The wildlife sanctuary at the dam end of Sukhna Lake in Chandigarh.
Sukhna Lake is the attraction that visitors seek in Chandigarh. It is as famous in the region as the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Residents love to walk to the lake everyday. The whos who of Chandigarh love to be seen walking or joggin on the promenade.
The Lake is a man made creation or rather an existing small natural feature has been expanded to its current well manicured status. It is definitely an important part of life in Chandigarh. A day cannot be complete without a walk here in the morning or evening.
The lake plays host to Siberian cranes from the freezing north. It is also the home of well stocked fish which makes the place an angler’s delight. Fishing can only be done during specific periods of the year with a permit from the authorities.
Many features have been added including a Nature Interpretation Centre at the dam end of the lake.
Chandigarh owes its design and character to the creative genius of Le Corbusier famous architect and designer of buildings and cities.
If you enter through the dam side then you have to climb quite a number of steps to reach the promenade.
As a Chandigarhian I am very proud of Sukhna Lake and it has certainly been a big part of my life.
Ishoo looks at an Issue of his book treasure.
Tunnel of Books; Tons of Books
Book lovers are attracted to books like honey bees to flowers. My city, Chandigarh has a unique area allocated for the resale of old books in Sector 15. Chandigarh is the first planned city after independence and designed by famous architect Le Corbusier.
I remember when I was studying in the Punjab University the book sellers were located on the pavements right opposite the exit gate on the dividing road between Sector 15 and the Univ as it was called then. I spent many pleasant evenings looking for a work of fiction to read at my leisure.
Today, alas, the works of fiction for sale are not so interesting, famous or classical. These books are merely the flotsam and jetsam of quick fiction readers. After an hours search I found two books. One was ‘The Clock Winder’ by Anne Tyler and I bought it because I loved her book The Accidental Tourist. The other I took because the cover claimed it to be a New York Times Bestseller. The name of the book is Hugger Mugger. Maybe the name intrigued me. It is written by Robert B. Parker. So this weekend it is going to be Hugger Mugger.
The real book buyers here are students from the University who want cheap second hand course books. They have my sympathies for books are very expensive. You can really find all course books for school, college and university. If you tell the seller he might even find a particular book from some source. Software programming books are displayed prominently and must be much in demand.
This pursuit of fiction is not for those who have the OCD of dirt-fear. I give the books a thwack and a bang and that is reasonably clean for me. The price of course is atrocious. This guy Issue (rather an apt name for a book seller; maybe he spells it as Ishoo) gave me a flat rate of Rs. 40 per book of fiction. That is two thirds of a dollar. I’ll wash my hands every time I hold the book. I asked Issue if book sales have declined because of the arrival of the World Wide Web. ‘No Way’ he said happily as if he had just killed a dragon. The Internet does not scare us. I looked doubtfully at him and then slinked away.
One complaint in passing from an almost founder citizen of the city- the underpass I had to take from fifteen to sector 11 is filled with rain water and I am sure in their fight against dengue the Chandigarh Administration will show some alacrity in drying this hell hole. This must be the Paradise of mosquitoes.
Let’s hope some official takes notice. Don’t modern cities have informers like olden times Kings used to have? I suppose I can be considered an informer. Anyway banish the negative thoughts I am happy, I am set for the weekend with two books to read.
Secret is a hot favorite
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Zounds even the Hounds
A Prayer for Owen Meany
What the Dickens?
A Fictional Life
Buy and Sell
Paradise of Mosquitoes Under Pass Sectors 15–11
MANOJ FILLING HIS MULTIPLE TANKS FOR THE DAY
Walk just ten kilometers out of your city in India and you are met with underdeveloped villages and shanty towns. Water, houses and toilets are in extreme paucity.
People in Chandigarh are lucky for the water supply is reasonably efficient but not for the slum dwellers who are provided with one tap or two for a thousand residents. Water is supplied for two hours in the morning and two hours in the evening.
Manoj with his team-mate in the water project.
I met them a few days later and they wanted their names to be included under the Photograph. So I am updating here. The senior boy is Manoj Masih (Masih, I’m sure means Messiah) and the young teammate is Golu (Golu means Rotund, which he is not now any longer) but his real name is Vishal. They asked me to write down the website address where the photo was published. They will contact someone with a smartphone or a laptop, maybe an internet cafe and have a good laugh over their photos.
The Tricity of Chandigarh perhaps may have given a lead to many other world citizens with its idea of numbering trees. This is stock taking of another kind.
The Horticulture department knows the wealth of its trees is safe by checking the numbers on trees. Tree cutting is a serious offence. It can lead to imprisonment. That is why the tricities of Chandigarh, Mohali and Panchkula are so green. No one is runninng away with the trees because of this.
Postcard Nostalgia—My Affectionate Aunts
Having fallen in this nostalgia crevice I cannot but think of the humble postcard that arrived at our home in Chandigarh once in every fortnight. It was usually addressed to my grandmother from one of her daughters—my affectionate aunts.
Today when I have daughters of my own I can understand the value of a message from your child living in a distant city. Then I used to watch my grandma’s glowing face as she held the postcard. It was pure love that I saw in her eyes. She could not read. She would ask my mother to read the scrawled Hindi lines. The message had a standard format. ‘I hope this letter finds you in the best of health as I am here. Please write back as quickly as you can. With respectful prayers and well wishes, your daughter.’
Those postcards were like messages from Mars confirming that life still existed. These distant aunts would appear for a few days after a couple of years and then disappear again for the next seven hundred days. Meanwhile they sent their smoke signal postcards reminding my grandmother of their existence in some lonely marriage at the frontiers of a rigid society.
My grandmother also had two brothers. The senior brother sent such a post card every six months. This meant he was coming for a day or two. Grandmom would go crazy preparing things in the kitchen for her brother. It was a great time for the kids because this Mamaan made us laugh with his practical jokes on his sister. The other Mamaan also came but he never stayed overnight. He was the father-in-law of a famous bureaucrat and later Union Minister. The senior Mamoon scared us at night with his stories especially the one in which he made his dentures eject and dance between his lips when he played the role of a monster. That really sent us to sleep.
Later my wife began to get postcards from her saintly uncle (mother’s brother.) These came in duos. Two postcards like Siamese twins still joined in the middle. In one there would be the usual scribble in Punjabi, ‘How are you my daughter? I hope this finds you well as it does me. Please consider this postcard a telegram and reply by return post. I have sent an addressed envelope for your convenience. Write a few lines or just send the blank card back. I will know then that you are fine and doing well. Your mamaan (maternal uncle)—-‘
It is a curious fact that all the women received these strange Siamese twins. These cards assumed that the receiver did not live near a post office and would have a difficult time replying back. Thus even a blank card posted back was an indication of ‘all is well in my domestic married life.’ The major reason for this being that most women were still uneducated and would not or could not find someone to write a sympathetic note back home. It was and still is a man’s world.
The men did send and receive postcards but the writing was cleverly camouflaged in Urdu which all the males had learned in school at Lahore before partition. Now I remember that my dad even got a Sunday edition of a famous Urdu daily from Jullundur or was it Ludhiana? I envied there ability to read this strange language. I have many such postcards as heirlooms. They rest somewhere still undeciphered. Someday I will learn Urdu and read them.
Today my daughters have fancy smart phones but still they do not send a simple message confirming their well being. Perhaps I too should start sending them those conjoined twins in postcards.