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Name:
Arun B Buch
Photo:
Academic Field:
CIvil Engineering?
Years at RTC:
1961-1964?
Town of origin:
Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania
Recent Residence:
Trinidad & Tabago
Life after RTC:
You have been an excellent student, but young man; - ?As an Engineer you know not. Know that you know not. Know where to search for that you know not.? ? Prof. Vasudevan to me in June (1964) Life?s goals should be : - ?Gyan, Dharma, Karma? ? My father, Bhaskerrai (ing my ?dharma? for the country that gave me ?gyan?, and whatever ?Karma? is then begot, it will be my just reward. The next 50 years became a journey that was furthest from my wildest dreams, except bowling out the great Sobers, which I achieved in 1972.

First stop was PWD in Dar in June 1964, where a Wazungu interviewed me for a job that was mine by right, but ?Wewe Ni Wanainchi? and my negative response thereof resulted in ?Hakuna Kazi?. Welcome to the reality of evolving Africa. Next stop,
?Norman & Dawbarn? in Dar at a salary, which was 2.5 times that which I would have earned at PWD! But the ensuing 15 months in Dar were not good enough for the enhancement of ?Gyan?, so this restless young man finds himself back in Nairobi in Sept. 1965.

Life now starts with Detta effectively sharing it with me for the next ?X? years. It started in Dar in Dec 1965, on a velvety night at one of the many beaches there, with a gentle breeze wafting through her golden hair. The breeze became a storm in Nairobi, where a Wahindi and a Wazungu are seen openly in restaurants of the Wazungu area of Nairobi. Her father, Louis in Jinja, gets the reports and we have to go in hiding, first with Dr. Fitz De Souza (Kenya?s Deputy Speaker), and then in U.K. for the next two years. Why? Because Louis was a tail gunner in a RAF bomber during WWII and he vowed to shoot my tail off if I continued with Detta. Marriage in hiding in U.K. gets repeatedly delayed, as Vatican fiddles with the request for a dispensation necessary for a Catholic to marry a Hindu. But nature waits for no religious edict, and Ramesh and Akhil are born in 1967 and 1968. Sadly, Louis was detained by Idi Amin in 1972, manages to be released; but meets a tragic death at a pedestrian crossing off Oxford Street in London in ?73.

In those days London was a forlorn and a harsh place for a ?hybrid? young couple plus kids from the tropics, who are used to the sun and open spaces. However, it served its purpose, I finished my postgraduate D.I.C. at the Imperial College, where I managed to come joint first in spite of deliberately skipping 75% of the lectures delivered by the most prominent faculty in Civil Engineering in U.K. It is my fervent belief, that after the first degree, the real learning for engineers is derived from an astute and a searching study of what has been successfully built by some of the great Engineers; rather than in sleeping through an involved mathematical treatise of Engineering. To that end, I spent most of my time at the Imperial, burrowing through volumes of engineering literature available in the Library there. That approach, and the ensuing insight gained into the real world of Engineering have been invaluable in my professional life. It is in synch with the advise of Prof. Vasudevan and the search for ?Gyan? inculcated by my father. It has also triggered-in an avid search for knowledge and an enquiry into other areas of human endeavours and humanity?s evolution.

We depart the shores of England on Xmas eve 1968 for the sunny climes of Jamaica. We remain in Jamaica until 1979, where our daughter Usha was born in 1973. Globally evolving socialism and the figment of ?Commanding heights of economy being in the State?s hands? having seduced Nyerere, Indira Gandhi, and Tito, it came to Jamaica in 1974. With the help of Fidel in neighbouring Cuba, Manley of Jamaica got the socialism bug and associated verbal diarrhea, from which Jamaica still has not recovered. Yet it remains one of the most beautiful places anywhere on Earth, and one of the most violent. A least analysed aspect of slavery is that it has made the decendents of ex-slaves in countries like Jamaica bold, articulate, and confident, on the plus side, yet prone to violence on the other. In fact, most nations of the Caribbean exhibit pockets of contrasting attributes of scholastic brilliance and intellectualism infused with religious fervour, but are still prone to raw violence; albeit non-racial or non-religious !

In the late seventies, Manley having bankrupted Jamaica, droves of professionals headed north. I chose the tropical, multiracial, ?oilrich? and enigmatic twin island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago to south. Its population is barely 1.3 million, yet it has produced two Nobel Laureates from a rich mixture of Afros, Indians, English, Chinese, and others in ?where every race has an equal place?. That khichdi also produced two Miss World(s) and one Miss Universe. It has the best Carnival on the planet where multi-hued beauties sprout from the woodworks. It is said that ?if you come to Trinidad married you will die of frustration and if you come single you will die of exhaustion?. No wonder that a recent Gall-Up poll ranked Trinidad as the 5th happiest country in the world. My private practice started in the late 70s, and has handled many large projects in Belize, Jamaica, Haiti, St. Kitts, St Lucia, Barbados, Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago plus a few others. Professionally, my 45 years in the Caribbean have been very satisfying, as I have been involved in and been responsible for some of the largest buildings, bridges and ports designed and built there. For Structural Engineers, there are unique challenges in the Caribbean. We have to design for high seismicity and hurricanes plus a wide variety of geotechnical and foundation conditions. Detta has become an avid conservationist/ecologist and tends to sick birds and lobbies for their rights, full-time, and our children are professional environmentalists. So the family has a mix of ?rabid? and ?balanced? nature lovers. The beauty of the Caribbean invokes that response. Financially, besides putting all our children plus some nephews and nieces through university education in US, UK and Canada; these 45 years in the Caribbean has helped us to open businesses in India, where my many other siblings and cousins who became flotsams of colonialism from East Africa; have found a home and a gainful and rewarding employment. In fact, they share in and manage these businesses, and we visit them often.

We are now the grandparents of five gorgeous kids, three girls and two boys. Ramesh (45) is in Gainesville, Florida, Akhil (44) in Philadelphia and Usha (39) in Dallas. All of them studied at universities in US. Whilst I dreamt of machismo of John Wayne and avidly watched his Westerns in Dar, little did I know that my daughter would marry a Texan from the same lone star state as John Wayne. The Diaspora of Royal College has indeed permeated into every corner of a world we only dreamt of in Dar or Nairobi. Even Barack Obama, like our kids is a Diaspora of Kenya that got spawned when Tom Mboya in 1956 secured the promise from U.K. that Kenya will not go the way of South Africa or Rhodesia. I have met the children of other Royalians be it in US, UK or Canada, from whom the next Obama or a great engineer, doctor, writer or a scientist will surely emerge. In the early 60s, the Royal College, had a unique chemistry, which is now sadly lacking elsewhere both in time and in place. Was it the time of uncertainty, or the peculiar atmosphere of Nairobi and Africa? Whatever it was, I am eternally grateful for it. Plus, I found Detta there.

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