Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Thoughts-Common complaint

As mentioned in the previous page, when the auto hit me in a narrow, crowded lane, I was going to buy a toy for my six years old grandson. Because of this accident we had to return home without the purchase. My one thought was to bring the child to the safety of our home, which I did with the help of a stranger. I was still bleeding when suddenly I looked at my grandson. Disappointment was written large on his face. I tried to comfort him and divert his mind: “See, how Dadaji is bleeding.” The child: “Yes, but I, didn’t get my gun.” I felt a pang of hurt. Here I was, gravely injured and all the child could think of was his gun. But I also knew how disappointed he was as I had promised him his gun the previous night. He was looking forward to it. Better sense prevailed and tried to give him solace that I would immediately call his dad and ask him to buy one on his way home from office in the evening. The child had to be satisfied with that.

Thereafter I was busy going to the doctor’s, getting the wound stitched, buying medicines and all. After every thing was over and it was time to relax, I noticed that my wife was a little aloof. It came down to me that though she did everything for me that was to be done in such circumstances, like fetching ice, bandages, calling help from neighbors, offer to accompany me to the doctor, there was a little bit of coldness in all. I kept quite about it and behaved as if I had not noticed anything amiss.

In the evening she could not contain herself: “You know, I was to go to the market today to shop for Diwali.” So that was the reason. I told her: “Go tomorrow.” My wife: “Tomorrow is Thursday and the market remains closed.” Me: “This is Diwali time, may be they will remain open.” Wife: “That is all guess work. I so wanted to shop today and I had told you yesterday itself about it.”

Did I detect disappointment with that complaint? Probably, yes. That set me thinking. If a grandmother was disappointed at not being able to shop, naturally a six year old had every right to openly show his feelings which he did in all innocence. With that I remembered a couple of similar incidents of my own childhood and how I felt cheated and disappointed when promised things were delayed. That moment I felt one with the child and understood his sorrow. Now it was my turn to do something to bring him some cheer. I felt so much for him that I set the ball rolling to fetch him a gun right then and there, as if I was removing my own disappointment.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Musings-God disposes

It is said that, ‘man proposes, God disposes.’ At least in my case it is true. Strange as it may sound, but whenever I have decided to start something or do something on a particular day, God has rejected my decision, without exception.

Just the other day, I had promised my grandson to take him to the market to buy him a toy gun the next morning. The child was so looking forward to it. Half way through the market an auto hit me from the back and I was badly injured, so no market, no gun. More than myself, I was sorry for the kid. I wish the Almighty had warned me in some manner that He did not wish me to go. I could have easily sent some body else for the gun.

Looking back, on all earlier occasions, I have marked that whenever I do something randomly, that is without earlier planning, I have succeeded. But whenever I have planned something in advance or go about a thing methodically, God has disposed my plans invariably.

My wardrobe was in a mess. Last year on Christmas day, the 25th Dec., I decided that I would have my wardrobe spick and span by 31st. I decided to empty the wardrobe first thing in the morning. God had other plans. On the D day, I had a guest from Calcutta who stayed with me for four days. It took me three more months and many conscious decisions to clear the wardrobe.

On another occasion, I had been putting off my morning walks for quite some time. Once I decided to start the routine from Monday and made all preparations like cleaning my walking shoes, taking out my track suit etc. on Sunday evening itself. I got up early on Monday morning, got ready and walked out of the flat feeling tall. Sure enough, I sprayed my ankle while getting out of the lift. Again when the ankle was healed and it was time to start the walk, there was an unseasonal rain early in the morning.

I had intended to read ‘Nostradamus’ for almost a year but couldn’t get around to it. One day, determined, I went and bought the book with all intentions to read the book immediately or as soon as possible. But it was not to be. For one reason or the other, I could not start it for a couple of months. Finally, when the time came, I could not find the book. Later, my wife told me that one relative had borrowed the book and that she forgot to tell me. I am yet to receive the book, a year hence.

There are innumerable examples and incidents of how I have never been able to work in a planned manner though I am very methodical and organized by nature. So now I have decided to plan everything in an unplanned manner, so that God does not dispose off my plans. So far I have not succeeded. But there is always tomorrow, isn’t it?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Experiences-Heart felt

I have been hearing about Mumbai citizens’ apathy towards ordinary people lying injured on the road or victims of other unfortunate circumstances. But I had quite an opposite experience just day before yesterday. I must confess I had a learning experience of the true spirit of ordinary people on the road.

The day before yesterday, on the eve of Dhanteras, I was walking through a narrow bazaar street frequented by ordinary middle class people, with my grandson to buy him a toy gun. The Diwali festival rush was there and the traffic was moving at a snail’s pace. Suddenly an auto hit me from behind with quite a force in a bid to move forward and overtake other vehicles. I fell forward face down, resulting in a deep cut below my right eye which was bleeding profusely. Fortunately, and I thank Almighty for that, my grandson escaped unscathed. Though shaken, I had not left the six year child’s hand even for a second.

Within seconds almost fifty-sixty people surrounded me, most of them ladies. The street was so narrow, hardly two autos could move in opposite directions, leaving no space for pedestrians. The traffic came to a standstill because of this accident. A few ladies tried to help me up from the ground, but could not find enough space for movements. Out of nowhere, a rough, tuff looking man approached me and helped me stand up, roughly shoving other people around me. While steadying me on my feet, still holding me, the gentleman whispered in my ears not to leave the child’s hand even for a second under any circumstances and that I should hold my strength till he brought his bike parked a little distance away. There was chaos all around. One lady fetched a plastic stool from somewhere, made me sit on it and put my child on my lap. Another lady arranged some ice and put it on my injured cheek. One elderly gentleman offered his mobile for me to call anywhere or alternatively take me to a doctor and not to worry about money if I was not carrying enough. Yet another young girl, all of twenty probably, traveling in an auto offered to drop us to my place wherever it be as it was difficult to find conveyance in that market.

The gentleman who had helped me on my feet appeared with his bike, all the while shouting at people to clear the road. Four more persons started to monitor the traffic and cleared enough space for the bike to travel without trouble. The gentleman on the bike made me and my child comfortable on the vehicle and took us to our home. Not only that, he came up to my place, removed the ice, made temporary padding on the wound and bandaged it. Then what he said made immense sense: “Uncle, I just wanted to see the child safe home. I have my doctor. If you want I can take you to him. But I have a feeling every body is comfortable with their family doctor. So if you have one, I can take you to him.”

Fortunately, my doctor resides in the same complex where I live. Satisfied, the gentleman begged to leave, refusing our hospitality, except a glass of water, as he was getting late for his job. At the lift I asked for his name. “Feroze Khan”: he said. I thanked him profusely.

Now, I am a Gujarati Hindu. He must have noticed images of Ganesha and Krishna on our walls. The lady who provided me with ice was Maharashtrian, the man who offered his mobile and money appeared to be a UPite, The girl who offered to drop me home may be, was Christain, I don’t know. Feroze Khan, a Muslim. And yet, we were all one in that moment of crisis. Nobody cared who I was, a human being, that’s all. Who says Mumbaites don’t care? They do. Ask me.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Musings-Guest in peace

Human mind is complicated and wonderfully complicated at that. We have one regular member among regular members in our regular society sittings for elders in the evenings. About a dozen of us get together daily in evenings for a couple of hours. Topics range from newly weds, to soon to retire, from new born, to soon to depart from this unworthy planet (fani duniya). The gentleman in question, Manubhai, quite elderly, is a nice man but has one trait. He has problem with everything, right from flow of water supply (we have 24 hours supply), watchmen, maintenance, liftmen, neighbors, car parking, you name it. Manubhai is fairly well to do, to put it mildly and his sons and daughters-in-law have varied interests in varied fields. This Manubhai has one relative in Chennai by name of Shantibhai who regularly comes to Mumbai and stays with Manubhai every time. Now, Shantibhai from Chennai has other relatives in Mumbai including his own brother, but, may be for convenience like proximity to airport or whatever reasons, Shantibhai stays with our friend every time he is in Mumbai.

Whenever this relative, Shantibhai is in Mumbai, our Manubhai seems genuinely happy and treats him well. The guest too appears to be a good person of quite adjustable nature, lavish in spending and a good sport. But as soon as the guest leaves for Chennai, our Manubhai’s grievances start: “Aare…, he comes four five times in a year… we are a joint family…. Our flat is small…. I fail to understand why he doesn’t go to other relatives…. He has many…. Even his own brother is there…. It is so inconvenient…” and it goes on. A couple of months later, he would be booming and smiling from ear to ear, reason? “Shantibhai is coming…aare that Chennaiwale.” He would be happy.

This time Manubhai had a long face, reason? Shantibhai was coming to Mumbai and this time it was a stay of a week instead of his usual two days. Shantibhai was to get himself treated in some south Mumbai hospital for some bone deformity. X-rays, test reports and treatment would take at least a week. Manubhai, being his usual self: “Why can’t he stay in Kalbadevi where he has close relatives… from this far in suburb to Mumbai and daily updown… if something goes wrong, we will have to run…. as it is, we will have to visit him in hospital for courtesy if he stays with us….people don’t understand…. This is Mumbai….local travel is so inconvenient…” and so on.

For once, we also thought Manubhai was right this time. A day prior to Shantibhai’s arrival, Manubhai received a call from Kalbadevi, that Shantibhai would stay in Mumbai because of Kalbadevi’s proximity to the hospital he was to visit.

Shantibhai came and went. He kept in touch with Manubhai. When somebody asked Manubhai about his well being, Manubhai had this to say: “For years he has been staying with us every time he comes to Mumbai… this time he opted for Kalbadevi just because of its nearness to the hospital…. What about us….what will the relatives think…. What about our feelings…. The least I expected was a visit from him….but he came and went….whom to trust….”

What can you do about such Manubhais? As I said human mind is a wonderfully complicated thing.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Experiences-Door delivery

Among many woes of life, one is such that almost everyone must have experienced it to some extent in their lives and that is, carrying someone else’s parcel to be delivered to somebody else in some other city. There is nothing more weird then that. “Oh, you are going to Bombay? How lucky? Actually, last time when Monu came, he forgot his vest here. Please take it with you and give it to him. We looked after him so well when he was here that he was all praise for us and now if we don’t return his vest, how does it look, no? Moreover, such things can’t be requested to anyone except near ones like you.” Little realizing the fact, that the time and cost of delivering that vest could set one three times the cost of the blasted thing. But as they say, such is life.

We in our family travel regularly, some member or the other of the family is always on the go. We too have our woes of carrying others’ parcels and so, as a matter of principle, we sternly refuse such requests citing one reason or the other. Some understand and some don’t. There are a rare few who won’t take no for an answer. I have one bitter, almost tragic experience of carrying a parcel of one such person.

One of my close friend’s son was to be operated upon in Bangalore. The hospital was in the outskirt of the main city. The operation was serious and so the friend requested me to accompany him so that one can of us can be with the patient and the other can run around for errands like reports, x-rays, medicines etc. moreover there was a question of moral support. With pre and post operation care, the stay in Bangalore was to be more then twenty days and so it was decided that the two of us would go. One of my friends, Dilip, came to know about this and came to my place with a medium sized thick envelop: “These are legal documents, very important. I cannot emphasize their importance. Please deliver them to Kirit in Bangalore, address and phone numbers are written on the cover. So you should have no problem.”

Me: “See, I am going there to look after a patient. As it is, I am going to stay a few miles out of the city and in a guest house. I will be in the hospital through out the day. I will not have time to visit your Mr. Kirit.”

Dilip: “Aare yaar, you will be there for three weeks. There is no hurry. But the papers are important, so I can’t send them through courier. I trust you. These are to be given to Kirit only. You can go late in the evening, there is no problem.”

Me: “But I have a problem. I don’t know Kirit and I won’t have the time. So sorry, I can’t take it.”

Dilip: “Ok. Ok. Don’t worry. I will call Dilip and ask him to collect this envelop from you.”

Me: “I will be in the hospital or on errands. They don’t allow anybody without proper pass.”

Dilip: “Kirit does not need a pass to go anywhere, not in Bangalore. That is the least of your worries. He can go where he likes. He will find you. Don’t worry. You only call him and tell him where you are. He will manage the rest.”

Me: “I can tell you where I will be right now. I will be in guest named so and so.”

Dilip: “Brother, the least you can do is to call him there, fix a time so that he can come and collect these papers from you, the rest I will explain when I call him from here.”

Dilip went on and on. He would not take my no for an answer. We were wasting time and the envelope was not that big or inconvenient, so I took it.

Over to Bangalore: I reached Bangalore and after preliminaries in the hospital, I returned to the guest house and called Kirit, introduced myself. Kirit didn’t recognize me. Dilip had not called him.

Me: “Anyway, I have this envelop. He was to call you.”

Kirit: “When can you come?”

Me: “I can’t. You have to come and collect it. I am in so and so guest house.”

Kirit: “But that is out of Bangalore. I am a busy man. Why don’t you come on Sunday?”

Me: “I can’t. Dilip knew where I was to stay. He was supposed to call you and ask you to collect it.”

Kirit: “Ok. ok. Give me your number. I will call you in a day or so.”

Kirit did not call. After a week I called him.

Kirit: “Oh yes, I was busy. I will come tomorrow.”

Me: “I am free only between two and five in the afternoon.”

Kirit: “Fine, I will be there at three tomorrow.”

I waited for him until six instead of five, he didn’t come. I was so angry that I decided to take the envelope back to Bombay and not to call him again. But after two weeks I thought it would be wise to get rid of the envelope and be done with it. As it was, two of my friend’s relatives had come from a near by town to share responsibilities on week end so I was relatively free to go to the city and explore a bit.

So I called Kirit. He cut the line and switched off. I tried twice more. No response. I let it go. After half an hour he called. There was shouting and chaos on the line. He said: “I am in a movie house. You called right in the middle of it.”

I got so frustrated and angry that I rudely disconnected the line without speaking and decided that even if he comes I won’t deliver the offensive envelope. He didn’t come. One day prior to my departure he called in the evening. Look at his audacity. He suggested that the route to the railway station passed through the street where his office was located. I didn’t let him speak further and said a firm no. He noted my train number, seat number, departure time and promised that he would meet me on the platform. He never came.

And now the high point in the drama. Once in Bombay, I called Dilip and asked him to come and take back his envelope. At least he came. When I explained, He said: “What yaar, he is like that only, I had told you. You were there for twenty five days and couldn’t do me a small favor?”

NOTE: The hospital is NIMHANS and it is situated on the outskirts of Bangalore, a few
miles away.



Saturday, November 13, 2010

Humor thoughts-Middle Class woes

I have been hearing about middle class woes from quite an early age of my life which itself was and has remained middle class. That both rich and poor are better off, that the middle class is sandwiched between the rich and poor, that the middle class has to keep a facade etc. etc. But nothing prepared me for the stark and naked reality behind these statements as a recent incident, which also reminded me of an incident, quite funny in its mirth, if you know what I mean, more then forty years back.

Almost half a century ago, one of my friends, who worked in a bank, went to see a movie with his wife on a calm, serene Saturday. My friend was determined to please his wife on that day, had planned to take her to dinner after the movie. The rates of a movie ticket, as far as I remember, were twelve annas ordinary, one Rupee and four annas for balcony, then one Rupee twelve annas and two Rupees four annas for dress circle. All classes were full that day, except dress circle. The couple stood there undecided when the wife noticed her maid servant dressed in her week end best with flowers in her hair and husband in her tow, beaming with pleasure, without any care in the world, saw only dress circle was available, bought tickets without any hesitation and went inside. My friend and his wife went home, dejected.

Much water has flown under the bridge since then. This is 2010. Now to the present incident, recently we were sitting in our society compound one evening as usual, solving many a political, social and economical problems as is our wont, when one of our regulars asked if anyone could recommend a maid, rather recommend his family to a maid if truth be told, on temporary basis for fifteen-twenty days and that he was prepared to pay more then the prevailing rates. Now the topic of discussion turned to servants and maids when somebody asked what happened to his regular maid. The maid in question had left for her native place the previous evening because her father-in-law was ill. The maid’s husband, who works as a sweeper in the municipality, had received a message on his mobile that his father was serious. The man took leave from his office and went home. The maid said that within fifteen minutes, (mark the time frame) they, the husband and wife decided that the husband would take a flight the same night and the wife would follow the next evening in train after notifying the households she worked in and after collecting some money.

Here is the irony: I own a flat worth fifty lakhs. I intend to go to Calcutta for some work next month. After fifteen days of deliberations I am still not sure if I can afford a flight.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Stories-Greed

The moral stories which we have all read in our childhood still stand in good stead in these modern times. Times change, appearances change, technologies change, styles change, but human nature is the same, as it was hundreds of years back. We have all read those “Once upon a time” stories, but one of my friends took effective advantage of the same a year back. Here is how it went, but first, a gist of the original story that goes thus:

Once upon a time there was this king named Raja Jaisinh. He was a just king and people were happy in his kingdom. Jaisinh had a worthy and clever minister named Buddhisagar. True to his name, Buddhisagar was wise and intelligent and the king largely depended on him for administration as well as welfare of his subject. Once, a farmer came to the king with a complaint against a local sharaf (one who deals in money lending). The farmer had deposited five hundred Gold Mohurs (coins) for safe keep, with this sharaf’s father who was very honest and went on a pilgrimage. Upon his return, the farmer found that the senior sharaf had died meanwhile and his son had taken over the senior’s business. Now the young sharaf denied his father having taken any Gold Mohurs from the farmer and asked if he (the farmer) had any receipt. The farmer didn’t have any because he depended on the senior’s honesty and rightly so. The king listened to the farmer patiently and instantly knew that the farmer was speaking the truth. But as there was no proof, it was difficult to accuse the young sharaf. The king called Buddhisagar and instructed him to do the needful. Buddhisagar listened to the farmer intently, asked a few questions, understood the situation and asked him to come back after a week. Then, he ordered his guptachars (detectives) to find out all about the young sharaf and his deceased father in two days. The guptachars reported that the senior sharaf was really an honest man, not a taint throughout his life, and people largely depended on his words while dealing with him. But not so the young sharaf, he had cheated at least two more persons who had not taken anything in writing from the deceased. Equipped with this information, Buddhisagar prepared a plan and called the complainant and explained what was to be done.

Next morning, Buddhisagar disguised as a rich trader, went to the place of the young sharaf and asked to see the senior sharaf, his father. The young man told him about his father’s death a few months back and asked for the purpose of his visit. The rich trader told the young sharaf that he was from a nearby town dealing in wholesale spices, that he wanted to go to another kingdom to explore further business opportunities, that he had heard a lot about the senior sharaf’s honesty and wanted to deposit ten thousand Mohurs for safe keep. The young man told him that this was the same office now taken over by him and the business was run on his late father’s principles and ideals, and the trader could very well deposit his sum there.

Just then the farmer entered the office and the young sharaf, knowing the farmer would demand his five hundred gold Mohurs and fearing he would loose ten thousand Mohurs, instantly said: “Welcome, welcome, here is your bag of five hundred Mohurs you left with my father. I found the entry my father left.” So saying he returned the bag of five hundred Mohurs to the farmer. Buddhisagar appeared satisfied and told the young trader that he would be back with Mohurs when he starts his journey in two days and went away. The farmer got his hard earned money and justice was done.

Now to the modern event, one of my friends, Rasik by name, remembered having read this story when one of his friends, an ordinary middle class man working in a private office narrated his tale of woe to Rasik. Sridhar and Jogi were two brothers. Sridhar, the elder one was an honest businessman. He often borrowed money from his friends on interest for his business, was fair in his dealings and was reputed to be an honest man. When he required money, friends readily obliged without hesitation. Jogi, the younger one, helped his elder brother in his business. Jogi didn’t have that brain and acumen of his elder brother, just followed sridhar’s advice and was being well looked after. Sridhar suffered heart attack right in his office one day and died before any help could arrive. Out of the blue, Jogi was now the owner of the entire business. Now earlier, Sridhar had taken a loan of Rs. one lakh from Rasik’s friend who was also Sridhar’s friend and had often dealt with Sridhar satisfactorily. He went to Jogi and reminded him (Jogi) about the amount he had given to Sridhar. Jogi, knowing well that there was nothing in writing, avoided the issue saying he would see if there was anything mentioned in his brother’s books as he himself was not aware of any such dealing. After a few visits Rasik’s friend realized that the amount was lost and with it, his meager savings of life. Having listened to him, Rasik remembered the “Once upon a time” story and decided to give it a try. Rasik explained his friend what to do and the D day was fixed after two days.

On the fixed day Rasik went to Jogi’s place. After offering proper condolences he said: “I could not come earlier because I was out of town. You probably know, I had borrowed ten lakh Rupees from Sridhar a few months back. I have regularly paid my interest and there is still a few months time for repayment. Now that Sridhar is no more, I want to return the amount so that my conscience is clear.”

Just then, Rasik’s friend who was waiting outside for his signal, entered. Jogi, now scared, immediately blurted: “Bhaisaab, come. I just found my brother’s little note. I don’t have that much amount with me right now. But, here, I will draw you a self, bearer cheque. You get it cashed first thing tomorrow.”

After a while Rasik told Jogi: “By the way, Jogi, as the amount was big, I had given a simple hand note to Sridhar for ten lakhs. Try and find it. As it is, this is sudden, so it will take me four-five days to arrange money.” Seeing Jogi hesitate, Rasik continued: “Look here Jogi, never mind if you don’t find it. When I pay, just give me a chit saying you have received money, we are quits and our account is clear.” Jogi visibly relaxed.

There was ample time for Rasik’s friend to encash his cheque the next day which he did. Every thing was back to normal for Rasik’s friend who wowed never to lend money ever again. Even today, human nature is the same, the greed is same as it was ages back.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Stories-The wealthy jeweler

Soni is elder brother of my friend. He owns a jewelery shop. Mostly Soni lends money on interest against gold and gold ornaments. Himself a wealthy man, Soni is very popular among his borrowers and customers as being a very fair and honest person. His rates of interest are low compared to other dealers and lends almost seventy per cent money against gold value unlike others who lend fifty per cent. He is lenient in his dealings to the extent that occasionally, if a borrower is unable to pay full interest, but has arranged the amount borrowed from Soni, he returns his gold charging minimum token interest. More over, all his dealings are on paper, black and white.

Soni is also reputed as being an expert in gold, its purity and its value. His profit lies in customers who do not return to claim their gold in stipulated time, customers such as share market players, race goers etc. Soni usually waits for double the stipulated time and then disposes off the gold making fair profit. Though some people tried, no body has ever been able to fool him in his twenty years in shop, that is, until year before last.

One day, as Soni was closing his shop, a well to do man, obviously in trouble, walked in. Soni, against his better judgment and principle of not making any deal from half an hour before the closing time, listened to the gentleman’s tale of woe and looked at the necklace in a pink napkin placed before him. Instantly he knew its value to be around two lakhs. The customer wanted Rs. one lakh seventy five thousand against it. Soni apologized saying he could lend one lakh forty thousand maximum. Disappointed, the man returned the necklace in pink napkin in his pocket and started to move towards exit door, hesitated, returned and pleaded if Soni could extend the amount to one lakh fifty thousand. Feeling pity for the man was obviously in trouble, Soni agreed. By this time Soni’s two employees were half way through closing the shop as they were already late and the main lights were dimmed. The man took out the napkin containing the necklace and gave it to Soni opened the napkin, saw the necklace, put it in safe, prepared a receipt for the necklace putting its weight (he had weighed it earlier) and value at around two lakhs, borrowed amount, and lending period ninety days, his minimum. That meant that if the borrower did not claim his article in ninety days, Soni was free to dispose it off in the market and recover his money. He gave one lakh fifty thousand to the customer who was in no hurry to leave the shop, visibly relieved, thanked Soni profusely and promised to return the borrowed money in ten days and claim his article.

Next morning, Soni took out the necklace from the pink napkin to be sealed in the big cloth envelop with borrower’s name printed on it, as was his practice. The moment he took out the necklace, he knew he had been tricked. This necklace was simply gold plated, not worth even ten thousand, leave alone two lakhs. This was not the one he had been shown when that customer came in the previous day. That meant two identical necklaces were put in two identical napkins. Dim lights and his hurry to close shop had him fooled. He cursed himself. His shock was not so much for the loss of money. His ego, his expertise, his confidence were hurt. For the first time in twenty years, he was defeated. He could withstand the monetary loss, but not this defeat. However, being a wise man, he kept quite about it, although he confided in his younger brother who is my friend. After a few days, he accepted the loss and went about his business sure he had last seen the borrower.

After more then two months he took out the fake necklace and put it on display. Almost nearing three months two women came to his shop, bought one expensive ring, paid for it and suddenly saw the necklace and liked the design. Soni told them it was just gilt and not gold. But the women seemed enchanted with its design. Here Soni made his second mistake. Against his normal rule of not selling any mortgaged item before ninety days, he sold the necklace after some haggling for seven thousand and thought: “good riddance.”

Two days prior to the deadline of ninety days, the original borrower walked in whistling, quite happy. He produced Soni’s receipt which mentioned gold weight of the necklace, its value and amount borrowed along with bundles of currency worth one lakh fifty thousand, enquired about the interest to be paid and demanded the necklace. Red faced, Soni knew he was tricked again. But this time he decided not to keep quite. He called police and his lawyer. Both the police and the lawyer knew Soni was right. Meanwhile, the customer made a move and filed a complaint against Soni. After a few days of many deliberations with police and advocates and advice from elderly, experienced well wishers, the matter was settled mutually outside court with Soni paying another one lakh fifty thousand to the gentleman.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Musings of a muse-Family doctor

“What? You don’t have a family doctor?”
I was sitting in front of a young, renowned eye specialist with my wife who was to be operated for cataract, a simple and routine matter, so I thought. This was our third visit. The first visit resulted in the doctor declaring cataract and prescribing some drops to be put in eyes. The second visit was continuance of the first, with suggestion of additional drops with some tablets for a week. This was the third visit.
The doctor declared that my wife was now ready for the operation and set a Tuesday as the D day, five days hence the visit. He further ordered: “Meanwhile, get her blood pressure checked. Also sugar because she is diabetic and bring a certificate from your family doctor that she is fit to be operated.” To which I said that I didn’t have a family doctor.
Doctor: “What, you don’t have a family doctor?”
Me: “No”.
Doctor: “You mean you….don’t…. have…. a…. family….doctor…?”
Me: “No”.
Doctor: “You are serious?”
Me: “Yes.”
Doctor: “How is it possible?”
Silence…..
Doctor: “Tell me, how many members in your family?”
Me: “five.”
Doctor: “Yet you don’t have a family doctor?”
Me: “No.”
Doctor: “And of varying age?”
Me: “From five to sixty five.”
Doctor: “I can’t believe it, five members and no family doctor?”
Me: “No.”

The good doctor stopped writing and looked at me with piercing eyes. I suspected that he was looking at me properly for the first time since our three visits. Perhaps he was trying to make sure that I was from this planet and not some alien. He kept his penetrating look on me for a while, thought hard and said: “Such a big family with a small child and no family doctor, careless of you.” I kept silent.

Doctor: “Perhaps you are new in Mumbai, recently transferred?”

Me: “We are in Mumbai for more than fifteen years.”

The doctor now seemed exasperated. He stressed: “I don’t understand. Then what possibly could be the reason of not having a family doctor?”
Me: “We don’t fall ill, so we don’t need one.”
Doctor: “None of you?”
Me: “No.”
Doctor: “How is it possible, in this time and age?”
I had no reply so kept silent. The doctor took his decision: “I cannot undertake this operation.”
Me: “I can bring all test reports to you. Surely you can determine from those reports whether she is fit to be operated.”
Doctor: ‘I can but I won’t.”
Me: “Why?”
Doctor: “It is risky. I cannot take the risk. I have my reputation to think of. Even if her reports are normal, I don’t know her medical history. Only a family doctor can determine her present status. I am sorry.”

Back home, I narrated the story to a dentist doctor residing in our society. She telephoned an eye specialist known to her. My wife was operated within a week without fuss. A year has passed, there is no problem, her eyesight has improved tremendously and she keeps looking at things she shouldn’t, but that’s a different story.

I came to the conclusion that in this day and time, you cannot afford to remain fit and healthy. You simply cannot afford not to fall ill frequently in order to have a family doctor and you cannot afford not to have a family doctor.’
Irony of time, what else?



Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Musings-Practical father

Circa 1963, place Calcutta, once my friend Ramesh’s father summoned me to his place. Our age was around eighteen then. Ramesh’s father, a no-nonsense man, came straight to the point. That Ramesh was disobedient, that he was refusing to get married, and that too to a girl of their (parent’s) choice, which was unthinkable at that time and since I was a good friend, I should drill some sense into him, and he dismissed me.

Ramesh, contrary to his community’s trend (I won’t name the community, lest they take offence), was a boy of literature and believed in some principles in life. He was a boy or should we call him a man, of poetry, which was almost a sin, in their practical, down to earth family. Now Ramesh (name is real), did not want to get married that soon and if at all, he wanted to marry a girl who was educated, like minded and interested in poetry and literature like Tagore, Amrita Pritam, etc. His father, on the other hand, wanted Ramesh to marry a fourth standard girl who was plump (and I am putting it mildly) whose father was offering twenty five lakh Rupees in dowry, besides normal other things, which was equivalent to more than a crore now. Ramesh, on his part, did not want to spoil the girl’s life, arguing that he would not be able to do justice to his marriage, and it was dishonesty and against his principles. To which his father argued that let Ramesh marry the girl, climb social and business ladder with the help of his super-rich father-in-law, without being dishonest to him and that was common in their cast. The girl would be happy to remain at home with a couple of kids. Once Ramesh was up high, field was open for him to fool around, which again was a norm of the rich. This was a practical advice of a father to his son. His father was to prove right. Two months after this confrontation, I received an invitation to Ramesh’s marriage to the same girl. I attended the marriage. Soon after, I got a job in marketing and after initial few months, was posted elsewhere. We drifted apart.

More then a decade later, I spotted Ramesh in Bombay near Metro cinema. We went to a bar to celebrate our chance meeting. Ramesh had changed completely. He was shining of that typical confidence of the community of the rich. He had two children with his wife, she was a good home maker and after initial wondering, was happy and content looking after their brats. Ramesh himself had nothing much to do about being their father except to bring occasional gifts for them. Where earlier they had a medium sized business, Ramesh had diversified in steel with the help of his father-in-law. His in-laws too were happy with his hard work and honesty in business. He was still based in Calcutta but had four branches in Madras, Poona, Bombay and Baroda. He visited any one branch every month and he had a regular girl at each. His father was happy, his wife was happy, his in-laws were happy and above all he was happy and prosperous. And no, he was not interested in Tagore and Amrita any more.

His father’s predictions and farsightedness proved right after all.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Musings-Irony of times

Recently, one of my friends went to Kashi, Gaya etc. for some religious ceremony. Upon his return, when we asked about his journey, he seemed quite amused. He commented that the Pundits (Brahmins) performing ceremonies there have become modern and businesslike. He further explained that he had gone there to perform Barsi (ceremony performed after one year of death) of his father there.

When he and his wife reached the ghat (river bed where people take religious bath and perform pujas) next day morning, the Pandas (Pundits) gheraoed (surrounded) them, as is their wont. After some deliberations, they selected one and took him aside. My friend and his wife then explained to the Panda their requirement and reason of the ceremony to be performed and asked him for an estimate of the entire process including the materials that the Panda may require. To their utter surprise, the Panda responded by saying that it was a package deal, starting from five thousand Rupees to any amount, it could go to twenty, fifty or even a lakh of Rupees depending upon their shradha (faith).

My friend and his wife, not expecting such commercial attitude at such a religious place, were amused, to say the least. When they asked why the rates differed so much and how their father would benefit if they spend more, the Panda explained that for the basic package of five thousand, five Pandas would perform the ceremony, eleven Brahmins would be fed (Bramha bhojan), and the event would last for about one or one and a half hours. Still amused my friend asked about the package of twenty thousand, he was told that fifteen pundits would perform puja around the sacred fire, twenty five Brahmins would be fed, and the puja would last for about three hours. For fifty thousand, twenty five Pandas would perform for his father’s soul, fifty one Brahmins would get food, they would use pure ghee in the ceremony (does it mean that they would use contaminated ghee in lesser packages?), and it would be a six hour affair.

Last, but not the least, and most amusing, for a lakh of Rupees, fifty one Maha pandits would chant Mantras for the departed soul, one hundred and one poor Brahmins would be fed special food, several cows would also be served, only Chandan (Sandal) wood and pure ghee would be used in the sacred fire and the performance would last for nine hours. Not only that, to top in all he would get a big jar of purified Gangajal (Gangawater) to take back home.

What do you say? How do you find the schemes? Incidentally, my friend haggled for the package of twenty thousand, brought it down to eleven thousand and told the Panda to be done in an hour’s time. And so it was.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Musings of a muse-Little speak

When I was a school boy, our after-school activities were either playing games at the nearby play ground or go to a friend’s place for indoor games or just gossip. Those were the days when T.V, computers etc. were not there. Even telephones were rare. One could easily go to a friend’s house uninvited and vice-versa. There was nothing to it.

One of my friends was Vinod. We frequently visited each other’s homes to pass time in the evening. It was said that Vinod’s father spoke very little. I thought it was o.k. Some people are like that. They seldom speak. Even my own father avoided unnecessary talks. But nothing had prepared me for my encounter with his father when I met him for the first time.

One day we went to his place to play. We had not expected his father to be home at that time of the early evening. But he was there alright. Upon seeing me Vinod’s father raised his eyebrows at Vinod: ‘Hun?’(who is he)
Vinod: ‘My friend.’
Father: ‘huun?’ (never seen him)
Vinod: ‘We are in the same class.’
Father: ‘huh huh.’( o.k.)
Vinod ventured: ‘His name is Chitto.’
Father with raised eyebrows: ‘Huuuun?’ (what kind of a name it is)
Vinod: ‘He is Kakababu’s son.’
Father: ‘Hun?’ (confused)
Vinod: ‘Bhowanipur wale.’
Father: ‘Ohuuuuuun.’ ( yes, yes.)
Vinod: ‘We are here to play carrom.’
Father: ‘hun hun.’ (go play)

Later, Vinod told me that his father knew my father. I asked: ‘How do you know?’
Vinod: ‘He grunted.’
Me: ‘He grunted at every thing you said.’
Vinod: ‘Yes, but there is a difference. I know.’
Me: ‘But how?’
Vinod: ‘We recognize from sound. Short, lengthy, up, down, nasal, sudden etc.

Another day in my presence, Vinod’s servant came and demanded some money from his father. Vinod’s father: ‘Huuuuuuuuuuuun?’ (longest ever hun). The servant fled.
It was amazing how Vinod’s entire family had adapted to his father’s long and short bursts that they knew exactly what he wanted to convey.

On yet another occasion, Vinod’s sister stormed in.
Sister: ‘Father, I want one hundred rupees.’
Father: ‘uuun?’ (why)
Sister: ‘I have to pay library fees.’
Father: ‘Huun?’ (meaning library fee was not that much)
Sister: ‘I also want to buy two books.’
Father: ‘Hoh’ (now I understand.)
Sister: ‘Shall I take it from your Drawer?’
Father: ‘Huum’. (yes)
Sister: ‘Father, no money here.’
Father: (drawing money from his pocket) ‘Here, take it.’
And that was the first time I heard his father’s speak something sensible after several visits.

For no reason I remembered Vinod’s father a few days back after nearly fifty years and for no reason at all I wondered how Vinod’s mother must have tackled on their wedding night.

NOTE: Interpretations in the brackets were explained to me by my friend each time.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Humor thoughts-Clout

It is said that one thing leads to another. Previously, I narrated an incident of an educated and well-to-do lady in the mall. I happened to tell of this to one of my friends in our society, and he in turn, told me of an interesting incident he had witnessed a few years back.

My friend went to a posh store frequented by the rich and wealthy in Dadar. Malls and mobiles did not exist then. There was mild rush in the store. People then did not shop like the way they do today. They came with specific one or two things in mind, bought them and went away. There was no open and eye catching display like it is today.

There was a gentleman in the store asking to be shown expensive gift items. He was obviously rich as he had put on an expensive Safari suit (it was in fashion then), gold watch and a gold bracelet. He selected one item, approached the payment counter, made his payment and demanded that the article be gift wrapped. This store had no such facility. Gift packing in all stores was not in vogue then. The salesman and the cashier explained their inability to gift pack the article. The gentleman in Safari ordered the salesman to get the item gift packed elsewhere and he would pay for it. The salesman refused, commotion followed. The owner of the store came and offered refund of the item. The Safari gentleman would have none of it. He started to throw his weight around, dropping names of influential persons of that area including one very notorious local goon with political clout.

Customers meanwhile had different reactions. Some were amused, some were bored and some waited patiently for the thing to get over. One customer, quite funny looking with cream shirt, looked quite amused. He was smiling ear to ear. Suddenly, the cream shirt approached Safari and whispered something in Safari’s ears for a few seconds. Safari shot out of the door like a sputnik. Excitement over, normal activity started in the store. My friend, quite inquisitive by nature, asked the cream shirt what transpired between the two of them. This is what the cream shirt had to say: “I just bluffed him and said that you appear to be a respected person that is why I am telling you this. This store is actually owned by the very goon you mentioned just now. This owner is fake, only a front. A couple of the goon’s lackeys were here and they have gone to fetch the goon.”

The Safari gentleman fled without even bothering to collect the article he had paid for.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Thoughts-Paw in the bottle

Day before yesterday, while on my early morning walk, I noticed a lady walking on side of the road talking on her mobile. With autos and taxis on strike that day, traffic on Link Road was thin but fast. The lady, talking business on her mobile, was walking a few meters ahead of me. Visibility was poor. The lady, while talking, tried to sidestep a pool of water on the road, when a motor bike stopped inches from her with ear-splitting screech to avoid hitting her. The biker cursed loudly and moved on. The lady escaped serious injuries if not death. The lady, aware of what had happened and her good fortune, was shaken to death. The biker’s skill saved her.

This generation is moving fast, real fast. They want to do everything at once. The boys want to study, work hard in office, swim, gym, club-all in a day. On top of this, mobiles and computers are always there. Resultant, no task is complete or satisfactory. As such, depression and dissatisfaction remain at the end of the day. I fail to understand how they manage to do forty eight hours work in one day. But they try and sometimes succeed. But the best way would be to split various activities on alternate days. This would give them enough time for each activity and with that satisfaction. But they are trapped.

This reminds me of a story I had read many years back of how native Africans trapped monkeys in jungles. The trick was entirely based on psychology of Monkey’s greed. The Africans used to tie a bottle with a very strong rope to a thick branch of a tree. Natives used to put some peanuts in that bottle. The opening on top the bottle would be big enough for monkey to put its paw inside the bottle, but small enough so that when monkey grabbed the peanuts and closed its paw it could not take out the closed paw. Monkey being monkey, would not leave peanuts to take out its straight paw and could not take out the paw with peanuts. The greed would not allow it to leave nuts and the rope would not allow it to carry the bottle with nuts. He was trapped by greed and caught. Natives knew this. Most of us are like that, trapped in desires.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Musings-Well to do lady

Last week-end, I was in a reputed mall to buy a couple of things. Being week-end, the mall was full to capacity. There were at least ten payment counters and there was a long queue at each of them. People with baskets and carts loaded with goods were standing in the queues. There was one payment counter near the extreme wall where there was a notice saying “up to five items only.” There were hardly ten or twelve persons in the queue. I stood in the line and it moved swiftly. When I was third from the payment counter, there was a sudden commotion. The line stopped moving. There was an argument between, the counter girl and a young lady obviously from a well to do family.

The lady had six items in her basket and she wanted the girl to accept them saying one more item was not going to make any difference, that, after all, she was not asking anything for free, that she was standing in the queue for fifteen minutes and was not going to move from there. The girl, now intimidated, said that she could not accept more then five items, other customers would object and she would lose her job if the supervisor found out.

The lady retorted: “Don’t threaten me with your supervisor. Call him. I want him here. I am not moving.”

The supervisor came and politely pointed to the board. The lady: “Don’t show me that silly board. I am educated enough and from a well to do family (It was obvious). I am not going to stand in another queue. As it is you have wasted enough of my time. Get these items billed wherever you want to, I will make the payment. But I am not moving from here till then. Call your manager.”

This went on. The poor counter girl was scared and looked at us pleadingly. I moved further and told the lady: “Madam, we can easily solve your problem and save your time. (Never mind about our time). Simply take out one item and get the remaining five billed. You won’t have to stand in another queue.”

The lady’s face went blank for a friction and then brightened. She smiled, took out one shampoo and got the remaining items billed, made the payment. But here too she wanted to have the last word and groused: “See, this gentleman here solved the problem in a jiffy. This suggestion should have come from you.”


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Humor thoughts-What's Lalit's Rashi?

A few years back, when formation of IPL was announced, nothing much was known about Lalit Modi, except that he was the sire of the Modi Empire. Nothing was known about his past escapades on Indian and foreign soils. First he entered Jaipur cricket, then BCCI and then he was Commissioner of the IPL. He came up very fast. During the formation of IPL, his photos started coming in papers occasionally. Now of course, he is here, there and everywhere.

Once, during those early IPL days, we were sitting in our society’s compound as retired people do, when we came across this photograph of Lalit Modi in an evening Hindi newspaper. One of our society members, Mr. Agrawal commented: “How can an institution like our cricket board with intelligent stalwarts like Sharad Pawar trust a man (Lalit) like this? He is so cunning.”

Another member: “How can you say that?”

Agrawal: “He has fox’s eyes and face. He is capable of betraying his own father, let alone board members and friends. He is capable of going to any extent if it serves his purpose.”

Me: “How do you know that? You don’t know him.”

Agrawal: “He is like me. He has my traits. I know the likes of him when I see one. I am sure that his mind works like me.”

Now, it was rumored that Agrawal was once very rich. Because of one woman half his age, he tried to betray and throw his sons out of business that they were running together. The sons threw him out instead and Agrawal was left with very little of what he originally owned.

So I asked him: “Then how it is that Lalit Modi jets around the world, has a hi-flying lifestyle and you are sitting with us idling around, while both of you have the same traits?”

Agrawal paused, thought for a while and said: “I am sure we are the same. It must be his Rashi. My Rashi didn’t favour me. His did. My Rashi is Libra. What’s Lalit’s Rashi?”

Monday, June 14, 2010

Humor thoughts-The witty doctor

My wife has a strange habit. When our maid comes for cleaning utensils and sweeping floors, my wife puts everything on our dining table and sofas. She puts dining chairs on dining table and center table, news paper stand etc. on sofas. Small flower pots go on widow sill. She insists that nothing should remain on floor so that the maid can sweep the floor clean properly. Same is the case of our bedrooms. Small carpets, stools etc. are kept on beds. The maid comes in the morning and there is a whirlwind for the next one and a half hours. We are a family of five and as such we have plenty of things apart from furniture, from a bicycle for my grandson to steps to dust our walls and ceilings. Every thing is removed from its place and placed on top of something or the other to facilitate our maid. And then, when the maid leaves, things would come down one by one, as and when required and by evening our house is in order once again. Sundays and holidays are particularly chaotic because all the members are present in the house. There is shouting all around to get out of the maid’s way. We have got used to it.

Once, the husband of my wife’s sister who is a Doctor by profession, came from Kolkata for a few days on visit. On the following Sunday morning, there was usual chaos. My son felt a little embarrassed. But we observed that the Doctor was taking things coolly and dodging the maid and my wife expertly. My son asked him “Mesho, does Mashi do these things at your place too? That is, lift everything and put them on something or the other?”

The doctor, quite witty, replied ‘Are bolo na. Eta to kichui na. Tomar Mashi parle amaake o tule kothao rekhe debe.” ( Don’t ask. Your aunty would lift me also and put me somewhere if she could.)

My son was happy. He found sadistic pleasure in knowing that there were others sharing our fate.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Experiences-My terrorist act

Prior to Operation Blue Star, when terrorism was in full swing in Punjab, I was once arrested by a constable during random checking near Amritsar for possessing weapon, a big knife. The offending knife in question was a paper cutter with broad steel blade and wooden handle resembling Nepali Kukri, useless for anything other then cutting papers. No amount of explanation that I was dealing in gift items and had a catalogue detailing the article impressed the constable who took me to the police station.

It was only after three hours that a senior Babu came that I was able to explain my tale of woo, when he ordered my release but only after penalizing me for my “improper and suspicious behavior and causing commotion”, advising me not to return to the town for three months. Three months? I never went back.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Musings-Pronunciation blues

In continuation of the previous article, once I was on an official visit to Calcutta. My Punjabi friend Darshan Singh accompanied me. On reaching Calcutta, I introduced Darshan Singh to one of my Bengali friend Bapi and requested Bapi to show him around as I was busy with my official work. Bapi, my childhood friend readily agreed and did the needful. Both Bapi and Darshan Singh got along very well and almost formed a mutual admiration society. Bapi fulfilled every wish of Darshan Singh and took him to all places worth seeing . Darshan, on his part, being a large hearted Punjabi, matched Bapi’s rupee for a rupee in expenses and was not a burden on Bapi. So all went well for the two of them, that is, until the last day when Darshan left for Delhi.

Darshan Singh and I were to return to Delhi together, but I had not finished my work. So Darshan decided to return alone. On the D day, Bapi and I went to see him off at the Howrah station in Bapi’s car. We found Darshan’s seat, put his luggage and were standing and talking on the platform when another of our mutual friends (Bapi’s and mine), Vivek spotted us. After preliminaries like ‘hi’, ‘hello’, Bapi introduced Vivek to Darshan:

“Darshan, meet my friend Bhibhek and Bhibhek, this is my friend Darshan from Delhi.”

Darshan, not knowing Bhibhek was for Vivek, and thinking that this was some Gujariti name he had not come across, said in all innocence:

Oh yes, Bhibhek, nice meeting you Bhibhek.”

While returning to the city in his car, Bapi could not contain himself: ‘shaaaala, tomar bondhu. Eto shob korlam or jonne. Betaaa, jete jete bans diye galo.’
(this your friend, I did so much for him and he made a fool of me while returning).

There was no use explaining Bapi of Darshan’s innocence. Later, back in Delhi, Darshan asked me: ‘strange name this, Bhibhek, what does it mean’?

You tell me.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Humor thoughts-Bengali pronunciation

Bengalis- Don’t get offended by this article, for, I am a half Bengali myself.

Bengalis, as a rule rather then exception, have a tendency of converting alphabet ‘A’ into ‘0’ and ‘V’ into ‘BHI’ while speaking a word, among other peculiarities. But for the time being, let us talk about these two. I can sight innumerable examples of this trait in Bengalis, but, for the time being, two will suffice.

Once, our family went to Ahmedabad to visit my elder brother’s family. We reached Bombay by train and from there to Ahmedabad by car. The two families were having good time and gossip after elaborate lunch when my brother asked my wife by which train we reached Bombay.

‘Frontier Mail’: replied my wife, pronouncing ‘Fro’ more broadly then Bengalis usually do. My brother didn’t catch. So he asked again ‘which’?

Again my wife replied: ‘Frontier Mail’, putting even more stress on ‘Fro’, sounding like FRAU.

The reply went above my brother’s head. But, his sixth sense probably told him not to venture the question for the third time. Usually my brother understands and speaks Bengali very well, but this Indianised or rather Bengalinised ‘Frontier’ was beyond him. Or he had bear one too many before lunch to grasp this stylish vocabulary. Anyway, he looked at me helplessly.

‘Frontier Mail’: I said as it should be told. ‘Oh’: He said. Ever a gentleman, my brother tried to contain his mirth and succeeded. Others could not.

My wife is Bengali and we are married for a little over forty years. It is said that after prolonged togetherness some of your spouse’s habits rub on you. I have not picked up this trait from her in all these years-YET. I thank God for small mercies.

As for ‘BHI’, another article.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Thoughts-My grandson, Neel

The other day, my grandson, Neel, all of five, asked me: “Dadaji, when I become Papa (read: by the time), you will have died, no?”

I was astounded, to say the least, not because of what the question implied, but the ease, the simplicity and innocence with which it was asked.

It so happened that the little one was on spree of mischiefs. So I scolded him. As is his wont, he was back to his antics in no time. Both his mother and grandmother were at the end of their wits. I gave him a higher doze. I warned him that if he continues with his mischiefs, I will send him to a boarding school where he will have to stay without his parents and grandparents, and that too with discipline. After a little cross examination, he was convinced that the threat, probably, was real. That did the trick.

He took out his blocks, started building something in a corner of the room and was quite for sometime. Relieved, I was back to my newspaper. But, the child’s mind was working. He was probably worried about the future, that his off springs will have to go through what he was going through. Hence the question- to make sure, I won’t be around to harass his children.

I assured him that I will not be there anymore when he becomes Papa. It would be exaggeration if I say he was relieved, but he was satisfied, went back to his blocks and left me in peace with my newspaper and with my bewilderment.

Only and only a child can ask such questions with innocence and without any awkwardness. Soon, as he grows, we will loose this charm. I was thankful to the God Almighty, that in this day and time of street smart children, my grandson was still a child, by age and in mind. At the same time, there was grief at the back of mind that he will grow up soon and we will lose this fun.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Mahatma Gandhi's books eaten by termites

Indo-Asian News Service reports that termites are feasting on Mahatma Gandhi’s books. Some one hundred books and several photographs have been destroyed due to negligence or lack of care in Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad. Damp godown, lack of air and sunshine caused termites to destroy these books. The report further says that the books and photographs, which were beyond repair were taken out and set on fire.

This news set me thinking. The entire nation is on fire what with price rise, inflation, lack of political will to tackle Pakistan infused terrorism, land grabbing by China etc. are causing irreparable damage to our country and our people.

We have our own bugs and termites in the form of politicians and ministers, like Mr. Koda, just to name one. I have often read in books and also come across foreigners referring our nation as Gandhi’s India. While we are worried about Gandhiji’s books and making a big issue of it, these political termites are feasting ( if I may use the word ) on Gandhiji’s soul and destroying our nation’s very fabric by their greed and corrupt deeds. We have bugs like Shibus, Kodas, Mayawatis.

At least, in Sabarmati Ashram, the authorities put these bugs and termites to fire and tried to restrict the damage. We, the people of India, re-elect these termites back to power to let them feast on our nation and destroy it.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Musings-New Year resolutions

New Year resolutions are made to be broken. Ever since I remember- ever since I was old enough to understand and make resolutions, I have made them and broken them faithfully every year, year after year.
Earlier on, when I was a school student, come November and I would stop studying and make resolution that I would let November and December pass and would start afresh from 1st January and study hard. Come 1st Jan., I would put alarm for early morning with pomp and show. I would rise too. After reading a couple of pages, I would think that well begun is half done. Two pages were good enough to begin with, for the first day. The beginning was made. I would gradually increase study time. Come Sunday, and it was time to rest and make merry. On Monday, it was back to square one, that is, late rising and by the end of the week, all resolutions gone.
Another year, in college, I decided that, if I could not maintain my study time table, I would resolutely look after my health and physic from 1st Jan. So, to make sure, I enrolled my name at Bijuda’s gym, by the second week of December itself. Bijuda asked me to come from the next day and bring my supporters. I explained to him that this was my New Year resolution and I would start from 1st Jan. Bijuda laughed. But I did start on that New Year auspicious day and continued for almost three weeks. Then came time for college trip for four days and that was that.
When I was about twenty seven, one fine morning I decided, my alcohol consumption was more than it was good for me. I would stop that habit from 1st Jan. That last week of Dec. was a grand party in honor of the coming New Year with new resolution. New Year came and with New Year came three of my school friends. We met almost after ten years.
Celebrate we must. God knows when we would meet again. So, we celebrated.
It is the same for the past fifty five years. So this year, I have made a resolution to make resolutions sincerely, like previous years, and break them on 1st Jan. I am sure this year I will succeed.