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

The lover’s nest a.k.a FOSLA ka ghosla

I learnt most of the Ghazals, when I was lovestruck for the first time and mastered them with each failures and heartbreaks as they say. Somehow the complex urdu poetry absorbs all the woes, while you try to figure out what it actually means. A country exemplary for epitomes of love like Tajmahal to Kamasutra, has incidently the largest inventory of lovelorns, frequently abbreviated as FOSLA (Frustrated one-sided lover association).

Although I had never been a president of FOSLA since there were much strong contenders, I must have played some stupid game like ‘FLAMES’ and sang lovesongs. While giving a debate speech, I would look in crowd for the blue-eyed girl, with my tone fluctuating with her facial expressions. Once I was narrating Subhash Chandra Bose speech in an adrenaline-charged loud voice, and she just gave me a casual smile. The smile turned Bose into some Kamadev (love-god) incarnate, and in a soft enamored voice I said, “Tum Mujhe Pyaar do, Main tumhen Azaadi Doonga” (You give me love, I will give you freedom). Not to mention, I received the punishment #1 – a brutally tiring diatribe (read my old blog).

Well, Shahjahan was a royal Mughal who would have charged his army, captivated Mumtaz’s father and taken her as prized possession.  If Shahjahan were an aam aadmi, he would have roamed around the gully where Mumtaz lived, lifted gas cylinders for her dad, and would have been content with a glass of water offered from Mumtaz. He could have never built Tajmahal, but must had shaved every morning, and walked with his two hands in pocket across Mumtaz, furtively catching a side-glimpse. While the road-side romeos ogle at Mumtaz, Shahjahan would warn, “Tameez se beta! Bhabhi hai.” Mumtaz would have been mohalla’s bhabhi never knowing who the hell is Shahjahan? If anybody dared to whistle, he would pounce like a mughal warrior.

Some shayar said, “Shahjahan tumne Tajmahal banakar, Hum gareebon ka udaya hai mazaak”. (O shahjahan! you made fun of we poor people by making a Tajmahal)

Aurangzeb must have cursed Shahjahan while paying EMIs for his Dad’s Tajmahal. Poor man could never build anything for himself, and no girl gave bhav to the poor king.

Akbar had Jodha.

Salim had Anarkali.

Shahjahan had Mumtaz.

Aurangjeb had Begum who? Probably, one of the founding member of FOSLA Aurangzeb was. Respect!

And what about Kamasutra?

The FOSLA library always had a strong collection of porn, which would be circulated among members, with each member tearing pages of their choices till the last member receives nothing, better termed colloquially as, ‘Babaji ka thullu‘. Whatever would have been the intentions of Vatsyayana in writing Kamasutra, I wonder how its pages are preserved till date.

To say FOSLA is a man-only institution, is a bit biased opinion. From ages, one-sided love was more common in women who would dream of a prince riding on horse. Well, it transformed to a Shahrukh Khan running in knicker later. Whatever movie said, if father is even a bit of Amrish Puri, a girl would never dare to love. These TV soap and romantic movie crazy melodramatic creatures surely form a huge chunk of FOSLA.

Men or women; the young and the old; and the bloggers with long lovelorn letters and poetry. The glory prevails. Long live FOSLA!

Thank god you retired Sehwag!

Hey Viru!

So, you finally gave up, eh?  I knew god will punish you and send you in oblivion; your country-men would forget, and you will get balder day-by-day; Is there anybody reading your tweet? It was me who was waiting for this day like ‘Chatura Ramalingam‘ in the movie ‘three idiots’. I knew someday you would fail Seahhhhwaggggg. Huh!

Remember when I castled you the very first day. I bet you don’t, because you never chased dreams. Never looked back. What do you think? Are you Sachin Tendulkar? You only told he is the ‘baap’ and you can never match his…….I think you said ‘bank balance’…whatever. You can only be an imposter like Chaaanchaddd. You can never match him.

A ball is there to hit, eh? Uska ghar boundary hai. Who gave you reasons to say that? A ball is there to defend, to slowly nudge, to flick a bit, and rarely to pull or hook. When a pacer with bouncing hairs comes running to you with fiery eyes, just duck yourself or pray for safety. And that too the quickest on earth.  Learn to respect Viru!

I heard you only thought in 4s and 6s. Both you and Sachin were big-time duffers in school. Count 1, 2, 3…. Heard of these numbers? You Jat of Najafgadh! See, Sachin has learnt it so well. But you? So incorrigible you are!

And by the way, do you know the difference between test and one-day? Haven’t you learnt from your great ancestors? Oh! Whom am I talking to? This man gets close to Vinu Mankad-Pankaj Roy record and when asked about, he says “never heard of them”. Before even holding the bat, you should have known the history, and how to play test match. Its an upbringing problem that you played tests as ODI, and ODI as some gully-cricket. There was never a window to smash in Multan or Lords, and you kept hitting. Stupid!

Let me tell you one more thing. You are a bad singer, and on top of it, you do this cheap road-side romeo whistling in a tense situation. Why don’t you better play antakshari? I will beat you like anything. If you are Sultan of Multan, I am Begum Rawalpindy.

Will drop by in Najafgadh next time I am in Delhi. Yeah! I keep coming in shiv sena-free areas.

Some say Nehru feared Bose would return. I don’t know about that. But, I always feared you will return.

Thank god you retired Sehwag

Your favorite bowler. Hahahaha.

Read also:

Zaheer khan: the unsung hero

The gully-games of India

Some say chess or ‘shatranj‘ came from improvisation of ‘chaturanga‘ played in Mahabharata period; Polo was invented by Indian shatraps; Playing cards were popular in various courts as ‘Kridapatram‘ or ‘Ganjifa‘; Kalaripayattu gave origin to Judo and Martial arts by Buddhists; Teer-Dhanush promoted to archery; Kabaddi in Asian games. And ofcourse, land of snake-charmers must have been the idea behind ‘snake and ladders’. But, those games gained enough popularity to spread their wings across the world from Olympics to Vegas casinos.

But, some games couldn’t make it.

1. Antyakshari: College kids singing with deafening voices, trying to culminate songs with ‘tha’ (ठ), ‘dha’ (ढ). And the veterans coming up with ‘Thandey Thandey Paani se‘. A popular among college trips, and in boredom of trains, Antyakshari remains the most glamorised indigenous game featured even in movies and TV shows.

2. Goli a.k.a. Kanchey: One game, which led to frequent thrashing in childhood was this marble ball game. An intoxicating addiction. The enticing colourful shiny balls, and the ease of hitting with bow-stringed finger. The game is a miniature version of golf where we try to put the round balls into the hole, breeding many Tiger Woods of Kanchey.

3. Lattu a.k.a. Bambaram or spinning top: Spinning top is the first childhood lesson in practical physics. The ‘torque’ and centrifugal force, the spinning velocity. A game of perfection, Lattu needed hours of practicing to develop that reflex.

4. Aada-paada: Razma-mooli/Dosa-Idli eating Indians have always been obsessed with farts and purgatory desire. No wonder iconic Amitabh Bachhan was chosen for Piku (the movie). A detective shot at who farted and a wonderful limerick!

Aada paada kaun paada

Mamaji ka ghoda paada

Aam paam dhuss

Chane kee daal phuss.

One of the nasty embarassing game to nab the ‘wasn’t me’ guy.

5. Pitto a.k.a. Lagoria/ Satolia: Game may sound benign but it was the only violent skin-ripping masculine game played ofcourse by the notorious boys. A soft ball (technically) would be thrown at a pile of flat stones. While the opposite team tries to stack it back, the attackers would hit hard with ball at them. A cowboy game of ‘who shoots first’ played in gullies of India.

6. Raja-mantri-chor-sipahi: A chit game where ‘mantri’ have to choose the thief between ‘sipahi‘ and ‘chor‘ on raja’s instruction. I am sure similar chit games must be existing elsewhere but police and thief in similar garb may be unique to India.

* Games like chhupam-chhupai (Hide and seek), patang (kite-flying), chausar (roulette or board game version), gudda-gudiya kee shaadi (barbie indian version), gulli-danda (cricket) are excluded as they didn’t seem purely indigenous to author.

Kanchey: the game

Lattu: Glamorised as ‘spinning top’

Play pitto

Raja mantri chor sipahi

Desi mid-life crisis

“Sir, you look pretty young, must be in twenties!” The callous bubbly girl remarked.

I never realised how swiftly I entered into 30s and close to heading what they say ‘midlife crisis’ or ‘frustrated forties’.  Could have been a genius-in-day-hoodlum-in-night kind during my college days, and then the pursuit of Dilli-waali girlfriend (read my old blog). Unbound uninhibited. For most of the born middle-class, this fool’s paradise gets over with a simple-yet-effective word called ‘marriage’. Its a symbolic end to any imprudent or luscious desire.

For many mischievous incorrigible young goons, marriage would be ultimate weapon to bring them on track. “Beta! Abb to shaadi ho gayee. Abb to sudhar jaao.”  (Now you’re married. better fall in line!). Even people like Ajay Devgn began doing movies like ‘Bhagat Singh‘ and ‘Singham‘ after marriage, while skimpily clad gyrating Kajol decimated her career to kid movies and Alpenliebe chocolate ads.

So, it wasn’t inapt for me to ignore the lively charming girl. Given a choice between Katrina Kaif or Konkana Sen, I prefer to go for Konkana’s movie which carries some substance-as they say. Wonder why these calculative producers pay so much to Katrina, a woman without substance? These ‘hot’ and ‘oomph’ don’t quite register in mind……anymore. The definition of ‘substance’ for me has flipped for good, like ‘Congress-to-BJP’, a character reversal, moderates to hard-core rightists. No other women. No indulgence. No freedom. No wits. Restrict to roman code of ethics and the supreme boss- your spouse. Konkana couldn’t hold me for long, and gradually the interest for movies died. TV soaps or those millions of singing idol shows were equally brutal.

Aren’t men cheering up Sachin and Yuvraj while gobbling on chips and drinks becoming rarer? I don’t remember when I last watched a test match. What would men do if they are stripped of historical ‘couch potatoes‘  status? With women conquering the couches watching all TV shows, should we begin calling rather ‘couch tomatoes‘?

To make it worse, era of ‘bigbasket’ and online shopping confiscated the lone birthright of indian husbands- shopping vegetables. I remember men enjoying evening walks to shopping ‘haats’ and fish-markets, a healthy respite from family woes. They would drift around, have long chat with buddies, have a ‘bhang-sip’ or a small ‘drink’ based on local preferences, discuss women may be or an unchaste joke. And there was no mobile to track you down either. Deprived of this casual pleasure, I have slowly forgotten the contours of gourds, and colour of flours. Big Bazaar revolution eliminated the pleasure to explore.

While driving back home, I was crooning an oldie, “O bade miyan diwaane, aise na bano” (an old song based on a moonstruck middle aged fellow). The girl who complimented in morning suddenly flashed in the rear-brain. She must be in her twenties or could be even younger. Huh! a kid. Yet, she brought in me a conceited grin, a quick look on car mirror and a stroke through own beard. May be I am still so young and charming! Day-dreaming I reached home. My spouse was surprised to see an exuberant beaming face instead of routine insipid fatigued profile. Mirror was even more surprised to find me staring at it for long. Everything seemed in tone, except the bulging tummy. I began coming home early and rushing to the gym. After lifting plenty of married life burdens, those weights and dumb-bells looked so wispy and light. Soon, my gait transformed from kyphotic bent Neanderthal to a Modi-style bold bloated stance.

Funky T-shirts, kamaal-khan sunglasses, a goan rejuvenation escapade and counting female stranger ‘likes’ on facebook. The new life had begun. Essentially, a suave doc was turning into a silly lampoon.

The tummy kept its contour intact not even budging for an inch. I sweated, panted, pushed up, tread-milled. Futile attempts of revival. God pushes you into such a karma-cycle that the only girl who would ever genuinely appreciate you, is your wife, sometimes more imposingly termed ‘life-partner’. A sacred elaborate marriage ritual and those seven-pheras glue you forever to somebody. Bond becomes even stronger with kids stepping in. The concept of ‘yours’ , ‘mine’ and ‘ours’ kids never crept much in Indian familes except a few like famous Mukherjeas where family lived like a riddle never knowing which son or daughter have come from which womb.

Coming back to the bubbly girl. She deserves some credit for bringing a sense of revival in me. A life lost in undesired burdens and imposed routine. A much early mid-life crisis which engulfs most of the married, divorced, or never-married people, is simply unwarranted. A ball-room dance with spouse may be extreme for many, but may be a bunch-of-roses would do.

What nonsense is buzzing in background when you write such a serious blog? ……Daddy mummy nahin hain ghar pe…….uncouth lyrics, oafish gestures.

Note: All characters (including me) are fictional and any resemblance is mere coincidence.

Continue reading “Desi mid-life crisis”

The low-ki affair: Rise of Calabash

lauki

Lunch-box- a quintessential mystery in our life. A uniform dangling structure forced into our fist every morning, or shoved into our school bags in our childhood. As I tune into FM while driving to office, the box lies wobbling in bangalore roadbumps, untended in the backseat of car. My junior staffs would smile when a well dressed doctor often in his dashing suit tries to sneak this shabby box behind his ass; hides it in the closet as soon as he reaches desk. As the security guard smiles at me, I feel like he is asking, “Kya sir? Aaj fir lauki?” How did he know its ‘Lauki’? Is it an uniform content irrespective of caste and social status, a security guard to a suave doctor, all would have ‘lauki’ in lunchbox? Well, he never asked, but I could sense the aromalessness of lunchbox. If it was anything else, there must have been some whiff, some aroma, except the blandest thing in world- Lauki. Curious and worried, I nosedive into the closet. No…Nothing….Not an iota of smell. Must be ‘Lauki’. Dejected, I get lost into my work. “Karmanye va dhikaraste; Maa faleshu kadhachanah……..”  Did Draupadi cook Lauki for all pandavas? Did Lord Krishna convince Arjuna like, “Better you go fighting, there is nothing good for lunch anyway.” As Sahadeva sneakingly opened, “Its lauki!!!!!” ;  they all went charging, rampaging, killing all over Kurukshetra.

But, as I search into wikipedia, ‘Lauki’ isn’t that old, and its no mention in Mahabharata supports the hypothesis. How would Ved Vyas, who almost detailed upto Duryodhana’s banana undergarments, miss ‘lauki’? I recently read about Mughal king’s culinary habits, and ‘lauki’ was conspicuously missing. Aurangzeb never had Lauki. But, I am sure vegetarian Abdul Kalam would have gobbled on plenty of Laukis. Was that the key for conversion from ‘Bad Muslim’ to ‘Good Muslim’? If Lauki is that magical formula, why doesn’t the US forces bombard ‘lauki’ on IS militants to convert them for good. One of the cheapest vegetable on planet can save millions spent on drones and missiles. Incidently, it has a gifted shape of ‘missile’- designed to kill. An american name of ‘Calabash’ has more deadly flavour in it….NYT HEADLINES- “Four IS militants bombed by Calabash have turned Sufi and dervishing Rumi. Indian premier Modi have promied to supply a million more Laukis in war against terror” .

My grandfather never liked Lauki and he once confessed he never had much of Lauki in his childhood. Those golden days were ruled by ‘savarna’ and upmarket vegetables like ‘cauliflower’ and ‘okra (bhindi)’. Potatoes, and brinjal followed and so were many. Laukis were ‘shudras’ among vegetables who would never dare step into any affordable platter. But, then the ‘rulers of kitchen’ realised if they uplift these ‘shudras’, they would be able to rule the patriarch India. First time it was served, it was thrown right away. But, soon ‘moderates’ and ‘wife-loving husbands’ gave in, and lauki’s upliftment was discussed. Demand for reservation grew, and Lauki finally got ‘reserved’ status. It would be served once a week, no matter what. Some northern state rulers of kitchen made it twice or thrice a day. Later, Lauki took shape of convenience, threatening and sometimes revenge to the husbands. “Buy me a jewellery, else have Lauki everyday!”

But, reservation wasn’t enough in a gastronomical country. Many would conveniently throw it out of the window covertly. Many laukis would have flown down ‘naala‘ beside my childhood home.  It needed a societal status, an edge over upmarket vegetables. Many social activists poured in ideas from their ever useless brains. One of the famous Baba came up with a brilliant concept that ‘Lauki juice can cure diabetes’. Lauki juice- a potion of poisonous bitterness unnaturally swallowed by sweet-deprived suffering diabetics. In the name of Lord Shiva, they swallowed like ‘Neelkanth‘. Lauki got what it never deserved, and flooded the sabzi-mandis more than ever. Once the reservation and status was achieved, rifts followed within the Lauki community. Baba helped in categorising the reservation- better upliftable shudras and untouchable shudras.  He proclaimed, “If oblong Laukis are nectar, round laukis are poison.” So, the oblong Laukis made their way upto elite societies, tribal round laukis were barred and left to rot in hidden corners of land. Society was divided for good.

As Lauki became cynosure of other vegetable’s eyes, conspiracies began too. Old upmarket ‘savarnas’ got into their dirty tricks to denounce Lauki. One of the quintessential ‘savarna’-favored highest medical institution in country came up with a research paper which claimed, “Lauki juice can cause inadvertent deaths”. Some three people died after having Lauki juice (I doubt numbers must be much more!). It actually never needed a research paper to prove that. Many people are dying this death every day, when they try to push it somehow down the neck diluting it with ‘achaar‘ and spices. The gurgling and throwing up follows often.

Whatever disgruntlement and facebook posts say against Lauki, reservation stays and Lauki stands vindicated. Afterall, it has a huge votebank for kitchen kings. Even if I try to shop vegetable myself, and come smiling with all those beautiful cauliflowers, I would see a kingsize Lauki already well seated in kitchen corner. It was ordered online. So convenient to scrap, cut and cook it. Add salt, oil, spices anything, wouldn’t make any difference; serve it raw or cooked, its all the same. An epitome of convenience.

All said and done, we all have right to gobble on tasty ‘seekh-kebabs‘ and culinary delights, but denying lauki of its hard-gained status and abolishing its reservation from platter isn’t the solution. Baba couldn’t be so wrong and so wouldn’t be our moms and wives who kept serving it. The kebabs could give a hard-time in morning rituals but Lauki- never! As I struggle hard in morning after the ass-burning guntur chicken I had yesterday, I wished I better had Lauki. (P.S. Hope the wish doesn’t get fulfilled atleast on a pleasant sunday)

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Born immigrants of India

Years back, when I was studying in Pune, I had a friend who never travelled beyond Bombay, forget out of state. A proud marathi fellow, who loved his state and his culture, and never dreamt of foraying anywhere beyond Maharashtra. Its altogether a different story, today I see him hopping from one continent to another. He wasn’t a born immigrant and neither are a lot of Maharashtrian, who are proud to be grounded to their origin and their culture. But, country do have set of born immigrants, who are born to wander, some erasing their footprints and some carrying their old soil wherever they go.

#5 The wealth creators: Gujratis and Marwaris

A herbivore species, with an accented speech and a basic degree in commerce or sometimes just a matriculation, knows to mint money out of scraps. Birlas or Ambanis, or owners of any small Baskin Robbins outlet in US, they are everywhere. Given a choice, all gold and diamond of world would love to be kept in their custody. They know their value, every bit of them. The sweetness haunts you when they try to sell, or when you are employed by them. Most difficult employer to quit in my life, was one of them, as I could never have enough arguments with him in spite of disagreements. No wonder, we have a prime-minister with wide acceptance in spite of plenty of dissents.

#4 The intellects: Bengalis and Tamils

Exactly opposite of Gujratis, Bengalis are fish-gobbling, sophisticated (oily-haired bhadramanush is past!), and highly educated individuals who barely care for money. May be ten years from now, only people you would find doing a PhD would be Bengalis. The protectors of Classical music, Rabindra Sangeet, and wearied old literature from Shakespeare to Sharatchandra, all would have a thick spectacle if they get their eyes checked properly. Similar description goes for Tamils, who too would reach the heights in science, have penchant for music, and yes, spectacles are equally universal. Yet, both of the groups would have their own coterie who would chit-chat in their language, bengalis with their rolling tongues and rounding lips, and tamils with their vibrating vocal cords and cluttering teeths. When I spent some unsuccessful years in PhD course in US, university was studded with Bengali research grads, and sight of some eminent Tamil faculties.

#3 The paramedics and gulf stormers: Malayalis

Not a corner this country would have a hospital without a Malayali nurse. How this crept in the culture is not well understood by me, but they are the best in healthcare industry, be it my field of radiology or any discipline. An incomprehensible one of the most complex south indian language, an even more complex cast and religion mix-up, and most butchery culinary habits from minced beef to chips-and-pickle made out of fish, yet they have wide presence in nation. Well, sea route could serve an access to gulf, but India has a huge coastline, yet migrations happen most from the ‘god’s own land’. If you throw a stone in Arab lands, chances are more of hitting a malayali than an Arab.

#2 The honest hippies: North-easterns

Inherting a covert culture hidden in ‘chicken-leg’ of Indian map, they are true outsiders with different physique, face contours and a non-native accent. They could never hide their identity, never could gel completely within the mainland. Delicious chinese cuisine cooks, a trusted security person, or a smiling masseur, they choose such professions where nobody could ever contend them. Vogue hairstyles and dresses, some junkies, some musicians, some boxers, some just plain dumb humans, they are the inherent nomadic hippies of India.

#1 The ambitious commoners: Biharis and Punjabis

This may sound weird to club two contrasting cultures, but in essence, their reasons to immigrate are similar, and have similar earthly roots. Years back, when we had some squabble in college days, one of our seniors pointed, “Both of you are equally rustic (“ganwaar” was the actual word). One says ‘ishkool’ and other ‘askool’, none of you can pronounce ‘school’ correctly.” While Punjabis began moving from the days of partition, or when became terror-capital state, or after ’84 riots, Biharis ran out of suffocation in undeveloped corrupt state. In punjab, many people still carry two dreams- one, to go to Canada, and another, to release their music CD. Biharis who could dream became IAS, one who couldn’t dream, opened a Paan-shop. When I moved from one city to another, I changed my accent or learn the local language, trying to gel myself with the culture. I got dissolved in local culture like a ‘dispirin’ tablet. Punjabis love to keep their accent, sing bhangra, and drive the cab with pride.

One erases the footprints left behind, and other carries the soil with them.

footprintstop
Courtesy: illerah.com

Maare gaye gulfaam: My three vows in life

With all these Asaram Babu and Radhey maa escapades popping up, celibacy seems to be an unachievable task. Yet you may get close to it by subscribing The Hindu.They dare extremes like putting Rangana Herath, an ugly unknown cricketer on cover page of their sports mag…..wait a minute…..Rangana Herath (Use google. He exists). Closest obscenity I could find in one of the cornered columns of The Hindu, was Nargis Fakhri’s natural pout. I remember the Hindi dailies up north which would have dedicated flashy pages of poster size bikini girls, and so would have the famous Times. And the sexpert column, which I always believed had framed up questions from some pervert (how do they hire such pervert? is there some course like Masters in Perversion). Sneak-and-peek stuffs. Anyway, I am content with Nargis Fakhri’s pout at the moment, one of the sacrifice you have to do to join elite club of The Hindu-readers. I wonder how many vows I would finally take in life.

While my first vow featured in my earlier blog that I would never commit theft, the second one dealt with something on similar lines.

A leader is the one who can lead you on right and wrong paths with equal efficacy.

It all started with a blind date gone wrong with my friend. The girl instead of singing lovesongs, gave him an audio CD from some multi-level marketing firm. While I was pondering on the idea, somebody brought a similar platter where you can make a million from petty 2000 bucks in 9 months (what an apt gestation period). Anyway, I jumped into the fray. Rest was history! I sold the idea to somebody, and people were luring each other on chai-tapdi , the backseat of classroom, and even their girlfriends on dates. The chain grew exponentially. Soon, I found myself talking to a packed audience in some engineering college. But, somehow nobody was gaining anything. A fellow who incidentally was my neighbour would sluggishly stroll in front of me, “Jha, mere chain ka kuchh hua kya?” My smile assured him always, and he would go day-dreaming about his million. Soon, the dream castle began shaking. All we had, was some tree-like-structure on paper, with no money in it.  In those days, when somebody provided a login-password, it meant some credibility. The passwords never worked.  The company had cheated us all, albeit some of the dejected fellows extracted a local brand mixer-grinder from them (a sarcastic gift from company. What were we supposed to do? Put our ass and get it shredded to bits).

I took my second vow, to never indulge in any mode of corruption, especially if it concerns others.

Coming back to the topic of Nargis Fakhri, its a transformation in myself to even appreciate her. If it was my real self, I should have been rather dreaming of Vidya Balan or even somebody older. In my schooldays, when people were mad about bubbly Divya Bharati, I would hide an old newspaper clipping of Juhi Chawla in my notebook. And this was guided by my coach from Brilliant Tutorials (an old days coaching institute) who kept Suraiya’s clip with him in his student days. He quoted them as passions which keep us moving. Later, Madhuri Dixit stayed in my notebooks for long till I grew old enough to find my own Juhis and Madhuris. The long inculcated habit was not dying, and anybody younger was not appealing enough. A girl I was attracted to, lost her chances (lol her chances!!) when I accidently looked at her tenth marksheet. She was three months younger, marginally failing the eligibility criteria. My parallel struggles for Dilli-waalee girlfriend (my earlier blog) made it even difficult- Dilli-waalee badee girlfriend. So be it! A dreamer never gives up. But, when you fall from a higher tree, you get hurt even more. I jumped; I climbed; I reached; And, I fell flat.

I took my third vow, to never fall for an elder girl. After all, what’s wrong with Nargis Fakhri (except that she would have never featured in any article more than this blog)?

Teesri Kasam is a Raj Kapoor starrer, where he takes three vows of – not carrying illegal goods in his cart, never carry bamboo which hurts others in his cart, and never carry a nautanki-dancer.

teesri kasam
A still from ‘Teesri Kasam’- the movie

Lage raho Jha bhai!

I sometimes feel pity for my kids who are pampered; their wishes fulfilled in seconds. Never smacked, locked in the room, made ‘murga’ in class, hit on knuckle side of hand with an innocuous yet fiery twig, piss in pants before sports-teacher could charge. They probably never err as we did. Flawless souls like Gandhiji’s monkeys.

Easiest theft of childhood was stealing from home itself. A fluttering ten-rupee note kept beneath ‘hajmola sheeshee’ enticed me so much that I began strategising its theft. But, it wasn’t cake-walk as my mother never needed a CCTV to monitor whether her ‘achaar’ drying at top being attacked by crow, or a cat sneaking into the kitchen. Her eyes and ears were in each nook and corner of home, vigilant and alert. Best way to dodge such tight security, was to engage her with another thief. My lucky mascot quintessential thief ‘doodhwala (milkman)’ arrived. As my mom began bickering with him for diluted milk, I sneakingly took ten rupees and hided in middle of my notebook. This proved to be my last cash pilfering in life, as I was beaten the same day when my younger bro took out hidden bunch of ‘Parle-G’ I had bought, and showed it to mom.  I vowed to never steal money in my life, like Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.

Years later, I was on a Greyhound bus from Champaign to Memphis. For whatever reasons, whether India or abroad, I have predominantly got a last jerking and ass-smacking bus-seat in my life. While I was shoved to corner by hefty co-passenger and was somehow trying to adapt, I was expelled out of bus by ‘fart of the century’. Bloody Indian was out on road, suffocated almost to verge of death with poisonous bodily gases circulating in cramped bus. I returned to India soon, like Mohandas.

Zilla Ghaziabad- an epitome of crime and ‘gundaraj’ became first land of ‘satyagraha’. Tired and retired from hospital, I was driving my Maruti Alto through heavy monsoon downpour. When the mind was without fear, and streets without streetlights, potholes didn’t daunt this veteran who bore ass-smacking throughout his life. Rushing to home troubled by umpteen calls from Kasturba, I spluttered and tarnished a Ghaziabad Policeman riding a bullet beside. Even General Dyer would have pissed in pants if a Ghaziabad policewallah charged towards him. He blast opened my front door as if lock and knock were non-entity. Undaunted with bowed face, I offered all four cheeks (yeah the bottom ones too) which just melted our own desi respect-seeking policeman (dare I say ‘thulla’). Not much later, man was helping me locate my lost passport.

Rampant corruption and anarchy was hitting the headlines when a Gandhi-lookalike was leading a movement, and coining some unheard lost terms like ‘Swaraj’ and ‘Lokpal’. Any Tom, Dick and Harry were jumping in fray with black flags, marches, candles and so on in funky T-shirts displaying ‘Swaraj’ logos. I too could have done that but scorching sun and a cozy job restrained me. All I could do, was to blurt out tirades on ‘facebook’.

If there were ‘whatsapp’ and ‘facebook’ those days, Bhagat Singh and Azad would have some ‘sarfarosh’ chat group planning Kakori loot sharing photos and planning event. Nehru would have another group adding Gandhi, Azad, Patel and sharing an emaciated fasting Gandhi’s pic and people ‘liking’, ‘forwarding’, ‘thumbsuping’ throughout country…..’Nehru added Azad’…..’Zinnah left’…..’Subhash Chandra Bose started a new group’……Lajpat Rai tweets ‘Simon go back’…

But, there were none. They bore scorching sun, suffocated, beaten, bruised, hanged, murdered…..while we spoof them, sharing their wrongdoings and mistakes from some torn pages in history sitting in a cozy room sipping a cup of coffee. Celibacy experiments are raked up. Truth experiments are forgotten. And the patriots in us forward, like and share ‘Vande Mataram’ logos and ‘porn jokes’ with equal fervour.

Jai Hind!

(In his book ‘My experiments with truth’, Gandhi mentions his childhood theft of gold from his brother’s armlet and his vow to never steal in life; how he was thrown out of train, and the famous quote of ‘offer another cheek if somebody hits at one’ are well known. This blog has my personal views and experiences, and any reference to Mahatma Gandhi is symbolic)

A file picture from The Hindu
A file picture from The Hindu

Dilli waali girlfriend

Morning newspaper had a photo clipping of Salwar-clad thinly built girls with two long hair-locks (colloquially called ‘chotees’) jumping across an iron-grill gate, since they were late for pre-medical exam.

Nothing attractive about them. No tight-fitted jeans. No lip gloss. No funky tops or overblown assets. No attitude. No X Y Z factor.

Morning newspaper was ofcourse the quientessential boring ‘The Hindu’, read by only two class of people- IAS aspirants or one who dreamt but never became one. They prefer to be called an elite class now. Moment I began counting myself as one, I terminated my ‘Times’ subscription, switched to ‘The Hindu’, and also changed my reading desk from study table to the toilet commode. And then, long verbose facebook posts and blogs followed, in efforts to bring myself in the elite league.

But, this fascination with elite class haunted me since my days in school. Asking for ‘the hindu’ was certainly not in a kid fascination. It was a blue-eyed urbane sophisticated convent educated girl who could speak fluent english. She seemed just out-of-reach, yet I began brushing up my english, practicing a heavily accented english in school backyard. I could never get the girl, instead aced my english papers.

Med-school ragging days followed, where a Bihari senior would gang-up all Bihari freshers and command like a Jehadi commander, “Saale! Tum log sab ke sabb yahan tak to aa gaye. Par aage ka raasta kathin hai. You all should aim for a ‘delhi-waali girlfriend’. “

Now, this was more than plain english. The overtones, the attitude, the out-of-place humour, the food habits, the body language. Delhi-waali girlfriend seemed like a golden-bicycle toy I cribbed for, my parents could never afford. Only way that came in my mind was old adage, “beta! Padhoge to sabb kuchh milega”. So, I studied hard and kept doing well in exams. Efforts were underpaid, when all I could get was a ‘patna-waali girlfriend’ (PWG).

I wasn’t ready to accept any fault in my DNA, instead something was wrong with the country. I moved to US, lost my PWG, and gave up any dream of DWG. This had suddenly brought me to end of road, with no further girlfriends to aim. I made many more friends, with no delhi-waali, no tags, no premonitions. In that country, all India-waallahs carried the same tag as a Bihari in India. The underdeveloped underprivileged unsophisticated accented people, all of them in dream of better opportunities.

Back to India, tilism was broken. I was in Delhi, a city of ogling, groping, teasing men and bold, energetic and lively girls, who would be afraid, self-conscious and listless at times. Delhi-waali-girlfriend would be equally praised and scorned for.

I finally did have an ephemeral delhi-waali girlfriend and a delhi-waali wife, yet the DNA didn’t haunt me ever again.

Courtesy: google images