A couple of days ago, when renewing my resolution to resume this wonderful adventure called Articulations Online, I couldn't help recalling a significant article I had written on the spirit of adventure in the Hindustan Times Evening News, New Delhi, in 1977. So here it is!
August 26, 1977
Spirit of adventure
The spirit of adventure is just now overflowing in India! On the same day as the London-Sydney rally cars flashed through New Delhi, Sir Edmund Hillary put his three power boats down on the Ganga waters at Haldia, ushering in his 'Ocean to Sky' expedition.
While long lines of children and adults tried to mob Sir Edmund at the Finger Jetty in Haldia, young boys in blue jeans and girls in hot pants were mobbing Andrew Cowan and other rally stalwarts in front of the Oberoi Intercontinental in the Capital. So engrossed were the Delhi youngsters with the cars that they completely ignored film star Hema Malini, who was herself clicking away with her camera!
One can't help wondering what use it is to the common man that somebody climbs Everest, swims the English Channel, wins an Olympic gold medal, boats along the Ganga, or drives a car from London to Sydney.
Far more useful to humanity would seem to be a different kind of adventure, like Columbus sailing the high seas, De Lessseps cutting the Suez Canal, Charles Lindberg crossing the Atlantic in his Spirit Of St. Louis, or Neil Armstrong landing on the moon!
Exploring new areas of land, sea or space, designing and building ships, machines or bridges, constructing dams and power stations -- these are adventures which make a direct contribution to the progress of civilization. Hasn't Harry Slocum, who built the Bhakra dam, done more for India than Sir Edmund Hillary?
The greatest adventurers are those who make tomorrow's common man the equal of today's hero. For an amount of money which is a small sum for my employers, today I can look at the Atlantic Ocean from a higher spot on the sky than Lindbergh could ever reach. But can I climb Everest, swim the English Channel, win Wimbledon, or drive a car from London to Sydney?
But the common man needn't despair, of course. He has his own adventures to undertake! Doing one's work better than others is by itself a great adventure. A sister of mine is a doctor who works day and night; another sister of mine spends a lot of time helping slum-dwellers in Madras. Both are adventurers in their own right.
I wish I were Art Buchwald, with a world-wide syndicated column to write. But in my scheme of things Delhiberations are important. Believe me, keeping my deadline every week is an adventure for me!
Ultimately, then, it is the spirit of adventure that counts, not precisely what you do! Looking at things from that angle, I must say that Edmund Hillary and Andrew Cowan do contribute something valuable to society. My son may never swim like Mihir Sen or Mark Spitz, but he finds their example inspiring, and they produce in him a spirit of adventure. Maybe it will help him to do his work better, whether he becomes a doctor, artist, engineer, soldier, spaceman, or civil servant!