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.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

विनोबा भावे

भूदान आंदोलन के प्रणेता, स्वतन्त्रता संग्राम के सेनानी, महान गांधीवादी भारत रत्न विनोबा भावे की आज पुण्यतिथि है।उन्हें रेमन मेगेसैसे पुरस्कार से सम्मानि
प्रथम व्यक्ति होने का गौरव प्राप्त है ।


1983 में उन्हें मरणोपरांत भारत रत्न से भी सम्मानित किया गया था ।
भारतमाता के इस महान सपूत को हमारी विनम्र श्रद्धांजलि !

जयशंकर प्रसाद

धरा पर झुकी प्रार्थना सदृश
मधुर मुरली सी फिर भी मौन
किसी अज्ञात विश्व की विकल
वेदना दूती सी तुम कौन.........
हिन्दी साहित्य के महान साहित्यकार जयशंकर प्रसाद की आज 80वीं पुण्यतिथि है। हिन्दी कविता के छायावाद स्वरूप के चार प्रमुख स्तंभों में से एक , प्रसाद जी महाकाव्य ‘कामायनी’ के रचयिता के रूप में अपना विशिष्ट स्थान एवं पहचान रखते हैं। एक कवि के साथ साथ वह एक नाटककार, कथाकार, उपन्यासकार व निबंधकार के रूप में भी जाने जाते हैं ।
47 वर्ष की अल्पायु में इस संसार को अलविदा कह कर चले जाने वाले पुरोधा को हमारी विनम्र श्रद्धांजलि !

Cornelia Sorabji


Again thanks to google Doodle today !
Today is the 151st birth anniversary of Cornelia Sorabji , the first woman graduate of Bombay University, the first woman to study Law at Oxford University, the first Indian woman to study in a British University and the first woman Advocate to practice in England and India.She was also a social reformer and a member of a number of such institutions.
She died on July 6, 1954 at London, U.K.
Our humble tributes !

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Salim Ali

Today is the birth anniversary of Salim Ali , a renowned ornithologist and naturalist. He was an avid bird watcher and did extensive and systematic survey of birds at a number of places in India and made a pioneering study of various species and their behavior and habitat and came up with various books on the subject. He is credited with the formation of Bombay Natural History Society and the creation of Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary. He co-authored the ten volume Handbook of the Birds of India and Pakistan, along with Sidney Dillon Ripley , which is considered a classic.
It is interesting to note that Salim Ali , who as a youngster went about hunting and killing sparrows became their preserver , later in life. However even during his hunting sprees also, he made useful study about sparrows. His visit to Burma in connection with the family business brought him more in proximity with nature and forests. Back in Bombay, he , along with Commerce and law studies , pursued Zoology also. He went to Germany also and conducted studies in ornithology along with some experts there.

Many species of birds bear his name as also some Parks and Institutes. 
He was a recipient of Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan. 

Our humble tributes !

TWO OLD MEN

TWO OLD MEN is a popular short story by Leo Tolstoy.Two old men namely Efim Tarasich Sheveley and Elisha Bodrov who live in the same village have long back taken a vow to go on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem but somehow have not been able to keep it so far.Efim apparently is a rich man , serious natured, without any vices and always remains busy with domestic affairs. Elisha though not as rich as Efim is not poor either and is of a cheerful disposition.

One day Elisha proposes to Efim that together they proceed to Jerusalem on a pilgrimage to keep the vow taken long back and to have God's grace.Efim , involved as he is in his domestic affairs expresses his inability inter alia for the reason that he is short of money as he has already spent a lot on the construction of a new hut.But Elisha by his strong persuasion brings him round and they decide to go.Both arrange money, make necessary preparations, equip themselves with suitable dresses , shoes and necessary items , not without leaving instructions to family members to run the household.They start the long journey on foot.
They stay for the night at different places. At some places they find hospitable people who welcome them at their homes and entertain them with food etc.Efim is a fast walker and Elisha finds it difficult to keep pace with him.At a place Elisha feels a desire to have a drink and tells Efim to keep walking . Efim continues to move alone hoping that soon Elisha will catch up with him.Left behind, Elisha knocks on a door not once but many times but there is no response. At last he opens the door and enters inside.What he sees is simply appalling. This is a family of 5-6 members, literally awaiting death by starvation. Failed crop and famine seem to have taken toll on the kids, the young and the old. There is not even a drop of water in the home , not to speak of anything to eat.
Sensing the difficulty the poor family is in, Elisha opens his bag , takes out the loaves of bread, fetches water from a nearby place and feeds them .He also prepares porridge for them . With food entering their starved bodies , they slowly regain strength and are able to speak. Their plight moves him. He purchases sufficient food items for them, repays their debt to redeem their small piece of land ,buys them a horse and some implements. Seeing that they are on their own and are able to work and fend for themselves, he leaves the place silently without telling his name etc.
Having spent the money on these noble deeds, with money left only sufficient for return journey, he drops the idea of proceeding further and undertakes the back journey.
Reaching home after some days he is welcomed by all. The family members have looked after the household well and everything is fine and in order.
When asked about early return, he cooks up a story that his money got stolen.
Efim on the other hand continues alone also thinking of Elisha and hoping to meet him. Continuing the journey on foot, after many days he reaches at a place from where he boards a ship .The journey is not so smooth and literally the passengers sail through troubled waters.Meanwhile Efim had found a companion,a pilgrim who had purportedly lost his money. He had now become dependent on Efim who only half believes him, worrying all the time that he might steal his money.
Finally the ship reaches Constantinople and they disembark.Efim visits many holy places and on two three occasions finds Elisha,sitting in the front row with his back towards him. Despite efforts to meet him , in the rush and crowd of people,Efim is unable to trace him.
Having visited all places of pilgrimage, Efim proceeds on back journey. Per chance , on return journey he happens to stay at a home where he receives warm welcome and hospitality. The family tells him about a noble soul who had helped them enormously and seen them out of trouble.The description of the man resembling that of Elisha, it takes Efim no time to judge what he had seen at the holy place.
At last Efim also returns home but things at his home are not as good as he had left him.When the two old men meet again and Efim tries to broach the topic, Elisha changes it and the matter remains a secret between them only.
Efim knows that Elisha's pilgrimage has been better.
A wonderful story !

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Anasuya Sarabhai


Google doodle today informs of the 132nd birth anniversary of Anasuya Sarabhai, the pioneer of Women's Labour Movement in India. Born in 1885 at Ahmedabad, in a rich industrialist family, she lost her parents at the age of nine and together with a brother and a younger sister was brought up by an uncle. She was married at the age of 13.

In 1912 she was sent to England to study medicine but simply put off by animal dissection which was against Jain beliefs, she instead joined the London School Of Economics. She was greatly influenced by the Fabian society. Returning to India, she started the Women's Labour Movement and took up the cause of women textile workers and weavers and as a result of the hunger strike undertaken by Mahatma Gandhi, an increase of 35 percent in wages was obtained. In 1920 she founded the Ahmedabad Textile Labourers' Association.She also mentored Ela Bhatt, who founded the SEWA.
She was the aunt of Vikram Sarabhai, the eminent Physicist.
Blessed with a long life she died in 1972.
Our humble tributes to the remarkable lady !

Thursday, November 9, 2017

HIMACHAL ASSEMBLY ELECTIONS-2017

At last the periodical  ritual of  voting  for election to   the sixty eight seats of Himachal Pradesh  Legislative Assembly took place  today, the 9th of November by and large peacefully,thanks to meticulous directions and instructions issued by the  Election Commission of India and the elaborate arrangements made by the state for the  smooth conduct  of this quinquennial exercise. However there is a long wait for the contesting candidates who may sit with fingers crossed as the results will be declared only after counting takes place on  18th December  when the cat will be out of the bag.


Apart from the   massive coverage by the print and visual media , these  elections will be remembered for  the  mud slinging and the slandering game played by the parties in the fray. Somehow there was grist for every mill  and the  political  parties were on the defensive  due to lapses and irregularities  unearthed  and talked about at this crucial time. Many idioms, phrases and proverbs  learnt during schooldays , but long forgotten  due to disuse like  “the kettle calling the pot black” ,  “ sweep before your own door “  & “the devil quoting  scriptures”…..came on the tip of the tongue, effortlessly and  spontaneously  seeing what was being uttered by the campaigners and supporters. 
 During the election campaign, one saw rare ingenuity in slogans  devised by the parties ; it is another matter that the slogans  and claims  seemed   hollow in view of the ground reality . However this time  not much of  ‘dil se’ or ‘phir se’ was heard, the ball being left in the court of the voter. .
  In exposing others one got exposed itself.One is left to wonder why the so called   “ star campaigners "-   from the other states  with little knowledge of the state or its problems are thrust upon the  public. They had nothing new to say or offer   except  blowing the trumpet of the party ,  they belonged to and  were canvassing  for , repeatedly counting  policies and ‘successes’ and deriding the opposite party.   At every point  one felt that the voter had no choice  except to choose what to him or her  appeared   worthwhile, irrespective of what was being  promised .

The introduction of  VVPAT at the polling stations is a welcome addition.


 Again this time also  one Shyam Saran Negi   from Kalpa in  Kinnaur ,  ‘first voter of  India’ who  has voted in all elections held since 1952 found  some mention as having turned a centenarian. Some special arrangements were reported to have been made to take him to the polling booth to  enable him to cast his vote.Today itself he was shown on the TV screeen  with a message for voting.  As reports have poured in, he cast his vote this time also. The elections apart from affording  an opportunity  to the voter to exercise his choice, also contain a lesson to  parties and the Governments that they need  to perform to  lay their claim for future governance. One  also hopes that when the New Assembly gets constituted ,   the elected  Members will be accessible to the people . 

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Raja Rao


Today is the birth anniversary of Raja Rao, the doyen of Indian writing in English . Together with Mulk Raj Anand and R.K.Narayan , he constitutes the formidable triumvirate of Indian writers, writing in English and among the first being published abroad. 
His novel ‘Kanthapura’ written in 1938 was an epoch making work, being the first major novel written in English. It is a microcosm of the Indian village life in all its evils and idiosyncrasies. Kanthapura , a small nondescript village beset with social evils like untouchability, and blind faith , under Gandhi’s influence plunges itself into civil disobedience & non cooperation movements and becomes a model of passive resistance and non violence .The Gandhian way is propogated through hari katha, the traditional narrative mode. The events unfolding also show woman power asserting itself and working in tandem with the male residents of the village. In a way the novel also comes across an encapsulated story of struggle for Independence . 
In ‘Serpent and the Rope’ Raja Rao juxtaposes the illusion and the reality , the two important ingredients of Indian Culture and is a journey in search of spiritual truth in Europe and India. 
Raja Rao emerged as a nationalist novelist , despite the later part of his education being in Paris. He was deeply influenced by Gandhi and Gandhian ways and thought find a prominent place in his ‘Kanthapura’ and other writings as also his short stories. He also wrote a biography of Gandhi, called ’ The Great Indian Way: A Life of Mahatma Gandhi’, 1998. 
Besides ‘Kanthapura’ and ‘The Serpent and the Rope’ he wrote three more novels , namely
‘The Cat and Shakespeare: A Tale of India’, ‘Comrade Kirillov’, and ‘The Chessmaster and His Moves (1988)’
Besides many collection of short stories, his non – fiction works include ‘Changing India: An Anthology (edited with Iqbal Singh),Tomorrow (edited with Ahmed Ali),Whither India? (edited with Iqbal Singh) and ’The Meaning of India, essays’
He was a recipient of Padma Bhushan, Padma Vibhushan, and Sahitya Academy Award.
Our humble tributes to the celebrity Writer !

Air Marshal Subroto Mukerjee


Today is the death anniversary of Air Marshal Subroto Mukerjee , OBE, the first Chief of Staff of the Indian Air Force. Commissioned into the Royal Indian Air Force in 1932, he saw action in the NWFP and the Second World War and commanded a Squadron. For his meritorious service, he was awarded the Order of the British Empire.Post independence , he was recruited in the Indian Air Force and rose to be the Chief of Air Staff in 1954.
He was the first Indian officer to command a flight, a squadron and finally the Force itself. Besides OBE, he was also the recipient of India General Service Medal,India Service Medal and Indian Independence Medal.He is also called the Father of Indian Air Force.
He died in Tokyo in 1960, aged 49.
Our humble tributes !

Sitara Devi


Today is the birth anniversary of Sitara Devi, a Kathak proponent and an eminent danseuse. Born this day in Calcutta on Dhanteras day in 1920,she was named Dhanalakshmi. She was initiated into dancing by her father and started performing on stage at a very young age. Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore seeing her perform on stage named her Nrityasamragyi, a compliment and a tribute to her dancing talent.International acclaim came to her when she performed at Royal Albert Hall, London and the Carnegie Hall New York in 1967 & 1976 respectively.

She also appeared in some Hindi film performing dance numbers.Known and celebrated as Kathak Queen, many awards and honours came her way.
She was a recipient of the coveted Sangeet Natak Academy Award and Padmashri.
In later years when she was nominated for Padma Bhushan award, she declined it calling it more an insult than an honour.
She died on 25th November, 2014 aged 94.
Our humble tributes !

One year of Demonetization


The announcement of the government decision to demonetize Rs 500/- & Rs.1000/- currency notes his day last year- Notebandi in common lingo - took everyone by surprise. A day or two before I had withdrawn some amount which was all in 500 denomination , to pay for the new dining chairs. My wife too had some amount -bigger than mine- in Rs.500 notes withdrawn for some Diwali purchases, which could not somehow mature. Put together , the amount formed a fraction of the 'dreaded' or the 'accursed' amount of Rs. Two Lakh Fifty Thousand . However the notes were deposited in the Bank standing in a queue for 2-3 hours on 10th November, the very first day at the same time exchanging the amount in new currency restricted to the limit of Rs.4000/- per person. Up came some Facebook posts boasting by some friends that they had no Rs.500/- or Rs.1000/- note with them that needed to be deposited, making others feel guilty of the 'crime' of possessing them.It took quite a few months for the things to come to normal for a person like me , but the impact on the public especially small traders, labour class and those having big functions like marriage in the family was enormous. 
Compare this to the 1978 demonetization of Rs 1000/- notes, it was a smooth transition , without creating any ripples or flutter and the Government of the day did not introduce currency of this denomination for years together.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

WHERE LOVE IS, GOD IS


In school we had an English poetry collection prescribed as a text book in Class X. The first poem in the book was 'Abou Ben Adam' by Leigh Hunt . The poem carried a beautiful message that Love for mankind is the love for God which surpasses all kinds of rituals and worship of God in fulfilling one's life.
A few days back, I read the short story ' Where love is, God is' by Leo Tolstoy, extending the same idea further.
The story is about a cobbler named Martin Avdeich, a sincere worker who while doing his job with perfection is honest to the point of not taking up something he cannot finish on time.Fate had not been kind to him as he lost all his children while still infants and his wife except a three year old son. As he decides to keep his son with him only instead of sending him to live with his sister, after some days this only surviving child also has fever and dies.
Martin Avdeich, all broken and shaken is advised by a pilgrim of his acquaintance to read Bible. Martin purchases a copy of Bible and starts reading it on holidays. Soon it interests him so much that he starts reading it daily, even at night in the light of a lamp.One day he comes across the story of a Pharisee that invites Jesus to his house and there a lady washes Jesus's feet with her tears.This incident as related in the Bible haunts him so much that he hears God telling him that He would visit him.
Next day he invites Stepanich, a worker who is shoving snow outside. He serves him with warm drink and tells about Jesus. Next he finds a woman with a child . The woman is equipped to bear and face the cold . Martin gives her warm clothes and some money. 
The same day he settles the matter between an old woman and a boy after he finds that the latter has stolen something from the woman.
It is only during the night that God reveals to him that He had visited Martin in the garb of Stepanich, whom he had served drink, the woman whom he had given clothes & money and the old lady whom he had helped.
Thus the story has a beautiful message that serving humanity is the best way to worship God.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

BHAI MARDANA


I have written before about Gyani Balkar Singh,our Punjabi teacher in school, who taught and told us many things beyond textbooks.
During one of his lectures in the class, he told us about BHAI MARDANA, who became a disciple and companion of Guru Nanak during the Guru's journeys through India and Asia.
It is common knowledge that Mardana was born to Muslim parents who lived in Rai Bhoin Di Talwandi the same place in today's Pakistan where Guru Nanak was born. As for the name Mardana , there is an interesting anecdote that our teacher told us. The mother of Mardana remained sad and worried as all her children died sooner or later. It is said that she used to call this son also Marjana, as she believed that he would also die like his other siblings because of a curse that was purported to have befallen the family.It is said that Guru Nanak asked for her son to be given to him to which the mother agreed. Guru Nanak named him MARDANA which when split sounds Marda- Na which means 'won't die'. The family was thus saved from the curse of early deaths . Mardana not only became the first person to enter the Sikh sect, but also lived long and into his seventies.
Wikipedia also has the same story albeit with some twist. However the basic fact remains the same.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Reshma

Today is the death anniversary of Reshma , the singer.
“Char dina da pyaar o rabba, badi lambi judai………”
When folk singer Reshma from across the border lent her beautiful voice to this song for the Bollywood flick “Hero “ in the eighties, this came as a whiff of fresh air as the singer’s voice apart from timbre had a folksy charm to it. The song became and is still popular after more than three decades down the line. Reshma’s had become a household name for every music lover.
Thanks to YouTube, many a time I have listened to a captivating duet by her and Pervez Mehdi-
“ Goriye mein jana pardes ………….” .
Both the singers come out at their best in this composition and literally it transports me to another world. Reshma, who always was soft spoken , and to hear her voice rising to a crescendo when singing is indeed a wonderful experience. Again that earthy/ folksy charm comes to the fore.
Our humble tributes to the great singer.

Major Somnath Sharma PVC

Today is the 70th death anniversary of Major Somnath Sharma PVC, who laid down his life while fighting the Pakistani infiltrators .
The young officer aged 24 became the first Param Vir Chakra awardee.
Our humble tributes to the brave soldier !

Prem Nath


Today is the death anniversary of Prem Nath the popular Bollywood actor. In a career that spanned almost four decades, he made his debut in the film Daulat ke Liye and went on to act in films like Aag, Barsaat,Hindustan Hamara,Sagai, Awaara,Badal, Aan, Aurat ,Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Sikander-e-Azam, Baharon ke Sapne,Amrapali,Teesri Manzil , Shor, Bobby and many others.

Our humble tributes to the popular actor !

Prithvi Raj Kapur

Today is the birth anniversary of Late Prithvi Raj Kapur, the doyen of Hindi Cinema and patriarch of Kapur family, whose fourth generation is now in acting . Prithvi Raj Kapur was not only a great actor but also a great theatre personality , a founder-member of IPTA and the founder of Prithvi Theatre.A highly talented actor, he acted in silent movies also.He had a supporting role in the first talkie Alam Ara.
His role in Vidyapati brought him accolades and later his role in Sohrab Modi's Sikander catapulted him to fame . He is remembered most for his stellar role in Mughal-e- Azam, the block buster movie of the times and his role in the film Harishchandra Taramati was also highly appreciated. He had the lead role in Punjabi movies- Nanak Naam Jahaaz hai & Nanak Dukhiya Sab Sansaar and left a bench mark in acting.
He was a recipient of Padma Bhushan and Dadasaheb Phalke Award.

Our humble tributes to the legendary film and theatre personality !

सदाशिव अमरापुरकर

बतौर खलनायक अपने सशक्त अभिनय से दर्शकों की भरपूर 'गालियाँ' बटोरने वाले प्रतिभासम्पन्न कलाकार सदाशिव अमरापुरकर की पुण्यतिथि पर उन्हें हमारी विनम्र श्रद्धांजलि !

Monday, October 30, 2017

Richard Brinsley Sheridan


Today is the birth anniversary of Richard Brinsley Sheridan, an Irish playwright, satirist and a parliamentarian . Known mostly for his satirical and humorous plays - 'The Rivals' and 'The School for Scandal' he created an immortal character like Mrs. Malaprop who makes use of wrong words with almost similar sounds. Malapropism became an accepted figure of speech.
Our humble tributes to the playwright !

Swami Dayanand

Today is the death anniversary of Swami Dayanand Saraswati , a Hindu Religious leader . He is known as the founder of Arya Samaj, an order based on Vedic teachings.His book 'Satyarth Prakash' is a treatise of sorts.
The DAV educational institutions named after him have countywide presence and have done a lot in the field of education.
Our humble tributes to the great Religious leader & a social reformer !

V.Shantaram


Today is the death anniversary of V.Shantaram, the iconic film director, producer and an actor. Known mostly for his film Doctor Kotnis Ki Amar Kahani, and Do Aankhen Barah Haath,he also made classic films like Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baje, Navrang,Amar Bhoopali, Pinjra and Duniya Na Mane.He also produced the films Geet Gaya Pattharon Ne and Jal Bin Machhli Nritya Bin Bijli.
He cast his wife Sandhya in Do Aankhen Barah Haath & Navrang and his daughter Rajshri in Geet Gaya Patth
aron Ne.
In fact his production house is known as Rajshri Productions.
His films Amar Bhoopali and Do Aankhen Barah Haath won international acclaim as well.
He was a recipient of Padma Vibhushan and Dadasaheb Phalke Award.
He died this day in 1990 aged 89.
Our humble tributes !

Sunday, October 29, 2017

James Boswell

Today is the birth anniversary of James Boswell, the Scottish biographer. He is best known for his biography of Samuel Johnson, one of his contemporary authors.This biography written by him apart from being a classic of English literature is a benchmark for biographers to follow so much so that every Great person is said to feel the need for a Boswell to document his life and times.
Our humble tributes to the outstanding biographer !

Kamladevi Chattopadhyay


Today is the death anniversary of Kamladevi Chattopadhyay, the Indian Independence activist, and a promoter of Indian Handicrafts,handlooms and theatre.She did pioneering work in women empowerment through financial independence and cooperative movement.The institutions like National School of Drama, Sangeet Natak Academy, Central Cottage Industries Emporium and Craft Council of India , to a larger extent owe their existence to her vision.
A recipient of Ramon Magsaysay Award, Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan, she died this day in 1988 aged 85.

Our humble tributes !

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Sister Nivedita


Today is the birth anniversary of Sister Nivedita alias Margaret Elizabeth Noble, a Scottish -Irish teacher, social worker .She met Swami Vivekananda in London in 1895 and became his follower.She came to India and founded Ramakrishna Sarada Mission and Sister Nivedita Girls' School.
Nivedita was the name given to her by Swami Vivekananda who initiated her into Vedanta. Under a vow of celibacy, she made social service her life long mission and did pioneering work.
She wrote about a dozen books including Kali , The Mother and The web of Indian Life.
Our humble tributes to the great Lady !

श्रीलाल शुक्ल

प्रसिद्ध हिन्दी उपन्यास 'राग दरबारी' के रचयिता व ख्यात नाम व्यंग्यकार श्रीलाल शुक्ल की आज पुण्यतिथि है। राज्य प्रशासनिक सेवा व भारतीय प्रशासनिक सेवा के अधिकारी रहे शुक्ल जी ने , उपन्यास, कथा ,आलोचना, निबन्ध एवं व्यंग्य विधा की विपुल सम्पदा से हिन्दी साहित्य जगत को समृद्ध किया है। 

साहित्य अकादमी एवं पद्मभूषण के साथ साथ अन्य कई पुरस्कारों से सम्मानित इस महान साहित्यकार को हमारी विनम्र श्रद्धांजलि !

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

R.K.Laxman

Today is the birth anniverary of the legendary cartoonist R.K.Laxman. His drawings of the common man , the crows and the cartoon strip 'You said it' can never be forgotten. In fact the cartoon strip adorned the pages of Times of India for five decades.

A younger brother of the noted author R.K.Narayan, he also drew sketches for the cover of his books and novels.
Apart from drawing cartoons and sketches,he wrote novel and travelogue as well.
He was also a recipient of Padma Bhushan, Padma Vibhushan and Ramon Magsaysay Award .
Our tributes to the genius !

JEEWAN

Today is the birth anniversary of JEEWAN ,the Bollywood actor. Born Omkar Nath Dhar this day in 1915 in Srinagar , he was a Kashmiri who remained active in films for five decades i.e. ‘40s through ‘80s.He had acted as Narad Muni in almost 60 films and in a radio program presented by him and dedicated to army jawans he had stated that God dare not send him to hell as he had chanted Nayaran Narayan thousands of times.
His very presence in the cast would guarantee that some sinister designs were a part of the storyline .He was also the most hated villain of Hindi Cinema which is a tribute to his acting talent. Almost all the films he acted in were hits. .
Our humble tributes to this marvellous Actor !

Monday, October 23, 2017

Shafi Inamdar


Today is the birth anniversary of Shafi Inamdar, a film and TV actor.He started his film career with film Vijeta and also worked in Ardh Satya. A versatile and talented actor, he also gave memorable performances in films like

Aaj Ki Awaz, Awaam, Anokha Rishta, Amrit , Nazrana.
Jurm,Dada Suhaagan, Kudrat ka Kanoon , and Love 86. The TV serial Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi , Teri Bhi Chup Meri Bhi Chup, and Aadha Sach Aadha Jhooth in which he worked also became very popular.In 1985, he was nominated for the Best Supporting Actor award for the film Aaj Ki Awaaz.
He died on 13 March, 1996 aged 50.
Our humble tributes !

Sunday, October 22, 2017

अशफाक़ उल्लाह खान

महान क्रांतिकारी व स्वतन्त्रता सेनानी अशफाक़ उल्लाह खान की आज जयंती है। उल्लेखनीय है कि शहीद अशफाक़ उल्लाह खान को शहीद राम प्रसाद बिस्मिल व शहीद ठाकुर रोशन सिंह के साथ एक ही दिन यानि 19 दिसम्बर 1927 को फांसी दी गई थी।
हँसते हँसते मातृभूमि के लिए मृत्यु का वरण करने वाले इस देश भक्त की स्मृति को
कोटिश: नमन !

Swami Ram Tirth


Today is the birth anniversary of Swami Ram Tirth also known as Swami Rama, a teacher of Hindu religion and philosophy. Born this day in 1873 in Gujranwala of undivided Punjab, he lost his mother while some days' old. He was brought up by his elder brother.A brilliant student, he passed his M.A. in Mathematics and landed a job as Professor in Government College Lahore. A chance meeting with Swami Vivekananda at Lahore in 1897, resulted in his inclination towards Vedanta .
H
e quit his job, left his family and became a Sannyasi in 1899.On a travel sponsored by the Maharaja of Tehri,he went to Japan to teach Hindu philosophy particularly practical Vedanta and then to the United States to pursue his teachings like Swami Vivekananda before him. An advocate of youth education, he helped institute many scholarships for education of Indian youth abroad.He also advocated women education .He returned to India in 1904 and sometime later withdrew from public life and went to Himalayas. He started writing a book also but the project remained incomplete as his soul left the mortal body on 17th October, 1906 while he was just five days short of completing 33 years.
Our humble tributes to the Noble soul !

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Nain Singh Rawat


Google doodle informs that today is the birth anniversary of Nain Singh Rawat, the 19th century explorer, who explored the Himalayas for the Britishers. He mapped the trade route through Nepal to Tibet and was also the first to map the location and altitude of Lhasa. 
Today is his 187th birth anniversary .
Our humble tributes !

YASH CHOPRA


Today is the death anniversary of YASH CHOPRA, the noted film producer and director of Hindi Cinema. A younger brother of the iconic Producer / Director B.R.Chopra, he started as an assistant to I.S. Jauhar. His maiden directorial venture was B.R.Chopra's Dhool ka Phool which became a box office hit. Another movie Dharamputra also was popular at the box office. To him goes the credit of directing Waqt , the first multistar movie of Hindi Cinema.In 1969 he directed two more movies for B.R.Chopra namely Aadmi aur Insaan & Ittefaq, the latter without any song.
Starting his own Yash Raj Films in 1971, he gave many hits like Deewar, Kabhi Kabhi, Silsila etc. Passing through a lean phase in most part of the '80s, success came to him again with Chandni, a heroine oriented film with Sridevi in the lead.His 1991 movie Lamhe despite having all the merits of a good movie, did not do well at the box office.He was also associated with the movies Noorie, Dil Toh Paagal Hai, Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge , Trishul, Kala Patthar,Vijay, Faasle, Darr, Parampara, Veer Zara and many others.
Many awards and honours came his way. 
He died this day in 2011 aged 80.
Our humble tributes !

Friday, October 20, 2017

That Was Also A Diwali

It was the Diwali of 1998. I was posted at Rekong Peo the District HQ of Kinnaur.My wife along with the kids had gone visiting her parents at Shimla to attend some family function , so I was alone. In the morning a colleague who also happened to be my class pal in the University campus, turned up and suggested that we call on the Deputy Commissioner to offer Diwali greetings.The Deputy Commissioner, more friendly than bossy, welcomed us . Pleasantries over , he disclosed to us the sad news of an Army helicopter crash in which two young Army Officers had lost their lives, and that he was going to the spot along with the Superintendent of Police. He left for the spot asking us to have tea which he had got prepared for us. My horse sense suggested that I sit in the office to receive directions or messages , if anything was required to be done. The entire day was spent in the office , attending to some matters. At 7:30 or so I left the office and came back to my residence . The boy who cooked for me in absence of my wife told me that a person had come in a vehicle and left a box of apples and a bottle of ACP – Aristocrat Premium as a Diwali gift. It was not unusual to be offered sweets or apples as a Diwali gift by a few known persons , but a teetotaler like me being presented with a bottle of whisky by a person unknown was something very strange. Needless to say that the bottle remained with me for quite a few days as a memento only to be offered to a close friend later.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Om Puri


Today is the birth anniversary of OM Puri, the highly talented actor of Hindi Cinema who also worked in British and Hollywood films.Born Om Prakash Puri this day in 1950 at Ambala in today's Haryana, he was forced to work at a very young age and did odd jobs due to family circumstances. His passion for theatre and acting led him to National School of Drama and later to Film and Television Institute,Pune.
Om Puri made his debut in Marathi film Ghasiram Kotwal based on 1972 play of Vijay Tendulkar and was recognized as an actor.He made his mark in mainstream as well as Art Cinema and worked with the likes of Amrish Puri, Nasiruddin Shah, Shabana Azmi and, Smita Patil in films Aakrosh, Arohan, Sadgati, and Tamas Ardh Satya , Mirch Masala and Dharavi in which his performance was widely acclaimed.
A versatile actor, he also worked in comedy films like Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro , Chachi 420 ,Hera Pheri, Malamaal and many others. His talent was spotted by the Western film world. He had a role in Richard Attenborough's international film Gandhi He also worked in British films like City of Joy, Wolf , The Ghost and the Darkness,My Son, the Fanatic,
Such A Long Journey, East and East , West is West and some others.
His role of Zia ul Haq in Star Wars also brought him acclaim.
His TV serial Kakka ji Kahin became very popular. 
His second wife Nandita Puri, a journalist came up with his biography titled The Unlikely Hero.... which being a no holds barred candid account , caused him anguish and due to some other reasons also, the couple parted ways. 
Many awards and honours came his way like the National Award for the Best Actor which he won twice, The Film Fare Award for Best Actor, The Lifetime Achievement Award and Padma Shri. 
He died on January 6 this year of heart attack aged 66.
Our humble tributes to the highly talented and a versatile actor !

Sunday, October 15, 2017

P.G.Wodehouse


Today is the birth anniversary of Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse, KBE British born humorist short story writer and a novelist. Born in 1881, he spent some part of his childhood in Hong Kong where his father happened to be employed. He and his brothers were sent back to England for College education. Later he shifted to France and was taken prisoner by the invading German forces during the early years of Second World War. On release after a year he made some broadcasts from German Radio which offended the British establishment so much that he could not go back to his country again.
He obtained American citizenship also and settled there.A prolific writer he wrote many short stories and novels mainly of humorist nature.

Wodehouse is mostly remembered for the creation of Reginald Jeeves, an imaginary character that figures in many of his novels as well as short stories written between 1915 and 1974.
Immortalised and made popular by repeated use in Wodehouse's works, Jeeves has become an accepted term for a loyal , faithful and resourceful servant or a valet, who has readymade solutions for any of the problems that the employer faces. The term finds entry in the Oxford English Dictionary just like Robinson Crusoe's aide Man Friday.
Blessed with a long life , Wodehouse died on 14th of February, 1975 aged 93.
Our humble tributes !

Saturday, October 14, 2017

शैलेश मटियानी

आज ख्यातनाम कहानीकार व उपन्यासकार शैलेश मटियानी की जयंती है। उत्तराखंड के एक छोटे से गाँव बाड़ेछीना,ज़िला अलमोड़ा, उत्तराखंड में 1931 को जन्मे रमेश सिंह मटियानी ‘शैलेश’ ने बचपन से ही संघर्षपूर्ण जीवन जीया व कठिनाइयाँ झेलीं । छोटी सी उम्र में पिता को खोया व जीवन यापन के लिए चाचा से जुड़े ।परिवार की इतनी साधारण पृष्ठ भूमि कि गर्व करने लायक कुछ नहीं बल्कि लेखन आरंभ करने और लेखक बन जाने के बाद भी पिता और चाचा के नाम के साथ नाम जोड़ कर तीखे कटाक्ष और तंज़ का सामना करने को मजबूर होना उनकी नियति में शुमार रहा। उत्तराखंड से दिल्ली, कानपुर , मुजफ्फनगर आदि होते हुए बंबई पहुँचना और इस इरादे से कई बार जान बूझ कर अपने आप को पुलिस के हवाले करना कि रोटी और सोने का जुगाड़ थाने में हो जाए- ऐसे अनुभवों से गुज़र कर या अभाव और कठिनाइयों कि आंच में तप कर यदि कोई लेखक बनता है तो ज़ाहिर है यथार्थवादी ही होगा ।
कुछ अरसा पूर्व उनकी चर्चित कहानी ‘मैमूद’ गूगल के सौजन्य से नेट पर मिल गयी । यूं तो कहानी के शीर्षक से पहले ही अंदाज़ा हो गया था कि मैमूद शब्द महमूद का ही स्थानीय बोलचाल में परिवर्तित रूप है। कहानी के शुरू में ही महमूद का परिचय मिल जाता है और आश्चर्यजनक रूप से वह व्यक्ति न हो कर एक पालतू बकरा है जिसे उसकी मालकिन जद्दन बच्चों से भी ज़्यादा प्यार करती है। यहाँ तक कि अपनी एक साथिन रहिमन के ‘ बकरे की माँ कब तक खैर मनाएगी’ जैसी आम कहावत मुंह से निकालने पर उससे उलझ पड़ती है ।
खैर कहानी में मोड़ तब आता है जब कोई रिश्तेदार जद्दन के घर आने वाले होते हैं और उनकी आव भगत में कोई कोर कसर न रह जाए, इस बात कि चिंता परिवार वालों को आ घेरती है । बिरादरी में गोश्त परोसा जाना दावत का एक ज़रूरी हिस्सा है, तो अन्य विकल्प जो कि आर्थिक तंगी की वजह से अपनाना असंभव जान पड़ता है, की अपेक्षा, बात महमूद पर आती है कि क्यों न मेहमानों को उसी का गोश्त परोसा जाए। एक तरफ निर्धनता और दूसरी तरफ बिरादरी में नाक कटने से बचाने की चिंता क्योंकि उनके घर जाने पर रिश्तेदारों ने भी आवभगत में कोई कमी न रखी थी। कोई चारा न देख जद्दन मातमपुरसी का बहाना बना कर कहीं रिश्तेदारी के लिए प्रस्थान कर जाती है, क्योंकि अपने सामने वह ऐसा होते हुए नहीं देख सकती .रात को जद्दन के वापिस आने तक सब कुछ हो चुका होता है। जद्दन दुखी भी है और क्षुब्ध भी इसलिए खाना खाने से इंकार कर देती है ।
आखिर ‘बकरे की माँ कब तक खैर मनाएगी’ कहावत ही साक्षात रूप ले लेती है, और वह भी इतनी जल्दी ।
शैलेश मटियानी की यह कहानी बहुत कुछ सोचने पर मजबूर करती है ।
इसी प्रकार एक अन्य कहानी ‘उसने तो नहीं कहा था’ जो मासिक पत्रिका ‘वागर्थ’ । के किसी अंक में पढ़ने का संयोग हुआ जिसके शीर्षक ने ही बरबस ध्यान खींचा। शैलेश मटियानी की इस कहानी में दो फौजी- जसवंत सिंह और कुंवर सिंह- व एक महिला लछिमा ठकुराइन है ।दोनों ही लछिमा ठकुराइन से प्यार करते हैं इस कारण एक दूसरे की जान भी लेने पर उतारू प्रतिद्वंद्वी प्रतीत होते हैं . परन्तु मोर्चे पर तैनाती के समय, जान लेने का ‘सुअवसर’ प्राप्त होने पर भी एक फौजी, दूसरे की जान बचाता है और गोली चलाने वाले शत्रु सैनिक को ढेर कर देता है. लछिमा ठकुराइन पत्नी तो सिर्फ एक की है पर प्यार दोनों से बराबर करती है। ’उसने तो नहीं कहा था’ पर इस महान कृत्य के पीछे प्रेरणा लछिमा ठकुराइन ही है।इस कहानी में प्रेम का उदात्त स्वरूप प्रस्तुत किया गया है और एक कुशल कथा शिल्पी के हाथों यह कहानी भी बेजोड़ बन पड़ी है ।
एक अन्य कहानी जो मैंने पढ़ी है वह ‘अर्द्धांगिनी’ है ।इस कहानी के केंद्र में सूबेदार नैन सिंह है जो अपनी पत्नी से बहुत प्यार करता है ।कहानी उसके गाँव जाते समय आखिरी बस के छूट जाने व संयोग से एक ट्रक में लिफ्ट मिल जाने से शुरू होती है । ट्रक ड्राईवर से परिचय निकलता है तो सफर भी बातचीत में खूब कटता है पर नैन सिंह सारा समय अपनी सूबेदारनी के बारे में ही सोचता रहता है और ढाबे में पराठे बना कर परोसने वाली महिला में भी उसे सूबेदारनी की झलक मिलती है । छुट्टियों के दिन मानो पंख लगा कर उड़ते हैं । जब चार- पाँच दिन शेष रहते हैं तो नैन सिंह अपनी पत्नी को ले कर चल पड़ता है और एकांत पा कर विभिन्न मुद्राओं में उसके चित्र कैमरे में क़ैद करता है । सूबेदारनी भी बिना ना नुकर और नखरे के फोटो खिंचवाती है । आखिर वापिस जाने का दिन आ जाता है । समान उठाने के लिए कहने के बावजूद जब कोई नहीं आता तो कोई जोखिम न उठाते हुए सूबेदारनी अपने सिर पर नैन सिंह का सामान उठा लेती है और जहां पर कुली मिलता है, वहाँ तक पहुंचा देती है और टकटकी लगा पर अपने पति को नजरों से दूर होते हुए निहारती है ।यह एक विलक्षण प्रेम कथा है बिना किसी तिकोन, एक तरफा प्यार, या बेवफ़ाई के प्रसंग के ,एक विशुद्ध दाम्पत्य प्रेम कथा ।
जब वो अपनी रचनाओं में पहाड़ के दर्द को बयाँ करते हैं तो आंचलिक कथाकार/उपन्यासकार होने का आभास देते हैं पर महानगरों की विसंगतियों, विषमताओं का उनके द्वारा किया गया वर्णन उनके लेखन को विस्तार देता है।
कुछ आलोचक तो यहाँ तक भी कहते हैं कि विश्व स्तरीय उत्कृष्ट कहानियां जितनी संख्या में शैलेश जी ने रचीं उतनी और किसी और लेखक ने नहीं ।
शारदा सम्मान और लोहिया पुरस्कार समेत अनेक सम्मान और पुरस्कार भी उन्हें मिले, यहाँ तक कि फणीशवरनाथ रेणु पुरस्कार भी, जब कि रचना कर्म में शैलेश मटियानी ‘रेणु’ से वरिष्ठ थे और श्रेष्ठता में भी उनसे कहीं उन्नीस नहीं । इसे विडम्बना कहा गया है जो ये शायद है भी । तीस उपन्यासों, अनेक कहानी संग्रहों व कुछ लेखों के साथ वो हिन्दी साहित्य के शिखर पर अपना स्थान रखते हैं ।
इस महान साहित्यकार को हमारी विनम्र श्रद्धांजलि !

Friday, October 13, 2017

Ashok Kumar

Today is the birth anniversary of the great Bollywood actor Ashok Kumar aka Dadamoni.Acknowledged as the first superstar of Hindi cinema , he was a highly talented actor of the class of other greats like Balraj Sahni and Moti Lal whom acting came naturally.
After a small role - which he got by default in film Jeewan Naiya, the real debut came in film Achhoot Kanya opposite Devika Rani,which was a block buster.
The pair worked together in films like Janmabhoomi,Izzat,Saviitri and Vachan,all popular hits.Ashok Kumar's next heroine was Leela Chitnis,with whom he paired in movies like Kangan, Bandhan, Azad and Jhoola, which were popular hits.His stardom arrived with the 1943 film Kismet,the greatest hit of pre- independence era.
Ashok Kumar never looked back after that and in a career spanning six decades acted in popular hits like Saajan,Sangram,Mahal and Samadhi.His other notable films include Bandini, Parineeta, Bhai Bhai, Chalti ka naam Gaadi, Howrah Bridge, Ashirwaad, Victoria No. 203,Intaqaam etc etc.
He was a recipient of Padma Bhushan and Dadasaheb Phalke Award besides many other honours that came his way.

Our humble tributes to the legendary actor !

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Dina Pathak


Today is the death anniversary of Dina Pathak, the popular actress who played the quintessential mother / grandmother in many of the Bollywood films.She belonged to the Gujarati theatre,where she acted in and directed plays.She is remembered for her stellar performance in films like Koshish,Mirch Masala, Mohan Joshi Hazir Ho, and Umrao Jaan, besides registering her powerful presence in Saara Akaash, Satyakam,Saat Hindustani, Khoobsoorat,Sacha Jhootha,Golmaal, Khandaan and many others.

She also acted in Gujarati films like Bhavni Bhavai.
She was a recipient of Sangeet Natak Academy Award
Our humble tributes to the great film and theatre personality !

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Jagjit Singh


Today is the death anniversary of Jagjit Singh, the renowned Ghazal singer, composer and music director. Known as the Ghazal King ,he along with his singer wife Chitra Singh made waves during the 70s and 80s with soulful renditions of Urdu ghazals and Punjabi songs.Stricken and shaken with the personal tragedy of the loss of a young son, the couple came out with 'Marasim' a collection of sad soulful ghazals which was their last album together,as Chitra felt too overwhelmed to continue singing.

A singer with a huge fan following in India and Pakistan, his live concerts were something to marvel at.A singer across the border mostly sings his songs .
A recipient of Sahitya Academy award in 1998 & Padma Bhushan in 2003, Government of India also issued a commemorative postal stamp in his honour in 2014.
Our humble tributes to the maestro !