Flights And Fields

A sophisticated, well dressed gentleman in his checkered shirt sat next to me on an international flight. When we first got talking, he seemed like a regular IT guy from Bangalore, on his way to an onsite project. He was a little sad about leaving his wife and two year old daughter behind, a little nervous about finding his way around on foreign soil and a little excited about the project he was going to work on. He showed me some pictures of his daughter. She was gorgeous. He was to spend her birthday with random strangers on a plane, heading towards an unknown horizon, looking longingly at other children her age.


He hailed from a small town in interior Karnataka. He moved to Bangalore a few years ago for work and left behind his home, parents and the life that a small town had promised. But what surprised me was his distaste for Bangalore. That was the least interesting bit.

I understood quickly that it wasn’t Bangalore that he disliked. It was the lack of small town facilities, small town benefits, the fields, the streets, everything. What he said, with pain brimming his brown eyes, was the love for everything agrarian. He spoke nostalgically about the land his family owned, about how his father toiled in the fields till recently until his health started to deteriorate and how they had leased the land to a relative who hasn’t tended to it the way his father did.


Between announcements from the cabin crew and packeted hot meals, I thought a story was unfolding in front of me. Of a man, who looked ordinary and was going to soon land on foreign soil but spoke of extraordinary attachment to his small town on rustic Indian soil.


A little while before we went our separate ways, I asked him a simple question. And his answer seemed very profound to me. I asked, “So, what next, after your project in the US?” He said, “I don’t know immediately. But in 5 years from now, I will be a farmer.” The well dressed gentleman in his checkered shirt sitting next to me said he will be a farmer. He did not say “he wants to be”. He said “he will be”. I have not heard such conviction in anybody’s plan about what they want to do.


I’m so glad the well dressed gentleman in his checkered shirt, who I thought was the average Indian guy, aspiring for the big American dream, sat next to me. Not only was he an engaging conversationalist, but also happened to be the first aspiring farmer I know.



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