Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Fasting is nothing unusual for my wife as she for reasons best known to her is on fast every Monday, throughout the year . I am told this is a Shiv ji ka Vrat and at the backside, the general well being of husband is associated with it. I am a bit skeptic about all this seeing the plight I find myself in year after year. This week it was fast for two successive days for my loved and – in a strange way loving –one .

It is said that if God were not there , we would have to invent Him. The same saying with some modification applies to my wife, who for no valid reason would invent causes for worry. A few days back I developed some boils on my face and neck and after being administered some antibiotics, got cured , only to be faced again with one erupting near my right eye, which did not escape her notice. Pat came the strict instructions from her to go for a sugar test. This was on Monday -one day before the Karva Chauth . The person collected the sample from home and after taking meals I left for the office . At quarter to two in the after noon my wife called up asking me to inquire about the report. It was only after I conveyed to her that the sugar level was within the desirable limits that she got some relief.

Imagine , if the report were not favorable , what would be the reaction of my wife who is alarmed even when one of us dares to cough or sneeze . How difficult it is to answer a useless and baseless query like—yeh chheenk kyon aayee or yeh khaansi kyun hui.

Thank God this year Karva Chauth passed off peacefully. Was this “ no-sugar ” report not a gift from me to my wife !

Monday, October 25, 2010

No Escape from Numbers

Years ago, a friend who loves lecturing was making an attempt to make a block head like me understand the meaning of cardinal and ordinal numbers – which I did not make much of at that time as both pointed to a sequence. Only that the cardinal sequence went as one, two three ………and the ordinal as first, second third ……… and so on. Years later , now I do realize the significance of numbers. It is the numbers that decide so many things - for example which party is going to form the Government, who is going to be the PM or the CM as the case may be. So much so that even movies’ names had to be like, Ek Musafir Ek Hasina, , Do Thug, Do Gundey , Do Bigha Zameen , Do Dooni Chaar ,Do Kaliyan, Do Raaste, Teen Deviyan , Teesri Manzil, Five Rifles , Saat Hindustani, Nau Do Gyarah etc etc. Even we have had masterpieces like A Tale Of Two Cities, Three Musketeers etc .
The phobia attached to the number thirteen worldwide is still an enigma . However one may recall that in a popular Bollywood number there is counting from Ek do teen….. to Barah terah .
Phrases like First Love, -as also the song -pehla nasha pehla khumar -are very popular and so are first crush, first impression, First born , second thoughts , third world, fourth column, sixth sense , seven day wonder, seven year itch , the eight fold path cloud nine , ten commandments , which are so frequently used that they do not need any explanation.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A gift of Nature or ..........

I am afraid, prohibitionists will be after me hammer and tongs when I write a few words of praise about wine or liquor but admittedly, wine is one thing which has inspired high level poetry, from the pen of poets like, Omar Khayyam for whom

a book of verses, a goblet of wine and thou by my side ” was all that he wanted.

And a shayar who wrote

......meri baada parasti par na jao
jawani ko sahara mil gaya hai......”
found in it a support system
And back home our own the late Dr. Harivansh Rai Bachchan , the widely acclaimed Hindi poet ,who though himself a teetotaller , went on to write a trilogy – Madhubala, Madhushala & Madhukalash- eulogizing the gift of nature , more metaphorically than in the literal sense. We know that the great Mirza Ghalib was given to this addiction and himself admitted that but for this “vice” he would easily be considered a “wali” – a saint or a holy man. Who knows, the diwan -e- Ghalib, which immortalized him was the outcome of this addiction, as the manna makes your imagination run wild and the magical lyrics come out spontaneously.Gems of urdu poetry have flowed from the known addicts like Majaz Lakhnawi . Even Shiv Batalvi the Punjabi poet wrote paeans in praise of wine and himself was given to this habit. It is said that the great singer, K.L.Sehgal could not record a song unless he had downed a peg or two. Generally, those given to this habit are basically nice people, whose all negativity is drained away with a peg or two of wine. This I say out of my personal experience. Myself a teetotaller, I have enjoyed the company of people who get tipsy on special occasions and once you have a peep inside them , most of them emerge as nice people-kind hearted, least calculative and generally do-gooders. If at all , most of them are enemies to themselves , perhaps to their family also when , wearing an escapist attitude, they shirk responsibilities. Sometimes, I feel that being a teetotaller, I have been a loser. I have few friends, to keep company, can’t get things done easily and for all that professed goodness , am considered a big bore.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


Since times immemorial, Kajal is used for the eyes to enhance the beauty and attraction. Not that it suits all eyes- it depends on the shape and color of the eyes as well as the total impact, it is able to make. Two female members in my family, who , for my own security reasons, I dare not name, are a living example . The one ,if she does not apply it, gives a sickly appearance, and the other, if she applies it even by mistake, makes one wish that the black device were not invented or discovered in the first place. But this does add to the looks of some and ravishingly so. Perhaps, Cupid used this device to strike some unsuspecting lover through the Kajal.
Long long ago, a legend was handed down to me, by a literary and very knowledgeable person, as to how Kajal came into existence.
It is so believed that Moosa, the great paigambar, who being either too early or too late in offering morning prayers to the God, saw a mountain coming between him and the Sun , thus obstructing his view . In a fit of rage he angrily gazed at the mountain and the mountain turned black and virtually into a heap of Kajal.
While poets and shayars have waxed eloquent about the lover being smitten by the kohl-lined eyes i.e. Kajrare Naina of the beloved, the following couplet, spells out the plaint or complaint of a lover so smitten:

Dawa karungaa khoon ka Moosa pe roz-e –hashr,
Kyon usne taab di mere Qatil ki teg ko.

There is going to be no escape from the effect of Kajrare Kajrare Naina .

Friday, October 1, 2010

Dil Da Mamla

Though basically I am a fan of old bollywood songs, occasionally I listen to songs like – Dil da mamla hai and dil ka mamla hai dilbar and enjoy them and after a while forget about them. But not so any more, as dil da mamla is not so simple as one may think it to be. “Times Life” the magazine section of Sunday Times dated 26 th Sept, 2010 was mostly devoted to stories and articles on Heart, the day being the World Heart Day. The lead article was “ Back from the Brink” showing celebrities like , Rohit Bal, Arpana Caur, Rakesh Roshan, Randhir Kapoor, who have had their brush with heart ailment of one type or the other. This does ring alarm bells in all of us particularly those on the wrong side of fifty. The best way would be to do some exercise or brisk walking, abstain from drinks and fats , keep tension at bay and not to respond positively to the urge of the dil which always maange more and not to allow any khalbali.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

“ तैमूर लंग ”

बचपन में, जब मैं पाँचवी कक्षा का छात्र था , हिन्दी के पाठ्यक्रम में एक कहानी थी “ तैमूर लंग ”। कहानी मुझे इसलिए भी याद है कि उस समय कहानी और शीर्षक का दूर दूर से भी कोई संबंध मालूम न पड़ा क्योंकि एक तो इतिहास की इस क्रूर हस्ती से परिचय कुछ बाद में हुआ , दूसरा , कहानी में शीर्षक केवल एक बार आया है वह भी अंत में। लेखक का नाम मुझे याद नहीं पर कहानी प्रथम पुरुष में थी और दो मित्रों के बारे में थी जो एक ही नाटक कंपनी में काम करते थे ।कहानी का लेखक नाटककार था और उसका मित्र अभिनेता। दुर्भाग्य वश एक नाटक के मंचन के समय अभिनेता मित्र के पाँव में कील चुभ गयी और सेप्टिक होते होते पाँव कटवाने तक की नौबत आ गयी । अभिनेता मित्र तो जीवन से निराश हो ही चुका था क्योंकि अभिनय क्षेत्र की समस्त राहें बंद हो चुकी थी । कई दिन दोनों मित्रों की कोई मुलाक़ात न हुई । उधर लेखक मित्र को चैन कहाँ , वह अपने मित्र के लिए कुछ करना चाहता था । उसने अपने मित्र के लिए एक नाटक लिखा और पांडुलिपि उसे दिखाने के लिए ले गया । नाटक का शीर्षक था “ तैमूर लंग ” ।

कृतज्ञता से भाव विभोर हुए अभिनेता मित्र ने कहा “ इतनी प्रबल उत्तेजना किसने दी ? “

लेखक मित्र का उत्तर था “ तुमने , तुम्हारे प्रेम ने ! ”

कहानी का मर्म जब कई वर्षों के बाद जान पाया तो सच्ची मित्रता का भी अर्थ समझ में आया कि यह नाटक इसी लिए लिखा गया था कि लेखक का मित्र, जो अपना पाँव गंवा चुका था , तैमूर लंग की भूमिका निभा सके ।

सच में ऐसी कालजयी कहानियाँ हर समय तो नहीं लिखी जाती।

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


The very mention of the word Window as the English translation of Khidki evoked the image of an opening in the wall , with a wooden frame with one or two pallas with glass fixed in between so that one could have the view of the outside world without any fear of wind or storm, as also bask in the warmth of sunshine in the winter months . Khidki, used to be a source of romance blossoming between two young hearts looking wistfully at each other through the windows and in case of lucky ones , often maturing into life long relationship through matrimony.. There are many instances when some daring ( sic ) lover would jump out of the window lest he be caught meeting the beloved chori chori red handed – and breaking his leg in the process.I remember, as youngsters, we used to recite lines like Khidki khuli zulf uri.....without knowing the meaning, much to the annoyance of our elders. Similarly, the lines - Kharak Singh ke kharakne se kharakti hain khidkiyan , khidkiyon ke kharakne se khadakta hai Kharak Singh - were only an exercise in alliteration . There are a number of songs and ghazals finding mention of the word Khidki, like the one in film Padosan- Mere Samne wali Khidki Mein ik chaand ka tukda rehta hai or yeh Khidki jo band rehti hai. Or as in a Ghazal, Khuli hain Khidkian har ghar ki lekin, gali mein jhankta koi nahin hai.. Khidki was not only a passage for light to enter into our rooms but also our lives both literally and metaphorically.
But now the mention of Windows transports us straight to the Computer world where Windows denotes user friendly interface , making things easier. We have been introduced to different versions of Windows e.g. Windows, 95, 97, 98, 2000, 2003, 2007, XP, Vista and now, Windows 7, denoting various configurations and specifications which terms are all Greek to a layman like me and at the same time sound so unromantic

Saturday, September 4, 2010

उपेंद्रनाथ अश्क

2010 भी दो तिहाई समाप्त हो चुका है और महान रचनाकार उपेंद्रनाथ अश्क की जन्मशती के बारे हिन्दी साहित्य जगत की चुप्पी समझ से परे है .कविता, कहानी , उपन्यास , नाटक यानि लेखन की सभी विधाओं में प्रभाव पूर्ण ढंग से क़लम चलाने वाले अश्क जी अपने समय के हिन्दी साहित्य के महत्वपूर्ण हस्ताक्षर रहे हैं . उनका उपन्यास “गिरती दीवारें " उपन्यास लेखन में यदि मील का पत्थर साबित हुआ है तो “बड़ी बड़ी आँखें " और “ एक नन्ही किंदील" भी अपने आप में बेजोड़ हैं .
“ डाची ” कहानी भी कम रोचक नहीं. उनकी कविता “मरुस्थल से " बरबस याद आती है इसलिए भी कि यह कैसा मरुस्थल है जो किसी महान लेखक की याद को हरा भरा रखना तो दूर, पनपने देने में भी अक्षम है ।

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The shop that was/is.

While in Shimla, it is a must for some people to have a daily stroll on the Mall, especially in the evenings, as this also serves as a rendezvous to bump into or meet people without an appointment. Having done this to one’s fill, it is customary to round off the trip by taking a turn from Sher-e Punjab – the Naaz restaurant of yore- and follow the road down to the Lower Bazar , do some shopping , be it vegetables, grocery or even readymades & cloth etc , and walk down to the local bus stand to take a bus to home. This had been my routine in the young age , when I had an unbroken stay in Shimla. For shopping and eating purposes, Lower Bazar was and still is the ultimate choice, for the reason that every thing comes for a reasonable price, compared to the Mall , where, rates are somewhat on the higher side. On a recent visit to the Mall and the Lower Bazar, it was a surprise and shock to find that the Mehru’s sweets shop- an all time favourite to savour and take home sweets prepared in desi ghee - has squeezed to less than half of its original size , and a large portion of it has the shutters down. You can no longer sit inside and indulge yourself in hot and tasty Gulab Jamuns, doodh jalebi aloo- poori , dahi-vada , tikki stuffed with kaju kishmish etc etc. It was irresistible to be drawn to the shop, as passing by , aroma of desi ghee would enter your nostrils. Of course the sales might not have suffered much as the owners do not compromise on the quality. The more than a hundred year old shop is a monument of sorts, though there is an equally good and very old Nathu halwai ’s shop near the other end of the bazaar . A few metres ahead , it was nice to see that the two-three adjoining shops selling samosa, seekh and gobhi pakoras have wider space now to accommodate more customers .

Saturday, August 7, 2010

A Tribute

It is rightly said time has wings. Seven years ago , I lost a friend, Gopal Kaith, a gem of a man, very down to earth and as simple as simple can be. Had an excellent or rather enviable command of English and wrote some beautiful “middles” which appeared in “The Tribune ” time to time. “Whom God loves die young ” was perhaps said of persons like him. Forty seven is certainly not the age to die. I remember, Mr. Shriniwas Joshi , another writer of repute had paid a rich tribute to him in a “middle” with the title “Go-pal , Go !”.
Gopal , your disappearance has left a void in the lives of many !

Saturday, July 31, 2010

अजीब इत्तफाक

अजीब इत्तफाक है. आज इकतीस जुलाई है. एक महान शक्सियत का जन्मदिन है तो दूसरे की बरसी. जी हाँ मेरा इशारा उपन्यास सम्राट मुंशी प्रेम चंद और मशहूर गायक मुहम्मद रफ़ी की ओर है . दोनों ही अपने अपने फन के माहिर जिन पर हर भारतवासी गर्व कर सकता है .

Friday, July 30, 2010

Marriage Anniversary

Marriages, they say are made in heaven and celebrated on earth. But this saying does not seem to hold water seeing how brittle the once “sacred bond of love between the two souls” has become.
Lucky are those who have the time, the means, the inclination and the reasons to celebrate their wedding anniversaries. Mine passes off as a non event year after year. Leave other things, perhaps this is reason enough to celebrate if you are able to stay together for decades under the same roof with never a thought to wish otherwise, in these days when there can be a divorce from either side on the drop of a hat. Reportedly the roving eye of Md. Azharuddin has stopped at a new damsel . The most recent incident is the reported marital crisis involving Rahul Mahajan and Dimpi . Therefore, those who choose to celebrate their wedding anniversaries have every right to do so and flaunt the expensive gifts the spouses exchange to reiterate their sacred bond of love. For me, if you have caring, loving and obedient kids, they are the best gift you have given each other. Not to talk of marriages breaking up for no understandable reasons, I read in an imaginary and imaginative article that Sania Mirza broke her engagement with Sohrab Mirza saying, there was no fun in marriage if it was not going to give one a new surname . Going by the recent convention when girls choose to retain their maiden surname along side the new surname that the marriage bestows, imagine Sania calling herself Sania Mirza Mirza- how odd it would seem. Worse still, take the example of my wife whose maiden as well as adoptive surname happen to be ‘Sharma ‘. If she were to call herself K. Sharma Sharma , it would appear that she is impudent enough to be told to become shy and demure by saying Sharma .Sharma… ! (sharmati kyon nahin ! ). She is saved this embarrassment, for not being intelligent enough to have raised this issue at the time of her engagement .

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

" शाहीन "

" शाहीन " ( बाज़ ) शब्द का प्रयोग शायरों द्वारा भिन्न-भिन्न सन्दर्भों में बड़ी खूबसूरती से किया गया है :
"पंजा जल्लाद का बनाया जिसने
शाना कातिल का थपथपाया जिसने
क्या हिफ्ज़े कबूतर का नहीं वह जामिन
शाहीन को दिया शिकार-ए-ताज़ा जिसने "
" सितारों से आगे जहाँ और भी हैं
अभी इश्क के इम्तिहाँ और भी हैं
तू शाहीन है परवाज़ है काम तेरा
तेरे सामने आसमां और भी हैं "

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Of Cats and Dogs

When we talk of pets , perhaps cats and dogs top the list and between these two, dogs win hands down. The reason being that dog is the most faithful friend of man. Some years back a nationalized bank had the face of a dog as its logo with the caption “faithful & friendly”. There was a movie “ Teri Meharbaniyan” with the title song dedicated to a faithful dog.Further a gramophone recording company has the name HMV -His Master's Voice- and has the logo of a dog facing a gramophone. In my school days , I came across a book in the school library titled “Drishti Daatri”, about the dogs in Europe and America specially trained to help blind people. We have dog squads in Police and Military to do the assigned jobs. And yet , we do not treat this friendly animal the way we should. We have idioms and proverbs like “Every dog has his day” and “to die a dog's death” , always used in a negative sense. Dog is often a metaphor for a mean ,wicked and a crooked person as used in Bollywood film dialogues. A married couple , not having the best of terms is said to be living a cat and dog life. It is said to be raining cats and dogs during the monsoons. And a cat , though devoid of the qualities that a dog has ,on the other hand is blessed with nine lives.
My mother , as a child had had a dog as a pet and would tell us that it was a vegetarian dog, always fed on milk and bread that would turn its head away if anything non-veg was offered to it. She would always say that a dog wishes that there are more members in a family so that it could survive on food left over by each one of them : while a cat , selfish and self-seeking , as always , wished that there should be a lone person around that too blind so that it could willfully eat or drink anything available without any hindrance- no one checking or stopping it. It is natural that I have a liking for dogs and prefer them over cats, when it comes to having pets. For some having a dog as a pet is a status symbol and walking the dog , the best pastime. Now a days , only the well to do in urban areas can afford to have a pet.
A dog recognizes its true master and owner and would not do any mistake on this account. Years ago, it so happened that our landlord brought a pup , an Alsatian and we children showered more love , care and affection on it than him and even named it Tiger. It would always live with us and even sleep in the verandah attached to our accommodation , so much so that people thought we were the owners.
After some years when we were to shift to a Govt. accommodation allotted to my father, every one thought , it would accompany us. For all the love affection and care showered on it by us, Tiger did not move with us and lived there till death.But this however does not mean that Tiger forgot us or that its affection for us diminished to any degree. The few occasions, when we visited the place , it would come running to us, wagging its tail and expecting a loving caress or a pat on the back. What can be a better example of dog's faithfulness !

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Honesty, still the best Policy !

The title may appear to denote some skepticism by insertion of the word 'still ' , but I have reasons for this. In modern times,the story of the wood cutter who was rewarded by God Mercury with gold and silver axes besides restoring to him the iron one that actually was his , will be scoffed at. People can be heard saying -Imandari ka zamana nahin, samajhdari ka zamana hai- as if to be honest is an aberration and a sort of naivette and not the accepted thing.
My daughter since childhood has an insatiable craving for shoes and whenever and wherever she saw shoes on display in a show room , she would throw tantrums for having a new pair. Most of the time , we gave in , she being our darling first born .
She was about seven year old when I was posted at Palampur , the picturesque town in Kangra district.
As is the case with all salaried people, shopping is done mostly in the first week of the month after salary has been brought home. It was planned to have shoes for our two kids . The shoes were purchased and as is the case with the children her age my daughter insisted on wearing new shoes there and then . As a result the old ones were packed in the box.
On reaching home when the box supposed to be containing old shoes was opened, a brand new pair of 'action' shoes was found in it - obviously the shopkeeper had put the wrong box in the carry bag. . On an impulse my wife said , “yeh toh mere number aur size ke hain.” I said , “ Fine , keep them, we'll pay for them tomorrow.” Since my wife did not need a new pair right then , next day , on way to my office I went to the shop to return the shoes. Naturally, the shopkeeper was happy and grateful for this honesty on our part , and handed over the box containing old shoes of my daughter. We did visit his shop on a few occasions afterwards . Needless to say , he charged us less without our asking for any concession. In retrospect , I find this incident quite satisfying as a temporary "gain" of Rs. 565/- or so - if it was chosen to kill conscience for this - would have cost much more in terms of burden of a guilt that would have to be carried for a lifetime.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Of Words and Meanings

“In the beginning was the word and the word was God ” says the Holy Bible. In Hinduism, “Om” has a special significance and is believed to be the first original sound produced at the time of the making of universe and the planet Earth. With the advent of civilization , sign-language was invented to communicate , but after the evolution of various languages all over the world , it is the spoken and the written words that have revolutionized the world. To be lost for words is considered a virtual handicap when we are not able to express our feelings of extreme joy , sorrow or surprise. Not only the words but their meanings assume an important place in our day to day life.
Shimla , where I was born and grew up was a part of Punjab and in school , we were taught Punjabi as a second language. Our neighbourhood was a Punjabi- dominated one . The concept of family planning or family welfare was not born and each family had a brood of three and more on an average. Needless to say , bringing up three and more kids at a time required a lot of grit and patience and it was very common to hear swear-words or gaalis being hurled upon pranksters or otherwise erring children. Some of these were – moya , rud jaaneya , khasman nu khaneyan etc. etc. Particularly a lady who was a cleanliness buff was more liberal in showering these expletives on her four sons. Occasionally heard was also a word “auntra” the meaning of which , we never tried to find out .
I was in seventh or eighth class when in a terminal examination we were required to substitute one word for an issue-less man. The entire class scratched heads to think and find out but could nor get beyond niputta or bey-aulad both of these unacceptable . It was only after the exams when we were to receive our marked answer sheets that Gyaniji , our Punjabi teacher told us that none of us had got the answer correct and added that the correct answer was “auntra” which we had heard countless of times or ad nauseum .
Another instance that comes to mind , relates to the Hindi word pratishthit . The Hindi teacher did not spare the rod and the entire class got a spanking for not getting the meaning right. The glossary given at the end of the text book showed the meaning as “ jiski sthaapana ki gayi ho" which though not completely incorrect was utterly out of context ,and rightly so , the teacher would not have it for an answer which he told was “reputed” or “renowned ”..
These two instances inculcated in me the habit of looking up dictionary every now and then to know the exact meaning of words . Needless to say now we have words like “avatar ” adopted in English and used liberally for manifestation or shape or form of any thing or substance and not in the narrow religious sense. Again we have words like Moolah being frequently used for money or lucre.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Magic of Poetry

Many many years ago , I came across the following lines from “ A Psalm of Life “ by H.W.Longfellow in a translation book :

"Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!—
For the soul is dead that slumbers
And things are not what they seem. "

translated in Hindi thus
" न सुनाओ दुःख भरे गीतों में मुझे
जीवन है एक स्वप्न ख़ाली
मुर्दा है वह जो बुदबुदाये
स्वप्नों में दिखती है कुछ और ही लाली "
I wonder if the magic of the following beautiful lines
" धरा पर झुकी प्रार्थना सदृश
मधुर मुरली सी फिर भी मौन
किसी अज्ञात विश्व की विकल
वेदना दूती सी तुम कौन ! "
by the poet Jai Shankar  Prasad  can be kept intact, if someone attempts a translation in English. !

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Cruellest Months

T.S.Eliot had his own reasons to call April the cruellest month and I tend to agree with him , though for a different reason. Only I would include May as well. I speak for myself and thousands of Government employees like me , who have transferable jobs. April and May constitute the transfer season , awaited by some and dreaded by others. For some, it is time to pull the strings to get postings in more comfortable places after a tenure in the hard area or otherwise an inconvenient place , who consider themselves lucky if the efforts prove fruitful. For those already in the comfort zone, it is the fear of getting disturbed due to likely transfer during the season. The fear though is not unfounded, due to personal and domestic circumstances .Especially if you have school/college going children it involves getting fresh admission, and in most of the cases a hunt for suitable residential accommodation at affordable rent. Even otherwise if there are no personal or domestic problems staring in the face, there are adjustments to be made in the new environment with new colleagues and altogether different nature of job as well. In a sense , this is similar to a girl leaving for in laws' house , where she is expected to make all adjustments and contribute to bring happiness and comfort to all in her new home.
Everyone who has a transferable job has had bitter-sweet experiences . “ Ring out the old and ring in the new " seems to be the 'in' thing . You may come across mixed reactions – for this you have to be an expert in face reading- some may think of your transfer as good riddance , while some - even though for a short while - may not take your going out easy . Well , depends on kind of rapport you have had with the permanent members of the clan ! Invariably , people are forced to tell some lies while making farewell speeches. It is not difficult to judge where the catch is. After all , you are the best judge as far as you are concerned. . In new office , you are seemingly always welcome . Rest assured , the guys have already inquired as to what type of person you are , and have sufficient feedback and information about you from the sources, unknown to you. Little wonder if your attention is drawn to the list of your predecessors displayed on the board -for whatever reason called 'Honour Board' -in front of you suggesting you are the incumbent and thus making you mindful of the transient nature of things and also the fact that after sometime you get reduced to a number and a name !

Monday, May 24, 2010

A Tribute

Our heart goes out to the kith and kin of the victims of grim tragedy that struck in the shape of a major air crash at Mangalore on 22th May, 2010 claiming 159 lives. . No amount of money can compensate for the irreparable loss caused to the bereaved families . Fate did not spare even the newborn babies .
May God give enough strength to the bereaved to overcome this grief !

Saturday, May 22, 2010


My obsession with names, surnames and nicknames is a bit compulsive though it has not reached up to the stage of being a disorder , so as to make me a victim of OCD , a much talked about psychological condition these days.

Names do matter and we love them too . Sometimes they get stuck up with personality traits , and define the person . Bollywood has introduced us to many such prototypes. For example, if we just think of old movies, we find that a rich man or a seth is invariably named Dhani Ram , Dhanraj or Badri.: every spoiled brat had to be named Vicky and the quintessential mother , a Janki, Sheela, or Sushila., as the case may be. And Amitabh Bachchan as Vijay epitomzed the Angry Young Man

Names are sometimes suggestive too. , like in Bimal Roy's film Sujata, the heroine , played by Nutan , even though born a dalit is named Sujata , and the hero Sunil Datt falls head over heels for her instead of the glamorous and beautiful Shashi Kala, whose, name in the film I am not able to recall.

Some characters in the films become memorable because of the peculiar names assigned to them. Malang Chacha of Upkar, Daku Kehar Singh in Shaheed - both played by Pran , Mogambo – played by Amrish Puri and others like Gabbar Singh , Shaakaal etc. etc .

The film heroes and heroines had assumed names- Dilip Kumar, Dev Anand, Manoj Kumar, Sanjeev Kumar , Madubala, Meena Kumari , Sulochana at once come to mind. Adding of extra letters to existing names or having odd spellings is the modern trend.

Authors and poets suffix the names of their birth place to their names or pen names. Sahir Ludhiyanvi, Shakeel Badaayuni Raahat Indori, Hasrat Jaipuri, Majrooh Sultanpuri are some of the prominent examples.
In my childhood, every other boy in the neighbour hood or otherwise was nicknamed Teetu , perhaps after Marshal Tito of Yugoslavia , who in a sense was a political follower as well as a great admirer of Nehru and was in the news most of the time.
It was not uncommon to call a rich man Tata or Birla .
In old times it was customary to have a name with Ram or Lal or Chand or Kumar suffixed to it . Interestingly , the popularity of Ram was explained thus- bulatey huey is bahaney Bhagwan ka naam toh liya jayega. So a person , on the deathbed , however crooked and wicked he may have been , by calling out to his son named Ram or Krishan , by this single utterance would for sure land in heaven !

Friday, May 7, 2010

Rabindranath Tagore

Today is the 150th birthday of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore , the Nobel laureate , a poet , novelist , short story writer and a painter of repute. Here is a specimen of his profound poetry and sublime thoughts :

Where The Mind is Without Fear

    WHERE the mind is without fear and the head is held high
    Where knowledge is free
    Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
    By narrow domestic walls
    Where words come out from the depth of truth
    Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
    Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
    Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
    Where the mind is led forward by thee
    Into ever-widening thought and action
    Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

मई दिवस

आज मई दिवस पर एक कविता की पंक्तियाँ याद आ रही हैं -

ओ मजदूर
ओ मजदूर
तू ही सब चीज़ों का कर्ता
तू ही सब चीज़ों से दूर
ओ मजदूर ..........!

और साथ ही निराला की कविता
" वह तोड़ती पत्थर " भी .

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Happy Birthday

In my childhood , I was nicknamed Kaka . Among the few friends who know this , I refer to my wife as Kaki and most appropriately so as she fits into the image of Kaki, made popular by Kaka Hatharsi , the Hasya-kavi Shiromani of years gone by.

Some days back was my wife's birthday and she turned …...... ( oh, leave it to imagination - if she happens to read it she may find a whip to lash at me again for being politically incorrect.) Like always, my problem was whether to wish her a happy birthday or not.. Saying “ Happy birthday ” seemed too formal and banal ; moreover I do not ever expect her to say “thank you “, she being my be(i)tter half or to borrow a term three -fourth of me. So when we encountered each other in the morning – it is always an encounter - it was a gentle caress on her face that I dared . Going any further would have evoked the most expected response as “ Kuchh toh khayaal ( meaning
sharam) karo, ab toh aapkey bachchey bhi bachchey nahin rahe ” which would have been enough to floor me , overconscious as I am of being past my prime. Even otherwise , Kaki is unsparing and has a knack of catching words mid-air and throwing them back with more force and vigour, in common parlance byaj sahit.

We , poor husbands have to be more wary even while showing genuine love and concern in these days of women empowerment, not to face any situation summed up by who else but Ghalib :

Dhaul dhappa us saraapaa naaz ka sheva na tha
Hum hi kar baithey the' Ghalib pesh dasti ek din.

I wonder if this happens to all of us with more than quarter of a century of married life behind !

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Tea , the modern day Manna

The word teetotaller has always baffled me. According to dictionary it means one who abstains from alcohol or some such like drinks. Sometimes, the etymologist in me wakes up and I set for myself the task of hair splitting and indulge myself in unnecessary dissection of words. As I myself fit into the definition of teetotaller , I split 'teetotaller' into tee and totaller and came to the conclusion that the word means one whose addiction starts and ends with tea , the minor incongruity due to spelling difference notwithstanding. I guess I am not very far from the truth or the reality. Tea as we know originated in China and a story goes that a pedestrian traveller discovered it, while randomly plucking a few leaves from a shrub and putting them into his mouth. To his delight and surprise, this had a miraculous effect on him and his fatigue disappeared all of a sudden.He dug out a few plants and may have buried them in soil which virtually started the cultivation of tea. Surprisingly , tea came to India with the Britishers, who introduced this favoured drink to us and as usual we were quick to copy them , though not fully.

No doubt we Indians are relentless and ruthless tea takers, gulping down huge quantities of this favoured drink, from morning till evening without any accompaniment like biscuits or snacks most of the time with attendant health hazards . Tea break is necessary in all official meetings , sometimes tea being served during the meeting itself.

Lin Yutang the widely acclaimed Harvard educated Chinese author , who wrote in both Chinese and English with equal ease in his book, “ The Importance of Living ” has devoted a few pages to a sub-chapter with the heading, “ On Tea and Friendship ” dealing at length with the subject, prescribing the method and manner of picking, drying , making and serving of tea., as also when and when not to take tea. Besides, he has also prescribed certain things to be avoided. According to him , tea constitutes a culture in itself and is a symbol of friendship, sociability and etiquette .

We have grown up with only a handful of tea brands like Brooke Bond, Duncan, Lipton (Green & Yellow label) varieties. Later entrants are l Tata., Tetley etc.For most of us , boiling tea leaves, and sugar together in water and then adding milk is all it takes to make tea, while the more sophisticated go through the trouble of putting tea leaves in boiling water, stirring the brew, pouring into cups and adding sugar and milk to taste. It is also fashionable to bring the tea pot covered with a tea cosy so that it remains hot.

Presently tea is available in mind boggling varieties and packages, like tea bags, and come in different flavours like, herbal, jasmine and honey so much so that one faces the problem of plenty. As things go, tea has become an important part of our being , and whether for good or for bad, it seems hard to avoid or ignore.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Abhi Toh Main Jawan Hoon

Abhi Toh Main Jawan Hoon ……….. “ this beautiful ghazal penned by Hafiz Jalandhari and rendered no less beautifully by Malika Pukhraj, one of my all time favourites from across the border, has the potential to become the voice of thousands like me- who have left young age far behind and old age is just about to knock at the door . Denial may be admission, but assertion at times also stems from self doubt , which is the underlying thought in this ghazal.The repitition of lines “Abhi toh........... ….” appears to be a feeble attempt to negate the troubles and travails one associates with old age. Mirror they say always tells the truth a la a song- Darpan jhooth na boley- from a Bollywood film This is what sets people like me thinking. Unfortunately I never had beautiful lines of teeth to enable me to exude a Binaca or a Colgate smile , but still the teeth, asymmetrical, as they were , were an asset , for the facial looks , as my face had the appearance of a bhara chehra . This is another matter that I dared give only a Mona Lisa smile, with pursed lips lest my buck- teeth should show..

I am reminded of the inherent irony in the lines of a song :

" Dand motiyan de daney ,

Na hass jaan dig jaangey

-quoted by the famous writer Upendra nath Ashk in his novel “Bari Bari Ankhen” . The famous punjabi song rendered by the late Asa Singh Mastana “ Aayi jawani gayi jawani ….......... " is more forthright in suggesting to one to gracefully accept the arrival of old age and attendant troubles , travails and miseries. The following lines from the song deserve mention as being true and of utmost relevance:

Aayi jawani gayi jawani , hun oh mauj na mela ,

Jhar gaye dand motiyan vargey , ban gaya roop karela.....”

Be it as it may, there is no let up in defying old age and one does get a boost up by humming “Abhi toh main jawan hoon...... ."

Monday, April 5, 2010

So Much For Colour

It is difficult to imagine life without colours , as mother Nature has spread colours all around us in various shapes and forms.It is our constant endeavour to add colours to our lives through celebrations of various kinds. Little doubt that we have in India, Holi, the festival of colours.

For no particular reason , I have a liking for yellow colour and its various shades. Perhaps we all have a preference for one colour or the other. I am told that persons who have a liking for the yellow colour have spiritual bent of mind or some such inclinations , which in my case is only partly true. I am also told that persons in my league are susceptible to stomach ailments, which in my case is almost true. Somehow , this remains my favourite colour -perhaps it appears to me visually appealing. Yellow coloured capsicum , to me , is a visual treat .The colour yellow, when worn , is said to lift the sagging spirits and is a symbol of warmth, optimism and light. People have fads about wearing dress of a particular colour on different days of the week and yellow is earmarked for Thursdays. Otherwise the word yellow is prefixed to so many words and it assumes different connotations , some of them not flattering at all. However, Basanti ,(saffron) a shade of yellow symbolizes Spring season and also is a symbol for sacrifice . The famous song associated with Sardar Bhagat Singh, the martyr, “ Mera rang de Basanti chola…………” is a case in point, as also the bollywood movie “Rang De Basanti”.

Yellow pages in a directory are considered carrying useful information, while yellow journalism , which stands for sensationalism, is a repugnant term.

You may embrace yellow but yellow should never embrace you. This is a caution I have to give to whosoever reads this.

Sawan ke andhe ko hara hi dikhai deta hai” or its English version “Every thing looks pale to a jaundiced eye “ says it all, as I have learnt from my personal experience.

Some three years back, I had a bout of illness and fell a victim to - of all things- yellow fever or jaundice. And it was yellow colour which became the most disturbing. Pity my son , who had no other pastime than watching the television , had to switch it off so as not to give me creeps, as the screen appeared to me predominantly yellow, much like the Eastman color movies of yore and the sound appeared no less jarring, may be due to my near anaemic condition , which makes one less tolerant of things around. In the newspaper, that I subscribed to, pages carrying classified advertisements were virtually painted yellow. Thank God, this aversion to color yellow lasted only as long as my illness and with recovery and recuperation, returned my old liking for it.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

कहीं हम भूल न जाएँ !

"शहीदों की चिताओं पर लगेंगे हर बरस मेले
वतन पर मरने वालों का यही बाकी निशां होगा "

आजादी के दीवानों -भगत सिंह , राजगुरु व सुखदेव एवं उन जैसे अनेक शहीदों की पावन स्मृति को शत शत नमन.!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Only For a Name

“ What is in a name? ”, said William Shakespeare and went on to add that called by any other name , the rose would smell as sweet. I am afraid not many would agree with him today, because there is every thing in a name and as they say in Hindi- Naam bikta hai.

Take any thing- from a toothbrush to an expensive car - the manufacturers vie with one another to woo the customer and coax him/her into purchasing the product through massive advertisements and publicity campaign. Little wonder then that in any production house or manufacturing concern, a sizable amount of budget is kept aside for advertisement and publicity, as without this the amount spent on R & D will not be able to produce the desired results in terms of sales and returns.

We have seen names of places being changed sometimes on well founded historical, cultural or religious reasons. So we have seen Bombay being changed to Mumbai, Calcutta to Kolkata, Madras city to Chennai , Madras state to Tamilnadu. Pondicherry to Puducherry, Trivendrum to Thiruananthapuram ………….so on and so forth. In case of my hometown, there was a smooth transition from the “British” Simla to Shimla- the way it is spelt and sounds in Hindi.

But of late or rather for quite some years now, some people, especially celebrities , on the advice of some experts-astrologists and numerologists have developed a fad for new spellings for their names , by inserting a letter or two to the name or surname, as the case may be. So we have Sonu Nigam preferring to be called Sonu Nigaam , Shobha De calling herself Shobhaa De. No doubt we have names spelt as Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra etc etc. What boost has their changed name given to these celebrities in terms of success and well being, only they can tell.

In my school days , I once planned to go for more fashionable “ Romesh ” instead of the very common “ Ramesh "- a la an actor of Hindi cinema. But as it turned out, our Hindi teacher , known for his sense of humour once talking casually out of context held " Ramesh " to be OK as Rama + eesh could mean Shiv or Vishnu and added that “ Romesh " split into Rom + eesh could only mean a bear or a Bhaloo- with a body covered with hair , as " Rom " in Hindi means a strand of hair. This made me stick to the name “ Ramesh " however old fashioned or common it appears !

Monday, February 15, 2010

How I wish...............!

Moustaches, defined as “ a strip of hair allowed to grow under the nose "have long been considered a sign of manhood as well as manliness. We have grown up hearing “ jiski moonchh, uska sab kuchh" umpteen of times. A twirl of moustaches has always been considered not only a sign of strength and the power you wield but also an open challenge for a fight.On the other hand lowering of moustaches has signified loss of esteem and abject helplessness . Moustaches always add to the looks and people go for different styles suiting their face and appearance. In days gone by, people used to rear and nurture their moustaches by applying oil or malai . I still remember Ajay Devgun hiding his face in the movie " Pyaar to hona hi tha " after a barber removes his moustaches by mistake.

" Moonchhein hon toh Nathu Lal ki jaisi nahin toh hon hi naa ", is a famous line from a equally famous film. I have neither seen the movie nor any photograph of the filmy Nathu Lal , but I am sure his stuff would be something to envy and crave for.I must say I have not been as lucky as that guy for I have not been able to grow mine as thick so that I could boast of “ghani kali kali moonchhen " when there was still time. Nevertheless , the same not-so-good growth in my case has sometimes evoked envious feelings in my not so lucky friends and colleagues who never dared to sport moustaches lest the countable bristles should make a laughing stock out of them. A banker friend, now a senior manager with a nationalized bank would always point towards my “ porcupine needles pointing towards every possible direction " out of a streak of envy , our deep friendship notwithstanding .

Irony has never left me, that is why in my case greying and thickening of the “growth beneath the nose " have happened simultaneously. In my fifties now,the growth is so quick and thick that I have to trim it every alternate day as who would like to have “ white " moustaches dangling loosely on the face .
How I wish the growth were so quick and thick in my youth to make the people turn and have a look !

Thursday, January 21, 2010


मौसम! प्यारा मौसम!
कभी गर्मी , कभी बरसात, तो कभी सर्दी
अलग अलग लोगों के लिए अलग अलग मतलब लिए हुए

याद आती है एक कहानी
दो बहनों की
एक किसान के घर बियाही -
एक कुम्हार के.

बूढ़ा पिता चला
कुशल क्षेम पूछने
पहले एक बेटी के पास -
फिर दूसरी के पास.

बाकी सब कुछ ठीक था
परन्तु -
किसान की बीवी को चाहिए थी वर्षा
कुम्हार की बीवी को चाहिए थी धूप
अपना अपना स्वार्थ था

बूढ़ा पिता असमंजस में कि

- किस के लिए दुआ मांगे !

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Blessing or………..!

The English love or prejudice for the colour white is too well known to need any emphasis here. We in India take pride in our wheat complexion , perhaps rightly so , and liken ourselves to the most perfectly made specimen of roti , heated to the right degree - neither left raw or under heated ( fair skinned races ) nor over heated (dark skinned races) . The anglicized Indians have often been referred to as the brown sahibs. For good or for bad I was ‘blessed' with a fair skin and may have been good looking and during childhood was an object of envy for friends and classmates ‘less endowed ’ in this respect. Nevertheless, they had nicknamed me “Angrez”.

I must have been just about four or five year old, when on a bright sunny Sunday, my father took me along to the Mall, Shimla to have a stroll. Walking towards the Mall, near the CTO Building , an English couple, coming from the opposite direction stopped to have a look at me, smilingly exchanged a few words with my father. The lady took out a blue colored water-ball with a rubber string attached (yo-yo) from her bag and touching me on the cheeks,gave it to me. Sounds flattering, doesn’t it!

The same white skin with passage of time has started giving trouble now. I am allergic to sun rays,cannot face the direct sun and mine is a furrowed face which makes me look older than actually I am . Even the hair-color which my wife is at pains to apply is of little help. It is now my turn to envy my ‘less endowed’ friends with wrinkle-free smooth skin with virtually no signs of ageing who can still pass for a “bhai sahib” instead of an “uncle” that I am called and made to feel even by the fairly old ones !

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

happy lohri

आज लोहड़ी के पावन पर्व के अवसर पर बचपन की याद ताज़ा हो आई .
बच्चों की टोली सड़क व मोहल्लों में निकल कर लोहड़ी
मांगते हुए ये पंक्तियाँ गाया करती थी :

सुंदर मुंदरिये हो !
तेरा कौन बिचारा हो !
दुल्ला भठ्ठी वाला हो !
जिन्ने धी बियाही हो !
सेर शक्कर पाई हो !
सच में, बचपन के दिन भी क्या दिन थे !