Here, let me tell something about NAFEX. It is a sixty five years old organization of American fruit growers. NAFEX members are those farmers who have interest in new fruit varieties of traditional fruits like apple as well as new and lesser known fruits. Like in India, in US too fruit researchers do not show much interest in trials of new fruits and newly evolved fruit varieties. So this group of farmers conducts informal research on new varieties in their orchards and then meet once a year at some place where they tell each other about the performance of new varieties tried by them at their orchards. They also invite 2-3 specialists from universities of UDSA for speaking on fruits in their meeting.
They first requested Prof. Janick to come to the dais for his introduction. Then I was asked come. As I reached the dais, the first thing I did was to bow down and touch the feet of Dr. Janick. It just happened automatically. I had no plans for it. Standing at stage with a person of the level of Prof. Janick was very much thrilling and mesmerizing for me. I could never imagine that there would be a day in my life when I shall be at dais alongwith a person like Dr. Janick.
Feet touching was also a new and probably unexpected site for the audience. So, one of them captured this moment in his camera. He then sent the photo to me in India.
Mr. Jerry Lehman, who was conducting the stage, got curious and asked me explain why I touched Prof. Janick’s feet. I told them that bowing to touch someone’s feet was the highest honour given to anyone among Hindus. In Hindus, a teacher has been placed at par with God and is therefore given this respect. I and numerous others like me have learnt from the books written by Prof. Janick’s, particularly the book “Horticultural Science”. So I regard him as my teacher though I may not have attended his classes.
Then later while talking to him during leisure hours, I narrated him the story of Eklavya (एकलव्य) and Guru Dronacharya(द्रोणाचार्य) from Mahabharat(महाभारत). Eklavya was Guru Dronacharya’s student in absentia and so was I. This amused Prof. Janick a lot. Then I told him that he had hundreds of Eklavyas in India.
I keep communicating with Prof. Janick by e-mail. At the end of my mails I write, “Your Eklavya from India”.