Monday, October 29, 2018

Makteri to Mahagun Moderne: Ploughing 'happy' thoughts in a city balcony

I grew up in 'urban' west Delhi in the 80s, where the only car around was the neighbour's fiat, which had to pushed by 4 people, whenever it was started, once in a month or so. Most of the time it used to be covered in a tarpaulin. Many memories...the cricket on the streets, the stapoo and what not. Well...I am writing a book on that, so you will have to wait for those memoirs.

This post is not about Delhi but my connect to rural Himachal, while growing up in the Delhi. I belong to a small town called Hamirpur in Himachal Pradesh and that was the place where I got to spend my May-June school holidays. Yes...we used to spend about 45 days back home in Himachal away from the city hustle bustle. Yes...there was a lot of hustle bustle in Delhi back then. I dont have a word in my dictionary to describe the current status of things in Delhi.

This catapulting from urban Delhi to semi-urban Hamirpur was quite something, considering Hamipur was a town of about 10-15 thousand people back then and everybody knew everyone. I sometimes wondered how everybody in the bazaar knew me..every shop I went. And back in Delhi...I think only the local grocer knew who I was. summer holidays went further deep into a small village called Makteri, about 22 kilometres from Hamirpur town...thats where my maternal grandparents lived. I would definitely spend a week or so here out of total quota of 45 days holidays.

Thats the first village I know on this planet. My Nana named Khushi Ram was a retired subedar of the Indian Army, Dogra Regiment, who had retired to a farmer's life in Makteri exactly what his father did (who was in the British Army) and exactly what his son/s would do some decades later (Dogra Regiment).

Now this post was not meant to be a family history one but I guess its turning out to be. Let me be a little more considerate even while I exercise the liberty because its my perosonal blog and not my travel or education blog.

I did a lot of things there...feeding the cattle and buffaloes of every other household in the village (in the goads or cattle houses) and trips to the forest along with my Maami's (maternal aunts...which is not an exact translation of Maami because a maternal aunt could also mean Maasi, which is Mom's sister. Let me just leave this as its complicated). These trips could mean a) to collect forest wood b) to cut grass to be fed to the cattle or c) to wash clothes at a local spring which we call 'cho'. There were no piped water supply to the village then and we had to go to a local 'baoli' or 'bori'...which we used to call 'baan', to fetch water.

Anyways...coming to the of my favourite passtimes was to feed Neela and Bagga, the two ploughing oxen of my maternal grandfather (hence forth called thats what I used to call him). Pitu was very fond of them and proud too as he had got them from a village on the other side of the 'dhaar' or mountain range....walking. Neela was bluish grey in colour and Bagga was whitish I guess and that was the reason for their names. They also had fixed positions as to who would be on the right side of the plough and who on the left. I was very petrified of them as they were huge but I loved feeding them. I would uproot some grass shrubs around and throw at them as they would swallow them immediately making a strong breathing sound and bringing out their huge greyish black tongue out.

May June are the season for sowing maize in Himachal and it used to be big time work for the entire maternal family as we landed there for a vacation from Delhi. So, while my Mom would catch up with old friends from the village, who had also been married off but were back for a visit, I would tag around with some of my Maami's, younger Mama's or to the fields.

Ploughing the fields was quite a logistical exercise, which I wasnt a part off. When I would wake up and have breakfast, I would be told that one of my Maami's is going to a certain field (fields zones had favourite was 'Budaan' fields) carrying tea or lunch. Pitu and Mamas would probably have been ploughing since 5 am...while I landed there around 9. Once I would reach...I would find a field being ploughed, Neela and Bagga at their job now wearing muzzles lest they get distracted by the grass on the 'beeds' or sides in a terrace field. Terrace farming is practiced in the mountains to create fields. My Mama or Pitu would be making interesting sounds as Neela and Bagga pulled the plough. My favourite was 'Alen Ha' 'Aleh Ha' and then it would be 'de kach!!', the meaning of which I meant 'about turn'... as the plough was pulled up from the field and the oxen turned was put again in the soil to go to the other end of the field. Neela-Bagga knew all the commands.

There were would be lot of birds running around in trail of the plough to grab a moth or worm. They were mostly egrets or hill mynas. Oh...and I the trail would also be one of my Maami...who would be holding seeds in a 'chakku' (a small basket) and dropping them one by one into the furrow to be eventually covered by soil spilled over by the furrow made right next to it, as the plough came back after completing one round. You would need to have seen a field being ploughed to probably make sense of what I am writing here.

But this post is also not about this...but let me tell you one more funny thing before I come to the real topic of this post. Finally..when the ploughing and seeding of a field was was all topsy turvy with some huge chunks of soil still lingering around (These chunks were called 'dheeman'). These had to be smashed flat with an instrument, the name of which I do not know but the process was called 'dheeman pannana' or literally breaking of the soil chunks. I would be given this instrument which was a stick with a boat shaped wodden shaft at the end. You just had to pick it up and smash the dheeman or soil chunks. All this would make the soil look like soil and not large chunks of soil around. I would do some and get tired.

But one last thing had to be done before the field could be left to the rain gods. It was 'Maira' favourite. So, you had to flatten or level the ploughed soil on the field to make it plain. This was done after having some snacks on the sidelines, a cup of tea or lassi and perhaps a nap. Neela and Bagga would also get a peda or a ball of dough as they have been working hard. The plough was now replaced with a special attachment....the 'maira'...which was a wooden plank at the end of the plough device.  It didnt plough through the ground but just levelled the undulated soil. This meant that it could be done at a fast pace and Neela and Bagga could just walk and pull fast. The Ploughing man just stands on that plank to give weight as the oxen pull it. Now a small kid could definitely stand on the plough as well and enjoy this joy ride from one end of the field to the other. I just loved it and it is one of the most joyful rides I have ever had in my life, as I stood between the feet of Pitu or one of Maama's and shout in exhiliration as it moved....the tails of Neela-Bagga often brushing my face as I was short.

Now all this took place when I was between 5-12 years old...every year I was witness to this. And then I grew up...tractors somehow started reaching these terrace farms as Hamirpur is in the foothills ...people sold their oxen and now none are to be found in the villages... and so did the all the implements associated with ploughing....the plough...the harnesses etc...and I too grew up  to be a college graduate rarely visiting Makteri and then into a job which would never give me so much time to be visiting Makteri. Pitu left us and so did Bobo ( my maternal grandma)...and now I visit my Mama's once in a while on some occasions. Nobody goes to the forest now and people have sold cattle except for one of my Mama's. Washing machines have come in and what not.

In one of my occasional visits I went to the 'goad' or cattle house where all cattle of the family used to be and on the walls perched amongst cob webs...I saw the 'hal' or plough of my Nana. I told my Mama I want to take it to Delhi...he started laughing and said sure. He thought I was joking. But soon it dawned on him that I was serious... I made him take it out and give it to me. I said I will put it in my drawing room (which was not to be). I put it in the dicky of my car and got it to Hamirpur (the town, where my parents live now and where I belong). It was again put in the 'goad' in our house in Hamirpur. Yes...we are amongst a few privileged in Hamirpur town to have a goad of our own...which is now a store room. I made a facebook post about it and had many likes including from my professor from JNU. But it remained there for a year as I started the process of convincing my wife to take it to Delhi and put it in the drawing room of our brand new apartment in Delhi... The luxurious (I call it janta luxuriuos) Mahagun Moderne (notice the 'e' at the end of Moderne). But she didnt seem impressed with the idea.

I told my wife...its going to be a boss put a used cart wheel in his drawing room. My boss proudly told me...this cart wheel has moved places. I narrated that conversation with my boss to my wife. But nothing could convince her as she thought its a misfit in a drawing room. And finally I got it when she said "for God sake its a drawing room and not a museum or art gallery!"

I got the point and started looking at alternatives. I found that I was doing agriculture in the balcony of my 16th floor apartment and may be the wall of my balcony would be a good idea. I shared it with my wife and she readily agreed. It still didnt happen for a month as I had to get it polished, which I did at the Amar Colony furniture market. I kissed the moist hands of the guy who polished it...they smelled of warnish..some bit of it got on to my lips. Later, I had to look for a right harness to fasten it to the wall so that it doesnt fall down.

In this duration as I was getting my plough done up and do all the logistics to hang it... my wife agreed to put it in the drawing... with one 'shart' or 'condition' that I would never every interfere in any other house furnishing matter, ever in my life. I thought it was too big a shart and decided to put it in my balcony.

and I am happy to announce that to the world now. My Nana Khushi Ram's (literally Happy Ram) hal (plough) has reached Mahagun Moderne from Makteri and I am ploughing happy (Khushi) thoughts.

That plough has touched every inch of soil and land that belonged to Pitu...everytime I touch it...I feel goosebumps.

P.S - Remembering Pitu, Bobo, Pampa, Paunu, Maddi, Giddu and So Mamas and all my Maami's. Love you all.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Bullah ki jaana main kaun?

I am reading a primer on Raidass these days. Raidass or Ravidass was a medieval saint better known in North India by the saying "Mann changa to Kathauti men Ganga" i.e if your heart is clear then even the water in a cobblers container is equivalent to Ganga water. Mindful that Hindus consider Ganga water to be pure and nothing else. Its another fact that Ganga is quite polluted today.

I have had this primer of a book for quite a while now and how I got it is another story. But the reason I picked it up and started reading it a few days back is because there is quite some furore in India around protests of SC/ I thought let me pick up a book which talks about one of the most renowned lower caste saints of India - Ravidass, who was a cobbler saint. Am just amazed at the vocational saints of medieval India. Kabir was a weaver.

So...I was reading the book while coming on the metro today and trying to get an insight into the caste system of India, though I am part of it too. And just as I got down at the Mandi House metro station I started humming the song 'Bullah ki jaana main Kaun' and I got the song! I think I really got in touch with the meaning of the song, which has not only great spiritual ramifications but also educational ramifications. I realised that whatever you forget...thats what you are or to put it another way whatever you remember you are not that. Bulleh Shah, the great Sufi poet perhaps reached such a state where he didnt know what he was - and he counts all the identities in the long poem or Kafi. He had attained that state.

Believe me its difficult to explain what I really got. Crazy stuff!..and someone who is not on a spiritual journey will find it extremely difficult to understand what I am writing and where I am heading for.

It was quite a moment for me at the Mandi House Metro Station, a rather non-spiritual place especially in the morning rush hour.

I also realised that the real education is what we forget i.e which is so internalized in us, that we dont even know we have it...for example our accent...what we speak...thats what we really are. If we have to tell what we are...we are exactly not that but something else.

I thanked god and Bulleh Shah and started my walk to the office digging the thought deeper and in just about an hour had moved on with my daily routine in office, until I found an email from our communications person, who had requested everyone to share about themselves in 75 words along with a pic to be put up on our new website.

And just when I thought of jotting down those 75 words...I didnt know what to write...should I write about my education, my passion of education, the fact that I am a amateur film maker, blogger, thinker, philosophers...there was just too much.

And suddenly Bullah came back singing Bullah ki jaana main Kaun. What a coincidence...the day I discover my own meaning of Bullah ki jaana main kaun...i am officially asked to write who I am?
So I decided to just use 5 words for my introduction - Bullah ki jaana main Kaun and perhaps I will ask my communications officer to put a link to this blog...which is my personal one and not education.

I know even after reading this blog one would not know anything about me. But then why should anybody want to know me. I am nobody. I am nothing.

P.S - I wasnt able to write anything after the above line...It just stopped.... though I was thinking of writing more. Then I thought I might as well put it in the post script...not to break my own feeling.

Moving on...Chal we Bulleya chal Othe Chaliye, Jithe saare Anne,
                     Na koi sadi zaat pachane, na koi saanu manne

Arre haan...there was another thought that came to my mind while on the metro. I thought there was no '' About Us' section for most of the saints but yet they managed to do such great PR and communication that we remember them centuries after. What level of communication...without FB, without twitter. I guess that there was so much depth and simplicity in their communication that things went into people's head. Orally so much of knowledge was transacted.

I guess I am done. Let me listen to Bullah ki jaana main my mind says...look at what you have written. But as usual I will not edit what came out of me. Let it smell of freshness.

P.S - Just as I am finish this and publish...I have to put labels and I thought let me put many labels but suddenly I stopped at Bullah ki jaana main kaun

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Naukar Saale!!

Some important partner was visiting our office at 11 am this morning and our Director had asked us to given presentations of our projects to him. It was almost 11.08 and my friend Manu Bhai calls me up, probably returning my missed call from the previous day. I put off the phone and send a message back "Naukri pe hun".

Immediately my phone vibrates and I expect a message with some profanities. But it was little different. The message read "Naukr Saale"

FYI Mannu Bhai is a businessman.

Dhakka laga magar phir socha bhai sach hi to bol raha hai. Naukr hi hain hum.

But then the film director in me buzzed...and I thought it was a good title of a play...Naukr Saale! A play on the atrocities, limitations and imprisonment on being at a job.

The 'important partner' was late so I called up Manu Bhai and had a good chat and then thought of putting in my thoughts around naukri and Naukr Saale.

And NOW that the 'important partner' just walked into our office...I will continue writing after a break.
, let me tell you that I am obsessed with or rather not obsessed with my job i.e naukri.
I feel its a prison...that you have to spend a significant part of your life fulfilling the wishes of your boss or your return of a salary...with which you may fulfill your own wishes. But do we actually do that? or are we really able to do that?...yeah in the few days of leave that you get.

Whenever I share this with anyone of my friends or my best friend (my wife)...I get the standard one in the world likes to work. Then how is this mafia operating? if everybody hates it.

I know there are some gangs that allow you some work from home or something...thats a good step to offset some of the atrocities of work like travel and being their in time. You can work at home in a relaxed manner. But still does it allow you to have the freedom of doing what YOU want. Surely not.

Technically you have signed up for a job and you werent forced. So, the society thinks its ok. But do you really think that most people are doing their jobs in the way they are doing because thats what they wanted to do.

I hardly meet a executive or a office colleague saying....Oh! I always wished to sell insurance for XXX Insurance or I really wanted to work in the department of fisheries.

People are studying in school and then they take up some course...lets say electrical engineering and then somebody says...your must do an MBA and finally they land up selling Xray machines for a healthcare company. I mean agar samaan hi bechna tha to bagal ke Gupta Grocery store men hi internship kar lete. Why this whole circle of degrees?

I think I am digressing from the topic. Our issue is Naukr Saale!

So, everybody knows what a naukr connotes...a butler, a slave.

Sorry to detract again..Mannu Bhai messages...'Hum Maalik Bechaare'

aata hun ispe bhi..but let me focus right now.

so a naukr is a naukr...a demeaned character meant to obey orders. Thats essentially most of us are....or at least the people who got a job through

Its in our culture I think. The privilege which perhaps some average executive gets sitting in Europe or America is not what we have in India. Try calling an executive after work in Europe and leave it...try even asking for his mobile phone number. Forget it.

Yeh sirf yehin hai...ya perhaps in the so called economically developing or economically under-developed world.

But I guess it doesnt even change with money...Look at the Senior VPs of most corporates...with high blood pressure and their uric acid levels.

Aaj to saari bhadaas nikalunga. Aaj Friday hai...Kaam bhi kum hai aur agle do din chutti hai. And anyways I think writing a blog for a few minutes is much better than surfing FB or looking at flipkart...which I have seen many of my colleagues take a break looking at their monitors.

To naukr saalo!

If you have read till this point then definitely you agree with me or I have become a good writer or you are good friend of mine wanting to know ki yeh Shankar Musafir saala karta kya hai zindagi men?

Waise my Dad says tumko bolne ke paise milte hain.

Anways...going on... and talking about the original grandfather. He used to say that 'Naukri jo hai...who Chaakri honi chahiye' yaani  'cha' hona chahiye...something you enjoy. So, I love being in the school education field and I like it. so it is chaakri but yet it is not it coz I have to deal with my boss and the politics of it all.

To kya karun..naukri chor dun. start something of my own. Thats a big risk...Home Loan...Biwi kehti hai nayi gaadi le lo and I have zero savings.

And most of it all...Darr lagta hai yaar. What if it doesnt work?

And then successful entrepreneurs like Mannu Bhai send messages like 'Maalik Bechaare'

I am stuck and I have no answer.

Might as well get back to work and see how I can impress the 'important partner'

See you and Love you.

P.S - The word for naukri in Bengali is Chaakri. Also, I plan to add some more to this article...I dont rest beyond 15 minutes in office. Mehnat ki kamaat hun yaaro.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Hindi Medium Review: Man lage mora yaar fakiri men

Sabse pehle to main chaar gali nikaal leta hun film ko...then I will share the class it has.

Very poorly edited fact you can make out that they didnt even care about the story. Any novice will find that out. I am sure it was too long and cut out some parts without thinking. I think there was a jazzy 'jagraata' in the film...that has been cut out as well. Also, the scenes which probably etch the husband wife characters have been deleted as well. Should fire the editor.

The story is good though its difficult to imagine a couple going to the length of shifting to a low income neighbourhood for the sake of admission of a kid.

Anyways...let me tell you about the classic bit.

The entire story is around a business class couple wanting their kid to join a top school...which is hard to come around. They finally try and get the admission through the RTE quota for poor people by forging themselves to be a poor couple.

Though initially it seems the film is making fun of an important issue like poverty...which is sacriligeous...but the director has been able to pull it off with class.

Remember the scene from 3 idiots in black and white, when the three friends go out to have dinner the poor friend's house. It was on the verge of being inappropriate but people enjoyed it.

This film makes a point without making anyone wrong.

So, when this couple moves into the low income neighbourhood...the film transforms...and the film is all about Deepak Dobriyal after that. He has carried the entire film I guess. Deepak is their neighbour and helps them out becomes a trusted friend.

There are multiple scenes when the films talks about important poverty issues and make it a comedy.
A director who can make a comedy with poverty in background... is a good director. Its a good test.

See, Rajkumar Hirani...made Lage Raho...a comedy on Gandhi...can anybody think about it...and yet he doesnt dilute Gandhian philosophy even minutely.

By the way...who is the Director...let me google and check.

So...its Saket Choudhary...he directed Pyaar ke side effects...which was a good movie too. If I am not bad at predicting future. Expect some good stuff from this Director in future.

Good choice of music too...I have been writing this blog listening to a song of the film playing in the background....Man lage mero yaar Garibi lage mero yaar Fakiri men

Found out that it is a old couplet from Kabir. Zabardast gaana hai. Found out that its sung by Neeraj Arya...who has formed a band some years ago. Another fellow to keep track of.

Gaana suno yehan:

Anyways...lets come back to Deepak Dobriyal...aise yaad nahi ayega... See his picture along with Madhavan.

By the way...I also didnt know his name...just knew him by face. The guy from Tanu weds Manu.

He has given his best performance until now.

One hilarious scene and the entire hall was in splits....and by the way he wasnt event on the screen while delivering the dialogue...

"Yeh to nai nai gareeb hue hain...hum to khandaani gareeb hain...mera dada gareeb...mere pitaji gareeb and aur main bhi gareeb"

Another hilarious scene is when he lands up at Irfan Khan's house.

Irfan Khan has given his usual best...nothing remarkable about it...apart fro the inaugural scene where he is showing saris to ladies in his shop.

Saba Qamar ..the Pakistani heroine is beautiful and has shown promise including a wannabe sensuous scene. Cant think of any particular scene. But you can of course notice the apt Urdu talafuzz, wherever required. She was much more noticeable than the big release Mahira Khan in Raeez. Should get more roles to show her talent...but what I could notice is that she seems versatile...doing homely roles like getting the child ready, shouting on the lady in the water queue, cuddling with Irfan in the new house etc.

Another character who has done the role well is the school admission consultant. Good acting. You start hating her soon. Job done...expect to see her in character roles in other films too.

Thats a soup of review...but I felt it writing in this mad way this time. I feel thats my natural style of conversation.

On second thoughts...I feel why are these film reviews so serious and academic. Hindi cinema aur serious review....doesnt match. Hindi films are reviewed like Hollywood films. I can understand that you are writing in English...but kuch to Indian cinema ki izzat kar lo yaar.

Another final thought...Hindi Medium is a wrong title for this film. I would have titled 'Admission Open'

Ek aur point yaad aa gaye.

Irfan's final speech on the stage and no one clapped...Wow! good thinking by the writer. No one would.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Baar Baar Dekho

I wasnt interested in watching Baar Baar dekho because of its star cast...but my wife insisted...I watched the trailor...and thought...hmmm...looks interesting. lets go and check out.

Went to watch it without much expectation but was pleasantly surprised. Its a very deep film in terms of its content and its also a film which matches Hollywood standards in many ways. But one wonders why they named it Baar Baar dekho?

The film is a story of a young mathematician (Sidharth Malhotra) getting married to an art person (Katrina). The day of marriage he has a fight with his lady love and falls asleep. The movie is all about him waking up at different stages of his life (in future) and getting surprised about whats happening around. To see what happens and how he comes back to present is something you will have to watch.

The script of the film is very fresh and the way it portrays future is amazing..its believable and not overdone...though they could have tried a different way of taking the person into future. But it works fine.

The things I liked about the film:

1. The story - The story is very contemporary and has been done very well.
2.The message - if you can get to it OR if the Director really intended one. For me it was the key...some dialogues...have the entire world in them...You cannot live the same day again...Tum ek hi din dobara se nahi jee sakte...Choti cheezon ko pakdo. This film has the capability to alter life if you catch it.
3. The portrayal of future - As the lead character goes into future...its created in a very believable manner. The classroom in his university. The 25% tint in the cars.The cell phones and the bedroom of 2047 is very believable. The buildings are also believable.
4. Acting - Sidhharth is good and the best thing is that the story shows Katrina is born in she can carry her natural accent as well. Good thinking. It must also be the first film where we can see Katrina as an old woman...she still looks young with grey hair.

Its a film of a different kind. Go..give it a chance.

P.S - Baad men pata chala that it is a directorial debut by Nitya Mehra. Great film on a debut and we can see your class lady.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Tuesdays with Morrie

My HR department at Career Launcher gave me this book long time back...and I happened to read it now.

Tuesdays with Morrie is the story of a busy sports reporter, Mitch, who reconnects with his graduate Professor Morrie, who is diagnosed with ALS (lateral sclerosis). As the professor counts his days, Mitch comes and meets him on Tuesdays to listen to the last few lectures of his professor  on life. Life as he experiences when he nears his death.

I cried twice while reading this book. Incidentally I started this book on a Tuesday and completed it on a Moreover, one day before I started this book, I was listening to an old time favourite gurbani song... Jind meriye, mitti di teriye...ek din chalna i.e Oh my Life! a mound of earth, will have to go one day.

There are two key messages I really like in the book apart from the many.

  1. The culture we have does not make people feel good about themselves. And you have to be strong enough to say if the culture doesnt work, dont buy it...So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They seem half-asleep, evenwhen they're busy doing things they think are important. This is becuase they are chasing the wrong things. The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.
  2. Love each other or perish. One has to read this in the context of the book, otherwise its hard to understand. He writes, " As long as we can love each other, and remember the feeeling of love we had, we can die without ever really going away. All the love that you created is still there. All the memories are still there. You live on- in the hearts of everyone you have touched and nurtured while you were here"

Thats it!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

PK movie review

Though the title says review but this is no professional review. This is a musafir review. You can close the window if you want. Ha ha. Anyways I write for fun on this blog.

I had gone to watch the film without any clue of the story or without any story based reviews. I guess I will have to keep the suspense here as I dont intend to share the script with you.

Mr Hirani has the ability to make a film on a sensitive issue and yet let it sound totally uncontroversial. To make a film on Gandhi in India and not have any public unrest is phenomenal. In PK, he draws an amazing script on an issue as difficult as religion...and gets away with it. No protests till now.

The most phenomenal thing in the film is that everything is questioned within the film...including the origin of the hero. You dont have to believe in the story but gradually you start believing in the origin of the hero...and then you are in for a ride as the protagonist asks questions and goes to the origin of religions in a very organic manner. An enquiry so deep and yet so simple that any common audience would relate to it. The fact that the protagonist happens to choose Bhojpuri accent by accident is a part of the script I guess.

Though the film has the conventional Hindi film drama and melodrama but it is amazing in what it does and delivers.

Aamir is as usualy but I think an actor like Pankaj Kapur or Shahnawaaz could have made the film 10 times more powerful. But I guess, the fact that a mainstream super actor chooses to do such a film is in itself a nice thing.

I happen to see the film with an upcoming AD of a film and we both agree that it takes a lot of friendship between Vidhu Vinod and Hirani to produce such films.

If you have some interest in communal harmony...this film will appeal you.