Sevagram – Gandhi’s abode

I am not a big Gandhi fan. But there is little doubt that he was a great marketer. Reaching out and communicating to a huge nation – primarily with word of mouth and without the benefits of modern day mediums is an achievement. Plus the fact that he was able to build a brand called Gandhi by remaining consistent in his communication.

So it was interesting visit to Sevagram – a village around 80 kms from Nagpur (8 km from Wardha). This was where Gandhi built his ashram in 1936. It is preserved in the same way it was built – a series of mud huts like you expect to be in a 1930’s village.  The huts also act as a mini museum having some of the artifacts like Gandhi’s stick, bowl, folding spinning wheel and even an idol of three monkeys.

Purane style ki huts

The Mud Huts at the Ashram

The fun in visiting such places with strong history is the freedom of imagination it brings along. One of the ‘kutiya‘  – Adi Niwas was the place where the first meeting for ‘Quit India Meeting’ was held. Standing on that place you wonder what kind of discussions would have taken place. There used to be power of words instead of power point presentations. Minute details were captured without minutes of meeting. Simple mud floors with ‘chatai’ (Mat) rather than ornate board rooms with a multitude of gadgets.

Adi Niwas

The Adi Niwas

Sevagram also had an outlet for selling Khadi clothes. But it was disappointing to see the loud and gaudy designs for Shirts – something that can’t be worn in a party, rest alone in office. I believe that Khadi can be promoted and built into a powerful truly ‘Indian’ brand. But go to sector 17 in Chandigarh and you can see heavy rush on allen solleys and arrows as the neighbouring massive showroom of Khadi Gram udyog stands orphaned.

While there, a sight caught my attention. Man in khadi dress, running behind a dog, stick in hand, trying to shoo him away from the ashram campus. I wondered if it was violence or non-violence. May be just a stupid thought.

The prayer ground

The Prayer Ground

Itna Sannata Kyun Hai Bhai

A peculiar thing I see in a metro is that everyone is very quite inside. And strangely it has no co-relation with the number of people inside. It is more prominent in case of the underground one. I first observed this in the New York metro or Subway as they call it. We four people – excited to be outside the boundaries of the nation for the first time, were the only ones chatting, clicking photos etc. Apart from us, everyone fell in the category of either eyes on books, eyes closed or eyes gazing randomly at a point with mind somewhere far away. Many of them also had a customary iPod earphone in place. Simply saying, no one was interested in creating much noise there.

I had thought at that time that this cannot be possible in a place like India. Of course till then, I only had the experience of a Mumbai local as a reference point. A few months later I happened to take a metro ride in Kolkata and experienced a similar quietness among the travelers. And now in Delhi, no matter how crowded the train is, a human sound disturbs you only at stations – that too if crowded. Else its only the wheezing sound of the high-speed train moving perilously close to the tunnel walls. People are busy talking to their minds than to some one else. Even when some one tries to break the status-quo, he finds himself against a huge barrier created by the sound of silence. Almost all, even the adamant ones fail to pass the hurdle and soon fall silent feeling odd.

One major reason for lack of voices in an underground metro is the lack of mobile signals. It seems that no connectivity lends a welcome break for people and may be gives them an opportunity for them to reflect inside for sometime. May be that is why the silence is carried on despite the metro moving into the elevated zone. Soon, the destination – the real world beckons. The signals are back and the mobiles go where they belong – on the ears. The metro meanwhile carries on quietly carrying some more silent people close to their self.