My friend Surendar and his wife Amritha could be labelled as cent per cent urbanites. They have lived in Bombay all their lives. In fact they dwell in the same two-bedroom apartment where Surendar was born, and has now inherited it from his parents.
Surendar is a brilliant computer technologist and Amritha is an equally accomplished computer programmer. Together they make a fine pair, and are totally immersed in everything that involves the latest in computers.
With their kind of city dwelling, high technology background, it is quite understandable that they know very little about life in rural areas.
They never give a second thought as to where the milk comes from, or the vegetables grown, or eggs produced. All they are content in knowing is that all these agricultural produce could be bought in the local market place.
Ever since we returned to our rural origins in Coorg, we have been persuading Surendar and Amritha to take a break from "bits, bytes and microchips", and spend a few days with us and see the country life. They finally made it last month. It was the first time that they ever lived in a village continuously for a week. The vacation turned out to be quite a memorable one for the couple.
We picked them up at the railway station at Mysore, and during our drive to Coorg through the reserve forest, they kept wondering as to how we managed to live in the jungle! When we reached our house, they couldn't reconcile to the fact that our nearest neighbour lived half a kilometer away. Surendar kept repeating, "Just imagine, no neighbours. Back in Bombay we have them above our roof, below the floor, and on the sides!" Amritha added, "And it is so quiet here!"
The following morning both husband wife complained that they just could not sleep. When we enquired as to what the reason could be, they both attributed it to the "terrible silence!" Amritha added, "It is so quiet, I could hear myself think!" We had to keep the Transistor switched on for the subsequent nights just to produce sufficient noise so that our friends could sleep!
In the days that followed, the couple watched in amazement, the way a cow was milked, the chicken fed, and the vegetable-patch tended. They chorused, "We have read about rural dwelling, but seeing it in real life for the first time is quite an experience."
On the last day of their stay with us, Surendar and I were having our morning cup of coffee on the verandah. Just then the chap who looks after the livestock came and announced that one of the cows was ready to take the bull. He wanted to know whether the offspring should be a Holstein or a Jersey. I decided on Holstein and instructed him to contact the local veterinarian, and make the necessary arrangements.
Surendar, to whom this exchange of words sounded like Greek, wanted to know what was it all about. I had to briefly explain the facts of rural life to him! He was highly intrigued, and wanted to witness it all.
A couple of hours later the vet arrived in his jeep, and started his preparations near the cattle shed. My friend came to watch the event in all eagerness. He then looked rather puzzled, and asked me - "Where is the Bull?" I looked at the vet. The vet, a rather brusque man, took out a thermos flask from his bag, tapped it and said, "In Here!" My friend later confessed that he never felt so sheepish in his life!
Surendar has just e-mailed to say what an unforgettable holiday both he and Amritha had, and has added that it was also one of the most educative!
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