A story set in the ever-charming, long and increasingly rare train journeys where strangers meet and become part of one’s hope, dreams and fear albeit for a moment. It captures beautifully the sound of the last minute rushing in of the families, the smell of hot samosas and chai and the sight of father running to get the sweets and savouries.The inevitable sharing of the same with neighbours as if for that moment the boundaries of the families are readjusted and expanded to accommodate all around and like a perfect gathering of friends sets the stage for a passionate discussion.
There is the family of three with a teenager, on their way to a vacation sharing the compartment with a curious young graduate student and an old seemingly grumpy grandfather. The conversation gets on to a start with sharing of the story of Puhor, a friend of the family who is busy in his world of generating energy out of waste tea leaves and he has a name for his product called Teenergy! In the same line the young adult too shares a story of dhol makers of a tribal community and how they got help from an organization that used renewable energy to set up an ecosystem that helped people to overcome poverty. They quickly connect the lessons of this project with the teenergy, and how the involvement of further research , collaboration of private and government organizations can make this project successful.
The book has two sections filled with thought-provoking topics for young students to take up as a project and apply their creativity and scientific temper to create a sustainable system which is useful to the society.
Like the tadka, it has spluttering of new age parenting tips when the girl says that she is perfectly relaxed and ok to travel before her exams. The grandpa perhaps representing the old-world ways shakes his head in disapproval not once but many times during the journey on various issues pertaining to change. His coming around towards the end of the journey is a nice way of showcasing the openness of all to change when the dialogue is kept open and cordial, an increasingly rare commodity in the world now.
Last but not the least , it also subtly challenges the stereotype of the female member of the family as it mentions that the travel is sponsored by her LTA and her fearless rambling on the fitness of the bus they had boarded to get to the station.
The story beautifully weaves in various social, financial and technical aspects into its tapestry. An innovative way to introduce the youngsters to visualize and experience the many dimensions of change and nudges them to become the change makers.
Raja Perumal has worked in the corporate sector in leardership positions and currently is a leadership coach. He is also on the board of a nonprofit organization which works in the area of innovative educational initiatives.