The Kaleidoscopic prism

Dr Aniruddha Babar *

I remember a conversation I had with a dear friend of mine. We were having a lavish dinner at one well known Chinese Restaurant in South Mumbai located near Marine Drive at Churchgate. As we were busy chitchatting a waiter (with a red uniform, a cap and typical Mongolian eyes) came to serve a soup, my friend looked at him and asked mischievously if he is really from China.

He did not answer, he asked his name, he said 'Jigme', he stubbornly probed further and asked him the meaning of his name, he gave a dry smile, bowed and silently went away. While my friend was playing a joke on that poor Tibetan fellow, I kept looking at him with anger. I immediately blasted out,
"Hey Man, have you gone bonkers or what?, how can you asked somebody such stupid and highly derogatory questions, wasn't that insulting to his honour"?
"I was just joking dude, was trying to know him!

"Hell with your joke, he is a human being, isn't that enough for your cruel curiosity"?....

Many years have lapsed after that incident. My friend's words are still ringing in my ears. As a child and also as a grown up man I never understood the fascination that humanity has developed to labelled out the people. The notion of "us and them" was beyond the grasp of my little brain.

I looked around, it's almost 8.30 at night, and it seems the local trains are running late tonight. I picked up the chair on the platform of CST Railway station and started observing the crowd. Mumbai is indeed a city of dreams, I thought to myself. People come from every corner of India to play a gamble with their life. Some win. Some lose. But nobody goes back empty handed. Mumbai gives something to everyone…hopes, lessons, questions, answers, love, hatred, scars….

Life as a young Criminal Lawyer has been good and challenging so far. More than money the experiences that I have gathered matter the most for me. Experiences, given by people-good, bad, ugly help you to become a better human being in truest sense.

But some experiences are enigmatic, complex, they make you restless, they make you challenge the truth of your own existence in the society, they compel you to look at yourself from the top of the distant mountain- like the experience that I had while my friend was literally pulling the leg of that poor waiter. Thoughts were clouding mind as I was wiping sweat off my face sitting on a cold steel chair at the Railway Platform.

Few months back at crowded Andheri Railway Station I met Adriana Chatterjee, a Free-Lance photographer who was then busy early in the morning in randomly clicking pictures of people, and I was running frantically on the foot-bridge to cross it fast to reach the Andheri Magistrate court in time. Within a blink of an eye I dashed her.

We both slipped on the floor, her camera flew away; must have got broken. My bag had fallen down and like a fool even in that highly embarrassing situation a question came out of my mouth-
"Clicking pictures, why"?
"Searching identities", a swift reply came.
"Sorry, need to leave; take my card." I muttered, took my bag and ran away.
At evening at 5'o clock on that same day a call came.

"Mister, are you the one who dashed me in the morning, broke my cam and ran away..huhh?'
"I had to, I apologise for what has happened in the morning ma'am but sometimes you cannot control certain things.' I politely replied.

"That's OK, but for now I need to meet you to steal your purse to repair this poor thing. She giggled."
And we decided to meet at Andheri station, at the same point where destiny dashed us.
After formal introduction, I asked her about her photography adventure of the morning. She told me that she is trying to understand the society through her third eye-the Camera.

"Is it possible to understand the world through lenses?" I asked.
"I think so, that is why I said in the morning that I am searching for identities. World is not made up of people but identities, living, burning identities."

"There cannot be identity unless I take up one." I argued.

"That's subtle, your society is your identity, your history is your identity, this struggle for survival is your identity, you run to reach to the court in time is your identity, you eat-sleep-make merry is your identity, in the crowded train you becoming the part of it becomes your identity. I am embracing those identities in my lenses. These are visible identities, easy to understand. However, there are invisible identities too- not so easy to understand."

"Ha, invisible identities. Interesting! Are you talking about Ego, Status and Power?"
"Not the way you understand, it is much more than that and I know, I am playing a safe game by not venturing in this invisible world of identities. For I know, there is no coming back."

Adriana was becoming philosophical. It was too much to stand in the corner of a busy foot-bridge and discuss philosophy.
"I want to know more about what you say."
"Then wait for me, someday I may return to the same place Aniruddha."

"Are you going?"
"Yeah, today's my last day of shoot; I need to catch a late night flight."
"And camera? Its broken na…"
"I threw that away….."

How much did I know about Adriana whom I met in the morning by accident? We talked. She was in search of identities…visible ones. Reluctant to enter into the world of invisibles. What could that be?

I was lost in thoughts; suddenly an announcement of the arrival of train was made. Since the trains were running late, the local platform of Chhatrpati Shivaji Terminus turned into a battle field. I had to really push myself in to catch a prize- the fourth seat! What a relief. Only true Mumbaikar could understand and cherish the pleasure of sitting on the fourth seat in local train.

The 'Gladiators' outside the train on battlefield of platform; suddenly become very friendly, pacified, polite and harmless creatures once they get a place in a train compartment. My compartment though crowded was indeed breathable. Four people were sitting right in front of me on the opposite seat. It seems three of them were known to each other but the fourth one was a stranger- just another commuter, like me.

Train started. People started chitchatting. I was trying my best to adjust myself on the fourth seat with a bag on lap. Those three people started talking with the fourth one who is directly sitting opposite to me on the fourth seat. Being a man of observant nature, I started observing them.

"Namaskar, are you comfortable na, what to do these days trains are running late hence the crowd. Normally at this time the crowd is less. My name is Sashidhar, and here meet my friends Rohit and Jignesh." ….Third person who has been sitting next to the stranger introduced himself and his friends in a friendly and cheerful tone.

"Namaskar." A reply came. Nice to meet you, my name is Nitesh Kapadille."
"Nitesh Ji, nice to meet you. Me and my friends are working together at Bombay stock exchange. Hectic job u see."

"Yes, I do understand. Though I am not an investment guy I can very well understand your situation."
"So nice of you. Where do you work Sir?"

"Well, I am a Foreign Language Consultant. I work for an International Language Consultancy Firm. Normally, I avoid traveling by train, since I live nearby at Prabhadevi. It seems, everything gone wrong today. Had my day, finally!"

"Certainly Sir. We all have the days of salt and pepper..heheheheeh... Jignesh giggled and continued… "It seems you are not from Mumbai."
"True, I am from 'Buldhana'."
"Mumbai welcomes everyone. Hehehehheeh…Jignesh giggled again."

"But Sir, what did you say your surname is?"
Its Kapadille !
Unique Sir. Umm…Kapadille; Rohit was scratching his head…and asked, "Never heard of it before. I have many friends from your region but never heard this surname."
Yeah, possible. A cold reply came.

"Sir which community do you belongs to? Rohit probed again. I was observing the direction of conversation."
"Excuse me?"
"Hehehhehe…Jignesh giggled, you have good sense of humour sir." The conversation seemed endless. A sweat gathered on my forehead.
"Thank You." A cold reply came.

"I believe, this surname comes in General Category Sir."
"Yes it does." A sharp reply loaded with anger came.
"Oh how nice, by the way what is your Caste Sir?

There was cold silence in the compartment except the noise of train. In today's world in a global city like Mumbai this question is enough to make people feel awkward. Suddenly a reply came, Kapadille was speaking in a bit sad but confident tone.

"I believe, everyone who has gone beyond the identity of caste is from General Category irrespective of their social genesis, I am a part of that category which believes in just and fair society, a category of a common man who toils every day to earn bread and butter to feed hungry stomach. Reserved are those who are reserved, crippled in their thinking, the narrow minded ones, who are still trapped in illusions and delusions irrespective of their social roots.

I was born in a family that never introduced me to my caste, so what I write on the paper or the government stamp that I get is as immaterial as what you think about me and my possible root. We are living in 21st century; we have come a long way Brothers.

The old invisible caste identities are now diluted and new castes like-Engineer, Doctor, Lawyer, Military Officer, Pilot, Teacher, Language Consultant, Model, Entertainer, Writer, Poet, Artist etc. are born. Hence, by Caste I am a Foreign Language Consultant and I belong to the community of Foreign Language Experts, born and brought up in India having Marathi as a Mother tongue. – This is my social identity."

I was stunned after hearing these words. Are we all victims of our past? Are we all eternal slaves of our own negative mindset? Is this the reason why I got angry on my friend when he cracked joke on waiter? Is this what Adriana was talking about- the invisible identities? Have we reduced ourselves to the nation of ignorant puppets of political undercurrents of culture?

Have we forgotten the human nature of man? Have we forgotten that we all share the same blood and flesh? Have we forgotten that we all are sometimes good-bad and ugly? Have we forgotten that LOVE and COMPASSION is the ONLY answer? Have we forgotten that we are Human Race?.....have we forgotten that we are one?

Incidents of Caste Violence, Rapes, Communal Riots…….started slipping off before my eyes. Kapadille denied giving a direct answer to the most inappropriate and threatening question. But, will the question die its own natural death? Incidents of the murders, rapes, ostracization and discrimination of Dalits and Tribals are occurring behind the constitutional safeguards.

The political voice of Dalits has been muffled. The ghosts of Poona Pact of 1932 caused irreparable damage to the political rights of the depressed classes. The tribals of the northeast have been negotiating with unending battle of identity on daily basis.

Underneath the words of development, progress, justice, equality, liberty and fraternity there lurking a cruel face of system which is least bother about the ground realities of society.

Sorrows too have a right to dissent ….just like a steam-whistle of yesteryear Trains that would react to the pulling pressure of the 'CORD'. We are trapped in strange Kaleidoscopic Prism! Train's whistle and my restless mind gone lost somewhere in oblivion.

* Dr Aniruddha Babar wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is Asst. Professor, Dept. of Political Science,, Tetso College
This article was posted on February 06, 2020 .

* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.

  • Students @ Class XII Exam #2 : Gallery
  • School Phagathanshi : No-dearth-of-fund
  • Conference on Material Science at Tripura Univ
  • 495 jobs at National Informatics Centre (NIC)
  • AMP organizes National Convention
  • Save ocean environments for humanity
  • 4th Guwahati International Music Festival
  • Imphal-Mandalay bus service
  • Restructuring the Attitude
  • Lui-ngai-ni, Naga festival @Ukhrul #2 : Gallery
  • Gender equity & human rights pivotal for SDGs
  • RK Alex: Painter who just got his biggest break
  • Fresco of Void :: Poem
  • More options @ food technology
  • Defunct irrigation facilities & farmers' income
  • The dilemma in parliamentary reporting
  • GoI, WC on threshold of signing Naga solution
  • Ongoing Class X, Class XII exams
  • Mukna Kangjei -Indigenous game : Gallery
  • Sangai Festival [Nov 28] #1 : Gallery
  • The Sunshine :: Poem
  • Development of new laboratory tests
  • Warmth of selfless heart
  • Shopping List - Shivaratri #1 : Gallery
  • CRT TV - Our Travelling Companion
  • A Morsel of Food :: Peom
  • Naga Political Settlement
  • Cannabis in epilepsy
  • 2019 Review: Ministry of Social Justice
  • Judicious journalism for good governance
  • Bangladeshki Sana Tampha #1 :: eRang
  • Lannganba, Shangrina, Changpombi: eMing
  • Beauty in the Dark :: Poem
  • Naga Peace Process :: News Timeline
  • Speaker Sir SC is divided on defections
  • Northeast Music Conference at Guwahati
  • Ways to use garlic for long, lustrous locks
  • Outcome of 'taken note of' camps
  • Committing crime against nature
  • Students @ Class XII Exam #1 : Gallery
  • 13th Mega Marathon Manipur #1 : Gallery
  • Maha Shivratri - Brahma Kumaris concept
  • Understanding dementia #2
  • Once in a billion
  • Are provisions of CAA, 2019 discriminatory ?
  • Leaking question papers of Class XI
  • Coronavirus: no case reported from Myanmar
  • Lui-ngai-ni, Naga festival @Ukhrul #1 : Gallery
  • Exploring horticultural avenues of Manipur
  • GPS : For Real Time Geo-location
  • Birds at Dusk :: Poem
  • Small banks: Operational soundness a must
  • Addressing traffic congestion in Imphal
  • Conversion of diesel engine with electrified..
  • Mizoram: Highest HIV/AIDS prevalence rate
  • Manipur Legislative Assembly Building : Gallery
  • 71st Indian Republic Day #6 : Gallery
  • Rohan Philem : Cycle ride at Delhi
  • Career in food technology
  • Women Entrepreneurs from North east India
  • Workshop: High Energy Physics, IIT Guwahati
  • Nambul, Kongba in the list of infamous 60
  • Limitation of freedom sometime required
  • A remarkable journey of a Thang-Ta exponent
  • Day 4 : Sangai Fest #3 : Gallery
  • Education & Teachers in Manipur
  • Its all about learning
  • Manipur- 6 medals at NSG Fencing at Gujarat
  • Coronavirus - A grave threat
  • Class X examination has started !
  • Modi's romance with NE states
  • NE has 60 most polluted river stretches
  • Eepan Thaba -birth ceremony : Gallery
  • Flood Light at Khuman Lampak : Gallery
  • List of nominees : Manipur Film Awards 2020
  • Extending ILP to Manipur Needs A Review
  • The great cosmic discovery - IX
  • 36th Central Conference of ICI at Jiribam
  • Festival with a significant message
  • Sirarakhong Hathei Phanit #2 : Gallery
  • Eyek Tamba :: Learn Manipuri script
  • Understanding dementia #1
  • The Old Man in the Afternoon :: Poem
  • Nurturing Peace
  • Historic Bodo Accord: Beginning of an era
  • Atrial Flutter treated with Radio Frequency
  • Condolence & prayer meeting held
  • Is accepting gift by newsperson unethical
  • Fashion Show @ Sangai Fest #2 : Gallery
  • 71st Indian Republic Day #5 : Gallery
  • Lui-Ngai-Ni - Naga Seed Sowing Fest
  • Revelation for the new decade
  • Beneath our hearts :: Poem
  • Makhol : Discussing Arts
  • Online for Inner Line Permit
  • Redefining mob violence
  • Wakching Thagi Sanarei #1 :: eRang
  • For the Love of Valentine
  • Inner Line Permit (ILP) Demand : Timeline
  • Teach a Topic : Online Competition
  • Valentine's Day beauty tips
  • Street Vendor Restriction: Violation of Art 21
  • Community Radio Awareness Workshop - NE
  • School Fagathansi Mission: on Govt school
  • Re-thinking of the serious wrong
  • Amur Falcon Fest @Tamenglong #1 : Gallery
  • Wetlands & biodiversity: Promote actions..
  • Sexual & reproductive health key to SDGs
  • Maddening power of Dili
  • Nagaland BJP leaders joined NPF
  • 2019 review: Ministry of Renewable Energy #2
  • Enacting a farce, MPP style: Comical caricature
  • The silence breaks
  • Dzukou Valley Landscape #2 : Gallery
  • Day 4 : Sangai Fest #2 : Gallery
  • Can we dream of achieving Vision-2020 ?
  • The Ant :: Poem
  • Pulok Mukherjee take charge as Director IBSD
  • The Bodo Accord and after
  • Reqts at Birla Emporiums, Khurai
  • Third time in office for the AAP
  • Govt should stop harassing media
  • Thang Ta at JNMDA #1 : Gallery
  • pNTOgi peraH :: Seireng
  • Bodo accord: A hope for peace and stability
  • Endangered Legal Systems #2
  • A Wintery Song :: Poem
  • Career options in textile industry
  • Weekly Mao Market at Imphal
  • Education should eradicates superstition
  • Sirarakhong Village, Ukhrul : Gallery
  • National Master Athletics : Gallery
  • Dramas in Higher Education
  • Has Govt overlooked Bipartite Settlement?
  • RIST Talk -43 : Nobel Prize in Physics 2019
  • Cannabis in Parkinson's disease
  • Heed appeal of Chairman of COHSEM
  • Accord after IM cadres return from Myanmar
  • Nongmadi : Synopsis of the Shumang Leela
  • 71st Indian Republic Day #4 : Gallery
  • Investment on research & development
  • From Dawn till Dusk :: Poem
  • National Lok Adalat at Lamphel Court
  • India unites on wrong issues
  • Gandhari -Dance Drama #3 : Gallery
  • TwaI na_AosuM :: Seireng
  • Political will to solve climate crisis
  • Product Validation & Quality Control Training
  • Changemakers in Bio-Pharma : Lecture
  • Honey for radiant skin
  • NE ignored for many years stand of PM
  • The changing face of RIMS
  • Phisakol - Film Scenes #1 :: eRang
  • World Tourism Day at Noney #6 : Gallery
  • Dr Ng Brajachand - Reminiscence ...
  • The Strange Boy :: Poem
  • Reqts at PR Enterprises, Khurai
  • Interior Designer at Hatil Furniture
  • Need to restrict cross border interactions
  • The mental equation
  • Hentak - Indigenous Food Fest #2 : Gallery
  • Business Correspondent Model :: Book
  • Endangered Legal Systems #1
  • The great cosmic discovery - VIII
  • The Kaleidoscopic prism
  • Living in the age of nCoV & Swine Flu
  • Bloody battle for greed
  • Agaki Waterfall @ Tamei : Gallery
  • 71st Indian Republic Day #3 : Gallery
  • Community Policing in Manipur
  • Knitwear design as career option
  • Budget & wealth creation in Manipur
  • Visions sans missions & North East India
  • Free Speech & Expression in a Debacle
  • Apple Farm @ Kumbi : Gallery
  • Day 4 : Sangai Fest #1 : Gallery
  • World Wetlands Day 2020
  • Thounaojam Niranjoy breaks 'world record'
  • Discipline and students
  • 2019 review: Ministry of Renewable Energy #1
  • Academic activities paralyse in College
  • Yoga Instructor Training by MIT
  • FIR against MPSC
  • Manipur's Theatre is facing a dark time
  • NE festival to promote culture in Thailand
  • Highest priority accorded to NE in Budget
  • Maibam Nabakishore : Play-wright :: Profle
  • Right to die for people, terminally ill
  • Communities along Barak River #3: Gallery
  • Suresh Huidrom: Natl Architecture Award
  • The Chirp of a Sparrow :: Poem
  • India's last Governor-General
  • Vanishing wetlands: Anthropogenic pressures
  • Coronavirus prevention @ Moreh : Gallery
  • Tribute Rock Concert for (L) Hegin #3 : Gallery
  • Degradation of wetlands in Manipur
  • Tansen plays at Darbar
  • Water scarcity & stress
  • Computational Thinking (CT): Education
  • People have every right to know...
  • Maibi Jagoi @ JNMDA : Gallery
  • Novel Coronavirus outbreak : WHO
  • February Calendar for Year 2020 : Tools
  • Manipur : Champion at Vovinam National
  • CAT rank predictor: for an MBA aspirant
  • Delhi Fashion Club launched in Mumbai
  • MSAB Literary Meet at Benguluru
  • Sports- Making it to news for right reason
  • Judiciary on the rescue Indian Constitution
  • Mr. Khadang #1 :: eRang
  • 71st Indian Republic Day #2 : Gallery
  • Soraisam Keshoram : Natyabhusan (Drama)
  • Chasing a wonderland :: Poem
  • Manipur champion at 16th Sr Natl Jump Rope
  • Admission- Public Health Foundation of India
  • The Killing Fields 2013-20 : News Timeline
  • Padma Vibhushan for Mary Kom
  • The Changing face of Imphal Times
  • Conservation initiatives of Hornbills #2
  • Day 6 : Sangai Fest #2 : Gallery
  • Call for Proposal- Biotechnology Ignition
  • A Picnic by the Pond :: Poem
  • Year review: Min of Rural Development #2
  • Mumbai International Film Festival 2020
  • Nail care tips
  • Coronavirus: How prepared is Manipur ?
  • CMHT needs to be reviewed
  • 71st Indian Republic Day #1 : Gallery
  • Khangminashi - VI: Gallery
  • Custodial Death
  • Golden opportunity for a Speaker
  • Khangminashi - VI, Talk Series :: Report
  • 1000 trained in Fish Processing
  • Supports agitation call by CAF & PD Labourers
  • Medical camp at Thenjang, Churachandpur
  • Peace pact signed with the NDFB
  • A better and inclusive alternative
  • Gaan-Ngai at Kakhulong #2 : Gallery
  • Tribute Rock Concert for (L) Hegin #2 : Gallery
  • Glass Painting by Khusbu: Gallery
  • Day 6 : Sangai Fest #1 : Gallery
  • Aerial- Imp to Tamenglong #2: Gallery
  • 28th Imphal Book Fair #2 : Gallery
  • Of our Responsibility and our Rights
  • Imoinu Erat Thouni #2: Gallery
  • Gaan-Ngai @Chingkham Kabui Khul: Gallery
  • Cultural @ Shirui Lily Fest #4 : Gallery
  • Thong Nambonbi broke apart: Gallery
  • New Year picnic @Singda Dam : Gallery
  • Featured Front Page Photo 2019 #6: Gallery
  • Tolloi, Ukhrul :: 360 Panorama View