Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Oh , Superstitions !

The  other  day  there  was a shocking  news  of  a 23 year old  qualified engineer  committing suicide in Bengaluru for the simple reason that  a crow  had sat on him twice  and this did not  augur well for him . This is a glaring example  of  superstition   embedded  in our psyche that no amount of education  and enlightenment   can get us out of it.  What worse could have happened to the guy   ! This escapist attitude  is really unfortunate .  One can be sorry for the hapless parents who would have pinned hopes on the guy. There are many other superstitions  and false beliefs  like  a cat crossing your path  will definitely  spoil    your chances of success   at something    for which   you are venturing out  . A    young man   once missed   a very important interview  , as he kept waiting for   another person to  come and  cross  the road as  a cat had crossed his path. 

But sometimes you have strong reasons  to  harbor such beliefs. Decades back   an otherwise very  nice lady in the neighbourhood   proved   unlucky for me  many a time , as  coming across her on an important  day  in the morning  would spell  doom. Fortunately  once she was not around during the time I was to appear for an interview . The fact in itself boosted my confidence and    I appeared for the interview and  by chance  and luck  got the job .

There  was  also a belief  in old times  that  if the shadow of a  flying bird called  Huma   fell on  a person , he was sure to become a king, whatever  his antecedents  and whoever  his   ancestors  might  be.  
I  was born with   the planet   rahu   in  lagna   and my grandfather would wax eloquent that one day I would become a   celebrity or a big man .  I became what I did but certainly not a   celebrity.
Shakes peare always blamed  ‘ the stars above us ‘    that guide our destiny  and contrary to this there is a   famous couplet :

Muqaddar  ki  khabar kya  de  ga  sitara
Din-raat   gardish mein khud hai bichara. 

Both these views appear  to be extreme  and a golden mean needs be struck  in between .

Monday, July 15, 2013

Goodbye Telegram

“तार इस  मतलब का आया है  मुझे भोपाल से
रात भर भैंसे की दुम  हिलती  रही भूचाल से .........”

This was  a frivolous piece of poetry  quoted by  a very well known  Hindi author in one of his books , which shows how  sending  Taar  or telegram was in vogue  in matters important and mundane alike  some decades back. 

From    today, i.e.  15th July, 2013  it is good bye  to Telegrams , as the   Govt . in   their  wisdom   have discontinued  this - one time very  important   , but now rendered  obsolete  as also   commercially  nonviable – service thanks to other cheaper and  quicker means of instant communication and transmission   like mobile phones  and  internet    etc. There is hardly person , who has grown up with me through the fifties , and  has not  felt the importance of  telegrams  in day to day life. Little wonder that the last day of   this service saw  a sizable number of people  at many places  rushing  to the post offices and telegraph offices  to send  welfare  messages  to relatives and near and dear ones , not only to  avail the service  for the last time but also  to be able to keep the specimen of a telegram   as a memento or an  important  relic of the past    for the posterity. Some people  were also seen taking along  their kids  to show    and apprise them of the system  of sending telegrams. 

Telegram has been rightly called the harbinger  of both good and bad   news , mostly- I am afraid- bad news . The mere arrival of a  messenger or the delivery man would   cause goose bumps in everyone in the neighbourhood  ; it is another matter  that sometimes the telegram carried good news of a  birth in the family or in relation , a promotion, an appointment to a service of one of the relatives  , and last but not the least   safe arrival of  a dear one  at the destination after a long journey. I  have seen   people rushing to an English knowing  person to read out the telegram when education was not so common.

 It is also true that   sometimes loud cries and wails  were heard   when the telegram carried    sad and shocking news of an  accident or a death . Once  I had  to rush to the  post office to send a congratulatory  Greeting message to an acquaintance  who was getting married, leaving  aside my personal bereavement. Telegram also came handy  when due to some unavoidable and compelling reasons, extension of leave was sought  by sending a  telegram . However one had to keep  the receipt  safe     in token  of having sent it ताकि  सनद रहे और   बरवक़्त  ज़रूरत  काम आवे !

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


“Bhaag   Milkha Bhaag “  are the three  last parting words  spoken by  the father of  Milkha singh  aka  the Flying Sikh  exhorting the  under 12 boy  to make good   his escape , when the father  himself  had death staring in the face and ultimately taking himd  other members of the family  during the  1947  holocaust  called Partition  .   The movie slated to be  released on 12th July   borrows these very words for its title. It is rare for a living legend like  Milkha  to  see a film made on his life , times and achievements .The film also contains some rare  vignettes from his life . All credit to  Rakeysh  Omprakash Mehra , the producer- director of the film  for this  unique venture  as also  to Farhaan Akhtar  who plays  and relives  the Legend  on the screen. The movie when  it  is open to  public view  should contain  many lessons   for  present day and budding    sports persons  and others alike. Here’s one who  without any lure of money  or riches  took to the   racing  track   and brought laurels to  the Country. It is nice to hear from his own  mouth  that the  epithet  “ Flying Sikh “  was actually a compliment   given  by   General Mohammad Ayub  the then   President of Pakistan. So much so for the admiration , praise and accolades  the Legend deserved and  got .

Long   live Milkha Singh  !