Sunday, December 30, 2012

My little Management Gurus

When I sat to write a post on the initiative (write a letter to a ten year old) by, I thought of some of my students I taught in the last eight years.
Ten year olds are in class five or six.

When I taught class Prep, which is just before class 1, I used to be with my students for 3 hrs everyday. The time-table I was given to follow was like: After assembly a written work (Eng, Hindi or Maths), recess, one more written work and activities like story telling, drawing etc adjusted in between. One day Samarpan (Sam) came to me and told, "Ma'am, after recess and outdoor activities we don't feel like writing, So can we have two 'Writing' periods consecutive and after recess only outdoor and other activities?" He gave me some other genuine suggestions also.

A few years later I was the class teacher of class 3. My class was a mixture of  the kids of ultra rich, rich and neo rich parents. On Teacher's Day one of the parents sent a big cake with a lot of icing and a cherry on the top, which made me shudder as dividing and distributing it among 42 children was a messy job. No matter how affluent the family child comes from is, he would always want the biggest piece and the cherry. While I was drawing imaginary lines on the cake, Nupur, with her cherubic smile came and asked me, "May I ?" and gently took the knife from my hand. First she told everyone to take their seats and patiently cut the cake and called the kids, one by one. She instructed them to pick a paper plate  before coming to her. Within no time my work was done.  Not that two monitors and some other kids  were less capable but they let her do everything, without giving any 'expert's comment'. I wished we grown ups also could learn to run our institutions, state and country so amicably.

In the same class, Jhanvi, a shy new entrant, came to me during recess and told that she was unwell and wanted to go home. I told her to go to infirmary where the nurse  would decide if she could go home. In the fifth period I was shocked to know that Jhanvi was neither in the class nor in the infirmary. Only a fellow teacher would know my plight. I was about to do the needful when Akarsh, a hefty and active child checked Jhanvi's bus number from the attendance register saying this is the time buses ply for primary children, she must have boarded  hers, and ran down from the 3rd floor to the main gate.There he waited for the particular bus among many similar buses. Finally he spotted her. My heart sank when I saw him coming alone to the class. He casually informed me that he had dumped that silly girl into the infirmary. If she would have gone home in the bus that day, the bus conductor would have got the pink slip and  I would have been in a difficult situation.

Pranjali, aged 9, made me smile when she wrote "I want to be famous. I love to dance . I want to be an actor and win many awards. I am ready to work hard for it." Who doesn't want to be famous but only few have the courage to say it. Then she wrote she wants to be a doctor also, back up plan? She is very good in studies too.

There are many students who are close to my heart for being intelligent, street smart, with tremendous presence of mind, mature and  my little devils! I have faith and confidence in them. They don't need our preaching. We just have to nurture them with love and care.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

The Best Things in Life are Not Free.

Best things in life are free or we have to pay a hell lot for them depends on the unit for measuring the value of an object and what exactly is the best. 

First of all, the best things are not things but moments which we also call bliss. For each of us bliss is different. For a woman who is fasting for nine days during Navrati, the first morsel of spicy and tangy food is bliss. It is not free. She has earned it by creating the appetite  for nine long days.

See a mother gazing at her child while breast-feeding. It is her moment but didn't she pay for it beforehand, waiting for the nine long months and then labor pains which is of course a small price but  she did pay for the bliss.

Sunrise, one of the wonders of nature which reminds us that we are a part of the vast universe. It is an amazing sight to behold especially if like me you too are a highlander. We can see the sun suddenly rising above the mountains.We can see its first ray travelling and gently hitting us. To enjoy it we have to have a mind free from all the tensions. If I  have one then it means I have earned this moment by being economically stable, being healthy, by living a disciplined life. Above all I'll have to get up early that day which is also a big price to pay for many of us.

Love, they say is priceless.You meet someone you like and you find out that  the other person also likes you a lot. Then you get pampered, admired and worshiped. You found your moment of bliss. After sometimes something happens and you part ways. Anyway those moment will always remain with you.Was it free? No. Won't you pay for it for a long time by carrying the burden in some corner of your heart?

I too have my best moments. My evening walk is one of them. The day before, it was karwachauth, When all the married women and girls in Northern India were waiting for the moon to appear to start the rituals and puja which they observe for the well being of their husbands, fiancés and boyfriends, I found the full moon following me during my evening walk. I also played a little game with it by suddenly stopping to dodge and see if it also stops with me.The full moon, behind the trees winked and seemed to say, "You can't dodge me." At that very moment on FM, Kishore Kumar joined us and sang this song: Chanda oh chanda,kisne churai teri meri nindia..( Oh! dear moon ,who has robbed us of our sleep)
I can't call it free as I paid its price when I felt the moisture in the corner of my eyes..

 For me bliss would be when we, who are a tiny part of the whole would reunite with Him and become one (as our scriptures say). Like a river that runs hundreds of miles and becomes one with the vast ocean. But then the river too pays the  price by covering the distance and continuously struggling and longing to meet its origin.

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda

Friday, October 26, 2012

Repeat after Dr Kalaam

I'll fly and fly.
I'm born with potentials.
I'm born with goodness and truth.
I'm born with Ideas and dreams.
I'm born with greatness.
I'm born with confidence.
I'm born with courage.
I'll defeat the problems and succeed.
I have wings.
I have wings.
So I am not meant for crawling.
I will fly.
I will fly.
I will fly.

Dr APJ Abdul Kalaam.
Oct 25 2012.
IITK Kanpur

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tamarind City (Chennai)

TamarindCity: ( audio) Where the modern India began.

Tamarind city is the second book by Bishwanath Ghosh, a fellow Kanpurite settled in Chennai.

I moved to Chennai in 1996. I had only begun to marvel at the things it had to offer when I had to leave it, for my husband got an offer from IIT Kanpur and it being near to my hometown scored over Madras. This left a desire to explore Chennai and know more about its culture. Maybe this is why TC was a fabulous treat for me; leaving my desire well satiated. It gave me a second chance to walk down the streets I had  seen  and the ones I hadn't.

The Book starts with a metaphor which calls Chennai a charming old lady who met Robert Clive when she was 18 and calls him, “a very moody fellow." I wish my history teacher would have taught me in this way.

Exploring the city in the company of the author had its advantages as I could know about the city from the people living in it. Common people to celebrities all are his guests in the book. They include a primary school teacher, a palm reader at Marina, owner of Ratna Cafe, station master at Royapuram, Saroja Devi, Jemini Ganeshan's daughter Dr Kamla Selveraj, sexologist Dr Narayana Reddy, S.Muthiah, and many more including the man behind those illustrations in Chandamama, a magazine for children. Then we meet a yoga teacher who charges a measly sum for teaching this dynamic and challenging form of yoga saying she is not doing it for money.

 Some of the observations are so apt and well expressed that they surely would be quoted in future to define Chennai. One of them is, "Tradition is a day-wear in Chennai.While in other big cities it stays mothballed in trunks and taken out only during festivals or weddings, here tradition is worn round the year."

I am no historian so I believed what I read in the book that Chennai is known as conservative and orthodox yet almost every modern Indian institution — from army to judiciary, medicine to engineering — traces its roots to Madras’s Fort St. George, which was built when Delhi had just become Mughal India’s capital and Kolkata and Mumbai weren’t even born. But for those who beg to differ, Ghosh clarifies in one of his Facebook updates, "A couple of reviewers seem to have problems with my calling Madras India's oldest modern city. But that's an indisputable, historical fact."

I think, people from Chennai as well as outsiders would enjoy this book. At the book launch function in Delhi a young software engineer said: “Previously, when North Indians talked about Chennai they used to say: ‘Are you mad? Why would I move to Chennai?' But now I am thinking of moving there.”

(From EYES, our campus magazine)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Kishore Comedy Kumar

Kishore kumar sang 'kabhi Alvida na kehna' (never say goodbye) and how we obeyed him by never forgetting him for a moment. Someone somewhere is always celebrating life with his songs.

There was a flood of columns, blogs, articles and tweets on his 25th death anniversary. A few were as melodious as his songs and others harped about his eccentric nature. Funny or humorous would have been more appropriate.

I eagerly clicked this link which I got at twitter, an interview of KK by Pritish Nandi. I thought he would be more comfortable with a fellow bengali. I enjoyed the interview and realised that KK used to get irritated very easily but didn't lose his temper and then he would create some silly answers which he would give with seriousness. I wonder why these journalists couldn't see fun, humour and sarcasm in that, for example:

KK: Then, there was this interior decorator-a suited, booted fellow who came to see me in a three-piece woollen, Saville Row suit in the thick of summer- and began to lecture me about aesthetics, design, visual sense and all that. After listening to him for about half an hour and trying to figure out what he was saying through his peculiar American accent, I told him that I wanted something very simple for my living room. Just water-several feet deep- and little boats floating around, instead of large sofas. I told him that the centrepiece should be anchored down so that the tea service could be placed on it and all of us could row up to it in our boats and take sips from our cups. But the boats should be properly balanced, I said, otherwise we might whizz past each other and conversation would be difficult. He looked a bit alarmed but that alarm gave way to sheer horror when I began to describe the wall decor. I told him that I wanted live crows hanging from the walls instead of paintings-since I liked nature so much. And, instead of fans, we could have monkeys farting from the ceiling. That's when he slowly backed out from the room with a strange look in his eyes. The last I saw of him was him running out of the front gate, at a pace that would have put an electric train to shame. What's crazy about having a living room like that, you tell me? If he can wear a woollen, three-piece suit in the height of summer, why can't I hang live crows on my walls?

I don't think he would have said all this seriously. I also play pranks, answer sarcastically and exaggerate things to prove my point and then  laugh with friends till our ribs ache. I think it's normal as long as it doesn't hurt anyone. It's sad that he didn't have a friend with whom he could laugh.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Leather City

Life in a Non Metro-2
Oh Kanpur!

Just like Mumbai is 'Maximum City' and Calcutta is 'City of Joy' I too felt like giving a sobriquet  to my city which I had visited as a child with my parents when my mother had come here to appear for an exam. I also remember watching Bobby in one of the theatres in this city. I grew up wearing Chappals made in Kanpur which my father bought whenever he came here on official visits.

After twenty five years I again landed here to stay. As a kid also I might have thought of the  name "Leather City" because of the leather footwear connection. But now for me leather symbolizes something warm, strong and flexible.

Kanpur, has a glorious past, but  now has all the negative adjectives given to it by anyone visiting it. The worst is the tag of 'the 10th most polluted city in the world.'. This article on Kanpur titled Denizen of Darkness also depresses me a lot, but they have genuine reasons and data to prove. People who come here to work also keep comparing it with their home towns/other metro cities and condemn it. I could never say anything against it because, like many others,  who condemn it, I too chose to live here.

I live on a  beautiful campus which has nothing in common with the city it belongs to. Last Saturday when I was feeling frustrated to see the pics of  some of my friends on FB, living near and far, having fun and here I was getting bored to death, I got a call from a friend to join a small get together she had arranged at her place. I don't drive so promised her to be at her place if I get a driver. Luckily I got one. I shampooed my hair changed my look and mood and  was on my way to be with my friends for the evening.

We crossed two crowded Railway crossings (no flyovers) and a stretch of bumpy road. After a turn ( at Gurudev Palace) the road was smooth and had less traffic.. We were driving along the Allen Forest (Kanpur zoo) I had just started to enjoy the ride when the car hit a big block/brick of concrete and cement,which was a part of the damaged road-divider. After a jolt the car stopped slowly. One of the tyres was punctured. Alok, my savior changed the tyre in no time. As we were about to resume, I stopped him and asked him to go and remove that block from the road. He got down,walked for a while and came back. I could see from the car window that someone else had already removed it from there.This is the Kanpur I love, after all it's the people that make the city. It made me happy and I thought of the  comment I read  on the article  Denizen of Darkness:

"The writer  sees us "Kanpurias" as "denizens of darkness", I wonder why he did not see a vibrant city of 4 million plus and their indomitable spirit to succeed despite years of political and bureaucratic neglect. True the large textile mills have shut down, perhaps for good, but other sectors like leather, plastics, chemicals are doing well, and for your information, Kanpur ranks at number 10 in terms of GDP. We are thriving and successful, because in the words of Iqbal:-
"Kuch baat hai ki hasti mitati nahin hamari,
 Sadiyon raha hai dushman Daur-e-Zamana hamara."
- Avinash Gupta

One more comment from a blog:
 'Thank you for the information about Kanpur. My son is at IIT Kanpur for the summer from rural Northern Vermont, USA. It’s a bit of culture shock for him but after three days he is adapting nicely and finds the people amazingly hospitable.'

Friday, September 28, 2012

Future Perfect

In the last period, I had to teach a new chapter to a class of 9 yr olds. And the story was about a nice but lazy man who sleeeps in the forest and awakes  after 20 long yrs.

A method had to be devised to make the students interested in the class. So I asked them what if they went to sleep and and woke up after 20 yrs. What is the one change they would like to see in the world or how different things would be?
To warm up the discussion, I started with saying that I would like to see all of them well settled in the professions they wanted to be in, like dress designer, pilot, scientist, writer, etc. 
Now everyone wanted to say something and the response made me convert the 'literature' period into a 'creative writing' one. Most of the responses were about hi-tech gadgets, cars and airplanes.
Some others were the following.
- I would like to see my city neat and clean.
- Unpolluted rivers specially the Ganga which runs through our city.
- A corruption free India.
- I want to see my niece and nephew (which made everybody laugh, knowing that the would be father is in class three right now).

The one who won my heart was a boy who said:
 I want to see my mother. How would she look, ma'am.After TWENTY years?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Cycle Trip Songs

A typical day can be different for each of us but the night brings peace to all. We are closer to ourselves. Most of us are in our comfort zone. Some in front of the TV sets after finishing the chores, others sipping whiskey and working on their computers or curled up in their beds with a book.
The night surrounds us with a calm, telling us, 'Take your own time.There is no hurry." It allows us to enjoy a few more pages, an extra peg, some more channel surfing, talk a bit more on the phone or chat. Which is not the case during the day. It allows me one more round of cycling and a few more songs.

My rendezvous with myself begins after supper. I brush my teeth, put on something comfortable and start my forty-minute-long cycle ride. My campus gives me the liberty to glide on the well tarred roads at any hour of the night. After every few metres there is a guard who respects my privacy and assures my safety.

My earphones in place and radio on, my trip  begins. Radio/FM gives you the thrill of either discovering a song or going back to a forgotten one. The one which might bring back a memory, smile or lump in your throat but pleasure is guaranteed.

This is the time when there is nothing between me and the singer.This concert is just for me. I meet Sahir, Gulzar, Shalendra,Yogesh, Shakeel Badayuni and Neeraj to name a few. I wonder how 70 yr old Anand Bakshi could write for 21-year-old Rahul and million others of the same age group, who could relate to the songs of DTPH and DDLJ. And his  other songs which enthrall all age groups.

In the times of earphones  I still love any piece of music lingering in the air even better if I hear it passing by, which was so frequent during my school days. During mid-'80s, we lived in Pauri, Garhwal. The place we lived at was away from the city. We had to climb down quite a distance to reach the school and then climb up the same distance to get back home by foot. Coming back took a lot of time. So slowly climbing up I used to read a book, usually comics like Madhu Muskan. On the way there was some construction work going on. Bihaari migrant workers were employed there.Their  transistor used to be on whenever I passed by.Wondered how much they spent on the batteries. One day  I heard Hemlata's melodious voice and the song was from the film Ankhio ke jharokhon se I loved the song though I could hear only a few lines.
After around 20 years when Youtube happened, this was the first song I searched for. Somehow I never watched it in Chitrhaar.

Back to my cycling, I reached back to the gate of my house but there was still a song left in the programme Aap ki fermaaish. I thought of calling it a day but do you know who asked me to accompany....Hemant Kumar with the song Bekaraar karke humme yu na jaaiye...

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Of Stars and Gold


Our craving for gold in London Olympic reminds me a couplet I read in class X in Hindi.

सुवर्ण को ढूँढत फिरत कवी, व्यभिचारी,चोर .
A poet is always looking for a good word                          (su varn)
An adulterer looks for someone with a good complexion ( suvarn)
A thief is always looking for Gold.                                     (swarn)

In the  zero period there was a pact between me and my students (class IV) that if (we) Mary Kom wins a gold medal then every student of the class would get a Red Star on the Star Chart.
May they get a red star now and always.

Come on Mary !!

Sunday, August 05, 2012


 My favourite 'friends' from the world of literature:
Elizabeth Bennet and Charlotte Lucas.
-Pride and Prejudice.

Who are yours?

Saturday, July 28, 2012


Shabbir Bhatia sold Hotmail to Bill Gates and became rich and famous. He was at a loss of words when his mother asked him what should she tell his Web-challenged old aunts at Gurudwara that how he became rich overnight.What exactly did he sell? Tussi ki Vicheya?

Like those aunts I too was intrigued by different questions at the different phases of my life.
During my kindergarden days, I heard elders at home talking something like,"Everything depends on the government  (sarkar) I asked my father, "who is  she (sarkar) ? I don't know what he answered but sarkar remained a huge sphinx like structure in my little world of imagination for quite sometime. 'Stock Market' and 'sensex' was fine but a few questions   remained unanswered.

* Why, in my city the roads are digged for sewer maintenence  just after many years of waiting they are repaired and well tarmacked? There must be some communication between two departments.

 * Why was Syyad Modi killed brutally?  His wife,a smart modern gal, could have simply divorced him.
* Is the founder of IPL,one of the huge Sports events in the world,
who enthralled  cricket lovers and managed everything related to the tournament well eg bringing the new talent, advertisers (remember Jetking Coaching), gave social messages, did charity  etc really guilty of the allegations he is charged with?

*Dev Anand, the evergreen hero with innumerable fans.What was going on in his mind when he was making a film called 'Censor'.and 17 other movies which were laughable and had no sense at all..Ditto for Manoj Kumar who directed and produced the movie 'Clerk'. I know someone who couldn't sit through the film and left the hall even when it was raining cats and dogs outside.

*Why Tumbler is fulll of the sobbing though lovely quotes from girls only

*Why dumped word is used in the context that the girl is being dumped.Advance Learner's Dictionary gives this example, "Did you hear? He's dumped his GF". why not other way round?

Mumbai terror attack 2008. I watched  the dramatisation of the unfortunate event on TV. The terrorists were firing at ppl who were attending a wedding at The Taj . At one point there were few ppl who were told to turn around and face the wall.Then he shot them all.Why some of them did not attack them back They could have thrown a chair, vase, show piece, a piece of crockery at them. All of them could have pounced on one of those terrorist.
The case of the girl attacked by the mob in Guwhati is different.The poor girl was helpless.

And the list goes on...

Friday, July 20, 2012

Of Rajesh Khanna

Usme se nikle pandit ji.
Panditji ne khaya ganna.
Usme se nikla Rajesh Khanna.
Rajesh khanna ne khai supari.
Usme se nikli Meena.......etc etc
This is the hindi equivalent of 
"In-Pin-Safety-Pin-In-Pin-OUT. And 'Inky pinky ponky, Father had a donkey.
Rajesh Khanna is an idiom in India which means charisma.

 I switched on the TV after ages when I heard about  the sad news of RK's demise.
  As it was expected that all the  News Channels were flooded with the songs of his films.And the first sentence I could hear about him was that he as so popular that during 70's it was said that
 "Upar aaka, Neeche Kaka" ( God up there and RK down here) I didn't know I should laugh or cry.
I came back to Net to read something genuine about him on Twitter or FB. I was curious how some of the columnists I read would react to the great loss.

Next day while browsing the newspapers I was wondering if I could read something by  Deviyani Chaubal who wrote during his heydays and I got it in Jayanti Ranganathan's column where she quoted Ms chaubal :
" Rajesh khanna was no less than a star even before he started his acting career"and "  Kaka only knew how to be loved he could never give love.He is not as romantic as he looks on screen.He expected his girlfriend to treat him as a star only".  "He often used to repeat the dialogues from his films in dramatic manner."

Shobha De' also quoted one of  RK's ex flames, "She smiled and shook her head, “Kaka was incapable of loving anyone. He was only ever in love with himself!”

 Hema Malini's tribute was also interesting. She wrote, "He didn't like retakes. He could remember long dialogues in hindi easily and could deliver them with perfection.For a south Indian actress it was awesome." She also mentioned how he started using the same gestures and style of speaking  in real life also the way he did in his films.
 Sharmila Tagore hated the way, such a poignant dialogue, "Pushpa, I hate tears." has become a joke.

I always knew him as a male chauvinist  and literally prayed for Dimple's success when she made a comeback, thinking God please help her and let her have the last laugh.

RK belonged to my mom's generation.I got acquainted to his talent only when I watched his lovely movies on Youtube.Somehow I don't remember his movies on Doordarshan.

Coming back to columnists, let's see what  Khushwant Singh writes in his column on RK.That I would know tomorrow only.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Under the Writer's Spell

My Dehra visits are incomplete without a trip to Mussoorie. Not that I like going there but it just happens. A friend or relative persuades me and I usually comply. While I drive up the steep road to Mussoorie, I hope to have a glimpse of Ruskin Bond, one of my favourite writers.
 He wrote 'The room on The Roof" when he was eighteen, I read it when I was the same age. And  the bond never withered. I read most of his non fiction , where I knew about his life as a  bachelor, his foster family, the way he writes, his likes and dislikes, Dehra of his childhood and mine too. I see Mussoorie from his eyes. I look for the Tehri Road where he could see an ocean in a small stream.

Do I want to meet him personally? Do I want to hug the child in him who had lost his father at the age of 10 and who chose India,the land of his and his father's birth and not England? No, not because I know that he doesn't like to meet the curious visitors who knock at his door now and then, but because what would I talk to him about? That I know someone exactly like uncle Ken. I'm his fan? Would I share with him the moments when while reading his books I'd smiled or was moved and had blurted 'Good", "Ha ha"."Great", "exactly","right" "sahi","he writes so well! "

A writer pours his innermost feelings and sometimes his secrets in his writings. Most of the times we relate to what we read. Then does physical presence matter at all ?

Back from Mussoorie, I woke up early  at a guest house in Delhi and stood at the terrace and could see the lovely view of  tree tops. Later I visited the hundred year old building of IP College and saw lots of hornbills and scampering squirrels there. I could almost hear Khushwant Singh whispering to me, 'Do you know Delhi is one of the most green captital cities in the world.? Khushwant Singh's coulmns and books I find interesting, informative and full of humour.
I thought of Gulzar also who directed a wonderful TV sereal on Mirza Ghalib, the great urdu poet who lived and died in Delhi.

Last month I was in Uttarkashi. I was sitting on the steps, by the Ganges. Ganga aarti was being sung.Ganga was flowing like a good piece of writing. I thought of a blog I follow.

Then there is the great Tulsidas who wrote Ramcharit Manas. He is always with me since my childhood.Thanks to my father who always preached and sometimes consoled me by quoting some couplet or other from this great epic. Some day, lazy me would finish reading it, though I started it many a times.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Street Musician of Dehradun

Those were simpler times, when I could see the tip of  the Clock Tower of Dehradun at daytime and twinkling lights of Mussoorie at night right from my terrace. Now multi-storeyed houses around block the lovely view. 

When in summers  a ceiling fan was a luxury and not a need. Climate was ideal. Mornings used to be cold, afternoons not very hot and around 4'o clock every evening there used to be a shower which would make the evening and nights pleasant.
When mom could leave me and my brother with an elderly neighbour while she went for shopping :
We lived in the famous Ghosi Gali which opens in  Pultan Bazaar, the heart of the city .The ground floor of our house was given on rent to ‘R R Tailor ’ and other shops included ‘Joshi tea stall, a photo studio, a bakery and  a dental Clinic.Some of the shops are still there.

When weather used to be  unfavourable  to play on the terrace, my brother and I were allowed to sit at masterji’s shop and watch the passer-bys. There used to be a blind flute-seller  who would chat with us and play flute. I have a vived memory of masterji, the bansuriwala and a faint memory of blackouts during the nights of ’71 Indo-pak war.
After a few yrs we moved to another city but dad used to visit the place quite often to look after the house .I remember receiving  wooden toys sent to us by bansuriwale uncle.
Last week I visited Dehradun to attend 50th Wedding Anniversary of my parents. After the celebrations  all my cousins sat together and talked about many things which were common and belonged to our childhood.I wondered if Bansuriwala was still alive. A cousin informed me that she saw him a few years back.I was told that he lived in a room in a bungalow which belonged to the Bollywood  villain of yesteryears, KN Singh. 

I couldn’t sleep that night. Got up early. Begged God to fulfill my wish. With my fingers crossed, I went to meet him. From the distance I could see him sitting in a chair.Overwhelmed to see him I
wondered if he would recognize me, I asked him: 

‘I’m Babli. Do you remember?
Before I could blink my eyes he responded;
“Haan, haan,Ghoshi galiwaali” (Yes,yes the one from Ghosi gali”)

He told me that KN Singh had passed away and  the bungalow belongs to Mr Mittal now, who takes good care of him.
 He was neat and clean and looked content. While I chatted and recorded two melodious tunes he played for me, some passers-bye looked at us curiously and others came and wished him and put money (minimum Rs 10/) in his box. I bought a few Flutes made of wood and metal. 
He blessed me and others by saying, "May God keep you happy". (Bhagwan aapko khush rakhe ).

He didn't know that God has already made me happy by making our rendezvous happen.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

If a Spark Flares Up


                                        Anand Bakshi -(1920-2002)

Suddenly there was  pin drop silence when a fellow participant casually  sang a song at the get-together on the last day of the workshop I was a attending. The song was a hymn, a chant, an anthem for every hindi speaking soul. Chingari koi Bharke.
If a spark flares up then the rains might extinguish it but if the rains light the fire,who can put it out?

I couple of decades ago this song meant  Rajesh Khanna to me. After a few years Kishore kumar came into the picture and then Anand Bakshi the lyricist and finally RD Burman,the music composer. I wonder who all I'm missing behind this wonderful composition.

After the applauds died down my eyes met a lovely lady's who sat next to me. We smiled appreciating the song and the singer. Very gently she said, roughly translated, 
 "Sometimes I think, what our lives would have been without some of these songs? It wouldn't have been the same I'm sure."
I couldn't agree more.
Know him more.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Today at the workshop I am attending, someone asked me about my children. When I told her about them, She exclaimed, “You look very young”, and her reaction took me to my childhood.

Mummy always looked like our eldest sibling. Since my father had a touring job, she was our
parent cum friend . Once she had to take my brother to a doctor. She planned an outing and clubbed it with the visit to the doctor. He was an expensive and renowned doctor. Not that it was easy to afford but, “any thing for my children” she must have thought.

Brother, mom and I entered the doctor's chamber. The doctor examined and asked some questions. At one point brother addressed mother saying 'Mummy”. And the elderly doctor stood up with a jerk and blurted,
“Is he your son?”
Then with a confused look he stared at me.
Mummy took it lightly, may be she was used to of such compliments or comments.When he came to know that my eldest sister was waiting outside, he ran out and found a 13 yr old with two long plaits. I don't remember what happened afterwards.

I always thought mom must have looked really young back then. But now I realise she didn't look young, she was young. Only 32, which is considered ideal age for marriage now.

Coming back to my new friend at the workshop. She did some calculation and asked me:
“Then you must be around...” and uttered my exact age.
I thought of a quote I read somewhere:

“Whenever a man's friends begin to compliment him about looking young, he may be sure that they think he is growing old.”

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Meaningless Goals

A farmer had a  dog who used to sit by the roadside waiting for vehicles to come around. As soon as one came he would run down the road, barking and trying to overtake it.

 One day a neighbor asked the farmer "Do you think your dog is ever going to catch a car?" The farmer replied, "That is not what bothers me. What bothers me is what he would do if he ever caught one." 

Many people in life behave like that dog who is pursuing meaningless goals.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

100 yrs of Hindi Cinema


Confused sperm”! We responded in unison as we saw one of our colleagues  behaving strangely.The reason of our strange behaviour was the movie (Vicky Donor) we had watched a day before.

Nostalgia is incomplete without the presence of hindi films in it, at least on my land.
My brother and sister share their names with the most successful film stars of the times they were born, though my mother maintains that it's just a coincidence.
I tease my parents if I were a boy they must have named me Rajesh Khanna, whose huge stardom coincided with my birth.
I remember watching Andaaz, Haathi mere saathi, Mehbooba,and most of his blockbusters, sitting on my mother's lap. This was the phase when I enjoyed watching only child actors and songs in a movie.. If I have to choose one song from the lot, that would be 'Mere sapno ki rani kab aayegi tu' or Zindagi ek safar hai suhana'.
 But I don't remember any movie specially made for children .
As I grew up, I don't remember watching movies at all. May be parents were busy with other responsibilities but they did not deprive us of the landmarks like Sholay and Jai Santoshi Maa.

Then came Amitabh Bachhan phase with Kala patthar and Amar Akbar, Anthony and a few more which we got to watch. During this period we lived in Allahabad, Amitabh's hometown. One of the boys in our class swore that he often saw Him at his terrace. Imagine our awe.
But no amount of charisma could save Amitabh from my despise when I saw him dancing on lewd songs in lawaris and Aakhiri Rasta, which I watched mostly on TV. He set a trend which was followed by many. Thankfully this trend didn't take very long to vanish.
I didn't watch Disco Dancer but Mithun Chakravarti remained my  favourite.
                  ********* ******************* *************

Cinema is a powerful medium of communication. It must be used for social awareness.
Like the movie 'Munna Bbhai MBBS' which I enjoyed most is an excellent example and should be followed by other film makers. After watching it many people realised that they were suffering from diabetes and didn't know. They went for the check-up and started medication.

There are innumerable topics which need a debate.They don't have to make a documentary but subtly deal with the issue involving  the main actor or supporting actors.
I remember reading an article about a 30 year old heart patient in India Today, a few yrs back. He was a healthy guy who wondered how he never chose any form of physical exercise or sport in his life. He lamented that it never struck him that his sedentary lifestyle could be fatal. While reading I was pondering abt the movie 'Kal ho na ho'
a huge hit in which Shah Rukh Khan dies in the end.If Karan Johar would have added one of the causes of the disease.This guy might have realized his mistake.
There are so many issues like Gender Bias , problem related to old age, loneliness of the old people specially when one of the spouses is no more.
It is the duty of a daughter also to look after the aged parents. And there are so many small and big issues which can be mentioned in our movies.

These actors also owe a lot to the society. They need to do some sort of social work.
I heard Salman Khan donates bone marrow and Amitabh's 'pulse polio' ads are also praiseworthy. Let's see if John Abraham sets any example after 'Vicky Donor'.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Ganga again.

After more than three decades, I was at the Sangam, the confluence of the rivers Yamuna and Ganga,in the city of Allahabad.
After visiting Ganga ghats of Varanasi and Kanpur , this was my third rendezvous with her within a year.

Accompanied by my colleagues and frens, I couldn't hv asked for a more enjoyable trip with a lot of pranks, jokes and laughter.But haggling with boatmen and escaping the beggars and sadhus was quite annoying.
Sailing through the green water of Ganga and enjoying the sight of Siberian birds hovering, we reached the point where Ganga and Yamuna meet. Water was just waist-deep.

The boatman who had become quite friendly by then after discussing recent election in the state and enlightening us about the third river of the confluence named saraswati, asked me to throw some coins into the river to follow a ritual."The little boy out there will be happy to collect those coins", he insisted. Then I saw a pair of eyes hopeful to get some coins while I looked for some change in my sling purse.

I could visualize that boy as one of my students.I called him near. Like a fish he was at home in water.He glided towards me in a jiffy.

"School jaate ho?" (Do you go to school?)
My joy was inexplicable when he said, "haan", (yes) because when last month I asked this question to a little older boy Nishad, who rowed our boat across the same river in Kanpur,the reply was a casual 'No".
I was sitting on the edge of a boat with my feet in water. So I couldn't pat his back.Prakash told me that he was studying in 5th grade.
-Pahaarde (Multiplication table)aate hai? I asked him.
-Yes, he smiled back.

I struck a deal with him that if he knew the table of 4, I would give him Rs10/.
He began quickly
Chaar ekkem chaar.( 4 ones are 4.......)
Chaar duni aath .
Chaar tian baraah.
He couldn't continue after a while.

I didn't want others to know abt our deal.But a few curious ones were already interested to know the result.
I gave him one more chance.
Achha Chey ka suna.(ok tell the table of 6)

He began in a parrot fashion
Chey ekkam chey.
Chey dooni baraah.
Chey tien attahra...and he finished well.

Bravo...we all , the boatman , a man who had just finished his puja/rituals and I clapped for Prakash and I handed him over his reward. The boatman congratulated me for making a child happy.
The other man Asked me,
"You don't look from Kanpur,where r u from?"
Before I could answer a male colleague stared at me and gestured not to talk to the strangers.

Nishad, 14 the boatman from Kanpur was an articulate speaker and street smart .He had predicted Samajwadi Party's win in then upcoming election in the state,didn't go to school.Whereas shy and less confident Prakash did.

Does it tell something about the two cities? About culture,people and Allahabad being an educational hub and Kanpur an industrial one? Just a thought.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Mom's Diary-4

"Can I change it incase my parents like it"? A teenager asking a salesman.Sounds familiar to me.
Before you know, your kids who are afraid of entering a darkroom and have to jump to switch-on the light, are taller than you and scare youwith their hairstyle, attitude and philosophy.

The conversation, gesture and words we see and hear are sodifferent now from the times when I was ateenager, which does not look too distant,to me at least.

There are various ‘Those awkward moments’ e.g. when I’mcaught unconsciously singing a song from‘my times’ which has only rhyme and no reason, and Coldplay fans see each otherand say ‘mummy please..’
Eavesdrop and I get a lot of stuff to laugh at.
Her friend answered her message "you are 48 kg and I’m 52..Oh I wd die of obesity.”
My son's friend's father asked him ,"There is a missed call in ur cell. Divya,who is she?
Promptly came the answer.
It’s not Divyaa it’s Divy,a boy. In English it becomes DivyA.
-But why lie?
-Why drag the conversation? And she is just a friend.
One day when hubby blurted,‘WHY I met your mother?” In a lighter vein I wondered aloud that what if we were married to different persons respectively. Pat came the reaction,
“Mummy,Don’t just invalidate my entire existence.”
“Nice words she chooses” I thought.

They hate the author I adore.
I have to read the newspaper of their choice.
If they irritate me with their way of life, I too try their patience by repeatedly getting stuck while using comp, mobile, handy cam other gadgets.‘
And Sometimes I’m chided, when I’m told ,
"switch off the comp, it’s 1.30 am.

All moms avoid arguments knowing they would lose. Still they take place. And mine usually end up with something like,
“Mummy, you must read Ayn Rand."

Amidst discussions (read arguments), laughter, occasional smoot and often turbulent sailing, sharing secrets, I console myself that there is something common amongst us. But the very next moment I realize that I have still a long way to go when we would think alike.

That day ,I retired for my afternoon siesta with my Vaio.While surfing for a book, an author suggested in her ‘must read’ list for a married woman ,I reached at We were new to online shopping then.I got the book I was looking for.I kept filling the blanks thinking in the end it will deny as I did not write my credit card details. When I pressed cash on delivery, the order was placed. Was not happy with what I did.I wanted to browse more before placing the order. But the book looked good so it was ok.Feeling a bit foolish I came out of my room and found her there with similar expressions.
I was told that she has placed an order in a site called Flipcart.She thought without giving Credit card number the order will not be placed. It happened accidentally. “ I didn’t even ask you”.and the regret is if I had to place the order I would hv broused more.The book is good though.
At least something in common is there between us. I sighed.

Thank you Flippy (Flipcart) .

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Mind of a Writer

Remember Firaaq Gorakhpuri? He hated his wife so much that he refused to see her face even when they lived under the same roof. But that was an extreme.When Premchand married a widow, I wonder whether his first wife was around.Though Ghalib married his childhood sweetheart but wikipedia says, 'There are conflicting reports regarding his relationship with his wife'. Our very own Gulzar separated from  beautiful Rakhi

In the west most of the famous writers had multiple marriages.Hemingway married thrice, Henry Miller-five times, just to name a few. But it is common in their culture.They might have been like this even if they were not writers.

Generally people who are very popular and admired by many, considered witty with a great sense of humour are not equally amiable at home or with the people closely related to them.

What can be the reason? One what I think is that they don't want to be interrupted. Unlike any other profession they cannot resume their work after making small talk and start where they had left.They have to be selfish it seems.While writing, one moment of distraction and there slips an apt word and an idea which he might never catch again.

At the dentist's waiting room I was reading Mahesh Dattani's column and he was complaining how people who know that he works from home, drop in. In spite of telling them that he is not expecting anyone at that time.

So what happens if a family member needs the writer's attention? They can't be formal at home. And what if his wife wants to know if she should keep her hair short or long or has she put on weight.What for dinner? Writers don't even have fixed working hours.

The other reason can be that the wife doesn't resemble the character he is creating in his notebook who is obedient and knows him so well and speaks only when he wants.

I know a writer who lives in a mansion with his two dogs, a bar full of alcohol and a few devoted servants.Though separated, the wife is in touch and still cares for him.So one more thing which I observed is common that though separated these wives are not sure what exactly they hated in their husbands and still respect them.I fail to understand how can wives even stand them who made their lives hell.I was brooding all this when I saw Rakhee touching Gulzaar's (One of my most fav writers)feet on the stage in an award function.

I know we cannot generalise as on the other hand there are writers like Jug Suraiya who cannot write an article without the mention of his wife.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Madras Memories

It was like a foreign land for me when I reached Madras around 15 yrs back. Language seemed the only barrier between me and the city where I planned to stay for the rest of my life. But I took it in my stride and by the time I reached Vellechery, I could already read ‘Pallavan’ in Tamil. As it was written on all the city buses in English and Tamil.Same goes for all the sign boards and most of the hoardings.

The warm smile of our landlady made me forget the fatigue caused by the 36 hrs long journey from Lucknow. She asked us what wd we like to have: coffee, tea or Horlicks? I would have had a fit of laughter if in Lucknow someone would have offered me Horlicks. Hubby stared at me with surprise When I said 'Horlicks'. Horlicks was good. Which was warm and sweet like her smile. For two months we lived like a big family. And then we got a house on campus.

The Hindu every morning looked so different from TOI and IE I grew up with. While my 2 yr old daughter and I had to interact with ppl who didn’t know English, hubby was comfortable with his colleagues and students.
IIT Madras was a pleasant mixture of quiet surrounding amidst the jungle and fast city life just outside the main gate
I had my fears when we planned for our second child in a new place and far away from my parents,Still I enjoyed my ‘fatso’ days there.I read all the books by RK Narayan from the Faculty Club library and ate lots of south Indian food and was sure to deliver a Swami straight from Malgudi Days.

Choosing a doctor was a tough task.I found an around 80 yr old lady doctor when I reached the clinic a friend had suggested. She took good care of me throughout .Specially with the diet plan etc. But just one month before the due date I wondered about her capabilities and facilities in her clinic in case there would be an emergency.
At this point we met Dr Prabhawati at ‘Andhra Mahila Sabha’ hospital.She looked like a typical doctor from advertisements. Smart with short hair and wore a crisp cotton saari. Like most doctors she also spoke less, but gave me all the important instructions politely and assured me that everything is fine with my health. After just 2-3 routine check ups ,one fine midnight I found myself at the hospital. The nurses on duty must have called her. And at 3 in the morning she was with me,though I was feeling guilty for disturbing her.At 4 am I delivered my child. After that I met her just one more time..
Around this time hubby got an offer from IIT Kanpur which was near my hometown. I had to leave Madras before I could explore it.
One day I saw Dr Prabhawati’s picture in the obituary section of 'The Hindu' at a south Indian professor’s place.Then I came to know that my doctor was in the advanced stage of cancer when I needed her at that unearthly hour. She did a lot of social work also in the rural areas.

During my check ups I used to be so occupied with my queries and fears that I never noticed that she wore a wig.
A trip to South India