Nurturing Young Minds

Nurturing Young Minds

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

6. The Barber Boy and a Billion Children: the Story of an Evolving Dream

Episode 6
The 'Toothpaste Tube Poet'

As soon as the Sunday conference was over, Madhu Mangal’s elder brother, a masseur, arrived. He used to come to me every second Sunday for giving me a body massage. I used to utilizing the massage time for poetry and lyric writing.
Vinita had got used to my queer habits, which according to her were eccentricity, and, according to my better-informed (in my opinion) children, time-management. My wife would earlier arrange only for the necessary things for my massage, but now she would also place a writing board, paper and a pencil on my massage bed. The writing aids would be put to facilitate my writing poetry.
The massage room was next to the living room where Vinita and children sat and chatted, while I took a body massage. I could overhear them occasionally. They were talking mostly about the to-do list for the forthcoming camp, but in-between there were other things talked about too. I could clearly hear my wife telling my children that their father was a 'toothpaste tube poet'. Neither I nor perhaps my children, who were invisible to me at the moment, could make out what was meant by a 'toothpaste tube poet'!  The information interfered with my creative thought process, as I became curious.

"What is a toothpaste tube poet?", asked Prerna.
"When a toothpaste tube is pushed, the paste comes out", she said.
"So?", queried Priyadarshi.
"When the masseur presses your father, poetry comes out."

I could hear all three of them chuckling.

"How funny", I said to myself, and reverted to my half-finished poem, "Eiffel Tower Kaise Bante' ("How Eiffel Towers are Made!"), switching off my auditory functions.
By the time Madhu Mangal’s brother had finished massaging, my poem was nearly complete. I do not pretend to be able to write all my poems or lyrics in an hour's time. But sometimes I almost do! Poetry does not come out of your soul suddenly. A poem is like a drizzle. It takes a good deal of time for the clouds to gather. But they come down on earth in drizzles that may not last long.
The idea of this poem had been gathering for quite some time in my heart and mind, which means, if I would use my wife's phraseology, that the paste was already there inside my mind's tube. It came out quickly when the need arose, and a strong creative pressure built up. The immediate need was to inspire and motivate children in the forthcoming children's camp that made the clouds precipitate.
I have learnt to give vent to my creative poetic urges when I am in a flight or a train, or when I am getting a massage, because different engagements consume all my other time. When I come out of the massage room, I go straight for a bath, and that day was no exception. But as soon as I was out of the bathroom, the poetry recital began, as I joined my three detractors in the living room, who had enjoyed laughter at my expense only a short while ago!
The text of the poetry was later turned by Priyadarshi, whose hobbies have taken him far into graphic designing, into a beautiful picture. I first present the poem's text embedded in a graphic, followed by the text portion cropped for ease of visibility.

The meaning of the poem in English would be somewhat like this:

How the Eiffel Towers are Made!

How are the Eiffel Towers made?
From iron and steel?
No, no! They are made from
The passion to do something big!

How are the Taj Mahals made?
From stones and marble?
No, no! They are made from
Hard work and the power of imagination!

How are the Golden Temples made?
From rocks and gold?
No, no! They are made from
Feelings and sacrifices!
How are the satellites made?
From tools and equipment?
No, no! They are made from
Will power and knowledge!

Will power, intelligence, imagination,
Hard work and passion,
Cannot be bought in the marketplace,
But can only be found within!

With these powers,
We would change the course of time and history!
And with these powers would one day
India be at the top of the world!

This poem was written essentially with children in mind, and it became the anthem for all the future camps for children. 


  1. Please insert the song commentary in English too, so that people could better understand the poem's context?

  2. As advised by you I have redone the write up in MS Word and then pasted it in the post. I think this a better way. English translation is already there now.
    I will be giving the Hindi and English commentaries both in one of the next posts.

  3. Pradeep, I can't read this post - please simplify the blog theme is my suggestion. Simple and clean is best. It is too busy and cluttered at the moment and will put off readers.

    I also suggest you reduce the size of your image at the top. Too jarring and too big. Unnecessary. Have pictures on the side.