Today was a weekday with a difference. The morning started in it’s usual way with me getting ready for classes while grumbling. After all, who wants to spend all their lives attending classes (For me at 22 and doing my masters, all I have known is classrooms of various sizes, even my earliest memory is that of a school play-room at the age of two and a quarter,when my mother was working, where I was made to spend my days sniveling and trying to unlock the door.
Fortunately today, my mother had planned an outing with my grandmother and was dropping me at college. At about 200 metres from the college gate, while waiting at a traffic signal, I announced that I wouldn’t be attending classes after all and will tag along with them. When my mother told me ‘tagging’ along would mean a lengthy wait at the doctor’s and the jeweler’s, I was somewhat even ready for that. “Okay, drop me at some place nice, while you are at the doctor’s, ” I told her. My grandmother suggested that I should visit the Ram Krishna Mission situated in Golpark (Calcutta). I was unwilling at first, not knowing what exactly to expect from a religious and philosophical institution but I accepted. When I entered the place, it really took my breath away. I hadn’t been to such a serene and calm place before. Yeah I’ve been to serene places, ghats, maths and places of religious allure, but this was something completely different.
Being an institute of culture, it is one of the branches of the world-wide philosophical organisation that receives grants of millions from donors from all around the world, the Ramkrishna Mission,that was founded by Swami Vivekananda in 1897.
The following are a few photographs from one of the most interesting museums I have visited:
And the surprise:
Most of the best things in life are (practically) free:
I wasn’t charged anything for my tour of the place. I was simply directed to the inquiry desk where they told me to visit the meditation hall and the museum and also the centre for languages and the library. The library charges a meager membership fee which is actually next to non-existent and the centre for languages has very reasonably priced courses.
I remember my father had once told me that the best education actually comes for free and I have been drawing corollaries with my life ever since. My schooling and even undergraduate and graduate studies have been practically free as it’s sponsored by the govt and I have to pay a nominal amount.
The National Library (a post on it soon) where I spent a lot of time during my undergraduate years devouring Mythology, Economics, Psychology apart from my subject Biology, has offered me a free membership. I only had to be recommended by a college professor.There used to be students, scholars, writers there, all of them working the whole day, some reading, some taking notes, some simply tapping away at their keyboards and some preparing for exams. There used to be old, retired gentlemen, arriving every afternoon at 3 and sitting till the library finally closed at around 8. I remember having a lot of tea or coffee there. Even the food and beverage were highly subsidized. A cup of coffee costing Rs. 4 (about $0.07) and a cup of tea costing Rs. 3 (about $0.05)
Returning to the cultural centre, I met an artist and a scholar who was working part time at the inquiry desk at the museum. It really was a great place to work part-time. After all, who wouldn’t want to spend their time away from the city crowds while being stationed within the city itself. But since my parents’ place is located ridiculously far, it seemed unfeasible from the point of view of time optimization. So I had to drop the idea and content myself with the plans of visiting the place again when I had my breaks.
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©The Idea Bucket, 2013.