Friday, November 13, 2015

Diwali sans Lights

One need not be told that Diwali is a festival of lights and besides cleaning up, people fix fancy lights in and around their houses for festive look . But what if power goes off ! This is exactly what happened on Diwali day in our locality when due to some sudden fault or breaking of lines, lights went off at 6:45 PM and the entire locality plunged into darkness. One had to be content with earthen lamp lights and candles, which however are more important for Diwali . One could feast on lights in distant localities visible . This did not dampen the enthusiasm of those who made the most of the occasion by bursting crackers and fireworks. The next day was no better, as no geyser would work , no internet on computer, no charging of mobile though the battery had almost exhausted. This brought out excessive dependence on electricity. Neighbours were magnanimous enough to give two buckets of water heated in a Hamam to enable us to have a bath.Some pockets were lucky at they got the supply restored in the morning, but for us things came back to normal only when the power supply was restored yesterday at 8:45 PM, thanks to entire day arduous exercise by HPSEB functionaries.

Monday, October 12, 2015

The Auctioneer

One of the features of my School & College days’ Lower Bazar, Shimla was the presence of a self styled auctioneer.His name was Ganesha or more precisely Ganesa as people would call him. During day time he could be seen holding mostly a wrist watch and sometimes a transistor radio set belonging to someone who was willing to dispose it off and also stood along side.Perhaps it was the need for money which drove people to auction off their belongings.Cash was not so common those days as it is today. Ganesha would call out loud about the changing amount of bid or auction, in between repeating the make of the watch or transistor.Both were shown to be in running condition or who would go for ! Ganesha would charge his commission when the deal was struck. When asked about the guarantee or warranty of the watch or the transistor radio, Ganesa was candid enough to state that guarantee was only up to Taar Ghar, i.e. CTO, just a 5-7 minute walking distance from the scene of auction. Still there were buyers of the object.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

अभिनेता राजकुमार

"चिनॉय सेठ, जिनके घर शीशे के बने होते हैं वो दूसरों पर पत्थर नहीं फेंकते"

अभिनेता स्व. राज कुमार  का ज़िक्र आते ही   फिल्मों  में उनके द्वारा  बोले गए  संवाद  जेहन में  उभर आते हैं नाम और तबीयत  दोनो  से राज कुमार !
स्कूल में कुछ समय के लिए हमारे एक गणित  के अध्यापक थे, बहुत अच्छा पढ़ाते थे , पर किसी  लड़के का हम बोलना उन्हें गवारा नहीं था । किसी बात के जवाब में कोई  हम बोला नहीं कि शामत आई । तुम कोई राजा महाराजा हो जो अपने आप को हम बोलते हो डंडे की मार के साथ यही सुनने को मिलता ।

आज सोचता हूँ कि यदि अध्यापक महोदय राजा महाराजा की जगह  राजकुमार कहते  तो भी बात जच जाती । अभिनेता राजकुमार के मुंह से हम सुनना बहुत अच्छा लगता था, यथा :

"हम तुम्हें मारेंगे और जरूर मारेंगे लेकिन वह वक्त भी हमारा होगा, बंदूक भी हमारी होगी और गोली भी हमारी होगी"

आज इन्हीं राजकुमार साहब की जयंती है .

श्रद्धांजलि !


मोहिदीन तुम बहुत याद आते हो
और तुम्हारा हमेशा मुस्कराता चेहरा
 और तुम्हारा भाई  सुल्तान भी ,
 कितना खयाल रखते थे तुम
 कि बाबू ( मेरे पिता ) को कहीं दिक्कत न हो,
 मौसम का मिजाज़ एकाएक बदलने और
 अचानक भारी बर्फ पड़ने से
 अचानक  दो  मन कोयला पीठ पर उठा कर आ धमकते थे तुम
  एक बार तो 2-3 फुट बर्फ के बीच  पहुंचाई थी
 तुमने दो बोरियाँ मन- मन की,
 याद आती है मुझे अपनी माँ भी
 खूब तेज़ जलती अंगीठी  कर दी थी
तुम दोनों के हवाले
 और चाय नाश्ता सा भी  परोसा था कुछ
 नाम गाँव पूछने की ज़रूरत न  तुम्हें पड़ी थी  न हमें न तुम्हें
 बस इंसानियत का  रिश्ता था ,
 जो समय के साथ और गहराया था
यों मेरे शहर का मिजाज़ ज़्यादा बदला नहीं है
फिर भी कुछ तो बदला है
पर  तुम, तुम थे

और वो वक़्त , वक़्त  !

Friday, September 25, 2015

Jugaad or Inventiveness

No one is more inventive and ‘jugaadu’ than school students. Every school tries to instill and enforce discipline among the students in different ways like spanking, slapping and reprimanding. Going back to my school days, there was another kind of indiscipline indulged in by students. It was moving about in the premises , taking a ‘break’ from the class. The teachers were under instructions to stop any student and inquire from him as to why he was loitering about. But then students had to answer the call of nature at least once in a day , for which it was devised to have a ‘pass’ in every class , which was either a piece of wood or of card board with the words ‘PASS’ and the name of class and section inscribed on it in bold letters with ink. This way only one student at a time could go out for the purpose given before.But then boys are boys , and there is no reining them in. It was alright as far as there was a teacher in the class as one student at a time could go for a little while by taking the ‘pass’ .Our contemporary Edisons and Newtons, found a way out in case there was a vacant period . There was not one but many passes transferring hands to be shown when required.With this jugaad more than one student had the ‘break’ with the farzi pass in his pocket.

Any doubts about what I said in the beginning ?

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Murphy Boy

Friends of my generation, who had come of age in seventies and eighties, may recollect Murphy Boy, the iconic picture of a tiny cherubic baby adorning the print media with full page ads , when around Diwali, the company would display models of radio sets and Transistor Radio sets for prospective buyers to choose from. Rumours were afloat that the baby had actually died and the ad carrying his picture was also a commemorative one in this sense.The baby with all that childlike charm was cynosure of all eyes rather than the product being advertised . I felt sorry for the child as I had felt in my school days for Lucy Gray the subject of Wordsworth’s famous poem. It is stated to be true that the baby girl who was used as a model for Murphy products in the beginning had died. More than two decades passed with me carrying the sad episode in my subconscious mind. It was a great relief some three years back in 2012 when there were news appearing in the media that the Murphy Boy who had modeled in the seventies and eighties is none other than Dr. Kagyur Tulku Rinpoche, who happens to be the husband of Mandakini , heroine of the Raj Kapur directed film ‘ Ram Teri Ganga Maili‘. The picture that we saw in ads was taken at Manali when Dr. Kagyur Tulku Rinpoche was just three year old and his appearance then bore striking resemblance to the original baby girl who had modeled for Murphy.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

रामधारी सिंह दिनकर

राष्ट्रकवि स्व. रामधारी सिंह दिनकर की आज जयंती है । दिनकर जी के नाम से परिचय स्कूल के जमाने में हुआ जब पाठ्यक्रम में हिमालय पर उनकी एक कविता पढ़ी । कुछ पंक्तियाँ अब भी याद हैं , यथा :
मेरे नगपति मेरे विशाल’
साकार दिव्य गौरव विराट,
मेरी जननी के हिम किरीट,
मेरी माता के दिव्य भाल ........
वीर रस और शृंगार रस जैसी परस्पर विरोधी काव्य शैली में ‘कुरुक्षेत्र’ और ‘उर्वशी’ जैसी अनूठी व अद्वितीय काव्य रचनाओं का सृजन कर दिनकर जी ने अपनी प्रतिभा का लोहा मनवाया है। हुंकार,रश्मिरथी, परशुराम की प्रतीक्षा जैसी काव्य रचनाएं तो की ही, इसके अतिरिक्त ‘संस्कृति के चार अध्याय’ नामक पुस्तक पर उन्हें साहित्य अकादमी पुरस्कार भी मिला । ‘उर्वशी’ के लिए भारतीय ज्ञानपीठ पुरस्कार से सम्मानित हुए तथा पद्म विभूषण भी मिला । उनकी कविताओं की कुछ बानगी इस प्रकार है :
‘असल में हम कवि नहीं शोक की संतान हैं ............’
‘रे रोक युधिष्ठिर को न यहाँ, जाने दे उनको स्वर्ग धीर ,
पर फिरा हमें गांडीव गदा, लौटा दे अर्जुन भीम वीर.......’
‘मर्त्य मानव की विजय का तूर्य हूँ मैं,
उर्वशी अपने समय का सूर्य हूँ मैं ...........’
‘क्षमा शोभती उस भुजंग को, जिसके पास गरल हो; उसको क्या जो दन्तहीन, विषहीन, विनीत, सरल हो....’
हिन्दी साहित्य के इस पुरोधा को हमारी विनम्र श्रद्धांजलि !

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


A very conspicuous presence in our day to day life during my growing years was that of the Dhobi. In urban households dhobi would mark his presence once in a week in the morning whwn he would deliver the washed clothes and collect the dirty ones to be washed by him and delivered next week . The practice was followed like a ritual. Every household had a family dhobi who once engaged would continue for years till the client changed his place of residence or in case of a Government employee, transfer took him away to some other station. A dhobi was conspicuous and easily recognizable by his white kurta, white dhoti and jutties with upturned toe, always carrying a bundleor a ‘gathri’ of clothes on his back. The linen clothes that were given to him for washing were white bed sheets, white bed covers , quilt covers and last but not the least white cotton shirts , an essential part of school uniform and a preferred colour of office going people. In our locality, dhobis used to come from dhobighat , just on the fringe of famous Annadale ground , just below it. The reason behind the choice of place by dhobis was plenty of water available in a khud flowing nearby and ample sunshine from morning till evening, which helped the washed linen dry quickly.The clothes were washed in washing soda and collar of shirts were starched. From some vantage point linen drying in the sun could be seen from a distance.Since most of the linen or the clothes were white , there was every chance of getting these mixed up , but to avoid this , dhobi would put a separate identification mark in indelible ink on the linen of a particular household . There is an idiom –to wash your dirty linen in public- but yes dirty linen was literally washed and left to dry in public . The dhobi whose services we continued to avail for years was one Bhagwati Prasad. My father used to call him baretha (बरेठा ). I did not know the meaning of this word until I found out from the google that it is a synonym for dhobi. But then my late father possessed a vast vocabulary of such like terms.
Dhobis almost always walked in a group of three or four, as talking while walking was the best way of fighting fatigue caused by steep ascent from Annadale right up to the circular road , then called the cart road.
All dhobis were seen together on the day next to Holi when they would celebrate Hola and take a procession , visibly drunk , rejoicing all the way .
It is decades since I encountered one of their ilk, as most of the washing is done at home , thanks to washing machines available in every household.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Haircut , the necessary ritual

They say even a king has to bow before a barber as no one can have a haircut with the head held high.The barbers have been an important segment of society and in villages, apart from cutting hair they were engaged in carrying messages or communication especially pertaining to marriages and marriage invitations. They were said to be a garrulous lot and unstoppable talkers with unmatched wit . But this perhaps merits a separate discussion.
I have clear memories of having a haircut at home when the barber would come once in a month on Sunday to do the job. This continued till the time I was old enough to accompany my father to the barber’s shop and to absorb the unfamiliar atmosphere of a shop or a saloon .The barber would place a wooden plank on and across the arms of the chair and make me sit on it so that my face came up to the level of the mirror in front so as to be clearly visible .Longish hair would be snipped with a scissors .I was made to move my head left, right and down and the machine would move on the back and sides with a clacking sound. The barber was one Jhania Ram, a middle aged man, in the early sixties, who used to give a haircut at home also. The shop is still there in Lower Bazaar , Shimla and is the first barber’s shop while going from DC office side.
While in School ,with rich growth of hair on my head ,which grew in length rather quickly, it was not only a ritual but also a necessity to have a haircut once in a month lest it should invite the ire and anger of teachers and parents alike . Sporting long hair was not in vogue.When I reached seventh class , I started having a haircut , going to the barber’s shop unescorted , on my own. Reaching higher classes , I made it a point to have my haircut at a place near my school during some PT period, so as to save on time .It was a must to have a hair wash immediately after the haircut or else jokingly , the barber was said to be ‘sitting on one’s head’.It was an arduous job as there would be very small hair scattered all over , thanks to the machine . Mercifully,these days only scissors are used and a electric trimmer is used to shear the sides. The place was called as barbers’ workshop where about a dozen barbers did the job under a roof along the stairs that lead from Lower Bazar to Ganj Bazar, literally the grain market of Shimla. The ‘workshop’ is still there.
In due course, change of place and residence took place and it was natural to have haircut from different barber at different time and place.

Friday, September 18, 2015

The Double Roti Wala

To  me  bread     has always meant   डबलरोटी and not रोटी’  which it actually means. About   two-three months  back , when a bakery showroom opened  at a walking distance from my  locality- a suburb of Shimla - it was welcome , for otherwise  all bakery items like pastry, cake etc had to be brought from the outlets at the Mall or Lakkar Bazaar. Bread is of course available  at all places. I am taken back to the time when there were no outlets selling bakery items and bread vendors carried the stuff in a metal box on their heads. The box was of standard size and specification.To our surprise some times the vendor would walk with free hands with the box strategically balanced on the head.Some had regular customers to whom  bread was delivered daily at their doorstep. , while some others passing by would loudly call out  डबलरोटी’ so that some people residing nearby could buy bread etc. Some others could be found on the roadside , with the box placed on a parapet and any passerby could buy whatever he wanted to.   I fondly remember one Jagannath or Jagarnath from  the sixties who came daily in the neighborhood to deliver bread. He was a jolly good fellow, with always a smile on his face.  The box or the trunk was  layered with trays. The upper layer contained pastries, middle layer stuff like cream rolls  & rusks   and at the bottom were bread and buns , which colloquially   were called ‘band’ .The bread was a complete bread , which was cut into slices with a sharp big knife  before delivery. A full bread would cost eight anna  or 50 paise and half bread could be had for four anna or 25 paise.Pastry cost 15 paise.Since this was a daily supply , stuff was always fresh , bread was soft and tasted sweet .With time  baking technique and  packaging have considerably improved   but the bread no longer tastes that good.

Apart from the stuff one badly misses,  the personal bond that existed between the vendor and the customer with pleasantries exchanged from both sides. Nowadays  it has become  only businesslike no one bothering to know even the name of one another. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Asha Bhosle

When   Shakespeare wrote   “…Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale
Her infinite  variety”,

- among other things, perhaps he was  presaging , in a good sense  the   advent   of  Asha Bhosle , the renowned  playback singer  of   Bollywood in the twentieth  century   through   twenty first century. Asha Bhosle , the evergreen , versatile singer of  Hindi  cinema  turns 82 today. In a singing career spanning  about   six decades, she has captivated  the  music  lovers  of the Indian sub continent  with her unmatched voice , which  is difficult to describe  or  define in  terms of tone, tenor  or timbre  in one single  phrase. Her songs    Aya Holi ka tyohar & Aadha Hai Chandrama Raat Aadhi from the film  ‘Navrang ‘ , Ab ke Baras Bhej  Bhaiyya ko babul    from  ‘Bandini’, Kali Ghata Chhaye mora Jiya tarsaaye from  ‘Sujata’ , Udein  Jab Jab Zulfei teri  from ‘Naya Daur’,   Tere Khayalon mein hum from   ‘Geet Gaya Pattharon Ne’,  Paan Khaye sayyan hamaaro from ‘Teesri  Qasam’  are simply superb. Her  non- film number- Geet kitne gaa chuki hoon, is sukhi jag ke liye- can  virtually  draw  tears  from even  an unemotional   listener.She has sung playback for child artistes in films ‘Boot Polish’ and ‘Jagriti’.   Besides her Punjabi songs are no less popular. Pyar de bhulekhe kinne sohne sohne   kha    gaye ,     and   Das mereya   Dholana  ve   toon  kehde arsh da tara,- both  duets with   Muhammad  Rafi  are unforgettable  masterpieces. For her voice quality, she has been  the  favourite  of late  O.P.Nayyar , who never  took  Lata Mangeshkar for his compositions. Asha Bhosle has lent her voice to Qawwalis, Bhajans, Shabads also  and  done full justice to these with her rendition. She holds the record for  most recorded    singer , leaving even Lata Mangeshkae her more acclaimed and celebrated elder sister behind.  We hope she continues to sing and enrich the music world with her melodies. 

Monday, August 31, 2015

All for the sake of Good Handwriting

I  started  my  education  in   Lady Irwin  High   School, (later  Higher Secondary School ) Shimla-precursor of the present Dayanand Public School, which  despite  a different name  was under the  DAV  management. Without  the  trappings  of  a  public school, English was taught  from   Class  I. It was a  girls’ school,  boys  being allowed upto Class IV only. By the time  we reached  our last class in this school, we had started  reciting  and  learning  by rote  English poems. All the  teachers  were  ladies. We    wrote with lead pencils .
All this changed  when I got admitted  to the local  S.D. Higher Secondary School in Class V . Teachers were all  male, and strict disciplinarians  at that , though  devout  teachers  and   literally wedded to the profession.  Uniform was compulsory only on Monday , though   some of us  wore it  on all days.Only one notebook for each books was prescribed – there being no separate  notebooks for class work and homework.    But the rude shock came in the shape of   use of ink instead of lead pencils. It  was  ‘G’   nib   fixed to a holder   for English and  ‘ Qalam ‘ made from bamboo reed    for   Hindi and other subjects. New to this , it took me  quite  some  period  of time to get used.  Every time opening the inkpot and placing it on table,  then dipping the holder with the nib or the  Qalam  in ink and  writing  on notebook  was quite taxing. All the time my  fingers got stained  with  ink , which  was removed with difficulty on reaching home . Sometimes, if the inkpot had a loose cap , ink would spill out and spoil   the bag and the  books and notebooks. The use of blotting paper  while turning pages was quite frequent.However, we got wise with time and had our fountain pen nibs cut in the  Qalam style  which  brought forth the same results , but without hassles.   Good  handwriting  was not only encouraged  but duly emphasized.  There  was   a competition of sorts  among the students who cared, to earn  as many  ‘ Good ‘ or ‘Very Good’ remarks as  they could.  A far cry from the present  day  emphasis  on cursive writing in schools, without  teaching the students how to write. I must say this stood us in good stead so far as handwriting is concerned. This reminds  of  Mahatma Gandhi’s lament  that he  did not  have a good handwriting  and called  this a sign of imperfect education. 

The good old days !

Sunday, August 9, 2015

School Days

Memories of childhood especially school days never fade. I am reminded of a phrase  ‘शिकायती टट्टू  used day in and day out while describing a person habitual of complaining against others to the  teacher for some act of mischief , purported indiscipline or to use a rather heavy word , misdemeanor. If someone repeatedly  bullied you,it was fine as the teacher as we all know is a  guardian as well, in school hours . Sometimes the complaint was like   सर , ये कुछ खा रहा है...’. Sometimes, the teacher, who would not brook indiscipline would take offence and reprimand or even slap the ‘wrong doer’.  A few times, the tables would get turned upon the complainant student, when he would be roughed up by the teacher for this bad habit of  चुगली , much to the amusement of entire class.A teacher , jovial by nature would ask the offender to give a bit out of  the eatable to the complaining student so that he would keep shut. Another saying that was popular was
 ‘ चुगलखोर को  लगे रे डंडा , उसको  बचाना नहीं चाहिए  which was sung as a chorus.

The good old days ! 

Monday, August 3, 2015

मैथिलीशरण गुप्त

45 से 50 वर्ष पूर्व के अपने स्कूल के विद्यार्थी काल में पढ़ी कविताओं की कुछ पंक्तियाँ आज भी याद हैं .
"माँ कह एक कहानी।"
बेटा समझ लिया क्या तूने मुझको अपनी नानी?"
"कहती है मुझसे यह चेटी, तू मेरी नानी की बेटी
कह माँ कह लेटी ही लेटी, राजा था या रानी?
माँ कह एक कहानी।"
संग्राम में निज-शत्रुओं की देखकर यह नीचता
कहने लगा वह यों वचन दृग युग-करों से मींचता -
"नि:शस्त्र पर तुम वीर बनकर वार करते हो अहो!
है पाप तुमको देखना भी पामरों! सम्मुख न हो!!
तात! हे मातुल! जहाँ हो प्रणाम तुम्हें वहीं,
अभिमन्यु का इस भाँति मरना भूल न जाना कहीं!"
दृग बंद कर वह यशोधन सर्वदा को सो गया,
हा! एक अनुपम रत्न मानो मेदिनी का खो गया ||
नर हो, न निराश करो मन को
कुछ काम करो, कुछ काम करो
जग में रह कर कुछ नाम करो
इन कविताओं के रचयिता राष्ट्र-कवि मैथिलीशरण गुप्त की आज जयंती है .
इस महान कवि को हमारी विनम्र श्रद्धांजलि !

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Nirad. C. Chaudhuri

Today is the death anniversary of Nirad. C. Chaudhuri , the prominent Bengali English writer of the twentieth century. Known best for his ‘The Autobiography of an Unknown Indian’ which was published in 1951, his other books include ‘A Passage to England’ written long before he actually left for England , eventually to spend last more than two decades of life in England , ‘The Continent of Circe’, ‘Scholar Extraordinary’ which won him the Sahitya Academy Award , ‘Clive of India’ and lastly ‘Three Horsemen of the New Apocalypse’. He had the distinction of being the oldest author , having published his last work at the age of ninety nine or say in the hundredth year of his life.
An irrefutable Anglophile , he was in love with everything English and strangely, did not want Britishers to leave India . However in later years of life he was disillusioned with the English culture and way of life due to ‘degeneration‘ that he felt had set therein.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

इब्ने सफ़ी

असरार अहमद जिन्हें उर्दू साहित्य जगत में इब्ने सफ़ी के नाम से जाना जाता है, या यों कहिए कि वो इसी नाम से मक़बूल और मशहूर हैं के उपन्यासों की शृंखला ‘जासूसी दुनिया’ के नाम से जानी व पढ़ी जाती रही है .भारत में हिन्दी में छपने वाले उनके उपन्यासों के मुख्य चरित्र कर्नल विनोद और कैप्टन हमीद अपने हैरत अंगेज़ जासूसी कारनामों की वजह से लाखों पाठकों के दिलोजान पर छाए रहते थे. गो पाठ्यक्रम की पुस्तकों से इतर मेरा पहला उपन्यास ‘सलमा सिरीज़’ का एक उपन्यास था जब मैं नवी कक्षा का छात्र था , परंतु बाद में इब्ने सफ़ी की ‘ जासूसी दुनिया का जो चस्का लगा , वो कई बरस बरकरार रहा. अपनी पढ़ने की रुचि जो आज तक क़ायम है का श्रेय मैं इन्हीं उपन्यासों को देना चाहूँगा. भले ही इस प्रकार के उपन्यासों को साहित्य के मर्मज्ञ, साहित्य मानने से संकोच करते हों, और इन्हें हिकारत से ‘लुगदी साहित्य’ या pulp fiction के नाम से पुकारते हों , मेरे लिए आज भी इन पुस्तकों का उतना ही महत्व है जितना तथाकथित गंभीर साहित्य का .
इलाहाबाद में जन्मे इब्ने सफ़ी विभाजन के बाद पाकिस्तान चले गए थे, व जासूसी दुनिया के अलावा और सिरीज़ में भी उपन्यास लिखे और सिरीज़ से हट कर भी व्यंग्य, प्रहसन आदि बहुत कुछ लिखा.
उल्लेखनीय है कि है कि मात्र 52 वर्ष की आयु पाने वाले इस लोकप्रिय लेखक का आज यानि 26 जुलाई को जन्मदिन भी है और पुण्यतिथि भी .
श्रद्धांजलि !

Sunday, May 31, 2015

गुलेरी जी की कहानी ‘हीरे का हीरा’

हिन्दी साहित्यिक पत्रिका ‘वागर्थ’ के मई अंक में वरिष्ठ साहित्यकार सुदर्शन वशिष्ठ जी का एक आलेख ‘ गुलेरी के कथा संसार में लहना सिंह की वापसी ‘ शीर्षक से छपा है जिसमे पं. चंद्रधर शर्मा ‘गुलेरी’ की रचना प्रक्रिया पर महत्वपूर्ण सामग्री जुटायी गई है । अन्य बातों के अलावा केंद्र-बिन्दु में गुलेरी जी की एक और कहानी ‘हीरे का हीरा’ है , जिसे कालजयी कहानी ‘उसने कहा था’ का विस्तार माना गया है. यों एक सामान्य पाठक की दृष्टि से, ‘उसने कहा था’ अपने प्रचलित स्वरूप में भी एक मुकम्मल कहानी लगती है , जिसमे लहना सिंह अपने प्रेम, कर्तव्य और बलिदान की बिना पर एक उदात्त नायक बन कर उभरता है और कहानी के अंत में उसे जिस डेलीरियम में दिखाया गया है, वह प्रकट रूप से जीवन के आखिरी क्षण लगते हैं. यही सब कुछ लहना सिंह के किरदार को अमर बनाता है . दूसरी कहानी का पात्र भी सिपाही लहना सिंह है , जो युद्ध में वीरता दिखाता है और तमगे भी हासिल करता है , पर अपनी एक टांग गंवा चुका है, जिस रूप में उसे देखना उसकी माँ और पत्नी के लिए स्वाभाविक तौर पर पीड़ादायक है, जब कि इस बात से अनजान दोनों ने उसके स्वागत की तैयारी अपने सीमित साधनों के बावजूद उमंग और उत्साह से कर रखी है.हीरा लहना सिंह का सात वर्षीय पुत्र है. ‘हीरा’ शब्द पिता पुत्र दोनों के लिए प्रयुक्त जान पड़ता है., क्योंकि दोनों एक दूसरे के ‘हीरा’ ही हैं . कहानी की परिस्थितियाँ ‘उसने कहा था’ से बिलकुल भिन्न लगती हैं, यद्यपि पृष्ठभूमि में युद्ध ही है. ‘हीरे का हीरा’ में चीन के साथ किसी युद्ध का वर्णन है, जो ‘उसने कहा था’ के युद्ध से मेल नहीं खाता.कहानी में गुलेरी जी ने, कांगड़ा क्षेत्र के रीति रिवाजों, और संस्कृति को अपने भाषा कौशल से जिस तरह उकेरा है, वह अद्वितीय है.
गुलेरी जी की कहानी और वशिष्ठ जी का आलेख दोनों पठनीय तथा रोचक हैं.

Monday, May 25, 2015


A controversy is  going on about Maggi  containing  more than the  permitted quantity  of MSG .This worries me  also a  bit. I remember, when Maggi 2 minute noodles hit the Indian  market  in late seventies or early eighties amid  wide publicity and advertisement in all types of media, it became a hot favourite with the urban  moms.  Here was  an easy way to satisfy the hunger of  infants and growing up school children , especially when they came back from school crying hunger. With no child in our family at that point of time, packets of Maggi were brought with great fanfare to see what it tasted like. No one liked it , my mother particularly  rejecting it  for having  जैलणु (worm) like appearance.

Later,  when I was posted at Pooh, in the tribal district of Kinnaur in 1986.I saw packets and packets of Maggi , prominently displayed in  3-4 shops there. With no halwai shop worth the name where  one could indulge  with occasional  samosa  or gulab jamun, or pakoras , Maggi   was the only available  choice by way of snacks.Surprisingly the initial aversion or hesitation  turned to liking it , which persists to this day. My son, whenever comes home on leave, always asks , “Maggi hai na  ghar mein ?”. And I set about to  prepare it for him , the only  thing I can prepare, besides tea. Hope  Nestle  does something about it to  put  the controversy to rest. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Exam Results

How times have changed ! This is result season, and with fingers crossed students await their Board’s exam results. Vernacular print media is full of photographs of very successful students, coming out with flying colors at anything between 90 to 99 or may be 100 percentile . Students too spell out their future plans, while passing on due credit to their teachers and parents. I remember with amusement my days as a student. In the year 1969, when Panjab University declared their Higher Secondary Part –I results , one of our class mates Sushil Ramola had stood second in the University with a score 715 out of 825 . No mean achievement for the school and the teachers though not unexpected from a genius like him . No photograph in the newspaper, no interview published anywhere followed . However, there was a special morning assembly , students scoring 80 percent and above were made to stand up in the gathering to be cheered. A 100 Rupee cash award- not a small amount then- was given to the above mentioned topper. Sushil Ramola repeated the feat next year also and stood second in Higher Secondary Part –II , that time held by the H.P. Board. I do not know how the occasion was celebrated , as being an out going class, none of us was there.

सुमित्रानंदन पंत

प्रकृति के अनुपम चितेरे सुकुमार कवि  सुमित्रानंदन पंत की आज जयंती है.आज ही के दिन नैसर्गिक सौंदर्य से सराबोर अल्मोड़ा के कोसानी गाँव में 1900 ई॰ को जन्मे , गुसाईं दत्त से सुमित्रानंदन बने पंत जी ने वृहद साहित्य सम्पदा छोड़ी है.उत्तर छायावाद के प्रतिनिधि कवि  तो वे है ही. प्रकृति प्रेम उनकी कविता मे प्रमुखता से विद्यमान है, और ग्रामीण जीवन ने  उन्हें  विशेष रूप से आकर्षित व प्रभावित किया है. उनके एक काव्य संग्रह का नाम ही ग्राम्या है, और  ग्राम-श्री नामक कविता में तो मानो प्रकृति सजीव और साकार  हो उठती है।
“फैली खेतों में दूर तलक,
मखमल सी कोमल हरियाली
लिपटी जिनसे रवि की किरणें
चांदी की सी उजली जाली........”
                                -पढ़ते पढ़ते  पाठक जब
लहलह पालक, महमह धनिया, 
लौकी औ' सेम फली, फैलीं,
मख़मली टमाटर हुए लाल, 
मिरचों की बड़ी हरी थैली
.....” तक पहुंचता है तो मंत्र मुग्ध हो चुका होता है .
अपनी कविता की पंक्तियों –
“छोड़ द्रुमों की मृदु छाया,
तोड़ प्रकृति से भी माया,
बाले तेरे बाल जाल में कैसे  उलझा दूं लोचन......”  में तो पंत जी प्रकृति प्रेम को सर्वश्रेष्ठ मानते  प्रतीत होते हैं.मानवीय सौंदर्य उन्हें  आकर्षित नहीं करता .     
प्रकृति प्रेम  व प्रकृति  वर्णन में पंत जी  अंग्रेज़ कवि  वर्ड्सवर्थ को भी एक तरह से पीछे छोड़ते प्रतीत होते हैं, जबकि  वर्ड्सवर्थ कि कविता में भी प्रकृति से एकरसता प्रचुर मात्रा में पाई जाती है.

इसके अतिरिक्त उनने मधुज्वाल के नाम से उमर खय्याम की रुबाइयों का अनुवाद सीधा  मूल फारसी से किन्ही फारसी विद्वान की सहायता से किया है , जो कि पढ़ते ही बनता है .
एक बानगी:
“खोलकर मदिरालय का द्वार
प्रात ही कोई उठा पुकार
मुग्ध श्रवणों में मधु रव घोल,
जाग उन्मद मदिरा के छात्र!
ढुलक कर यौवन मधु अनमोल
शेष रह जाय नहीं मृद् मात्र
ढाल जीवन मदिरा जी खोल
लबालब भर ले उर का पात्र !.........”
कविवर हरिवंशराय बच्चन और महाप्राण निराला के प्रति  यदि कुछ प्रतिस्पर्धा का भाव है, तो दोनों के प्रति पंत जी की आत्मीयता भी कम नहीं. हिन्दी सिनेमा के सुपर स्टार रहे आमिताभ  बच्चन को  अमिताभ नाम पंत जी का ही दिया हुआ है. निराला के दबंग व्यक्तित्व के आगे  पंत जी यद्यपि लाचार दिखते हैं , तथापि  उनकी काव्य प्रतिभा के प्रति पंत जी का आदर व सम्मान उनकी इन पंक्तियों में झलकता है
“…….जीवन के कर्दम से अमलिन मानस सरसिज
शोभित तेरा, वरद शारदा का आसन निज।
अमृत पुत्र कवि, यश:काय तव जरा-मरणजित,
स्वयं भारती से तेरी हृतंत्री झंकृत........”
माँ सरस्वती के इस वरद सपूत को  श्रद्धांजलि  !

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Ruskin Bond

 Ruskin Bond, the master story teller turns 81 today. Born in Kasauli , Himachal Pradesh,he spent his childhood at Jamnagar in Gujarat, and was educated at Bishop Cotton School Shimla, the famous residential school in Northern India . Being a native speaker, English comes naturally to him . Indian readers can relate easily to him as his stories and novels are set in Indian towns and cities, like the Hills of Dehra dun and Musoorie . Where else does one find Characters like Mulia, Samyukta, Shankhini, Goonga, Lafunga , Somi….etc etc ! His narrative description is superb. A bachelor, he lives with his adopted family in Mussoorie .Two of his works namely, ‘The Blue Umbrella’ & ‘The Flight of Pigeons’ have been made into films , the former bearing the same name and the latter ‘Junoon’. Both have been widely acclaimed. Another lesser known movie ‘7 Khoon Maaf’ was based on his story Sussana’s Seven Husbands.  ‘Ek Tha Rusty’ was a popular TV serial based on his short stories. One is simply amazed to find that his novelette, ‘Room on the Roof’ was written when he was barely seventeen .He did run into rough weather when he was charged with obscenity for his story ‘The Sensualist’ .He has written poems also, mostly limericks, and good ones at that. He has received Sahitya Academy Award, Padma Shri, and Padma Bhushan for his literary achievements. Age does not not seem to have caught up with him as he is still active at writing and churning out works of merit.
Lately, Ruskin Bond’s book titled ‘A Book of Simple Living: Brief Notes from the Hills’ was released at Mussoorie.
We pray for his long life !

Monday, May 11, 2015

सआदत हसन मंटो

आज एशिया उप महाद्वीप के इस महान कहानीकार की जयंती है. अपने 43 वर्ष से भी कम के जीवनकाल में मंटो अपनी रचनाओं के कारण विवादों से भी घिरे रहे और उनकी कहानियों में अश्लीलता के आरोपों के चलते उन पर कई मुक़द्दमे भी चले। ऐसा उन लोगों के कारण हुआ जो या तो prudish मानसिकता के थे या उन्होने इन रचनाओं को केवल सतही तौर पर पढ़ कर ही अश्लील करार दे दिया था .ऑल इण्डिया रेडियो में अपनी कार्यावधि के दिनों को याद करते हुए अपने संस्मरणों में एक और महान लेखक उपेंद्र नाथ अश्क ने सहकर्मी रहे मंटो से अपने love-hate सम्बन्धों का रोचक विवरण भी कहीं प्रस्तुत किया है .
समाज में व्याप्त बुराइयों तथा शोषण का बेबाकी से चित्रण करने वाले इस महान कथाकार को विनम्र श्रद्धांजलि !

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Mother's Day

Today, when the world   in general  and the social media in  particular are abuzz with  Mother’s Day celebrations, singing  paeans  in praise of mother and mother hood , I am drawn to a  one-act  Play  , ‘Mother’s  Day’ by J B. Priestley  which I read in my college days. The play revolves around one Mrs. Pearson , a devout  wife and a doting mother  who leaves no stone unturned to make her family happy, always slogging it  day in and day out  doing   all  chores big and small. This has gone for years and years, with the kids also grown up . Despite all the pains that she undergoes, , no one takes her seriously and   takes her for granted. Feeling  one  day  that enough is enough she goes to her neighbour and friend  Mrs. Fitzgerald , who  besides being  a  fortune teller is also a magician endowed with  occult powers.Mrs. Fitzgerald is exactly the opposite of Mrs . Pearson- authoritative and  imperious, whom no  one  dare slight or disobey. After deliberations and discussions , Mrs. Fitzgerald suggests that  they  exchange personalities, so that Pearson family could be taught a lesson. All this requires is  muttering  the magic  words Arshtatta dumarshtatta lamarshtatta lamdumbona...”

Now  Mrs. Pearson having become  Mrs. Fitzgerald  and vice versa, things become  really difficult  for Pearson  family . The first surprise is the kids finding their mother smoking. The curt and rude behavior of  the  new Mrs. Pearson  baffles  the husband and the kids. Looking from a distance,Mrs.Pearson, in the body of Mrs. Fiztgerald  does not relish her kids and husband being subjected to  such ‘torture’  The two friends decide to  revert to original  positions  only when convinced that Pearson family  has learnt the necessary  lesson  of not slighting  or ignoring  Mrs. Pearson or taking her for granted.

The play has also  some hilarious moments. There is a clear message that the lady of the house  needs being respected, cared for and  obeyed .Here the term  ‘Mother’s Day’ is used in  somewhat negative  sense, signifying, retaliation and protest  but then, it is the proverbial  last straw that breaks the camel’s back. We need more than  mere  tokenism to  acknowledge and appreciate  the real worth of mother and motherhood.