Sunday, December 2, 2012

UPDATE


Dear friends,

Even though I haven't written anything in a while, you have all been very much in my mind these past months. Some of you asked me about it, and all of you have chosen to stay with me even though this page has for long been dormant. If time is the measure of anything, then I am proud of this companionship. I am proud of you.

Which is why I feel I owe you an explanation.

In 2010, as I left medical college for Kasaragode, I had already been decided on wanting to appear for the Civil Services Examination. Initially the idea was to prepare for a full year and to attempt the exam of 2011. Yet in my third month of rural service, one fine day I chose to just do it already. Not only did my friend the station master at Manjeswara arrange for a ticket within the hour, (in the only long-distance train having the briefest of stops there), he even watched from the platform and made sure that my rather numerous bags were loaded safely before giving the express train the green signal to proceed! - God bless Him.

I went straight to the town of Palai, a sort of gateway to the eastern highlands of Kerala, even today retaining some of that old world frontier charm and simplicity. There I enrolled and stayed at Pastoral Center of the Church who were giving classes for civil service aspirants. I made many friends there, people from widely different backgrounds as mine, many of whom remain fast friends to this day. I would not have ready net access from that point on until much later.

I moved back to Thiruvananthapuram in June, where I would stay at yet another Church - a church proper, not a hostel - for another two years. Was intented initially to stay for a month, two at most, but then developed such deep mutual respect and affection between me and the people there - priests and laity both - that me, a practicing Hindu, was told that the subsidized rent room was mine 'for as long as I wanted it'! That I had done a substantial part of my education in Christian institutions might've helped, but it also represents a certain conditioning of the heart and mind that one still comes across quite generously in Kerala. From time to time, some of the priests would invite me to their rooms where we would discuss things ranging from Victorian poetry to world politics - where I would often criticize the church's failure to integrate liberation theology into the mainstream discourse. A few other's - mostly college students - who were also staying there would come to look on me as a friendly elder, and would come to my room in the evenings, sometimes also bringing me dinner. Even the lower cadre staff would approach me - sometimes for writing a letter, sometimes for medicines, sometimes simply to gripe about the clergy and the laity. On my part, I always took care to show proper respect and maintain decorum of the place of worship, maintained a low profile generally, even though over the course of my stay there my readings into society and politics would make me even more critical of organized religion.

I wrote the exam in 2010 November, again in 2011 November and attended UPSC interviews in 2011 April at Delhi. I have written one final time in 2012 October and now awaiting results. In the meantime, I have joined Kerala Health Services as Medical Officer on contract at Govt.Hospital half a km away from my home in Punalur.

Somewhere along the way, I stopped taking myself seriously enough to want to write about my many preoccupations. Even otherwise, having chosen to deliberately exclude oneself from the ebb and flow of life, there wasn't much to write about in any case.

Which is why it pleases me no end that you have not given up on me, that many of you might stop to read me if only on your way elsewhere.

Good day.