Lesson for youngsters

Forget millennials, I consider even the generation immediately succeeding my generation, which are those born in early 70s and thereafter to be truly blessed. I will quote a few facts in support of my statement.

(1) My paternal grandfather was born in 1890s and he witnessed both the world wars and even worst the partition of this country.

(2) My father,born in 1928, just about remembered the effect of Second World War but had vivid memories of partition of India as he was dislocated from Lahore and had to start afresh in Delhi. This always bothered him.

(3) My elder brother, born in 1956, has vague memories of 1962 China war but clearly remembers 1965 and 1971 wars with Pakistan.

(4) I , born in 1962 , have very faint memories of 1965 war ( only thing I remember is blackouts when we had to switch off all lights and had to do a drill of hiding under the table) , but slightly more clear idea of Bangladesh war.

Of course all those alive in 70s would also remember state of emergency declared in 1975 which was another difficult period for the country. Operation blue star and riots post demolition of Babri Masjid were other significant happenings and the last significant event of the last century was Kargil war in 1999.

Therefore, I first mentioned millennials though even immediate generation after my generation should also consider itself lucky as though aforesaid tragedies of 80s and 90s were major and serious, but they were not global in that sense.

In fact, this generation has not faced what my generation faced – very poor local transport, severe power cuts and water shortage, waiting period for everything – from scooter to car to colour TV, shortage of essentials and queues at ration shops, very poor communication ( telephone line at residence sometimes required booking as long as 3 years) and very low economic prosperity ( property ownership was mainly inherited, cars were unthinkable and symbolic of ultra rich and foreign travel – are you joking – my father never owned a passport) !

Internet, telecom, automobile, banking sector, consumer revolutions have changed the game to such an extent that it would require a separate blog on how I phone and BMW are no longer symbols of affluence and travel to any place other than Singapore or Dubai at least is a strict passé!

But amongst all this economic prosperity and other developments at break neck pace came Corona virus that has levelled the playing field for younger generation and millennials to what our previous generation was witness to ! It is declared to be worst happening since the world war 2, much worse than Bengal famine , Pak China wars or plague attack!

It’s time to sit back and learn what we refused to learn from our elders in our mad race to acquire material wealth!

Second wave

I was happy to have received first dose of vaccine. Number of cases were falling with each passing day. Frequency of going to office was expected to be increased from 2 days in a week to 3 days. We had started planning our much pending visit to Johannesburg in May /June. And then all of a sudden the second wave of Covid struck from nowhere. Unfortunately, it made the commercial capital of the country its first victim again and daily infections started going up from 2000 to 8000 and panic was set in. Worse, this wave seemed to be more contagious, spreading more rapidly and what used to take 7 to 10 days to affect the lung happened in 2-3 days. Mortality rate started mounting.

As I write this blog, Maharashtra government has already promulgated lockdown. Delhi government is having weekend curfew and several other, hitherto “safe” states- UP, HP, Odisha, WB – are staring at pandemic !

I think it was alright till Holi though enthusiasm of the people in the traditional strongholds of Mathura and Vrindavan seemed a little misplaced. Elections in 4 states and UT of Puducherry were fought as if there was no next day and someone had to meet his or her Waterloo in these elections itself. Leaders exhorted people openly who responded with same gusto albeit without wearing masks or maintaining social distancing ! And Shahi sanan at Kumbh and onset of Ramadan and Hindu new year festivities have only compounded the misery.

Scenes of migrant labourers returning to their natives and commercial establishments downing their shutters are heart rending. Economy had barely started recovering and job scenarios had just started improving when this second wave came to be a spoilsport.

If the entire business establishments have turned to virtual, can’t electioneering be virtual in these pandemic times? In the name of faith, can people expose the entire humanity to the risk of pandemic? Hospitals are overflowing with patients and there is serious shortage of beds and ventilators at some centres. Remedesivir is in short supply and being sold in black market in certain places.

Corona warriors are tired and getting infected themselves. Health infrastructure is creaking. It’s a very grim scenario and unless we all become Corona warriors- strictly observe Corona protocols, avoid going out without purpose, help affected folks and contribute generously – this battle will hurt very deeply. Celebrations and elections will come and go but to savour them we need to exist!

Happiness across the country

Gudi Padwa celebrates the crowning of Lord Ram after his return to Ayodhya along with Sita and Lakshman after completing exile of 14 years. The Gudi (flag) denotes Lord Ram’s victory over demon king Ravana. The Gudi is hoisted high, as a symbol of victory.

Ugadi, the Telugu New Year, is on April 13. Ugadi or Yugadi is observed with great enthusiasm by people in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka. Ugadi means ‘the beginning of a new age’.

Vishu 2021 Date in India: Vishu is an important festival celebrated in the state of Kerala, and by Keralites around the country and the world. It marks the first day of the Malayalam calendar and, therefore, is celebrated with a lot of festive excitement by Malayalis.

Bihu, also called Rongali Bihu and Bohag Bihu, is Assam’s harvest festival which marks the beginning of the Assamese New Year. This year, it begins on April 14 and ends on April 20, 2021. It is celebrated with great joy

Cheti Chand is a major and important festival for Sindhi community in India and Pakistan. The festival marks the birth of Ishtadeva Uderolal, popularly known as Lord Jhulelal, the patron saint of the Sindhis. Hence it is also known as Jhulelal Jayanti as well. Sindhi community observes Cheti Chand on the Pratipada Tithi (first day) of Chaitra, Shukla Paksha (waxing phase of the Moon). Sindhi New Year begins with this festival.

Puthandu or Tamil New Year is being celebrated on 14 April. The festival is observed on the first day of the Tamil month ‘Chithirai’ and marks the start of the Tamil calendar.

Pana Sankranti, also known as Maha Vishuba Sankranti, is the traditional new year day festival of Odias in Odisha, India. The festival occurs in the solar Odia calendar on the first day of the traditional solar month of Meṣa, hence equivalent lunar month Baisakha.

Chaitra Navratri is a nine-day long festival where devotees observe a fast and offer their prayers. The festival marks the beginning of the spring season and ends with Ram Navami or the birthday of Lord Rama.

One of the most lively and vibrant festivals of India, Baisakhi coincides with the Chaitra Navratri – a very auspicious time for Hindus in the country.

Poila Baishakh or Bangla Noboborsho is the first day of Bengali Calendar. It is celebrated on 14 April as a national holiday in Bangladesh, and on 14 or 15 April in the Indian states of West Bengal, Tripura and Barak Valley region of Assam by people of Bengali heritage, irrespective of their religious faith.

This year, Ramadan begins on April 14, a Wednesday, and ends on May 12, which is a Wednesday. This annual observance is regarded as one of the five pillars of Islam. It lasts between one sighting of the crescent moon and the next. It is said that Ramadan is the commemoration of Prophet

April 13 and 14 bring together our country like nothing else. There can’t be a better example of our oneness – our unity in diversity!

Happy …. what should I say …. gudi padwa, Ugadi, Bihu, Vishu, Baisakhi or Ramadan!

When you look at me

I faintly remember having met Hindi poet and litterateur Ramanand Doshi at a private ceremony way back in very early 70s; the fact remains that the great man expired in 1972 at a young age of 51. He recited his poetry and one of his lyrical poems, reproduced below in original, was composed into a lilting melody by my mother’s singing guru and was often sung by my mother, a professional singer. Little did I understand the literary and artistic beauty of the work, but the opening lines of the poem have stayed with me through my youth and an early old age that I am currently into.

The reason for this blog was my accidental encounter while searching this classic piece into a blog about this poem by a fellow blogger, Shri Krishna Sharma, for whom I have lot of respect and who encourages my work a great deal, who wrote a beautiful blog but refrained from translating the poem, a risk I am taking now.

मन होता है पारा
ऐसे देखा नहीं करो !

जाने क्या कर डाला तुमने, उलट-पुलट मौसम
कभी घाव ज़्यादा दुखता है और कभी मरहम
जहाँ-जहाँ ज़्यादा दुखता है
छूकर वहीं दुबारा
ऐसे देखा नहीं करो !
मन होता है पारा !
ऐसे देखा नहीं करो !

कौन बचाकर आँख सुबह की नींद उघार गया
बूढ़े सूरज पर पीछे से सीटी मार गया
हम पर शक पहले से है
तुम करके और इशारा
ऐसे देखा नहीं करो !
मन होता है पारा !

होना-जाना क्या है, जैसा कल था, वैसा कल
मेरे सन्नाटे में बस ख़ामोशी की हलचल
अँधियारे की नेमप्लेट पर
लिख-लिखकर उजियारा
ऐसे देखा नहीं करो !
मन होता है पारा !
ऐसे देखा नहीं करो!

My heart misses a beat

When you look at me

I am so bewitched that seasons don’t matter

Your absence affects me as much as your presence

And you reignite my pain

When you look at me

Early morning sleep is no longer the deepest

Sun is yet not risen but you play a trick

I had doubt but now I am sure – it all happens

When you look at me

Will my tomorrow be different from yesterday

The quietude of my life will hear a whisper

Will darkness of my life pave way to happiness

All such emotions get evoked

When you look at me

It’s no mean job translating a classic and I am no master of languages, Hindi and English, to do justice to this poetic masterpiece. I neither risked transliteration nor made too much efforts trying for rhyming end, but I have tried to capture the essence of the poem with sensitivity it merited. Paara in Hindi is mercury, which is a highly unstable element. So instead of translating paara into mercury, I have tried to capture instability of heart with “ missing of beat”.

I hope readers, including Shri Sharma like my effort.

Metro of Retro

This is a poem written by me especially for a FB group that loves this great city called Mumbai. The effort has been liked very much by the members of this group so I am posting it here at my blog site for perusal by those following my blog. It reads as under:

Metro of Retro

When I first came to Mumbai city
I was mesmerised by its pristine beauty

It was, as they say, love at first sight
View of Arabian Sea from Marine Drive was a sheer delight

Cabbies and auto drivers wore proper dress
They went by the meter and caused no duress

Traffic was systematic and moved in lane
Travelling on roads was a pleasure and not a pain

Fort area was lined up by iconic buildings and had its own charm
There was sea of humanity everywhere but it meant no harm

Shoe house, aquarium and garden that was hanging
Made Mumbai city unique in its offering

And of course the chance of sighting a Bollywood star live
Was the ultimate desire that kept one’s hopes alive

Now that I live here and encounter challenges
I know that city is undergoing necessary changes

Tomorrow’s Mumbai will have coastal roads and world class metro
However, hearts of Mumbaikars will always beat for Mumbai of retro!

Hope my readers too like my effort.

Elections- then and now

First general elections that I have faint memories of were 1971 Loksabha elections that are best remembered for landslide victory for a breakaway congress led by Indira. I was very young- may be in class 2nd or 3rd but the festivities associated with elections caught my fancy as a child. There were meetings in which parties would generously distribute flags and metal batches bearing party symbol. Collecting these party batches as memorabilia was a favourite pastime of children. Of course, Bollywood has always been a national obsession and I didn’t remain untouched by it and the thought of seeing film stars in person generated unprecedented euphoria. I distinctly remember a meeting addressed by then very young and super handsome Dilip Kumar. Crowds had simply gone berserk to catch a glimpse of their favourite thespian. And there were other speakers of excellent oratorical skills. Most prominent of them was youthful Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who subsequently led the destiny of this nation with great distinction, whose oratory would keep audiences spellbound for hours. He interspersed his speech with anecdotes laden with rustic humour.

And then I followed consecutive elections, each strengthening the democratic fabric of this great country. Elections were highlighted by serious issues, great leaders, good orators, celebrities and the right earnestness they deserved but there was seldom bitterness, violence and rowdiness. Leaders were gracious enough to accept the verdict with humility and assured the elected Government of all the cooperation in driving the national agenda for next 5 years. There was no acrimony, enmity or aversion.

The provocation for this blog came from the current round of elections being held in 4 states where the acrimony, bitterness and aversion seem to have touched all time high. Let’s restore the grace and associated festivity of elections – objective of all parties and leaders ultimately is to take India ahead of all other countries. If objective is same and is so noble why then this acrimony?

Aamchi Mumbai

The posts in one of the FBGroups that I am a member of are mostly soaked in nostalgia. Nostalgia about the people, places and events of yore. Names have changed, old joints have closed down, iconic theatres are no longer there, double deckers are on their way out and this list is endless.

The moot point is that is this change exclusive to Mumbai? The answer is no and I can vouch for at least one another city – New Delhi. Connaught Place and Connaught Circus became Rajiv and Indira Chowks respectively, iconic Madras Hotel shut down and like Mumbai all iconic theatres have either closed down or converted into Multiplexes,

While nostalgia is a natural feeling and it stems out of our past experiences with these places and events, I think the overarching principle is that change is the only constant. Some changes will be sign of progress – world class metro network, mono rail, coastal road, new International Airport – a few will drown us in further nostalgia – closure of restaurants where we enjoyed our meals and time spent, theatres where we looked for corner seats in our youth or renaming of the places that will simply refuse to hook on to our tongues!

Let’s hope, whatever changes, it happens for better and aamchi Mumbai relives the grandeur of iconic old Bombay! ​

Good Friday

As the folklore goes, Jesus was made to bear the cross on which he was finally crucified. While Jesus being the son of God did so to save the humanity, in our lives, we all have to bear the cross , which as per Cambridge dictionary means an unpleasant or painful situation or person that you have to accept and deal with, although you find it very difficult. The underlying message is that a problem has to be faced heads on rather than avoided as once we bear the cross only then we can expect ascension to heaven, the manner in which Jesus, crucified on Good Friday attains ascension on Easter Sunday.

All the religious festivals have underlying social message and while we observe the rituals – prayers, fasting, feasting as the case may be- unless we understand the essence and imbibe the real message, it’s an opportunity wasted.

April Fool’s Day and new financial year

Mumbai has reported zero new Covid case. Almost the entire population of the country has been vaccinated. Government has issued a formal advisory declaring Covid to be summarily over and removing all restrictions that were in place in view of pandemic.

Pakistan has formally acceded to India’s position on Kashmir, has decided to destroy all nuclear warfare and signed a friendship treaty with India.

China has recognised LAC to be the actual border between India and China thereby ending all border disputes.

Fossil fuel and other polluting materials have been completely put into disuse, paving way for solar and other renewable non polluting sources of energy and ozone layer has started repairing itself. Scientists have forecasted that in a decade our planet will have greenery, wildlife, water bodies and pollution level that existed at the beginning of the 19th century.

India’s population has been progressively coming down and is expected to fall below 100 crore in the next 5 years thereby ceding the position of the most populous country to China, the county it had overtaken in 2030.

World religious council leaders met in India and declared all religions to be equal and similar, summarily ending the long standing dispute of superiority of one religion over the other. With this, all religious conflicts are going to end and the world is going to witness lasting peace based on religious bonhomie,

If wishes were horses, beggar would ride. But where would we be if we lose all hope and live in perpetual despair. This is no April fool joke but a sincere heartfelt wish and to ride this horse, I am ready to become a beggar!

Happy April Fool’s Day and new financial year!

Unity in Diversity

In yesterday’s episode of Super Dancer a young participant from Arunachal Pradesh broke down while narrating an incident that happened with him outside North East. The hotelier, where the young boy had put up in connection with an event in which he was participating, was amazed to see the boy speaking Hindi, sarcastically commenting that it was amusing to see a Chinese speaking Hindi! And that was not an isolated instance! The young boy had heard this vilifying comment several times outside his home state. One of the judges on the show then remarked, “ Sun rises first in India in Arunachal; when sun does not discriminate, what right do we humans, the much lesser mortals, have to discriminate on the basis of religion, region, ethnicity and cast?

It’s indeed true that nature does not discriminate. The sun and the moon and the stars and the sky offer the same look and experience to all. Rain and trees and vegetation and more importantly, other living animals do not discriminate. Therefore, discrimination in any form – gender, colour, caste, creed, looks, ethnicity, food habits, dressing et al – is not natural but highly unnatural- I won’t even use the words artificial or synthetic because all man made things ultimately owe their origin to something natural – oil, plants, animals or other natural resources.

While in zest and humour, creating laughter by replicating the accents of Madrasis ( anyone south if Vindhyachal) , Bengalis ( forgetting that Assam, Tripura and Odisha are different states), Punjabi ( anyone from North of Delhi state), Bhaiya ( UP and Bihar) or creating typecast caricatures of Brahmin, Marwari , Sardarji, Khan Bahadur or Anthony Gonsalves may appear harmless from the point of view of Bollywood, but anything more serious than that is strictly unnatural.

I have heard several stories of students from NE, studying outside NE in various places within India having to face this unsavoury jibe of Chinese and foreigner. It’s high time we give people of different looks, faiths, rituals, food habits, customs etc space and freedom as this country belongs to all. That’s how we can celebrate the real strength of this country viz Unity in diversity. Otherwise all our progress and giant leap in space, technology and military strength will go futile!