The Hindi session about the travel and travel writings in India was held in the ONGC Lawns. The speakers for Yatra, Tatra Yayavari were Ajoy Sodani, who is not only a doctor but also a writer who writes about his travels, and Ramsharan Joshi, a journalist and writer, who were in conversation with Jaiwanti Dimri, who is also a writer in Hindi and English.
The conversation began with Joshi explain the title of his book, ‘Main Bonsai Apne Samay Ka’. Bonsai is a Japanese plant which survives for years but never grows bigger than a small shrub, thus enabling people to keep it as a plant for show. He says the comparison of his life with that of a Bonsai is a political, social and cultural metaphor. He began narrating the ‘rags to riches’ story of his life from starting with his childhood as a child labourer, often doing odd jobs like throwing newspapers to becoming a journalist. The birth, he says, can’t be controlled by an individual but the ultimate fate of our lives can be decided by us. In his later years, he came up with an idea of creating a utopian society where nobody would be poor and everybody would be satisfied with their work. His book talks about this idea how he was successful in bringing it to life. The book can also be seen as his autobiography, where he tries to mirror the society, he lived in. in the book he has compared the demographics of various countries to arrive at the best structure for a harmonious living. Joshi also talked about his life when he was posted in Bastar and how he learnt about the Adivasis living in that area. It gave him a different approach to the view he looked at India. Here he learnt that the government should work on a liberal layout and that the nation would flourish if the reigns of governance are given to the bureaucracy, with certain constraints. This is idea of governance shows his interest in the works of Sri Lal Shukla who also beleieved in giving bureaucracy a major chunk of authority and power. In the end he speaks how the title of his book reflects his inability to bring any major change, just like a Bonsai.
Ajoy Sodani, who happens to be a doctor by profession, has written the book, ‘Darakte Himalaya Par Dar-Badar’. He started with how Adivasis are different from the majority of the people and their knowledge of things mainly consists of natural functions. The language they speak may be older than most other languages in the world. Because of the lack of organised script, these languages use oral communication to share their stories. Thus, most of these stories are lost in the transmission from one person to another. In the end most the stories are classified into the fictional or fantasy category. Some stories find their to the larger mythology, while some remain as unpopular folklores told by the older generations. Sodani has compiled all such stories into a collection of myths and legends from and around India. He eventually tried to deconstruct the myths and legends and given them meanings of larger showing them as interpretations of the then society at large.
The session had a very attentive audience and had everoen captivated witht the stories of the speakers travelling to distant lands. The ‘rags to riches’ story of Ramsharan Joshi and the interpretations of the tribal myths by Ajoy Sodani, their talks certainly was enjoyed by all.