The Boatman and the Scholar


Professor: Damn and blast! I’m already ten minutes and 15 seconds late and I can’t find a bridge across this ruddy river! India. Huh! What kind of god forsaken place is this? I suppose I’ll have to find a boat to take me across. Let me ask that simple peasant Excuse me simple peasant, can you tell me where I can find a boat to take me across this confounded river?
Peasant: You can ask Bala sir. He is taking a nap under that tree over there.
Professor: Excuse me old chap, are you Bala the boatman?
Bala: Yes yes.
Professor: I have to cross the river as soon as I can.
Bala: Accha!
Professor: Swiftly lead me to your boat. Come on, I’m in a hurry.
Bala: Here it is, sir.
Professor: Where?
Bala: Just here sir.
Professor: I say, do you expect me to climb onto that piece of wood?
I’m not going to be seen dead in that! It will probably sink half way across the river!
Bala: No no sir! This boat is very safe. Only the other day I got my uncle and auntie and their eight children to squeeze in. No trouble! And yesterday I had a farmer, a herd of two camels and three cows, four babaji’s, and my mother in-law on top! And she is at least 200 kg’s!
Professor: Really? By Jove! Well, I suppose I don’t have any choice in the matter.
Bala: But now it is too dangerous to cross the river sir. There’s a storm coming up.
Professor: A storm? Rediculous! It’s beautiful weather! There’s not a single cloud in the sky!
Bala: I’m telling you, there’s a storm coming up! Trust me sir. Remember it’s the rainy season.
Professor: I’ll pay you 20 rupees! Thirty! All right I pay you fifty!
Bala: OK. Climb in sir. Govinda jaya Gopala jaya jaya.
Professor: Hurry up will you? I haven’t got all day!
Bala: Do not worry sir.
Professor: Do not worry? Do not worry? Don’t you know who I am? I am professor Swatalot, BA , Phd, MA, MAD. I’m making the opening speech today at the University on the subject of science and rational, logical thinking!
Bala: Oh very nice sir. You are very important. Govinda jaya jaya Gopala jaya jaya
Professor: What about you? Have you been to university old chap?
Bala: O no sir.
Professor: Polytechnic? One of those engineering sandwich. courses?
Bala: No sir.
Professor: You have a few ‘A’ levels under your belt I hope?
Bala: But I’m not wearing belt sir.
Professor: No, no I didn’t mean that. I meant uh uh. Ah it doesn’t matter. So you haven’t studied at all? Can you actually read?
Bala: No sir, I can’t. But I do listen to the pandits reciting Mahabharata or Bhagavat Sapta.
Professor: Those old folk tales! Piffle! That’s not study. T. T. You can’t read You can’t study. You know you have wasted 25% of your life? Do you hear me? 25%!
Bala: 25% O, I’m very sorry to hear that sir. O look Professor! Look, it’s Surabhi!
Professor: Surabhi? Where? What?
Bala: Surabhi, my pet cow sir. She’s just over there standing by the bank of the Ganga. Surabhi! Haribol! She has probably walked from the village to get a little water to drink.
Professor: Why don’t you keep her fenced off in a field or something?
Bala: O no sir. The cow is our mother You don’t keep your mother fenced off.
Prof: (to himself) I wish I could! Anyway I can’t see anything special about the cow.
Bala: That’s because you are too busy eating them!
Professor: And why not? A cow is a meal on four legs as far as I’m concerned. The only decent cow is one inside a big juicy hamburger! Hmm!
Bala: Please sir! Please! I have never eaten animal flesh. And what to speak of eating a cow, who is just like our mother, providing us with milk, from which we can make gee, dahi, lassi.
Professor: Hmm! You’re one of those vegetarians I see. T.T. It is time for you chaps to become civilised like us.T.T.T. You have just wasted 50 % of your life!
Bala: 50% Sir? I’m very sorry to hear that sir.
Professor: And so you should. So you should. Hmm. Now be quiet. I have to practice my university speech. Hmmm. Errrhumm. My Lords. ladies and gentlemen, we are all gathered here today in the name of science and rational thinking….no….Welcome everyone. I Prof. Swotalot am deeply honoured to have been chosen to make. No Lords, ladies and gentlemen, science is a concept in itself, and we stand at the brink of a brave new world. No….(boatman starts chanting) I say, can you be quiet please? I’m trying to rehearse my speech on rational and logical thinking and I can’t concentrate when you sing these absurd songs.
Bala: My song is not absurd!! I’m chanting the Lord’s Holy Names sir! It makes me happy.
Professor: You still believe in God do you?
Bala: O yes sir, of course!
Professor: T.T. I say, how out of touch you are! Shall I tell you how it all happened? How it all began? Well you see, one day a long long time ago there was this mighty explosion. BANG!
Bala: Krishna!
Professor: It was called the Big Bang you see. Then, as time went by, planets like the earth formed, and one vast primordial soup dominated the earth’s surface. It was dark brown, slushy and full of all kinds of bits and pieces, you see.
Bala: Ah! Urad dahl!
Professor: Hush! In the shoup (Gets frustrated) In the soup were molecules which came together by chance to form cells which reproduced, you see. After a time, some cells came together and made fish. The fish mated, and their children’s children’s children crawled onto land you see. Yes! Then they grew and grew and later they became dinosaurs! Ahhhh!
Bala: Oh. Your fairy story is scaring me baba.
Professor: When the dinosaurs died out, little furry creatures took over and some climbed up trees and became monkeys!
Bala: Hanuman ki jaya!
Professor: Hush! Some of the hanumans (Gets annoyed) Look stop interrupting. Some of the clever monkeys climbed down the trees again and they stood up straight. These were the first primitive humans. The most civilized and intelligent of these migrated into Europe you see. However, the best ones of all became the English and some quite good ones with a little less intelligence went to America. The elite of the English went to Oxford and Cambridge, and of those, the best went to Oxford.
Bala: And which one did you go to sir?
Professor: Why, Oxford of course and some of us wrote all about the wonderful theory of Evolution! How man descended from the monkey!
Bala: Your grandfather may have been a monkey sir, but mine certainly wasn’t!
Professor: Ha! You don’t know anything do you? If you don’t believe in evolution then you have wasted 75% of your life. You hear! 75%!
Bala: Govinda jaya Gopala jaya jaya.
Professor: I say, it’s starting to rain! Get a move on will you, all my notes are getting wet!
Bala: I’ll go as quickly as I can sir.
Professor: This is not quick enough, Hurry! Oh, what the devil! (He tries to cover his notes) O no! The rain is getting worse!
Bala: Govinda jaya jaya Gopala jaya jaya.
Profesor: My God, the boat is filling up! The boat is filling up! Look there’s a small hole in one corner!
Bala: Give me your finger sir! Quick sir! (He puts the scholar’s finger in the hole)
Very good! Now keep your finger in the hole sir
Professor: What? Stay on my hands and knees at the bottom of a wretched boat? Who do you think I am!
Bala: Please keep your finger in the hole sir!
Professor: I am Professor Swatalot BA Ma Phd!
Bala: Don’t sir! We’re nearly across!
Professor: Ah that’s better. Now I’m much more comfortable.
Bala: Please put your finger back, otherwise we’ll sink sir!
Professor: Stop moaning man! Just just row faster will you!
Bala: Govinda jaya Gopala jaya!
Professor: O no the water is spurting in! The hole must have become bigger. O no my notes, my notes!!!
Bala: We’re sinking! We’re sinking! We have to swim sir! I’m going. (Jumps) Now you sir, come on, the bank’s not far away! Swim!
Professor: Swim? Swim? But I can’t swim! O no my notes!
Bala: Do the doggie-paddle sir!
Professor: I can’t! Blub blub Help! I’m drowning! Help! Blub blub. My notes! My notes! Blub blub!
Bala: You can’t swim ? You can’t swim sir? If you can’t swim you have wasted 100% of your life sir!
Professor: Help! Help me! Please!
Bala: I better help him. (Jumps back in the river) Oh, you’re heavy sir. (They reach land)
Professor: (Regains consciousness. Coughs) Where where am I?
Bala: Haribol!
Professor: What happened? O no, my speech! My notes! My notes!
Bala: My boat! My boat!
Professor: You saved my life. I don’t know what to say.
Bala: My boat. My boat.
Professor: I’m sorry about your boat old chap. Here take this. (He hands him laksmi) I think this will be enough for a new boat.
Bala: O thank you sir. Haribol!
Prof: Haribol.