Still entangled the morning after the big Pre-monsoon shower. Temperatures are down from 38 Celsius to 27 degrees Celsius. Opposites seem to be attracting each other here. Sun and cloud might be falling in love here.
I loved this quote in an article on calculating the GDP of a nation. It is from Robert Kennedy. I am taking the quote from the Economist of 30th April to 6th May–‘In a famous speech in March 1968, Robert Kennedy took aim at what he saw as idolatrous respect for GDP, which measures advertising and jails but does not capture “the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages.”
As a poet I had a heavy outpouring of words at the sight of the first monsoon clouds. I wrote numerous words welcoming these harbingers of rain. Alas, the rain did not come, the clouds disappeared.
Seeing my own elation I think Monsoons and Poetry surely should be included in future GDP calculations in India. As for the strength of our marriages we see it constantly and daily in the evening Hindi soap operas.
The Ridge Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, India.
I am guessing here but if you see the young maybe twelve year old hunched up boy in a red turban in the forefront- he is crying and his mother is consoling him. He is most probably going to the city to earn a pittance to send back to his poor parents in the village.
Meanwhile people are waiting for their train, talking, discussing big things while others look in the distance just thinking about where to get their next meal. A beggar with a big cloth bag and a wooden staff waits patiently for some alms from the group talking near the tea shop. Life goes on in its constant harshness for the poor people of India.
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.
Uneasy Crown for Mr. Bachchan
The mantle for making pained and sad faces belonged to Nazir Husain generally as a father in old Hindi movies. I think the crown is worn now by Mr Amitabh Bachchan in his sad spiel for various causes. I remember there was a rumor that Mr. Nazir Husain chewed on an analgesic to make that pained face. I think in the case of Mr Amitabh Bachchan in his ads it is a mixture of quinine and a powerful laxative. Please Mr. Bachchan enough is enough. Please desist. That wig too is atrocious. Everyone has the right to grow a beard like Dr Manmohan Singh. Everyone has the right to aspire to being regarded as a pillar of honesty.
I am an avid fan of your talents as an actor. Please Mr. Bachchan some people consider you to be a God. I hear there is a temple devoted to you in Kolkata and perhaps many other places. Be fair to your believers. Stop being a hypocrite. Don’t hurt their faith by promoting rotten hair oils, doomed projects and false politicians.
At least my heroes should remain heroes before I die.
Remembering the story of Tulasi one is reminded of Krishna’s sermon in the Geeta to Arjun. He explains that, ‘ Patram, Pushpam, Phalam, Toyam yo m Bhakty Prayachati tad aham Bhakti-Upharitam ashnami Prayatatmanah.’
Krishna says anyone who with a devoted and clean heart offers me even a leaf, flower, fruit or water will please me infinitely. Thus like Satyabhama devotion need not be expressed in the form of gold or silver. It can be as in many temples in India an offering of flowers, water or even a simple leaf. Tulasi being holy is the greatest offering for Krishna.
Snow covered everything. This was a strange land for everyone after the heat of Lahore. We were in the hill station of Mussoorie. The children had the entire Malakoff Estate to explore. The fireplace was a quaint focus of family gatherings in the evening. Tea was being made and served all day long by our newly acquired servant, Kaalu. It was like a big picnic. Strolls during the day on the Mall which only a few days back had not allowed ‘dogs and Indians’ to walk on it.
Some of the men were still in Lahore trying to sell off everything and come back with as much precious stuff as they could from our old home. Malakoff Estate was a huge place but my parents were part of a large entourage of members of a gigantic extended family. My grandfather was there with his two brothers and all of them had their wives, children and grandchildren along with them. This joint family had not yet got used to the large rooms for everyone. They preferred to stick together in the giant living room and eat dinner together before going off to sleep in their various allotted rooms.
Of course, I was yet unborn, this is all hearsay evidence. The ghost story though is true. I heard it from my mother. Although the days were spent by my aunts, uncles and parents taking pleasant trips to the Mall shops a pall of tension hung over the fate of the men who were still not back from their mission in the new state of Pakistan. Everyone huddled together near the fireplace, sang songs, played cards and munched on the delicious pakodas that Kaalu made.
Everyone had to walk down a steep path about a half a kilometer long before reaching the Estate. This was a very dark passage and everyone heaved a sigh of relief in the evenings when safely inside. Things were thus going well in their repetitive calmness when suddenly a strange incident scared everyone. Dinner was finished and the family members were chatting and joking around the fire when they heard a loud banging on the front door. It was very dark outside but the young men got up to check who it was. They found nothing. Fresh snow had fallen but there were no footprints. A cloak of chilly fright touched everyone. That night everyone stuck together in the living room and waited out the night. The incident was reported to the distant police station. A tall and thin policeman came and checked the house. He talked to everyone present and then left to make his report.
Sadly the knocking on the door after dinner continued for many nights. Everyone became convinced that this was a haunted house. Sunday night was fraught
with fear and the children sat huddled with the elders in front of the fireplace. There was a bang on the door and then shouting. The young men’s league got up again to check and to their surprise found their uncles back from Lahore and in their grip was Kaalu.
They thrashed him till he admitted to banging on our front door at night. Motive- to get a raise of ten rupees. He was handed over to the police and life returned to normalcy at Malakoff Estate.
Days and nights passed while the men discussed their next move in Independent India. It was a Sunday and the family was having a hot debate over this incident when suddenly the front door was being banged again by a new ghost. The men again jumped to the rescue. No one noticed my mother and my aunt slip onto the carpet in front of the fireplace. They had a guilty look on their faces but also one of having accomplished something very naughty. They giggled and muffled their conversation in order not to invite undue attention. Strangely the ghost did not appear again after that night.
Many years later my mother and aunt admitted to having kicked the door just to get a feel of the ghostly sound. They ran for their scared lives after that into the outhouse. Then they slipped in sniggering near the fireplace through an open backdoor. They never tried that stunt again because they had scared themselves more than the other occupants of the house.