Tuesday, December 5, 2017

THIS DAY LAST YEAR


Somehow I am in the habit of making it to a place much before time and my bitter half is often peeved with this craze of mine as she just wants to be there in the nick of time. Last year this day we left in a Taxi for ISBT Shimla to avail Volvo night service for Delhi to further catch Air India flight to Gaya. True to my habit, we started much earlier much to the annoyance of my wife. As we reached the ISBT , my wife prepared to make payment to the Taxi driver- she literally holds the strings-, the Purse was not there.In haste, we had carried other bags but left the purse behind .Fortunately we had left the keys with a neighbor .My habit of saving the mobile numbers came to our rescue. I made a call to the young son of the neighbor and we requested him to unlock the house and bring the purse to the road head.Thanks to my good habit, ironically perceived bad by my wife, we had sufficient time to drive back and get the purse delivered to us, to proceed back to the Bus Stand and board the bus.For the first time my wife endorsed my habit of reaching a place well in time .

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Strange ways of Fate

I am taken twenty years back in timeline, June, 1997 to be exact.
I was just 6-7 months into my second tenure in Kinnaur , though this time at the district Headquarters.

This fateful day the driver attached with me suddenly came with the sad news that CMO's vehicle has fallen and washed away in the Satluj. I made some inquiry myself and found that the news was true.It so transpired that the CMO along with a photographer was going to attend a medical camp when a speeding truck coming from the opposite direction hit the Jeep and the Jeep plunged into the river.A very sad incident .Only a few days back the CMO had celebrated the 13th birthday of his daughter and I had attended the birthday party along with others and now he was no more The driver and the photographer too had met their unfortunate end.The driver of the truck was arrested and the truck impounded.
I did not personally know the Jeep driver and the photographer but was told that both were quite young. The photographer ran a shop by the name of Yog Studio and also doubled as a stringer for a news paper. The newspaper had covered the news along with his photograph.Subsequently the bodies of all the three were recovered rather late at different long intervals.
Days and months went by and the incident became old .
Some personnel of the Police department,Punjab were invited to impart Yoga training especially to the local police personnel and I also attended the camp once.
After the conclusion of the camp, the visitors were taken to a village for sightseeing and the younger brother of the deceased photographer, who now was running the studio volunteered to take them in his vehicle. As they were coming back from the village , the car accidentally rolled down from the road this time due to error of judgement while driving at night.
The news was broken by the S.P. on telephone early in the morning . The home guard and police personnel were pressed into service to bring the bodies to the headquarters. As it happens in such cases, the bodies were handed over in coffins to the wailing next of kin and transportation was also arranged by the Administration besides providing immediate relief to the next of kin.
The two accidents haunt me to this day . Two brothers besides others had lost their lives in these accidents.


Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Angithee-II


Taking yesterday's narrative further, Angithee, the perennial mainstay of Simlaites required sufficient quantity of coal stored and kept handy. A regular purchase and delivery of coal at home was ensured to avoid inconvenience of any kind. One had to be more cautious during winters as we used to have heavy snowfall those days. Two Khan brothers namely Moideen and Sultan regularly used to bring coal to us from Best Coal Company opposite Victory Tunnel. Sometimes Moideen in anticipation of snowfall would bring coal on his own volition and payment for the same would be made later.Such was the trust people had in one another and not without reason.
Only once we were caught unawares in winter due to a sudden heavy snowfall. Even then the two brothers making their way through three feet of snow got us two maunds of coal. I remember my mother serving them hot Parathas and tea while making them sit around the Angithee. God bless their souls !
Once coal had reached it had to broken into small pieces and put in a box. We as children used to lend a helping hand by carrying the broken pieces in a Tasla a number of times to put them in a huge wooden box kept for the purpose. The coal powder that came along was called 'keri' .It was mixed with clay and made into balls which were left to dry. That would supplement the coal as fuel.
Once in my teens, I remember breaking the coal many a time with a small hammer.
Manual labour was involved in all big and small activities . There was no need for gym etc as lot of exercise got done doing work manually... ..

Monday, November 20, 2017

Angeethi


In these days of LPG and other gadgets easily available and affordable, I am amused when a stay at home homemaker complains of being overburdened with daily household chores.I am reminded of my own growing years as a child when the day would start early in the morning with preparing Angeethi for cooking and water heating purposes. The Angeethi was a device made of a tin canister or an old metal bucket, which was got fixed with a spiked net placed inside at middle height to hold fuelwood and burnt coal. The bucket already had a handle while the canister had a bent metal seekh with the ends fixed on two opposite sides.A rectangular opening was kept at the lower half to insert wastepaper for burning and also to take out ash. The upper half was had a thick layer of clay with three or four lumps made on top to hold cookware and utensils.
After the day was done. the Angeethi was emptied of burnt coal and ash was kept ready to be lighted the next morning. Some finely cut fuelwood was put inside from top and some soft coal was put above. Some wastepaper was inserted at the bottom which was burnt first if all for the fuel wood to catch fire.
The angithee had to be periodically filled with fresh coal to keep it going. Every morning, passing through any residential area, one could see smoke rising out of the angeethis left in the open for burning.
Surprisingly, air pollution was not much of an issue then, maybe due to sparse population and absence of an alternative as Angeethi served both the purposes of cooking as well as keeping warm in chilling snowy winters.
Sitting around the well lighted angithee was a favourite pastime in winters, also sometimes taking parched moongphali..

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Salil Chowdhury


Today is the birth anniversary of Salil Chowdhury, the renowned music composer for Hindi, Bengali and Marathi films.Besides this he was able to play flute, piano and dilruba with ease . He was also an accomplished Bengali poet.

Making his debut in Hindi film music in 1953 with Do Bigha Zameen, Salilda went on to compose for other notable films like Naukari, Jagte Raho, Musafir, Madumati,Parakh, Kanoon,Usne Kaha Tha, Kabuliwala, Anokhi Raat,Ittefaq, Sara Aaksh,Anand, Mere Apne, Mausam,Chhoti Si Baat and many others.
He was a recipient of Best Film Music Director Award and Sangeet Natak Academy Award.
Our humble tributes !

Friday, November 17, 2017

Lala Lajpat Rai

"Every blow on my body will prove a nail in the coffin of the British Empire. "

Today is the death anniversary of Punjab Kesri , Lala Lajpat Rai, the great patriot and the revolutionary who belonged to the well known triumvirate Lal- Bal- Pal . He galvanized the people abroad especially in America and garnered support for the Indian Freedom Movement.The entire period of the first World War was spent by him in America in working for the Indian Independence.Back in India in 1920, he continued with the activities. He got beaten mercilessly by the police while leading a procession against the Cripps Mission and subsequently died after a few months this day in 1928.
His words quoted above proved prophetic with the killing of Saunders by the revolutionary, and the subsequent revolutionary activities carried on by Bhagat Singh and his associates Sukhdev and Rajguru ....and many others like Chandrasekhar Azad.
Lala Lajpat Rai's pivotal role in the Indian Independence Movement is unforgettable.
Our humble tributes to the great son of India !

A MALEFACTOR

A MALEFACTOR is a short , rather a very short story by Anton Chekov. 
Denis Grigoryev , an “ exceedingly lean little peasant in a striped hempen shirt and patched drawers” is presented before a magistrate to stand trial. His crime is that one railway watchman Ivan Semyonovitch Akinfov has seen him engaged in removing a fastening nut from the railway line. The description given by Chekov of Denis is of a poor man , hardly of presentable bearing who occasionally removes nuts from a railway line to cast them into weight used in a fishing line. The poor peasant is innocent to the point of admitting the ‘crime’ unmindful of the consequences and the reader is amused to go through the Q & A sequence between the accused and the Magistrate. In common jurisprudence, the admission of a crime by an accused is ground enough to order his punishment under the Law of the Land , without requiring any detailed procedure to be followed but in this case the justice appears to be incomplete. After a brief summary proceedings Denis is sent to prison as a punishment, though there are other accomplices as well named by him. Thus no argument or plea made by him prevails. 

Even to a layman, the removal of a nut from a railway line which may result in accidents happening and the death of many innocent passengers , is a crime that should not go unpunished. During the course of trial, the accused Denis refers to “We people…….The Klimovo peasants , that is” , which shows that besides him many others are engaged in the same criminal activities . Ends of justice would be fully met only if they are also hauled up and are made to face the consequences. Besides,all those who use the weights so made out of the nuts are also equally answerable as they are not ignorant as to from where the iron for making them comes from. The story , which probably is the depiction of a real life incident raises many questions and reflects upon the Justice system prevailing at the time.

‘Justice should not only be done but should also appear to have been done’ is the message put forth by the story.