Thursday, December 29, 2011

My rendevous with ST Xavier's College, Calcutta

Life is a little more beautiful, a little more happy because of some people who come in our lives as angels and tie ribbons of happiness around them. Today has been one such day in my life. It was a break from the monotonous log in and log out from the office. Little did I realize that it would be so much fun and blissful when Brother Chinamoni of ST Xavier’s, Calcutta had invited me to his place a few days ago. This was not the first time though, but somehow it didn’t materialize. Blame it on my procrastination. He had been equally persuasive every time. I was a fool. It became apparent today when I stepped inside the hallmark premises of the prestigious ST Xavier’s college. He walked me through the sprawling corridors and conspicuous dormitories of the heritage building. Holiday season had made it easier.
To begin with, our destination was the third floor where the not so well fathers live. Brother Chinta takes care of the ill fathers.

It’s a nice set up with basic medical equipments to facilitate immediate domiciliary aid for the semi-ambulatory staffs before they are shifted to the major city hospitals. Fr Abello and Fr Mongal Das, who are stably ill longterm, are being taken care of by Brother China, sisters and doctor there only.
As we strolled along the beautiful corridors, through the mellowed orange sun, I tried to delay the moment to breathe and frame it forever. I saw septuagenarian Fr Noel, who has had put in permanent pacemaker recently waving at me. He was looking absolutely fit even with those small fidgety steps. I waved back.

I virtually went into every corner of the college and breathed the historical bricks. The College was founded in 1860 under the leadership of Fr Depelchin. The college campus is located at Park Street, Kolkata. It is now the first and only autonomous college in Calcutta. Bro Chinta, a true Jesuit, told me many stories - the stories of the hardships during pre-novice and novice period. How he spent 18 long days without a penny in his pocket yet never slept without food. He told me about the college, school, plans, projects his family. In between, I got the opportunity to chat with Fr George who has been stationed to Malta recently and not liking it at all. It was great talking to Fr George after so long.

The dining hall is big, just as it was expected, with round, considerable Victorian tables. We self served ourselves. Today’s menu was courtesy Bro Mani whose family is visiting him. The meat was delectable and so was the vegetable. I couldn’t eat all that was served. Bro Mani’s mother made fun of me. Brother Chinta is a small eater - 2 chappatis, one serving of the vegetables, fish and yogurt. He doesn’t eat sweets after he’s been detected with diabetes. He is not on med but maintains a stern lifestyle for he believes in healthy living more than anything else. He’s been doing well whatsoever.

Post lunch was beautiful with the sunset sun, oranges, cakes, tea and snacks, and more stories. We visited the nursery thereafter. The aquarium was small but nicely maintained. I couldn’t meet the 35 year old tortoise. He was happily hiding somewhere. The sun had mellowed down considerably. Having received lots of goodies from Brother, I had to leave St Xavier’s. I bade goodbye to the Rector Father, Fr Gaston Roberge, Fr Saju, Sebastian and a few others. I looked for Fr Noel, but he couldn't be found, neither in the corridors nor in his room.

And as I held the little Buddha statuette - the parting gift from Bro I looked back to have a glance for one last time. I saw Brother Chinta silhouetted against the setting sun, like an angel, against the Jesuits' building. An angel, who made my day so special, made me feel special and gave me much honor and love. I am going to cherish this day forever.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Cutting down trees in the name of fire safety code

In a country where the fire department is inadequately equipped and inefficiently administered, it would be sheer foolishness to expect the medical and para medical staffs to perform the strictures of fire norms with finesse. The recent Calcutta AMRI fire opened up a new facet along with the callousness of the civil society. After a series of unhealthy, 'beeped' blaming game, the fire services are now geared up to inspect the top hospitals in the city. They have put forth innumerable points and have given narrow deadlines for the NOCs.

The hospitals have set up appreciable efforts with the trainings and the mock fire drills and to meet the fire codes. The approach roads are too narrow, there is no fire evacuation plan, the buildings do not have even ramps, no proper hose system - all are being taken care off. However, it's dis-heartening to see the people (visitors, patients) laughing at it. The civil society today is more concerned with others shortcomings, failures than theirs.

All said and little done, it feels killing to see the age old, beautiful, shady trees being chopped off in the name of upgradation of fire safety fire norms, and yesterday as I looked through my office window I heard the heart throbbing chirpings of the evening birds as the beautiful trees being cut to death.