Schools of the World
Suno Duniya Waalon .
जब तक रहेगा समोसे में आलू ...
As long as there will be potatoes inside the SAMOSA ...
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Anantji (my beloved relative and fb friend Anant Srivastava) had gone to Allahabad, my childhood and youth hometown, to attend a wedding in his extended family and had brought for us SAMOSAs from the famous NETRAM shop in Katra area of that city. The little delicious SAMOSAs of Allahabad can be stored outside the fridge for nearly a week or ten days.
As I relished the delectable salted delicacy of my home town, I decided in my mind to write a blog story on SAMOSAs, but some how I forgot about my decision and the story remained unwritten. On 20th Feb., 2017, I attended the wedding reception for my first cousin brother Dr. Manoj Srivastava's beloved dashing nephew Lakshman with beautiful and graceful Pratyeksha. One of the snacks were little Allahabadi SAMOSAs ... hot and crisp. Wow.
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Keshav and Bahurani Pinky (Dr. and Dr. Mrs. K.N.Srivastava) were my co-guests. KESHAV is a big fan of the Delhi variety of SAMOSA, which is of the size of a man's fist and has boiled and spiced potatoes within it. He says "Waah SAMOSA, ek saath poori aur sabzi ka mazaa detaa haiy." It was a great joy to inter-act with the elite helping couple ...both doctors. ....
Many years ago, I visited Keshav at his home. As the tray of tea, sweets and salted snacks was brought in I commented
" Ye toh Allahabad ke Hari waali DAAL-MOTH haiy ..."
"Yes it is from Hari Namkeen Wale of Loknath area of Chowk, Allahabad." ... the delicious taste and flavor are unmistakable. If you go to Allahabad, visit that famous shop in Loknath area of Chowk where you will also get the finest Allahabadi SAMOSAs. These are not stuffed with spiced boiled potatoes but with a spicy friend lintel fillings, which are crispier and tastier.
http://nishamadhulika.com/images/mini-potato-samosa.jpg
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In Daraganj, my home locality in Allahabad, the best SAMOSAs were made by MIshrilal Halwai, who also made delicious ASLI GHEE jalebis. In the early 1950s the SAMOSAs 32 per Rupee, the price rising to 16 per Rupee in the 1960s. I recall buying 4 for a Rupee in Delhi in 1970s. On my Birth Day on 22 February, 2017 I bought SAMOSA @ INR 10 each for the party in the park for my fellow retiree gossip group friends, along with one kg of ASLI GHEE jalebis for Rs.260. I mention the prices just for the sake of keeping it in record for future years, not to show off.
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When I went to Imphal in Manipur State of Eastern India, to take up my first teaching job, Prof. Santi Bikash Dutt, my sr colleague, hailing from Calcutta, asked me "DK, shinghaara khaayega?" ... I declined being in no mood to eat water nuta in the cold weather. He insisted ... "Khaa le, garam garam bahut achha hota haiy!" It was then I came to know that in East India, SAMOSA is known as SINGHARA.
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The best SAMOSAs outside Allahabad are the ones that are sold at the railway platform of TUNDLA Junction Railway station on New Delhi - Allahabad rail route..... In 2007, the last time I visited Allahabad, these were 4 for INR 10. I do not know what it would cost today. India is known for its Railway Route Snacks .... SANDILA KE LADDOOs (जो खाय वो पछताय, जो ना खाय वो भी पछताय ), KHURJA KI KHURCHAN, AGRA KA PETHA, MATHURA KA PEDAA etc.
Many years ago, I had gone to the New Delhi railway station to see off our elder son. The Poori wala at the platform was making fresh hot pooris and storing them in his big THAAL... there were no buyers. I asked him why he was making mounds of Pooris while there were no buyers. He said "The Punjab Mail will be entering the platform soon. You will see all these pooris finished soon." He was right ... 5 Pooris, simple potato curry in a leaf dona, and a couple of Hari Mirch for INR 20 ... I wanted to eat too, but controlled my urge.
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The SAMOSAs at Barog station on the hill section of Kalka Simla toy railway are very popular. When I went with the college boys on our Narkanda - Jalori Pass - Kullu trekking trip in the 1970s, our train stopped at BAROG ... within seconds, a boy jumped out of the toy train coach, sprinted to the Samosa shop on the railway platform, slapped a hundred rupee note on the shop counter and shouted "Ye saare Samose hamare haiyn" ... I forget his name. Was it you, Karan Thapar or was it Ramdev ? hahaha.
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When I shifted from Imphal to a college in Madhya Pradesh, we found that the local salted delicacy was AALOO BONDA ... It was different from SAMOSA. The stuffing is simitar but the dish is different. Balls of spiced boiled potatoes is dipped in a thick salted batter of BESAN. But Aaloo Bonda is no match to SAMOSA.
When a new lecturer from Saugar city joined our college, he found out a SAMOSA shop in a nearby small town some 6 or 7 kms away. But the SAMOSAs of this town were stuffed with spiced KEEMA (minced mutton). Not being fond of non-vegan food I never went for these SAMOSAs, but one young lecturer of the English department would jump on the bike of the lecturer from Saugar for a free ride and feee treat of non veg Samosas. Tired of this free loading Samosa lover, the Saugar lecturer one day made him push his deliberately stalled bike all the way back 6 kms late at night.
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Let me end this blog story by inviting my readers to visit our home in Janakpuri between 4-30 pm and 7 pm for a SAMOSA and JALEBI treat for the nearby C4E Market. When guests visit us we usually get these two famed delicacies of this market for them. My elder son and some dear relatives like Vikas Bhan bring these two items with them not to inconvenience me. I love their gesture. Both these dishes are less than healthy for me in my old age, but I am unable to resist them .... hahaha
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DKS / BHAIYA JI, 24 FEB, 2017
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Durgeshkumar Srivastava
Durgeshkumar Srivastava IT WAS MY JOY TO MEET DR. & DR. MRS.K.N.SRIVASTAVA https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1340326722700312&set=a.1122403837825936.1073741826.100001689916134&type=3
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PHULWA KI BAKRI …. (Phulwa’s Goat) Retd. Prof. (Mr.) Durgesh Kumar Srivastava, New Delhi, India ………………………………………………………………………………..…………………………………………………………………………………………………………. Phulwa was almost my age, may be a couple of years younger to me. My earliest memory of him is of a thin dark boy running on the narrow roads of Daraganj with a long twig of a tree trying to catch with it the KATI PATANGs ( kites which fell from the sky after having been cut by the opponent in kite flying matches which were a very popular sport in Daraganj near Ganga river in Allahabad in north central India.)
Phulwa was some sort of an expert in this kite trapping game. A KATI PATANG falls from the sky in a very special, undulating way. Even when the kite is a hundred feet above your head, you cannot accurately predict where it will actually fall on the ground. You run one way to your left, and then are surprised by a last minute change of direction, and the kite falls to your right. In fact the phrase KATI PATANG in Hindi is used to denote someone who has no moorings and whose movements are unpredictable. Many years ago, there was a hit Hindi movie KATI PATANG, in which the heroine, a widow, was as helpless as a kite in the vast sky detached from its long thread.

Phulwa always had one or two KATI PATANGs in his left hand while he ran after another kite trying to entangle it in the twig in his right hand. My parents would not allow me to go out and run after KATI PATANGs on the streets as they considered it both risky as also below our family dignity. If I wanted kites, they were quite willing to buy these for me. But the joy of these ‘purchased’ kites could never match the joy of Phulwa’s “snatched’ kites. I had a very soft corner in my heart for him as he used to give me one or two kites from his collection.

Phulwa was the son of a KEVAT (a river boatman) and lived with his father in a low shanty that was visible from the roof top of our three story house. The holy river Ganga provided livelihood to a lot of people of Daraganj – KEVATs (boatmen), MACHHUARAs (fishermen), PANDAs (the priests of the holy river), MALIs (flower-sellers) – to name just a few. My father, a Vakil (a lawyer) and a very religious man, had a deep respect for the KEVAT community for a special reason. Hindu mythology has it that eons ago (actually a little more than 7,000 years ago as per historians) it was a KEVAT who had helped Hindu God Bhagwan Ram, his wife Sita and his younger brother, Lakshman, cross the river Ganga in his boat when the trio were on way to their 14 year long Vanvas (exile in the forest) as per the decision of King Dashrath of Ayodhya (Ram’s father). My father’s respectful attitude was reciprocated by the big number of members of the KEVAT community of Daraganj, who used to address my father as VAKIL SAHEB (lawyer, Sir). He never charged any professional fee from any member of the KEVAT community, if he handled some legal work for them. Whenever we would go to the river, some or the other boatman would invariably come running and take us on a free boat ride on the rivers Ganga and Yamuna, which joined Ganga at Allahabad. Vakil Saheb was thus a sort of Godfather to all members of the KEVAT community of Daraganj.

It happened more than 50 – 55 years ago and I am unable to recall the name of Phulwa’s father. One day, he did not return from the river. His boat was also missing. No one could say what had happened to him. Phulwa, a teenager then, had become an orphan. He was uneducated and the only work he could do was that of a boatman. But he had no boat. He had no near relatives. Babuji (we used to call our father by this popular form of address) took immediate steps to support Phulwa. He engaged him as a personal MALISHWALA ( masseur ). Phulwa would come in the morning to give Babuji a half hour massage with Kadua Tel (Mustard oil) for the body and Til ka Tel (Sesame oil) for the scalp. He will then warm water on a (CHULHA) wood-fire stove and help Babuji with his bath. While giving Phulwa a one rupee coin each morning, Babuji will say to him “Beta, zara aaraam kar lo, chay pee ke jaanaa !” (Rest a while, son, and go after you have had your tea.) Amma (my mother) would then serve Phulwa tea with two or three PARANTHAs (a popular Indian style flat round lightly fried pan cake and ACHAR (pickled mango or lemon). Babuji would often send me to call Phulwa in the evening on one pretext or the other and give him some small errand to do. Babuji’s idea was to find a way for Amma to provide evening meals to Phulwa. Babuji did not say anything but he was concerned that Phulwa had no regular source of income to give him two square meals a day.

Babuji soon got an opportunity to help Phulwa. There was a large Hindu temple in the building which was our residence. The idols of Ram, Sita and Lakshman, were offered only the holy Ganga water for their sacred ablutions. The water from the holy river used to be brought by an old priest who died suddenly. Babuji at once got the temple head priest to engage Phulwa for this work. Phulwa would come to the temple in the early morning, collect the brass HANDA (a large water pitcher) and go to the river bank. There he would first take a bath to purify himself, then clean the HANDA with Ganga water, fill it, hoist it over his shoulder, and bring it to the temple. In return for this service, the temple provided a small KOTHRI (cubicle) just below our own residence quarters and a salary of Rupees 50 per month. Phulwa was happy. I too was happy that my childhood friend began living almost next door. However, our worlds were far apart. He was a temple servant and masseur, while I was a post graduate student in the University of Allahabad.

After I had passed my M.Com. examination, I was offered the job of a lecturer in far away city of Imphal in Manipur State in the Eastern corner of India. Babuji, quite an old man now, was very possessive by nature and did not want me to go so far away from home. But around this time, he had a very dwindling law practice and a low income. We needed the money as my sister was unmarried and a younger brother was still in school. I had to go out to earn. I had to board the train at the small railway station near my home. Phulwa carried my luggage on his shoulders, and just before the train arrived, he saw the sadness in my eyes and said “Bhaiya, ghabrao naheen, hum Babuji aur Amma ka poora dhyan rakhbaiy !” (Have no worry, brother, I shall take full care of your parents). I felt relieved.

Life for me was refreshingly different at Imphal, a neat, clean and green small town with verdant hills all around. Frequent letters from Babuji, Amma and Didi (my sister) did not give me a chance to feel homesick. They would write about all the news of Daraganj. Soon enough, Didi gave a happy news in her letter. Phulwa had got married. The bride was a very young girl from a poor KEVAT family from Jhunsi on the other side of the river Ganga. Didi had a knack of writing very long letters, giving the smallest bits of news. She mentioned a very small but interesting fact. The new bride, a thin, very dark girl, had brought a pair of very young goats as a part of her dowry. Didi’s mention of this insignificant detail brought a smile on my face. I visualized the two tiny goats tethered outside Phulwa’s KOTHRI.

I was full of excitement as I got down from the train at the small Daraganj station on my first home visit. As my train crossed the Ganga river bridge to enter the platform, I could see Ramji (my younger brother) craning his neck and looking at the slowing train. Standing next to Ramji was Phulwa. I waved to Ramji and they both ran towards the III class coach where I was standing at the door. Phulwa quickly climbed in and brought out my luggage. As he hoisted my luggage on to his shoulder, I noticed a Jhola (a cotton bag) hanging from his other shoulder. He said: “Bhaiya, iss main bakrion ke liye ghaas hai!” (Brother, this is grass for my goats !) He had pulled out with his bare hands the tufts of grass growing on the grassy embankment of the elevated railway station and stuffed these into his Jhola. I asked him “Kya bakrian badi ho gayi hain?” (Are the goats grown up now?). he replied :”Haan Bhaiya, ek Bakri hai, ek Bakra hai, aur dui tho memna haiyn !” (yes brother, we now have a she-goat, a he-goat and two little lambs !). I smiled. I had visualized two little goats tethered outside his little KOTHRI.

There was a small crowd to welcome me home. Two of my elder married sisters were present along with their children. After I had touched the feet of Chhoti Dadi (my father’s aged aunt), Amma, Babuji, and my elder sisters and patted the children on their backs, a thin woman, dressed in a red Dhoti (a traditional dress of women in India), with face fully covered by a Ghooghat (a scarf like part of the Dhoti used as a veil to cover the face and head) came forward to touch my feet. She was obviously heavily pregnant. With a sheepish smile, Phulwa said “Eee hamaar dulhin haiyn !” (This is my bride !). In fact, I myself felt a bit shy and embarrassed. Here was Phulwa, two or three years younger to me, with a bride in a family way, a Bakra and a Bakri, and two MEMNAs – really and truly a family man, and here I was, not yet married, even though in a good job and of a marriageable age.

Vacation time passed quickly and I returned to Imphal. As I write this today, my mind is crowded by little and big details of that period of life about fifty years ago. My parents were being flooded with marriage proposals for me. I had in the mean time quit the job at Imphal and taken up lectureship in a college at Bilaspur in Central India. This change from the far eastern corner of the country to Central India nearer home was specially welcomed by my aged parents. My train travel time had been reduced from 3 days to 1 day. This ease of commutation facilitated my marriage settlement. I married a girl from an academician’s family based in New Delhi. Soon, encouraged by my wife and parents-in-law, I shifted to New Delhi and joined a Delhi University college as a lecturer.

We lived in a rented house at Kirti Nagar in New Delhi and travelled to Allahabad during each of the college vacations. Strange as it may seem, but a friendship developed between my wife and Phulwa’s wife. One was educated, sophisticated and modern while the other was uneducated, rustic and very old fashioned. Phulwa’s wife had, by now, two kids and the number of goats was close to ten. One day, Phulwa’s wife came with a bowl full of goat milk for my wife. She said with a shy smile “Bakri ke doodh jaccha-baccha ke liye bahut achha hot haiy !” (Goat milk is very good for an expectant mother and her child !). She had guessed right. My wife was in a family way. My wife did not drink that milk, but her bonding with Phulwa’s wife became stronger. They talked to each other – my wife standing in the balcony and Phulwa’s wife outside her KOTHRI below. Phulwa’s wife would often come up with a tiny MEMNA (lamb) for my wife to pet. She gave some of her used Saris (a superior variety of Dhoti) to Phulwa’s wife. Once or twice, I saw Phulwa’s wife oiling and grooming my wife’s hair.

It was decided that while I would return to my job at New Delhi, my wife would stay on at Allahabad for the birth of our first child, since my mother and elder sisters would take all care of her and the newborn. I felt reassured since I knew that Phulwa’s wife too would be a strong support around the time of child-birth. There was a strange and happy coincidence. One of Phulwa’s goats was also expecting and my wife’s expected delivery date was near the same date. It was long back from now when all this happened, but I am amused to recall that my wife wrote to me then (telephones were not very common in 1967) : “Ab toh Bakri ke bhi baccha ho gaya, aur maiyn abhi bhi phansi hui hoon !”. (Even the goat has had its delivery. And here I am, still waiting !)
Our son was born on 10th January, 1968. Hearing the good news, I rushed home to Allahabad. After a quick cup of tea, I borrowed Ramji’s bi-cycle to rush to Kamla Nehru Memorial Hospital. Phulwa was there at the hospital gate and took the bi-cycle from me to take it to the parking. In my wife’s ward, I met Didi, my elder sister, beaming with joy with our little son cradled in her arms “Bhaiya ji, Badhai Ho ! (Congrats, brother !). As I took the little one in my hesitating lap and advanced towards my smiling wife, I saw Phulwa’s wife standing behind her and lovingly combing her hair and gently smiling from inside her half Ghoonghat. She looked every inch a part of our own family.
THE PERPETUAL MAIDEN .... …. . . Retd. Prof. (Mr.) Durgesh Kumar Srivastava, New Delhi, India ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………---------------------
As I engaged the rickshaw at the Adda (the Rickshaw, Tonga and Ekka stand) next to the main T-point crossing of Daraganj, I told the rickshaw-wala that I would pay him more than the agreed fare of “Baarah Aana” if he would make us reach the cinema hall near Allahabad Main Railway Station before the matinee show commenced at 3-30 p.m. I had chosen this particular rickshaw for a particular reason - the rickshaw was new and the rickshaw-wala looked strong. The Adda is on a high ground and the rickshaw was able to attain a good speed at its start. We were both lean then, just married a few days ago and were going for our first movie at Allahabad. The rickshaw almost flew.


That was mid-1966 and today’s popular trend of going for a honeymoon had not yet caught on in the traditional society of Allahabad. The first few outings of a newly married couple used to be to the three Hanumanji temples in the city, a couple of visits to Civil Lines area for a much needed quality time alone together, visits to the homes of near relatives in the city and going for movies. There was no cinema hall in Daraganj and going to the far away hall had the added advantage of giving to the new bride the chance to remove her ‘Pallu’ from over her head and feeling free to breath fresh air. The ‘Pallu’ is the scarf like corner of a Sari (the traditional 5 meter long unstitched length of cloth that is a traditional attire of most Indian women). Women pull the Pallu over their heads as a mark of respect for the family elders and as a veil for their face. Yet another benefit of going for a movie was the chance of the newly married couple to hold hands in full public view. Such public show of romantic affection used to be frowned upon by the family elders in the traditional society of Daraganj.


We managed to reach the cinema hall well in time and I gave the perspiring rickshaw wala the princely sum of two rupees with a flourish to impress my bride “Shaabaash! Sharbat pee lena”. (Well done! Now, go and have a lemonade!). There was a big crowd outside the hall and the sign “House Full” was visible from a distance. Getting the entry tickets was a matter of prestige for a new husband, but my friends had told me the way to solve such insignificant problems. I gave two ten rupee notes to the cycle stand attendant and said in a low voice “2 balcony tickets”. The usual cost of the two tickets in those days was less than ten rupees. The film show had begun as we entered the darkened hall and were seated. I had not noticed before the light perfume that my wife wore and felt on top of the world. What more could a young man expect in life – a good job after a good education, a memorable wedding function, a young and most beautiful bride, and now the perfect romantic setting in an air-conditioned cinema hall away from prying eyes?


Which young man would care, in such situations, to find out the film’s or the principal characters’ names? I do not remember much except that in many scenes the hero would lock himself in his room and open the doors of the Almaari (the wardrobe), take out an old, rag like Gudiya (doll), embrace it and talk to it emotionally, while tears flowed from his eyes. Soon he would be comforted and a serene look would come on his countenance and he would hide the Gudiya behind piles of dresses in the Almaari, sheepishly look around and open the doors of his room. My wife was more practical even at that young age (she was not yet twenty) and when this particular emotional scene was repeated a few times in the film, she commented “Kya “Chootiyapaa” haiy!” (What a stupid folly !) I was and am still an emotional person, but a smile came over my lips on hearing my wife using the derogatory yet amusing word “Chootiyapaa” which was a very popular word in the lingo of Daraganj society. I did not comment, but understood and secretly appreciated the emotions behind the hero’s filmy act.


I have my own memories of dolls. Amma, my mother, used to make life like GUDIYAs from old Saris and dress material. Amma had a fine eye for detail and no two GUDIYAs made by her were alike. She was such an expert in her art that one could see and distinguish the ages and facial expressions of her dolls. Amma had learned this art from Nani (her mother) who had trained Amma and Kamala Mausi (Amma’s younger sister) in this traditional folk craft. There was, at our home, a family of dolls that my sisters – Didda, Bhaiya Didi, Soiyan Didi and Beti Didi – would never tire playing with. A popular doll game used to be “Gudiya ki Shaadi” (The wedding of the doll). When my sisters used to try to exclude me from their games, I would plead with Amma and she would persuade them to include me by offering to prepare real eats for the mock wedding function. My sisters would then agree to include me either as the groom or as the groom’s father. One or two Gudiyas made by my mother are still in the possession of our relatives who have preserved them lovingly in memory of late Amma.


In mid-1968 when my first born son was six months or so, my mother-in-law presented him a red colored doll to play. The little boy loved this doll and felt comforted in holding it. If the doll was taken away from him he would refuse to sleep. After he would fall asleep, the doll would be gently removed. But the doll had to be restored to him as soon as he would wake up from his sleep. In due course of time, the doll was reduced to tatters and it was only when the boy had begun going to the nursery school did he let the doll go. I kept that rag doll in my box for many years as a memento of my son’s childhood. Much later, in the late 1970s, Madhavi, my new born Saali (wife’s cousin sister) too had a similar fascination for a shawl. Madhavi too remained deeply attached to her shawl as she grew up but would secretly hobnob with the shawl. Coincidentally the two dolls (the film hero’s doll and my son’s doll) and Madhavi’s shawl were all red colored. Is there some psychological reason for this?


Years passed and our family reached and crossed many family milestones like the births of our two sons, their education, job placements, their own marriages and the births of our four grandsons. After I retired from service I and my wife decided to pay visits to all our distant relatives one by one. One such visit was to the home of our elderly aunt, Chachiji, a widow who lived with her spinster daughter in a very large house in Lucknow. This particular aunt was known for her unwelcoming attitude towards visitors but we decided to visit her nevertheless. Knowing her nature, we had carried gifts of IMARTIs (a popular sweet goody of North India) and a big bottle of Rose Sharbat. Chachiji had no choice but to welcome us. We began chatting and wondering why her spinster daughter was not coming to meet us. Then my wife got up, ostensibly to visit the bath room, but went into the next room. She called out “Arre, Apni Saali Sahiba se naheen miliyega?” (Are you not coming in to meet your Saali). I got up despite Chachiji’s feeble attempt to hold me back, and went into the next room.


The scene in that other room was like a dream. Many years have passed but I am still unable to comprehend what I saw. The small room was spotlessly clean and well kept. It was gaily decorated like a wedding venue – with paper flowers, colorful buntings, streamers and colorful furnishings. A complete mock Baaraat (grooms wedding procession) was set on a large table. It had everything that a North Indian Baaraat has –a marching band, the groom astride a decorated horse, the colorfully attired BARATIs (the wedding guests) – all miniature toys. Facing the Baaraat on the other corner of the table stood a DULHAN (the new bride, obviously a costly Barbie doll) with a miniature garland of paper flowers in her raised hands, as if ready to garland the toy bridegroom as he would alight from his toy horse. I was mesmerized by what I saw. My Saali Sahiba, a spinster on the wrong side of 45 years of age, stood with a dream like expression on her countenance. It was an unforgettable sight. Standing nearby was my wife with an amused and mocking expression. My mind went back to 1966 and I recalled my wife’s words: “Kya “Chootiyapaa” haiy !”.

I did my best to hide the tears in my eyes. … …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. ~ I dedicate this fictional story to my Saali Sahiba in real life Mrs Nutan/
Wed., 09th May, 2012~(1580 words/8846 characters with spaces) ~
PHULWEA KI BAKRI (pHULWA'S gOAT )
Retd. Prof. (Mr.) Durgesh Kumar Srivastava, New Delhi, India ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
Phulwa was almost my age, may be a couple of years younger to me. My earliest memory of him is of a thin dark boy running on the narrow roads of Daraganj with a long twig of a tree trying to catch with it the KATI PATANGs ( kites which fell from the sky after having been cut by the opponent in kite flying matches which were a very popular sport in that semi-urban locality on the banks of river Ganga in Allahabad in north central India.


Phulwa was some sort of an expert in this kite trapping game. A KATI PATANG falls from the sky in a very special, undulating way. Even when the kite is a hundred feet above your head, you cannot accurately predict where it will actually fall on the ground. You run one way to your left, and then are surprised by a last minute change of direction, and the kite falls to your right. In fact the phrase KATI PATANG in Hindi is used to denote someone who has no moorings and whose movements are unpredictable. Many years ago, there was a hit Hindi movie KATI PATANG, in which the heroine, a widow, was as helpless as a kite in the vast sky detached from its long thread.


Phulwa always had one or two KATI PATANGs in his left hand while he ran after another kite trying to entangle it in the twig in his right hand. My parents would not allow me to go out and run after KATI PATANGs on the streets as they considered it both risky as also below the dignity of our family. If I wanted kites, my parents were quite willing to buy these for me. But the joy of these ‘purchased’ kites could never match the joy of Phulwa’s “snatched’ kites. I had a very soft corner in my heart for him as he would give me one or two kites from his collection.


Phulwa was the son of a KEVAT (a river boatman) and lived with his father in a low shanty that was visible from the roof top of our three story house. The holy river Ganga provided livelihood to a lot of people of Daraganj – KEVATs (boatmen), MACHHUARAs (fishermen), PANDAs (the priests of the holy river), MALIs (flower-sellers) – to name just a few. My father, a Vakil (an indigenous lawyer) and a very religious man, had a deep respect for the KEVAT community for a special reason. Hindu mythology has it that eons ago (actually a little more than 7,000 years ago as per historians) it was a KEVAT who had helped Hindu God Bhagwan Ram, his wife Sita and his younger brother, Lakshman, cross the river Ganga in his boat when the trio were on way to their 14 year long Vanvas (exile in the forest) as per the decision of King Dashrath of Ayodhya (Ram’s father). My father’s respectful attitude was reciprocated by the big number of members of the KEVAT community of Daraganj, who used to address my father as VAKIL SAHEB (lawyer, Sir). He never charged any professional fee from any member of the KEVAT community, if he handled some legal work for them. Whenever we would go to the river, some or the other boatman would invariably come running and take us on a free boat ride on the rivers Ganga and Yamuna, which joined Ganga at Allahabad. Vakil Saheb was thus a sort of Godfather to all members of
the KEVAT community of Daraganj.


It happened more than 50 – 55 years ago and I am unable to recall the name of Phulwa’s father. One day, he did not return from the river. His boat was also missing. No one could say what had happened to him. Phulwa, a teenager then, had become an orphan. He was uneducated and the only trade that he could ply was that of a boatman. But he had no boat. He had no near relatives. Babuji (we used to call our father by this popular form of address) took immediate steps to support Phulwa. He engaged him as a personal MALISHWALA ( masseur ). He would come in the morning to give Babuji a half hour massage with Sarson ka Tel (Mustard oil) for the body and Til ka Tel (Sesame oil) for the scalp. He will then warm water on a (CHULHA) wood-fire stove Aand help Babuji with his bath. While giving Phulwa a one rupee coin each morning, Babuji will say to him “Beta, zara aaraam kar lo, chay pee ke jaanaa !” (Rest a while, son, and go after you have your tea.) Amma (my mother will then serve Phulwa tea with two or three PARANTHAs (a popular Indian style flat round lightly fried pan cake and ACHAR (pickled mango or lemon). Babuji would often send me to call Phulwa in the evening on one pretext or the other and give him some small errand to do. Babuji’s idea was to find a way for Amma to serve dinner to Phulwa. Babuji did not say anything but he was concerned and worried that Phulwa had no regular source of income to give him two square meals a day.


When you want to help someone, you will be able to actually help that person if you have the will to help, the capacity to help and get an opportunity to extend that help. Babuji got an opportunity very soon. There was a large temple in the building which was our residence. The deities of Ram, Sita and Lakshman, were offered only the holy Ganga water for their sacred ablutions. The water from the holy river used to be brought by an old priest who died suddenly. Babuji at once got the temple head priest to engage Phulwa for this work. Phulwa will come to the temple in the early morning, collect the brass HANDA (a large water pitcher) and go to the river bank. There he would first take a both to purify himself and then clean the HANDA with Ganga water, fill it, hoist it over his shoulder, and bring it to the temple. In return for this service, the temple provided a small KOTHRI (cubicle) adjoining the temple door and just below our own residence quarters and a salary of Rupees 50 per month. Phulwa was happy and I too was happy as my childhood friend began living almost next door. However, our worlds were different. He was a temple servant and masseur, while I was a post graduate student in the University of Allahabad.


After I had passed my M.Com. examination, I was offered the job of a lecturer in far away city of Imphal in Manipur State in the Eastern corner of India. Babuji, quite an old man now, was very possessive by nature and did not want me to go so far away from home. But around this time, he too had a very dwindling legal practice and a low income. We needed the money as my sister was unmarried and a younger brother was still in school. I had to go out to earn. I had to board the train at the small railway station near my home. Phulwea carried my luggage on his shoulders, and just before the train arrived, he saw the sadness in my eyes and said “Bhaiya, ghabrao naheen, hum Babuji aur Amma ka poora dhyan rakhbaiy !” (Have no worry, brother, I shall take full care of your parents).


Life for me was refreshingly different at Imphal, a neat, clean and green small town with verdant hills all around. Frequent letters from Babuji, Amma and Didi (my sister) did not give me a chance to feel homesick. They would write about all the news of Daraganj. Soon enough, Didi gave a happy news in her letter. Phulwa had got married. The bride was a very young girl from a poor KEVAT family from Jhunsi on the other side of the river Ganga. Didi had a habit of w riting very long letters, giving small bits of news. She mentioned a very small but interesting fact. The new bride, a thin, very dark girl, had brought a pair of very young goats as a part of her dowry. Didi’s mention of this insignificant detail brought a smile on my face. I visualized the two tiny goats tethered outside Phulwa’s KOTHRI.


I was full of excitement as I got down from the train at the small Daraganj station on my first home visit during the college summer vacations. As my train crossed the Ganga river bridge to enter the platform, I could see Ramji (my younger brother) craning his neck and looking at the slowing train. Standing next to Ramji was Phulwa. I waved to Ramji and they both ran towards the III class coach where I was standing at the door. Phulwa quickly climbed in and brought out my luggage. As he hoisted my luggage on to his shoulder, I noticed a Jhola (a cotton bag) hanging from his other shoulder. He said: “Bhaiya, iss main bakrion ke liye ghaas hai!” (Brother, this is grass for my goats !) He had pulled out with his bare hands the tufts of grass growing on the grassy embankment of the elevated railway station and stuffed these into his Jhola. I asked him “Kya bakrian badi ho gayi hain?” (Are the goats grown up now?). he replied :”Haan Bhaiya, ek Bakri hai, ek Bakra hai, aur dui tho memna haiyn !”(yes brother, we now have a she-goat, a he-goat and two little lambs !). I smiled. I had visualized two little goats tethered outside his little KOTHRI.
There was a small crowd to welcome me home. Two of my elder married sisters were present along with their children. After I had touched the feet of Chhoti Dadi (my father’s aged aunt), Amma, Babuji, and my elder sisters and patted the children on their backs, a thin woman, dressed in a red Dhoti (a traditional dress of women in India), with face fully covered by a Ghooghat (a scarf like part of the Dhoti used as a veil to cover the face and head) came forward to touch my feet. She was obviously heavily pregnant. With a sheepish smile, Phulwa said “Eee hamaar dulhin haiyn !” (This is my bride !). In fact, I felt a bit shy and embarrassed. Here was Phulwa, two or three years younger to me, with a bride in a family way, a Bakra and a Bakri, and two MEMNAs – really and truly a family man, and here I was, not yet married, even though in a good job and of a marriageable age.


Vacation time passed quickly and I returned to Imphal. My mind is crowded by little and big details of that period of life about fifty years ago. My parents were being flooded with marriage proposals for me. I hd in the mean time quit the job at Imphal and taken up lectureship in a college at Bilaspur, in Central India. This change from the far eastern corner of the country to Central India nearer home was specially welcomed by my aged parents. Train travel time had been reduced from 3 days to 1 day. This ease of commutation facilitated my marriage settlement. I married a girl from an academician’s family based in New Delhi. Soon, encouraged by my wife and parents-in-law, I shifted to New Delhi and joined a Delhi University college as a lecturer.


We lived in a rented house at New Delhi and travelled to Allahabad during each of the college vacations. Strange as it may seem, but a friendship developed between my wife and Phulwa’s wife. One was educated, sophisticated and modern while the other was uneducated, rustic and very old fashioned. Phulwa’s wife had now two kids and the number of goats was close to ten. One day, Phulwa’s wife came with a bowl full of goat milk for my wife. She said with a shy smile “Bakri ke doodh jaccha-baccha ke liye bahut achha hot haiy !” (Goat milk is very good for an expectant mother and her child !). She had guessed right. My wife was in a family way. My wife did not drink that milk, but her bonding with Phulwa’s wife became stronger. They talked to each other – my wife standing in the balcony and Phulwa’s wife outside her KOTHRI below. Phulwa’s wife would often come up with a tiny MEMNA (lamb) for my wife to pet. She gave some of her used Saris (a superior variety of Dhoti) to Phulwa’s wife. Once or twice, I saw Phulwa’s wife oiling and grooming my wife’s hair.
It was decided that while I would return to my job at New Delhi, my wife would stay on at Allahabad for the birth of our first child, since my mother and elder sisters would take all care of her and the newborn. I felt reassured since I knew that Phulwa’s wife too would be a strong support around the time of child-birth. There was a strange and happy coincidence. One of Phulwa’s goats was also expecting and my wife’s expected delivery date was near the same date. It was long back from now when all this happened, but I am amused to recall that my wife wrote to me then (telephones were not very common then) : “Ab toh Bakri ke bhi baccha ho gaya, aur maiyn abhi bhi phansi hui hoon !”. (Even the goat has had its delivery. And here I am, still waiting !)


Our first-born, a son, came into this world on 10th January, 1968. Hearing the good news, I rushed home to Allahabad. I after a quick cup of tea, borrowed Ramji’s bi-cycle to rush to Kamla Nehru Memorial Hospital. Phulwa was there at the hospital gate and took the bi-cycle from me to take it to the parking. In my wife’s ward, I met Didi, my elder sister, beaming with joy with our little son cradled in her arms “Bhaiya ji, Badhai Ho ! (Congrats, brother !). As I took the little one in my hesitating hands and advanced towards my smiling wife, I saw Phulwa’s wife standing behind her and lovingly combing her hair and gently smiling from inside her half Ghoonghat. She looked every inch a part of our own family.

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Friday, 27th April, 2012 ~ I write this blog in joyful celebration of my first-born son, Rajeev’s returning to New Delhi, on transfer from his posting in Assam. Happy Home Coming, Raju ! from PAPA ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
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KAITHA WALI GALI
The Lane with the Monkey Fruit Tree ….
Retd. Prof. (Mr. ) Durgesh Kumar Srivastava, New Delhi, India ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
It was a simple meal – Daal Bhaat and Chutney. This is a routine meal in many homes in the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar in the Ganga river plains of North India. Daal is a thick soup made of broken lentils while Bhaat is rice boiled in water. Chutney is a popular Indian ketchup dip that can be made from a combination of a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, greens and herbs. It is spicy and has a tangy taste. In the present case, the Chutney was made of the fruits of Kaitha (monkey fruit) tree. The fruit has a hard outer shell, much smaller than a coconut and is not covered by coir like fibers. It has a sour and tangy taste. If a full grown Kaitha fruit falls on your head, a serious injury may take place. ………………………………………. 2 ……………………………………………………… The meal was for a young man of about 20 or so who had just recently passed his F.A. examination (F.A. = standard XII) and was ready to leave home in Ballia a small town in eastern Uttar Pradesh to join a government job in Allahabad for which he had been selected. Allahabad was a large and important city, known for its University, the High Court, and above all the Holy Triveni Sangam, the confluence of rivers Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical and invisible Saraswati. The young man was new to Allahabad but had the address of a relative who was to help him find living accommodation in the new city. This was sometime around the year 1915. The 1st World War was on. Government jobs then were easy to find for educated people. …………………………………………….. 3 ………………………………………………………….

As he picked up his luggage to go to the Ballia railway station, his mother gave him a large jhola (a cotton bag). “Amma, issmain kya haiy?” (Mother, what is this?) he asked his mother. His mother replied: “Arre kuchh nahin, aath-thus tho kaitha haiy! Huaan apne daftar mein afsaron ko de dena. Kahna ghar ke ped ka haiy!” (Oh, nothing, just 8 or 10 Kaitha fruits. Present it to your officers there, saying these are from a tree at your home). He was a simple man and always obeyed his mother. So, with tears in his eyes, he touched her feet, took leave and walked towards the nearby railway station. Amma did not show any emotion in his presence, but as soon as he had turned the corner of the lane, she began weeping uncontrollably. ……………………………………………. 4 …………………………………………………….

There were huge crowds at the railway station. It seems the whole city was leaving on a westward journey towards Benaras and Allahabad. When the Chhapra – Allahabad passenger train entered the platform there was a mad rush to get in. He managed to get a toe-hold in a crowded III class coach, barely able to push his trunk under a seat but finding no place to sit. An elderly woman sat on the seat near which he was standing with the jhola in his hand. After watching him struggle with the large jhola, she said to him “Humka dai do, tthak gaye ho !” (Give it to me, you must be tired). As she felt the large round Kaitha fruits inside, she asked “Issmain ka haiy? (What is inside?). “Kaitha haiy ! Ghar ke ped ka haiy!” (These are Kaitha fruits from our own home tree!) he replied. She smiled with a joyful expression “Humka Kaitha ki chutney bahut achhi lagti haiy ! Khade kaahe ho? Baith jao, Betwa humre paas!” (I simply love Kaitha chutney! Why do you stand? Sit down next to me, my son!). He quickly took out a Kaitha fruit and gave it to her. She took it as if she was taking it from her own son. The magic of the Kaitha fruit had begun. …………………………………………………. 5 ……………………………………………………….

They began chatting in a friendly way. She was going to Allahabad to attend a wedding in the family of her younger brother. As they ate their respective packed lunches, he gave her the Kaitha chutney which his mother had packed with the Puri-Sabzi (a popular Indian food combo) for him. Unknowingly, he had begun calling her “Bua” (father’s sister) since she too belonged to Ballia. A bond of love had formed. When Bua came to know that he was on way to Allahabad to join a new job, she insisted that he accompany her to her brother’s home, since the train was to arrive at Allahabad City Railway station quite late in the evening. Her brother was at the station to receive them. As she introduced the young man to her brother, he touched his feet and was accepted without question. Bua insisted that he live with them till after the wedding was over and that he could join his new job and go to office from her brother’s house till he made his own residential arrangement. ……………………………………………. 6 ………………………………………………………

He reported for duty in his office, early in the morning, being the first to arrive there. As the office opened, he was ushered into a room and made to wait. When he gave his appointment letter to the Head Clerk, he quipped “Achha toh Ballia se aaye ho? Wahaan ka kya mash-hoor haiy?” (Oh, so you are from Ballia! What is the popular product of that city?) Hesitatingly the young man took out a Kaitha fruit and sheepishly put it on the table. “Arre waah! Kaitha !” (How nice ! A Kaitha !) It was then a smooth sailing for him. The entire paper work was got done by the Head Clerk, a table and chair were assigned to the new recruit and life began in a smooth manner in a new job in a new city. Remembering his mother, he secretly wiped away the tears that had come to his eyes. His colleagues in the office wanted Kaitha fruits for themselves, and he distributed all the fruits that he had. Small gifts were a way of social life then and people never considered the costs involved … …………………………………………….. 7 …………………………………………………….

He became quite popular in Bua’s brother’s family too. He did a lot of work in making various arrangements in the wedding function. He was an excellent singer and played the harmonium very well. He could sing dozens of folk songs pertaining to wedding functions, as also devotional songs. The Ganga river belt around his home town (particularly the adjoining town of Mirzapur) was the home of KAJRI – a popular style of folk songs sung during the rainy season. I can recall even today a popular Kajri in the devotional genre that I had heard him sing many years later (in early 1950s, when I myself was a school boy)


Kaise Ram Shambhu Dhanu Torihain, Nazuk bahut kalaiya naa ….

He soon found a house and rented it. It was a very big 16 – room house with a “princely” monthly rent of six rupees. But he was a man of foresight and went ahead. He intended to make the rooms available to his three brothers in the coming years, since he knew from intuition that the brothers too would come and settle down at Allahabad. About a hundred years have passed and that large house is still under the occupation of the members of the extended family of the original tenant, who have now voluntarily raised the monthly rent paid to the landlord’s descendants. I often marvel at the functional original design of that old house which has managed to shelter four generations of occupants without conflict. …… ……………………………………………. 8 ……………………………………………………

The young man from Ballia prospered at Allahabad – both in his career and in his life. His melodious singing made him very popular both in his office and in the social circles of the city. He was now popularly known by the respectful form of address “Babu Saheb”. He formed a small amateur group of devotional singers who would hold weekly sessions of Bhajan-Kirtan (devotional singing). He came into contact with and befriended a local Vakil Saheb (a lawyer) who belonged to his own community of Srivastava Kayasthas. Their friendship was true and unselfish. They would go together for a bath in the Holy Triveni Sangam and attend a Satsang (a devotional congregation) on the banks of the Ganga river. They both were in their early 40s and had families. They decided to convert their loving friendship into a more intimate relationship. Vakil Saheb’s eldest daughter was married to the elder son of Babu Saheb. They now had a double bonding–as friends and as SAMDHIs (A and B are referred to as SAMDHIs in North India if their children are cross-married to each other). ……………………………………………… 9 ………………………………………………………..

Soon after renting that large house, Babu Saheb had brought a small sapling of Kaitha tree from Ballia and planted it on the other side of the lane facing his house. I recall the mid 1950s when the Kaitha tree was about 15 feet tall and was already bearing fruit. The tree had become a landmark in the area and the lane was popularly known as “Kaitha Wali Gali” (the lane with the Kaitha tree). Kaitha Wali Gali was a popular location reference point, especially when engaging a cycle-rickshaw for local transportation. ……………………………………… 10 ………………………………………………..

The Kaitha tree is not there today,having been cut when the lane was widened and developed. But the magic of love woven around that divine fruit of the Kaitha tree continues to inspire me to look at the sentiment behind the gift and not the cost of the gift. Generations of children from Kaitha Wali Gali have moved out to different cities in India and to different localities of Allahabad city itself. But they all have inherited and maintained strong bonds of mutual love. They have also inherited Babu Saheb’s melodious singing voice, which has been passed on from generation to generation. Most of these fourth generation children of Kaitha Wali Gali are my facebook friends today. I am delighted to see their musical inclination and singing talent as also their loving bonding to one-another. Long live the loving bonding and melodious talent of Kaitha Wali Gali ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
INFO TAKEN FROM GOOGLE AFTER WRITING THIS BLOG :KAITHA (HINDI)=KAPIPRIYA (SANSKRIT)=MONKEY FRUIT (ENGLISH)
=FERONIA LIMONIA (BOTANICAL NAME)(Dedicated to my most respected Sugai Jija. 17th April, 2012.)
This is a fictional blog with imagined events & real + fictional people.
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The First Lecture Class in my Teaching Career ....
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The date - 24th July, 1961; the place: lecture room in D.M. College, Imphal, India
The class: Pre-University class in the college Subject: Commercial Geography
Number of students: a little under 200 boys and girls

The experience was simply out of the world. I had joined the college as a new lecturer in the morning. The Principal had introduced me to the Head of the Department of College and asked him to take me to the first class. The HOD, a kindly gentlemean in his mid-40s, was of caring nature and was therefore reluctant to send me to a class which had such a large number of students. He asked me: "Are yu nervous?" I replied: "Yes, Sir, but only a little." He left me at the door of the class room.

No one noticed my entry into the class. I went to the black board, wrote my name on it and the name of the subject that I was to teach - Commercial Geography. Students were talking, laughing, offupying their seats. I looked at them and at the scenery outside the class room through the large window. There was a large pond with pink coloured water lilies. Looking at the beautiful flowers made me tranquil and confident. The class settled down and began to notice me. I remembered my own student days and what I had learnt from my own experience - always look at the students and into their eyes. Do not look at the distant wall. Keep your voice at a medium level, but it should be able to reach the last line of offupied benches. Keep your hands free, so that you can use body language. These early lessons worked. The students began listening to me. I told the class that I hailed from Allahabad, the town where three great reivers had their confluence - Ganga, Yamuna and the invisible Saraswati. This fascinated the class and the tone was set for the study of Commercial Geography.

That class later became very friendly. There was excellent rapport. I realised that the first rule of good teaching is to reach out to the students and allow them to reach out to you, touch you emotionally. The rest is easy! It has been nearly 49 years since that first class. I have since learnt many new things, many new tricks. If you respect the students, they respect you; if you love them, they love you. If you listen to their inner voices, you will gradually rule their hearts. - Durgesh Kumar, 28 May, 2010
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A Picnic at the Lake ....

It is common for college teachers to be requested by their students to arrange a picnic for them. These picnics provide a welcome break from rigorous studies and act as stress busters. While the students enjoy themselves thoroughly, the teachers are somewhat stressed because they have to arrange everything - choose the picnic spot, make the day-long programme, arrange transport, plan and arrange catering, count the boys and the girls at the start, many times in the middle of the picnic, and at the end.

So, many years ago, at the request of the students of my class, a picnic was arranged. We were to go to Bhadkal Lake at a distance of about 50 kilometers from New Delhi. It is a natural lake nestled among low hills of the Aravali range and is fed by rain and ground waters from a large catchment area. The backdrop of the hills makes it a very beautiful picnic spot. Green play areas, swings, slides, water sports, row boats, cooking platforms, toilet facilities, parking bays for buses and cars are all properly arranged. I had looked forward to an enjoyable day out with the boys and the girls.

The boys and girls started collecting in the college grounds from early morning. We had hired two buses. I was running here and there making last minute arrangements and running from one bus to the other, seeing to it that the boys and girls had proper seatiing and the food etc. was all properly loaded. My mind was totally pre-occupied in all this.

Just then, Rakesh, a very dedicated male student of my class and a known book-worm, approached me and said that he had an important problem that he wanted to discuss with me. I told him that the problem could be discussed sometime during the picnic when we shall be relaxed and there would be time for it. I thought in my mind that Rakesh probably had fallen in love with some girl in the class and the problem related to this love affair. Such love tangles are not new to teachers.

Before the buses started from the college,Rakesh had reminded me twice about the matter. During the bus journey too (he was in the other bus) once or twice when the buses had stopped on the way, he would come to me and remind me about his problem to be discussed. I felt a bit irritated, but did not not pay much attention to it, because love affairs and problems arising from these are common in a college atmosphere. I thought that that I would be able to counsel him during the picnic.

We had a good picnic. There was singing, dancing, games, water sports competition etc. We had a good freshly cooked lunch and the party was relaxing with card games, chess and gossiping. Rakesh approached me at this time and wanted my attention. I said "All right let us talk." Seeing his serious face, I thought that the problem must be acute and serious. I asked him "Well Rakesh, tell me about it frankly, in detail and without any fear and hesitation !"

Rakesh said :" Sir, that day in the class, you had explained in Economics class how to separate the income effect and the substitution effect of a fall in the price of a commodity. I could not quite follow you. Will you please explain it again to me !"

I did not say it, but felt like taking a big stick or stone and chasing Rakesh around the picnic area and the lake.

Rakesh has since left the college, passed a bank recruitment examination and become a bank employee. He later became a personal friend. I attended his wedding and the wedding of his two daughters. He has become very close to me, but whenever I think of that picnic, the anger and frustration of that day returns to my mind.
- Durgesh Kumar, New Delhi, India, 29th May, 2010
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Kar Bhalaa, Tow ho Bhalaa ... (If you do good, you will have good done unto you!)

This incident happened in July, 1961. I got a telegraphic offer to come and join as a Lecturer in Commerce in D.M.College, Imphal, in the eastern corner of India. This was my first teaching job and I was very excited. But Imphal was far away from my native place Allahabad in North Central India. My parents were worried about me - how I will reach there, how I will find housing etc. etc. It was then a 3 day long train journey followed by 10 hours bus ride through the hills of Nagaland. Today, it is an air journey of 3 hours.

When I reached the road- head, Dimapur, I was informed that buses leave at 6 in the morning and seats could be reserved an hour in advance. When I occupied my seat, I found that someone had placed a bag near the window. All other seats were already occupied. So, I sat on the only available seat next to the bag. The owner of the bag had not shown up by then.

When the time to depart came, that person had still not shown up. The bus conductor blew his whistle loudly many times, but the man did not show up. The conductor then asked the driver to start the bus. As the bus made a move, I stood up and requested the bus conductor to stop the bus and wait for the unknown no-show passenger. The conductor and the driver argued with me, but I did not relent. Hot arguments followed. But I held my ground and did not allow the bus to proceed.

Just then, a middle aged man in a white Kurta-Paijama (a popular Indian dress) could be seen running towards the bus, shouting and waving. He had some food packets in his hand.He came in and took his seat. He was breathing heavily. The bus conductor strongly admonished him for delaying the bus and said " Had this youngman not stopped me, I would have left you behind."

The new passenger thanked me, offered me some biscuits aad began chatting with me. He asked me where I was going and for what purpose. I told him that I wqs going to Imphal to join D.M.College as a lecturer. He shook me by the hand and told me that he was the Head of the Department of Hindi Language in the same college. He reassured me that he would take care of me in the same manner as he would care for his younger brother.

The bus reached Imphal after sun set and he did not allow me to go and search for a hotel etc. He took me home and lodged me for the night. When morning came, i was surprised to see the beauty of the town, surrounded by green wooded hills. My friend arranged to take me to the college, made me join, and got me a room in the same house on rent. I spent two years in that college. We became good friends. Later I changed jobs thrice, moving to Bilaspur in Madhya Pradesh, then to New Delhi, the capital city of India, and finally after retirement, to a private management college in New Delhi. I recall that day in 1961 with joy !
- Durgesh Kumar, New Delhi, India, 29th May, 2010
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Bhaaloo Aayaa, Bhaaloo Aayaa .... ( Run, Run, there is a big bear behind you ! )

Rajdhani College, New Delhi, where I began teaching in 1966, had just formed a Mountaineering and Trekking Club. I was one of the two teachers who were given the responsibility of organising programmes for this club. Our first programme of that year was a mountain trek in the Solang Nala area very close to Rohtang Pass in the middle Himalayas. The party consisted of 10 students and two teachers.

We planned to combine pleasure with mountain trekking. So, the party first went to Shimla, the capital town of the North Indian State of Himachal Pradesh and then on to Manali, a small and very beautiful hill town just below Rohtang Pass. We hired a guide and some tents and next morning took the bus to Kothi just below Rohtang Pass. Rohtang Pass is at an altitude of 12000+ feet and was snow covered at that time in October. The students frolicked in the snow for some time, viewed the scenery and then started our descent towards Solang Nala on foot. Very soon we were completely out of the sparsely populated areas and were in the midst of a thick forest just below the snowline. The cool mountain air did wonders to our spirits. The students were laughing, talking and singing popular Hindi film songs. As evening approached we spotted a green meadow on top of a small hillock. We decided to pitch tents and spend the night there.

We unpacked, set up tents and two stoves were started to prepare hot tea to comfort our tired limbs and Khichdi as our dinner. Khichdi is a mixture of plain rice, lentil seeds broken into twos (Daal), pieces of vegetables and Masaalaa (herbs and condiments). Khichdi is both filling as well as very tasty to a hungry person. We retired into our tents much before night fall - four persons to a tent. Boys could be heard talking, laughing and joking in the tents in a pitch dark night. Eventually, we all fell asleep.

Sometime in the middle of the night there were shrieks from one of the tents - Bhaaloo Aayaa, Bhaaloo Aayaa. The shrieking had started after boys in one of the tents had heard scratching sounds outside the tent. No one had the courage to go out and see what it was. People in all the four tents were wide awake and shouting at the top of their voices, ringing empty vessels with spoons and shining their torches through the tent fabric. Whatever animal was there outside could not tolerate all this din and seemed to have disappeared in the dark. We waited with abated breaths for some time and then went back to sleep, dog-tired as we were.

It was a bright and sunny morning. The surrounding view and the fresh mountain breeze gave us new energy. After a hurried breakfast of tea, dry fruits, bread-butter etc. we began our walk to the next stopping point about 5-6 kilometers away. There were two types of people in our party - the fast walkers and the slow walkers. The other teacher lead the fast walkers group. I was in the slow walkers group with two other students and our porter-cum-guide. The fast walkers went ahead fast, but we could see and hear them. We kept in touch with each other through visual and sound signals.

As a bend in the hill track appeared, the fast walking group disappeared behind the bend. After a few minutes, there was sound of a sudden commotion, running feet and a lot of shouting, as we in the slow walkers group saw the members of the fast walking group emerge round the bend and run in a panicked way towards us shouting Bhaaloo, Bhaaloo. It seems that a big bear was asleep in a shallow depression on the track and the person in the lead in the fast walkers group had actually stepped on to the bear's side. As the animal sprang, the entire party ran head over heels, dropping their ruck-sacks on the ground. They were panting very hard and took time to become normal.

Our guide was a local herdsman and completely fearless. He took a flagpost (Laathi) and went ahead to see what it was. He returned soon enough with a big smile and asked as to come without fear. He told us that it was not a bear after all. It was "Jatchoor" - a local wild animal akin to a Yaak with blacking dark brown fur. He said that it was quite harmless. hearing this the boys were emboldened. They searached the area and soon spotted the beast grazing in the forest. They then ran after it shouting, pelting small stones and drove it deep into the forest. This show of bravado was probably to mask their frenzied fear of a few minutes ago.

Many years have passed since then. When I sometimes meet one of that party I ask jokingly "Haan Bhai, koi bhaaloo-Waaloo dekhaa kya ?" (Yes dear friend, spotted a bear lately?). We then have a hearty laugh.
- Durgesh Kumar, New Delhi, India, ( JiBhaiya@gmail.com ) 29th May, 2010
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The Unforgettable Visitor from the Past...


This incident happened about 5 years before my retirement from college. We were in the middle of the academic year. I was in the lecture class in the midst of some fifty boys and girls of the B.Com. Honours class. The class was going on quite well and the students were paying reasonable attention. Just then there was a light knock on the door. I could not hear it the first time. There was another knock and a girl sitting near the door pointed out to me that there was someone outside. With the chalk stick in hand, I went and opened the door.

There was a smiling man outside looking intently at me. He was in his mid-30s, somewhat overweight, well-dressed and appearing well-fed. "Yes ! " with a questioning look, I surveyed him from head to feet. The students in the class were intently looking at the visitor. To enabale the class to look him over properly, I invited him in. He stood near the lecture podium. He looked at me intently and asked me in a low and steady voice - "Do you recognise me?"

With the entire class looking at the two of us and waiting for my response, I raised my voice slightly and said in a measured and steady tone - "How can I fail to recognise you Raj Kumar. You studied under me in this very class room may be 18 or 20 years ago and took no interest in your studies. You sat just near the class room door and put your foot behind the door in such a manner that I could not closse it completely. Through the gap in the door, you would peep at every girl who would pass in the corridor !" The class was stunned.

Raj Kumar smiled sheepishly and in an apologetic manner began speaking to me and telling me that he often remembered the college days and the teachers. He said he was wondering whether his teachers would recognise and remember him.

I said "How can a teacher forget a student like you. Raj Kumar, who is so special in his antics?" Dear readers, teachers remember all sorts of past students - the achievers as well as the non-achievers. Always try to make sure that your teachers remember you for the good things that you did in the college.

Durgesh Kumar, New Delhi, India, 29th May, 2010
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Blood is thicker than water ....

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I had enjoyed very good health till the age of 63+. This enabled me to enjoy college life to the full when I became a college lecturer, teaching first in Imphal in Manipur in the North Eastern corner of India, then in Bilaspur in Madhya Pradesh in Central India and finally at New delhi the capital city of India.

I participated in all students activities such as sports, cultural events, debates, dramatics and mountaineering and trekking. i retired from service at the age of 62 years in 2005 I thought - No more work. Enough is enough ! But hardly a month had passed when I began feeling restless sitting at home. So, I took up teaching again, joining as a Visiting Reader in Managaement in a management college in New Delhi, near my home. Managaement students are a bit different from other college students. They are more disciplined, focussed and hard-working. They relate to their teachers in a more intensive manner.

This fact was brought to light just one year after I had taken up this new job. I was burdened with work and feeling tired. One day I just fainted in the class room while giving a lecture on Insurance. It must have been for a very short while, but I went completely blank. One moment I was lecturing and the next moment I remember a strange feeling of weakness and held on to the lecture podium. Then I fainted, rolled over, hit the wall near the black board and passed out.

When I came to I found myself sitting on a chair in the class room and the boys and girls were fanning me with their note books. They told me that I had rolled over and slumped to the ground without injuring myself. They had lifted me and made me sit on the chair. Very soon, my students Umesh, Honey, Deepti and others helped me walk to the faculty room. A doctor was called from a nearby nurisng home. I felt weak and sleepy. The cause of my losing consciousness could not be immediately found, but after about 10 days or so, I was admited to a hospital with complaint of jaundice. The students visited me regularly in the hospital taking turns so that there was no single day when I did not have the moral support of my students. I soon recovered and very soon was discharged from the Hosital.

I continued to work and three more years passed. In July, 2010, I suffered from shortness of breathing. My sons took me to hospital where I was diagnosed with advanced Cardiac Arterty Disease and after angiography it was decided to have triple bypass open heart surgery. The hospital asked me to arrange 6 units of blood in advance and two units of warm blood on the day of surgery itself.My family got busy arranging everything including the blood donations.

I felt tense as even after day long efforts, blood donations could not be assured. People will offer to come forward to give blood and then phone to offer some excuae and say sorry. I felt very tense and stressed. In the night, i just got busy with my mobile phone sending text messages to my students. I must have sent nearly five or six messages.

The next morning my son informed me that one Vijay had come and given blood for me on his own. This Vijay was my student. When I phoned Vijay to thank him he said that Vinod, Natwar and Pritpal along with Isha and Renuka (two girls) were already in the hospital to give blood. Soon several tall, well built students swamped the hospital blood bank and gave more than the required quantity of blood. On the day of the surgery there were five students ready to donate warm blood. When I was wheeled into the operation theatre, the doctors joked that I seemed to be very popular with my students, who had almost overwhelmed the hospital blood bank with blood donations. I silently blessed my students. Yes Blood is thicker than water! It creates a bonding stronger than the greatest bonding that can happen in human relations. God Bless You my dear students !
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(Mr.) Durgesh Kumar Srivastava JiBhaiya@gmail.com New Delhi, India, 14th Sept., 2010
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B>If you want to take our the butter,
you have to use a crooked finger....

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This was a crowded class, somewhat indisciplined, noisy and difficult to control The reason - the class room was narrow and went far into the back benches. It was difficult for the teacher to walk to the back benches. So, the back-benchers were somewhat immune from the teacher's visit close to them. The subject to be taught was descriptive, boring and somewhat easy One could read it from the books and understand it. There was really no need for a teacher to teach it.

There were both boys and girls - 60 in all. Huddled together in a crowded class room, they talked constantly to each other creating a constant din in the class. This was specially so at the time when the students' roll call was taken. At least 15 students will invariably miss to call out "present please" and these had to be given attendance individually. This created more indiscipline and noise.

In the first few days of my teaching that class, I felt much exasperated by the din and the noise. I was particularly irked by a male voice which called out like a low animal roar from somewhere in the middle benchers. As soon as the animal roar would come, there would be laughter all around the class and more indiscipline and din. It was impossible for me to locate the source of the disturbing sound. I could point out to a group of ten or so, but it was not possible to pinpoint the boy who was the culprit.

I did not discuss the problem with my colleagues. I had to solve it with my own intelligence and ingenuity. I thought about it everyday but a solution eluded me. Then a God-sent opportunity came my way. A particular girl student fell short of attendance because she was absent for many days because of her sister's wedding. She approached me and requested me to mark her present on a few days of her absence to enable her to add up the requisite minimum percentage of attendance. i told her that I would think about it and do something later. i made her wait for many days till she became panicky.

I asked her to meet me outside the class and I shall tell her how I would help her. She came to me all alone. I told her my problem. If she would confidentially tell me the name of the boy who let out that low animal roar in my class, I would give her the requisite attendance. She denied knowing who was the culprit. I did not relent. After a few days she agreed to tell me the name confidentially provided I did not mention her as my informer. This was easy.

The problem was solved. The next day, when that low animal roar came in the class, I stopped the roll call, went towards the group in the middle benches, looked at them intently and pointed my finger at the culprit and made him stand up. He denied it, but I stood my ground and told him to confess otherwise I would report his name to the management. The boy broke down and confessed. I did not punish him in any manner. I said all this was a part of college life and that I will not only forgive, but also forget if he mended his ways.

That boy later became my fan and a favourite student. I used student psychology to take him under my personal influence. In the next examination the boy scored very high marks. His attendance record improved. Sometime later, I met his father and praised him profusely. That had further positive effect. I have since left the college because of my heart surgery. But that particular boy continues to be in touch with me. We are now good friends. I am his favourite teacher and he is my favourite student. i will always remember him.
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- Durgesh Kumar Srivastava JiBhaiya@gmail.com New Delhi, India, 16th Sept.,2010
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GOD HELPS THOSE WHO HELP THEMSELVES ...

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The title to this blog is a saying that I have heard since I was a child. It is really true. I narrate in this blog a true story. The hero of this story (let us call him Ram) was the younger brother of my brother-in-law. When he was a young boy, his heart was not in studies. The result was that he remained lowly educated In a country like India, where there are millions of University graduates, hundred of thousands of technical professionals like engineer, doctors, computer programmers etc. Ram had little chance of getting into a job. Without a job, how can you get a wife?

So Ram remained unemployed and unmarried till his late 30s. At this stage he got a job as a daily wage earner in an office. He made packets of documents and stored these It was a white collared job, though the daily pay was small.

In India there is another phenomenon also – millions of girls who are uneducated or poor remain unmarried because their parents cannot find grooms for them. So, Ram got a marriage proposal, was married to a dark coloured uneducated daughter of a policeman. As happens in factories at the closing time of the ;year, when there is rush to complete the targets, Ram and his wife produced four children in the first 6 years of marriage. – three daughters and one son. In four years he successfully married off his first two daughters.

When Ram retired from his job at 58, his eldest daughter was less than 20 and his youngest child, the son, was about 11 or so. None of the children had completed their education. Ram had yet to settle them in life and career. In India a father cannot relax unless he marries off his daughters and settles his sons in jobs.

Ram spoke to me one day – “Bhaiya, Abb Kya Hoga?” (Brother, what will happen now?)
I said: Nothing Bad – you will find a post retirement job. That’s all ! But where is this job ? I said – You will dind it. Go, begin your search. Ram got the job within less than a month. It was a job with a book stall at the railway station Ram would go on his bi-cycle in the morning and come back late in the night. But he was happy.

Tragedy struck then. Ram’s cycle was hit by a speeding motorbike and Ram broke his legs. What will happen now? He asked me. Nothing! The fractures will set in two months and then you will go to work again. It did happen as I had said. Ram’s employer was kind. He offered him additional pay to cover cycle-rickshaw fares as Ram could not ride his bicycle. Ram worked hard and married off his last daughter.

Ram was very happy. Whenever he would meet me he would hold me by the hands and thank me for my encouraging attitude towards him. Only one thing remained now. The settlement of his ;son in a suitable job. But bad luck seemed to follow Ram. He was in his late 60s and frail in health from life’s constant struggles. He had a severe heart attach and was bed ridden. I went to see him. He look at me with sad eyes and pointed towards his son – He has no job, he said! What he will happen to him?

I said – Have no worry. Worry does not solve any problem. One has to struggle in life. I called his son and asked him to go to meet his father’s employer – the book sho[ owner..
The boy did as I had advised. The book shop owner was fully satisfied with Ram’s decade long dedicated service. He offered to the young man the job that his father was doing at the book shop. In due course of time, I received a wedding invitation card. It was for the Baaraat (wedding function) of Ram’s son. It is well said God helps those,Who help themselves !
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Mr. Durgesh Kumar sRivastava JiBhaiya@gmail.com New Delhi, India, 21.9.10
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Care to listen to some poetry, any one ?

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The busy market place was brimming with people. There were shoppers, sellers, hawkers, workers, loiterers … all sorts of people of all ages. There were large groups like college boys and girls who had bunked their classes and come here to enjoy themselves, housewives with shopping bags or carts who had come to the market for their family shopping, young lovers hiding in the anonymity of the crowd, senior citizens out there to pass the time.

It was day time in the late afternoon. Most seats in the restaurants and eating stalls were full. There were no empty benches. Tired shoppers sat on side walk curbs, or leaned against tree guards or walls . People were soaking in the mild winter sun. Hawkers selling balloons, whistles, ice creams were calling for customers. There were beggars too, silently extending an open palm or an empty plate before you. The sound of soft music was wafting into the air from inside the restaurants.

Suddenly, there was commotion. Shouts of “Pakdo - Pakdo, Jaaney Na paayay ! Get him !” (Catch him – Catch him ! Don’t let him escape !) came from one side from where a well dressed man could be seen running helter-skelter at top speed through the market place, as if escaping from something or someone He stumbled repeatedly as he hit passers by or some other obstacle like a bench, chair or a seller’s cart.

Following him a little behind was another well-dressed man who was shouting at the top of his voice “Pakad Lo uss Ko ! Daboch Lo Budmaash Ko !” (Catch hold of him. Over-power the scoundrel ! ) Joining him in the chase were several other chasers.

Ultimately, the run away man was captured by a group of college boys, who held him by the scruff of the neck and pinned him against a wall. He was panting badly and almost speechless. The chasing party arrived within less than a minute. Some policemen who were on duty in the market place also arrived with their “Dandaas” (batons).

The chasers too were panting badly. After they had calmed down a bit, the principal chaser raised his hand and asked the college boys to let go of the man. “Arre Bhai, Ye koyee Chor – uchakka nahin haiy ! Chhod do issko !” (Brothers, this fellow is no thief or vagabond ! Release him !)

He went on to explain that the fellow trying to run away was actually a budding fellow poet, like he himself was. The two poets had got together in a nearby park for a poetry session. They had agreed to listen to each other’s poetry. The first fellow had recited his poetry and the second poet had listened to it courteously. But when, his turn came to recite the poetry and for the first fellow to listen the first fellow simply bolted from the park.

Everyone had a good laugh and sat down as the first fellow agreed to listen to the un-recited poetry. This happened a long time ago. But I have here both their poems ! Care to listen to these.?.
(Mr.) Durgesh Kumar Srivastava JiBhaiya@gmail.com New Delhi, 19 Sept 2010
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ALL DRESSED UP AND NOWHERE TO GO ….

Girija Babu was my childhood friend. He was my neighbour too and his parents knew my parents. We started playing together as kids, went to school together and studied in the same class from standard VI to our Master's degree. We shared the same interests - sports, particularly cricket, movies, film music and quiet walks on the banks of river Ganga which flowed close to our houses in Allahabad city in north central India.

I got a job soon after my M.Com. examination while Girja Babu got a job after a gap of about 6 months. During this period, not a day passed when we did not meet in the evening. When I would return home from work, I would find him sitting in the balcony with my aged father and talking to him. Girija Babu was a simple, uncomplicated youngman and my father liked him immensely.

I and he would then pick up our mugs of tea prepared by my mother and climb up to the roof top of my house and talk to each other till it was time for dinner. He never stayed for dinner and went home. I would walk him to his home and if our conversation had not ended by then, he would walk me back to my home.

Girja Babu got a job and was posted at Lucknow, about 150+ kilometers from Allahabad. After six months or so, I got a teaching job at Manipur in the eastern corner of India and went there. We exchanged letters regularly writing to each other every fortnight. While Girja Babu remained in his job at Lucknow, I moved from Manipur to Bilaspur in central India and then to New Delhi the capital of India.

Our mutual correspondence has never stopped in all these 49 years past. We both got married, had children, built our respective houses at Lucknow and New Delhi, educated and settled our children. He and his wife came to New Delhi when our two sons were married and I and my wife went to Lucknow when his daughter and son got married. We were and still are like brothers.

We both retired fronm service almost together. A few months after his retirement, there was a change in the tone and contents of his letters. He began complaining in all his letters that he was bored to death sitting at home, having nothing to do. His main problem was that he did not know how to pass the time. I wrote to him advising him to seek some post retirement job. In the meantime, I had myself got a job as Visiting Reader in Management in a college.

When I would go to the neighbouring park in the evening to gossip with my fellow retiree friends, I would tell them about Girija Babu's problem i.e. that he did not know how to pass the time. After I had raised this problem a few times among my friends, a very experienced and elderly friend suggested a way out - "DK, write to your friend Girija Babu and ask him to keep a record of what he does at home from morning to night. Ask him to maintain a full minute-by-minute record for one full week and send it back to you."

I wrote to Girija Babu and asked him to maintain a detailed schedule of his activities for a week. He wrote back but made no mention about this matter. Next week, I wrote to him again, repeating my request. Again, no reply. Then I phoned Girija Babu. What he told me surprised me. He said that he had done as I had said - kept a minute by minute record of his activities, but .......

I asked him what but? What is the matter? Girija Babu told me that he had found that he did not have a single minute to spare in his daily routine of activities. When I told my park friends of what had happened they all had a hearty laugh.
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Mr. Durgesh Kumar Srivastava, New Delhi, 12 Nov.,10
JiBhaiya@gmail.com
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Don't lose heart - There is a solution to every problem

My elder sister is 78 years of age, a retired teacher from an intermediate college in Allahabad in north central India.She has had to face a hard struggle at every staage of her life. She had to stop studying after her 10th standard in school as out family was unable to raise the resources to continue her education. Married at the age of 20 years she arrived to live in a large joint family of 12 persons, each of whom was determined to exploit her in one way or the other.

She decided to resume her studies in the face of al odds. Ultimatey she did her graduation, post- graduation, teacher t raining and instrumental music training. She got a teaching job, had four children, educated them, got them settled in life, served her husband in his long illness and prolonged disability prior to his death, and reached the age of retirement, with pensionary benefits.

Her two sons brought her to New Delhi to live with them She did not know it then but later understood that her sons wanted to make use of her as a baby-sitter for looking after their own children. She began caring for her grandchildren happily.

As the grandchildren grew up and became sort of self-supporting and independent, the grandmother became somewhat redundant in the household. As and when she would get an opportunity, she would phone me and tell me about her condition. I would tell her to carry on as best as possible. I would te her " Didi, iss umar mein ubb aap kahaan jaayengi, kya karengi?" (Elder sister, where would you go and what would you do in this old age?) She agreed with me and continued to accept her life as it was.

One day, she telephoned me at about ten in the morning - "Bhaiya, sub log humko ghar mein bund kar ke jaanay kahaan chalay gayay hain - Mera dil ghabraa rahaa haiy !" (Brother, every one in the house has left without teling me anything and they have locked the house from outside I am feeling a lot of anxiety.) I reassured her and said that she could read Hanuman Chalisa to drive away her fears. Hanuman Chalisa is an ancient Hindu sacred booklet in Hindi language reading which has the effect of driving away fears.

I then visited my sister and was shocked to find that she had lost a lot of weight and looked pale and haggard. As I embraced her and patted her back she began to weep uncontrollably. It seemed to me that the tears had accumulated in her soul and were now coming out in a torrent. I could not control my own tears.

After sometime she had composed herself. I then asked her "Didi aap apni jeewani kyon nahin likhateen?"(Sister, why don't you write down the story of your life?) She was amazed by this idea.
She asked me "Iss say kya hoga?" (How will it help?).

Then I explained to her that during the long hours when her family left her alone and locked up inn the house, whe will keep herself busy and will be free of fear and anxiety. Her mood changed immediately. Her eyes sparkled and she seemed to have taken an inner decision. I came back home quite happy.

I phoned her after a few days. She took a lot of time in coming and answering the phone. She said that she was busy writing and was so engrossed in it that she did not hear the phone ringing. She told me that she was worried about writing anything negative about anyone. I advised her to write under an assumed name and to give assumed names to all the real life characters. She seemed satisfied.

Didi completed the book in about four months. She asked me on the phone - "Ubb kya karen?"(What next?)I told her that we were going to get the book published and that she was going to bear the cost. I found a printer who printed nearly 300 copies of the book and wanted a payment of INR 15,000/-. Didi was so delighted that she gave to the printer a cheque for INR 16,000/-, an additional INR 1000 as "Inaam" (reward).

I asked her to send to me 10 copies of her book She said that she would send the books but I would heave to pay a price of INR 1000. I was a little hurt, but I sent the money to her. Didi sold most of the copies of the book within a short time. Then she called me to her home. She showed me a photograph of herself being honoured in a public function. A ceremonial shawl had been draped on her shoulders and a ceremonial head dress had been put on her head in the photo. Didi had donated the entire sales proceeds of her book to a charitabe trust in a rural area which gave free rehabilitation services to disabled kids. Didi looked radiant and very very happy.

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Retd. Prof.(Mr.) Durgesh Kumar Srivastava
New Delhi,India,Dec.21,2010 JiBhaiya@gmail.com
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The Gift of Life .... and Love !

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It was quite late at night The hospital ward was silent except for the low sounds of snoring coming from the bed in the corner where an elderly patient was asleep. I was in the other corner of the three bed ward. The bed in the middle was unoccupied. Two sleepy nurses sat on the counter of the nursing station which was visible from my bed. It was well past midnight, and the ward and the whole hospital was enveloped in silence. I was unable to sleep, turning in my bed now and then, getting up to have a sip of water or to go to the toilet.

The reasn for my sleeplessness was the worry in my mind. I was awaiting open heart triple bypass surgery that had been scheduled for 19th July - just two days away. My mind was full of worry. On 14th July the ward in-charge had come to my bed and asked me to arrange for 6 units of blood, including 2 units of warm blood. I did not understand the meaning of warm blood. He had explained that at least 2 units of blood belonging to my blood group O Positive will have to be given to the hospital on the day of the surgery but not later than 9.00 A.M. The remaining 4 units could be of any blood group and given anytime before the surgery date.

My wife and son were present in the ward when the ward in-charge had given the instructions regarding blood. They said that they would be able to arrange the required blood. But two days (15th and 16th July) had passed and they had managed to arrange just one unit of blood. Not that they had not tried. They did bring in relatives and friends to give blood, but the hospital was choosy. It refused to take blood from donors who had high or low BP or high blood sugar. They would not accept blood from donors who were below or above a certain age. I was aware of the problem and worried about what would happen if the required blood would not be deposited in the hospital well in time. This was the reason for my sleeplessness.

At about 1-00 A.M. an idea struck my mind - why not seek the help of my students. I got up from my bed, took my mobile phone and went into the toilet. I did not want to wake up the other inmate of the ward by switching on the light. From inside the toilet I sent three text messages from my mobile phones to my three most favourite students giving them all details, the location of the hospital and the urgency of the situation. Almost immediately, one of them, Vinod, who was my specia favourite because of our shared interests in theatre and poetry, texted me back "Sir, pl. don't worry. We shall come tomorrow". I knew what students were capable of doing. My mind at rest, I went to sleep almost immediately.

The hospital was very strict with regard to entry into the hospital. Only one person, holding an entry pass, could come into the ward at a time. Imagine my surprise when I saw Vinod and three others, all tall, well built, 6 feet plus, walk into the ward smiling and coming to my bed to touch my feet in typical traditional Indian style of greeting teachers and elders.

"Sir, kaise ho aap?" (Sir, how are you?). My chest seemed to expand with joy and pride seeing my students whom I had not only taught for three years but tended lovingly as my own children. "Vinod, tum log andar kaise chale aayay?' (How did you manage to enter the hospital, Vinod?) "Sir, security-waale hum se darr gayay; hum pundrah hain naa !" (Sir, the security people were afraid of us since we were 15 in number.) The others had remained back in the blood bank.

Vinod and his friends informed me that a total of 15 senior boys and girls had come to the hospital to donate blood for me. Being in the prime of youth and health, there were no problems with their blood and the required quota of 4 units had been far exceeded. Vinod also informed me that plenty of warm blood will be donated the next day by other students. I offered to Vinod and friends one apple each and thanked them. I asked them to make sure that the girls were escorted back to their homes. My son later said to me :"Papa, aapke students aap se itnaa pyaar karte hain !" (Father, your students love you so much !) I felt all the more elated.

Next day, as I lay on the surgery table, awaiting anasthesia, one of the junior doctors asked me "Professor Saheb, aapne bacchon pe kya jaadu kar rakha haiy ?" (Teacher Sir, what is the magic that binds your students to you?) I just said "Ye pyar ka jaadu haiy !" (This is the magic of love.) The doctor informed that more than 10 students had come in the morning to give warm blood for me and that the required units had been duly collected.

The surgery was successful. I have not returned to the college after surgery. But all my students are in touch with me. They telephone me or visit my residence to inquire of my well being. They also seek guidance regarding their studies and career. I have distributed all my books among the final year students since I do not intend to re-join the college at least for the next many months. Many of them phone me to seek answers to questions on their subjects. When they ask me "Sir, ubb aap college nahi aayenge ?" (Sir, won't you come to the college now ?) I say "Apni shaadi mein bulaana. Hum zaroor aayenge, ye vaadaa rahaa !" ( Do invite me to your wedding. I shall come surely, I promise !).

Can there be a greater gift than this shared love !
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DK, Retired Professor (Mr.) Durgesh Kumar Srivastava,
New Delhi, India, 26th December, 2010 JiBhaiya@gmail.com
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Ordinary Incidents in Life Make You Smile ...
Hi Friends

The New Year is no longer new but it continues to be exciting. The e-discussion among the readers on exciting things in life and simple pleasure of everyday routine reminds me of a story. Here it is for you to read and comment upon :-

A flag hoisting ceremony had been scheduled in the college. A 'big-wig' had been duly invited to come as the Chief Guest and unfurl the flag which had been mounted on the 20 or so feet tall flag-pole after being rolled into a pack with flower petals inside in such a way that it would unfurl at the pull of the tie rope and fly in the wind and the flower petals would fall on the audience. The unfurling was to be done by means of a thin rope which was knotted around the flag pack and was to be pulled by the Chief Guest.

Other arrangements made for the occasion included decorating the whole area around the flag pole with flowers and flower pots, buntings, arranging for a band to play after the unfurling, college boys and girls to sing a song and small card-board boxes containing sweets to be handed out to the members of the audience. The so-called big-wig was to be escorted after the flag hoisting and his speech to the Principal's room for being served tea and snacks in a more dignified way.

The teachers and the students took their seats in the function area but the Chief Guest (the big wig) was late. Finally he did arrive an hour or so late and the function got under way with welcome address by the Principal who informed the audience that the delay was because the Chief Guest had to unfurl the flag at many other places before coming to our college.

Finally the moment of unfurling the flag arrived. With cameras ready to click the all important moment the flag rope beaded with small flowers was ceremonially handed over to the Chief Guest.
The audience stood up for the ceremony. With a practiced smile the big wig pulled the rope but nothing happened. He pulled it two or three times - still no result. The knot at the top of the flag pole was too tightly done or may be wrongly done. It simply refused to open and release the flag.

There was a frown on the face of the big-wig and somewhat sheepish grins on the faces of the Principal and the organising teachers. Other people too tried to pull the rope, jerked it and shook it in a variety of ways. Still no result.

Finally a man was rushed to the Principal's room to bring the miniature table flag which the Chief Guest took in his hands and raised it high. We all clapped our hands barely managing to suppress our smiles as the band played its assigned tune. The singing by the students was cut short to the barest minimum.

Apologizing for what had happened the Principal handed over the mike to the Chief Guest to address the audience. He did not know what to say in view of the unexpected turn of events. After the ceremony ended the Chief Guest was escorted to the Principal's room for tea and snacks while the teachers got busy with distributing the snacks boxes to the students.

Later the teachers went to the staff room for snacks and tea while the students went home.
The fiasco at the flag unfurling function was the main topic of discussion among the teachers. One teacher said " Yaar, rassi ki gaanth lagaanaa toh kisi boy scout se seekho. Unko iss ki training dee jaati haiy!" (Mate, the making of rope knots should be learnt from boy scouts. They are trained in it !)

An hour or so later as we came out of the staff room to go to the parking area, we were surprised to see the flag unfurled and flying proudly in the wind. The parking lot attendant told us " Sir ji, jab aap sub log andar chale gaye toh ek dabba chugne wala ladkaa khaali dabbe chun rahaa tthaa. Ussnay rassi ko ek do jhatka diya to jhanda khul gaya." ( Sirs, when you people had gone inside, a rag picker boy had come to pick up the empty boxes. He had given one or two jerks to the rope and the flag had opened.)

Many years have gone by since that incident. I am now a retired man. I am a permanent un-invited guest in each and every function that takes place in the neighbourhood park. My youngest grandson (Chhota - the little one) is often with me. He goes with me and waits for the box of sweets. As we receive boxes at the end of the function, a smile comes to my face as I recall that amusing incident in the college many years ago.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Retd. Prof. (Mr.) Durgesh Kumar Srivastava, New Delhi, India
03rd January, 2011 JiBhaiya@gmail.com
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A Pocketful of Love …
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By Retd. Prof. Mr. Durgesh Kumar Srivastava
New Delhi, India JiBhaiya@gmail.com
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I write this blog after reading the story of a retired man who built a large collection of sundry things and assorted trinkets while walking on the beach near his home most of his life and picking up anything and everything lying on the beach and putting it in his jacket pocket.

I visited Kanpur, a city in north central India, in January, 2002, to be present in the wedding of the daughter of a close relative. It was an extremely cold morning when my train reached Kanpur. Wearing an extra-large size parka over the top of my woolen shirt and sweater to beat the chilly wind of the morning I looked for a cycle rickshaw for the 4 kilometer ride to my relative’s place.

There were very few rickshaws at the railway station in that early morning hour. One rickshaw puller agreed to take me to my destination. Looking at the shivering rickshaw puller I asked him to stop at a road-side all-night tea stall that was open and ordered hot cups of ginger tea for both of us. Warmed by the hot tea we proceeded towards our destination in the morning fog.

My elder son, his wife and my two grandsons then aged 7 and 5 years were already there, having reached Kanpur a week before me. All guests were housed in a large hall of a rented building where warm bedding rolls had been spread on the floor to sleep them in the cold weather. Most of the guests were awake and talking and laughing while covered in their heavy quilts and blankets. I was ushered into the hall and quickly found a place near my grandsons who being very fond of me, invited me to slip into the warm quilt in between them.

Just I made myself comfortable under the quilt, Kartik the younger of the two slipped something into the pocket of my parka and said “Baba, issay chupaa ke rakhnaa !” (Grandpa, keep this thing safe with you!) I took it out to see it. It was a cricket ball dirtied by mud. Not to be left behind, Vinayak the elder grandson tried slipping something larger into the pocket on the other side. It was “Gulli-Danda” – a set of an 18 inch baton of wood (Danda) and a 4 inch long small wooden peg sharpened at both ends (a Gulli). The children giggled at finding a safe place to hide their play things in the large pockets of their grandpa’s parka.

The main wedding function (Baaraat) was scheduled for the evening. Till then, all that the guests were expected to do was to enjoy the lavish hospitality, gossip, socialize and kill time in one way or the other. For me, this meant being in the enjoyable company of my grandsons and doing their bidding. They played all through the day with other children of the guests – switching between games like cricket, Gulli-Danda (a traditional Indian game), throw-ball, and the like.

Kanpur is famous for its kite flying and I was made to buy kites (Patang) and spools of thread (Saddi and Maanjhaa). After the kites had been flown and torn up in play the spools of thread again went into the parka pockets. Many little tit-bits were purchased by the two boys during the course of the day – whistles, an assortment of balls, two toy pistols and candies. The parka became a mobile store, convenient at a hand’s reach.

Around 4 pm the guests began to dress in preparation for the wedding function in the evening. But Vinayak and Kartik wanted to continue to play and did not allow me to take off the parka. Ultimately I decided not to take it off and wear it all through the function. Looking good and smart was less important than keeping my grandsons happy.

When the time for the main wedding function came the venue was full of guests, many of them my close or distant relatives. They would look at me, dressed in the worn out parka and inquire “Kya baat haiy? Suit nahin pahnoge ?” (What is the matter? Won’t you dress in a suit-jacket?) I would just smile and give them no replies.

Some guests will take me in a a tight embrace and feeling things in the pockets of my parka ask “Arre, kyaa maal chhupaaye hain iss mein?” (Oh, what treasures are you hiding there in your pockets?) When I would take out the Gulli or the spools of Saddi and Maanjhaa from the parka pockets to show them, their faces would be worth seeing !
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Retd. Prof. Mr. Durgesh Kumar Srivastava, New Delhi, India,
12th January, 2011 JiBhaiya@gmail.com
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========================================================================================= A grand-Slam of Illnesses ....
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Retd. Prof. Mr. Durgesh Kumar Srivastava, New DElhi, India

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Lawn Tennis has its Grand Slam Circuit - Wimbledon in England French Open in France, US Open and Australian Open. There are minor tournaments vying with the Grand Slam events and trying to be counted - Dubai Open, Hong Kong Open etc

New Delhi (Delhi) the capital of India, is already a special Grand Slam venue - not for Lawn Tennis or any other sport but for illnesses of epidemic proportions. In August-September-October, 2010, we passed through not one but two of them - Dengue, caused by a specialist mosquito that bites in the day and Eye Flu (Conjunctivitis) caused by a virus that rises from the earth and takes a hitch on dust particles that circulate in the air. Dengue is brought by rains and the Eye Flu is washed away by the rains. So which is good or bad - the rains beginning or the rains coming to an end.

While the hapless population suffers the doctors are the gainers. There are long queues at doctors' clinics You go, take a paper token, look at the number on it (Oh 69) and either wait your turn outside (the clinic waiting room can seat only 10-12) in your car or on the cycle-rickshaw that brought you there or go home and come after waiting two hours.

The doctor gives you a prescription for Rs.150 to 300 and you take medicines/instill eye drops for three to five days. If you are an eye flue case, you give the virus to 5 - 10 more people generating further business for the doctors. If your fever goes up, you go to the doctor again on the 2nd or 3rd day, and he makes out a "Parchi" (prescription) for a dengue/typhoid/malaria specific blood test. In a private laboratory, the charges can be anything from Rs250 to Rs1200. You give your sample and wait for the report that may take a few hours.

If you cannot afford the high lab fees you can go to a government hospital for a free-of-cost testing. I was admitted to a large government hospital in October, 2006 for gall bladder removal at a time when dengue was in full force in this city of over ten million people. There were thousands of people waiting for a free dengue check up. Serpentine queues formed outside the hospital going from the blood sample collection counter into the distant parking lot. The hospital had an open door policy - refusing no one the free-of-cost test. The queues were there 12 hours every day for the 10 days that I was in the hospital.

I watched from my 4th floor balcony as people camped there as if it was a Mela (fair). If one was unlucky to show dengue in the blood tests, new problems arose. The first was to find a bed in a good government hospital. The hospital I am talking about had a waiting time of about 6 months for cardiac surgery patients in which time the patient may have to sing a very popular Hindi movie song of yesteryears–

Iss dil ke tukde hazaar huay
Koyi yahaan gira koyi wahaan gira


(my heart was broken into a thousand pieces
which fell hither and thither.)

When the blood test reports come you are often unable to make head or tail of it. You ask the man at the laboratory counter to interpret your report for you. He non-challantly gives you his brief interpretation leaving you confused. or the blood test may show low platelet count. When you buy a packet of frozen platelets from the private blood lab, you are suprised to see that it is not red. You look at the lab-man in astonishment. He nods his knowing-all head

The wife of a relative has a strange medical condition (what is its technical name?). If there is any epidemic sweeping the city or if there is a relative suffering from a particular disease, she must get herself and her children tested for the same even if there are no symptoms. So her husband has to spend thousands of rupees on tests for non-existing diseases.

Swine flu comes to Delhi not every year. Like Mamta Didi's new idea Duaranto trains which run once or twice a week.But when it hits Delhi swine flu causes quite a scare. Two years ago a relative's wife phoned and requested me to come with the car immediately as her 10 year son was suspected to be a case of swine flu. Her husband had not yet returned from office. We rushed the child to nearby government hospital. There was bheed-bhaad but the hospital orrangement was excellent. As soon as we entered the waiting area we were all fitted with free-of-cost masks The doctor at the special swine flu counter very quickly examined the child and gave free medicines. In the meantime the child's father arrived directly from his office and took charge. I left for home.

It was nearly nine pm and my wife had gone to her Maika. So, in order to get my dinner, I drove to a popular eating house (clean Dhaba) which was very crowded. I wondered how I will get a seat and a meal. But seeing me, people ran out helter-skelter. About ten seats became available instantly. It was then that I was amused to realise that the swine flu mask hung loosely from my neck.

Poor and middle class people (like I was in 1966) come to Delhi in search of greener pastures - a job, gradually rising incomes, the saving habit, kanjusi ki aadat (the miserly attitude), a house, a flat, a car and all the paraphernalia of upward mobility. My advice to them is - do come and prosper in Delhi, but for God's and your own sake, do not fall ill in Delhi, not at least to the Grand Slam of Epidemics.
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Retd. Prof. Mr. Durgesh Kumar Srivastava JiBhaiya@gmail.com New Delhi, India, 30 Jan, 2011
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An Unhappy End to a Happy Birth Day
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Retd. Prof. Mr. Durgesh Kumar Srivastava, New Delhi, India
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The 22nd of February 2011, dawned as a pleasant day at the end of Indian winter. The sun shone bright through the morning haze. There was a cold nip in the air but it was not uncomfortable. I had slept fitfully the previous night and was up rather early in the morning, lolling in my bed with a blanket wrapped around me as I waited for my wife Prem to bring me my morning cup of tea. I knew from experience what her first words will be.

She came with a cup of tea in her hands handed it over to me and said "Happy Birth Day to You !" I thanked her with a warm smile and handed her an envelope containing INR 501 in Indian currency that I had kept under the pillow the previous night and gave it to her joyfully "This is for Rus Gullas and Gulab Jamuns" (Rus Gullas and Gulab Jamuns are traditional Indian sweets prepared with milk, sugar, highly refined wheat floor and fragrances.)I was very happy to turn 68 years of age this morning, since I had come through hale and hearty from my triple bypass open heart surgery a little more than 6 months ago on 16th August, 2010. I thanked God for keeping me alive, healthy and happy in the midst of my family consisting of my wife Prem, Our elder son Rajeev (43+), his wife Aparna (39+) their sons Vinayak (15+)and Kartik (13+), my younger son Rahul 38+), his wife Ruchi (34+) and their son Anirudh (7+).

It was a perfect start to a happy day as Anirudh came down from the upper floor of our house at Janakpuri in New Delhi to go to school. He carried in his hand a large packet of coffee flavoured candies that he had made me buy for him the previous evening - "Happy Birth Day to you, Baba! Ye toffee maiyn apne school mein apne doston ko doonga !" (Grandfaather, these are the candies that I shall distribute among my school friends !) He brought the newspapers for me and went to his school van waiting outside.

He was very happy when he returned home from school in the afternoon. "Baba, aaj class ke bacchon ne gaayaa "Happy Birth Day to Anirudh's Baba !" (Grandfather, the children in my class sang for you today Happy Birth Day to Anirudh's grandfather ! ) Anirudh made me go with him to the confectionery shop to buy a cake, candles, potato chips and soft drinks. "Baba, aaj shaam ko mere doston ki party hogi !" (Grandfather, we shall host a party in the evening for my friends !) I did as Anirudh said. There was a small party for kids at home, joined by four elders - me, my wife, our younger son and his wife. There were a few kids from the neighbourhood. It was an evening of joy.

I kept busy receiving congratulatory phone calls from relatives and friends. Kasturi ji, a colleague and friend phoned late in the evening. As he congratulated me his voice was not as enthusiastic as it usually is. He seemed to hesitate. "Yaar ek kharaab khabar haiy ! Apne dost SBL nahin rahe !" (Mate there is a bad news - our common friend SBL is no more !)The news shocked me.

Dr. S.B.L.Sharma was my colleague in the college. We had worked together for more than 30 years. He had introduced me to a new hobby mountaineering and trekking. We had gone on many mountaineering and trekking expeditions together Once, we took a party of about 15 students on a cross mountain trek in the middle Himalayas. The trek had started from the picturesque hill resort of Mussoorie and we had to go through forested mountains and end our trek at another hill resort Simla. Two days into the trek one of the students, Subhash, had fallen ill with stomach cramps. Dr. Sharma had taken his rucksack weighing nearly 15 -20 kgs. and loaded it on to his own rucksack. He carried two loads for more than 10 days. He was very tough and strong. When we arrived in Simla, he quickly arranged for Subhash to be given medical attention.

Later, as Dr. Sharma neared his retirement, he was struck by a paralytic stroke. He was a strong man full of courage and strength. Recovering quickly in a month or so, he did not accept any concessions in the college work and did his full quota of work, climbing four flights of stairs to take his classes on the second floor of the college building. He continued to remain a member of Delhi Mountaineering Association ever after his paralytic stroke and became an advisor for young mountaineers.

I cannot say that my Birth Day Party was spoilt by the bad news. I went into the inner memories of the heart. There were many sweet memories of Dr. Sharma. I will close this blog by writing about one particular memory. Dr. Sharma and his wife had come to my residence to invite us to their daughter's wedding. They had handed over the invitation card and were having tea. His wife called me aside and in a low voice asked me to reach the wedding venue a little earlier and to stay on till the end of the function. (Hindu wedding rituals are often performed very late into the night) On the day of the wedding I told my wife that I shall stay on and return either very late in the night or early in the morning.

The Baaraat (the grooms wedding party) had arrived very late at the bride's place. Dr. Sharma was tense and angry. As the Baaraat guests were having their dinner, his anger exploded. He was on the point of shouting at them. It was then that his wife came running to me and asked me to do something to calm down Dr. Sharma. I had a great difficulty in calming him down so that the wedding could take place without any hitch. He was a man of principles and was unwilling to compromise on these principles of punctuality, honesty, hard work etc. My Birth Day this year coincided with Dr. Sharma's passing away. I don't think I shall be able to celebrate my Birth Day in future without thinking of my friend Dr. S.B.L.Sharma. Such people are very rare and are difficult to forget.
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Retd. Prof. Mr. Durgesh Kumar Srivastava, New Delhi, India,
25th February, 2011
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No man is ever too old for marriage ....
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- Retd. Prof Durgesh Kumar Srivastava, New Delhi, India

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We returned back on tired feet, walking bare feet all the way, first on the hot sands on the river bank and then some distance on paved road. We were returning from the cremation ground after the funeral of a woman from our neighbourhood who had passed away after a short but serious illness during most of which she had remained in a coma. She was in her late 60s. Her husband was nearly 74-75 at the time. He was my teacher, having taught me in school. He was also a neighbor and a friend of my late father. I was with him most of the time during the terminal illness of his wife.
He used to call me “Baccha” (Dear Child) and had become specially close to me after I too had joined the teaching profession. I used to address him “Master Saheb” (respected teacher) since my childhood. My late father also used the same form of address for him.
During our walk back to his home from the funeral ground, Master Saheb lovingly held my hand, but was silent, somewhat lost in thought. As was the local custom, the mourners washed their faces, hands and feet with water brought out from the house before entering it. While the body had been taken to the cremation ground on the banks of the river the women of the neighbourhood and from relatives’ families had washed the floor of the house and lighted an earthen lamp in the courtyard. Dhurries (coarse floor carpets) had been spread on the ground for the mourners to sit and rest a while. “Master Saheb” sat down in a corner, silent and brooding. I got busy serving the mourners drinking water and bits of Barfi (an Indian sweet) as was the local custom for such occasions. One by one the mourners went home , silently folding their hands as a sign of respectful condolence, saying a few words of consolation to Master Saheb’s two married daughters.

Master Saheb signaled with his hands asking me to stay on after the mourners had left. I too got busy with making arrangements for bringing from my home simple lunch of Puri-Sabzi (fried pan cakes of wheat floor and mixed vegetable curry) cooked by my mother for the bereaved family. After everyone had their food, Master Saheb called me to his side and made me sit next to him on the floor.
After a long and somewhat uncomfortable silence, he spoke in a low voice “Ab mera kya hoga, Baccha?” I could not quite follow what he meant. Being immature in the ways of the world, I felt somewhat confused and did not know what to say. I was saved by Master Saheb’s Saali (wife’s younger sister) who called me away to another corner of the house . “Jija ji tumsay kya kah rahay tthay, Baccha?” ( What did my sister’s husband say to you, Baccha?) I told her of what had happened. “Tum ko pataa haiy Baccha, Jija ji doosri shaadi karna chaahtay hain !” (Do you know, my sister’s husband wants to re - marry !) She told me.
I was not surprised. My late father used to narrate the story of my eldest Mama (my step-mother’s eldest brother) who had successively got married four times after the deaths of his wives one after another. But that had happened in the 1920s and 1930s. Babuji (I used to address my father as Babuji) used to laugh with a mischievous twinkle in his eyes and say “Mard shaadi ke liye kabhi buddha nahin hota haiy!” (A man is never too old for marriage!).
I came back home. I did not tell Amma (my mother) of all that had had transpired. It was the evening of the third or fourth day after the death of Master Saheb’s wife, when I heard him calling my name from the road below my home. He wanted me to come down and meet him outside the house. He took me aside and asked me walk with him a little distance from the house. “Baccha, tum ko hamara ek kaam karna haiy! Ye lo paise aur kaagaz, aur chup-chaap kal jakar akhbar may ye ishtihaar chhapnay ke liye de kar aao!” (Baccha, you have to do an errand for me. Here, take this money and paper and go tomorrow secretly to give this advertisement for publication in the newspaper!”

Master Saheb knew that I would neither refuse to do anything that he asked me to do nor let out any of his secrets. He not only loved me, he also trusted me. I did as he had said. Things moved quickly from then on.
After about three months, Master Saheb came to my house and once again called me outside. “Kal meri shaadi haiy! Tumko zaroor aanaa haiy! Dekho, manaa naheen karnaa!” It was a simple wedding in an isolated temple a few miles from our locality. There were only 4 guests from our side and the bride was accompanied by just a woman guest. Master Saheb wore an old pair of coat-pant and had a garland of marigold flowers around his neck. The bride appeared to be around 50 years in age. She wore a red Saari (a 6 yards-long unstitched piece of cloth that Indian women expertly drape around their bodies) .

As the wedding parties stood facing the temple idols, the priest called out “Ladka-Ladki ko le aayiye!” (Bring the groom and the bride!) Master Saheb said with a smile “Aap ke saamnay khadey hain!” (They are standing before you!) The priest had a surprised look on his face – “Arre, Aap ki shaadi haiy! Maiyn toh samjhaa tthaa aap ko apne baitay ki shaadi karni haiy!” (Oh, it is you who is to get married! I had thought that you had come for the wedding of your son!). We all suppressed our smiles with difficulty. There were no wedding vows. Master Saheb and his bride exchanged garlands. A box of laddoos was opened and the sweets passed around. The wedding was over.

As Master Saheb and his new wife took a tonga (a two wheeled single horse carriage) home, I cycled back home smiling all the way for this most interesting and unique experience in my life. I carried home two laddoos wrapped in a handkerchief. As Amma came down to open the door for me to bring in my cycle, she enquired “Baccha, kya baat haiy? Bahut muskura rahe ho!” (What is the matter child? Why are you carrying such a big smile?) “Amma bus poochho naheen! Master Saheb ki shaadi ho gayi!” ( Oh, mother, don’t ask me! Master Saheb has got married!) I handed over the Laddoos to Amma and narrated the whole story, laughing aloud.

The matter was soon forgotten. Time passed quickly. A few days after Holi, the Indian festival of colours I heard Master Saheb calling my name from outside my home. I told Amma “Master Saheb aayay hain. Kya pataa unki nayi wali dulhin bhi unkay saath hon! Maiyn unko lene neechay jaa rahaa hoon!” (Master Saheb has come! May be his new wife is with him. I am going downstairs to bring them upstairs!)

Master Saheb was standing all alone on the road. He had a long, brooding face. He seemed to be in deep worry. I touched his feet and asked him to come up into our house. “Naheen-naheen! Tumko ek baat bataanay ke liye aayaa hoon!” (No-no, I am not coming upstairs. I am here to tell you something!) “Kya baat haiy, Master Saheb?” (What it is, teacher?) Master Saheb then made a starting disclosure. His new wife had just disappeared into thin air, taking with her all the valuables in the house, including gold and silver ornaments, some cash etc. He said that he had gone to the address that she had given him before the marriage. But the address was a fake one. I asked him “Ab hum kya kar saktay hain? (Can we do something about it?) “Kuchh naheen!” (Nothing can be done now!) and he left silently.
I too became silent. I had deep sadness in my heart, as I saw the frail frame of Master Saheb turn the corner into the lane that led to his house. I kept looking in that direction for a long long time, before wearily climbing the stairs to my house.
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Retd. Prof. Mr. Durgesh Kumar Srivastava, New Delhi, India
30th April, 2011 kumar220243@yahoo.in
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Welcoming the New Millennium ....

Retd. Prof. Mr. Durgesh Kumar Srivastava, New Delhi, India
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The New Year continues to be exciting as it comes after 365 or 366 days. But a new MILLENNIUM is something different, coming after 1000 years. So, at the end of 1999, it was time for the year 2000 to start and all of us were excited about welcoming a new Millennium.

A flag hoisting ceremony had been scheduled in the college. A 'big-wig' had been duly invited to come as the Chief Guest and unfurl the flag which had been mounted on the 20 or so feet tall flag-pole after being rolled into a pack with flower petals inside in such a way that it would unfurl at the pull of the tie rope and fly in the wind and the flower petals would fall on the audience. The unfurling was to be done by means of a thin rope which was knotted around the flag pack and was to be pulled by the Chief Guest.

Other arrangements made for the occasion included decorating the whole area around the flag pole with flowers and flower pots, buntings, arranging for a band to play after the unfurling, college boys and girls to sing a song and small card-board boxes containing sweets to be handed out to the members of the audience. The so-called big-wig was to be escorted after the flag hoisting and his speech to the Principal's room for being served tea and snacks in a more dignified way.

The teachers and the students took their seats in the function area but the Chief Guest (the big wig) was late. Finally he did arrive an hour or so late and the function got under way with welcome address by the Principal who informed the audience that the delay was because the Chief Guest had to unfurl the flag at many other places before coming to our college.

Finally the moment of unfurling the flag arrived. With cameras ready to click the all important moment the flag rope beaded with small flowers was ceremonially handed over to the Chief Guest.

The audience stood up for the ceremony. With a practiced smile the big wig pulled the rope but nothing happened. He pulled it two or three times - still no result. The knot at the top of the flag pole was too tightly done or may have been wrongly done. It simply refused to open and release the flag.

There was a frown on the face of the big-wig and somewhat sheepish grins on the faces of the Principal and the organizing teachers. Other people too tried to pull the rope, jerked it and shook it in a variety of ways. Still no result.

Finally a man was rushed to the Principal's room to bring the miniature table flag which the Chief Guest took in his hands and raised it high. We all clapped our hands barely managing to suppress our smiles as the band played its assigned tune. The singing by the students was cut short to the barest minimum.

Apologizing for what had happened the Principal handed over the mike to the Chief Guest to address the audience. He did not know what to say in view of the unexpected turn of events. After the ceremony ended the Chief Guest was escorted to the Principal's room for tea and snacks while the teachers got busy with distributing the snacks boxes to the students.

Later the teachers went to the staff room for snacks and tea while the students went home.
The fiasco at the flag unfurling function was the main topic of discussion among the teachers. One teacher said " Yaar, rassi ki gaanth lagaanaa toh kisi boy scout se seekho. Unko iss ki training dee jaati haiy!" (Mate, the making of rope knots should be learned from boy scouts. They are trained in it !)

An hour or so later as we came out of the staff room to go to the parking area, we were surprised to see the flag unfurled and flying proudly in the wind. The parking lot attendant told us:

" Sir ji, jab aap sub log andar chale gaye toh ek dabba chugne wala ladkaa khaali dabbe chun rahaa tthaa. Ussnay rassi ko ek do jhatka diya to jhanda khul gaya."

( Sirs, when you people had gone inside, a rag picker boy had come to pick up the empty boxes. He had given one or two jerks to the rope and the flag had opened.)

Many years have gone by since that incident. I am now a retired man. I am a permanent un-invited guest in each and every function that takes place in the neighbourhood park. My youngest grandson (Chhota - the little one) is often with me. He goes with me and waits for the box of sweets. As we receive boxes at the end of the function, a smile comes to my face as I recall that amusing incident in the college many years ago.
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15 August, 2011
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