The mustachioed, elephant-riding, dainty-looking deity on the right is Viswakarma: God of Technology, Machines, Iron-work, Masonry, Carpentry, and all Trades and Handicraft. His Puja was celebrated on September 17, when we were in Kalimpong, but I have waited until this moment to pay my respects. As I prepare to leave Birpara, thus losing my daily dose of fast, reliable Internet (when there are no blackouts or telephone ministry strikes, that is), I humbly bow my head and give thanks.
Being somewhat of an agnostic, however, I also prostrate myself before 24-year-old Mohan Goyal, the talented, self-taught proprietor of Amazing Solutions Worldnet CafÃ©, which Iâ€™ve been supporting regularly since its grand opening a few days after my arrival in Birpara.
In fact, it is quite astounding that Mohanâ€™s effortsâ€”the results of three years of work, negotiating with the telephone ministry, acquiring the computers and software, etcâ€”coincided with my arrival. I had fully prepared myself to accept the sad reality of zero connectability in Birpara, necessitating the need to travel several hours each way by bus to reach to the nearest dial-up dive. But low and behold, both the Internet-thirsty Tranquilo Traveler AND The First Ever Broadband Connection in the Entire Jalpaiguri District appeared on Birparaâ€™s Mahatma Gandhi Road at the same time. Coincidence?
Maybe. But just in case there are greater powers behind all these intricate and serendipitous workings, in case Mohan (like the rest of us) is merely an earthly vessel acting out the wills of greater forces, I will cover all my bases:
*Viswakarma, May you continue to inspire the engineers of the world, and may all your inventions, R&D, and technology be used for peace instead of war.
*Mohan Goyal: May your business thrive (Lakshmi, God of Wealth and Prosperity in the house, whose Puja is today!) and may Birparaâ€™s new link to the world be a positive rather than merely distracting influence for all its citizens (or at least those who can afford to shell out 50 rupees an hour).
*And to you, my readers, I join my hands in “Namaskar,” thank you for stopping by, and invite you to comment below on the modern travelerâ€™s reliance on the Internet. Explorers of old (i.e. our parents) had no such connection, and their families and friends had to wait years to read accounts of their adventures, rather than hours, as mine do. Good thing? Bad thing? Or just the way it is?