Thursday, December 31, 2009

Destiny's Child

For me the best New Year resolution is not to make one. Having passed through most of the span called middle age, I am more confirmed in my belief that old habits die hard and new ones are difficult to adopt-especially the ones which amount to denial of small pleasures in day to day life. Moreover I am left with no bad habits to shun – so do I believe. I do not smoke, I do not drink, I do not do anything which sociologists and psychologists call deviant behaviour ,I do not ogle at.....etc.etc.

Since long, with the onset of every new year I have resolved -and miserably failed - to shun my smoking habit , as not only did it have adverse effect on my health but also burnt large holes in my pocket ,as it would in any person's , earning a modest salary. The first ever cigarette I had was at the Ambala Railway Station , in 1976, while I was going to Dehradun to try my luck to enter as a Commissioned Officer in the IAF. I could not make it , as destiny had other things in store.I did not touch any cigarette for 2-3 years.How I became a smoker is difficult for me to tell. Perhaps it was doston ki dekha dekhi.

I never became a chain smoker but Lady nicotine had nevertheless in due course of time got so much absorbed in my system that it was difficult for me to miss out on an occasional puff. I was so desperate to give up the habit, that once I purchased an interesting book titled " सिगरेट पीना कैसे छोड़ें ", only to rue later on the fact that the amount of Rs.4/- spent could have fetched two packs of my brand at that time.

I am a strong believer in destiny and was destined to leave this decades’ old habit. It so happened that almost three years back, I had a bout of illness, as I tested positive for Hepatitis A- a painless but dreaded disease. Sapped of all energy, with a pale skin ,I was bedridden for two months. In short, had a brush with death or you could say a close shave. This illness proved a blessing in disguise, as I was able to bid adieu to smoking , notwithstanding the fact that I gave sleepless nights to my wife , who had to slog it out for two long months single handed doing all chores ,big and small, for me besides attending to relatives, neighbours and colleagues who came to enquire after my health.

Thankfully this happened before the anti- smoking Act coming into force, otherwise, there could be some embarrassing moments , waiting !

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Hero from the Hills

I am no movie buff. This can be judged from the fact that I have not seen as many movies as I have seen summers. But this does not mean that film world or moviedom does not exist for me. Reading about films and actors & actresses , has been my favourite pastime and their lives have always fascinated me as they have often appeared to be larger than life, true to their filmy persona. Little wonder then that I have been an avid reader of Magazines like Filmfare , Star Dust and Screen.

Living at Shimla, which for quite some time has been a hot favourite with the film people as a shooting locale, I have had the opportunity of seeing in flesh and blood heroes and heroines like, Sunil Dutt, Rajesh Khanna, Hema Malini , Dimple Kapadia Priya Rajvansh , Nazima as also Ranjit and Manmohan Krishan. But they appeared as distant as ever perhaps because in common perception they belonged to an altogether different world.So what do you do when on a cold winter day a well dressed gentleman enters your workplace and humbly asks you to make some seating arrangement for a hero for a short while , who is to wait till the set is ready for the shot ?

In the early eighties , I was working in a Nationalized Bank at its branch office near the Lift on the Mall , Shimla . It was peak winter ; we already had a snowfall and heaps of snow which had been shoved while clearing the roads could be seen here and there. In the forenoon, a well dressed gentleman came upstairs into the Bank and requested for some seating arrangement for Danny Saheb, who was supposed to wait for the set to be ready for the shot to be taken outside. In no time, two chairs were placed around the bukhari, which , in winters , was kept warm and ready through out the day during working hours. After a short while , in came Danny Dengzongpa , the Hero from the Hills accompanied by Ms. Ratna Bhushan, wife of the legendary hero Bharat Bhushan and an actress in her own right. After exchanging pleasantries, they were offered the chairs which had been put there. A few of us took autographs in the personal diary. Danny and Ms Bhushan happily took tea offered to them in “ Sheeshe ke Gilass ” . Danny Saheb and Ms Bhushan had no airs of a filmy hero/ heroine and were quite down to earth and forthright in conversation. When the set was ready, someone from the crew came to call them and they parted smilingly, thanking us all , leaving a lasting impression on all of us.