|Of Srirangam and Steam Engine Locomotives - VI|
|© 2002 Arunn Narasimhan|
of the "Long before" statements. It keeps me distracted from
the main issue. After reading Parts I through V, you now get the general
idea of how long back it is, that I mean with those "Long before"
statements. I shall now merely narrow it down on the exact years for you.
Clutching a Murphy three-band transistor radio (one of them is a rubber band holding the radio together) and believing the news from it, my parents along with the house owners, sat on the stairs. Three wooden steps above the initial cement steps, which used to be my homework table. In the night, they moved two steps above.
Amidst all of this temporary discomfort in Srirangam, I was enjoying my sleep along with my grandparents, in a comfortable bed in Kodavasal. I later used the aforementioned Godrej bureau as the Showcase for the Dolls during that year's Navarathri Festival. The bottom two shelves housed a park with mustard "trees" grown from the seeds sown in the ever-reliable Cauvery mud.
It was in those times, give or take again a few 'times', we had bullock-carts in Srirangam.
These bullock-carts were the prime luxury carriers for the people to travel from any point A to any other point B through lots of other points in between, all of them inside Srirangam.
At this point of time, a formal description of these bullock-carts, in line with the content of this essay, is in order. I describe a bullock cart formally, technically and succinctly as:
A bullock cart is bull locked to a cart through its second 'l'.
Reflect a moment. If you feel the above description is profound but I am silly, I certainly disagree with you. I think the description is silly. Anyway, instead of the above, substitute in your mind, the mundane description in the following paragraph, if you like it that way. While you are at it, replace the "At this point of time" in the beginning of the earlier paragraph with a "Now" as well. I am fighting to improve my writing, which got spin-doctored by the political euphemisms of the USA.
(Oops! please replace "political euphemisms" in the previous sentence with "clutter")
A bullock cart is made of a cart, some bullocks with bells around their necks, a man-driver with a lash, and a hurricane light. In addition, it is accompanied usually with lots of dung, hay, straw, jute and their odor.
Let's now go in parts, briefly.
I assume you all know what a cart is. If not, it is one of those jittery contraptions with two wooden wheels supporting a deck with patented straw-cushioned, jute-cloth covered seats, covered by an inverted U roof. The inside of the roof is studded with some dark tree-lizards wondering who in the hell the upside-down you is.
When resting on the back of a (pair of) bullock(s), these carts are used to teach the elderly village folks, the Lever Rule or the law of balancing of weights. The same rule that I accidentally learnt, along with some other words like fulcrum, pulley, mechanical action etc., after enough education in the Boys Higher Secondary School of Srirangam. This is a school, as you may notice, that stated the obvious, right from its name (to honor their equal rights, we also have a Girls Higher Secondary School of Srirangam).
Proceeding with the cart, when detached from the bullocks, the same cart is used by the children of these elderly village folks, to learn the lever rule (notice the small letters), by playing seesaw on the crossbar in the front. Without having to remember 'fulcrum' and 'mechanical action'.
These children while feeling "happiness," I noticed, were in general, happier than me.
Following the advice of these children, in my later years, I learnt to solve intuitively the differential equation of the projectile, every time while running to catch the cricket ball that's fast approaching the ground.
To be continued...