Friday, January 28, 2005

Finally A Battle

Only yesterday, I and Hemant were discussing about the possibilities of defeating Federer.

Andy Roddic had been steam rolled by him on many occasions. Leyton Hewitt, it is normally believed, can easily knock out the players ranked below him, and at the same time finds extremely difficult to prevail upon those who are ranked above him. Certainly against Federer, he stands no chance. Neither on form, nor on class.

Marat Safin turned out to be the only guy who on his day can match, if not outclass him. The fact he has lost seven matches against Federer not withstanding. He is erratic, and can lose miserably if his wits manage to get on him, which is pretty often the case. That's the reason why he hasn't won another grandslam since US Open two years before.

But what a semi-final at Melbourne Park. An edge-of-the-seat thriller till the very end. Final set mostly dominated by Safin, with Federer trying to save his skin. But still, saving six match points talks tall about his resolve. He looked rattled, but never gave up.

This epic game reminded me of the treat of a match, which was even more hard fought, between Croatian pair and Lee-Hesh with Olympic bronze medal at stake.

I sincerely pray such matches become norm, rather than exception and golden era of eighties returns in Men's tennis again. Who can forget the mercurial troika of Connors-Borg-Mckenroe and the classy trio of Lendl-Edberg-Becker !

For this Safin has to be consistent, and Roddic has to raise his bar. Of course, Federer has to do nothing. A shade more and a trifle less would spoil his magic.

Post Script: Those cricket junkies who miss Lara of the yore had an opportunity knocking at their doors this morning. The world series match between WI & Pak from 45th over in WI innings turned in to a Lara mayhem. In a partnership of 84 in 37 balls, Wavell Hinds hardly scored 10. I loved it, and you missed it. Some benefits of getting up early.

My Previous Post On Roger Federe - Artist On The Court

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Thursday, January 27, 2005

Home Coming

Well friends, I am leaving for Lucknow this Saturday. This is for two weeks. Though I will try to blog, but I am not very sure given my past experience. One reason because netcafes usually suck, and other reason is that my hands are too full as always.

But the urge to write is irresistible so chances are bright. Those who want to feast on Lucknawi Gazak and Revdians may turn up in Pune on Valentine's day.

The train I am taking chugs off from Lokmanya Tilka Terminus which according to one of my friends, it appears, will cost me a lot of bucks from Dadar(I can not board that nightmare called 'Mumbai local'). It happens to be in some dingy corner of Mumbai which takes a lot of effort to reach.

To top that, the train in question is, though superfast, doesn't have any pantry service! This can happen only in Laloo's reign.

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Republic Day

Republic Day meant colours. And not just Saffron, White & Green.

We use to get up early to watch the early glimpses of Republic Day parade. That would include President paying floral tributes to Amar Jawan Jyoti at India Gate. This would be followed by hoisting of national flag at Rajpath and National Anthem.

Not to miss the eloquent commentry by Jasdev Singh and Komal JB Singh running at the background. Believe me, whatever they told us about our country one would never find in any book. It was such a learning experience.

After singing the 52 second anthem, we would run for school for our little celebration. School quadrangle would be in festive mood. All students would be attired in their scout dresses, house scarfs, badges and ribbons.

Flag would be hoisted, and we would proudly sing the anthem yet again culminating it with a collective shout of Jai Hind. Then we would wait for our pack of sweets. Two Moti Choor Ke Laddu, and a Khasta or Samosa, what else! At a nearby government school, Sarwasti Shishu Mandir, they would be playing patriotic, soulful songs which would fill us with immense pride.

After that choice would be ours. Either we go and watch the remaining parade on television, or proceed to Vidhan Sabha to watch our school's tableu allong with others being displayed or simply assemble for a cricket or football match.

After all the day was all ours now, and there was a festival with a difference.


My Previous Post On Poems - Prakriti Sandesh

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Monday, January 24, 2005

Scream Awards

So the farce has begun. First of the award series, The Star Screen Awards were aired last Saturday. If you thought Filmfare Awards are biased, then watch these ones to redefine the intensity of the word bias.

Otherwise, how could one give the Best Story and Best Dialogues award to Veer Zara of all the movies. Whatever happened to Maqbool? Abbas Tyrewala and Vishal Bharadwaj must be feeling mighty pissed off right now.

And one look at Shahrukh Khan's over smiling face gave me enough idea that he is going to get the Best Actor Award. I felt for poor Hrithik on his fabulous performance in Lakshya. I swore not to tolerate these awards that long, but before I could retire, there was this Priyanka Chopra getting Best Performance in a Negative Role making hash of the Irfan Khan's performance in, again, Maqbool.

The Chief Guest, the current chief minister Mr Vilas Rao Deshmukh and his son were also appeased by giving Best Performance in a Comic Role to Ritesh Deshmukh ignoring Arshad Waris in Hulchul.

For a change, Rani was a correct choice for Best Actresses and Best Supporting Actress. Though Best Supporting Actor was a tricky one between Abhishek Bachhan & Pankaj Kapoor. I wouldn't have mind either of them getting it.

What made the evening more ridiculous was the fact that Express group kept on harping on the fact that during the start of the show that these are the only awards which are selected by an august jury. Than there was these neta speeches from Star TV CEO Peter Mukherjee, Indian Express chief Editor Shekhar Gupta, Screen India Editor Ma'am Somaiyya(I don't remember the first name, arrg), and Jaipal Reddy.

I remember that virtually the same stuff was repeated by both the editors(Shekhar & Somaiyya) which they had spoken last year. Jaipal Reddy bored us so much that I almost dozed off. And it was surprising to know that Screen was 50 year old magazine. Never bought one. Never ever saw of it much in the stands either.

I wonder whatever little money they make by selling it, they fritter it away in a sham like these awards.




This weekend brought a very bad news for me. One of my very close friend's mother-in-law has been murdered by thieves. Only just two hours back we were talking on the phone, when I again got his call at 11pm.

His wife was inconsolable. Her heart rending screams reached us even at the base of the building. The reason for shock was not only her mother's sudden demise, but also the manner in which it happened.

The incident happened in a very posh locality of Lucknow - Indira Nagar, that too as early 8.30pm. Her house servant was also slain, and luckily uncle was saved as he was not at home that time.

Such unfortunate incidents keep happening, but it hits us the most when some near or dear one is involved. We are very close friends, and moreover, I had met aunty last April. She was an extremely nice lady, the one who makes even a stranger feel at home. It was painfully shocking. The sleep deserted us that night. I can't even imagine what's the family going through with.

Some times I do feel that Islamic punishments should be applied. We all know thieves don't kill. Not a person who is as old as sixty five with a fractured leg. But she and the other person were killed in cold blood. I can not explain my anguish and sorrow.

It's really a crime to be rich. They are the easy and prime targets. And now these incidents are happening even relatively peaceful cities. It's dead scary to leave our folks alone back home. Law and order has taken beating all over. I sincerely pray the culprits get caught and lynched.

I am not able forget the girl's face. The trauma has hit us so hard, I am sure for her it's going to be terrible next few months. I am visiting her in Lucknow next week.



Saturday, January 22, 2005

Kislai's Misfortune

Those who might be wondering, Kislai is a DPS Patna student, son of an income tax official, who is the latest victim of yet another kidnapping, the only flourishing industry in Bihar. After doctors, they have turned to students now.

In a commendable effort to get their friend released, Kislai's classmates went with a request to Laloo Prasad Yadav. But here, poor souls learned yet another lesson. He spurned them, refusing to meet, and later got them kicked out through his brother-in-law. That there is jungle raj in Bihar, dawned too soon upon them. That Laloo is a first rate criminal has become very obvious to them.

See, I am not slipping into another, now stylish and stereotyped, Bihar bashing. Contrary to misconception, there is no problem with the people there. The problem lies with the people ruling them for last fifteen years. Outsider may wonder why people keep sending him back to rule, but fail to see the underlying reasons.

Actually, there is absolutely no choice. A person with integrity and honourable intentions won't be allowed to stand elections. Even if such person does able to somehow stand, state machinery and thugs will insure full time rigging. See what happened to the likes of Prakash Jha, Rusy Modi et al. Why only state machinery, even EC let off Laloo by merely warning when he was found breaching code of conduct by distributing money.

Such is the lack of belief that Sharad Yadav wanted the polling to be cancelled from Madhepura alleging mass rigging. Later, to the pleasant shock of Sharad, he actually won the seat. But like what Laloo himself said, 'Jab Tak Rahega Samose Mein Laloo, Bihar Mein Rahega Laloo'. He and his goons will insure that.

I must say, though, that DPS students did the right thing by trying to plead to Laloo. Like Sushil Modi, the opposition leader, once said that there is no need to go to the police. If Laloo wishes, all kidnapped could be released. After all, he is the mastermind who actually pulls the strings.

It's not long ago when a famous Patna NRI neurosurgeon got released withing three days when Doctor Association's pleaded with Laloo. Then there was another who was release even without police raid or paying ransom.

Logic is simple. If kidnapping has been done by a gang affiliated to Laloo's party, and there is hue and cry, the victim will get released without any fuss on Laloo's order. On the other hand, if some other political party is involved, by tapping just a few phone calls of the MLAs, a police raid can be conducted.

But since it's an election time, and politicos need money for campaigning, kidnappings has increased. Laloo understands this, that's why he does not want to meddle into the affair. Agar Janwar Charey Se Hi Dosti/Dushmani Kerley To Khaiga Kya! This is Kislai's misfortune.

My Previous Posts On Laloo - Laloofication Of The Railways & Neta Ji - Fallen in Bad Times

Friday, January 21, 2005

Office Bus Quirks

Last evening while returning from the office, just when I was safely perched in my usual seat, nonchalantly watching the bus filling up with the returning birds to their respective cozy nests, I was amused to see certain peculiar behaviour of my fellow travelers. I thought it would be interesting to share with you all.

I will start with myself. I realized that I have my fair share of quirks as well. I usually arrive five minutes early to the spot. This is because since it's an half hour drive home, I would rather prefer a comfortable seat of my choice, than a cramped one forced upon me.

Given a choice, I usually sit on the seat directly above the wheels, by the (firmly closed) window. This is because, below this particular seat the floor is slightly raised, half the seat length on either side to accommodate the wheels. So even in a crowded scenario only two people sit to avoid the discomfort for the person sitting in middle.

Otherwise, I tried to avoid those asphyxiated people who open windows during the cold of the night as well. Either I sit at least three-four rows behind them, or request them to close the windows. I don't have a strong immune like most. I wish such people could be allowed sit at bus roof.

Now about the walking habits inside the bus. A few guys I saw put hand on the either seats every row while walking to the destination. It seems as if they are counting the seats. Then there are those who are always confused where to sit. They would pause at the every row trying to make their mind ultimately settling at some seat they would always regret choosing.

Some would walk straight, while a few broader ones would face one side while walking. Some audacious ones will walk like royals staring every inhabitant straight into eyes, while other will use their eye corners.

This one guy is queerest of all. He would sit at the first available space. Even if just one place is left. He wouldn't even look behind the rest of the bus for better options. And his walk is very peculiar. He would drag his one feet, fix it and then drag the other one to the first. With each stride he covers one row. He doesn't have any knee problem, but he does not seem to relish walking.

In the end, I would make a comment on the ladies corner. Although, no such corner exists, but a first few rows are usually occupied by them. I bet, if one wants to read a book, or dream about his/her darling, or just doze off, it's just NOT possible. Such high decibel commotion is there from these seats, that one just can't concentrate. And I am not saying this for the effect. It's a fact. No offence meant.

Rest later.

Thursday, January 20, 2005


Plain forward.

I had come across this small(possibly edited) autobiography by Javed Akhtar sometime ago. It has been taken from his collection of poems, Tarkash. Later, one of my dear friends, Rupam also forwarded it to me. Although, one may feel it has abruptly ended, and yearn for more, nevertheless it is not to be missed.

Beautifully written, he describes his dignified struggle against extreme hardships, towards achieving stupendous success. The naughty smile on his face successfully conceals the loss, pain and difficulties he has gone through.

One not only needs talent to succeed, but also the extreme confidence in one's own abilities. What is more striking is the fact that he had set certain ideals for him, which he followed to the core. He could have gone for an easier way, but he had the courage to choose the tough and correct one. It's a learning experience. I wish he would have continued on.

Actually, I wanted to put up a post on him on his birthday, 17th January, but somehow it couldn't materialize. This write up is from the master himself, so as good as it can get. The autobiography is divided in five logical parts. Enjoy.

1. Childhood Days in Lucknow and Aligarh
2. College and hunger in Bhopal
3. Friends, and struggle in Mumbai
4. More struggle and, finally Success
5. End of a revolt, and fame

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Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Prakriti Sandesh

Poet Sohanlal Dwivedi, is known for his patriotic poem. But this one is on nature. Most of us must have read it for the umpteenth number of times in our text books right from the grade one. Time to revisit the old memories and learn that lesson again.


My Previous Post On Poem - Anweshan

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Tuesday, January 18, 2005

It's Ok To Be Naughty Sometimes

The incident dates back to my college days. The beautiful IIT campus at Kanpur is situated almost out of the city limits. From IIT gate, the hostel and academic area is further 3 km inside.

Whenever we use to go for a late night movie show, it used to be a big trouble getting back after midnight. It required a lot of haggling to convince tempo drivers for dropping us at the campus because they won't get return passengers at such late hours.

Some of them would only drop us at IIT gate, not to our hostels to avoid hassles with security guys at the institute. Still these guys were much better than those crook-turned-autowallahs in Pune, whose half-return-fares start from as early as 10pm, more so if one is unfortunate and poor enough to reside in some far flung corner of the city.

That night, we had gone for a lavish marwari dinner at the very kanpuriya, Manish Kankani's place. The food prepared by aunty, bhabhi and didi was brilliant and sumptuous. Servings were generous, and to add to that, we had to also follow the typical marwari diktat of not leaving even a tiny scrap of food on our plates.

It was already very late and the place, RatanLal Nagar was at another corner of the city. Our loaded-to-the-brim tummies made walking very tedious. After much effort we found a rare tempo ready to take us to IIT gate, but not up to our hostels. With our condition, walking three kilometers was impossible therefore, we pleaded, cajoled, cried but the driver refused to budge.

Since beggars can't be choosers, all fourteen of us hopped in. But Kankani had a plan. Just after half a km, Kankani and Anant Mishra, the biggest pranksters in our group started acting as if they were very heavily drunk. Soon the rest of us followed. Following is the sample conversation which was used, lavishly punctuated by mild profanities.

Speaker 1: "Daru Ne Sara Mood Kharab Kar Diya Yaar. Agar Aaj Kisi Faltoo Ne Panga Liya To Tangey Tod Doonga Uski!" (The drink has spoilt the whole mood. Anyone who messes with me,I am going to break his legs tonight)

Speaker 2: "Sirf Tangey Tod Dogey? Abey Mai To Tangey Hi Nahin, Hanth, Khopadi, Kamar - Sab Tod Phod Daloonga" (Only the legs? I would break ALL of his bones from top to the bottom, my dear fella)

Speaker 3: "Ek Baat Mai Bhi Bata Doon. Agar Aaj Is Tempo Wale Ne Zara Si Bhi Bakaiti Dikhai, Kasam Se Woh Haal Karoonga Ki Dobara Kisi IIT Ke Launde Ko Tempo Per Nahin Baithaiga" (Let me also add something. If this tempo driver tries to act smart today, I am gonna give him such a sound thrashing that he won't ever drive an IITian to the campus again)

Speaker 1: "Aur Bhaisaab, Kahin Usney Galti Se Bhi Kiraya Maang Liya - To Tum Log Mujhey Rokna Mat. Maartey Maartey Gadar Kaat Doonga" (And if this fellow dared to ask for the fare, hope you fellas don't stop me. I am going to run havoc on him for his misadventure)

Speaker 2: "Abey Chahey Aaaj Diro Bhi Aa Jai. Isko Chhodna Nahin Hai. Bahut Mood Kharab Kar Raha Tha" (Even if the Director turns up, we are not going to leave this guy)

The conversation was reaching loud and clear to the driver. His face had turned ashen, and he panicked too soon. Two of the group who were sitting in front seat along with him were trying hard to hide their giggles. They explained to him that though these guys are badly drunk, they mean no harm. The driver was not entirely convinced.

We kept on doing this for whole journey, and eventually IIT gate arrived. The driver didn't even look to stop at there. He had changed his mind long back. He was determined to drop us safely at our hostels. Unfortunately for the driver, the two not-so-drunk guys at the front alighted near the Computer Center(CC).

He begged them to continue on to the hostel and then he would drop them back at CC. They assured him that there is a guy called Manish Chauhan, who was not drunk and would pay him the full fare. But by the time we reached Hall-III gate, he didn't have the courage to ask for the money. His unscathed return from the campus was his top priority.

Rest of the guys went away shouting and laughing. When I approached him with the money, he couldn't believe it. I thanked him for dropping us till the hostel. Though he did say that pleasure was all his, I am bloody sure he won't have ever taken another ride to IIT campus.

And we were laughing our guts out at the brilliant, albeit naughty idea. That's the hostel life for you.

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Monday, January 17, 2005

Mithun Da Is Back

Yesterday, we went to see Swadesh, since I hadn't seen it yet. The movie has been running empty theaters, and we were hopeful of getting the tickets. To our surprise, we didn't. We were about to leave when Ashish suggested Elaan.

Now Elaan is one movie which I wouldn't have seen for free. But suddenly I remembered it has Mithun da after a long time. Ignoring the groans of protest from behind, we went ahead.

I know most of you might cringe with displeasure on this but let me say this that while we all despise the B-grade stuff Mithun did with director SLV Prasad and others in the nineties, Mithun of the eighties wasn't as bad. Fan or no fan, let us give the devil his due.

Despite having no godfather, he worked his way up in the industry under the shadow of Amitabh, with his sheer hard work and talent. Remember the movie Do Anjane, featuring Amitabh, Rekha and Prem Chopra? At the far corner of the alley which had Amitabh's house, one could see a very young Mithun playing the blink-and-miss debut role of a road side tapori with hardly a dialogue to his credit.

Mid and late eighties, when Amitabh was on the ebb, Mithun almost single handedly ran the show. The Disco Dancer was a super hit. The way he acted with his eyes in the song 'Jimmy Jimmy Jimmy Azza Azza Azza', only an accomplished actor could do that. Pyar Jhukta Nahin was phenomenal as well, where his pairing with Padmini Kolhapuri was a tremendous success. 'Halwa Wala Agaya' from Dance Dance was on every one's mouth.

But the best performance given by Mithun, I reckon, was in JP Dutta's Gulami. This song from this movie still my one of my favourites - 'Jeehale Muskin Main Kun Baranjis Behaal Hijra Bechaara Dil Hai Sunai Deti Hai Jiski Dhadkan Tumhaara Dil Ya Hamaara Dil Hai'. It was a well made movie with very good performances from every character, especially, Mithun. His performances in Tarana, Prem Pratigya, Pyar Ka Mandir, Agneepath, and Daata were also remarkable. He won the national award for Mrigya.

We all know he was a dancing sensation. Earlier he did 'Disco', in Waqt Ki Awaz he introduced 'Break' dance. Govinda had clearly declared that he use to copy Mithun and Javed Jaffery in his dances. His pairing with Sridevi was also a hit one. Taming of the shrew used to be the famous theme at that time, and Mithun excelled in that. Charnon Ki Saugandh, Watan Ke Rakhwale were a few such films.

So you can see he was not always bad. The only problem was that he didn't learn from his mistakes, and neither did he try to grow as an actor. When he did try to adapt with changing times, he made wrong choices like working in SLV Prasad directed stuff.

As far as Elaan is concerned, apart from him, action scenes, and perhaps, Arjun Rampal, there is nothing much to rave about. Mithun as Baba Sikandar is relaxed, and has definite screen presence. He is just made to speak and deliver, with some good dialogues, but it does seem that his Hindi pronunciation has taken some beating.

Final sentence of the movie says 'Baba Khatam, Darr Khatam'. But Baba doesn't seem to be Khatam as of now.

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Long Weekend

It came as a surprise. Actually, my employers had never given a holiday on Makar Sakranti so I was least expecting it. Even as some of my colleagues did tell me, I thought it was just a misinformation which is always spread before every gazetted holiday which government gives but our company never does.

What makes it even more stupid was the fact that I also checked the official holiday list on company's intranet, and only God would know how I missed it even there. May be viral did the trick.

So came the Friday the fourteenth, and I reached the bus stop bang on the usual time. Seeing nobody waiting there, I first thought I missed bus. But like the first one, neither second nor third bus appeared. By then I had realized it was a holiday, and cursed myself for getting up early.

Actually for two continuous days, I would wake every night at 2 am and could sleep again only at 6 am, to wake up at 7.15 am. This was, probably, happening because of heavy medicines the doc was administering on me. So had I known it was a holiday, I would catch up with some sleep.

But nonetheless, it WAS a leave, and that too a surprise one, so the joy had doubled. Had the afternoon siesta after long time, and long one as well.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

That Personality

There are some people for whom we wish they should never die, like our near and dear ones, but there are others for whom we never think they would ever die. Amrish Puri was one of them. I never gave a thought that a person with such a towering persona could ever die.

Dead that he may be now, his works will him keep alive. And I hope these news channels stop rewinding those recordings of 'Mogambo Khush Hua'. He did much more than that.

I wish if only he had been better used by the directors, he would have entertained us more with his immense talent. They just made him shout and stare in most of his movies. They would never learn that a voice like his needed no shouting. A subtle variation would have created much better expression.

Amongst the few exception were the directors like Govind Nihalini, Benegal, Priyadarshan, and perhaps, Santoshi. Still remember how effectively he played the part of a corrupt senior officer in Drohkal, never raising his voice even once. Gardish was another movie where he was superb in the role of honest but hapless senior constable and father. I cried when he died in Ghatak just because of the way he portrayed that character. And remember how mean he looked as barrister Chaddha in Damini?

After Pran and Amjad Khan, probably he was the next best villain, and later, like them, he switched very smoothly to the character roles. Hope he had carried on more.

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Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Down & Out

Just as I thought that the summers are back in Pune(yes, it was hot hot hot till three days back), city's fickle weather yet again surprized us with the chilly winds( well, not exactly the wind, but chill, yes).

Before I could take the guard against this sudden change of weather, the ever lurking viral had struck. Nose has been running like tap since monday morning, fever built up since tuesday evening, crossing 102'F. Caught hold of a doc at 10 PM yesterday, and am currently on antibiotics & anti-allergics.

So you can see, why Confusing Musing is down and out !

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

My Experiments With Flight Mechanics

It was a final year course during my B.Tech in Aerospace Engineering, but many a times I feared it would actually turn out to be the final course in my life.

As the name suggests, this was a lab course, but the lab, my dear friends, was a small, dilapidated, four seater Cessna aircraft, flying mid air at the varying height from 1000 ft to 4000 ft. For the record, I must inform the readers that it was a Cessna in whose crash John F. Kennedy junior died with his wife and sister-in-law. So did Hansie Cronje, and many others.

The labs usually took place post lunch every Friday. But mind you, those guys who dared to take any sort of lunch that day were sure to eject every shred from their stomachs during the course of flight. More so those ones, who had some nausea problem during bus or car travel in their child or adulthood. So we use to have heavy breakfast, and skip the lunch.

To call the pilot of the flight as eccentric would be gross injustice to his sadistic tendencies. He was a sadist to the core. See, it was plain that most of us were first timers on the flight, that too on notorious Cessna, and that too a twenty year five old one, which had outlived it's retirement age by a long shot.

So it can be easily guessed how precariously delicate our psychological condition was. But still the pilot played his cruel games with us. Take some samples.

During flight, while he would be discussing things with us, and we would be busy jotting down the readings from many of those meters present in the cockpit, he would suddenly, without notice, change the direction and lean the aircraft to one side. As a result, we would be thrown to the side of our seats with a jerk. After seeing the look of horror on our faces he would chuckle"Maza Ayaa".

During one of those experiments he took the wind out of us. The plane had just reached a fixed height, when, while looking at the readings, he suddenly blurted "Arey". All of us froze. After a few moments he settled to "Oh, Achha Achha, Koi Baat Nahin". We all heaved a collective sigh of relief, wondering was this guy nuts!

Then came the icing on the cake. There is a phenomenon called 'Stall', where pilot can deliberately make a plane to take a free fall. Usually fighter planes do it regularly, but passenger ones avoid it. Once we were patrolling at the height of 4000 ft, when he suddenly announced that he was going to take a stall. Before we could protest, the aircraft suddenly went into free fall of 800 ft. All of us were shaken badly, a few of them started vomiting. Pat came that now familiar wily grin "Maza Aaya".

It's sad that it's not legal to strangle lunatics. Anyways, I had decided that I have had enough, and that was going to be my last experiment on that Cessna, and with that pilot. Later I pleaded my stand to the course instructor Dr Gosh. I never boarded that plane again.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Misplaced Ego

In class IX, we had a story in our Hindi curriculum. It was called Pardah, though I don't remember the author(Hemant, do you?).

It was about Chowdhari Peer Baksh, the main door of who's house always had a beautiful curtain made up of makhmal, while the rest of the neighbourhood had only a tat curtain. Everyone used to be in awe of his prosperity. In the end, as it turned out that makhmali pardah , in reality, was just a facade, while actually, the women and children in his family didn't even have proper clothes to wear.

From fictional Peer Baksh, let's meet the real life one - our Prime Minister Manmohan Singh & his government. The nation, which till now has been reeling under abject poverty, whose all the states, barring smaller ones like Punjab, Haryana, Himchal, Goa, & Gujrat, has people dying of hunger, is now benevolently running relief and rescue mission for it's neighbours, but stubbornly refusing phenomenal foreign aid for it's own countrymen.

Appalling, disgusting, and ridiculously idiotic.

Those who didn't get the reason, and shouldn't be blamed for missing that, this was done to get some international fame, and earn some brownie points on emerging as a statesman nation in the subcontinent. To me, it was perhaps done during a bout of collective lunacy, gross indifference and misplaced ego. Whosever idea it was, it was badly advised for following reason.

We know we have been badly hit by that disaster. Those who have been hit are predominantly lower class fishermen of Tamil Nadu, Kerala & Andhara; middle class, lower class & tribals of Andaman & Nicobar(A & N).

Those in A & N will have to be completely relocated and, then rehabilitated. Affected people in peninsular India will have to be mostly rehabilitated alone. Government, right now, is spending it's money in providing (substandard)food packets, perhaps medicine, arranging temporary shelter, and mostly trying to put in place the basic amenities.

And this is after when Indian public has contributed in such large numbers. The authorities will keep on performing this patched work for say another month. But what happens after that. Those lakhs of people who have lost everything, from house, belongings, valuables, deposits, profession to family members, earning and not earning, how will they begin again on their own ?

Here NGOs can help. But with their limited resources many people will still remain uncatered and even the few lucky ones, who will manage to get some help, it would be too little. Of course, we have to also count mismanagement and corruption. In reality, whatever money which has been arranged till now, only a small part of it will reach the needy, and that too scattered.

Instead of refusing foreign aid, had government accepted the huge aid, it would have reached to more people, and with greater affect. It would not take a life time for people to reach their old prosperous self. NGOs would have sharper teethes to plan and manage. Corrupt would still have their pie, but enough would be left for the needy.

Alas, this is not to be. Government picked wrong occasion to showcase it's statesmanship. It should not have been done at the cost of people's relief. There are other areas of governance where they can work and attain more praises in international circle, and in turn, quality of people's life would have also improved.

Hope better sense prevails.


Poet Ramnaresh Tripathi, in his poem Anweshan conveys that's how people have been looking at the wrong places for God. If one wants to achieve or genuinely please God, one must go to the needy. Very well written.


My Previous Post On Poem - Neeraj

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Friday, January 07, 2005

There Is Something About KP

KP Saxena, that is.

But we all call him just 'KP' in Lucknow. Every Kavi Sammenlan, or Mushaira on Lucknow Doordarshan, & AIR, I have heard him being always referred as 'KP'. And everyone loved him, more so, the audience.

I hated Lucknow DD as anyone would ever, but, invariably, every single new year eve program would out-beat the DD National one, hands down. Reason ? Year after year on the very day, DD-L would treat the audience with some or the other Play written by KP Saxena. Often, he would also play some part in it.

I especially remember(and as would Saurabh) one of his hilarious songs during one such programs which started like this-

Woh Bhi Kya Waqt Tha Jab Hum Ishq Lada Lete Thay
Pyar Ki Dor Ko Charkhi Pe Chadha Lete The,
Woh Uska Dasht-E-Hanai Se Chhudaiyya Dena.....

But can't remember it completely. It was an out and out laugh riot. The whole program became so popular that it had to be repeated three or four times within a month.

Then, there is his famous & trademark satire - Rail Ki Yatra. I have heard it so many times, but I would never have enough of it. When I heard it for the first time, there was no time to breathe in between continuous episodes of uncontrolled laughter.

The most important point. It's one thing to read his satires, and it's an all together different experience to hear it from his own naughty voice. The expressions he gives, his ever changing postures during the presentation, the way he fidgets - his whole body language adds tremendous value to the whole presentation.

And his voice modulations. You would notice that with the changing mood of the Kavita, the pitch of his voice also varies. The whole idea I want to convey is that his presentation is not mere the dumb, monotonous recital of his works, but rather, it seems that there is an actor hidden inside him, which enacts the every character while performing. It is an enthralling experience.

His characters are the usual suspects - his Shrimati Ji(who is dead now, but he has kept her alive through his works), Sardar Dhadda Ji, & Mirja Saheb. And there are many others. There is usual nonk-jhonk between the characters, which is fun.

Fun it was reading Manorma(magazine), and Swantra Bharat(newspaper). Not only these two, he regularly wrote in Dharmyug & Mayapuri, as well. And now he writes for Hindustan. The medium is good old Urdu, Hindi (both Khadi Boli & Awadhi).

His claim to national fame was from the serial 'Bibi Natiyon Wali'. Though, there have been many more serials and movies to his credit, it was Lagaan which has made him the household name. Swades & Hulchul did the rest. Some of his dialogues are very original and well thought.

Like in Swades - 'Apne Hi Pani Mein Pighalna Barf Ka Muqaddar Hota Hai', and in Hulchul - 'Bhaiyya, Kab Tak Charpai Ke Dono Taraf se Uth-te Rahoge ?' This was to indicate for how long 'Bhaiyya' intends to remain unmarried.

To call him a genius won't be extravagent. He was a lecturer of Botany in Lucknow Christian College, and has written 14 graduation books on Botany. His all articles are not on satire alone; often, he also writes scientific articles on plants as well. He has voluntarily retired as a Station Master from Indian Railways.

A Botanist, Railway Officer, play writer, poet, satirist, now a dialogue writer. Whew! The fame and success has also transformed into money now, and he is flourishing more and more with old age. To borrow a Sher from one of his satires would only be apt.

Budhapey Mein Jawani Se Bhi Jyada Josh Hota Hai
Bhadakta Hai Chirga-E-Shehri Jab Khamosh Hota Hai

Long live KP.

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The Ransom of Red Chief - II

(A short story from O. Henry. Continued from The Ransom of Red Chief - I)

I addressed this letter to Dorset, and put it in my pocket. As I was about to start, the kid comes up to me and says:

"Aw, Snake-eye, you said I could play the Black Scout while you was gone."

"Play it, of course," says I. "Mr. Bill will play with you. What kind of a game is it?"

"I'm the Black Scout," says Red Chief, "and I have to ride to the stockade to warn the settlers that the Indians are coming. I 'm tired of playing Indian myself. I want to be the Black Scout."

"All right," says I. "It sounds harmless to me. I guess Mr. Bill will help you foil the pesky savages."

"What am I to do?" asks Bill, looking at the kid suspiciously.

"You are the hoss," says Black Scout. "Get down on your hands and knees. How can I ride to the stockade without a hoss?"

"You'd better keep him interested," said I, "till we get the scheme going. Loosen up."

Bill gets down on his all fours, and a look comes in his eye like a rabbit's when you catch it in a trap.

" How far is it to the stockade, kid? " he asks, in a husky manner of voice.

"Ninety miles," says the Black Scout. "And you have to hump yourself to get there on time. Whoa, now!"

The Black Scout jumps on Bill's back and digs his heels in his side.

"For Heaven's sake," says Bill, "hurry back, Sam, as soon as you can. I wish we hadn't made the ransom more than a thousand. Say, you quit kicking me or I '11 get up and warm you good."

I walked over to Poplar Cove and sat around the postoffice and store, talking with the chawbacons that came in to trade. One whiskerand says that he hears Summit is all upset on account of Elder Ebenezer Dorset's boy having been lost or stolen. That was all I wanted to know. I bought some smoking tobacco, referred casually to the price of black-eyed peas, posted my letter surreptitiously and came away. The postmaster said the mail-carrier would come by in an hour to take the mail on to Summit.

When I got back to the cave Bill and the boy were not to be found. I explored the vicinity of the cave, and risked a yodel or two, but there was no response.

So I lighted my pipe and sat down on a mossy bank to await developments.

In about half an hour I heard the bushes rustle, and Bill wabbled out into the little glade in front of the cave. Behind him was the kid, stepping softly like a scout, with a broad grin on his face. Bill stopped, took off his hat and wiped his face with a red handkerchief. The kid stopped about eight feet behind him.

"Sam," says Bill, "I suppose you'll think I'm a renegade, but I couldn't help it. I'm a grown person with masculine proclivities and habits of self-defence, but there is a time when all systems of egotism and predominance fail. The boy is gone. I have sent him home. All is off. There was martyrs in old times," goes on Bill, "that suffered death rather than give up the particular graft they enjoyed. None of 'em ever was subjugated to such supernatural tortures as I have been. I tried to be faithful to our articles of depredation; but there came a limit."

"What's the trouble, Bill?" I asks him.

"I was rode," says Bill, "the ninety miles to the stockade, not barring an inch. Then, when the settlers was rescued, I was given oats. Sand ain't a palatable substitute. And then, for an hour I had to try to explain to him why there was nothin' in holes, how a road can run both ways and what makes the grass green. I tell you, Sam, a human can only stand so much. I takes him by the neck of his clothes and drags him down the mountain. On the way he kicks my legs black-and-blue from the knees down; and I've got two or three bites on my thumb and hand cauterized.

"But he's gone"--continues Bill--"gone home. I showed him the road to Summit and kicked him about eight feet nearer there at one kick. I'm sorry we lose the ransom; but it was either that or Bill Driscoll to the madhouse."

Bill is puffing and blowing, but there is a look of ineffable peace and growing content on his rose-pink features.

"Bill," says I, "there isn't any heart disease in your family, is there?"

"No," says Bill, "nothing chronic except malaria and accidents. Why?"

"Then you might turn around," says I, "and have a look behind you."

Bill turns and sees the boy, and loses his complexion and sits down plump on the ground and begins to pluck aimlessly at grass and little sticks. For an hour I was afraid for his mind. And then I told him that my scheme was to put the whole job through immediately and that we would get the ransom and be off with it by midnight if old Dorset fell in with our proposition. So Bill braced up enough to give the kid a weak sort of a smile and a promise to play the Russian in a Japanese war with him as soon as he felt a little better.

I had a scheme for collecting that ransom without danger of being caught by counterplots that ought to commend itself to professional kidnappers. The tree under which the answer was to be left--and the money later on--was close to the road fence with big, bare fields on all sides. If a gang of constables should be watching for any one to come for the note they could see him a long way off crossing the fields or in the road. But no, sirree! At half-past eight I was up in that tree as well hidden as a tree toad, waiting for the messenger to arrive.

Exactly on time, a half-grown boy rides up the road on a bicycle, locates the pasteboard box at the foot of the fencepost, slips a folded piece of paper into it and pedals away again back toward Summit.

I waited an hour and then concluded the thing was square. I slid down the tree, got the note, slipped along the fence till I struck the woods, and was back at the cave in another half an hour. I opened the note, got near the lantern and read it to Bill. It was written with a pen in a crabbed hand, and the sum and substance of it was this:

Two Desperate Men.

Gentlemen: I received your letter to-day by post, in regard to the ransom you ask for the return of my son. I think you are a little high in your demands, and I hereby make you a counter-proposition, which I am inclined to believe you will accept. You bring Johnny home and pay me two hundred and fifty dollars in cash, and I agree to take him off your hands. You had better come at night, for the neighbours believe he is lost, and I couldn't be responsible for what they would do to anybody they saw bringing him back.

Very respectfully,

"Great pirates of Penzance!" says I; "of all the impudent--"

But I glanced at Bill, and hesitated. He had the most appealing look in his eyes I ever saw on the face of a dumb or a talking brute.

"Sam," says he, "what's two hundred and fifty dollars, after all? We've got the money. One more night of this kid will send me to a bed in Bedlam. Besides being a thorough gentleman, I think Mr. Dorset is a spendthrift for making us such a liberal offer. You ain't going to let the chance go, are you?"

"Tell you the truth, Bill," says I, "this little he ewe lamb has somewhat got on my nerves too. We'll take him home, pay the ransom and make our get-away."

We took him home that night. We got him to go by telling him that his father had bought a silver-mounted rifle and a pair of moccasins for him, and we were going to hunt bears the next day.

It was just twelve o'clock when we knocked at Ebenezer's front door. Just at the moment when I should have been abstracting the fifteen hundred dollars from the box under the tree, according to the original proposition, Bill was counting out two hundred and fifty dollars into Dorset's hand.

When the kid found out we were going to leave him at home he started up a howl like a calliope and fastened himself as tight as a leech to Bill's leg. His father peeled him away gradually, like a porous plaster.

"How long can you hold him?" asks Bill.

"I'm not as strong as I used to be," says old Dorset, "but I think I can promise you ten minutes."

"Enough," says Bill. "In ten minutes I shall cross the Central, Southern and Middle Western States, and be legging it trippingly for the Canadian border."

And, as dark as it was, and as fat as Bill was, and as good a runner as I am, he was a good mile and a half out of summit before I could catch up with him.

My Previous Post On Story - Never Take The Short Cut

The Ransom of Red Chief - I

(An ultimate witty short story by O. Henry. My kind of humour. I am sure you all will thoroughly enjoy.)

It looked like a good thing: but wait till I tell you. We were down South, in Alabama--Bill Driscoll and myself-when this kidnapping idea struck us. It was, as Bill afterward expressed it, "during a moment of temporary mental apparition"; but we didn't find that out till later.

There was a town down there, as flat as a flannel-cake, and called Summit, of course. It contained inhabitants of as undeleterious and self-satisfied a class of peasantry as ever clustered around a Maypole.

Bill and me had a joint capital of about six hundred dollars, and we needed just two thousand dollars more to pull off a fraudulent town-lot scheme in Western Illinois with. We talked it over on the front steps of the hotel. Philoprogenitiveness, says we, is strong in semi-rural communities therefore, and for other reasons, a kidnapping project ought to do better there than in the radius of newspapers that send reporters out in plain clothes to stir up talk about such things. We knew that Summit couldn't get after us with anything stronger than constables and, maybe, some lackadaisical bloodhounds and a diatribe or two in the Weekly Farmers' Budget. So, it looked good.

We selected for our victim the only child of a prominent citizen named Ebenezer Dorset. The father was respectable and tight, a mortgage fancier and a stern, upright collection-plate passer and forecloser. The kid was a boy of ten, with bas-relief freckles, and hair the colour of the cover of the magazine you buy at the news-stand when you want to catch a train. Bill and me figured that Ebenezer would melt down for a ransom of two thousand dollars to a cent. But wait till I tell you.

About two miles from Summit was a little mountain, covered with a dense cedar brake. On the rear elevation of this mountain was a cave. There we stored provisions.

One evening after sundown, we drove in a buggy past old Dorset's house. The kid was in the street, throwing rocks at a kitten on the opposite fence.

"Hey, little boy!" says Bill, "would you like to have a bag of candy and a nice ride?"

The boy catches Bill neatly in the eye with a piece of brick.

"That will cost the old man an extra five hundred dollars," says Bill, climbing over the wheel.

That boy put up a fight like a welter-weight cinnamon bear; but, at last, we got him down in the bottom of the buggy and drove away. We took him up to the cave, and I hitched the horse in the cedar brake. After dark I drove the buggy to the little village, three miles away, where we had hired it, and walked back to the mountain.

Bill was pasting court-plaster over the scratches and bruises on his features. There was a fire burning behind the big rock at the entrance of the cave, and the boy was watching a pot of boiling coffee, with two buzzard tailfeathers stuck in his red hair. He points a stick at me when I come up, and says:

"Ha! cursed paleface, do you dare to enter the camp of Red Chief, the terror of the plains?"

"He's all right now," says Bill, rolling up his trousers and examining some bruises on his shins. "We're playing Indian. We're making Buffalo Bill's show look like magic-lantern views of Palestine in the town hall. I'm Old Hank, the Trapper, Red Chief's captive, and I'm to be scalped at daybreak. By Geronimo! that kid can kick hard."

Yes, sir, that boy seemed to be having the time of his life. The fun of camping out in a cave had made him forget that he was a captive himself. He immediately christened me Snake-eye, the Spy, and announced that, when his braves returned from the warpath, I was to be broiled at the stake at the rising of the sun.

Then we had supper; and he filled his mouth full of bacon and bread and gravy, and began to talk. He made a during-dinner speech something like this:

"I like this fine. I never camped out before; but I had a pet 'possum once, and I was nine last birthday. I hate to go to school. Rats ate up sixteen of Jimmy Talbot's aunt's speckled hen's eggs. Are there any real Indians in these woods? I want some more gravy. Does the trees moving make the wind blow? We had five puppies. What makes your nose so red, Hank? My father has lots of money. Are the stars hot? I whipped Ed Walker twice, Saturday. I don't like girls. You dassent catch toads unless with a string. Do oxen make any noise? Why are oranges round? Have you got beds to sleep on in this cave? Amos Murray has got six toes. A parrot can talk, but a monkey or a fish can't. How many does it take to make twelve?"

Every few minutes he would remember that he was a pesky redskin, and pick up his stick rifle and tiptoe to the mouth of the cave to rubber for the scouts of the hated paleface. Now and then he would let out a warwhoop that made Old Hank the Trapper, shiver. That boy had Bill terrorized from the start.

"Red Chief," says I to the kid, "would you like to go home?"

"Aw, what for?" says he. "I don't have any fun at home. I hate to go to school. I like to camp out. You won't take me back home again, Snake-eye, will you?"

"Not right away," says I. "We'll stay here in the cave a while."

"All right!" says he. "That'll be fine. I never had such fun in all my life."

We went to bed about eleven o'clock. We spread down some wide blankets and quilts and put Red Chief between us. We weren't afraid he'd run away. He kept us awake for three hours, jumping up and reaching for his rifle and screeching: "Hist! pard," in mine and Bill's ears, as the fancied crackle of a twig or the rustle of a leaf revealed to his young imagination the stealthy approach of the outlaw band. At last, I fell into a troubled sleep, and dreamed that I had been kidnapped and chained to a tree by a ferocious pirate with red hair.

Just at daybreak, I was awakened by a series of awful screams from Bill. They weren't yells, or howls, or shouts, or whoops, or yawps, such as you'd expect from a manly set of vocal organs--they were simply indecent, terrifying, humiliating screams, such as women emit when they see ghosts or caterpillars. It's an awful thing to hear a strong, desperate, fat man scream incontinently in a cave at daybreak.

I jumped up to see what the matter was. Red Chief was sitting on Bill's chest, with one hand twined in Bill's hair. In the other he had the sharp case-knife we used for slicing bacon; and he was industriously and realistically trying to take Bill's scalp, according to the sentence that had been pronounced upon him the evening before.

I got the knife away from the kid and made him lie down again. But, from that moment, Bill's spirit was broken. He laid down on his side of the bed, but he never closed an eye again in sleep as long as that boy was with us. I dozed off for a while, but along toward sun-up I remembered that Red Chief had said I was to be burned at the stake at the rising of the sun. I wasn't nervous or afraid; but I sat up and lit my pipe and leaned against a rock.

"What you getting up so soon for, Sam?" asked Bill.

"Me?" says I. "Oh, I got a kind of a pain in my shoulder. I thought sitting up would rest it."

"You're a liar!" says Bill. "You're afraid. You was to be burned at sunrise, and you was afraid he'd do it. And he would, too, if he could find a match. Ain't it awful, Sam? Do you think anybody will pay out money to get a little imp like that back home?"

"Sure," said I. "A rowdy kid like that is just the kind that parents dote on. Now, you and the Chief get up and cook breakfast, while I go up on the top of this mountain and reconnoitre."

I went up on the peak of the little mountain and ran my eye over the contiguous vicinity. Over toward Summit I expected to see the sturdy yeomanry of the village armed with scythes and pitchforks beating the countryside for the dastardly kidnappers. But what I saw was a peaceful landscape dotted with one man ploughing with a dun mule. Nobody was dragging the creek; no couriers dashed hither and yon, bringing tidings of no news to the distracted parents. There was a sylvan attitude of somnolent sleepiness pervading that section of the external outward surface of Alabama that lay exposed to my view. "Perhaps," says I to myself, "it has not yet been discovered that the wolves have borne away the tender lambkin from the fold. Heaven help the wolves!" says I, and I went down the mountain to breakfast.

When I got to the cave I found Bill backed up against the side of it, breathing hard, and the boy threatening to smash him with a rock half as big as a cocoanut.

"He put a red-hot boiled potato down my back," explained Bill, "and then mashed it with his foot; and I boxed his ears. Have you got a gun about you, Sam?"

I took the rock away from the boy and kind of patched up the argument. "I'll fix you," says the kid to Bill. "No man ever yet struck the Red Chief but what he got paid for it. You better beware!"

After breakfast the kid takes a piece of leather with strings wrapped around it out of his pocket and goes outside the cave unwinding it.

"What's he up to now?" says Bill, anxiously. "You don't think he'll run away, do you, Sam?"

"No fear of it," says I. "He don't seem to be much of a home body. But we've got to fix up some plan about the ransom. There don't seem to be much excitement around Summit on account of his disappearance; but maybe they haven't realized yet that he's gone. His folks may think he's spending the night with Aunt Jane or one of the neighbours. Anyhow, he'll be missed to-day. To-night we must get a message to his father demanding the two thousand dollars for his return."

Just then we heard a kind of war-whoop, such as David might have emitted when he knocked out the champion Goliath. It was a sling that Red Chief had pulled out of his pocket, and he was whirling it around his head.

I dodged, and heard a heavy thud and a kind of a sigh from Bill, like a horse gives out when you take his saddle off. A niggerhead rock the size of an egg had caught Bill just behind his left ear. He loosened himself all over and fell in the fire across the frying pan of hot water for washing the dishes. I dragged him out and poured cold water on his head for half an hour.

By and by, Bill sits up and feels behind his ear and says: "Sam, do you know who my favourite Biblical character is?"

"Take it easy," says I. "You'll come to your senses presently."

"King Herod," says he. "You won't go away and leave me here alone, will you, Sam?"

I went out and caught that boy and shook him until his freckles rattled.

"If you don't behave," says I, "I'll take you straight home. Now, are you going to be good, or not?"

"I was only funning," says he sullenly. "I didn't mean to hurt Old Hank. But what did he hit me for? I'll behave, Snake-eye, if you won't send me home, and if you'll let me play the Black Scout to-day."

"I don't know the game," says I. "That's for you and Mr. Bill to decide. He's your playmate for the day. I'm going away for a while, on business. Now, you come in and make friends with him and say you are sorry for hurting him, or home you go, at once."

I made him and Bill shake hands, and then I took Bill aside and told him I was going to Poplar Cove, a little village three miles from the cave, and find out what I could about how the kidnapping had been regarded in Summit. Also, I thought it best to send a peremptory letter to old man Dorset that day, demanding the ransom and dictating how it should be paid.

"You know, Sam," says Bill, "I've stood by you without batting an eye in earthquakes, fire and flood--in poker games, dynamite outrages, police raids, train robberies and cyclones. I never lost my nerve yet till we kidnapped that two-legged skyrocket of a kid. He's got me going. You won't leave me long with him, will you, Sam?"

"I'll be back some time this afternoon," says I. "You must keep the boy amused and quiet till I return. And now we'll write the letter to old Dorset."

Bill and I got paper and pencil and worked on the letter while Red Chief, with a blanket wrapped around him, strutted up and down, guarding the mouth of the cave. Bill begged me tearfully to make the ransom fifteen hundred dollars instead of two thousand. "I ain't attempting," says he, "to decry the celebrated moral aspect of parental affection, but we're dealing with humans, and it ain't human for anybody to give up two thousand dollars for that forty-pound chunk of freckled wildcat. I'm willing to take a chance at fifteen hundred dollars. You can charge the difference up to me."

So, to relieve Bill, I acceded, and we collaborated a letter that ran this way:

Ebenezer Dorset, Esq.:

We have your boy concealed in a place far from Summit. It is useless for you or the most skilful detectives to attempt to find him. Absolutely, the only terms on which you can have him restored to you are these: We demand fifteen hundred dollars in large bills for his return; the money to be left at midnight to-night at the same spot and in the same box as your reply--as hereinafter described. If you agree to these terms, send your answer in writing by a solitary messenger to-night at half-past eight o'clock. After crossing Owl Creek, on the road to Poplar Cove, there are three large trees about a hundred yards apart, close to the fence of the wheat field on the right-hand side. At the bottom of the fence-post, opposite the third tree, will be found a small pasteboard box.

The messenger will place the answer in this box and return immediately to Summit.

If you attempt any treachery or fail to comply with our demand as stated, you will never see your boy again.

If you pay the money as demanded, he will be returned to you safe and well within three hours. These terms are final, and if you do not accede to them no further communication will be attempted.


(.. continued on The Ransom of Red Chief - II)

My Previous Post On Story - Never Take The Short Cut

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Thursday, January 06, 2005


If you do not know the official definition of inflation, don't bother. This post sheds some light.

- When I bought petrol for the first time for my beloved Hero Puch Shakti, it had just cost Rs 18/Litre. A Hero Honda CD100 once cost just Rs 18000.

- I remember the day Pepsi was launched in India( Remo promising - Yehi A Right Choice Baby - Ahaa). Those who had The Times Of India, were getting it for free that day, if we carried the paper's cutting. With my friend Hemant, we searched every soft drink joint in our entire neighbourhood . Had almost given up, when we found one ready to accept that scheme. Mehnat Ka Phal Thanda Hota Hai.

- Campa Cola would cost only Rs 2.00, while Milk Badam was at Rs 2.50 at Kwality. Yum Yum. Melody was launched at 35 paise offer price(Melody Khao Khud Jaan Jao). Bubble Gum@40 paise. Five Star choc was at just at Rs 3.00.

- Small Bread pack(with eight loaves) was just for Re 1.00, and bigger pack was of Rs. 2.00. But there was this MilkMade brand which would cost just 95 paise and Rs 1.90 respectively. We use to buy this one, and with remaining amount we would buy two Pan Pasand of 5 paise each.

- Six Golgappe(PaniPuri) for just Re 1. If you are a Purana Grahak & enterprising, it could be eight as well. Samosas were of 50 paise each, while Aloo Tikki Chaat for 75 paise. 100 gm of Jalebi could be enjoyed for Re 1.

- A balcony ticket at the most swanky theatre of the city was of Rs 15. When they raised the price to Rs 20, we thought it was atrocious. Today they charge 60/-. Zoo ticket was just Re 1.00. Museum's was at 50 paise.

- Diamond Comics was Rs 5, while Indrajaal at Rs 3.50. Madhu Muskan, Parag, LotPot, Nandan, Chanda Mama were on monthly subscription so they were subsidized.

The list is endless. All the things looked to be offered on platter. But parents have more stranger times to tell about. Seems like a different era all together.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Matters Of The State

My favourite anchor - Karan Thapar. My favourite Politician - Arun Shourie. So what happens when both sit together across a table for a chat show ?

Absolute Sold Out.

Yep, though I am late on this. Matters Of the State is an one hour chat show hosted by Karan Thapar on CNBC TV18 at 6.30 PM, Sundays. His guest for the past three episodes is Arun Shourie. I missed the first one, but luckily, was able to watch the next two. They were on problems in Disinvestments and Planning Commission, respectively. The fourth and last one, next Sunday, will be on solutions to these problems.

One learns so much just listening to Shourie, and the icing on the cake is the anchor like Thapar, who is not only a good listener(very important), has good understanding of the issues, but also, with his unique questioning skills and research, he elicits the most out of his hosts.

I remember his phenomenal interview of General Musharraf four-five years ago for Doordarshan( he was especially selected for that), which took place in Pakistan. He had with him, the print of each and every relevant event or statement given by Musharraf. Whatever hypocrisy General tried, it was tore into shreds by Karan citing factual contradiction to his own previous statements.

By the end of forty minutes Tete a Tate, he had taken the winds out Musharraf, exposing to full scale his hypocrisy and ambiguity. The defeated look on hapless Musharraf's face clearly suggested that he wanted to get over with it ASAP. Unfortunately, not many have seen that gem of an interview.

In contrast, his camaraderie with Shourie is terrific. These are one of the most (rare)honest and capable men in their respective professions. They have nothing to hide. Therefore, both are complete at ease, and conversation just flows. In the process, the audience is the ultimate winner.

So those who have the luxury of a TV and CNBC at your home, and are not doing much that evening, then don't miss the last episode. It will talk about the solutions to the problems of governance in disinvestments & planning commission till now suggested. Believe me, it would be fun.

My Previous Post On Arun Shourie - Another Feather In His Cap

Tuesday, January 04, 2005


Kavivar Gopal Das Neeraj turns eighty today. What an opportune moment to share some of his jewels today.

Nibhana Hi Kathin Hai is one if his famous poems. Seen him once reciting it at one of the earlier episodes of Wah Wah on Sab TV. As usual, he is at his philosophical best. Every stanza is a gem.


After that Kavita in Hindi, now Ashaar in Urdu. This is his trademark Nazm, which he recites at every Mushaira or Kavi Sammelan he visits. Rare to find a person who has good command over, both, Hindi and Urdu poetry.

Duur Se Duur Talak Ek Bhii DaraKht Na Thaa

duur se duur talak ek bhii daraKht na thaa
tumhaare ghar kaa safar is qadar to saKht na thaa

[daraKht = tree; saKht = difficult/hard]

itane masaruuf the ham jaane kii taiyaarii me.n
kha.De them tum aur tumhe.n dekhane kaa vaqt ka thaa

[masaruuf = busy]

mai.n jis kii khoj me.n Khud kho gayaa thaa mele me.n
kahii.n vo meraa hii ehasaas to kam_baKht na thaa

[kam_baKht = unfortunate]

jo zulm sah ke bhii chup rah gayaa na Khaul uThaa
vo aur kuchh ho magar aadamii kaa rakt na thaa

[Khaul = boil; raqt = blood]

unhii.n faqiiro.n ne itihaas banaayaa hai yahaa.N
jin pe itihaas ko likhane ke liye vaqt na thaa

[itihaas = history]

sharaab kar ke piyaa us ne zahar jiivan bhar
hamaare shahar me.n 'Neeraj'-saa ko_ii mast na thaa

My Previous Post On Poems - In Mood With Times

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Monday, January 03, 2005

Never Take The Shortcut

Moti was not superstitious. Not that education was behind it. He barely knew his calculations, but knew them adequate enough to manage his meager sellings. He sold eggs in a near by town, for which he had to cycle all the way to and fro. Under the normal circumstances, one followed the pukka road which was about one hour for one way trip.

But Moti usually took the shortcut. It passed through the outskirts of a thick, deep jungle, though only briefly. Village folks talked about the snakes, hyenas, big cats frequenting those woods. Some even warned about the unruly supernatural elements flaunting their presence. The weak would shudder at those stories. But Moti wasn't weak. And he wasn't superstitious either.

But his wife was. Previous night she had some bad dream, and she won't tell what. All that Moti knew was that she implored her NOT to take the shortcut that evening. To avoid the fuss, he relented, though partially. Much to the chagrin of his wife, he added that he won't enter the thicket after dark, but otherwise it would depend upon the circumstances.

So after selling the day's eggs, he was on his way back and it wasn't dark yet. He laughed at his soul mate. His grandfather once told him that a superstition is a premature explanation that overstays its time. She needed to get over it.

A few minutes into the jungle he realized that it gets dark a little more quicker in side it. Another few minutes, and his opinion changed once more. It's get dark damned more quicker. In fact, it was already pitch dark, almost suddenly. This had never happened before! He felt a hint of perspiration. He paddled on faster.

He was not sure what happened. All he remembered there was a loud noise, then he was yanked off the bicycle. His right knee was badly bruised, and he was lying prostrate on his face. After staggering onto his feet, he groped for his vehicle. The front rim was badly mutilated. "Damn!", he cursed aloud. The visibility now was almost nil. It was clear that the cycle and Moti won't be able to carry each other.

Nocturnal noises had started reverberating. He decided to continue on Gyarah Number Ki Gadi(his legs). Moments later, another realization dawned upon him. He was on the wrong track! The darkness has fooled him into making the mistake, and it seemed he was deep into the woods. "Why all this is happening only today!", he wondered aloud. It was then he remembered his wife's warnings. He was perspiring profusely now.

He didn't have a good memory, which has been a cause of his embarrassment quite a times. But today, he exactly remembered every horrifying tale his village folks used to tell. It was not the time to rejoice at the rediscovered memory. It was time to scoot. And he ran as he had never ran before, untill, miraculously, he saw a road. He collapsed.

He woke up with a start. He was still lying by the side of the road which he had never seen before. It was raining incessantly, and not a soul was in the sight. Still in the fix what to do, when he saw a car coming slowly from one side. He decided to plead for a lift but soon realized that who would give lift to a stranger, looking like a zombie, on deserted road that ran around the woods. He decided to gate crash.

The car, strangely, was running quite slowly. Not that he minded it. As soon as car came by his side, he lunged into the nearest door. Door luckily was not bolted, and it took only a moment to get inside. The car was moving even more slowly than he had thought. He was about to apologize(for the forced entry) and complain(for the slowness) to the driver, when he saw there was no one driving the car! The driver's seat was empty!

Moti froze. His tale of horror didn't seem to end, or was it the end of everything. His voice choked, and it was difficult to make out whether he was more wet due to the rain or perspiration. His whole body was shaking violently. He remembered his wife once telling that spooks trouble the non believer's more. He already has had his fair share of trouble. Now it was his turn to turn into a spook.

The idea of spending his future in the woods or driving that car himself didn't appeal to him. This was a complete original situation. None of those spooky tales he had heard resembled this. And he would not live to tell it. He decided to do something about this. He would jump.

Mustering all his courage, he hurled himself against the door. The door was never closed properly, and down he hit the terra firma with a thud. Before he could gather himself on his feet, he noticed that the car had stopped as well, and a shadowy figure loomed over him. This is it. He closed his eyes. The moment of truth had arrived. The voice of that shadow was shrilling.

"Oh, I am grateful that I found some one at last. My car has broken down and I have been pushing it for almost half an hour now. Can you please help me in pushing to the nearest garage." Moti collapsed for the second time that night.

My Previous Post On Story - The Man Who Knew Too Much

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My Dear Roomie

When I first saw this hurly-burly fellow, flashing a powerhouse smile, and proffering a firm hand( to shake), I knew I was in safe hands. All the apprehensions about my would be roommate vanished, almost immediately. Roomies in true sense, we remained together all three years in Hall-III, and we even remained neighbours in Hall -I, during final year, where accommodations were one in one.

That is a rare occasion, as you all would know. For us, the case was settled during the end of the first year, when he announced that he was not going to leave me, not for anyone. And I was glad. From the next year, the question didn't even arise. The issue was closed once for all.

As I was safe, so were my belongings. In my absence, NO ONE could take any of my things. His prying eyes would always insure that. And, of course, no body dare forced his way. His grips were iron. Subir would vouch for that.

He and alcohol, together, were like Molotov cocktail. No one can control him then, except, perhaps, me. But I never tried. Even during one such misadventure, while blasting every one else, he had only kind words for me. That Chauhan Bahut Achha Aadmi Hai. Needless to say, I was overwhelmed.

I haven't ever seen anyone work so hard. His methods used to be instant. He never pondered much. When he joined IIT, he wasn't that proficient in English. But he wanted to do MS. He wanted run his own company. With his sheer perseverance and genius, his English is now flawless. He has completed his MS. Works in US, and has started his own company, based in India.

Want to share a little secret. Though, he always brought the famous Aligarhi Sohan Papdi(plus namkeen ) for every one, he always hid some extra stuff. That were exclusively for both of us. The other good thing about him - he can't remember the story of the movie he might have seen a day before, not even the name. Lucky, no? Every time, the movie is afresh.

His only grudge is that he can not sing more than one line. He just can't do it.

Miss you my dear roomie. Have a very nice Birthday, Rajeev.

My Previous BrithDay Wish - Nandan

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