The Valentine Jayanti

Most popular male gods in India are either Lord Shiva or Hanuman-epitomes of manhood. While Shiva is fav among females, an ideal husband material with two naughty kids, Bajrang Bali Hanuman gulps plenty of laddoos from ‘no woman no cry’ sloganeering bachelors. The moment I realised I am loaded with enough testosterone, I switched from Lord Hanuman to Lord Shiva, and memorised the famous Shiv Tandava mantra. Ready for the kill!

Quiting Lord Hanuman began with quiting gymnasium, where I sweated hard on my biceps and pecs, and began looking like a mini-hanuman. Wore half-sleeve tight T-shirts shopped from Chor-bazaar, walking with forward-thrusted chest. Girl who always sat next to me, disappeared as if my sweat will make her pregnant. Realised my sweaty stinking stupid self and quit the bone-breaking muscle-aching gym sessions.

Switching to Shiva meant attitude, male anger and the ‘third-eye’. Trick worked. The girl returned, and my third-eye was all on her. Always talked to her looking down, with ‘trinetra’ right at her face. Soon I was in love like one of those Amol Palekar movies. I would strategically chose seat next to her, but would never talk, never meet eyes. And when the bubbly girl would offer to come to college canteen, the angry Shiva in me would rise from nowhere and reject her. As if I have millions of tasks. Same night, I would be drinking like ‘neelkanth’.

Then came the festival of love. Valentine’s day. Angry Shiva seemed to send his Sainiks in city of Pune to vandalise it. While Hanuman’s Bajrangi Sena is already locking horns somewhere else. Choice between brown-eyed girl and gods was little difficult, but boiling testosterone in me finally won.

Red roses were soaring high in demand, so chose the pink, and hid it between shining white Govinda-style baniyaan and my dashing blue full-sleeves, stuck beneath my jeans at waist. After a quick Reiki of library and canteen, located her among bunch of frolicking girls. To take the rose out sharply, made a window in shirt keeping the lower button open. Crashed into girls, and the rose right in her hand! Execution was flawless like Godse shooting Gandhi. We had a Vada-Pav together and remained friends forever. Never knew bloody rose was colour-coded. ‘Pink’ meant rose without testicles.

Happy Valentine’s!

The land of Nobel

Nobel Prize had been a childhood fascination for me, from the days I began collecting trophies in school quizzes and gully-debates. While Mother Teresa and Rabindra Nath Tagore seemed too ethereal, Hargobind Khorana seemed achievable and I began studying medicine. And when I first opened my email account on Hotmail, one of my first emails was directed to khorana@mit.edu scripted in a broken english,

Dear Dr. Khorana,

I had been fascinated by your research from childhood, and wish to join your lab. Though I am in process of application to your university and have taken all requisite tests, there are meagre chances to join your prestigious university. Please accept me as Eklavya if not Arjuna, by just replying this email.

Regards.”

Man never replied. Eklavya turned Devdas. Cursed the old man with abuses gulping bouts of drinks. Years later, I figured out man didn’t know how to reply emails. He didn’t even reply to White House when they conferred him with National Medal of Science. A white house representative had to track him down on foot to make him attend.

Anyway, I figured out, to win a Nobel- you have to become a cynic psychopath scientist with a french beard, an Einsteinian hairstyle, a test-tube in hand, and sitting in a US-lab. And here I was! Sitting in a prime lab in United States, with similar attire and outlook, and joined the most cynic professor’s lab. Man kept snails as his pets, who even followed his orders! My research progressed with snail pace, and I would have taken more Vodka shots in those test-tubes than performing experiments. Well, that was cynic!

One day my professor asked, “So Kumar! How is your research going?”

In serendipidity, I answered, “I am making a mathematical model of snail behaviour.” Huh!

“Hey! That’s awesome. Let’s meet up this wednesday and see it.”

WTF? Mathematical model of snail behaviour!!! What the hell is that?

Greatest solution to all problems existed even those days some 12 years back. Baba Google!

With a good bout of plagiarism and copy-paste Java animation programme, I was ready with a simulation program on snail movement. My professor clapped when the snail model moved dodgily on the computer screen. When I discussed the model with an IITian friend, man wrote his first mathematical paper on some ‘stochastic behaviour’ and scribbled my name in acknowledgement. The snail shit was superhit!

But, I knew Nobel would never be awarded for decoding a snail’s behaviour. It has to be a ground-breaking research which will shake the world. Something like, “The formula to kill the cancer”, “the secret of addiction”, “the special gene responsible for woman’s abnormal behaviour”, “the neuron which excites on seeing the porn”, “why Katappa killed Bahubali?”.

I quit the US Lab, and began my journey to ground-breaking research, breaking a coconut in one of the famous south Indian temples. The priest said looking at me, “You have a bright future waiting for you, all you lack is focus.” Priest was damn right!

Focus! I googled and ordered the famous book by Daniel Goleman “FOCUS”.

I don’t know if I misunderstood him, but to achieve a target, I understood I have to be close to the target. Left the country, weathered the snow, and landed for good in Land of Nobel. Searching for the clerk in Nobel committee who will get things done for me, and assures, “Kaam ho jaayega” (The work will be done!)

Norway! Here I am! Come on Nobel, now lay on me!

IMG_4762

 Epilogue:

In a dinner with Nobel laureate physicist Anthony Leggett (who incidently was my room-mate’s guide) in 2004, he asked, “Doc! You would know it better. Isn’t virus a live moving nanoparticle which targets our cells? Why the hell people are crazy for designing one to target this or that, when its right in front of us? Leave it. I don’t know anything about this.” And he laughed away.

Years later, in 2012, Nature published ‘virus as nano-particles’, what they called ground-breaking research. Beautiful minds toss such ideas on dinner table!

 

The blue ice: a shit-com

For whatever reasons, birds always found my head as a coveted shitting destination. Even in a crowded environment, if a bird is flying around, I would gear up myself holding a file or book overhead. My transient breath of relief would be annuled as the raven comes back swifter dropping on me accurately like a targeted missile. I was brutally splattered with bird-droppings during my short stint in Indian Institute of Science, which boasted of highest density of nasty crows (kauwa). For the first time in my life, I wore a Govinda-style yellow shirt to camouflage the shitty polka-drops.

The fear of bird-droppings soon extended to any flying object as I would hide even at sight of aeroplane. I always wondered what happens to the shit in the air. Most convenient way would be to disperse it in vastness of atmosphere, and cruise away. The untimely rains and windy splatters. My curiousity ended recently when an elderly woman in Bhopal (city in central India) got hit by a huge chunk of ice fallen from sky. Early investigations suggested it could be ‘blue ice’, human excreta disposed from aeroplanes which gets frozen in stratosphere. My fear wasn’t completely ungrounded and some do throw the shit right up in the air, especially Indian planes devoid of sanitary space on ground.

While the aeroplane mystery took some time, Indian railways were pretty blatant and open-minded from its inception. A hole in the toilet peeps directly down on track. At a usual train velocity of 150 km/hr, a 15 minute shit of yours can make roughly 38 km trail of shit droppings. Considering ever-engaged toilets in trains, the multi-origin shitty trail would extend from origin to destination spanning some 1000 kms. One of the royal heir I heard of, always took a local 30 minute railway stretch every morning at 6 0’clock, only to shit in moving train! His habit seem to have ended at a serious note when he disregarded the statutatory warning displayed in Indian Railways – Please do not use toilets when the train stops at platform. People say, constipated Raja-Saa’b continued his rituals even when train stopped. Sanitation fellows with long brooms began cleaning the toilets, shoving through holes beneath the train, and gave a powerful thrust when they found anything obstructive. This time, it was Raja Saa’b’s ass!

I haven’t utilised public toilets much in life, since I considered them as some sacred love destination. Similar to temple walls, toilet walls too are studded with scribbled names of ‘love-couples’. I wonder how somebody can have an amorous feeling while shitting, and scribble his flame’s name. Extreme love! Isn’t it? As I recently travelled and about to position myself strategically on a shaking commode, I found it written on toilet wall – I love you Priya. I pity the love of poor girl Priya with the shitty boy.

There were days even in my life, when village toilets were reserved for women who seem to have incessant affair with bathrooms. I would be forced to stroll to bamboo-plantations and ease myself with bushy grasses rubbing my body. Umpeen times would I change my position as I would imagine somebody staring at me and breaching my privacy. At a distance, I saw a queue of villagers shitting calmly with one palm on their cheek as if in a great contemplation. Surely, those early days devoid of toilets, gave India great philosophers. Even today, at least my blogging ideas shoot off from long gruelling sessions in toilet. Doesn’t my blog stink?

[a satire on need of sanitation in developing nations; a sequel to earlier blog ‘Love is in the air’]

Avataar

A fellow passenger once dissected my genealogy and told me I belong to an ultra-purified Brahmin community. Not sure, if the semens of forefathers have been rigorously pasteurized and purified by reverse osmosis, but whatever, the outcome is right here, scribbling an yet-again-nasty blog.

Time-and-again, the racial superiority was validated by hook or by crook. My priest in Bangalore was surprised when I finished a 6 hour-long Vaastu-puja in 2 hours as most of the complex Sanskrit Shlokas seem to emanate from me as vedic hymns. As he got up in praise, we figured out his guide-book was actually written by my long-dead grandpa who died 9 months before my birth. Many believe I am his incarnate. Re-birth, an incarnate of a Sanskrit scholar. Why me?? I feel like a walking ghost everytime I see a smiling ‘daadu’s portrait’ in my village courtyard.

My neck-to-neck competitor in school was a Muslim friend, who defeated me in ‘Battle of Social Studies’ to the ‘Gory battle of Mathematics’. I doubted if he was Aurangzeb incarnate, born to denigrate a Brahmin pride. 

With great power, some fool said, comes great responsibilities.

With the sacred thread running from shoulder-to-waist, I rechristened myself as ‘Janeu-man‘. (janeu is colloquial term for sacred brahmin thread). While my hindu friends cheered and sneered, I cozied up with my destined enemy. I would enjoy having ‘Iftaar-party’ with him and he would learn sanskrit shlokas to garnish his achilles-heel ‘hindi’ papersThe last decisive ‘Battle of matriculation’ turned indecisive. We both were declared joint-toppers. I had beaten him in his forte of ‘maths’ and he shattered me in my own backyard ‘hindi’. Recently, in an alumni meet, the school notice-board seemed over-crowded in year of 1995 with two names somehow accommodated together.

Event crucified the upholder of hinduism, and demon of Gandhi corrupted my mind. When a brawl happened in medical school over some isolated muslim fellows cheering for Pakistan team, I would chip-in as peace-proclaimant. The wobbling Inzemaam or the flairy Afridi, I loved the team, though could never cheer for them in Shiv-sena infested Pune hostel. 

Pak-loving Kashmiri medicos beaten and bruised by Shiv Sainiks. What are we building? Brand ambassadors for Lashkar-e-Taiba? 

I cozied up with them, cheered for Afridi, and soon came the Multan test! Viru and his flamboyance! We all cheered for only man that day, whether in Pune or in Multan. Viru shattered the borders.

Some years later, my dad, a devout Brahmin, navigated through the stinking streets of muslim ghetto, studded with all-species-butchering shops, and threw me into feet of Khan Saa’b, the best driving teacher in city. I somehow manoevred to grab his feet beneath his lungi. His shanty displayed a Pakistan flag and a large portrait of Ramallah in Palestine. I was surprised why my dad, who otherwise refuses to eat in same plate as muslim, did this to me. May be a revenge to his father who might have slapped him in his childhood. Afterall, I am ‘grandpa returns’.

Surprises galore! That pak-loving khan saab brings a packet of incenses, and asks me to take out a statue of goddess hidden behind a wrecked car engine. Before training, he insisted for a puja of that engine with goddess kept on top and I began reciting the durga-shlokas. This wasn’t all. He corrected me in one of them, and gave a lesson on hindu values which are being ignored by new kids on the block. My dad had shoved 101 rupees in my trouser-pocket beforehand, which I handed over to Pandit Khan, touched his feet and learnt to become best driver in city. He would tell stories of his long friendship of my dad and him, and I would be awed in my hard-core hindu dad’s real self.

Puzzled, I quizzed my dad. 

He said, “Why do you sport a US flag on your T-shirt? Probably, you like americans who live thousand miles away. Khan Saa’b loves our neighbour country. I don’t like either. My choice, your choice, his choice. Go! Get a glass of water now!”

Grandpa smiled at his avataar from heaven, and I smiled back to him. I doubt if he is gobbling on muttons and having ‘iftaar’ party up there. Hypocrite gandhians! Huh!

पापा कहते हैं

पहले ही बता दूँ, इस पोस्ट का आमिर जी से कोई लेना-देना नहीं है. पापा तो सब के कुछ न कुछ कहते हैं. बचपन में मेरी तरफ जब भी देखते, कम से कम पानी तो मंगवा ही लेते. तीन भाईयों में होड़ मच जाती. एक पानी भरता, दूजा उससे लेता, तीजा पिता को देता. पानी न हुआ, रिले रेस हो गया. ये सिलसिला सर्दियों में अक्सर टूट जाता. वो कंपकंपाती ठंड, और घर के बाहर का चापाकल. अजी कौन रजाई से निकलने की ज़हमत करे? पिता की तरफ देखना ही कम हो जाता. पास से गुजरते, तो सब बगले झाँकते.

मैं ये सिद्ध नहीं करना चाहता कि मनुष्य पैदायशी मतलबी होता है. वो तो खैर होता ही है. मनुष्य ही क्या? कैलाश की हिम-आच्छादित पर्वत और कठोर शीत में साक्षात् शिव के लिये पानी कौन लाता होगा? गणेश जी से तो मीलों दूर मानसरोवर तक चला न जाए. कार्तिक का मोर भी बरसात से पहले न नाचे. नंदी ने मानसरोवर ब्राँड के बोतल बना-बना देवताओं में खूब बाँचे और शिव माँगे तो जी! स्टॉक नहीं है. वो तो बस विष का घूँट पी के रह गये. जब नंदी की कालाबाजारी बढ़ी, खुद जटा में वो तकनीक लगायी, भागीरथी बहा दी. लो! पी लो जितना पीना है जगवासियों! मेक इन इंडिया.

पिता पिता होता है. या फिल्मी अंदाज़ में कहें तो ‘बाप से पंगा न लेना’. उसके लिये सब बेटे समान हैं. जब मरजी जिसे एक चाँटा लगा दिया. कान खींच दी. क्या पप्पू, क्या पिंटू? पप्पू-पिंटू की लड़ाई हुई, रोना-धोना, छीना-झपटी, तूतू-मैंमैं. पिता थके-हारे ऑफिस से आए, असहिष्णुता से दोनों को एक-एक थप्पड़ रसीद. दोनों पढ़ने बैठ गये. 

अब कयास मत लगाओ. अराजनैतिक आदमी हूँ. हिंदू-मुस्लिम की तो बात ही न की मैंनें. और पप्पू-पिंटू भी तो बड़े हो गये. लड़ना तो बचपना था. दोनों साथ-साथ लड़कियाँ घूरते, ठिठोली करते. दाँत-काटी दोस्ती भाईयों की. नुक्कड़ पे पड़ोस का लड़का भिड़ गया. दोनों ने क्या धोया? आज तक दाँत में खिड़की बनी हुई है.

कब तक लड़कियाँ घूरते? उमर होने को आई, मुहल्ले में एक-एक कर डोली उठती गयी. पहले मुहल्ला, फिर शहर, फिर जिला. न लड़की बची, न लड़की की जात. भागे-भागे पिता के पास आए. पिता विजयी मुस्कान देकर बोले, “आ गये न रस्ते पे? जब तेरे बाप से कुछ न हुआ, तुमसे क्या खाक होगा?” पंडित बुलवाया, लड़की ढूँढी. गाजे-बाजे के साथ दोनों की शादी हुई. पप्पू की भी ऐश, पिंटू की भी.

मौसम बदला. हर साल की तरह. बस ठंड ज्यादा थी. सालों बाद ऐसी कड़ाके की पड़ी है. पिछली ठंड में तो दादाजी ‘हे राम’ कर चल बसे. 

पिता को कभी जोड़ों का, कभी पीठ का दर्द. 

और पप्पू-पिंटू फिर लड़ने लग गये. अब डिजिटल लड़ाई लड़ते हैं-फेसबुक-वॉट्सऐप वाले. हद कमीने फेसबुक वाले. लाइक-कमेंट दिये. थप्पड़ का तो ऑप्शन ही नहीं. 

पापा ने पहले ही कहा था. बेटा नाम करेगा.

जय भोलेनाथ!

The second innings

One of my nerdy friend, have got two divorces and three wives already. I envy his facebook marriage updates. Probably, the planning begins right at time of marriage. While I have been busy looking for an accountant to manage my taxes, he had been much shrewd to hire a good divorce lawyer. 

Its not about talent. Both of us were barely 20-30 ranks apart in college days, now we are 2-3 wives apart. If each wife is given a score of 2, he is at whopping 6, while I have a measly score of 2 with two negative (-) points of kids making it ‘zero’….cipher…..shoonya. Damn! Its all about talent.

While many of my earlier posts (e.g. Desi midlife crisis) does point towards me being in ‘frustrated forties’, I am not. Neither my clicking ‘follow’ on any remotely girlish gravatar proves anything. That reminds me, I once followed a long haired fellow in half-downloaded gravatar on my phone, proved to be a thick-moustached, heavily bearded spiritual guru later. To magnify my embarassment, he would send ‘love and light’ in his comments. 

Anyway, a craving for second innings and to even the score did lead me sieving through unanswered facebook requests. I diligently sorted out wheat from the chaff, I mean women from men. Next step was to exclude ones with many hobnobbing mutual friends. Criteria was set to ‘less than three’ mutual friends. After adding all of them, I just waited, like my wife waits for ‘whistle’ of pressure-cooker. The vibrations, the dancing nozzle, and the warning muzzled sounds culminating to extreme shrillness announces ‘rice is ready’. I too was vibrating and dancing like a cooker nozzle. 

And, it worked!!!

Many, “Sorry! May I know you?”, popped on my mac. 

The question griped me, and pushed me to oblivion. Having spent close to 40 yrs on earth, world doesn’t know me. People win Wimbledon, become bollywood superstar, bomb countries by this age. And me? Sending facebook requests to girls? Is my identity restrained to a mutual friend? Nah!

I just snubbed off, unfriended all of them, and got back to life, wife and rice.

Second innings begin with fall of early wickets. 

Match forecast: Brutal thrashing, innings defeat and follow on, when wifey reads it.

कबिरा खड़ा बाज़ार में

तोतली टूटी-फूटी बोली थी, नाक बहती, निकर खिसकती, फिर भी सवाल जरूर पूछा जाता- बड़े होकर क्या बनोगे? इस सवाल के ज़वाब से भी IQ का संबंध है. कोई डॉक्टर, कोई इंजीनियर, कोई पायलट, जो माँ-बाप सिखाते बोल देते. मैंने कहा, “साईंटिस्ट बनूँगा, नोबेल प्राइज जीतूँगा, और मरने से पहले राष्ट्रपति भी.” पूछनेवाले मुँह एँठते-कहते, “झा साब! और कुछ बने ना बने, आपका बेटा लम्बी लम्बी जरूर छोड़ेगा.”

अंकल की बात दिल पे लग गयी. मैंने कहा आविष्कार तो मैं कर के रहूँगा. लेकिन क्या? 

कबीर दास के दोहे से पहला आइडिया आया.

“बोए पेड़ बबूल का, आम कहाँ से होये”.

मैंने कहा अब तो बबूल के पेड़ पे आम लगा के रहूँगा. ऐसी खुराफातों के लिये भाई शुरूआत में जरूर साथ देते हैं ताकि प्लान फेल होने पर उछल उछल कर ठिठोली कर सकें. 

पड़ोसी गाँव के मामाजी ने ग्राफ्टिंग के गुर सिखाए, माँ से जिद कर केमिकल खरीदे, और बबूल के पेड़ पर एक-एक बड़े सलीके से सर्जिकल कटिंग कर जोड़ बनाता गया. एक टहनी भी न लगी, सामने के आम का लहलहाता पेड़ गंजा जरूर हो गया. पिताजी ने इन्क्वायरी बिठाई, भाईयों ने फुलझड़ी लगाई, और एक महान वैज्ञानिक पटाखों की तरह बजा दिया गया.

“निंदक नियरे राखिये, आँगन कुटी छवाय”

निंदा और ठिठोली करने वाले तो घर में ही था. कबीर दास के इसी फंडे पे हिम्मत दुगुनी हो गयी. 

इस बार बिजली बनाने की सोची. गाँव के लिये बिजली नयी चीज़ थी. वो तो बस उस बिज़ली से वाकिफ थे जो मवेशी मेले में नाचने आती. भाई-साब ने आईडिया दिया, गाँव के पचास लोग हर रात साईकिल चलायेंगे, डायनमो इफेक्ट से पचास घरों में बल्ब जलेंगे.

“धीरे धीरे रे मना, धीरे सब कुछ होय”

प्लान साइकल की स्पीड से फुस्स हो गया.

२००४ ईसवी में पहली बार रिसर्च करने इंडियन इंस्टिच्यूट अॉफ साइंस में किशोर वैज्ञानिक रूपेण चयनित हुआ. रिसर्च का तो पता नहीं, कैंटिन के डोसे लाज़वाब थे. और रात को लैब के बाहर चाय. वाह! मज़ेदार. बाकि रिसर्च तो क्या, इस टेस्ट्यूब से उस टेस्ट्यूब. चार घंटे बाद रीडिंग लो. फिर वही रीपीट करते रहो. इस से कहीं ज्यादा प्रयोग तो मेरी माँ मुरब्बे-अचार में कर ले.

“जिन खोजा तिन पाइयाँ, गहरे पानी पैठ”

आखिरकार मेडिकल की पढ़ाई खत्म होते ही पहली फुरसत में अमरीका निकल लिया. दो बड़े फैकल्टी के लैब पसंद आये. हमारे आधे फैसले तो हेड-टेल या अक्कर बक्कर बम्बे बो से होते हैं. डॉ लिगेट विजयी रहे, लातेरबूर हार गये. मैं भी जी-जान से रिसर्च में लग गया. डॉ. लातेरबूर को देखता तो मंद मुस्कान देता. बिना फंडिंग के गरीब दयनीय परिस्थिति थी उनके लैब की.

“जाति न पूछो साधू की, पूछ लिजिये ज्ञान”

२००५ दिसंबर: Paul laterbur wins Nobel Prize in medicine.

मतलब यूँ कहिये, सारे गणित धरे के धरे रह गये. थोड़े दिन टेस्ट-ट्यूब में चाय-साय बनाई, और वापस आ गया डाक-साब बनने.

मेक इन इंडिया कोई जुमला भले ही हो, बड़े जुगत का काम है. अजी मुरब्बे नहीं बनाने, रिसर्च और आविष्कार करने हैं.

“कबिरा खड़ा बाज़ार में, माँगे सबकी खैर”

The common wall: great Indian neighbours

I love him but I just don’t like the way he gurgles and clears throat every morning. We greet each other when we rush to pick our newspapers; While I give a conceited grin holding an intellectual The Hindu, he mocks me with saucy hot Times supplement. He keeps his car shinier than mine, and would light up his house 15 seconds before me in Diwaali. And both of our wives are locked in everlasting sugar-coated fierce duel. The day one joins Yoga, other joins Zumba, and the fight goes on. 

Years back somewhere in 1985, our childhood neighbour got a videocon colour TV, which was talk of mohalla. A month later, a massive deluge happened and our entire city was flooded. Yet, my dad sailing through waist-high water, was lifting a large box on his head, like Vasudev lifting Lord Krishna. It was a new Onida TV which said, “Neighbour’s envy; Owner’s pride.” 

Rest of the TV-deprived neighbourhood would gather to watch the ’87 world cup. TV was disproportionate large in our small home; My mother would fry delicious pakodas for kids who parted with us; While, neighbour uncle would slap any guy caught smiling when India lost wicket. India lost the world cup, but we won as better host.

Event led to an unsaid ‘cold war’, a war of superiority, and we took the brunt most. If his kids got more marks, I was screwed and vice versa. But, my dad suddenly become Gandhian and began giving Amir Khanish lectures. He arranged many Vajpayee-Musharraf style meetings but one day the neighbour kid stole all our fresh lemons and the war resumed. Lemons were returned, kid beaten and a wall was erected. The wall on which we urinated for long.

We moved from kid-hood to adulthood, and my father turned into Robinhood helping any needy, but neighbourhood bitterness persisted. Whenever friendship of our generation bloomed, aunty would charge at her son, “If you like them. Go and stay with them.” As if we were Pakistan, and he was Shahrukh khan, huh!  Shahrukh khan my foot!! He wasn’t even close to Rajpal Yadav. 

Years gone past, we moved to other states, other countries, globalised. The wall stands but lost its sheen with some algae layers at bottom, I believe nobody urinated on it for years. Faded yet a memory stands, when there wasn’t a wall, a TV, and a reason to fight. Our fathers played chess, while we toiled in mud and sand.

Uff! He coughed again. Bloody! Man has TB I think. 

तालीम

कुछ चीजें न याद है और न ख्वाहिस हैं सुनने की. भला उस जमाने में डाइपर रहे होंगें, शोभा डे जैसे हाइ-फाई लोगों ने पहनें होंगे, हम तो नंग-धड़ंग घूमते रहे. दूरदर्शन पे तो डायपर वगैरा के विज्ञापन भी नहीं आते थे, क्या हगीज़ और क्या पैंम्पर्स? इसकी एक वज़ह शायद ये भी रही हो कि कार और फ्लाइट में घूमना फिरना कम था. अब ट्रेन-बसों में तो खिड़की से धार बहाने की बच्चों को आजादी थी. न उम्र रही, और न आज़ादी; ये मलाल रह गया कि डायपर कभी न पहन सके. 

विज्ञापन तो क्या थे? सुनील गावस्कर और वेंगसरकर तो छोड़ो, आलोकनाथ तक साबुन के विज्ञापन में. नहाने से जैसे नफरत सी हो गयी. वो तो धन्यभाग्य पहली दफा प्रीति जिंटा एक ऐड में दीखी और जैसे देश में स्नान-क्रांति आ गयी. 

डायपर तो एक छोटी कड़ी है. तालीम तो जैसे अधूरी सी रह गयी. अजी आधे तो ऐसे जीये, “बी.ए. हुए, नौकर हुए, पेंशन मिली और मर गये”. बच्चों को वन्डरला (एक फन रिसोर्ट) घूमाने गया. जोश में पानी में छलाँग भी मार दी, और ऊँकडू हो दायें-बायें लात मारने लगा. कई जुगत लगाये. बच्चे तैरते हुये ठिठोली करने लगे. हिम्मत तो देखो! भला कोई अपने बाप पे भी हँसता है? मैं एक बारी छुटपन में शतरंज के खेल में पिताजी पे हँसा. अजी वो थप्पर रसीद करा, कि अगली शाम तक शतरंज खेलने की हिम्मत न बनी. अब ये और बात है, लतखोर प्रवृत्ति थी कि अगली शाम फिर बिसात बिठा ली.

किताबों का शौक था या नहीं, ठीक ठीक याद नहीं. पर पढ़ डाली जो सामने दिखी वो. एक बारी तो रोमानिया का इतिहास तक पढ़ डाला. अब माँ-बाप भी शेखी बघारने में कंधे पे बंदूक रख देते. घर में बर्तन कम, कप-शिल्ड ज्यादा दिखने लगे. कोई बड़ी बात नहीं, अगर मिश्रा अंकल को मेरे क्विज-डिबेट वाली ट्रौफी में चाय पिला दी हो. इसी धक्केबाजी में मेडिकल परीक्षा भी दिला दी. अब तक तो वो मशीन बन गया था, कि एक तरफ से सवाल डालो तो, दूसरी तरफ से जवाब निकले. ये सिलसिला चलता रहा, और मैं पढ़ता रहा. मशीन घिसती, खराब होती, पर धड़धकेल चलती रहती.

अमूमन ऐसे लोगों को रट्टू-घिस्सू, पढ़ाकू कहके भी दुत्कारते हैं. जब जब ये महसूस होता, एक गिटार क्लास या जिम ज्वाइन कर लेता. लेडीज़ हौस्टल के चक्कर मार लेता. या होस्टल सुप्रीटेंडेंट के घर दीवाले में बम फोड़नें में शामिल हो लेता. ऐसा लगा जैसे तालीम दुगुनी हो गयी हो. किताबों मे झुका सर जैसे तन गया हो. मशीन में जैसे जान आ गयी हो.

मतलब जी वो कहते हैं, माँ दा लाडला बिगड़ गया. 

हरे-नीले चश्में पहन, कंधे तक बाल बढ़ा जिम मौरीसन सुनने लगा. रॉक शो में जा बाल को आगे-पीछे करने लगा, जैसे वो धोबीघाट की धोबन करती है. परिपक्वता इस मुकाम पे ला देगी, अंदाजा न था. आईना देखा तो जैसे बिहारी टोन में दिल की आवाज आयी, “साला, धोबी बना दिया बे!”.

समाजवाद और साम्यवाद का वकील हूँ. डॉक्टर हो या धोबी, तालीम तो तालीम है. मेरी दकियानूशी तालीम बदली. और देश भी तो कच्छे से डाइपर तक आ गया. 

………

एक शिरकत अंग्रेजी में भी

Another brick in Deewaar

When babies came from sky

[adult contents warning: user discretion advised]

One of the prominent politician thinks mobile phones are reason behind child abuse since people are getting easy access to child porn. Quite a funny thought. No smart phones. No child abuse. What an Idea sirjee? Though I laughed at thought, it took me back to the days when porn was limited to some smuggled Hustler magazine or a revolutionary writer called Mastram. Soft porn stuff could be found in some hindi mags like Manohar Kahaniyan or Saras Salil.

As I remember from medschool days, child becomes aware of its own sex by 3 years. In most part of rural India, naked children with the dangling male thingy could be seen running around. When asked, show your mama (maternal uncle), they will proudly point out and run away laughing. Similar innuendos existed for female organs like maternal grandmother or anyone from mother’s family. Unaware, uncorrupt kids would bask naked in mud, pond; chase hen or a spare bicycle tyre; boys and girls alike.

Not only kids, women of Dalit or down-trodden communities would be hardly caring of their attire when they bath in public ponds or would be performing their morning rituals in barren fields. A dalit women with a big ‘ghoonghat’ upto knees was easing herself in morning with her ass facing towards people when a feudally superior one shouted, “Hey you! Turn the ghoonghat towards us, and ass on other side.”

Ignorance of sex and stigmas wasn’t restricted to the lower social strata. In our med school ragging days, we were asked how many holes a female has? Most couldn’t answer. One to pee, and one to shit, was the commonest reply. And mind you, these were chosen geniuses in biology. 

From childhood, its taught that babies either come from sky or we borrow from hospital. This seemed to so deeply creep in, most adolescent males could never imagine a 3 kg baby coming out of a tiny hole. It was unheard, unseen. I have seen village kids playing with balloons made of condoms they pick from rich home’s garbage. They never learnt, since newspaper ads or the large government banners never explicitly mentioned, and TV channels are swiftly switched when a saucy condom ad begins.

For women, things probably happen a bit differently. From ages, they have been trained as a baby-making machines. In south India, arrival of menses is celebrated as a grand function while the poor girl in agonising pain wonders whats wrong with her body. In spite of feeders from elderly females, sex and childbirth remains confusing for many. They just couldn’t imagine how a tiny imperceptible hole would do everything from bleeding every month, to satisfy a man and give birth to a kid-who-looks-mammoth-now. Won’t it just rip the body apart?

Now, many kids have access to umpteen youtube videos and porn collections, even on the smartphones as netajee pointed. On whatsapp, some would send a hot video, other would bounce back, “its old dude.” They know that babies don’t come from sky and would give a naughty grin when parents would explain so. I believe they know sexuality so well, that they would not allow a stranger to grope or abuse them.

But, what about small 3-6 yrs kids who barely learnt to talk, and understand us? 

Author opines-the abuses may end only by two ways-

 1. The netajee way of going back to the days without phone and imposing a blanket porn ban.

2. Improve sexual education ( the good and bad touches) at earliest comprehensible age. 

Chose the 2nd option. They surely love to hear they came out of mummy’s tummy.