Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Dancing Leaves

The drive was breathtaking, the scene was so heavenly. Roads were covered with the yellow and green leaves fallen from the trees. I don’t remember the last time I saw such beauty happening before me. I saw them falling on the road in thousands of numbers from tress in front of my eyes through the windshield of car.

The green road widen my eyes and pondered my heart. Breeze outside and the movements of vehicles filled the atmosphere with floating leaves. Driving my car through the dancing leaves make me feel of some sweet dream.

Surprisingly I was not driving amid the deep woods hundreds of miles away from city. The 15 minutes drive from office to bank and then back to office in the cloudy noon today at Madhya Marg was really splendid. Chandigarh is really beautiful city sometimes. The scenic beauty didn’t last for long, drizzling started and turned in complete rain washing off the roads to its original black later. But that short period was long enough to make my day.

Wish I had my camera with me at that moment :( (Here is a pic from local newspaper next day.)

'Unanswered Questions'

Many times in the roughs of life one could think, it is such a stupid act to be emotional. It is not fair to be sensitive these days. Cause being sentimental is to be driven off by others or like playing in the hands of others.

Why do some people keep thinking of the words used for them by the persons around? Why do they feel happy or vice versa merely by the words uttered by some knows? There are majority of people around who seem to be so thick skinned that nothing could shake them. Or do they just pretend to be insensitive? I have seen many people around who don’t care if a financier shouts outside their houses or took away their vehicles for not paying installments and when they are badly insulted in a brawl by their neighbors. They keep smiling always and act like as if nothing has happened.

Who is more happily living person, sensitive or insensitive, thin skinned or thick skinned, caring or careless, soft or stone hearted?

Another important question, can a caring person push himself to be careless?

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Toba Tek Singh

While browsing government branch library last week, 'Toba Tek Singh' caught my sight. This is a collection of short stories by Saadat Hasan Manto, I have read this book few years back and I just wanted to read it again. Books and articles related to partition or similar times always attract me mysteriously.

Manto was forced to migrate from his beloved Bombay to Lahore at the time of partition and the pain inked down in his writings. He died at the age of 47 while drinking and writing. He wrote good amount of short stories filled with rage, pity, grief, bloodshed, inhumanity and disturbed mental position of people on Indian partition.

"........The biggest incident in my life was my birth. I born at an unknown village 'Samrala' of Punjab. If anyone could have interested in my date of birth, it was my mother, which is dead now. Second incident was in 1931 when I cleared my 10th standard from Panjab University after continuous failure of three years in a row. Third incident was when I got married in 1939, but this was not an accident and still it is not. There are many other incidents but these incidents caused suffering to others and not to me. For instant, my starting of writing was a big incident which gave pain to 'honored' writers and also to 'honored' readers.

I spent few years in Bombay and wrote some film stories. These days I am in Lahore and not writing films but only simple stories. Almost two dozens of my story collections has been published which I don't wanna name here to make you trouble. And I am not writing my current address here because I don't wanna get trouble...................."

This was an introduction Saadat Hasan Manto wrote to a publisher who asked him to write down his brief introduction for a book on Mantoo's short stories. Mantoo was a rare writer who was read largely by the critics who hate him. Some called him sadist, some said he was porn writer and some called him cynic. But I think he wrote everything without fearing of court cases he faced, on the characters which were/are not owned by 'Civilized' society in the light of sun. But surprisingly these characters are non other than the unholy and unlawful production of the same 'Civilized' society.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

'Rag Basant'

Damn I am loosing my nerves.

In the rare and real celebration of Basant, Shubha Mudgal was to perform in the town on the invitation of Chandigarh Sangeet Natak Academy on the eve of Basant Panchmi. The news sparked me up like always and I decided to be there at any cost.

I always take such decisions whenever I came to know about such events. As Chandigarh is getting one of the most happening places both ways. Artists I adore are performing here now and then. But unfortunately most of the time I miss them this or that way. To be a part of mad crowd in free entry is not my piece of cake. Passes are only for VIP’s and they too are making money outta this these days (As happened in Mohali test matches last year) and tickets for the artists I adore are always too expensive. (Is this cause I like rare performers?) So I was telling, like always I made my mind to be there for Shubha Mudgal. But obviously entry was with invitation only and as I was not VIP and had to manage a pass (not two, cause she never likes such classical).

I know how many calls I made for a pass in my circle. Some of my business parties were in advertising field and a wishful thinking was hovering over me that at least one of them would get a pass for me from any sponsor. But ha, no one was sponsoring that event or at least we had no idea. Two days were gone and by the day of concert all the hopes were vanished. As I was trying to make myself understand for the lose, a call in the noon from a friend Naveen helped me to grab a reason and told me to be home early as he would visit with his wife to see Raavi. Fine, now I had a reason to tell why I could not watch Shubha performing.

But that was not my day. And to make my remaining day more spicy, destiny urged Naveen to call again only to inform that he had to visit somewhere else and could not visit me. Fine enough, I paid a visit to another friend Ameesh who was slightly injured in a minor bike accident.

Some how the day was gone. Today morning as usual I went for my routine work out. And on the way back I stopped at another friend’s house for tea and I picked up the paper just to make my heart bounce to my mouth. A fabulous picture of Shubha performing at stage was there on the front page. The picture greeted me a ‘very good morning’ and I was again carrying a long face. The friend saw my expression and asked the reason. When I told him the tragedy I faced earlier day he jerked his head like I was a stupid and said ‘You crazy? Don’t you know ‘he’ had plenty of passes lying with him?” ‘Who he?’ I jumped off the sofa and shouted. “Naveen, who else’ he replied carelessly biting a pinni and sipping tea, ‘being office bearer of Sanskar Bharti he always get passes of such events.”

Damn you! What was I supposed to say? Immediately I called up Naveen and asked if this was true. “What do you think why I cancelled the visit to your place? It got off my mind while making program to your home and when I recalled I called you up for cancellation. So you mean you were interested? In fact I had duty to perform there and I was just at the gate to attend some people in theater when I called you.” He was more excited than me.

I was not in position to narrate him how I felt and I am not in position to write here either. But as Naveen told me and what paper wrote, it was really a captivating performance. Shubha presented compositions based on Rag Basant and Rag Bahar Bageshwari and appeared to be at her best. The concert was well attended by people who managed to add yellow in their dressings to celebrate the euphoric Basant and dedication to Ma Saraswati. ‘Indeed this was an unforgettable evening for me’ he said.

Never mind Naveen, this was indeed an ‘unforgettable day’ for me too. But the good part is that Naveen promised me to send every pass he would receive for such spirited occasion in future. May be that is going to get real spirit of Basant for me.

Damn I am loosing my nerves again. Just can’t wait for another such evening to be a part of.

Kati Patang !

Basant is here again.

I read that some schools and collages are celebrating this festival by declaring ‘Basant Princess’ and ‘Basant Queen’ among the students. Great! The ‘Bazarisum’ has not spared anyone. This is purely an exercise of doing something different than other competing schools and not a true celebration. I don’t think students even aware that this is day of Ma Saraswati and people are supposed to wear yellow on this auspicious day. Thanks to globalization these festivals sooner or later are going to be member of museums and parts of the books of ancient history and ‘festivals’ like Valentine’s day and Thanksgiving would take place of them.

Thinking of golden past, (past is always golden even if one had less money to spend on very few options in those days) this sounds weird but even after spending seven years of school age at a place where kite flying runs in the blood of people I never got chance to fly a kite. I was always busy in other activities. Basant is synonymous with Kite Flying. This game was a passion in Punjab especially the border town of Batala, the place I am talking about. Boys would spend all the day on the rooftop during this day. And Basant Panchmi was never less than today’s final match of any cricket world cup for those guys.

They would leave their beds at four in chilling morning and run for roof with their kites and spool of string. Not to mention kites were procured weeks before and threads were specially designed and seasoned. I remember my young friends narrating me the contents of the solution for strengthening string which includes gum, glass powder and ‘mythologically’ pigeon dropping.

Kite flying was never an easy sport and the players of this sport considered them as warriors and would proudly show their injured index fingers with multiple cuts caused by sharp thread while contesting their kites with opponents, trying to cut the other kite loose. Kites and thread spools were like armours and weapons for these warriors. Loudspeakers were installed at the rooftops and challenges were thrown to neighboring warriors. The players would include from age six to sixty. I remember the scene of sky filled with thousands of kites looking like those colored patches holding the sky high and if those kites are withdrawn the sky would fell down.

Down in the street groups of small children with hawk eyes would stay alert like rapid action forces to launch attack for grabbing loose kites and thread. The event would go on for all the day till dark. The warriors would have their breakfast and lunch only at the roof with spools in hand and eyes at sky just like famous Rajput yodha Durga Dass Rathore not getting off his horse for many days in the war field.

But those were good old days. Scene is totally changed now. Kite flying is considered very ‘lower middle class’ these days. Kite shops are gone and kite makers have adopted other ways to earn bread. Very few people are familiar with this festival.

The only community which celebrate all the festivals are traders. They will not loose a chance to put on sale and take advantage of such festivals. These days we came to know about festivals only by the sale ads in the papers. Thanks to them all the festivals look like same. The same stuff is being sold in the markets. There is no difference in Diwali and Republic day. While everything seems stereotype you can’t have the true happiness.

As I wrote earlier I never flew a kite but still I wanted this sport to remain live and Basant (and all our festivals) to be celebrated in true spirit. Don’t know why. May be I am orthodox.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Challenge for Viewers !

Sidhu looked dynamic when he joined politics years back and I was amused to see him speak fluent hip hop Hindi jeweled with fancy proverbs. Since then he keep stepping on the stairs of fame. And then The great Indian laughter challenge.

Past some time laughter is really a challenge in this show. Sidhu's burst of laugh at super third class stinking jokes makes him nothing else than a clown. As if this was not enough the 'Tardka' double mean punches gives real cheapy impression.

The compulsory comments on the host Parizad by so called judges and all the participants and her proud smile( I don't know how professional smile that is) surprise a lot. Ladies please help me here understanding if such comments could be taken as a compliment by them.

The concept of 'Bar Bala' by Naveen was funny & fine for a while. But thanks to him for juicing out the laughter of it by repeating again and again. All the participants tries to butter Sidhu and Shekhar to a shameful height.

Partap Fauzdar is a funny performer but he too has started flowing with the current. One day at Aastha channel I saw him on the stage with some prominent Hindi Haasya Kavi(s) at a sammelan. Before starting his poems Fauzdar beg for the pardon for his useless jokes at The great Indian laughter challenge show. And at that stage he showed real Haasya poet in him.

The only other genuine hilarious performer is Raju Shrivastva. His laughter accounts are funny, aptly and full of life. In fact he deserved that crown of champion and keys of Chevy Aveo car.

But don't worry folks, its not over yet. Now you will have to bear two clowns with water in their mouth for Parizad and black spots on their white shirts. (Sidhu for unintentional murder and Shakti for sting operation).

Sorry guys I cant bear you any more. I would prefer the 9 pm movie at HBO or Star or Zee Studio. To my view, The comedy show Ha Ha Ha, Sara Bhai Vs Sara bhai are still fine. Office Office was great but it's enough now, they should start for a new idea. I don't know who paid to produce Johnny Aala Re which strategically erased Johnny Lever's name from the Indian comedian list.
The best was Wah Wah at Sab Tv but lost most of the shine when Ashok Chakradhar left the show. I would wait for such shows to be aired on the idiot box again.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Laage Raho Kinoo !

He is as sweet as a kinoo, by heart and physique.

He is eldest among all the kids at home. Many times he have to behave like a matured cos of his younger. He is very sincere and polite. He is shy most of his time.

As he is growing up, he is getting more and more gadget savvy. Every morning he got a new model number of either mobile set or i pod or digicam or bike or car for his Chachu (that's me) to buy. He also explains different qualities or technicalities of these machines very convincingly.

He is getting fond of music. (I think he would look great if he starts playing Tabla). He wants all the (good or bad) numbers stored in his desktop. (Though the younger wont let him take his seat in front of his computer most of the time.)

He wanted a Hero GTB bike for his 13th birthday. But his increasing carelessness for decreasing percentage caused a tearful break to his dream ride. So he had to satisfy himself for 'simple' Woodland's pair. But he needs to be careful for his studies and fitness. (And he has promised to perform better now and I trust him).

He is the most loving kid for me but I feel sad when I see him getting bulky. Hey Kinoo, "Lovely people need exercise too!”

His name is Shreshth, we call him kinoo and wish for him to be Sarvshresth in every field.

Happy Birthday Kinoo, we all love you so much!

Monday, January 15, 2007

Son In Law !

Obviously, after completing Sava Maheena Raavi got to got visitors as well as gifts and shaguns from all over. And of course his Nana - Nani were not exceptions. In fact both of them were eagerly waiting for the first Lohri of their younger grandson to perform their part of duties.

I don't know why this great poem of 'Kaka' came to my mind and I laughed.

जम और जमाई

बड़ा भयंकर जीव है , इस जग में दामाद
सास - ससुर को चूस कर, कर देता बरबाद
कर देता बरबाद , आप कुछ पियो न खाओ
मेहनत करो , कमाओ , इसको देते जाओ
कहॅं ‘ काका ' कविराय , सासरे पहुँची लाली
भेजो प्रति त्यौहार , मिठाई भर- भर थाली

लल्ला हो इनके यहाँ , देना पड़े दहेज
लल्ली हो अपने यहाँ , तब भी कुछ तो भेज
तब भी कुछ तो भेज , हमारे चाचा मरते
रोने की एक्टिंग दिखा , कुछ लेकर टरते
‘ काका ' स्वर्ग प्रयाण करे , बिटिया की सासू
चलो दक्षिणा देउ और टपकाओ आँसू

जीवन भर देते रहो , भरे न इनका पेट
जब मिल जायें कुँवर जी , तभी करो कुछ भेंट
तभी करो कुछ भेंट , जँवाई घर हो शादी
भेजो लड्डू , कपड़े, बर्तन, सोना - चाँदी
कहॅं ‘ काका ', हो अपने यहाँ विवाह किसी का
तब भी इनको देउ , करो मस्तक पर टीका

कितना भी दे दीजिये , तृप्त न हो यह शख़्श
तो फिर यह दामाद है अथवा लैटर बक्स ?
अथवा लैटर बक्स , मुसीबत गले लगा ली
नित्य डालते रहो , किंतु ख़ाली का ख़ाली
कहँ ‘ काका ' कवि , ससुर नर्क में सीधा जाता
मृत्यु - समय यदि दर्शन दे जाये जमाता

और अंत में तथ्य यह कैसे जायें भूल
आया हिंदू कोड बिल , इनको ही अनुकूल
इनको ही अनुकूल , मार कानूनी घिस्सा
छीन पिता की संपत्ति से , पुत्री का हिस्सा
‘ काका ' एक समान लगें , जम और जमाई
फिर भी इनसे बचने की कुछ युक्ति न पाई

काका हाथरसी

Friday, January 12, 2007

Arise Awake !!

Some time back in an episode of KBC2, a confused young guy was facing Big B. The question was 'which Indian Sage started his speech with words "Brothers and Sisters of America" in Chicago? The boy had to take life line of 'call a friend' and called his younger sister (or friend maybe). Boy could not even complete the question to girl and came the speedy reply "Swami Vivekananda". Big B said she is the one who should be here at hot seat.

This day is birthday of two great souls I am inspired of. One was born Sanyaasi and other became Vaanprasthi after his retirement from government job at the age of 58.

'Naren' as called in childhood Swami Vivekananda, had only one question for every god man he met, “Have you seen God?” It was indeed a very embarrassing question to reply for all those people who tried to reply avoiding the main part. But it was only Ramkrishana Paramhans who said, “Yes, I talk to God like I am talking to you now.” Since then Naren never left Paramahans.

After untimely death of father Naren had to face enormous financial difficulties to feed his family. His guru Swami Ramkrishan Paramhans send him thrice to Ma Kali for financial help. But Naren every time could only speak of Vairagya and Vivek.

Days before the sessions of the Parliament of Religions, Swamiji used to wander on the roads of Chicago. One day an American staring at Swamiji's saffron chola and turban remarked on him, "what you people gonna speech us about, you don't even know how to dress like a gentleman." Swamiji politely gave him reply, “In your country tailors make the gentleman but in my country high thinking make a person gentleman."

Through out his life of 38 years he kept struggling for the upliftment of Indians. He always insisted to be brave, bold and self esteemed. He used to call for the youths of India,

"Arise Awake and stop not till the goal is reached!”


The other person, for 58 years he lived like a loin in jungle who fears nothing. Living life of a senior government officer he enjoyed all the colors of the seasons of his carrier. He never believed in financial savings. Never showed distrust to anyone. That’s why he was stabbed many times in his back by his so called relatives and friends. But he would always give example of a Sadhu who receives stings while saving a drowning honey bee. Helping people beyond his limits was his favorite hobby.

The second act of his life started after his retirement at the age of 58. He was completely a new person for all of us. Until now I was never able to see his passion, emotions or dedication towards our society or country. He pledged to Vanprasth (one of the four ashrams described in Hinduism) in year 2001 in a ceremony at Hardwar organized by a social institution and devoted his remaining life for our society.

He was given charge of 220 schools of Vidya Bharti (India’s biggest NGO in education sector) in Punjab state for the internal auditing and regularizing of financial norms. Of course this was a non paying social service. Since my birth I very rarely saw him traveling in a bus or wearing a suit without crease. But now he traveled for 20 days in a month in sarkari buses without caring for the iron of his clothes for this noble cause.

His friends, who joined other jobs or started helping their children’s businesses after their retirement, used to ask him that how much is he getting out of this? Some would simply smile that may be there is good under table income in this social service. But he would laugh at them and genuinely reply that for 60 years we have only received from our society and now it’s time to payback. He urged many of his friends to come and join him but we all know it’s never so easy.

He never shared with us but we knew that he had adopted some orphan kids and was regularly paying for their monthly expenses from his pension account. He also pledged to donate his eyes and he did.

In two years of his hard work and dedication he was given charge of entire north India. He was getting busier and busier and moreover enjoying his job despite the various difficulties.

We started missing him as he used to stay away from home for many days. His grandsons kept calling him over his cell for different goodies and he never disappointed them. Until 2005.

We still miss you dad we all miss you badly.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Shabash ISRO !

Another reason of celebration. Another giant leap in space technology. On 10th of January, after successfully launching PSLV C7 carrying four satellites in 635 km high orbit, India became the elite fourth nation to perform such super tech launches.

For the first time the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is carrying out a new experiment in which a 550 kg capsule (SRE-I) will return to the Earth after 15 days and can be reused.

After the failure of GSLV in July last year, it is indeed a double jubilation.

India has faced many obstacles to achieve such heights. But these obstacles always gave inspiration to India to create its own way. I remember in early 90's when Uncle Sam (USA) refused to give super computer to India, our scientists developed their own super computer named 'Param' which was 3 to 4 times better and faster than to America's. Not only that later our boys created Param I, II, and III also. (We have stopped counting now).

Likewise, almost same time Russia in American pressure refused to sell Cryogenic engines to India for ISRO. Amid the Indians worries, in an interview at Doordarshan the host asked then ISRO chief that why don't you produce such engine yourself? I still remember the shine of confidence on the face of ISRO chief who replied, "A corner restaurant is selling tasty and cheap dosa. What is the need for us of doing so much of effort and time waste to prepare at home?? But if the restaurant guys raising conditions or selling too costly, we are always free to cook our own. Who can stop us?" Bravo ISRO , no one can stop you!

Here are two lines from Jagjit's ghazal for ISRO and all of its team.

Hum to dariya hain, hamain apna hunar maloom hai,
jis taraf bhi chal padainge, rasta ho jayega !!

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

In the Lap of Devbhoomi !

That was the way I always loved. A great start to a new year. 13000 ft height, -7* temperature and 12 km trekking of snow cladded path to freezed lake of Serualsar.

Sona's birthday gave me an opportunity to revive my thrust for Himalayas. Jalorijot pass is around 140 km up north from Shimla capital of state of Himachal Pradesh (Devbhoomi- Land of Gods, as its called). At around 10300 ft height Jalori Pass connects inner and outer Seraj valley. Another victim of today's global warming, Jalori used to obtain 20 to 25 ft of snowfall in good old days but now days its only 5 to 8 ft. And when I reached there it was not even that much of snow. On the name of population Jalori have only a tiny temple and a couple of tea shops being run by local villagers of nearby lower areas.

When we reached there in the noon of 6th January, the bone chilling breeze was challenging us to stay steady on our feet and was comfortably reaching our skin through heavy and thick layers of warm clothing. As if this was not enough, Rajeev asks us to take off our shoes (socks we removed ourselves as no one could afford them to get wet in snow) to offer prayer at temple. I could not understand either my feet were burning or freezing. Trust me, the pain of burning or freezing is almost same. It took around 10 match sticks and 3 pairs of hands to lit the Dhoop at temple. After we somehow managed to wear our shoes back on, we started for the Serualsar lake, around 6 km trek from Jalorijot.

With panoramic view of thick oak forest, snow covered peaks and steep gorges, the trek to lake was just terrific. As the snow on trek was week's old and thus freezed, it was really tough to keep step steady. Paramjeet fell twice on the ice as he was not experienced to walk of icy trek. At some points the trek was so narrow that a loose step could start a non stop toss into endless fall. On the way to lake we were joined by three local lads. One of them, Lagan Dass was amateur singer and on our request he sung some melodious Himcahali songs for us.

It took us two and half hours to cover the distance. Soon we got the first view of lake. Whew! It was breath holding, surrounded by small hills and dense oak trees the lake was all freezed that one could walk on it. On one side of lake was two small treditional wooden Himachali temples of a devi called Budhi Nagin Mata. One was around 50 years old and other was newly built in the same style. The idols of Budhi Nagin Mata were recently shifted to new temple.

The lake is at around 12500 feet height. According to local saying, ancient sage Shring Rishi meditated there, a golden temple is lying underneath the lake and Aabhi named birds keeps the lake clean of all the leaves or other stuff. To my surprise, even being surrouned by various trees, not even a single leaf was there on the bed of lake. The temple and lake is worshiped with ghee and it is a custom to encircle the lake with flow of ghee by devotee if a wish is fullfilled.

The depth and source of water in the lake is unknown and according to saying once a man from local town to keep his promise offered a pair of gold earrings in the lake after his wish for son was granted. But on the way back to home, feelings of lose of gold engulfed him. He thought may be a son was written in his destiny otherwise also. What this temple has to do in it? It was such a waste of money to throw gold earrings in the lake. In the midway around 30 km downwards from the lake, he stooped at another temple for water at a natural water fall. As he put his palms under the water fall for drink the same pair of earrings came along the water in his hands. This temple was of the husband of Budhi Nagin Mata of Serualsar. He was very happy to get his valuable back only to realize that his only son was dead when he reached home.

After we performed pooja at temple, it was time for pait pooja. We found a shelter to protect ourselves from cold air and ate aloo paranthas made by Sarita with green chilli chutney made by me and hot milk.

After spending an hour at lake we started back for Jalorijot at 3’o clock. On the way back we also found a couple of empty mud huts made by sadhus for shelter in summers. How do they people feel like while living at such places? Anyway, its nice as long as you keep walking as it keeps you warm but as soon as you stop you start shivering of cold. Back at Jalori pass all of us drank tea at Mamji’s stall.

Around 10 km from Jalori to Khanag is a beautiful old bungalow now a rest house of PWD. It had nice veranda and lawn in front. If ever I could get one in my life, it is going to be exactly the same.

We reached Kumarsain at 8 in the evening and after saying goodbye to Rajeev and Sarita, I and Paramjeet started back for Chandigarh.

This was my another memorable yatra only possible cause of Rajeev & Sarita (and of course Sona). God bless them. This was great start of year and I really wished for at least two more such trips in this year. Let’s see what God has kept for me!!

Nanhi Pari !

I was supposed to be at her parents marriage around one and half year back or then at her grandpa's retirement celebration or at her birth a year back but finally it was her first birthday that gave me another opportunity to be there with Rajeev and Sarita.
Sona, as the name describes is a sweet, cute and beautiful girl who celebrated her first birthday on 5th January. She is charming and always smiling. Adorable to everybody, she lives amid the apples orchard, may be that's why she have apple like cheeks.

May she live long and glitters like Sona always! Happy Birthday to you!