Reading a piece on him by Rakesh in ‘Hindustan Times’ the Demographer Ashish Bose connected me to my visit to his house in Chitranjan Park. My husband who is a journalist covering Business and Economy had taken me along saying , “he is a top demographer of India neither is one like him nor can there ever be!”
I was familiar with his name and was looking forward to seeing him. I was amused when he briefly acknowledged my presence with the remark ‘I see you have brought a delegation with you!’. He sort of put me off saying that I was from the BIMARU state …sensing my discomfort he skillfully proved his point by quoting innumerable social indices and got me around. The basic thing that I understood was that it was states like Bihar ,M.P , Rajasthan, U.P the most populous states of India that found it hard to progress. Hence the pun on Bimaru that means Sick, unhealthy in Hindi language.
I took in his tidy kitchen garden where we were sitting on comfortable reclining chairs in the summer evening. While he was in conversation about his work , his white Pomeranian cutely resting his face on it’s paws, was holding my gaze. I finally beckoned it with a nod and a flutter of my eyelids …I got a holy fright when the creature charged towards my chair with a ferocious bark and as I reclined further on the chair he jumped up and walked right up to my chest and I felt that he would peck off my sharp nose!
Dr. Bose gently said ‘bosho’(sit in Bangla language.) Thank God it was an obedient dog and understood Bengali. Without a word it turned around and settled once again at his master’s feet
After that all what the great Population/ Census Man was talking gustily was lost on me. Why ? Because I was busy nursing my jangled nerves and a beating heart, and studiously avoiding the dog’s eyes!