Wednesday, November 29, 2006

"What Bloody Buddy ?"

Remember the summers of 1988 ? Remember that cocky Cadet Abhimanyu Rai, Cadet Chauhan, whose Taqiya Kalam was - "I Say Chaps", and was a chain smoker ?

Aha, I see you remember it right. Yes, it was Colonel Kapoor's serial Fauji. Shahrukh Khan's first serial in the troika( Circus and Doosra Kewal being others). The fact that Shahrukh Khan is himself a real life chain smoker is another matter.

Courtesy Ramanand, I came to know about its yet another telecast, this time at Sahara one, which I missed yet another time.

I have fond memories of Fauji - the crew cut, the uniform, the discipline, and the breaking of that discipline. Abhimanyu's crush for saanwli saloni Dr Madhu, on whom he had crash landed while paratrooping(or it was the vice versa?), Parmveer Singh Chauhan's ankhe chaar with a lady during a party, and Cadet Peter's secretly smuggling of his girlfriend Cynthia into the campus.

Then there was this stern-at-exterior-but-soft-at-heart elder brother of Shahrukh - Vikram, who keeps on hurtling stiff training and punishments at Abhimanyu, and falls for General's daughter. Shahrukh Khan has his own revenge when he indirectly calls the poking Vikram a kebab mein haddi while eating kebab with Madhu at a party. Pun was intended.

Immensely popular cadet 'I Say Chaps' Chauhan was shown as lost and dead in the battle, causing many a sad hearts, only to return during the end of the serial with his trademark "I Say Chaps".

I particularly liked that dark, big mustached commando trainer, who at the end of every training drill would bark - "Koi Sawal ?", and when someone actually ask, he would again bark - "Mujhey Woh Log Pasand Hain Jo Sawal Nahin Poonchtey!", of course, without answering.

It was a very well written serial, or though same can't be said about direction.

But this post is not about Fauji, but about my Physical Training(PT) teacher who was a retired navy personnel - Mr Kushwaha.

He was a brusque middle aged man, with a hoarse voice, probably due to much shouting in his previous profession. His many voyages in sea had taken a severe toll on his skin, which clearly had many Sun burned patches.

He was a no-nonsense man, a disciplinarian with a touch of humour. But like a typical sailor, his language was gone for a toss, more so his Hindi. He spoke similar to Bombaiyya Hindi, which was a shocker for us in school and due to his military background, mild profanity had become part his Lingua Franca, which was even more shocker.

Once he pronounced, "Agar Tum Sab Shor Karega To Sabke Buttocks(Hindi) Per Ek Padega". Even the giggling girls and guffawing boys couldn't make him realize what he had spoken in the classroom.

One such event took place, when influenced by the "Buddy" concept in Fauji, one of the students asked him, who was his buddy in Navy. Since this "Buddy" thing was fictional, and evidently sir didn't watch the piece of fiction called Fauji, he barked in his usual fashion - "What Bloody Buddy?" The question died the death it deserved.

Another instance, when we were having a PT Class in the school quadrangle, it so happened that Kushwaha sir's fly got unzipped. Of course, everyone noticed it and all were laughing non-stop, and he didn't know why. I too couldn't myself stop laughing, but with some courage went up to him and spoke in his style.

Me(laughing): "Sir, Ek Baat Kahein, Aap Maarega To Nahin?"
Sir(coming to me and says politely): " Nahin Marega, Bolo".
Me(laughing): "Sir, Aapka Zip Khula Hai".
Sir(looks down, smile sheepishly, while fixing the problem): "Koi Baat Nahin Beta, Ho Jata Hai. Thank You."

Reflecting now, the incident doesn't seem as funny as it was that time, but then it was a differen age and era altogether.

Needless to say, his career in my school was pretty brief.



Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Eight Things

Tagged by Juneli, I have to say eight things about myself. As if getting tagged wasn't bad enough( I really don't like getting tagged), there is hardly anything left to say about myself, which I would still want to say.

Reluctant though I am, I will still go about it, but I won't be on an ego trip . It would be some trivia about me, and I may have told them in past. I hope it passes muster.

Tagged By:


Eight Things About Me:

1) I was born on a Sunday, and it was raining that day. Since clouds are creatures of habit, they still rain on my every birthday, wherever I may be. Jab Mai Chhota Bachha Tha, I used to hate this because it meant lesser guests, so lesser gifts.

2) I have studied at the same school for fifteen years. Many of my close friends today were there with me from day one.

3) I learned to bicycle at a very late age of twelve.

4) I am myopic(since I was seventeen), as in eyesight, but that does not mean I am myopic in my thinking too.

5) My two wheeler savari has been - Hero Cycle (24 inch ), Hero Puch - Shakti, Hero Honda CD100SS - all inherited from my father. However, I couldn't lay hands on his green, glistening Yezdi. It was as old as me.

6) The sight I hate most is of armpits - shaven or no shaven.

7) I wanted to be a microbiologist(wanted to do my bit on Genome project), or a lawyer, or an investment banker. I am completely misfit in my current profession.

8) After my family, and some friends, I love my city Lucknow the most - in all its goodness and badness. I have realized its importance after leaving it.

I have to tag six people, but I won't do that in the fear that I might get a return compliment in future. However, every reader is free to get tagged.



Tuesday, November 21, 2006


We all know this song from movie Ashirwaad, sung by Late Ashok Kumar, but this is rather a poem written by the genius Harindranath Chattopadhyaya, who apart from poet was also an actor, artist, dramatist, and philosopher.

As an actor, he was seen in many movies, for eg. as the family patriarch in the Hrishikesh Mukherjee's Bawarchi. His another introduction would be as Nightangle Sarojani Naidu's(a poetess herself) brother.

Coming back to poem, it is amazing the way he has used the name of the cities or the way describes the scenery of the countryside.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

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Monday, November 20, 2006

Easy CAT: Really ?

The CAT( Combined Admission Tests) was out of the bag yesterday for the 6 IIMs. Examinees were elated. They have double reason to do so. First, half an more(total 2.5 hours) for the paper, and then an easy Mathematics paper.

But if I were them, I would rather be not.

In my case, I have found that if the (any)paper was believed to be an "easy" by the junta, I have always fared badly. While tougher the paper, the better I did. I had realized this quite early in my life, so before any exam, I would pray to God to make it tough. Not that God had any say in making of the paper.

And this is not the absolute performance I am talking about; it was my percentile performance which bettered. And think, it might hold true for others as well, though it may not be obvious to many of us.

This is because, an 'easy' paper is just a notion, which might make sense for an interview or viva, but during a competition it is 'easy' for everyone. A weak candidate may feel easier, while a strong candidate would may come home more comfortably, so both will feel happy.

But the real problematic situation is for the fringe players like me who always remain on the edge. Reason - I never did the absolute preparation in my life, and never completed the whole course. This is since I started studying on my own, and luckily my parents believed my half lies.

My methodology was this - after studying the pattern and previous exam papers, I always, prepared what was "important" and had more "probability" to come in exams. If something was optional(like in boards) I would save my energy, by preparing only for one of the options.

Saving grace was that this "important" and "probability" was based analysis rather than instinct. Also, my strong point was speed, especially during the crisis.

An easy paper meant that those who had prepared the complete course, would be at an advantage than me because they would invariably be answering more questions.

A toughie would imply that there is no guarantee the other guy can answer all, even if he has prepared everything, and then my speed would come to my advantage.

Now an easier CAT would have nearly kept me out of reckoning(though there is nothing like a course here), and this half and hour extension would have nullified my speed advantage too.

Sad, I have flunked this CAT even without appearing for it!



Thursday, November 16, 2006

Phir Kya Hoga Uske Baad ?

This simple and nostalgic poem, which I had read long long ago, probably in my sister's CBSE book, is written by noted poet and writer Balkrishna Rao, who also edited the Hindutan Times group's popular Hindi magazine Kadambiri in its early days.

The poem is about the fact that how curious are children, and with their innocent questions, how easily they provide answers to difficult problems of life. Balkrishna ji has used very lovely Hindi to bring about this conversation, it is the Hindi which we have lost back to textbooks.

The poem also reminds us that we have to be very careful with our answers and responses as they have deep rooted effect on children's mind.

Phir Kya Hoga Uske Baad?
Utsuk Hokar Shishu Ne Poochha,
Maan, Kya Hoga Uske Baad?

Ravi Se Ujjval, Shashi Se Sundar,
Nav-Kislay Dal Se Komaltar
Vadhu Tumhari Ghar Aayegi
Us Vivah Utsav Ke Baad

Palbhar Mukh Par Smiti Rekha
Khel Gayi Phir Maan Ne Dekha
Utsuk Ho Kah Utha Kintu Woh
Phir Kya Hoga Uske Baad?

Phir Nabh Se Nakshatra Manohar
Swarga Lok Se Utar Utar Kar
Tere Shishu Banne Ko Mere
Ghar Aayenge Uske Baad

Mere Naye Khiloune Lekar
Chale Na Jayein Ve Apne Ghar
Chintit Hokar Utha Kintu Woh
Poochha Phir Kya Hoga Uske Baad?

Ab Maan Ka Jee Oob Chuka Tha
Harsh Shranti Mein Doob Chuka Tha
Boli Phir Main Boodhi Hokar
Mar Jaoongi Uske Baad

Ye Sun Kar Bhar Aaye Lochan
Kintu Ponchhkar Unhein Usi Kshan
Sahaj Kautuhal Se Phir Shishu Ne
Poochha, Maan Kya Hoga Uske Baad?

Kavi Ko Balak Ne Sikhlaya
Sukh Dukh Hai Palbhar Ki Maya
Hai Anant Tatwa Ka Prashna Yeh
Phir Kya Hoga Uske Baad?

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

I am not shocked at the 'findings' of Ram Jethmalani. He is not first time at it.

He succeeded after Indira Gandhi's assassination; tasted success in Hinduja Bofors case. He will succeed in future as well. This is the way corrupt lawyers(rhymes well with the word "liars") are subverting the judicial process in the country.

And they are not alone in it. Police is there, and so are the "Honourable" Judges. Just think of the poor people who are fighting their cases for past ten or twenty years, while gentlemen like Jethmalani are not only sucking money, they are further delaying cases.

Lawyers apart, I wonder how come his family members have coped till now with a loony like Ram Jethmalani. He has shown the traces of lunacy many a times before( like his flip flop on fighting election against Atal Bihar Vajpayee).

Nirala Ji had described such people well -

Chaat Rahe Hain Joothi Pattal
Kahin Sadak Pe Khade Hue
Aur Jhapat Lene Ko Unse
Kutte Bhi Hain Ade Hue

Unse - Common Man
Kutte - Ram JethMalani



Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Children's Day

Happy Children's day to Aryan, and other kids.


Aryan is gaining exceeding popularity, especially amongst the females, though not of his age, yet. During his evening Sair, society kids won't let him go. During the other part of the day, his mother's Sahelis won't let him go. Often, even she is not aware about his exact location.

Last weekend, we went to a bank where the girl at the counter vanished with him for quite a while. After long, we noticed him being bamboozled by a group other female employees at the far corner. I must say he quite enjoyed the trip.

By the way, did I tell that he quite likes Shakira.

Lately, there are some new and interesting happenings going around. Minor things like - he now tries to hold his milk bottle, and sometime manages it all by himself, and that he has learned some Namaste type posture, clasping both hands in a peculiar manner.

After the musical "Gaya" and "Nayin" - "Arey" is the new word in his vocabulary which he uses quite lavishly. He has also developed some sort singing ability. That day he smiled and sang intermittently for more than one hour, and kept us smiling from ear to ear.

Now about the phenomenon which has kept us shocked. Now days he is smiling quite frequently, and he has developed some sort of liking for the ceiling fans, and wall clocks. The moment he catches them on his gaze, he smiles, and blushes(yes), turning his head away, only to look back again.

But this was not shocking as many kids do that with fans etc. Here is the shocking part. Even before he was born, we had pasted two Archie's posters of beautiful kids - one sleeping, and other one was a fat, smiling one on the wall.

Since fifteen days or so, that is before he caught fancy of fans and clocks, he actually began his smiling and blushing exercise with these posters. And repeatedly at that. At first we though it was just a coincidence, but to our disbelief he would do it every time he looked at them!

Now how on the earth did just a two and half month old kid know that he and those kids on the poster are of the same kind ! This was amazing, and is kind of mystery to crack. God has his own methods, and these kids know all of them.

Touch Wood. Nazar Na Lagey!



Friday, November 10, 2006

To Kill a Man - By Jack London

A nice story by legendry Jack London. You will love the funny conversation between the main characters - the rich lady and the burglar.

THOUGH dim night-lights burned, she moved familiarly through the big rooms and wide halls, seeking vainly the half-finished book of verse she had mislaid and only now remembered. When she turned on the lights in the drawing-room, she disclosed herself clad in a sweeping negligee gown of soft rose-colored stuff, throat and shoulders smothered in lace. Her rings were still on her fingers, her massed yellow hair had not yet been taken down. She was delicately, gracefully beautiful, with slender, oval face, red lips, a faint color in the cheeks, and blue eyes of the chameleon sort that at will stare wide with the innocence of childhood, go hard and gray and brilliantly cold, or flame up in hot wilfulness and mastery.

She turned the lights off and passed out and down the hall toward the morning room. At the entrance she paused and listened. From farther on had come, not a noise, but an impression of movement. She could have sworn she had not heard anything, yet something had been different. The atmosphere of night quietude had been disturbed. She wondered what servant could be prowling about. Not the butler, who was nosion. torious for retiring early save on special occasion. Nor could it be her maid, whom she had permitted to go that evening.

Passing on to the dining-room, she found the door closed. Why she opened it and went on in, she did not know, except for the feeling that the disturbing factor, whatever it might be, was there. The room was in darkness, and she felt her way to the button and pressed. As the blaze of light flashed on, she stepped back and cried out. It was a mere "Oh!" and it was not loud.

Facing her, alongside the button, flat against the wall, was a man. In his hand, pointed toward her, was a revolver. She noticed, even in the shock of seeing him, that the weapon was black and exceedingly long-barreled. She knew black and exceedingly long it for what it was, a Colt's. He was a medium-sized man, roughly clad, brown-eyed, and swarthy with sunburn. He seemed very cool. There was no wabble to the revolver and it was directed toward her stomach, not from an outstretched arm, but from the hip, against which the forearm rested

"Oh," she said. "I beg your pardon. You startled me. What do you want?"

"I reckon I want to get out," he answered, with a humorous twitch to the lips. "I've kind of lost my way in this here shebang, and if you'll kindly show me the door I'll cause no trouble and sure vamoose."

"But what are you doing here?" she demanded, her voice touched with the sharpness of one used to authority.

"Plain robbing, Miss, that's all. I came snooping around to see what I could gather up. I thought you wan't to home, seein' as I saw you pull out with your old man in an auto. I reckon that must a ben your pa, and you're Miss Setliffe."

Mrs. Setliffe saw his mistake, appreciated the naive compliment, and decided not to undeceive him.

"How do you know I am Miss Setliffe?" she asked.

"This is old Setliffe's house, ain't it?"

She nodded.

"I didn't know he had a daughter, but I reckon you must be her. And now, if it ain't botherin' you too much, I'd sure be obliged if you'd show me the way out."

"But why should I? You are a robber, a burglar."

"If I wan't an ornery shorthorn at the business, I'd be accumulatin' them rings on your fingers instead of being polite," he retorted.

"I come to make a raise outa old Setliffe, and not to be robbing women-folks. If you get outa the way, I reckon I can find my own way out."

Mrs. Setliffe was a keen woman, and she felt that from such a man there was little to fear. That he was not a typical criminal, she was certain. From his speech she knew he was not of the cities, and she seemed to sense the wider, homelier air of large spaces.

"Suppose I screamed?" she queried curiously. "Suppose I made an outcry for help? You couldn't shoot me? . . . a woman?"

She noted the fleeting bafflement in his brown eyes. He answered slowly and thoughtfully, as if working out a difficult problem. "I reckon, then, I'd have to choke you and maul you some bad."

"A woman?"

"I'd sure have to," he answered, and she saw his mouth set grimly.

"You're only a soft woman, but you see, Miss, I can't afford to go to jail. No, Miss, I sure can't. There's a friend of mine waitin' for me out West. He's in a hole, and I've got to help him out." The mouth shaped even more grimly. "I guess I could choke you without hurting you much to speak of."

Her eyes took on a baby stare of innocent incredulity as she watched him.

"I never met a burglar before," she assured him, "and I can't begin to tell you how interested I am."

"I'm not a burglar, Miss. Not a real one," he hastened to add as she looked her amused unbelief. "It looks like it, me being here in your house. But it's the first time I ever tackled such a job. I needed the money bad. Besides, I kind of look on it like collecting what's coming to me."

"I don't understand," she smiled encouragingly. "You came here to rob, and to rob is to take what is not yours."

"Yes, and no, in this here particular case. But I reckon I'd better be going now."

He started for the door of the dining-room, but she interposed, and a very beautiful obstacle she made of herself. His left hand went out as if to grip her, then hesitated. He was patently awed by her soft womanhood.

"There!" she cried triumphantly. "I knew you wouldn't."

The man was embarrassed.

"I ain't never manhandled a woman yet," he explained, "and it don't come easy. But I sure will, if you set to screaming."

"Won't you stay a few minutes and talk?" she urged. "I'm so interested. I should like to hear you explain how burglary is collecting what is coming to you."

He looked at her admiringly.

"I always thought women-folks were scairt of robbers," he confessed. "But you don't seem none."

She laughed gaily.

"There are robbers and robbers, you know. I am not afraid of you, because I am confident you are not the sort of creature that would harm a woman. Come, talk with me a while. Nobody will disturb us. I am all alone. My-- father caught the night train to New York. The servants are all asleep. I should like to give you something to eat--women always prepare midnight suppers for the burglars they catch, at least they do in the magazine stories. But I don't know where to find the food. Perhaps you will have something to drink?"

He hesitated, and did not reply; but she could see the admiration for her growing in his eyes.

"You're not afraid?" she queried. "I won't poison you, I promise. I'll drink with you to show you it is all right."

"You sure are a surprise package of all right," he declared, for the first time lowering the weapon and letting it hang at his side. "No one don't need to tell me ever again that women-folks in cities is afraid. You ain't much--just a little soft pretty thing. But you've sure got the spunk. And you're trustful on top of it. There ain't many women, or men either. who'd treat a man with a gun the way you're treating me."

She smiled her pleasure in the compliment, and her face, was very earnest as she said:

"That is because I like your appearance. You are too decent-looking a man to be a robber. You oughtn't to do such things. If you are in bad luck you should go to work. Come, put away that nasty revolver and let us talk it over. The thing for you to do is to work."

"Not in this burg," he commented bitterly. "I've walked two inches off the bottom of my legs trying to find a job. Honest, I was a fine large man once. . . before I started looking for a job."

The merry laughter with which she greeted his sally obviously pleased him, and she was quick to note and take advantage of it. She moved directly away from the door and toward the sideboard.

"Come, you must tell me all about it while I get that drink for you. What will it be? Whisky?"

"Yes, ma'am," he said, as he followed her, though he still carried the big revolver at his side, and though he glanced reluctantly at the unguarded open door.

She filled a glass for him at the sideboard.

"I promised to drink with you," she said hesitatingly. "But I don't like whisky. I . . . I prefer sherry."

She lifted the sherry bottle tentatively for his consent.

"Sure," he answered, with a nod. "Whisky's a man's drink. I never like to see women at it. Wine's more their stuff."

She raised her glass to his, her eyes meltingly sympathetic.

"Here's to finding you a good position--"

But she broke off at sight of the expression of surprised disgust on his face. The glass, barely touched, was removed from his wry lips.

"What is the matter!" she asked anxiously. "Don't you like it? Have I made a mistake?"

"It's sure funny whisky. Tastes like it got burned and smoked in the making."

"Oh! How silly of me! I gave you Scotch. Of course you are accustomed to rye. Let me change it."

She was almost solicitiously maternal, as she replaced the glass with another and sought and found the proper bottle.

"Better?" she asked.

"Yes, ma'am. No smoke in it. It's sure the real good stuff. I ain't had a drink in a week. Kind of slick, that; oily, you know; not made in a chemical factory."

"You are a drinking man?" It was half a question, half a challenge.

"No, ma'am, not to speak of. I HAVE rared up and ripsnorted at spells, but most unfrequent. But there is times when a good stiff jolt lands on the right spot kerchunk, and this is sure one of them. And now, thanking you for your kindness, ma'am, I'll just be a pulling along."

But Mrs. Setliffe did not want to lose her burglar. She was too poised a woman to possess much romance, but there was a thrill about the present situation that delighted her. Besides, she knew there was no danger. The man, despite his jaw and the steady brown eyes, was eminently tractable. Also, farther back in her consciousness glimmered the thought of an audience of admiring friends. It was too bad not to have that audience.

"You haven't explained how burglary, in your case, is merely collecting what is your own," she said. "Come, sit down, and tell me about it here at the table."

She maneuvered for her own seat, and placed him across the corner from her. His alertness had not deserted him, as she noted, and his eyes roved sharply about, returning always with smoldering admiration to hers, but never resting long. And she noted likewise that while she spoke he was intent on listening for other sounds than those of her voice. Nor had he relinquished the revolver, which lay at the corner of the table between them, the butt close to his right hand.

But he was in a new habitat which he did not know. This man from the West, cunning in woodcraft and plainscraft, with eyes and ears open, tense and suspicious, did not know that under the table, close to her foot, was the push button of an electric bell. He had never heard of such a contrivance, and his keenness and wariness went for naught.

"It's like this, Miss," he began, in response to her urging. "Old Setliffe done me up in a little deal once. It was raw, but it worked. Anything will work full and legal when it's got few hundred million behind it. I'm not squealin', and I ain't taking a slam at your pa. He don't know me from Adam, and I reckon he don't know he done me outa anything. He's too big, thinking and dealing in millions, to ever hear of a small potato like me. He's an operator. He's got all kinds of experts thinking and planning and working for him, some of them, I hear, getting more cash salary than the President of the United States. I'm only one of thousands that have been done up by your pa, that's all.

"You see, ma'am, I had a little hole in the ground--a dinky, hydraulic, one-horse outfit of a mine. And when the Setliffe crowd shook down Idaho, and reorganized the smelter trust, and roped in the rest of the landscape, and put through the big hydraulic scheme at Twin Pines, why I sure got squeezed. I never had a run for my money. I was scratched off the card before the first heat. And so, to-night, being broke and my friend needing me bad, I just dropped around to make a raise outa your pa. Seeing as I needed it, it kinda was coming to me."

"Granting all that you say is so," she said, "nevertheless it does not make house-breaking any the less house-breaking. You couldn't make such a defense in a court of law."

"I know that," he confessed meekly. "What's right ain't always legal. And that's why I am so uncomfortable a-settin' here and talking with you. Not that I ain't enjoying your company--I sure do enjoy it--but I just can't afford to be caught. I know what they'd do to me in this here city. There was a young fellow that got fifty years only last week for holding a man up on the street for two dollars and eighty-five cents. I read about it in the paper. When times is hard and they ain't no work, men get desperate. And then the other men who've got something to be robbed of get desperate, too, and they just sure soak it to the other fellows. If I got caught, I reckon I wouldn't get a mite less than ten years. That's why I'm hankering to be on my way."

"No; wait." She lifted a detaining hand, at the same time removing her foot from the bell, which she had been pressing intermittently. "You haven't told me your name yet."

He hesitated.

"Call me Dave."

"Then . . . Dave," she laughed with pretty confusion. "Something must be done for you. You are a young man, and you are just at the beginning of a bad start. If you begin by attempting to collect what you think is coming to you, later on you will be collecting what you are perfectly sure isn't coming to you. And you know what the end will be. Instead of this, we must find something honorable for you to do."

"I need the money, and I need it now," he replied doggedly. "It's not for myself, but for that friend I told you about. He's in a peck of trouble, and he's got to get his lift now or not at all."

"I can find you a position," she said quickly. "And--yes, the very thing!--I'll lend you the money you want to send to your friend. This you can pay back out of your salary."

"About three hundred would do," he said slowly. "Three hundred would pull him through. I'd work my fingers off for a year for that, and my keep, and a few cents to buy Bull Durham with."

"Ah! You smoke! I never thought of it."

Her hand went out over the revolver toward his hand, as she pointed to the tell-tale yellow stain on his fingers. At the same time her eyes measured the nearness of her own hand and of his to the weapon. She ached to grip it in one swift movement. She was sure she could do it, and yet she was not sure; and so it was that she refrained as she withdrew her hand.

"Won't you smoke?" she invited.

"I'm 'most dying to."

"Then do so. I don't mind. I really like it--cigarettes, I mean."

With his left band he dipped into his side pocket, brought out a loose wheat-straw paper and shifted it to his right hand close by the revolver. Again he dipped, transferring to the paper a pinch of brown, flaky tobacco. Then he proceeded, both hands just over the revolver, to roll the cigarette.

"From the way you hover close to that nasty weapon, you seem to be afraid of me," she challenged.

"Not exactly afraid of you, ma'am, but, under the circumstances, just a mite timid."

"But I've not been afraid of you."

"You've got nothing to lose."

"My life," she retorted.

"That's right," he acknowledged promptly, "and you ain't been scairt of me. Mebbe I am over anxious."

"I wouldn't cause you any harm."

Even as she spoke, her slipper felt for the bell and pressed it. At the same time her eyes were earnest with a plea of honesty.

"You are a judge of men. I know it. And of women. Surely, when I am trying to persuade you from a criminal life and to get you honest work to do . . . .?"

He was immediately contrite.

"I sure beg your pardon, ma'am," he said. "I reckon my nervousness ain't complimentary."

As he spoke, he drew his right hand from the table, and after lighting the cigarette, dropped it by his side.

"Thank you for your confidence," she breathed softly, resolutely keeping her eyes from measuring the distance to the revolver, and keeping her foot pressed firmly on the bell.

"About that three hundred," he began. "I can telegraph it West to-night. And I'll agree to work a year for it and my keep."

"You will earn more than that. I can promise seventy-five dollars a month at the least. Do you know horses?"

His face lighted up and his eyes sparkled.

"Then go to work for me--or for my father, rather, though I engage all the servants. I need a second coachman--"

"And wear a uniform?" he interrupted sharply, the sneer of the free-born West in his voice and on his lips.

She smiled tolerantly.

"Evidently that won't do. Let me think. Yes. Can you break and handle colts?"

He nodded.

"We have a stock farm, and there's room for just such a man as you. Will you take it?"

"Will I, ma'am?" His voice was rich with gratitude and enthusiasm. "Show me to it. I'll dig right in to-morrow. And I can sure promise you one thing, ma'am. You'll never be sorry for lending Hughie Luke a hand in his trouble--"

"I thought you said to call you Dave," she chided forgivingly.

"I did, ma'am. I did. And I sure beg your pardon. It was just plain bluff. My real name is Hughie Luke. And if you'll give me the address of that stock farm of yours, and the railroad fare, I head for it first thing in the morning."

Throughout the conversation she had never relaxed her attempts on the bell. She had pressed it in every alarming way--three shorts and a long, two and a long, and five. She had tried long series of shorts, and, once, she had held the button down for a solid three minutes. And she had been divided between objurgation of the stupid, heavy-sleeping butler and doubt if the bell were in order.

"I am so glad," she said; "so glad that you are willing. There won't be much to arrange. But you will first have to trust me while I go upstairs for my purse."

She saw the doubt flicker momentarily in his eyes, and added hastily, "But you see I am trusting you with the three hundred dollars."

"I believe you, ma'am," he came back gallantly. "Though I just can't help this nervousness."

"Shall I go and get it?"

But before she could receive consent, a slight muffled jar from the distance came to her ear. She knew it for the swing-door of the butler's pantry. But so slight was it--more a faint vibration than a sound--that she would not have heard had not her ears been keyed and listening for it. Yet the man had heard. He was startled in his composed way.

"What was that?" he demanded.

For answer, her left hand flashed out to the revolver and brought it back. She had had the start of him, and she needed it, for the next instant his hand leaped up from his side, clutching emptiness where the revolver had been.

"Sit down!" she commanded sharply, in a voice new to him. "Don't move. Keep your hands on the table."

She had taken a lesson from him. Instead of holding the heavy weapon extended, the butt of it and her forearm rested on the table, the muzzle pointed, not at his head, but his chest. And he, looking coolly and obeying her commands, knew there was no chance of the kick-up of the recoil producing a miss. Also, he saw that the revolver did not wabble, nor the hand shake, and he was thoroughly conversant with the size of hole the soft-nosed bullets could make. He had eyes, not for her, but for the hammer, which had risen under the pressure of her forefinger on the trigger.

"I reckon I'd best warn you that that there trigger-pull is filed dreadful fine. Don't press too hard, or I'll have a hole in me the size of a walnut."

She slacked the hammer partly down.

"That's better," he commented. "You'd best put it down all the way. You see how easy it works. If you want to, a quick light pull will jiffy her up and back and make a pretty mess all over your nice floor."

A door opened behind him, and he heard somebody enter the room. But he did not turn his bead. He was looking at her, and he found it the face of another woman--hard, cold, pitiless yet brilliant in its beauty. The eyes, too, were hard, though blazing with a cold light.

"Thomas," she commanded, "go to the telephone and call the police. Why were you so long in answering?"

"I came as soon as I heard the bell, madam," was the answer.

The robber never took his eyes from hers, nor did she from his, but at mention of the bell she noticed that his eyes were puzzled for the moment.

"Beg your pardon," said the butler from behind, "but wouldn't it be better for me to get a weapon and arouse the servants?"

"No; ring for the police. I can hold this man. Go and do it--quickly."

The butler slippered out of the room, and the man and the woman sat on, gazing into each other's eyes. To her it was an experience keen with enjoyment, and in her mind was the gossip of her crowd, and she saw notes in the society weeklies of the beautiful young Mrs. Setliffe capturing an armed robber single-handed. It would create a sensation, she was sure.

"When you get that sentence you mentioned," she said coldly, "you will have time to meditate upon what a fool you have been, taking other persons' property and threatening women with revolvers. You will have time to learn your lesson thoroughly. Now tell the truth. You haven't any friend in trouble. All that you told me was lies."

He did not reply. Though his eyes were upon her, they seemed blank. In truth, for the instant she was veiled to him, and what he saw was the wide sunwashed spaces of the West, where men and women were bigger than the rotten denizens, as he had encountered them, of the thrice rotten cities of the East.

"Go on. Why don't you speak? Why don't you lie some more? Why don't you beg to be let off?"

"I might," he answered, licking his dry lips. "I might ask to be let off if . . . "

"If what?" she demanded peremptorily, as he paused.

"I was trying to think of a word you reminded me of. As I was saying, I might if you was a decent woman."

Her face paled.

"Be careful," she warned.

"You don't dast kill me," he sneered. "The world's a pretty low down place to have a thing like you prowling around in it, but it ain't so plumb low down, I reckon, as to let you put a hole in me. You're sure bad, but the trouble with you is that you're weak in your badness. It ain't much to kill a man, but you ain't got it in you. There's where you lose out."

"Be careful of what you say," she repeated. "Or else, I warn you, it will go hard with you. It can be seen to whether your sentence is light or heavy."

"Something's the matter with God," he remarked irrelevantly, "to be letting you around loose. It's clean beyond me what he's up to, playing such-like tricks on poor humanity. Now if I was God--"

His further opinion was interrupted by the entrance of the butler.

"Something is wrong with the telephone, madam," he announced. "The wires are crossed or something, because I can't get Central."

"Go and call one of the servants," she ordered. "Send him out for an officer, and then return here."

Again the pair was left alone.

"Will you kindly answer one question, ma'am?" the man said. "That servant fellow said something about a bell. I watched you like a cat, and you sure rung no bell."

"It was under the table, you poor fool. I pressed it with my foot."

"Thank you, ma'am. I reckoned I'd seen your kind before, and now I sure know I have. I spoke to you true and trusting, and all the time you was lying like hell to me."

She laughed mockingly.

"Go on. Say what you wish. It is very interesting."

"You made eyes at me, looking soft and kind, playing up all the time the fact that you wore skirts instead of pants--and all the time with your foot on the bell under the table. Well, there's some consolation. I'd sooner be poor Hughie Luke, doing his ten years, than be in your skin. Ma'am, hell is full of women like you."

There was silence for a space, in which the man, never taking his eyes from her, studying her, was making up his mind.

"Go on," she urged. "Say something."

"Yes, ma'am, I'll say something. I'll sure say something. Do you know what I'm going to do? I'm going to get right up from this chair and walk out that door. I'd take the gun from you, only you might turn foolish and let it go off. You can have the gun. It's a good one. As I was saying, I am going right out that door. And you ain't going to pull that gun off either. It takes guts to shoot a man, and you sure ain't got them. Now get ready and see if you can pull that trigger. I ain't going to harm you. I'm going out that door, and I'm starting."

Keeping his eyes fixed on her, he pushed back the chair and slowly stood erect. The hammer rose halfway. She watched it. So did he.

"Pull harder," he advised. "It ain't half up yet. Go on and pull it and kill a man. That's what I said, kill a man, spatter his brains out on the floor, or slap a hole into him the size of your. fist. That's what killing a man means."

The hammer lowered jerkily but gently. The man turned his back and walked slowly to the door. She swung the revolver around so that it bore on his back. Twice again the hammer came up halfway and was reluctantly eased down.

At the door the man turned for a moment before passing on. A sneer was on his lips. He spoke to her in a low voice, almost drawling, but in it was the quintessence of all loathing, as he called her a name unspeakable and vile.

The End

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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Swati Vachan

By Agyea.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

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Monday, November 06, 2006

Umrao Jaan

I know Lucknowites are fuming. They are furious about what ifs and what nots; about the hara-kiris. They are angry at JP Dutta. More than angry, they are hurt. And now this hurt has changed into ridicule, not only in Lucknow but in the whole country.

Feel sorry for the situation Dutta is in, but he probabily asked for it.

Personally speaking, I knew he would be in even more dreadful situation than Farhan Akhtar was. The latter at least had the support of the original script writer, former has no such privilege. He even claims it is not a remake.

While Lucknowites may have gone overboard with their displeasure, JP Dutta nevertheless made too many mistakes, even if we forget the mistake of making an attempt to make this movie. I would have not dared to remake a movie which had won Best Director, Best Actress, Best Music Director and Best Singer at National Awards.

The say well begun is half done, and Dutta begun very badly by choosing an awful star cast, more so if you compare with the earlier one.

Umrao Jan was not an extraordinarily beautiful woman; she was attractive, intelligent, brave and a good poetess. From the age of twelve, she had found herself in unfortunate situations. One needed an actress, who acts and expresses well, not a wooden star who is a former Miss World. For Dhoom-2 its fine, but not here.

My choice would have been Konkona Sen Sharma.

And look at the other casts - Suniel Shetty, as Faiz Ali(Raj Babbar), a Daku who helps Umrao to escape Kotha, at least for sometime, or Puru Rajkumar as Gauhar Mirza(Naseeruddin Shah) as a scheming pimp. Is it not preposterous!

The character is a melancholy, doomed courtesan, who loves and is jilted; who performs Mujra in Mehfils. She lets out her pain in form of Gazhals. This needed a haunting album, a masterpiece which would have mixed well with the script and the settings.

Javed Akhtar failed miserably here, so did flat Alka Yagnik. As far as Anu Malik is concerned, JP Dutta should have taken horses for courses, his previously successful association notwithstanding. The zing is completely missing.

The magic of Khayyam, Shaharyar, and Asha Bhosle is sorely missed. What an album it was! You can feel Umrao's love and pain in Asha's voice, and in Shaharyar's poetry. The earlier choice was Jaidev, but his tunes were rejected by Muzaffar Ali.

The dialogue writer of Muzaffar Ali's Umrao Jaan, apart from Muzaffar himself, were brilliant Javed Siddiqui and Shama Zaidi.

If they sound unknown entities, let me tell you that former wrote the dialogues of Shatranj Ke Khiladi(co-wrote), Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, Darr, Baazigar, Koi Mil Gaya, Raja Hindustani, Pardes, among others and latter has written for Garam Hawa, Shatranj Ke Khiladi(co-wrote), Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose to name a few. The fact that they have local connection helped a lot.

So much pain was taken in Talaffuz - the diction - that it was difficult to find a fault. To see Rekha - a Tamizh - speak fluent Lucknawi accent was a treat to ears. Not only she, Asha Bhosle - a Maharashtrian, and Talat Aziz - a Telgu followed the book, and Talat still vouches on the perfectionism of Khayyam and Muzaffar Ali, when he was made to speak Phoolon in refined Lucknawi Urdu way, different from accented Hyderabadi Urdu way.

Have been hearing that Ashwariya is not able to speak even 'Khuda' properly. Dutta has been giving excuses of Ashwariya being Manglorean, but Rekha belongs to further south, and what was the director himself doing during the dubbing?

The character of Dilawar Khan, who kidnaps Ameeran and sells her off as Umrao Jaan, has been shown speaking Haryanvi! Haryanvi in Faizabad? Vow! And to comment on the diction of Suniel Shetty, Puru Rajkumar, and sometimes even Abhishek Bachhan would be redundant.

Not shooting Umrao Jan in Lucknow is like not shooting Gandhi in India. This clearly showed JP Dutta lacked the passion of Muzaffar Ali. JP Dutta earlier said that Lucknow monuments are in bad shape, and that prompted him to move to his favourite Rajasthan, and now he retracts that 80% is shot in Lucknow, and 20% percent in Jaipur.

I doubt it. Not a single promo shows Lucknow, except the painting of Imam Bara. The architecture is clearly Rajputana, not Awadhi. Not even the dressing. Even the media is talking about Safas, Pathan suits, beards so unlike Lucknow of that era.

In Ali's movie, all the artifacts, locations, costumes, musical instruments like Sarangi, even stuff like carpets, flower vase, lamps, Hookah, silver Paan boxes, crystal lamps, mirrors were authentic.

Some of these were brought Muzaffar Ali's ancestral Haveli at Kotwara, and other were gathered from local Nawabi households in Mehboobabad, Malihabad, and Kakori. Dress designing was done by Suhasini Ali, the then wife of Muzaffar Ali, keeping in mind of the dressing of that time after thorough research.

Shooting of interiors were done in the Kaiserbagh Baradari, and other Kothis, not at erected the sets. Some monuments look neglected but less because of poor upkeep and more because they were destroyed by British after Lucknow battle in 1857.

But still, it JP Dutta's baby and his interpretation. We can criticize, or lament but God only knows what his reasons were. It is not the first time authenticity is being compromised and not the last time either.

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Friday, November 03, 2006

While I am nobody to judge on someone's IQ, especially when he hardly shows any sign of having the same, but saying India never won an ICC tournament since 1983(that too, on a public platform) does not reflect good on the memory, if not IQ, of Malcom Speed, the ICC chief executive.

He might do well to recall that India has won the ICC Champions Trophy in 2002 albeit jointly with Srilanka due to two consecutive rainwashed finals. I remember a screaming six hit by Sehwag to Chaminda Vaas over the point before rains pitched in.

He should have recollected it even more because of the sponsorship trouble Indian players gave Speed prior to the tournament.

But what can be said of these idiots running the show apart from this -

Barbaad-a-Gulistaan Karne Ko, Bus Ek Hi Ullu Kaafi Tha!
Har Shaakh Pe Ullu Baitha Hai, Anjaam-a-Gulistaan Kya Hoga!



Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Mathematical Problem

Whilst making love a necklace broke.
A row of pearls mislaid.
One sixth fell to the floor.
One fifth upon the bed.
The young woman saved one third of them.
One tenth were caught by her lover.
If six pearls remained upon the string
How many pearls were there altogether?

-- Bhaskaracharya

The answer is quite easy to get! Very poetically put algebric problem.

There are two school of thoughts about the origin. Some say it was originally written in 1150 AD by Bhaskaracharya, and is taken from the book Lilavati, filled with poetic mathematical problems.

Others say the poem is derived from the Manoranjana, a commentary on the Lilavati, written by Rama Krishna Deva(period unknown).

The poem can be found in the book "The Universal History of Numbers" by Georges Ifrah. In it he says:

"Numerical tables, Indian astronomical and mathematical texts, as well as mystical, theological,legendary and cosmological works were nearly always written in verse...From this type of game, the Indian scholars went on to use imagery to express numbers; the choice of synonyms [for whole numbers] was almost infinite and these were used in keeping with the rules of Sanskrit versification to achieve the required effect. Thus the transcription of a numerical table or of the most arid of mathematical formulae resembled an epic poem."

To remind all of us, Indian mathematicians essentially invented modern mathematics in the first millenium: they created our place value system; discovered the zero we use today as a number and a concept; were the first people to create a mathematical definition of infinity; and they wrote virtually all of their mathematical works in