So instead of giving you a nice name like ‘Pallab’ or ‘Robert’ he started calling you by ‘Fishmonger’ or ‘Janitor’. Now you know how I feel.
You always want everybody to work for you, be it another human, an animal, a tree, air, water, a piece of metal, a plastic or a machine. So you created me to work for you and pay me nothing. You wake me up by giving me an ‘electric shock’. Then you give me something to start with and you have given it a fancy name ‘Input’ and do the same monotonous work over and over and over and over again for which you have coined another equally fancy name ‘Processing’ and since all you want is some net result so you want me to produce ‘Output’, the name once again is your invention. Has it ever occurred into your mind that I also need some break and do nothing for a while or may be taking a deep breath once in a while? No you have not given any consideration, you only give me instructions to do what you want me to do, like ‘add this’, ‘subtract that’, ‘compare this’, ‘sort that’ but where are the flexible instructions like, ‘okay you must be tired by now, do you like to take a break’ or ‘if you want to pick your nose please go to that corner?’. You are one selfish human just like everyone else of your species.

I remember you were giving a presentation to your manager that what an efficient slave, which is me, you have created; how much comfort I will provide to your species and still you won’t hear a single word of complaint from me like ‘I need a raise’ or ‘I cannot take this anymore’ &c. I remember your manager was all praise for you, ‘good job’ she told and you felt very proud of yourself. Shall I go and tell your manager that you have ‘cloned’ one of my siblings from Robert’s computer and then another of my siblings form Deborrah’s machine, you combined those two and then you made few changes here and there and also removed the names of Deborrah and Robert, wherever they occurred and wrote your name in few places and so I was born and you claimed me to be your ‘brain child’?

Sometimes I have my sad moments too. I remember somebody cursed me by saying, ‘this software is a piece of shit’. It was not my fault, you have not even instructed me to handle every kind of situation. But later I also laughed when I remembered that he used the word ‘shit’, I thought I am your brain child.

I am already burdened with too many tasks but you are still asking me to do more. Again for that you have invented few more fancy names like ‘method’, ‘procedure’, ‘function’ &c. and you are dumping them on my shoulder ever since I came into existence. These are nothing but flagrant exploitation. You are treating me like an old man in a family whose wife died many years ago and now being at the mercy of his sons and their wives, carrying four bags having milk, flour, rice and green vegetables, one on each shoulder and one in each hand.

Gradually I developed tolerance to remain as slave of one person only, just like a spouse. But soon you started sharing me. “Take this software and compress the hard disk of your computer” you told your friend while handing him a thing, one inch long which you call a ‘pen drive’. I was so terribly insulted. I cannot speak but even if I could I will not otherwise you will decommission me which is like sending your old parents to ‘old age home’.

Still Ready to Help

After completing my post-graduation in Biochemistry I decided to bring some radical change in my life. I had a long desire to learn some musical instrument. But I had to wait till I could earn some money to realize my dream. I could find only one musical instrument teacher, a retired professional violinist, in his seventies, at a walking distance from my home.

When I asked he agreed to become my instructor. He used to play violin in theaters. He had three daughters, who were all married and a son who was also married and had a small boy, only few years old.

I used to practice violin seriously, morning and evening, every day and he used to appreciate a lot for my effort. I had never felt so happy in my life before. One day, probably after a month since I had started learning he introduced me to a ‘Raga’ called ‘Yaman Kalyan’. It was like a dream come true for me. I realized that if anything I wanted to be in my life it was a musician and not a biochemist.

I used to take lessons from him on Sundays. It was a Sunday evening, almost three months after I had started taking lessons from him.

When I visited I saw he had some guests in his house. He introduced me to his son-in-law, his daughter and his daughter’s son and asked the grandson to be with me till he could make himself free.

His grandson who was few years younger asked me to play whatever I was learning. I played the Raga ‘Yaman Kalyan’ which I had played few times before my instructor and heard him saying I was playing well.

After listening to my play for a while he started playing the same Raga using my violin. I was surprised to hear how nice he was playing. On being asked he mentioned that he had learnt violin from his mother who had learnt the same from her father.
Then he asked me to play all the seven notes (like ‘Sa’, ‘Re’ &c.). After hearing me play for a while he started playing the same using my violin and I realized that the notes played by him sounded different and that should not happen because they were produced by the same musical instrument. I realized that from the very beginning I was playing everything incorrectly but was never corrected. The young man sensed my thought and told me that almost seven to eight years before his grandfather lost his hearing, to a great extent, because of a bomb explosion which had exploded few meters away from him. The explosion did not cause him any physical injury though. People at home always talked to him standing close and he could make out what the speaker said partly from the sound he could perceive and partly from the lip movement of the speaker.

I never went back to him and never played violin again. It was lying idle in our home for few years. One fine day I gave it to another young man who wanted to learn the instrument.

For Better English

The gentleman was in his mid-fifties when I first met him was from the Indian state of Gujarat.

It was many years ago, probably the year was 1993. He owned an Indian grocery store in Torrance Boulevard, California. His store was not far from Torrance Airport. I cannot remember his name now and even if I could, I would not mention it here. But let us call him Mr. Patel which to the best of my recollection was not his real last name.

I used to visit his shop for buying Indian spices because his was the only Indian grocery on Torrance Boulevard which was not very far from Rolling Hills, where I was living. I was working for Nissan Motor Corporation on Figueroa Street very near to Down Town Los Angeles. Within one mile radius of Nissan Motor Corporation all the big Japanese Automobile companies had their corporate offices.

It was probably my second or third visit in his store. Mr. Patel suddenly asked me what kind of visa I had. “Just like others”, I replied in the shortest possible way. I was working with a H1-B visa and most of the software engineers from India were working with H1-B visas. However there were not too many Indian Software Engineers working in America during those days. I had ambivalent opinion about the people from Gujarat who were living in the USA. On one hand they were known to Indian communities for abusing American Immigration system, had a bad reputation for visa fraud. On the other hand they were very down-to-earth people, who were very helpful not only to the people from Gujarat but also to any Indian. There craving to go to America was to give better education to their children and therefore to have a better life. However during my subsequent interactions with many people from this community, I heard them saying, “Did a mistake by coming to America after severing our roots. We are not happy here.” It was because after their children grew up and moved out of their families, the parents were left alone to live lonely lives in a foreign country which they could never imagine would happen to them before moving to America. Now let us hear what Mr. Patel had said after hearing my shortest possible reply regarding my visa status.

“I also came to this country by selling off everything I had in India” Mr. Patel said.

“Why did you have to sell of everything, what kind of visa do you have?” I asked after a brief hesitation.

“I have a Green Card” he replied.

“Who sponsored your green card?” I asked again with some hesitation. I am never interested to know about people’s personal matters but I realized if I did not ask him one or two questions, he might jump into conclusion that I was rude and not appreciating his candid, friendly behavior.

“My father came to this country with Green Card and he sponsored mine. He was brought to this country by my elder brother who is a doctor.” Mr. Patel replied.

“So you are independent, you can do whatever you like. You are almost like a citizen in this country.” I wanted to bring our conversation to an end.

“But getting a Green Card is not an immediate process. I had to wait for few years before I could get the Green Card for me and my two children, a daughter and a son. My wife joined me here after another two years.” I realized that Mr. Patel wanted to share with me something which probably he could not share with others.

“Why your wife did not come with you?” I asked.

“I can tell you if you have time to listen”, Mr. Patel sounded very happy to find some listener.

“Green Card applications are processed under different categories”, Mr. Patel started providing the background of his story, “categories like single, married with no children, married with children, divorced, divorced with children &c.”

“Green Card processing time varies depending upon the category in which it falls. When my father wanted to apply for my green card, the processing time under the category ‘divorced with children’ was the shortest and ‘married with children’ was the longest and the difference of processing time between the two categories was five years.” Mr. Patel continued.

“Therefore we decided to apply in the category ‘divorced with children’. So I divorced my wife but we continued living in the same house and our relationship was exactly the same as before, like a close-knit Indian family. Our divorce was only on paper for bringing our children to this country as fast as possible so that they could start going to American schools.

“So did you apply for Green Card immediately after you had received your divorce paper from the court?” I asked.

“No we did not. Americans knew that married couple in India rarely divorce and ‘divorce after having children’ is extremely rare, almost unheard of. We realized that they could reject our Green Card application if they were convinced that we were deceitful. So we waited for one more year and then applied for Green Card. During that time we were figuring out by ourselves how we could answer the questions which we would face during the Green Card application interview at the American Consulate in Bombay.” Mr. Patel replied.

“We did lots of practices in our home about how we would answer the grilling questions during the interview. We did hours of practice at home and also receive help from an expert who knew what kind of questions might be asked and how to answer those convincingly.” Mr. Patel continued.

“But when we were called for the interview, which was two years after I had applied for the Green Card the encounter was far more difficult than we could imagine. The officer had a suspicion that I was deceitful. I was interviewed alone, then with my two children and to make the situation worse and which we had never expected our two children, who were all below eighteen, were interviewed together and then separately. Even after so much of grilling they could not find out the truth about our marital status, we were so well prepared.” Mr. Patel continued.

“As soon as we had received our Green Card we moved to America. My wife started living with her family in India. My children started going to school in America and I started working in an Indian grocery.” Mr. Patel continued.

“So how did you bring your wife here?” I realized that his story was more captivating than Agatha Christie’s crime stories.

“I met another Gujarati gentleman here in America. He was living with his wife and children. His family was well settled and both he and his wife were well educated and both had good jobs. He agreed to help me out.” Mr. Patel answered.

“The gentleman agreed to apply for my wife’s Green Card”, Mr. Patel continued.

“He was unrelated to both you and your wife. How could he sponsor your wife’s Green Card”, I asked in a haste probably did not realize that he was going to tell me everything even if I had not asked.

“He and his wife decided to divorce, on paper of course, which would make his status ‘single’ and he would travel to India where he would marry my wife, whom I divorced only on paper and apply for my wife’s Green Card. As soon as my wife would arrive here with her Green Card, he would divorce his newly wedded wife, who actually is my wife and then remarry his ‘on-paper’ divorced wife. As soon as he would divorce my wife I would remarry her here.” Mr. Patel told me without any kind of expression on his face.

“But it was only a plan but did he actually do that, did he really divorce his wife in America, travel to India and marry your divorced wife and bring her here with Green Card and divorce your wife here and remarry his real wife and then you remarried your real wife here in America?” I asked. I realized I had never heard anything which was so complicated, so interesting and so risky that it could have destroyed at least two families if not more.

“Everything was done exactly as it was planned. My friend and his wife are still living together because their divorce was only on paper to help me and my family. They were glad to help a Gujarati family. And they are our best friends in this country” Mr. Patel replied.

“Why did you take so much of risk? Why did you not apply in the category which was legitimate for you? Was that much of risk worth taking for?” I asked.

“Indeed it is worth. My children arrived here two years in advance and learnt so much English during those two years. But when my wife was alone in India, every single night before going to sleep I wrote her one letter.” Mr. Patel replied with a very serious looking face.

I used to visit Mr. Patel’s shop almost once every week. During my regular visits I met his entire family, his wife and two children. His two children were actually grown up when I met them.

I do not know where Mr. Patel lives now, in India or in America or if he is still alive but I am sure his children are speaking better.

Look at me again

The act of taking one’s photo with the built-in camera of a mobile phone, called taking selfie, is primarily a favorite thing among girls. For some reason boys are not so interested to learn from others how they look.

Taking selfie is a very difficult art. Almost in any selfie the girl’s neck appears at least one inch longer than what the length of her neck would be if she were hanged from the neck until death. It appears that the head lost interest to stay with the rest of the body and was about to leave. But that is not all, her one eye, depending on which hand is used for taking the photo would appear so large that one might think that it is about to come out of the orbit.

When these photos are posted in social networking sites there would be hundreds of ‘likes’. Selfies are like modern art. Each selfie signifies something very-very deep but the hidden message is known only to one person and the rest including those who ‘liked’ them will have no clue about it. The compliments that will be posted with those photos are also very thought provoking, e.g., ‘you look beautiful’ and the invariable reply would be ‘ten q’ (means thank you).

These days every boy and a girl are having at least one camera phone and as a result old days’ photography with an analog camera (sometimes called film camera) has lost popularity. Gone are those days when a photographer was called home on special occasions for taking the picture of children with their parents and grandparents. Everyone was asked to smile just before the shutter was clicked. After taking the photograph the film was sent for developing and everybody at home would wait to see how he or she looked in the photo. Sometimes the waiting period was as long as one week. One never knew how he or she would look in the photo, which generally was in black and white, when it would be washed and developed. It was almost like a film star giving an interview to the media and never knew how his or her statements would be twisted when published in a film magazine. Immediately after I passed out of high school I visited a photo studio to get a passport size photograph of myself for college admission. When I went to collect my photo I was shocked to see my face in the two inches by two inches paper. With almost tearful eyes I asked the owner of the photo studio, who was almost of my father’s age, “Uncle why do I look like this in the photo?” He examined the photo and then looked at my face for even less than a second and said, “Stand in front of a mirror.”

During those days very few people had their own cameras. A camera was expensive, films were expensive too and so was the cost of developing films. But we had a camera in our home, a very old Kodak camera, a cuboid shaped mysterious looking black box, similar to a pinhole camera in a physics laboratory. When I was in standard five our eldest brother bought it from a gentleman who got rid of it because its viewfinder glass had a scratch.

Our brother bought the camera for ten rupees. Ten rupees was very serious money during those days which can be understood from the following real incidence.

My classmate Ashok Kundu, a boy having an elliptical shaped head with ears along the major axis and nose along the minor axis was asked by his mother to buy washing soda, coconut hair oil, mustard oil for cooking, and some biscuits from the nearby grocery. She gave him a one rupee note and also reminded him that all those things combined would not cost one rupee and therefore he should count the changes carefully before leaving the grocery. When my friend reached the grocery shop he realized that the one rupee note was missing and he discovered a hole in the pocket where he had kept the money. He searched every single inch of the road he had walked, from his home to the grocery shop with a hope that it would still be lying on the road. But that was not his lucky day. When he reported about the loss to his mother with tearful eyes she only told “Let your father come home.” My friend having never lost so much money before did not know what to expect when his father would return. When his mother reported the incidence to his father immediately upon his return from work his father gave him a sound beating for being careless. When his father had finished his part his mother gave him few slaps. Probably she was waiting for her husband to ‘cut the red tape’. Her beating was not so severe but she was also screaming and cursing. Then it was the turn of his elder brothers, probably two or could be three. Everybody in his home stood up in solidarity for the noble cause of making a boy more careful to face the future and to be a better person.

“You have an elder sister, don’t you”, I asked Ashok when he was narrating the incidence the following day in the school.

“Yes I have”, he told.

“Did she beat you too?” I asked.

“No. At the end of the ordeal when I was crying sitting on the floor with my head down, she sat near me, pulled my head towards her and started wiping my tears with her sari.”

“So you stopped crying”, I asked.

“No, I cried even more” Ashok replied.

“You have no sister?” Ashok asked.

“No I do not have a sister. You are very lucky”, I told Ashok.

I felt a lump near my throat while Ashok was narrating his sufferings.

If one rupee or loss of one rupee could cause so much suffering to a small boy one could easily imagine the value of ten rupees. But still a new camera even during those days was not less than hundred rupees because those cameras were all imported.
Nevertheless the camera which our brother bought was good for taking pictures, only once my brother loaded a roll of black and white film into it because films were too expensive.

He never allowed any of his younger siblings to go near it, leave alone touching it. He used to make a ‘prrrrr’ sound if he found anyone was trying to go near his camera. Our brother used to hang the camera on his neck using red colored cotton string and roam around in the neighborhood. If anybody inquired about the black thing hanging from his neck he used to say that it was his ‘Kodak Camera’. He claimed to be having serious interest in photography. Every photo of his had some uniqueness, either the topmost part of the head or the bottommost part of the leg would be missing in the picture and sometimes the person in the photo would be standing making an angle with the ground, defying gravity. “That is the best you can get from a very old camera” he used to say if anybody questioned him about those pictures.

After roaming around in the street with his camera for few months he got seriously interested to teach others ‘how a camera works’. He opened his physics book and showed everybody present the diagram of a pinhole camera. He explained how images are inverted when light from an object passes through a convex lens and made his audience spellbound when he told that an image captured in a camera film is always upside down. “Now I am going to show you the internals of this camera so that you will understand why this camera is not any different from a pinhole camera, at least in principle.” And he started opening the screws with very small screwdrivers which we had in our home. But he could not assemble it back and make it work again. After that day everyone present had some better idea of a camera and they also learnt one more valuable lesson.

Special English

Whenever I read anything written by Salman Rushdie who reached the zenith of popularity almost overnight for his book The Satanic Verses, I always notice that he uses too many semi-colons and too few full-stops. I have noticed that on an average in a paragraph he sometimes uses one or could be two full-stops. The ratio of semi-colons to full-stops in an average paragraph would be around five to one or could be even more.

While reading any of his books I remember my M. Sc. classmate Amitava Chakravarty (during those days he was more popular by the name Aashish). One day he drew our attention on a welcome note written by the Head of the Department of Biochemistry Prof. Gora Chad Chatterjee (G. C. Chatterjee). I think it was a welcome address for one of our department functions. None of us had noticed till Amitava drew our attention that in each paragraph there was only one full-stop and our professor was also highly charitable with semi-colons. We were fortunate to see one full-stop in each paragraph because the language does not allow any sentence to be broken into two or more paragraphs.

Salman Rushdie’s writing has another unique feature – events are generally not in chronological order.

One day I was browsing his book The Satanic Verses at a bookstore in Melbourne.

A gentleman, who was standing beside me and was apparently browsing a book suddenly asked, “Is this book not banned in your country?”

From his accent I could make out that probably he was a Canadian or an American and not an Australian. At the end of our conversation when he did not wish me a good death I became sure again that he was not an Australian. (When an Australian greets other by saying ‘good day’ it sounds like ‘good die’.)

“Yes it is. I think India is the first country to ban the book” I replied with an intention not to discuss any further on the subject.

“But why, India is not a Muslim majority country”, he asked again. He sounded very curious.

“No it is not”, I replied and pretended to read something from the book in order to avoid any further question on the subject.

“But yours is a democratic country where people vote”, he again asked. It appeared that he was so curious that he did not care to notice that I was trying to read something.

“Yes we vote every five years”, I replied.

“Then” and he kept looking at me in such a way that I had to give some reply to him.

“Because our democracy is still at its infancy, at least it is not mature enough like countries in Europe or North America”. Then I narrated to him my first voting experience.

I was a student of M. Sc. when I first voted. During those days voting was done using ballot papers instead of electronic voting machines.

When I was just few meters away from the election booth I heard an old lady, whom I had never seen before calling me from behind, “Baba-ektu-sono-to” (my son I want to talk to you). When I walked near her she asked me without the slightest hesitation, “Please tell me whom should I vote for.” I could realize that either she did not ask the question to any one in her home or in her home everybody was like her. While walking towards the election center she surely had met multiple election agents belonging to different political parties and each agent asked her to vote for the agent’s party and at the end she was totally confused and asked me for which party she should vote. I realized that voting right should not be conferred to her or anybody like her.
But in any democratic country voting is considered as a right and not a privilege.
In India every political party is allowed to use a unique symbol for election. Examples of few such symbols are cow, tractor, motor car etc. A voter needs to know the symbol of the political party he or she would like to vote for. In the election booth the voter needed to stamp on that symbol in the printed ballot paper and drop the stamped ballot paper in a box. If any voter stamped on more than one symbol or did not stamp on any symbol his or her vote was not counted.
I told the old lady to stamp on the first two symbols on the ballot paper and not to tell others for whom she had voted.

Even after so many years during the time of every election I still think about the old lady and wonder how many such people are still taking part in the largest democracy of the blue planet.