Some things I did And people along the way who left impression
PATIALA DAYS,JALANDHAR DAYS, AMRITSAR DAYS, ATTARI AND OTHER MEMORIES AS RELATED BY FAMILY MEMBERS AND FRIENDS.
We moved from Jalandhar to Patiala as my Father was transfered to this town of kings
Maharaja.Maharaja of Patiala had special relations with the British royalty. Princes studied in England .Received a pretty nice allowance for the loyalty to the British.
It was easy for Europeon kings to do that as they had intermarried other kings of Europe and made deals to increase their powers, They were always wheeling and dealing through all means including up to declaration of formation of church of England to reduce the influence of the Catholic church.
I think I went into 5th grade here which was part of a DAV high school.I studied three years here and in the eighth grade had to move to Kota ( most people were told Kota Bundi the twin towns in Rajasthan not quetta now in Pakistan. As I remember we visited Bundi only couple of times the two years we stayed there.I guess as children we were not much mobile and only opportunity we received was due to my parents being transferred.
And summer vacations.
Middle school teacher who babbled and read his poetry and others to young students and gave love for poetry in the process(Kota Rajasthan) We Lived in a muslim part of town did not know it then , I remember people raising rams and sheep for id and other occasions .Had Tajia’s go in our street ( that is how I know we lived in muslim part of town)also did not understand significance of it. In those days it seemed part of Drama which life was. We were in it. It was near Chambal the famous river of Rajasthan bandits and hero’s of Rajputana. I wonder if they had become Bandits(Dacu) during British Raj.
Thinking now I remember buying a novel in hindi at some railwaystation on our journey to Kota from Patiala in Panjab(which was before independence ruled by MahaRaja of patiala and british.They had a special cozy relations with the british)
It was called Chambal valley Daku Man singh.Chambal valley is now even more famous as many barrages and dams have been built on it (difffrence between dam and barrage is that one produces electricity the other not.Then for sure areas above Kota were for sure jungles and I can understand how independednt people could have become decoits if pushed by government. I remember also Vinoba Bhave had braught many decoits into main stream with his message.They sure had allure about them.With no roads and in rainy season many roads blocked by tributaries ,law and order depended on the independence as well as goodwill of the people.Most of the areas were only ruled by Raja’s prior to independence and they still played an important role in the society though diminished. They still had a special status and received funds from center for joining the union called privy purses I think it was reverse of british in general .British had similar arrangement with certain kings whom they paid some allowances .They had started by charging fees for protection. This was funds for peace so that would have allegiance of the locals and the rulers. All the officials knew the rules as they had grown up under similar rule from birth. Only British had gone. Now our local officials were responsible and there bosses were Indians and India would have great development plans and nourish aspirations of the youth. New nation was being built on the skeleton of British Raj. The nation was in the hands of Privileged Dreamers who lacked practical experience and no body to challenge them if they had thought thru the problems of nation building.With best of intentions and absolute power given through democracy India was on a journey never taken by such a large population before.
After 60 years with the benefit of hind site we may discuss how and what happened to all that dreaming. How our contemporaries did and how argumentative Indian(a term given by Amrytya Sen) has done.His term mostly applies to me and I am no more an Indian as I have taken up Us citizenship. And by the way I wonder could you take out India out of the Indian.
Chambal has become important river in development of Rajasthan because of dams and barrages which has reduced seasonal flooding and power generation from hydro and later nuclear power.India has many obstacles to technology and resources We will not be able to compete with national enterprises of China if we fail to provide all the raw materials at world rate to Indian companies.It means power,water,raw materials for industry
On some occasion I will write about the raja of pipli who could fly whose wife loved us as she was from our ancesstoral village of Jadla in Panjab. He had a fort on the top of a hill on the banks of Chambal.
Other thing I do remember pigs even in the street scavenging and squeeling.They squeeled loudly when at times their hair were plucked I do not know for what never saw any product made from them. Again in muslim community pigs looking back did not make sense. It made sense only in this manner that Hindu’s mostly were vegetarians and did not raise animals for slaughter. I remember getcos and snakes and monkeys as part of the life .We had red monkeys and larger black faced langoors .Have no clue where they lived have seen some sleep in the trees do not know much about their habitat.We lived next to a Tall( fire wood wharerhouse(godown) where old trees were brought and sold to public guess most of the snakes came in lumber then in search of food which was many times Getcos visited us.Lucky us .We were not unusually scared .only two occasions I can remember .Once my monm went to the separate bathroom in courtyard as hand pump was there to take bath and screamed as there was a snake there.she said as she was preparing to take bath, she picked a towel under neath she saw a snake first she said she saw it as a messenger of lord shiva (lord Shiva drinks poision and snakes are his messengers)and suddenly she realized that it could be a poisoneous snake she screamed and jumped naked out of the bathroom.It scared me also but as a brave son I handled it with a stick. And without fear.Other time I saw a snake with getco in its mouth.It seemed like impossible task as getco was quite large for the skinny snake.
Other thing I remember running all the way to school as if throwing cricket balls in the same style as a balller.Practicing all the moves using small stones.For sure I must have thought I would be a champion cricketer.We neither had a team or all the equipment certainly having a bat and ball would have sufficed.
Writing Hindi poetry. In those days may be because of pressure of studies and others I was very melancholy and gazed at sky as a lost lover while I had neither seeked or was rejected in love. Melecholy look as Aashiq might have been in fashion. It is in those days I read a beautiful novel named Kavi(poet) I do not even remember the novelist.Most of my poetry was about clouds.I have left Bhilwara,,India, and have been many places I do not have a poem just a statement of the illegal immigrant from mexico whose body was found in a trailer with words that the beautiful land of mine is there and all other beauties and among all that that sky belongs to me.Yes those different clouds did represent my mood and belonged to me and I still remember the night sky with pole star and sapt rishi(seven sages) in west known as big dipper still belong to me and keeps me connected to the sky of my childhood in Bhilwara.
As high shool science fair project Shyam sunder Rajani and I built a rocket which went up about 200 to 300 feet.All based on study of science fiction (Jules Verne) and rudimentary chemistry of dynamite.In our arrogance of youth we believed that our rocket will reach moon with in 20 years.I had bets with people failing that I would pay them exhorbitant sum.I still remember that we only got second prize with our rocket.We had to take assistance of some Thathiars( tin men) who made buckets and stuff to make our rocket we did not even have a rudimentry lab and technical where withals about this stuff.This thathiar was a muslim guy after couple of tries he gave us what we wanted.Their you are talking innovation and jugad..we did not achieve any great success other than some encouragement by some isolated souls we were just solitary arrogant youth who would take on the world even if it did not amount much more than don quixote(now I know it is pronounce don key hote) fighting the wind mills.Our success would have to come in the form of some unlucky tiger getting roped up in our web of follies.I still say do not discourage dreamers by giving them the second prize.We did not get any benefit of teachers input even after the launch.It was a beautiful HIGHER SECONDRY SCHOOL IN the outskirts on the other side of the rail road tracks.
Amrik singh was a dear friend who loved us for our goofyness and always paid for chai and cigarettes( yes they were kool then ).He was not much older than us but had worked with his father and uncle on trucks moving huge rocks and mica material from some rural areas we never visited but new was couple of hours away how many miles could not telll tou which direction not interested and did not know.Learned some stories about mis adventures from him .Learned how Khlasi(which was like assistant to driver and worked as porter ) and drivers cheated or ruined the trucks.how lot of work was dependent on other people ,police,mine owners ,other laborers.
After higher secondry school I attended whole year at a college in Bhilwara which was co educational so was our school.Now I remember only Malini kr from those days who was from south India (what state could not tell you) she explained at one point how k r was part of her father and grandfathers name or family name.I never forgot her outstanding command of English language and she lived on the oter side of town in the boon dox where Shamoo and me used to go for for six seven hours of walks in summer.There was a bridge over some rainy season brook whom I gave a name as some setu (Sanskrit name for bridge) could have been love bridge as I could see malini’s house from this bridge.Never saw her there only saw her cousin ride a bike from this bridge towards their house.Now when I think of she was living with her cousin and do not remember where were her parents.Did not think much about them then.I guess it did not matter to me in my youth how this young girl came into existence and materialized in this dreamy part of my life.
I get to make better friendship with her as we were preparing for the play Merchant of Venice.She was Portia and I was cast as Antonio the merchant.I remember thinking how fate and our luck had given us roles of husband and wife.If you have read merchant of Venice you know there is no romance in the play.It did not matter to me we were only to do court scene.Role of Shylock was considered too difficult to be done by a student was taken by professor (I forget his name though I remember my English teacher from higher secondry Mr Srivastwa).
Srivastwa sahib was real scholar had masters in english un common for that time in higher secondry schools.He constantly read had books on his shelves in his hand could talk about them and loved to.One unique observation I had, he used to treat us to some goodies when ever he could.At end of the month he would buy one cigarette at a time as he had no money and you could do it then .When he got paid after paying his bills he bought books,and would buy a packet of gold flake cigarettes(at least I think it was the name) it would be in his shirt pocket.We would smile and were happy for him that he had gotten paid.
Back to merchant of Venice.We had good and friendly relationship with our professor and mentor .For our extra work he would give us coupons for snacks and tea from the canteen. As this gang of boys and girls were in play together we could go to canteen(cafeteria) together and we felt we were the trend setters ,till then we had only seen professors and masters class students go to cafeteria together.
Sadly I do remember we practised but never performed for the audience the play .Shame that we lost some bragging rights in the process.In all these years I have for gotten most of the lines .Yes then I remembered everybodies lines specially Portias and could recite from memory.Shakespear for sure is genius.
Many years later I saw a flyer of a play”ferkaufer de venichi”that is german version of play being performed in Offenbach,it plucked my strings,twanged a little but not enough to had made me see the play .I have many versions of the play in my mind .I do not think I have ever seen it peroformed but I can not be sure.Could be in a movie or movie in a movie .My memory and mind is playing tricks and I let it.
One last thing when my father was transferred to Amritsar we were happy as we would be able to make new friends and new place. At the train station this guy from whom we were charging tea and samosas came and hit my dad for my bill and graciously he paid and never mentioned to me.DAD you overlooked my weaknesses thankyou.Sorry I should have behaved better.It was may be 110 rupees today about $2.25 then about 15 dollars.Luckily he had extra money as when an government official was transferred he was given extra allowance for the move. I still do not know on what promise I had charged all that stuff.Where was I going to get the money? I can understand why the storekeeper would give me the credit knowing that I was son of a official and as such was trust worthy.Would parents today take responsibility for their foolish children or tell the vendor they did not authorize as such it was their loss.
My earliest public sector work was organisisng youth group in Amritsar. I even went to bearing college Batala once to talk about something the only memory I have going there and coming in bus and talking to may be 30 young women I do not even know how it got arranged and what I TALKED ABOUT IN THOSE DAYS I THOUGHT I COULD CHANGE THE WORLD SINGLE HANDEDLY ACCEPT looking back I could not pass the compartment in chemistry from bsc part2..I must have been a sorry student. Highlight of my all schooling has been when my teacher in Bhilwara looked at my paper I do not remember the subject and went to the principal and said HE HAD NEVER SEEN SO PERFECT writing in his life and it should be part of permanent records of the school .This I was able to do without understanding any technical side of the grammer.I learned german,haroty ,mewari and some sindhi in same way.
Oh I almost forgot about two other major events
Prediction of Nehru,s death by unmarried elder brother and sister of of our principal Sridhar gupta.
We had principal of the govt college in Bhilwara principal Sridhar Gupta.I remember him to be close friend of dad and as it was common in India at that time they were part of our extended family.They seemed to be more reserved ,I guess principals of colleges are and my dad who was an administrator felt at ease to open up and make friends.We were from Panjab and they were from Bikaner at least that is my memory of it..
International basket ball tournament in bhilwara where wilt chamberlain stayed in school for what seems like at least a week.
I do not know how this idea got generated .Some how our college built two basketball courts and decided to host international basket ball trophy event .Lucky for us we did not know it then teams from us and Russia and I think even from some African nations came to our college and stayed in the classrooms. It sure were simpler times even on the world stage.I will search the web for more info on the players and even on the matches.
We all know that Us and Russia both have been champions in the sport.Though they were representing USSR( soviet Union) we still used to call them Russian and strangely now it is called Russia.(roos)
What stands out that he was tallest guy on any team and it seamed that he hovered over everybody. It almost seemed unfair that his height gave him tremendous advantage. I am sure in America he may not be considered just average height for basket ball players today.
The beauty of it all was that we as young thought it was our right to participate in great adventures of the world and we were on par with every body. Prior to this competition and its preparation I had never seen people play basket ball.
In order to find out more information about this international competition I tried to search the web and could not find much info on that except became aware that Bhilwara and its surrounding areas have become a power house for recruiting of talented basketball players.It has produced large number of players in all categories. Today I wonder that international gold cup(I know in reality initially it was only a golden and have no clue what form that matches took and what kind of cup was given in following years.