Dec 27, 2010

The Time-Travel Airlines

"The environs are aesthetic and it’s a cool place to work" - this is what prompted Rajeev to opt for a job at the Mumbai airport. Lately, he has been questioning the worth of his job. "Am I really creating any value?", he thought. Giving boarding passes & allotting seats isn't too productive, he felt.

He is a well read person with a keen interest in general knowledge and politics. Rajeev has the habit of reading life journeys of successful people. He has been a big fan of Nandan Nilekani among the other corporate honchos and Dr. B. R. Ambedkar among the political heroes.

He stayed positive and tried to be aware of his daily chores to figure some worth out. One day, an idea struck him. It made him realize that he can be a perfect Puppet Master! That he can produce conversations that otherwise would be left to chances.

He can make a Muslim sit next to a Brahmin, a Priest next to a Model and a 5 year old next to a rock star. He tried this for a while and just imagined the possible discussions which might have happened in the flight. Like he made Mr. Ajay Joshi and Mr. Ashraf Khan sit next to each other and wished that they would constructively discuss about the religion and caste systems in India. The conversations happened, but however interesting they might have been, they could not reach him.

The idea, however, took a safe place in his mind.

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Sleeping one night, he had a weird dream. He worked for the Time-Travel airlines, which sends people in the past to revisit their life. The good part of this dream is that the conversations did reach him, or rather, came through him.

Mr. Nilekani, appeared as a passenger in Rajeev's dream. Mr. Nandan Nilekani (Born 1955) approaches Rajeev to collect the boarding pass of a long flight, going in to the past, from 2010 to 1955. The flight took off. Jon Stewart met Nilekani (in 2009) to discuss about the talk show episode; Dr. Abdul Kalam met in 2006, who congratulated him for the Padma Bhushan feat. Narayan Murthy appeared and appointed him as the CEO of Infosys. Then Nilekani, in his young avatar, received his degree from the then Director of IIT Bombay.

All these conversations were flashes of Nilekani's important milestones of life. But, it was actually Rajeev's knowledge about Nilekani's life history that cobbled up as a dream. The dream till this point was not left to imaginative interpretations, except for an anonymous IIT Director who appeared as a 60 year old, fat, mid-sized man.

The idea kept at the safe place sparked at last. Rajeev made Dr. B.R. Ambedkar sit next to Nilekani.

Dr. B.R. Ambedkar appeared in 1956, an year before Nilekani had to off board the flight. Ambedkar (1891-1956) was not looking well. He held the 1 year old Nilekani in his arms. He looked in to Nilekani's eyes and said "My work involved law making and policy formations. Such vital decisions are taken according to specific time frames. These decision don't hold true forever. Even Gandhi believed in this idea. I know that people will remember me for establishing caste reservations, but i do not want people to be remembered for their castes, not in the India i imagine. Don’t allow the future politicians to use caste reservation for politics, and certainly not for anything that could be a threat to the identity of a united India.”

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Rajeev woke up and kept thinking about what Dr. Ambedkar said in the dream. A few days later, he had another dream. Nilekani appeared again as a passenger of the Time-Travel airlines. Only in this case, the flight was travelling to the future.

The flight took off in 2010. In 2011, Dr. Manmohan Singh congratulated Nilekani for the successful completion of the UID project. In 2012, Rajeev made Ajay Joshi and Ashraf Khan sit next to Nilekani. They took out their Unique Identity Cards and told Nilekani - "Sir, can you please get rid of this "Caste" section from our identity!"


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10 Comments:

Kay said...

Can I just say... i love the idea of this!

to have the power to place unlikely souls next to each other, in chance to be fly on the wall and look back to see what occured??

However, knowingly, it would be fictional... as most are silent today (on flights, that is)...

Vinay Sharma said...

@Kay: .. i appreciate that you like the idea despite not knowing the characters ..

regarding you fictional point .. bingo! .. actually for the same reason i did not make my character come back and remove the caste inclusion in the UID project. The confrontation about this wrong doing also happens in fiction during the future time travel .. after the Hindu & Muslim characters realize that it's for no good.

.. keep visiting

Vinay Sharma said...

@Kay: .. i appreciate that you like the idea despite not knowing the characters ..

regarding you fictional point .. bingo! .. actually for the same reason i did not make my character come back and remove the caste inclusion in the UID project. The confrontation about this wrong doing also happens in fiction during the future time travel .. after the Hindu & Muslim characters realize that it's for no good.

.. keep visiting

Leonardo said...

I was reading this book called Specimen Days by Michael Cunningham, who placed Walt Whitman next to different characters in three different time eras. Beautiful idea, somewhat similar to this. Do read that book if you can. (Michael Cunningham is also the author of The Hours)

Raja Agrawal said...

Too much. Very well put.

I strictly told me parents to say my caste as "Indian" when the people from government come at our house to take the surveys.

We should do something for this.

Vinay Sharma said...

@Leonardo: Good to find you here. I am not too much in to reading but will definitely keep your suggestion in mind!

@Raja: Thanks man. Your first time on my blog? .. nice thought of putting caste as Indian!

Nikhil said...

Brilliant! Refreshing idea for a full-fledged, intelligent TV show I say; much in the melting pot mold like a "Mind Your Language"; only with much darker, satirical possibilities.

Well written :)

Vinay Sharma said...

thanks dude .. keep visiting !

Kshitij said...

Hey, sorry am late. And I would come to read whatever and whenever you write... that's a given.

About the post - am still thinking. The 'base' idea is very nice and strong... the medium, I dont know. Not saying it isn't the best... but I don't know if it is.

Am damn low on gk so obviously got stuck at points... but I could catch the key thought, which was more important.

I'd say this is something new coming from your pen... You don't usually write like this.

Am still thinking. I know stating the obvious was obviously not good enough and a medium (story) was definitely needed.

Vinay Sharma said...

thanx for the elaborate response dude .. i actually agree with you .. the only worry in my mind was that it's getting too long .. so had to cut short at some places ..