Wednesday, 9 August 2017

MONSOON MUSINGS - 7


I have been here in Salangaon for last 6 days, during this short holiday from some hectic work. The monsoon here seems to have settled into a new time table which suits me fine.

Morning the rain starts around 5 am. For all you know it probably starts before, without me being aware of it as I would be fast asleep during those hours.

So, in the morning I get up and go out to the verandah with a cup of tea to experience the morning fresh air and the rain. And I get an added bonus as I listen to the beautiful music created by innumerable number of birds with the rhythmic patterns created by rain on the tin roof the verandah.

Then by about 10.30 or 11, the sun makes an appearance peeping through the clouds. The sun plays hide and seek with the clouds and in the process charges the solar panels in the campus. This is the time I think of going out to the town. Well, I keep thinking for about 10 minutes and then lazily fall back into the chair, telling myself that I am on a holiday.

So, a bit of sun, a bit of drizzle – what people in many places call ‘the fox marriage’. This expression fox’s marriage is very common in many places in the world. In India and Sri Lanka in almost all languages it is referred to as fox’s marriage. In Japan, it is called ‘kitsune no yumeiri’, meaning fox’s wedding. In South East Asia many countries refer to these sunshowers as fox’s marriage.

Be that as it may, this condition prevails until about 3 pm and then the rains slowly come back. By evening it starts raining heavily again and then it takes a break again at around 9 pm.

This schedule is being kept for last 6 days. I really would like to believe that it is a specially designed holiday package for me. Just laze around, for which I hardly get any chance otherwise!

Monday, 7 August 2017

MONSOON MUSINGS - 6


Three or four days back I was coming to Dehradun from Ghaziabad by a Volvo bus. From the hot weather in Ghaziabad, to escape to cooler climate of Dehradun – actually Salangaon, an unpolluted village about 15 km uphill just off the Mussoori Road – was a pleasant thought.

As the bus stopped for a dinner break at about 7 pm, I overheard the odd conversation by co-passengers. One guy was telling other members of his group, ‘look, I just talked to my brother-in-law. He says it has been raining heavily since afternoon and the roads are all flooded.... I asked him to bring the car to ISBT, the bus terminal’

Well, I have a friend, an auto rickshaw driver who comes to ISBT whenever I call him to pick me up and take me to Salangaon. I reach from Delhi many times at 1 or 2 a.m and he had never disappointed me. But I was wondering if it was raining heavily whether he would be able to come this time.

I called him up and he confirmed that it had been raining very heavy since afternoon and had been raining actually for last two days.

‘Of course I will come sir! Don’t worry! I will be waiting under the flyover.’ His words reassured me.

And from Roorkie onwards throughout till we reached Dehradun, it had been raining.

I reached around 11 pm and true to his words he was there. Defying rains and flooded roads, we reached the school campus safely.

After reaching there, I soon hit the bed having exhausted completely.

Waking up in the morning, the rain was continuing but it was as if I had reached another world. It was so green, so beautiful. The fresh air in the surroundings had already started rejuvenating me.


Most of you must have sung this nursery rhyme in your school days, but I think it is irrelevant.

                Rain, Rain, go away, come again another day,

                Little Johnny wants to play ......


My heart would sing,

                Rain, don’t go away, be here for more days,

Little Johnny wants to play in the rain.....

Sunday, 6 August 2017

MONSOON MUSINGS - 5


This is in continuation of the blogs I had been writing last year on Monsoons.

Monsoons come and go every year. Some year when it comes late, we can hear comments like, ‘hey, this year it is going to be very difficult’ or ‘the whole earth seems to be going dry’ etc. some intelligent ones or at least who could be pretending to be intelligent would make a remark – ‘see, climate change is really happening...’

If it rains very heavily, then also many of us complain. ‘How many days it is going to continue like this’.... etc.

But every year, the rains come. Many places will get flooded. Lives will be lost. The hills will see cloudbursts. But we move on....

In the outskirts of Mumbai, in one of those industrial estates, I was staying in a hotel where they have a terrace restaurant. In the evenings one could go there, sit and sip a drink slowly and have a nice leisurely dinner. The restaurant had live music, mostly Ghazals with a vocalist, a harmonium and Tabla as the orchestra. It is so enjoyable that sometimes one drink may become two.

That day almost throughout the day it was raining and in the evening, there were very less customers in the restaurant. The musicians also gave it a miss since they could reach there on time.  

And suddenly it started pouring – what is that expression? Pouring cats and dogs! And probably all the animals I could think of!

Two – three friends staying in the neighbouring rooms in the hotel also joined my table and one of them suggested, ‘this rain really calls for drinks and hot pakodas. What do you say?’


Naturally, we were all in agreement and another one of them said, ‘I wish the musicians were here. We could have had mood music in the background!

‘The rain on the tin roof up there is creating its own music with the help of strong winds blowing through small gaps in windows. Why do you need a different music?’ I said.....

Friday, 24 March 2017

AUTHORS IN THE MAKING

I had started my formal education, or rather formal schooling, in 4th standard. Being the eldest male member of a new generation in the family, I was slated for reciting Vedas, performing Poojas and other religious rituals and was not meant to go to school. But luckily when I was around 8, my Grandpa allowed me to go to school, with a lot of persuasion from my uncle.
It was like opening the door to a new world for me. Though academically I was ok since I was having home tuitions for almost past six or seven years, there were a lot of new things out there to learn, there were lot of new friends to be made and I could just grab at the opportunity.

One high point of my first year of schooling was the drama. The school every year celebrated the annual day and there were cultural programs by children and teachers. There were dances by girl students, some traditional folk arts by boys and in the end there would be a drama by students and then a drama by teachers.
I was selected for the drama. I don't exactly remember the story, but I remember that I acted as an old man from a lower caste. I did not tell anyone about it because if Grandpa came to know about it, there was every possibility that my schooling would end there. Somehow the next day after the  programme, he came to know of it, probably through servants. The only comment he made was, ‘At least they should have made him an old ‘Nambudiri !'

Many of my new friends started telling me that acting in drama should be the most suitable profession for me. I probably started believing that myself and I started telling my friends that I would be an actor.

This was of course, an infatuation to a particular profession. Yes, this was a phase in my life, where I got a desire to become an actor. Soon I wanted to become a soccer player after hearing the running commentaries of soccer matches from the radio. Then when I read a good short story by the some great authors, I wanted to become a short story-writer. When I read a good poetry, I wanted to become a poet. When I saw a good Kathakali performance, I wanted to become a Kathakali artist. Likewise at different times, I wanted to become a bus driver, bus conductor, a policeman etc. etc.
At the time I started schooling, I had started going to the library in the evenings after school hours. I got interested in detective novels in small paperbacks and then I wanted to become a detective. As I didn’t know how to go about it, I thought I will start by writing a few detective novels.

Well, I did write. It was all done secretly. My first detective novel was ready for the publisher. I had noted down the address of the publisher. I put my novel, all of 15 pages, in an envelope which I made from white paper, wrote the From and To addresses and put it in the post box. No, I did not put any stamp as I did not have any money to buy the stamp and obviously couldn’t ask anyone.
Anyway, the next day the postman brought back the envelope and gave it to my uncle. Everyone in the family had a good laugh at my expense and my aspirations to become a writer were put laid to rest.

All these memories rushed to my mind, when Isaw the message from my daughter that my grandson – 6 years – had declared that he was writing a book and would be selling it! All the best to you……

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

TWO WOMEN IN MY EARLY CHILDHOOD

Here I am talking about two important women who had influenced me a lot in my early childhood, before I was 5.

My Mother must have had the influence on everything that I am made of, my character, my attitude towards anything, my habits, my preferences and my choices – yes – practically everything.  Right from before I was borne and as I grew up.

Though there were many ladies in the house where I grew up, my father’s sisters and cousin sisters, it was always with my mother I would go whenever we would go far off, basically to my mother’s home, once or twice in a year.

For me, going to my mother’s house was a festive occasion. Preparations would start the previous night and we have to get up very early in the morning because it was a kilometer walk to catch the bus. I would try not to sleep in the night, being afraid that if I wouldn’t wake up in time and others might leave without taking me. Of course, mother would always wake me up at the right time.
Father would come with us but usually would return back the next day leaving us there for almost a month.

Three years back my mother passed away, at the age of 98. Her life had taught me a lot. One of the best lessons I could take from her, was the calm and cool way in which she faced every situation in her life through the joys and sorrows.

Great Grandma was not the mother of my Grandpa. My Grandpa's mother had passed away before I was born and I had never heard her mentioned in conversations.

Great Grandma was the mother of my Grandpa’s cousin brother. She must have been past 80 when I was born and she was almost confined to her room. When I was only about 3 years, I used to have a reluctant nap in the afternoon in her room. The nap was forced on me by elders of the house, because they did not want to me to go alone and play outside. Great Grandma would tell me many stories, mostly of Kings and Queens, princesses and princes, Gods and Devils. As the stories unfolded, she would fall into a slumber but would warn me. ‘You better get some sleep. Don’t go out in the sun. Your skin would become black.’ Sometimes she would say, ‘remember, the ghosts from the big banyan tree will be coming down in the afternoon’.

She would keep telling me stories from epics like Mahabharata, Ramayana, Bhagavatha etc., stories about practically everything you can think of in life, stories about the villainous and virtuous, about bravery and cowardice, about truth and lies etc. etc.

I enjoyed those story sessions very much. I would reciprocate with warmth, and used to recite Vishnu Sahasranamam (verse containing 1000 names of Lord Vishnu) to her every day in the evening, a session which both of us enjoyed very much.

Achu, son of one of our maids, was a good companion during those days and I used to play with him quite a lot. He was the one who gave me basic lessons in swimming secretly, taking me to the family pond, holding me and coaxing me to flap my hands and legs correctly for floating. He used to be a strong kid, had loved me so much that he used to lose to me in games, just for the sake of satisfying my ego.

The day he took me to learn swimming for the first time, he was scolded and beaten up and was banned from seeing me again. The next couple of days, I was so miserable and finally, it was Great Grandma who intervened and allowed me to play with Achu again. Even now I remember what she had said to nobody in particular.

‘Let Kunchu learn all that he wants. He should fall down and get hurt a little, while growing up. Don't be too soft and spoil him.' - Kunchu was the pet name for me and practically everybody in the house called me Kunchu.

I must have been about 4 when Great Grandma passed away.


On this International Women’s Day, I salute the memory of these two women, my Mother and my Great Grandma.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

SCHOOL OF POLITICS, AGAIN!

Today, Shish was in high spirits.

N: What happened to you? You seem to be very happy.

Sh: And why not? Now, I feel we are getting closer to opening the school of democracy which will further grows to a college and then to a University for democracy.

N: Now, that is a very interesting dream!

Sh: No, it is not a dream. I had a talk with my parliamentarian, educationist friend. He told me that he is coming here to advise us about setting up the school, college and university.

N: Why is he doing it?

Sh: You see, though I do not ‘know’ it, there is a well known perception that there is lot of money in politics.

N: How?

Sh: If you ask me a question like that and want a clear answer, I have to say that I don’t know. I am not supposed to ‘know’.

N: But how do you know something that you are not supposed to know?

Sh: Like what the journalists would say, ‘from reliable sources’. Or like in TV they say, ‘the letter written by so and so 6 months back, is now with your channel’.

N: But you are not a journalist….

Sh: Who says so? Every citizen is a journalist. Haven’t you heard of citizen journalist? I am a citizen journalist. If I am not, I will become one.

N: Ok, ok. So you were telling that there is money in politics.

Sh: Did I say that? But, similarly, there is money in education also.

N: Ok, I don’t want to ask you how you know it. I just take it that, ‘they say….’ So, why is it relevant?

Sh: It is the most relevant. Politics and school – both together as a school of politics, can be pretty powerful. Don’t you think? And that is what is attracting my friend to come and start it here.

N: But we were talking about school of democracy, not politics.

Sh: But, where is democracy without politics?

N: What I want is a proper school of democracy. Not some money-making venture…. It has to be clean.

Sh: Of course, it will be clean …..

N: But Shish, it is not as easy as you think. We need lots of staff. From where are you going to get them?

Sh: Oh, that is not difficult. I have a friend who knows many ex- members of parliament and assemblies who are experts in everything about parliamentary democracy - including staging a walk-out, rushing to the well shouting slogans, disrupt proceedings etc. etc. There are lot of these people sitting idle, having lost the last elections….


N: Forget them. They shouldn’t come in the proximity of our school… We should talk about School of Politics or University of Politics – Not Politics of University!

Monday, 27 February 2017

THE BIG THICK BOOK

When I entered TKS, Shish was reading a book. A pretty thick book, it was. First of all, I did not know that Shish had a reading habit. Now seeing him, what with that unusually thick book, I was really taken aback. Even my friend’s daughter, who is an ardent reader wouldn’t think of reading such a big book.

N: What is this, Shish? Such a thick book, you are reading!

Sh: Not a thick book!

N: Then what? It doesn’t look thin to me!

Sh: No, I did not say thin or thick. What I said is that it is really not a book.

N: Not a book? What is it then?

Sh: It is a report. You remember we had discussed sometime back about a school to teach 
democracy?

N: Yes, so?

Sh: I have a friend who is a parliamentarian and also an educationist. He was actually an eminent teacher first. Then he became MLA and then MP. Nowadays, he is not in politics but he is part of many committees formed to study various things. I asked him to make a study about starting a school. He gave me this report.

N: This looks like the report normally submitted for the Government-sponsored studies.

Sh: That is because he has served in many Government committees. So, I am giving it to you. From the number of pages, it looks like a comprehensive report.

N: What am I supposed to do with it?

Sh: Well, you read it and take necessary actions.

N: Read that book?

Sh: Not book, Report….

N: Read that report fully? I can’t.

Sh: But then you must. You have to go deep into the problems associated with running a school. Otherwise how do we start the school?

N: But I can’t read that report fully. You have asked for the report. So you have to read it and give me your recommendations. And then I will give the approval…

Sh: But this is not like internet. While downloading something, normally you are asked to confirm that you have read the complete agreement by giving a tick mark in a square. I know, nobody reads them but that ‘I agree’ tick mark usually everybody gives.

N: By the way, did you read it?

Sh: Not really. I started reading very earnestly. But half way through, I slept.

N: OK. Tell me how did you find it? Whatever you have read?

Sh: I liked it. It has got a practical approach.

N: Practical approach? Can you tell me what exactly you read in that so far? I want you to tell me briefly.

Sh: First two chapters are dedicated to explain why a school of democracy is required.

N: We know we don’t need this lesson because we know already why it is required.

Sh: True. But when a report is being submitted, these things are mandatory. Chapter 3 is interesting. Chapter 3 talks about syllabus and what are the lessons to be included in the syllabus. First lesson is how to ensure that you will get a ticket to contest elections.

N: Does it explain about why elections are required?

Sh: Briefly, yes. It almost considers that you know that part. It say that elections are part of democracy…. Rather it almost means that elections and democracy are not two different things. They are the same.

N: Any particular methods to ensure a ticket to become a candidate?

Sh: I did not read it in detail. But one point I could gather is that we have to use sama-dana-bheda-dand methods. Ultimately it is not the path, it is the goal that is important and here getting a ticket is the goal. Similarly there are lessons on how to win elections and after winning the elections, how to participate in formation of the Government etc. You will be given practical training in how to break tables and chairs, how to pull out microphones and damage them, how to rush to well and shout slogans etc. There is even a chapter which deal with how thw voters should behave during elections in a democracy.


N: Looks interesting. Anyway, I can’t read it fully. It is your duty to read it in detail and give recommendations to me. And for teaching all this we will need text books and we will need expert teachers. You work on it and form some strategy. Once you are ready, then we will discuss it.