Monday, February 28, 2011

Wishing Happy Birthday to a ' Leapling '

It is in the hands of the Providence to decide in what age, era, times or on which date you are to be born. In other words, it is certainly not up to you. However, the persons born on 29th February are so special. Their birthday comes not every year but every four years. In my living memory, this matter came more to light when, Mr. Morarji Desai, became Prime Minister of India, his date of birth being 29th February. For some years now , there is a very friendly neighbour who was also born on this date. I convey my best wishes to him on 1st March every year, but am most happy when a leap year comes as I am able to convey my best wishes exactly when I should .

Thursday, February 24, 2011

CRY of the children !

“ Ghar se masjid hai bahut door,

Chalo yun kar len

Kisi rotay huey bachchey ko hansaaya jaye…….”

-these famous lines of Nida Fazli point to a very basic philosophy of life- learn to love human beings and try to alleviate their suffering before you worship God .

Now please go through the following news item :

Chandigarh: Sujata Dass, a 1978-batch Punjab-cadre IAS officer who is posted as secretary, vigilance inquiries, Punjab, has been booked by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR). She had slapped the child, Garima, who is a nursery student, in full public view.

Garima was returning from school in an auto rickshaw when the incident took place. The auto rickshaw driver stopped the vehicle in the Sector 38 market to drop a child and stepped out with the ignition on.

In the meantime Dass, who stays here in Sector 39, reached there in her official Honda City car. Garima accidentally pulled the gear lever and the auto rickshaw banged the rear door of the car. Infuriated, Dass came out and thrashed the child.

Garima is a nursery student at Delhi Public school in Sector 40 here.

Read more at:

Is this not in sharp contrast to what the poet has said above. We are simply making children weep by slapping them when, even if the child is at fault , a light reprimand would do !

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Daru or Dawa !

I must have been a liquor lover in my previous birth, as time and again I am tempted to think of wine and write about it. Though I cannot lay claim to having seventy five percent wine in my blood a la the great poet Bachchan in his masterpiece- Madhushala , somehow the Providence does throw me in such situations when it is difficult for me to decide whether I should stick to the tag of being a teetotaler or just give way to the pleasures of having a sip or two occasionally from the goblet , full of Manna.

Some more than twenty years back, while serving in a tribal area, I was deputed to hand over some departmental properties to the Irrigation department so that the transferee department could maintain them and ensure full optimum use there of. The day was spent in preparing detailed inventory of furniture and other articles to ensure that not even a small thing like spoon was left out.

Since, the representative of the other department and I were staying at the same place, there was enough time in the evening to indulge in gossip and discussions . I was a bit shocked when the person, a professed teetotaler expressed his desire to have some local brand . Somehow his wish was fulfilled and he started having the drink. I jokingly reminded him that he had once told me that he never touched wine. . “ Even today, I am not touching wine !" pat came the reply.

Elaborating his point he related to me an incident relating to Akbar and Birbal.

Now Birbal one of the nine gems of Akbar’s durbar , was known for his wit and wisdom and was a favourite of Akbar . Due to this , there was no dearth of persons around hatching conspiracies to make Birbal lose his position and esteem in the eyes of Akbar . Birbal, they say was given to liquor but never made a show of it nor did many people know about it. . Someone,who knew it complained to Akbar, who never believing in hearsay , especially if it pertained to Birbal, set about to enquire into the matter himself. Birbal as usual came to know about the entire scheme .

Akbar , on an appointed day, took a vantage position near Birbal’s residence, Birbal mindful of Akbar’s presence stared his evening ritual. A dialogue -in a voice loud enough to be audible outside-ensued between Birbal and the wine like this :

Birbal holding a goblet full of wine before his eyes : Who are you ?

I am dawa

Fine,( gulps it down )

After some time ,

( holding the goblet for the second time )

Who are you ?

I am suroor

Fine, ( gulps it down too )

Again after some time

Who are you ?

I am wine !

On this Birbal threw the glass on the floor and mouthing choicest abuses , said, "If you are wine , how dare you come near Birbal !"

Akbar went back silently , once again impressed with Birbal’s wit and logic.

Now if the actual wine starts from the third peg, my friend above was perhaps right as he had completed his quota in two !

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Please Spare the Blade !

“Spare the rod and spoil the child ” is an old saying universally acknowledged and accepted and along with parents, it is enjoined upon the teachers to not only make the children familiar with three ‘ R’s and to teach them but also to shape them into good citizens and human things when they grow up. With this in view, parents very rarely react to routine corporal punishment given to their wards . Students too take such punishment in their stride and bear no ill will towards their teachers for this.

But the problem arises when some teachers overstep themselves and in the name of discipline and for taming the mischievous and inattentive students, start hitting below the belt literally and metaphorically. The suicide by a teen-aged girl as a result of continuous humiliation and hurt caused by some teacher is still fresh in our mind and lately, a news has been flashed where- should I say - a sadistic teacher gave a blade cut on the ears of a number of small innocent children in a school in Haridwar in Uttarakhand . The cut may heal in a few days, but psychological hurt may not. This takes me back to my own school days, when rod was not spared and students did get slapped or spanked , but not without justifiable reason.

As usual there will be efforts to shield the culprit.

Still one hopes that the erring teacher is brought to justice so that such incidents do not take place again.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine or " Well in Time " Day !

At the outset , I think, I should make it clear , that in partial adherence to the tenets of Vanprastha ashram, as enshrined in the Vedic tradition, my wife and I do not share a room..

Today I received a missed call from my wife Kaki at 6-20 in the morning. Not one to expect miracles , like the Sun rising in the West , and being one who knows her as well as the back of my hand , it took me no time to understand that this was a wake up call , for me to get up and do whatever little household duties I have assumed, like switching on the geyser and serving milk to my kids before Her Highness takes over so that everyday routine does not get disturbed. Now how dare I tell her that I was having some sweet dream about celebrating Valentine day when her call hurled me to the hard ground . Once again this was a cruel reminder of the fact that any kind of celebration- even in a dream - is not meant for me. Friends who make any mention of Valentine day are greeted by me with the following couplet

Na ched ai nikahat-e- bad-e- bahari raah lag apni

Tujhey athkheliyan soojhi hain hum bezaar bathey hain.

as the Valentine day for me has turned into a “well in time” day !

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


Today when my daughter said “ Papa , today is 9-2-11” , it made me sit up and reminisce about this special date. Why special , one may ask, as no unfortunate events like the 9/11 or 26/11 are associated with it ! “ because it contains a mathematical sequence, i.e. 9+2 =11.” But then perhaps, the date 2-9-11 would also be special . May be and may not be, as only 9-2-11 reminds us of the 1957 Dev Anand movie “ Nau Do Gyarah" and 2006 movie- Taxi No 9 2 11. And the Hindi idiom, nau do gyarah hona baffles all , as to its origin , though the inadequate explanation given is that one walks or runs away with two legs, which are best symbolized by the figure 11 .

Monday, February 7, 2011

B B C Hindi Service

The news that the BBC is going to discontinue its radio Hindi service has come as a rude shock to me. I have grown up listening regularly to both Hindi and Urdu service both for the authentic news- especially during the wars & conflicts and other socio-political events of global importance , where objectivity in reporting was required and also topics of general interest . I remember I had a medium sized transistor- set tucked right in my bed under the wraps, near the pillow and I would switch on to BBC Hindi service ,followed immediately by Urdu service. both in the morning and in the evening. Ratnakar Bharti, Omkar Nath Srivastav, Aley Hassan , Rajni Kaul, Kailash Budhwar, Naresh Arora ,Gautam Sachdev , Neelabh Ashk, Rama Pandey, Raj Narain Bisaria, Purshottam Lal Pahwa , Achala Sharma, Shakuntala Chandan and some others whose name I cannot recall , had become household names and so had Sara Naqvi, Mujeeb Siddiqui and Raza Ali Abidi of the Urdu service. It seemed that one Dr. Avtar Singh Marwaha had answer ready for any science related question. The dispatches sent by Mark Tully , the indianised Englishman who was Delhi correspondent of the BBC were detailed, analytical, interesting and captivating .

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Indian Coffee House

“I have measured out my life with coffee spoons.......” wrote T.S. Eliot in “ The Love Song Of J . Alfred Prufrock ”. There are hundreds of reasons or interpretations given as to what was in the poet's mind when he wrote this line. However, I have never intended to burden my mind with this “intentional fallacy” but I must say that the line applies to me and may apply to thousands of coffee lovers all over. I had experienced the 'fragrance ' and aroma of the 'heady' brew while crossing by the Indian Coffee House on the Mall, Shimla for quite long before I actually tasted it. I was still in school , when a cousin of mine, some five years older to me offered to treat me to a cup of coffee . I readily accepted the offer and besides coffee, I simply loved the place and the ambiance. It cost hardly a rupee for both of us including TIP and all. .Later on when I grew old enough to visit a coffee house on my own, I took to it as fish to water savouring all available South Indian delicacies like Dosa, Idli , Vada, etc etc. Later , I happened to visit the Indian Coffee House(s)- run by the same chain of cooperatives at Chandigarh also , but ambiance of the place as I found in Shimla, was simply missing- may be being a Shimlaite, I am prejudiced a bit , or the fans hovering overhead there made all the difference .I have not visited the Coffee house on the Mall since long as visits to the Mall are a few and far between. However I make do with Nescafe and Bru types which I manage to fix up at home ! But the taste of the one served at the ICH still lingers as the coffee powder used is a class apart from the blended ones we get in the market and at the same time , it sits light on the pocket too.