Reading Time: 7 minutes

On seeing the printed ticket, the coach attendant told Mr. Ramnathan,

“Compartment D, No.12, upper birth. Sir, can you climb up the berth? Otherwise, I will request some other passenger to exchange. Your destination Ratlam will come at 9 in the morning.”

“No.No. It is okay. I will be comfortable on upper-berth.” Seventy year old Ramnathan said. He took back the ticket from the attendant and charged towards D compartment. The attendant followed him with the bed roll. He spread it on berth no.12 very neatly, arranged the pillow in place after putting the fresh cover. Ramnathan thanked him, slid the suitcase under the lower berth and climbed up using the ladder provided. Ramnathan at the age of seventy, was quite fit and active. Being a disciplinarian he had reached the station, well in time and was on his berth well before other passengers arrived. Ramnathan realized in the side pocket of the berth, there was a small book left by the previous passenger. He cursed the maintenance staff and took out his own book from the hand bag and started reading on the night lamp provided near his berth.

The other three berths of the compartment were occupied by the passengers when the train left Mumbai central at the scheduled time and was running at full speed. Ramnathan was already halfway through the book. He continued further. The book was on Ramayan by Devdatta Patnaik. Ramnathan thought, he had read several books on Ramayan but this Devdatta had put every event in a different perspective and projected every character of this epic with different view point. Lovely. In an hour he finished the book and tried to keep it in the side pocket. He remembered the earlier book was there. Ramnathan took that book out to read and kept his Ramayan in the pocket. He opened the book. Title was “Men in Love”.

After reading half the page Ramnathan realized that was a provocative book. He threw the book back in pocket. He tried to sleep. But could not. Inadvertently his hand went on the side pocket again and he took out the book “Men in Love”. He wondered why do people read such worthless books? He actually pitied the readers. But the unoccupied mind tried to peep in that cheap story-book. His conscientious was not allowing him to read this low grade work. But curiosity was increasingly drawing him closer to the book. Ramnathan thought, he had read hundreds of books but never had looked into any such type. He thought, ‘Let me find out what ideas they put up.’

Sex was the topic this book was into. Different mehods to have sex, various ideas to enjoy it.  Ramnathan got interested in it. The protagonist was a young man exploring unusual ways to heighten the pleasure of sex. Ramnathan thought, he had such a long sex life but lacked the variety that this young man was experiencing. He was a bit disappointed that such ideas never struck his mind when he was young. This book had enriched him in this area then but was that not too late?

Ramnathan thought he was never unhappy to sleep with his wife. But he never thought over whether his wife was happy with him. He even did not have the idea that the females also enjoy sex as much men do. He did not think that they also desire to satisfy their expectations. There were many occasions when he was not interested in having sex and he did not make love. Never did he think whether his wife wanted sex. Never. Never did he give any attention to her whether she was contented. How cruel! In the days of his youth, to think over sex was a sin. To even read anything about sex was in bad taste for him. Never did he enjoy friends talking, joking over sex matters. He was very rigid and was clinging to his puritan ideas all through. It was bad!

He even never had sex without lights put off. And this book told him that light was not bad. To try out different positions to enhance the pleasure of either partner was necessary. His wife gave him two children but he completely ignored her feelings. A retired judge was found at fault.  Ramnathan felt really guilty in court of sex for enjoyment. Then he decided, after he reached home, first thing in the night in the bed, he was going to ask his beloved wife whether she was satisfied with him whenever they had sex. He was going to try out various things in bed which he had always considered bad. “Whether I am capable to enact all those things due to my age or not, I am going to take her to climax. It is better to be late than never.” Ramnathan had fixed in his mind.

With this firm decision, Ramnathan fell off to sleep.

Next day in the morning he was woken up by the attendant, “Sir it is 8O’clock. Train will reach Ratlam at right time. Please get ready.”

Ramnathan was surprised that he had slept till 8. He always was out of bed latest by six. But today he over slept. He noticed that the book “Men in Love” was in his hand. He wondered whether the attendant had seen this book in his hand. He immediately threw the book back in the side-pocket of the berth. After quick visit to wash room and brushing, he got himself ready to get down from the train. He wound-up his belongings and he put his RAMAYAN back in his briefcase. He did not even have another look at “Men in Love”.

At 9 when the train stopped at Ratlam, he got down with resolute mind and went out of the platform. His driver was waiting for him. The driver took over his suitcase and guided him to the car.

After a halt of 10 minutes, the train started. Attendant of the AC-II Tier coach was expecting a new passenger in the compartment D on berth no.12. Mr. Ramesh Mathur, aged 45 was waiting at the door to confirm his seat no. from the attendant. After the due procedure, Mr. Mathur proceeded towards compartment D. Locating the berth no.12, he decided to lie down on the upper berth. Using the ladder, he went on to the berth no.12 and made himself comfortable. Soon he discovered a book in the side pocket of the berth. Getting curious, he picked up the book and had a look. He read the title “Men in Love”. He got interested. On reading half of the first page, he realized that was a porno book. With increased eagerness, he continued reading. Ramesh was in his middle age and was enjoying sex regularly. Though with reduced frequency, he was enjoying his sex fully. He knew what tricks to use to satisfy himself and for his wife to reach climax. Mr. Mathur was very sensitive to his wife’s expectations and always saw to it that she was completely satisfied. Sometimes even if he was not in mood, if he realized that his wife needs him, he would put aside his feelings and would do everything to satisfy her. While reading this book he was trying to find out if there was anything which he had not tried out, some new ideas if he could get to further enrich his sex life.

He read the book hurriedly as he had to get off at Delhi at around 6 in the evening. He was delighted to spend his time in train with so much interesting happening. He had noted few new ideas which he was very eager to try out that night itself at home. He had an intention of carrying the book home. But refrained from it. Before getting down from the upper berth, he had a very good look at the book and he thanked it sincerely for some wonderful ideas. Mathur left the book in the side pocket where he had found it.

At around 6, Mathur got off the train at Delhi.

There boarded a young boy in his twenties. Anil Kumar Dogra. Age 25. Sturdy and good personality. While moving in the corridor, he was looking for compartment D. He entered the compartment, spotted the berth no.12. He had just a small brief case with him. He put it on the upper berth and called the attendant for the bed. Attendant hurriedly got a fresh set of bed roll and spread over the berth no.12. He asked for the ticket. “Up to Dehradun? Good. After dinner sleep comfortably till 6 in the morning when I will wake you up. Dehradun arrives at 7. Will you have dinner from the dining car, sir? We will have to place order now so that it will be served at 8.”  “Ok. I will have non-veg thali.” Anil Kumar sat on the lower birth and started reading a novel Romeo & Juliet. Very soon he got engrossed in the book. At around 8, the dinner was served. Finishing it quickly and after making the payment, Anil Kumar was in his allotted berth. He put back his book in the briefcase as he had finished it reading. Lying in the bed, Anil Kumar was lost in his thoughts. He was getting married two weeks later. He remembered his fiancée and the evenings he had spent with her in the City garden. He was happy that the waiting was coming to an end soon. His spending nights alone would be stopped and he would have partner to share his bed.

While making himself comfortable he realized a book in the side pocket. He picked it up and had a look at it. “Men In Love”. Anil Kumar was happy to read the title. How appropriate the book was for his requirement. He sat upright on the upper berth and started reading the great book that was in front of him. He started reading with full interest and was getting excited more and more after reading each line of the book. He started planning the details of his honeymoon. The book was guiding him in to the dream world and giving him ideas how to make every moment of honeymoon, memorable. He thought even 8 days honeymooning period would not be enough and he would have to extend it to minimum 15 days. He was so happy that such a fantastic book had come his way. He was reading some chapters again and again. Finally at around 4 in early morning he dozed off. At 6:30 the attendant woke him up. Anil Kumar got up, wound up his belongings and added one more thing to it, the book, “Men In Love”. He put the book in his briefcase. Got down and sat on the lower birth. The train entered Dehradun station. Anil Kumar came out of the compartment. When the train halted, he alighted from the train with a grand book with him in his briefcase and a lot of ideas in his mind about his honeymoon of 15 days.

He exited the platform and took a taxi to reach home.

Reading Time: 10 minutes

Despite being Sunday, Vikas was out in the market in the evening. He was looking for some apparels suitable for his trip abroad. He bumped into Ramesh. They were meeting after few weeks.

“Hey, Ramesh, How are you? What brings you here?”

“Arey, I am looking for a nice shawl. Do you remember Satpute Sir?  His 75th birthday is on 5th of next month. The other day some of my classmates got together and they are planning to present him a good shawl on Guru Paurnima Day. I was given the responsibility to select the shawl. So I am on that mission. Anyway, how are things? Just two days ago, I met Ajay. He is getting married, sometime after 3-4 months. And do you know, Ravichandran is opening his clinic. He is planning to invite all of us, his friends. That is scheduled on third of coming month. Some auspicious day.”

“Great! Ravi had a terrific struggle. He is a gold medalist but it was so difficult for him to get started. One has to learn tenacity from him. He overcame all odds.

But did you hear, Nitin is going strong with his affair.  He is going to talk to Savita’a parents to finalize.” Vikas updated Ramesh on news front of friend circle.

The gossip was going on in full swing. While wandering around, Ramesh’s eyes caught the sight of Satish approaching them. Immediately he interrupted his chatting and said “Vikas, I remembered I have to do some important work. I must leave now.  Okay then. We will meet some time later”. He started off. Before he could go far, Satish reached them. “Hi, how come two of you are here?”

“Hi Satish. I have some work. I have to push off urgently. Bye then.” Ramesh left hurriedly. Vikas was wondering what made Ramesh leave him so suddenly, interrupting the dialogue. Satish also was surprised that Ramesh left so quickly. He did not wait even for a minute to talk to him. Little disappointed, Satish started talking to Vikas.

“Tell me Vikas, how are you doing?”

“I am fine. How about you?”

“I am also good. But do you know Vikas, these days in the free time I have started writing stories. It is really very interesting. One gets opportunity to express his ideas, feelings. That is a nice way to empty out your mind.”

“Yes. Very good.”  Vikas appreciated Satish’s taking some different line for recreation.

“Vikas, I choose different storylines. You see. I am not a professional writer. So I need some truthful feedback, honest opinion from my friends. Depending upon that, I do some alterations. That adds to my writing methods. “After a pause for a while, Satish asked Vikas ”Can you spare few minutes, may be ten or fifteen, and read my story ? It is not that bad.”

“Why not? That will be my pleasure. But Satish, I am not a voracious reader. I will take some time. Will it be okay? I would like to give you genuine comments.”

Vikas saw Satish was delighted with this response.

With a great satisfaction on his face, Satish said, “Okay Vikas, I will send you the story by email. I have your mail address. I am looking forward to your candid feedback.”

Vikas said, “Sure. “

Satish then said “Vikas, thank you so much. Now I will move on. I was actually going to buy some vegetables. I saw you with Ramesh. So I turned around and came here. I have given my story to Ramesh for his feedback.  A month has passed but he has not given me his comments. May be he is very busy. But my story does not take even half an hour to read. Anyway, Vikas, at least you be kind enough to give your opinion.”

“Definitely, Satish. I will give you feed back within a week.”

“Thank you so much, Vikas. Thanks again. Wait for my story before late evening.” With happiness on his face Satish left.

Vikas got the answer for his curiosity about Ramesh leaving abruptly the discussion with him. Ramesh wanted to avoid talking to Satish as he had nothing to say about the story which Satish had sent him some weeks back.

Vikas entered the shop and started looking for the readymade shirt for his trip to Singapore. He had specific color and style in his mind. Nothing in the shop was satisfying his requirement. He was wondering what to do. And there was Ashish at the next counter also selecting some shirt. Both looked at each other almost at the same time.

“Hi, Vikas. Have you finished making your selection? If yes, come here. Please help me. I am undecided between full shirt and half shirt.” Ashish urged.

“No. I am also not able to finalize. I heard you have started looking for a match? How far have you reached?”

Ashish came close and said “I liked one girl and my parents are talking further with that party.  If both parents agree, it will be final.”

“What about girl’s choice? Has she approved?”

“Why, am I so unworthy that she will not like me?”

“No yaar! I did not mean that. But every girl also has her own ideas. The boy may or may not fit in it.”

“We both had some time together. We exchanged our ideas. There are more common things than differences. We both have given our approval. Now, it is up to our parents to finalize. Today evening only they are meeting. “

“Good. That means very soon we are going to get the great news.”

“Probably yes!  Do you know, Nitin is going to Savita’s house today only to finalize the matter. That news may reach you earlier.” Ashish parted some more information.

“And do you know, I am going to Singapore for six months for some training program. No. I am not learning anything new. But we are teaching them about our product using new technology. They are using our product for last so many years.  But the technological advances has changed the product operation completely. So we two Engineers from our company are going to install the entire system and train their Engineers thoroughly.

I met Satish a while ago. And do you know, in spite of his new promotion as manager in charge of a project, he is spending some time to write stories.  Great!  An Engineer by profession wants to become a writer. Very funny!” Vikas added.

“So you came across Satish. Arey, last time we met, he mentioned about his new passion for writing short stories. He did not stop at that. He asked for my feedback over his stories. But who has that much time to read his story?”

“Yes. Very true! We don’t get time even to scratch. And how can one read his stories!” Vikas agreed with Ashish.

“He sent his story on email and asked for his feedback within a week”

“He is going to post the short story on my email too, for feedback.”

“I am not in any mood to read his story. I bluffed him as my mother is interested in reading it first and after she finishes it, I will read it. Promptly, next week he asked for comments. Told him mother has not finished it yet. After she is through with it, I promise, I will read it immediately.

Then on, I am avoiding meeting him. He is a great Engineer and our very good friend too. But why this punishment of reading the story?”

“Anyway, you finish your selection of shirt first. Then we will talk about it.”

They both picked up their choice and proceeded towards a restaurant nearby. Both ordered for sandwiches and lassi and had nice time together.

After they finished when they came out they bumped into Mohan.

“How are you both?” Mohan greeted them.

“Ay, I have to leave now. Have to keep an appointment. We will meet sometime later, Mohan” Ashish said and started off.

“Hey, wait. I do not have any story to give you to read. And Satish is also not around here. You don’t have to leave immediately, Ashish.”

“So you also have experienced the menace Satish is spreading. “ Ashish said. Holding Ashish’s arm Mohan did not allow him to leave.

Mohan continuesd further. “And do you know, Satish is great. Few days back he came to my house. I was not at home. Mother entertained him.

‘Aunti, actually, I had come to read out my short story to Mohan.’
‘ Very good Satish, writing short story is your pass time. Nice.’ Mother.

‘Aunti, would you like to hear it? Shall I read it out to you quickly?’ Satish.

‘Yes. I would have liked to hear it but don’t have  time. I have to start cooking ’ mother.

‘Ok, Then. Some time later, aunty!’ saying this Satish left.

My mother had heaved a sigh of relief. Actually, she had finished her cooking. But to circumvent the anguish of hearing the story, she pretended to cook something. She started making bhajia’s . And when I returned home after sometime, I heard mother’s story how she saved herself from Satish’s trauma by taking up making bhajia’s .

Next time when Satish visited our house, my mother escaped to kitchen to make Batata Vadas. She had thought there is no problem worse than listening to Satish’s short story. So that is Satish and his stories.” Mohan completed his story in single breath.

“Really a menace! Satish is our friend trying out something different. But he can not take us as guinea pigs,” Vikas  remarked.

Shopping was over and Vikas, Ashish & Mohan returned to their respective homes.

After dinner Vikas retired to bed. As his usual practice, he opened his mail account on laptop. Satish’s mail was waiting for him.

With reluctance, he opened the short story titled “The Jackfruit”.

Vikas thought ‘What a horrible title! ’

Vikas started reading. The first line itself he found uninteresting. He went on and every further line was more and more tedious for him.  He could not read any further. He was quick enough to send his reply to Satish. With a great effort he could scribble words, “Very boring”

Then he further added, “Satish, as a friend I am suggesting, please do not waste your time in writing stories. That is not our cup of tea. We are professionally Engineers and please concentrate on technology.  Friend, please do not let your energy get drained in such non productive activity. I am sorry. I am being honest. Please stop that and don’t put your friends into awkward situation of reading your pastime outcome. It is torturous to your entire friend circle.”

Vikas sent his mail. He was getting ready to enter into dream world. Before he could close his eyes. his computer announced receipt of some mail. He noticed it was from Satish. “Okay friend. Thanks for your advice. I will keep in mind.”

Vikas could not keep himself away from sorry face of Satish in front of him.

The days passed on. On second day of next month, Vikas’s  mother told him that her distant niece, Akanksha, from Indore was coming to Mumbai as she had got job in one construction company as Chief Architect soon after her Masters in Architectures. She insisted Vikas to go to airport to receive her as that was Saturday and was weekly off for him.

On Saturday, Vikas was woken up early and promptly he was at the airport well in time. Identifying with the help of cell phone, they quickly drove back.

Vikas’s mother was very happy to receive her niece. After exchanging all the news from each other’s house, Akanksha took charge of her room allotted to her. Slowly she got acquainted with the family, Vikas, his father and mother whom she had met last summer during one family wedding.

Next day Vikas got ready to attend the small get-together of his friends to celebrate 75th birthday of their favorite teacher Satpute Sir.

“Why don’t you take Akanksha with you there? Sanyami, Rajita and Neela must be coming. Aren’t they? They all are your batch mates and usually attend any function at Satpute Sir’s house. Right?  Akanksha can get introduced to your friends. That will make her more comfortable.”

“If she is ready, I don’t have any problem.”

Akanksha was also keen to meet some girls in her age group.

At the function at Satpute Sir’s house, around 25-30 youngsters were present. Vikas introduced Akanksha to everybody and most importantly Satpute Sir.  She also intermingled with everybody. Ashish, Mohan, Satish, Ramesh, Rohit, Ajay, Sanyami, Rajita, Neela and all others were present.

After some time, Rohit got up and conducted the ceremony of felicitating Satpute Sir. Everyone was extremely happy to express one’s gratitude to their respected sir.

When Satish’s turn came, he said, “Sir and dear friends, to express my feelings towards sir, I am going to tell a micro story.”  Many of the attendees lost their heart beat. A story and from Satish. Inconceivable idea.

Mohan interrupted, “Satish, please, no story telling.”

Ashish supported Mohan. ”Yes. I also feel that it may be too much.”

“Let him tell his story. Have you forgotten, in your college days when I used to tell you stories, you all used to enjoy it. Let Satish narrate his story” Satpute sir interrupted.

“Let him tell his some experience with the factory or something on technology. But not the story please.” Vikas said.

“No Vikas. I want a story from Satish.” Sir insisted.

“OK. Go ahead Satish “Rohit took charge.

Satish got up and started.” This is really a micro story.

A gardener was looking after one small garden. It had various types of plants, some bearing flowers which looked beautiful without any fragrance. Some flowers were not very attractive but had nice aroma. Some plants did not bear any flowers. And cacti had only the thorns. But the gardener took care of all plants. Nurtured all of them with equal love and affection. And that gardener won the best Garden award for many consecutive years.

We salute that gardener with utmost humility.”

Saying this Satish touched Sir’s feet. Tears flowed from sir’s eyes, moistened Satish’s head. Controlling his own tears Satish took his seat.

Spontaneous clapping from one and all ended Satish’s story.

Rohit took over the charge again and announced further item of the function.

Akanksha was impressed by the story.  When the function was over, she approached Satish and extended her compliments for the grand story.

“It was really nice. Opening out your heart beautifully.

Do you write stories regularly?”

“Actually I am an Engineer. But during my spare time, I do write some thing.” Satish said hesitantly.

“That is still great. Usually, Technology and literature never go together. So you are exceptional.”

“What about you? Do you also write?” Satish got curious.

“Yes. I also scribble in my spare time. I am an Architect. That gives me full scope for creativity.  But jotting down your feelings is something exceptionally great. I love to read and sometimes I write too.” Satish was delighted that he found somebody who enjoyed writing as well as reading short stories. He was about to ask her feedback over the short stories he has already written. But he refrained from talking about his writing work.

Meanwhile other friends joined the conversation. “Yes. It was a very nice story, Satish. Well written.” Mohan greeted.  Then he looked at Akanksha and said,” He is a good writer.  How did you find his micro story? It was really very nice.”

“Yes. Very short but extremely sensitive. I told him I liked it.” Akanksha said.

“He is the person who has introduced we Engineers to stories. Otherwise we had not dared to write anything. It is Satish who inspired us to write.

I also have started writing occasionally.” Mohan bluffed.

“So you also write?”

“That is great. If you have something written already, I would be happy to read it” Akanksha.

“Oh! Certainly. When we meet next, I will give it to you.”

“We all have started liking short stories because of Satish. I also write occasionally.” Ashish added.

“Oh! Wonderful. That means yours is a technocrat writers group.” Akanksha.

“Yes. You can say so.” Ashish confirmed.

“Does Vikas write? “

“No. He has not picked up it as yet. He even does not read short stories given to him for reading. Absolutely insensitive person!” Ramesh interrupted.  “I will give my story for you to read. “ Ramesh tried to impress Akanksha.

“So except Vikas, each one of you has a very common pastime of writing and appreciating short stories. I would love to read you all.” Akanksha.

Satish was aghast to know his friends’ love for short stories.

He could well understand their liking for stories was actually their interest in new friend Akanksha.  His story The Gardener was not heard by friends with intent. They had not taken note of the story beyond the title. But Satish had found a genuine, sensitive reader of short stories. He thought  a new plant was added in Sir’s garden, that had beautiful flowers with great aroma.

Reading Time: 12 minutes
Satish got down from the S.T. bus at Vengurla Bus Depot. He made sure that his belongings were with him and nothing was left in the bus. There was his briefcase containing personal material and a small cotton bag containing cloth material for a shirt & a pant, two books, few eatables & chocolates. Satish was visiting Ramchandra for the first time after knowing him for five years.

Satish remembered, some 5-6 years back he was exploring almost every small town in the state to introduce his electronic products in uncovered areas. On one such occasion, he was travelling to Vengurla by S.T.bus. That was about 10-12 hours journey. Normally such journeys were comfortable. But this time due to some festival, the buses were running to the capacity, in fact jam packed. At some bigger depot, the conductor announced the bus would leave after ten minutes halt. Satish paved his way out of the bus to relieve himself and to have some refreshment. Ten minutes would have been enough in normal circumstances. But due to heavy rush, even to have a beverage, it took extra time. And by the time Satish came back where he had got  off the bus, he was shocked to see that the bus had already departed. Very costly electronic material was left in the bus along with his personal baggage. Satish was extremely upset. A huge loss was in sight. But by chance, he saw another bus leaving for Vengurla. That was also already full. Somehow,SatishI pushed himself in the already packed bus. In two hours he reached Vengurla.  As soon as he got out of the bus, he rushed to the bus depot. On the way he found some person staring at him. Satish also felt he knew the person. But he could not place him.

The person approached him. ”Your baggage was left in the bus. Is it not?”

“Yes. Yes. Do you know where it is?”

“It is in the safe custody of Depot Manager. Let us go there. You take charge of your belongings.  I was also in the bus coming from Mumbai. When the bus reached the depot, I realized, the luggage was left unattended. You were also not on the bus. I picked up all your baggage and handed it over to Depot Manager.”

“Oh! Thank you very much.”

When they reached the Manager, after his identification, Satish got his luggage back. “Everything intact. Thank you so much. May I know your name?”

“I am Ramchandra. I stay in a village named Ansur some 5-6 kilometers from here. If you have time why don’t you come to my house? Have tea and some snacks for breakfast and then you can move on.”

“Thanks again, Ramchandra. I have to meet someone in two hours. I will come to your house some other time. But I would like to have lunch with you. Can you come to some hotel here in the afternoon?  We will have lunch together”

“That is not necessary. But we can talk to each other some time.  Give me your number. I will call you.”

They exchanged their phone numbers and took their own directions.

After Satish returned home from the tour, he called Ramchandra on his phone number. Satish found him open hearted, sincere, honest. They had regular conversations on current topics, sports, politics and what not. Satish realized in Ramchandra he had got a friend with high human values. The friendship continued and was getting stronger after every dialogue between them. Now after five years, Satish took some time out for Ramchandra when he was touring that area.

Morning cool breeze, the soft sun rays of the rising sun, different birds gaily gliding in the sky, the scattered dark clouds reminding the monsoon was not over yet. Satish hired an auto which dropped him at the base of a hill beyond which he had to walk It down since the road was in very bad condition not suitable for any vehicle.

Satish in his early thirties, was fit enough to take that hiking risk with two bags to carry. He looked around. After a good monsoon, the crop of paddy was swaying merrily with soft breeze. All the area was fresh green. He observed the hill was covered with cashew trees with no fruit left on them. It bears fruits only in summer, and that provides income for the locals as the cashew fruit is used to brew liquor named ‘fenny’. Cashew is the easily, abundantly obtained fruit needing some efforts only to pluck the fruit. Nothing more. The seeds of the fruit are also in demand. Jackfruit is yet another fruit that fetches some money. Mango, the world famous fruit grown here has an outstanding taste and flavor. But this is a very delicate fruit needing extreme care and a lot of efforts to get a good yield.

Satish was enjoying the morning chill in the air. The sun rays quickly spreading over the swaying crop looking beautifully golden coloured. Few small springs with crystal clear water were flowing on the sides of footpath. After a walk of a kilometer, the climb was steep. The wind increased its speed. The partly clouded sky started getting covered more and more. In no time it turned very dark and posed the danger of heavy rain. Satish increased his pace. Soon the road was going downwards.  Now the signs of habitation were visible. Some big trees of Tamarind, Jackfruit, Kokum were seen along with four feet high dancing paddy crop. He then saw a board sign showing an arrow in the right direction with caption “Gawade wadi”.

Satish looked at the chit he was carrying with the detailed address of Ramchandra. He took the right turn. That was a narrow footpath covered with 3-4 inch high grass crushed by human treading. On both sides of footpath,was 4 feet high crop . The crop was fairly damp due to shower just a few hours ago. The sky was getting darker every moment due to fast spreading  dark clouds, offering dark background to the picturesque tall jackfruit, tamarind trees. Satish reached at the door step of a small little house. Smell of cow dung, the crowing of cocks, dogs wandering around, the mooing of the cows and children getting ready for schools. Satish was thrilled with the atmosphere. The adults in the house turned around as they found an unknown person searching for somebody.

A teenager came forward and asked, “Whom do you want?”

“Ramchandra.” Satish answered.

The boy was lost in thought. In a while he said, “Oh, Baba. Ramchandra is called Baba, his nick name. He is just two houses away. Come on. I will take you there.” The boy started leading the way. Satish with his two bags in both the hands, followed him. Soon they came across a herd of cows going in a line. The boy helped him for the bag saying, “Take care. No. No. They will not hurt you but you may get scared.” Satish stood still to let the herd of 8-10 cows pass by. After a walk of around hundred steps, a nice little house was in front of him. “Baba, Some guest has come for you.” The boy shouted.

Ramchandra, bare bodied in half pant came out and found Satish. Very surprised and very delighted, he came down the two steps and lifted Satish’s bags taking them inside. “How did you reach here? You should have given me a ring and I would have come to bus depot to pick you up on bike. It must have been very difficult for you to get an auto. And they drop you at the foot hill. So you must have walked all the two kilo meters. But you made a mistake. You should have called me.” Uttering these words, he took Satish to a room, kept  baggage and said, ”Now relax. My mother will make tea for you. You have hot tea and biscuits. Then you will feel fresh.”

Again he went out shouting, “AAi, make two cups tea, quickly.”

In a very short time, Ramchandra was back with two cups of hot tea and some biscuits. Before Satish could have first sip of tea, there was deafening sound of rain drops on the Mangalore tiled roof. It had started pouring heavily. Satish looked out of the window. Thick screen of falling water drops was blinding the entire view outside.

“You were saved. A few minutes delay and you would have got drenched completely. Rains here are unpredictable and when it pours, it is very heavy”.

 After about 10 minutes of heavy downpour, the sky got cleared. Bright sunshine made the paddy crop shine. Satish could see the green coloured  mountain glittering brightly. This habitat of 8-10 houses in the lap of mountain had hypnotized Satish.

After some time Ramchandra asked Satish whether he would have breakfast before bath. Satish was hungry anyway. He wanted breakfast before bath.

Amboli and chutney was served and both Ramchandra and Satish satisfied their hunger. While breakfasting, Ramchandra told Satish that they were only two brothers. The elder brother and father had gone to a distant village to attend a family wedding. So for coming 2-3 days only his mother would be at home with him. Ramchandra told Satish to be comfortable and to spend 2-3 days with him. He would see the farming activities hitherto unknown to him. Satish was delighted with the offer. He wondered how a person can be so open hearted. Ramchandra was exceptionally unassuming, not hiding any thing, a fully transparent personality. A clear heart just like an uncontaminated spring  which he had noticed while he was walking after the auto left him at the foothill an hour ago.

After breakfast, they went to the farm which was just 15-20 feet away.

Satish entered the farm and touched the full grown crop. He was thrilled with the feel of crop which he had seen only in pictures or whenever he visited the interior part of the state, he had seen it in actual but from a far away vehicle. Satish was ecstatic when he actually touched the crop.                      

“When would you cut the crop? Is it ripe enough to cut? ” Satish asked.   

“After the rain stops completely and the paddy is dry enough, we will cut it. Then threshing, then winnowing and finally milling. Satish, why don’t you stay here for 2-3 weeks and be a witness to all the processes?”

“I am not free enough to take off according to my will. “ Satish said with regret.

“Not necessarily this time but whenever you can manage, do come here. You will enjoy different routines of farmer’s life.”  Ramchandra.

Satish was wondering when that could happen.

The clouds had disappeared completely. 

“Okay Satish, it seems the day is getting sunny. We will go to the Ghati, where we have fields used only for mango plantation. We have around hundred mango trees. A small pond is also there. We can have a look at our mango orchard. Ready?”

“Why not? “ Satish’s youthful spirit was showing up.

Two of them, then took the footpath going upwards. Again on both sides the golden crop was smiling happily. Half an hour’s upward hike, brought them to the mango orchard. Bright sunshine made them sweat profusely. Ramchandra started explaining.

“The mango grown here in Konkan is known as Hapus i.e. Alphanso. The entire world eagerly awaits the arrival of Alphanso. A variety of mangoes are available in different parts of the world. But nothing is comparable to  the taste and flavor of Hapus. Around November, the mango starts bearing the fruit. The fragrance of the flowers  itself is so delightful. At the other end of orchard, we will see a small natural pond. Let us go there.”

The sun was shining brightly and these two youngsters were walking briskly to take a glimpse of the pond. Barring few calls of the birds, the tranquility prevailed. The scorching heat was making them sweat profusely. After about 15-20 minute walk they reached the pond.

“The beauty is that the water in this pond never gets contaminated. Always cool and clean through the year.” Ramchandra said.

“Any signs of crocodiles or snakes?” Satish.

“No. Nothing of that sort. We men take dips in here and occassionally swim for some time. Satish, do you know swimming?”

“No, yaar. “ Satish.

“I am thinking of having a dip to cool off. It is not very deep at the bank for up to 4-5 feet. One can get inside the pond and just walk.  Would you like to take a bath here?”

“Not a bad idea. I would have done it. But we have not got a towel or spare under clothes.”  Satish.

“Don’t bother for that. We will enter the pond only on under wear, cool ourselves and come out and get into proper clothes.”


“Won’t anybody else come here?”

“No. This is our orchard. No one will come here without my permission.”

Satish was relieved. He stepped into pond with just underwear around his waist.

Ramchandra also got into minimum clothes and jumped into pond, their clothes lying under a mango tree.

The cool water was very comforting after getting soaked in sweat due to hot sun.

After a joy swimming stint for 10-15 minutes, they decided to end their swimming pleasure. Both of them came out. Ramchandra  taking down his wet underwear  also, walked completely naked to the mango tree to pick up his clothes after drying body and underwear in hot sun. Satish saw Ramchandra’s  privates hanging merrily between shaped legs of his mascular body. Satish was hesitant to take out his wet underwear in front of Ramchandra. “Do not feel shy. We are not in your city. This is a place where everything is close to nature. No artificial restrictions.” Satish also got into his birthday suit. Completely naked. Now he was also not feeling any odd to move around naked. They squeezed their wet clothes and spread them on the branches of tree to dry. They moved around the pond. Satish enjoyed the thicket of trees. Satish was thrilled to be close to nature in completely natural way, totally naked. After a few minutes, he even forgot that he was moving around without any clothes on. Ten minutes were over and they picked up their dry underwears. Put them on. Got in to full clothes. Then started their walk homewards. Satish was trying to capture images of fields, trees, pond his mind.  Walking around naked for 10-15 minutes in the natural surroundings  was also an experience he would not forget.

When at home, Ramchandra called out for his mother and told her to serve them the lunch. Chicken curry, shevaya cooked in coconut milk and heap full of rice were savories to enjoy. Both of them had enough to fill their hungry stomachs. Then they decided to take a walk river-side which was just a furlong away. A lot of coconut trees on the both banks of river. Actually the river was just a big stream, water flowing slowly without creating even a single ripple. Ramchandra climbed up a coconut tree with ease and took out two tender coconuts for them to have coconut water. After having sweet tender coconut water, they had some more walk on the bank of river. Satish was enjoying every moment of this expedition.

They came back home and decided to have a little nap. Later they had hot tea. Ramchandra put  on his regular working clothes and started to go to the Ghati to bring back his cattle which had gone to the meadow to graze. Satish joined him. In the morning in his first encounter of the cattle going to meadows for grazing Satish was little scared of them. But now he wanted to be friends with them. After a walk of nearly half an hour, Ramchandra yelled out some names. And they heard mooing in return. 8-10 of his cows got attentive, turned back and started in the direction of his house. Slowly, they were retracing the path back home walking in single file. Satish was not scared now, neither the cows were unfriendly with him. They reached home without any further instruction from Ramchandra. They entered their stable, took their respective position. Ramchandra put the rope around their neck. He also gave them some healthy food which the cattle liked.

Satish then entered the house and took out the contents of the cotton bag which he had carried from his own town. He handed over the shirt and pant pieces to Ramchandra and told him to give them for stitching the next day only. All the eatables, chocolates etc. he gave to his mother. Both these persons expressed their unwillingness to accept the gifts though they respected Satish’s feelings. After a little bit of insistence from Satish, they accepted the gifts.

As it got dark, few of Ramchandra’s  neighbours gathered and got introduced to Satish. They had interesting chat with Satish. In no time Satish had become a part of their family. They exchanged their ideas on different matters. Had many moments of laughter.

After dinner all those friendly neighbours again gathered and all started to take a walk riverside. Satish was at the center of discussions. They all, 7-8 of them halted near an ice-cream shop. Everyone enjoyed the ice-cream treat given by Satish.

Satish then drew their attention to the starry sky. Told them about planets, stars, constellations etc. Also gave them some idea about the enormous size of universe. Looking above, Satish explained the concept of galaxy, black holes etc. He found each one of them curious to know more and more about our entire universe. They shared their practical experiences related to astronomy. Spotting of meteors, eclipses of the sun and the moon etc. The group had taken a position near the bank of the river and watching upwards  the clear sky. Nobody noticed that three hours passed discussing mysterious world of astronomy.

After it struck midnight, they wound up. Dispersed with a promise of having one more meeting the next day. Satish ecpressed his inability to stay over for the next day. But no one was in a mood to accept any excuse. Finally, Ramchandra convinced all of them that he would not let Satish leave the next day. All went to their respective houses with some plan for star gazing next evening.

At home Ramchandra made a bed ready for Satish on the cot and he made another bed on the ground for himself.

 “No guarantee of rains. So we have to sleep inside the room. During summer we sleep in the open yard in front of the house. So your next trip we will plan in summer. You can enjoy Konkan Meva like mangoes, cashew, jackfruit , pine apples, bush berries etc. Your next trip will not be such a short trip of one day. You plan a week for all your new friends. We will have a great time.” Ramchandra announced.

“Okay. I promise. Now let us sleep.” Saying this Satish got up to change in to night dress. He was very much impressed by their way of life. He even adapted to their natural way of staying. While changing his clothes, he was as native as these people. He got completely naked in front of Ramchandra, without bothering for the so called manners. Got into night clothes and went to sleep.

Ramchandra slept on the bed on the ground and dozed off immediately.

Next day, after morning tea, Satish told Ramchandra that it was not possible for him to extend his stay. He had a very tight schedule. Satish promised him to come back again in summer. He even visited few of the neighbours and explained them his tight schedule and promised them a visit in summer and for a longer period of time.

Satish picked up his briefcase and started. Ramchandra, out of compulsion agreeing with Satish,  took out his bike. Satish after bidding good bye to Ramchandra’s mother, took his pillion riding seat behind Ramchandra. After giving the kick, the motor cycle started  and Satish was on his way back to work after a brief vacation, a stint with the nature.