Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Adieu, R K Laxman !

It is shocking to hear of the sad demise of  R.K.Laxman , the celebrity cartoonist albeit  at  a ripe old age of  94. In essence he was the voice of the common man.  His cartoon strip “You said it !” adorned the pages of  “Times of India “  for more than half a century .The paper  gained popularity  due also to  Laxman’s  cartoons  apart from  high quality editorials  and well written articles  that the paper carried. Fearless as he was, no one, howsoever high and mighty could escape his sharp eye and wit . In fact he held a mirror to the political class of the times  The late Jawahar Lal Nehru  personally complimented  Laxman by making a telephone call, when  post  1962 war with China, his cartoon featuring Nehru, obviously not in a favourable  light  appeared in TOI. That speaks volumes for both  great personalities .

R I P  Mr. Laxman  !

Friday, January 23, 2015

Ah, Winter !

Come winter, and  I am reminded  of  what life was like in winters  in  Shimla of  sixties and seventies.  Schools and colleges had long vacations  and  mostly students  were  free spirits , as they had nothing to do  after  being  promoted to the next class  having passed the annual exam held in December. Only students  who had to appear in Matric and Higher Secondary Exams  in March  felt  burdened with studies , quite a few of them   also attending  extra  classes  for better results. To the Collegiate, studies posed no such burden, as exams were held  towards the end of March or early April. My mother  ensured that each one of us siblings had a couple of hand woven  sweaters and two pairs each of woolen socks  during the winters.
 Once during one such winter,  as a college going student , I decided not  to wear any sweater or socks , much to the annoyance of my mother , who tried hard to cajole me into wearing  the woolens, already  in place for me. But adamant as I was, I spent the entire winter   wearing shirt and pajamas. Surprisingly, I had no cold or cough during  the  entire season , though I had swollen feet  which used to itch badly at night. That shows I had enough  resistance as a teenager . Now  on the threshold of old age  (?), I  always  have to wear   woolen socks and  a jacket in addition to the sweater  and  thermal wear  to keep myself warm .

Monday, January 19, 2015

Sher Jung - the forgotten hero

Every Monday I am drawn to the weekly column  ‘Vignettes’ by  Shriniwas Joshi, in ‘The Tribune’. This time he has written  about  Col. Sher Jung , a multifaceted  personality  and forgotten hero from District Sirmour of Himachal Pradesh.A patriot and a freedom fighter, as also a writer  who rubbed  shoulders with  the great  revolutionary Bhagat Singh and  literary giants like  Agyeya , he was  lucky enough  that his death sentence  was commuted to  life imprisonment  under  British rule .The  title of Colonel was conferred upon him by Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru in recognition of his services rendered before and after independence. I have  not yet gone through the Book  edited by Mr. Shakti Singh Chandel, which is the source of  Mr. Joshi’s write up, but  am confident  that it would be immensely readable, as 'The Tribune' carried  excerpts from this book in  September2007, in one of its Sunday editions  , which were quite absorbing  .
It may not be out of place to mention here that Sher Jung’s grandson,  Samaresh Jung is an ace   shooter  who along with his shooter wife, Anuja Jung  has brought laurels to the country and the state  with a rich haul of Gold, Silver and Bronze medals  in various national and International events like the Commonwealth games.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


यों तो लोहड़ी रात को अलाव जला कर , उसके चारों ओर बैठ कर और गीत गा कर मनायी जाती है , पर हमारे समय में बच्चों की लोहड़ी सुबह से ही शुरू हो जाती थी , जब पूरे मुहल्ले के बच्चों की टोली लोहड़ी घर घर मांगने निकलती थी । किसी ने 10-20 पैसे दे दिये तो बहुत , यदि कोई कुछ न दे तो ‘हुक्का भई हुक्का ए घर भूक्खा ‘ कह कर भड़ास निकाली जाती थी । रेवड़ी , मूँगफली के लिए थोड़े पैसे इकट्ठे हो जाते थे. मेरे जैसे उम्र रसीदा लोगों के लिए अब सिर्फ यादें ही बाकी हैं, वक़्त के साथ साथ त्योहार मनाने के तौर तरीके भी बदल गए हैं .यों सरकारी कॉलोनी में रहते हुए कई वर्षों तक लोहड़ी का आनंद खूब मनाया है।

Monday, January 12, 2015


This week, i.e. today, in his column ‘Vignettes ‘ in ‘The Tribune’ , Shriniwas Joshi has discussed two flowers – Narcissus and Chrysenthamum- as being impervious to the onslaught of Winter, as also the myrhological story behind Narcissus. Not surprisingly, a person ‘sick of self love’ -to use Shakespearean phrase –is called Narcissistic, and the phenomenon itself is called Narcissism .In Hindi it is called आत्म-मुग्धता. I am reminded of the days in sixties , when some enterprising farmers from the adjoining villages of Shimla used to carry Kilta loads of Narcissus or Nargis flower on bus top to Delhi to earn that extra penny as Delhi was a potential market for flowers, when floriculture had not taken off in a big way like now. I did not understand the economics of this venture, taking into account the expenses involved in 3-4 days’ stay at Delhi and to & fro bus fare. In any case, the flower smells nice and with long stem and white petals with a yellow cup in the middle is a visual treat. I am baffled by the Urdu couplet :
“हज़ारों साल नर्गिस अपनी बेनूरी पे रोती है,
बड़ी मुश्किल से होता है चमन में दीदावर पैदा “
-meaning there are few takers for Nargis, which fact the flower itself laments.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Adieu Dr G R Sud !

One of the many things  I look forward  to  is  “Vignettes”, the weekly column  by Shriniwas Joshi, which now  appears in ‘The Tribune’ every  Monday. Today , it carries the sad news of  the demise of Dr. G.R Sud, to whom  Mr. Joshi has  paid glowing tributes  as a theatre personality. I had the privilege  of being  his student in H.P. University campus  from  !973  to 1975 .I fondly remember the very first day he came to teach us. As we introduced ourselves in the class, when a fellow student also carrying the initials GR , spelt out his full name, it drew giggles  from  the girl students  with an urban background. The fellow was  a bit embarrassed   but Dr. Sud  made light of the moment saying  that he too had a funny name. We never  tried to find out his full name as   for us he remained  GR  or Dr.GR  , or Dr. Faustus – the name endearingly   sticking to him as he taught us  Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus in the first semester. A noble man indeed,  very  down to earth  and no high flying  intellectual  !  
The fact of his being a theater  personality  was never revealed  for the  two year  period  I stayed at the university , as Dr.Sud , simple as he was,never  wore  his  achievements on his sleeves.For us he was a teacher who taught and taught well Many years later I read  about this aspect of his personality, in the Hindi magazine ‘Vipasha’. Mr. Joshi  has written at length  about him in the column as well .In hind sight, I remember, his peculiar way of  uttering dialogues and reciting poetry lines  while teaching , which had something to do with his drama direction .He had a  blissfully long  life .

Adieu Dr. Sud  !