We said good bye to Brno and 5 days seemed to just breeze out. Time is a strange person, waits at leisure in Brno, he allows you every second of sensation and feeling and then he seems to just magically drift. And he drifted and so did we.. The town that seemed unknown when we dragged those bags to the hostel now seemed like a dear much loved homeland we were dragging it away from. We were very different persons 5 days ago for sure now Brno is a very beautiful part of us nestled somewhere safe.. But Brno was so much more than beers and merriment. Like its beautiful architectural balance it also gave us almost a split existence as individuals, scholars and learners by the day and young carefree persons by the evening, it’s a heady mix. But among the many important things that Brno left us with or rather the conference did was the mind numbing realization of what we have and what we have taken for granted so very long. We have roots, very ancient ones, the ones we only feel fleetingly proud of but the ones we don’t care to study. Like the many things we tend to not appreciate we have for far too long not appreciated Sanskrit language, the importance of scholastics and the power of true education and preferably in your mother tongue.
The conference gathering was a queer mix of people. All scholars, all from different parts of the world, all studying something different and all who have been studying it for years together... We discuss and debate and present put up theories most of which a child like me (child in the gathering of seniors by age, stature, approach, education and of course learner's attitude) barely understood. But one thing was clear to understand, people here study! Not for an exam or conference, but actually study something from the deep and incurable need to know and understand. They crave roots, a want to know where we belong, where are we from (some think they will find these roots sooner in or through Sanskrut i feel) and they are very proud of their mother tongues. Not knowing English well makes them a little awkward because it is difficult to then communicate but the knowledge of English is not be all and end all of their lives or a status symbol. It’s a language of convenience not of scholarship. And one must know many languages because they are all important and English is one among those..
The people here also have a do it yourself approach to everything; from changing a bulb, to cooking a meal to learning a concept. A fellow researcher, a polish man was learning the Japanese language, script and all because he is doing his studies in the said area. Secondary sources are available in plenty but they are not good enough for him. Another scholar reads the Sumerian language (long lost and a thing of centuries past) the way we read a novel. Too many small things but none compromised, all well learnt!
The nature of higher education here is quite different too. One needs to complete their PhD, publish their thesis and go through enough tribulations till they are deemed fit to become "professors". You are expected to know at least that much till you address a crowd. Standard education to all, higher education to those who are willing to take excruciating efforts for it; and naturally; from a person who has taken many such efforts himself or herself.
These scholars, men and women of learning, people who have something worth saying, say it with so much humility, they appreciate comments on it with such serious respect that the respondent is compelled to speak with due care if at all. Learning can be transformational but when it is a cultural attitude rather than a mass need.
Such brilliant persons seemed daunting after the conference. The streets of Brno and everyday sights meant a refreshing leap into the real and now and known, but that was only the first day because then scholars became friends, and o boy! What fun they are!
The same men who a few minutes prior were speaking and reading extinct languages and cultures were now sitting on a street shouting nasdravi and gulping beer in a manner that would put a college kid to shame. They can alongside Sumerian and Sanskrut also speak rock bands and punk. And this delightful combination makes them more amazing friends and much more approachable scholars the next day...
Learning is important, humility pays, Sanskrut is a must, English is convenient, beer is a life line, new friends are a part of my soul and Brno a fond memory of all things that are important in life to elevate the self and to teach to have fun too..
Time spun his magic, he breezed our 5 days, but each second of that day was lived in that moment and not in the one before nor later, a luxury i had forgotten, a luxury i don’t mind making a part of me. Time will spin his magic again and Brno shall come to Bombay...