Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Osmania Biscuit XVI--Part-I: Of Martand Rao, Osmania Biscuit, and the Richest Man in the world

How old are we?
And what determines our age?

Of old, elders, especially the aged used to transmit all the knowledge of the world they gained to the younglings by the medium of stories, anecdotes, and fables.

Hence, each region developed its unique culture, traditions, and hence, history. Some cultures were meticulous and wrote this history down as records, but some others like ours believed that history is not something just for historians (also the fact that our history spanned thousands of years).

But history, as a subject is extremely dry for many. Hence, our anscestors discovered a way in which history can be preserved in the minds of every single being. Anecdotes and fables and mythical stories make sure that even the most illeterate person has a hold of history.

It is my contention that the age of a people is determined by that of the oldest stories they carry in their mind. At an individual level, the age of an individual is that of the oldest story the person has.
In this sense, I count Lingam to belong to the generation of no less than my grandfather. He has never read a history book, but has a sence of when something happened, why did it happen, and how it affects us now. And this is not a special quality of Lingam. Its just that the rest of us have forgotten how to be Indians.

One of the past-times of Lingam was sitting with elderly people during late evenings when there were frequent power cuts, and listen to their long tales of their past and extracting history from them. Learning history by doing something called 'reading the books', let alone doing something called "visiting a website" like was something his deeply Indian brain would not comprehend.

When I used to study for my social studies exam, he used to ask, with his innocence, some very disconcerting questions --
"How can you feel what happened just by reading this book?" or
"How does what happened affect you now?" or his favorite
"Are there any eyewitness accounts?"
to which I had really no answer. I had to shoo him off saying I was studying all this because I had to pass the test the next day.

So it was that while I was cramming the now-disproved-but-still-taught Aryan Invasion Theory, the irreverant single line mentions of Satavahanas, Pallavas, and Chalukyas, and the glorified depiction of Otto Von Bismarck's "blood and iron" policy for my exams, Lingam was busy listening to old tales from my Ajji about Martand Rao, about the Richest Man in the World and of course about Osmania Biscuit.

to be continued...

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