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WATCH BOOK TALK: ‘TRAIN TO PAKISTAN’ by Khushwant Singh

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BOOK TALK: TRAIN TO PAKISTAN by Khushwant Singh

Copyright@shravancharitymission

 

Khidki (Window)

–Read India Initiative—

This is only an attempt to create interest in reading. We may not get the time to read all the books in our lifetime. But such reviews, talk and synopsis will at least convey what the book is all about

THE TRAIN TO PAKISTAN

BY KHUSHWANT SINGH

    The summer of 1947 was not like any other Indian summer. The weather that year had a different feel. What was, looming large on the horizon was, communal riots, and precipitated reports of the proposed division of the country into a Hindu India and a Muslim Pakistan. Within a few months the death toll had mounted to several thousands. ‘Muslims said the Hindus had planned and started the killing. According to the Hindus, the Muslims were to blame.’

    The riots had gradually spread from Calcutta to north and east and west. In Noakhali, East Bengal Muslims massacred Hindus. In Bihar Hindus massacred Muslims. Hundreds of thousands of Hindus and Sikhs who had lived for centuries in the Northwest Frontier abandoned their homes and fled towards the protection of the predominantly Sikh and Hindu communities in the east. They travelled on foot, in bullock carts, crammed into lorries as the riots had become a rout.

    By the summer of 1947 when the creation of a new state of Pakistan was formally announced, ten million people—Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs—were in flight. By the time the monsoon broke, almost a million of them were dead, and entire northern India was up in arms. The only oases of peace that remained were a scatter of little villages lost in the remote reaches of the frontier. Where, one such village happened to be Mano Majra.

    A tiny place, it had only three brick buildings. One belonged to the money lender Lala Ram Lal. The other two were the Sikh temple (Gurudwara), and the mosque (Masjid). Rest of the village was a cluster of flat-roofed mud huts and low-walled courtyards, which fronted on the narrow lanes. There were only seventy families in Mano Majra a fictional village. Lala Ram Lal was the only Hindu family. The others were Sikhs or Muslims, about equal in number and some quasi-Christians. The Sikhs owned all the land around the village and the Muslims were tenants and shared the tilling with the owners. There were a few families of sweepers also whose religion was uncertain. The Muslims claimed them as their own. Yet when American missionaries visited Mano Majra the sweepers wore khaki sola topees and joined their women folk in singing hymns in the accompaniment of harmonium.

    Even though, Mano Majra was said to be on the banks of Sutlej river. It was actually half a mile away from it. Sutlej is the largest river in Punjab. And about a mile north of Mano Majra. The Sutlej is spanned by a railroad bridge. It is a magnificent bridge—its eighteen enormous spans sweep like waves from one pier to another, and at each end of it there is a stone embankment. To, buttress the railway line.

    Mano Majra was always known for its railway station. Since the bridge had only one track. The station had several sidings where less important trains could wait, to make way for the more important ones. Not many trains stopped at Mano Majra. Express trains did not stop at all. Of the many slow passenger trains, only two, one from Delhi to Lahore in the mornings and the other from Lahore to Delhi in the evenings, were scheduled to stop for a few minutes. The only regular customers were the goods train. After dark, when the countryside was steeped in silence. The whistling and puffing of engines, the banging of buffers and the clanking of iron couplings could be heard all through the night. Apart from this, the blasts of the whistle were also heard often when the trains passed. And in all of this the author has done a wonderful job of describing the village activities. The Sikhs and the Muslims had a cordial relationship with each other until the summer of 1947.

    One heavy night in August five dacoits appeared in the village. And in sync with the rumblings of the sidings of the train, they decided to raid the house of the money lender Lala Ram Lal. They hammered the door with their weapons and after breaking it open they entered. They killed Lala Ram Lal and looted his treasure and fired two shots in the air to silence the village.  While leaving they passed through Juggut Singh’s (Juggia) house who was considered the village badmash and threw a bundle of bangles into his house to make him feel feminine. But since Juggut Singh (Juggia) was not at home they missed the action.

    Juggia was on probation where he was not supposed to leave the village and also report to the police station at frequent intervals. His father was a dacoit who was hanged for his crimes. Juggia had developed a physical relationship with Nooran, a Muslim girl who happened to be the daughter of Imam Baksh the Mullah of the Masjid. Once when, Juggia stepped out in the night, taking all the risk only to ‘make love’ to Nooran in the open fields where no one could see them. They heard some footsteps and went quiet. They saw some five people and could make out they were Malli the famous dacoit and his gang mates. Juggia was shocked. What was Malli doing in his village? This was no time for dacoities when the country was wounded, he thought. And, when, he was about to enter his house, he saw the door was open. Where, several villagers were in the courtyard talking to his mother. He turned around, quietly and made his way back to the river.

    In the bureaucratic circles, Mano Majra had some importance because of an officer’s rest house that was located just north of the railway bridge.  It had a flat roofed bungalow made of khaki bricks with a veranda in the front facing the river. It stood in the middle of a squarish plot enclosed by a low wall. Throughout the winter months, officers arrange tours that involved a short halt at the Mano Majra rest house. There they went for shoots and generally had a good time there.

    In the morning before the dacoity in Mano Majra, the rest house had been done up to receive an important guest. Before the arrival of this VIP the SI (sub-inspector) of police and two constables had also turned up on their bicycles. And soon the VIP too arrived in a large American car. His name was Hukum Chand, magistrate and deputy commissioner of the district. He immediately freshened up and got the SI to his room to start a conversation around some urgent issues over a glass of beer. The obsequious SI didn’t waste any time. He was immediately on the mission to please him. Corrupt Hukum Chand was expecting more than normal courtesies from the SI. That included wine, woman and song. The SI had it all in his quiver. During the course of beer he also started enquiring from the SI about the communal tension and about the convoys of dead Sikhs as they had been coming through at Amritsar. They had a frank discussion. Hukum Chand told the SI about Sikhs who retaliated by attacking a Muslim refugee train and sending it across the border with over a thousand corpses. They wrote on the engine ‘Gift to Pakistan!’

     The sentiments were far from normal on both the sides of the border. But it had not affected Mano Majra yet. The Muslims in Mano Majra were not well to do. There was also a discussion on Jugga. The SI reminded Hukum Chand of his father Alam Singh who was hanged two years back. SI explained, Jugga was in a relationship with a Muslim weaver’s daughter whose father was blind and was the mullah of the mosque and his name was Imam Baksh. In the evening Hukum Chand had his round of whisky along with a dance session by a prostitute who was in her teens and even slept with her. The dark side of bureaucracy and feudalism one could say.

    The morning after the dacoity the railway station was more crowded than usual. Residents of Mano Majra loved coming to the station just for the heck of it. Today the train from Delhi had some special visitors. Twelve armed policemen along with a sub-inspector alighted from compartment just behind the engine. And from the other end of the train near the guard’s van, a young man stepped down. Every bit an urbanite and also looked as if he was educated abroad, and somewhat effeminate, in body language. He was looking for a place to stay in Mano Majra. Soon he reached the Gurudwara where he met an old Sikh who happened to be the bhai of the temple. His name was Meet Singh. He enquired the name of the young man when the young man said, ‘Iqbal.’ ‘Iqbal Singh?’ queried the old man. To which Iqbal didn’t reply. Iqbal could have been Iqbal Singh, or Iqbal Chand or even Iqbal Mohammed. He declared himself as a social worker. He carried his own foodstuff to eat including fish complete with head, eyes and tail and even liquor. Bhai Meet Singh adviced Iqbal not to go out too far in the village as it was bad times. And that Lambarder and Imam Baksh, the mullah of the mosque were coming to meet him.

     The attention then shifts to the money lender’s house, who was murdered the previous night. The dacoits had taken a lot of cash and they say over five thousand rupees in silver and gold ornaments from his women. The murder suspect was now Jugga in whose house the packet of bangles was found that was left by the dacoits. He is soon arrested. Jugga pleads not guilty as he wouldn’t have looted and killed his own village brother but he was not heard.

    In fact the arrest of Jugga also had the okay of Hukum Chand the magistrate. In fact the magistrate had also given the concurrence to arrest Iqbal too, and implicate him in the case of murder. Iqbal had become a matter of suspicion because his undisclosed mission. They both are put in the lock up. But Iqbal had arrived a day after the murder and Jugga could not have killed his village-brother or struck a dacoity in his own village. This makes the authorities feel something is amiss. Which, they will not be able to prove it in the court of law. So they timidly accept the mistake and arrest Malli and his gang from Chundunugger police station.  

    Meanwhile things are hotting up in Mano Majra. One day a ‘ghost train’ arrives at Mano Majra railway station. The entire area along the station is cordoned off. Rumours spread it is a ‘funeral train’ carrying dead bodies of Sikhs and Hindus killed in the massacre. Army steps in with some Sikh officers and their Jeeps and trucks. Meanwhile, the local police are commissioned, to go around villages to collect wood and oil. This gives a clear indication, that it is required for mass cremation. The docile villagers, handover whatever is available with them. And after a while all they get to see is the billowing of dense smoke making it amply clear that its mass cremation that is going on. Post this; traumatic rumours spread across the village.

    But even before matters cool of, one day another ‘Ghost Train’ enters Mano Majra. It has no lights. It doesn’t whistle nor does it rumble. The army once cordons off the entire area. Soon an excavator arrives and starts digging a huge pit. The dead bodies are brought from the train and made to rest in the pit—mass burial. After which, the train disappears, as mysteriously, as it had come.

    News spreads that it was the bodies of Hindus and Sikhs brought in the train twice for cremation and burial. Upon reviewing the situation authorities feel another ‘Ghost Train’ can start riots in Mano Majra too. So they decide to shift the Muslim population to the ‘refugee camp’ from where they would be deported to Pakistan. Muslims of Mano Majra are not quite inclined to go to Pakistan as they feel they were born and brought up only in Mano Majra. But the cruel destiny decides that they have to leave. Nooran too, has to leave along with her father Imam Baksh. She comes to meet Jugga’s mother. She informs she is carrying Juggia’s child and therefore if she could adopt her and let her be in her house. But Juggia’s mother is not inclined to keep her, so she asks her to leave for the camp immediately.

    Meanwhile Juggut Singh, Iqbal, Malli and his gang are released from the jail. Iqbal disappears suddenly. But the talk whether he was a Muslim or a Sikh continues. Juggia upon reaching his home learns Nooran had come seeking for shelter at his home but was turned away by his mother. He gets very upset at this and threatens her to kill himself. And by now a young Sikh lad has emerged in Mano Majra. It appears he has come from Pakistan and is full of hatred for Muslims consequent to what he had seen in Pakistan—rape of Hindu and Sikh women and slaughter of their children and men. He is full of fire. He comes to the Gurudwara and provokes the Sikhs to join him for taking revenge. About fifty Sikhs join him as volunteers.

    Next day in the morning, the Sikh lad, along with all the volunteers make a plan. The train loaded with Muslim refugees is likely to start from Chundunugger and by night it will reach Mano Majra. The train has no lights as it being made to move in a surreptitious manner. All along the way they plan to post volunteers with torches who will signal as soon as the train passes them. They plan to tie a sturdy rope from one end to the other on the first steel span of the rail bridge which is at the height of the funnel of the engine which is about twenty feet. And once the train reaches there in the dark it will pull down all the people sitting on the roof say 4-500. The impact might even dislodge the train itself and it might fall into the river. Prima facie it appeared to be a perfect plan when they could have attacked and killed all the refugees.

    By night everything was in place. The train was moving without lights. Each time it passed a volunteer, the torch light flashed giving the signal that the train had moved ahead. It was a moonlit night. When, the Sikh lad saw a silhouette of a hefty person climbing the first steel span. He then started moving on the sturdy rope when he took out his kirpan (sword) and started cutting it. The Sikh lad upon seeing this, yelled at the hefty person to stop what he was doing. But the guy was unfazed. His movements up there had become even swifter by now. The train by now was also close to the steel span. The Sikh lad by now had understood what was happening. Someone was trying to sabotage the plan by cutting the rope as that would have saved all the refugees. So he first yelled and then took out his gun and shot the guy. He was hurt, and by now he was in the centre of the span. Where, his movements had become much more, faster. And finally he was successful in cutting the rope at the nick of the moment. But just then he fell on the track when the train ran over him and into Pakistan.

    The person who cut the rope was no else but Juggut Singh who wanted to save his Muslim girlfriend from being killed but in the process he killed himself.

Synopsis by Kamlesh Tripathi

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https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

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Share it if you like it

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Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

*

Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be its undying characteristic. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha

(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

*****

 

 

 

   

 

BOOKISH VIEW: SUPERSTAR INDIA–FROM INCREDIBLE TO UNSTOPPABLE–SHOBHAA DE

Copyright@shravancharitymission

Khidki (Window)

–Read India Read initiative–

TITLE: SUPERSTAR INDIA

–FROM INCREDIBLE TO UNSTOPPABLE–

SHOBHAA DE

PUBLISHED BY PENGUIN IN 2008– 456 pages 

Abridged for a quick read

 

    The book is full of masala … quite like the proverbial Bhanmati ka pitara—the wonder casket. It seems, whatever, dawned her mind and heart. She just penned it down—so in many ways she has opened her heart. Shobhaa is, as old as independent India. So, she runs through India keeping that in mind, in her flamboyant narrative style. But the content is quite scattered and even skewed at places. In fact any regular gazer of a newspaper or a periodical may find a great amount of familiarity with the content. So, while reading the book the reader might just start reminiscing, where he or she had read it earlier. As ‘SUPERSTAR INDIA’ is not some deeply treasured secret in this day and age of internet, driven by search engines, and the aggressive paper and electronic media. So a lot of it seems to be a lift-off from there. True enough. The book is well styled, well ornamented, orotund, and is quite generous. With the munificent usage of ‘within-the-brackets’ that simplifies or elaborates the meaning of many of its subtle sentences—her aristocratic and well born writing style—I guess. Also, in galore there are ellipses and punctuation marks. The narration is loudly verbose but with sound construct of sentences, of course to zenith the literary astuteness. In a nutshell it is a good detailing of, the already circulating India’s contemporary and ancient history of those times, in a monotonous and drowsy speed and style. Where, she could have sharpened the content by not leaving it open ended and maybe with some sub-chapters and even span breakers.

    Nevertheless, the book also has some latent strengths, within the long spans of boredom. She is indeed very bold and doesn’t spare anyone which is plus point. She brings in a wide range of topics. But it doesn’t tie up all to well, to derive any lessons of life. So an average reader may not find it very interesting. Especially, if he has mistook the book for an interesting stretched out story. Although the title of the book is SUPERSTAR INDIA. But in reality she is more critical than appreciative about her. Where, I’m forced to think. As to why did Shobhaa think of writing this book at all? It remains a mystery to me. Did she want to criticize the West? Or did she want to praise India. Down the line she also criticizes Indian men to raise the flag of Indian women? She praises India only when she compares her with the Western World. Otherwise, she is critical about her most of the times.

    She starts off well with her visit to Agra but then she goes all over the place after some sixty odd pages. Where, she covers personalities, political system, Indian beliefs, Hollywood, Bollywood, the Mayawatis and the ilks, schedule caste and tribe in great detail. 

    She downloads most of what she knows about India. But then it does not add up to a formidable plot. No doubt she throws her heart out, by being abusive, frank and quite unbothered. But all of that doesn’t churn into an interesting read. Let’s not forget the acid test of any book is the impact it leaves behind after you’ve completed it. She has flagged some great facts and some interesting points as mentioned below:

    People still correlate Bollywood with old songs and not the new ones/She appreciates India here and there, but also criticizes her, no end. But when she compares India with the western world she begins to praise her/Describes how India is evolving sexually/Talks about Indian realities/Promotes the Taj Mahal/Paints a picture of Indian hospitality/Book satisfies the Indian ego but only partially. As it even magnifies the chinks of Indian civilzation/Reveals many hidden facts about Indian Corporate Inc/Facts about foreign citizens of Indian origin … like Zubin Mehta and Laxmi Narain Mittal to name a few/India’s great culture of sacrifice/She sounds like an American Born Confused Desi (ABCD) herself. When she makes fun of Indians when it comes to their age old customs and habits/Her views are quite clear about how we treat our elders/describes an Indian family life/ She also talks of metro cities and its cultures but doesn’t go so much in detail about the rural areas barring the established religious and social practices/Indian weddings including destination weddings/Intermittently even speaks of her family/Talks about big brother America and page 3 culture/At quite a few places it is India versus the Western world/Talks of Indian spices in the US/Talks of Indians being superior in many ways where she builds the tempo in certain pages/Very vividly she describes the contemporary lifestyle  of the Indian megapolis/Indian shamelessness while defecating in the open/She even errs out to see love making in Bombay chawls/Bathroom habits/Death rituals/Bombay municipal corporation/Describes Indians as sex machines/Writes quite bluntly about sex/Talks about ‘nazar’—the evil eye. And calls herself a firm believer of that/She even talks of death rituals/ She is very bold and doesn’t spare anyone—is what I liked about the book/She is descriptive but doesn’t connect the dotted lines/ She describes the lives in China and Pakistan quite well.

 Some catchy lines from the book

    ‘When all hell fails, we pull out Gandhi. The Mahatma has saved India’s ass in more ways than one. If he only knew how frequently and arbitrarily we use the Gandhi trick to impress outsiders.’

    ‘Most Indians are like elastic bands, ready to stretch themselves or shrink, depending on circumstances.’

    ‘Adjust’ is a favourite word in India, and is used across the board, even by those who barely speak intelligible English.’

    ‘The trouble is Indians aren’t used to being prosperous. We are more comfortable dealing with poverty—after all, poverty is a staple here, and has been for centuries.’

    Well … if you have the glorious time and patience pick it up.

*****  

By Kamlesh Tripathi

*

https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

*

Share it if you like it

*

Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

*

By Kamlesh Tripathi

*

https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

*

Share it if you like it

*

Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases. Should you wish to donate for the cause the bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

*

Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be its undying characteristic. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha

(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

*****

 

 

 

 

ROLE MODEL TO FUGITIVE –WAS IT WORTH IT … VIJAY MALLAYA?

Copyright@shravancharitymission

ROLE MODEL TO FUGITIVE—VIJAY MALLAYA

    India unceasingly semaphores across its shores, and even megaphones internally, in high voltage forums, about its high pedigree, of a throbbing ‘conscience.’ But the impression gets totally pasty-faced when the world comes across deceitful Indians such as Vijay Mallaya and now even Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi.

    India has enough laws to tackle crime. But the only ones generally caught, are the small fries. Where, big ones escape.

    Of course to control crime, laws are required, but to prevent, even a sensitive conscience would do. But, do Indian tycoons, have the tall conscience in them, is the moot point. And it requires only one bad fish to spoil the whole pond.

    Recently, I came across an interesting page or two in one of Shobhaa De’s book that was published way back in 2008. Even with all her connections, insight and even intellectual wisdom. She could not predict, what Vijay Mallaya would turn out to be—a deceit. That will even make his late father Vittal Mallaya, turn in his grave.

    Writes Shobhaa De, ‘Vijay Mallaya? The ‘King of Good Times?’ Yeah … oh yeah … what a life! Mallaya has emerged as the number one symbol of spectacular success. Youngsters frequently vote for him as their favourite icon. His larger-than-life image is further bolstered by smart positioning –he is the ultimate brand for his range of ‘products’. A range that comprises India’s first-ever ‘five-star airline’ to leading alcohol brands (Mallaya is number three in the world of booze barons). But more than his business profile, its Mallaya’s jaw-dropping personal style that attracts the youth—jumbo sized solitaires in each earlobe, enough gold chains around his neck to give P. Diddy a complex and a yacht (Indian Empress) that’s huge enough to host mega-parties on its multiple decks.

    Austerity a la Narayanmurthy? No, thank you. Too discreet. Flamboyance is in. That goes for the Ambanis as well. Given their more sober living (no booze, strictly vegetarian), and their workaholic reputation

    There’s a fleet of private jets, too. And grand residences in every glamorous destination in the world—from California and Monaco to Goa. Which wide-eyed ambitious Indian youngster wouldn’t want to be in Mallya’s snakeskin shoes?’

    I wonder what Shobhaa De must be feeling about her well intended pages today. Where, she had projected Vijay Mallaya to be the role model of many young Indians. But sadly the reality is quite different. When we compare India’s Vijay Mallaya to America’s Bill Gates we are put to shame. And why is it that some people who are born with a platinum spoon. Conspire for more, that they cannot digest. Well … you’ll only have to meet Vijay Mallaya to find out the answer, or the new entrants in the game that is Nirav and Mehul.

***

By Kamlesh Tripathi

*

https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

*

Share it if you like it

*

Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

*

By Kamlesh Tripathi

*

https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

*

Share it if you like it

*

Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases. Should you wish to donate for the cause the bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

*

Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be its undying characteristic. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha

(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

*****

 

 

 

Rendezous with Yogendra Singh Yadav-Param Vir Chakra Awardee

Copyright@shravancharitymission

 

PARAM VIR CHAKRA AWARDEE—YOGENDRA SINGH YADAV

You cannot meet a better Indian.

     I had a rare opportunity of meeting Subedar Major Yogendra Singh Yadav on 11th February 2018, at Gorakhpur, while participating in the Lit-Fest there. Believe me. Yogendra is an electrifying, ironclad personality that is full of inspiration. 

    Param Vir Chakra (PVC) is the highest gallantry award for officers and other enlisted personnel of military branches of India. Which is given for the highest degree of conspicuous valour shown in the presence of the enemy.

    Introduced on 26th January 1950. This award can also be given posthumously.   As of January 2018 the medal has been awarded 21 times. Out of which 14 were posthumous and 16 arose from actions in Indo-Pakistani conflicts. Of the 21 awardees, 20 have been from the Indian Army, and one from the Indian Air Force. There are only three surviving PVC awardees today. Out of which only two recipients are still in active duty: Subedar Yogendra Singh Yadav and Naib Subedar Sanjay Kumar.

     Subedar Major Yogendra Singh Yadav is a Junior Commissioned Officer of the Indian Army. He was awarded the highest military honour of India that is Param Vir Chakra, for his 4 July 1999 action during Kargil War—battle of Tiger Hill in the Dras sector.

    He was born on 10 May 1980, in district Bulandshahr of Uttar Pradesh. He is currently 38 years old. He is from the Grenadiers and his service number is 2690572.

    The actions of the fictional war hero Karan Shergill played by Hrithik Roshan in the Bollywood film Lakshya on Tiger Hill. Are a screen adaptation of the heroic deeds undertaken by among others, the platoon of Yadav, and give a vivid description of their arduous journey to capture the strategically placed bunkers on the 5307 metre high Tiger Hill from Pakistan.   

    Only two Param Vir Chakra recipients are still in active duty: Subedar Yogendra Singh Yadav and Naib Subedar Sanjay Kumar.

    A big salute to them.

***

By Kamlesh Tripathi

*

https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

*

Share it if you like it

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Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases. Should you wish to donate for the cause the bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

*

Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(Archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. Book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

Story of an Indian salesman who is lowly qualified but fights his ways through uncertainities to reach the top. A good read for all salesmen. Now available in Amazon.com

(CAN BE BOUGHT FROM ON LINE BOOK STORES OR WRITE TO US FOR COPIES)

*****

 

 

Burmese days–by George Orwell

Copyright@shravancharitymission

Khidki (Window)

The Burmese Days … By George Orwell

–Read India read–

–Books are like docile stack of papers. But when you start turning the pages. They become a gripping world of their own–

    I have always believed that books and movies are the best mirrors of their times for they often spill the beans. If you want to visit Burma of the 1930s read this book. It gives you a good flavour of how the Britishers behaved during those times. It also sensitises you about how a handful of Indians sustained themselves between the heft of the British Imperialism and the spread of the local Burmese population. And of course how, the Burmese society managed under the stubborn aristocracy of the misbehaved system.

    In this scathing and zipping novel written way back in 1934. Indians and Burmese are referred as niggers and beggars in some pages: and thus denied membership in a local European club in Upper Burma. (George Orwell thus spills the beans).

    The book mentions that in British regime when an illiterate domestic servant used to misbehave. He was sent to a prison with a chit—15 lashes.

    Background: From 1922 to 1927 Orwell spent five years as a police officer in the Indian Imperial Police force in Burma (now Myanmar). Burma had become part of the British Empire during the 19th century as an adjunct of British India. The British colonised Burma in stages.  Only in 1885 when they captured the royal capital of Mandalay Burma was declared as part of the British Empire. Many people don’t know that Burma was the wealthiest country in Southeast Asia under the British rule. Therefore many workers from India and China supplemented the Burmese population. As a colony it was very much seen as a backwater.

MAIN CHARACTERS:

        James Flory: is referred as ‘Flory’ in the novel. He is the central character. A timber merchant in his mid-thirties. Blessed or disgraced with a dark blue birthmark that stretches from his eye to the side of his mouth on his left cheek. He therefore avoids flaunting the left side of his face to people. He is friendly to an Indian doctor by the name of Veraswami. He likes and even appreciates the Burmese culture. This brings him into a conflict with the members of the local club. Who, do not appreciate his radical views.

        Elizabeth Lackersteen: An unmarried English girl who has lost both her parents and comes to stay with her remaining relatives, the Lackersteens, in Burma. Before her flighty mother died, they had lived together in Paris. Her mother fancied herself an artist, and Elizabeth grew to hate the Bohemian lifestyle and cultural connections. Elizabeth is 22, ‘tallish for a girl, slender.” Throughout the novel, she seeks to marry a man because her aunt keeps pressuring her and she idolises wealth and social class, neither of which she could achieve without a husband during this time period.

    Mr Lackersteen: Elizabeth’s uncle and Mrs Lackersteen’s husband. Lackersteen is the manager of a timber firm. He is a heavy drinker whose main object in life is to have a “good time”. However his activities are curtailed by his wife who is ever watching “like a cat over a bloody mousehole” because ever since she returned after leaving him alone one day to find him surrounded by three naked Burmese girls, she does not trust him alone. Lackersteen’s lechery extends to making sexual advances towards his niece, Elizabeth.

    Mrs Lackersteen: Elizabeth’s aunt and Mr Lackersteen’s wife. Mrs Lackersteen is “a woman of about thirty-five, handsome in a contourless, elongated way, like a fashion plate”. She is a classic memsahib, the title used for wives of officials in the Raj. Both she and her niece have not taken to the alien country or its culture. (In Burmese Days Orwell defines the memsahib as “yellow and thin, scandal mongering over cocktails—living twenty years in the country without learning a word of the language.”). And because of this, she strongly believes that Elizabeth should get married to an upper class man who can provide her with a home and accompanying riches. She pesters Elizabeth into finding a husband: first she wants her to wed Verrall, then after he leaves, Flory.

    Dr Veraswami: An Indian doctor and a friend of Flory’s. He has nothing but respect for the British colonists and often refers to his own kind as being lesser humans than the English, even though many of the British, including Ellis, don’t respect him. Veraswami and Flory often discuss various topics, with Veraswami presenting the British point of view and Flory taking the side of the Burmese. Dr Veraswami is targeted by U Po Kyin in pursuit of membership of the European club. Dr Veraswami wants to become a member of the club so that it will give him prestige which will protect him from U Po Kyin’s attempts to exile him from the district. Because he respects Flory, he does not pester him to get him admitted into the club. Eventually U Po Kyin’s plan to exile Dr Veraswami comes through. He is sent away to work in another run-down hospital elsewhere.

    U Po Kyin: A corrupt and cunning magistrate who is hideously overweight, but perfectly groomed and wealthy. He is 56 and the “U” in his name is his title, which is an honorific in Burmese society. He feels he can commit whatever wicked acts he wants—cheat people of their money, jail the innocent, abuse young girls—because although, “According to Buddhist belief those who have done evil in their lives will spend the next incarnation in the shape of a rat, frog, or some other low animal”, he intends to provide against these sins by devoting the rest of his life to good works such as financing the building of pagodas, “and balance the scales of karmic justice”.[13] He continues his plans to attack Dr Veraswami, instigating a rebellion as part of the exercise, to make Dr Veraswami look bad and eliminate him as a potential candidate of the club, so he can secure the membership for himself. He believes his status as a member of the club will cease the intrigues that are directed against him. He loses pre-eminence when Flory and Vereswami suppress the riot. After Flory dies, Kyin becomes a member of the European Club. Shortly after his admission into the club he dies, unredeemed, before the building of the pagodas. “U Po has advanced himself by thievery, bribery, blackmail and betrayal, and his corrupt career is a serious criticism of both the English rule that permits his success and his English superiors who so disastrously misjudge his character”.

    Ma Hla May: Flory’s Burmese mistress who has been with him for two years before he meets Elizabeth. Ma Hla May believes herself to be Flory’s unofficial wife and takes advantage of the privileges that come along with being associated with a white man in Burma. Flory has been paying her expenses throughout their time together. However, after he becomes enchanted with Elizabeth, he informs her that he no longer wants anything to do with her. Ma Hla May is distraught and repeatedly blackmails him. Once thrown out of Flory’s house, the other villagers dissociate themselves from her and she cannot find herself a husband to support her. Encouraged by U Po Kyin, who has an alternate agenda to ruin Flory’s reputation within the club, she approaches Flory in front of the Europeans and creates a dramatic scene so everyone knows of his intimacy with her. This outburst taints Elizabeth’s perception of Flory for good. Eventually she goes to work in a brothel elsewhere.

    Ko S’la: Flory’s devoted servant since the day he arrived in Burma. They are close to the same age and Ko S’la has since taken care of Flory. Though he serves Flory well, he does not approve of many of his activities, especially his relationship with Ma Hla May and his drinking habits. He believes that Flory should get married. Flory has remained in the same reckless state that he was when he arrived in Burma. In Ko S’la’s eyes, Flory is still a boy. Ko S’la, on the other hand, has moved on with his life as he has taken wives and fathered five children. He pities Flory due to his childish behaviour and his birthmark.

    Lieutenant Verrall: A military policeman who has a temporary posting in the town. He is everything that Flory is not—young, handsome, privileged. He is the youngest son of a peer and looks down on everyone, making no concessions to civility and good manners. His only concern while in town is playing polo. He takes no notice of a person’s race, everyone is beneath him. Verrall is smug and self-centered. Encouraged by her aunt, Elizabeth pursues Verrall as a suitor, but he uses her only for temporary entertainment. In the end, he vanishes from town without a word to Elizabeth.

    Mr Macgregor: Deputy Commissioner and secretary of the club. He is upright and well-meaning, although also pompous and self-important. U Po Kyin contacts Mr Macgregor through anonymous letters as he continues his attacks on Dr Veraswami to gain a position in the club. As one of the only single men left in the town, he marries Elizabeth.

    Ellis: A violently racist Englishman who manages a timber company in upper Burma. He is a vulgar and spiteful member of the club who likes stirring up scandals. He believes in the British rule of Burma and that the Burmese people are completely incapable of ruling the country themselves. His hatred of the Burmese culture causes some clashes with Flory due to Flory’s friendliness with the Burmese, especially Dr Veraswami. Ellis is in support of U Po Kyin’s plan to ruin the reputation of Dr Veraswami and needs no evidence whatsoever of Dr Veraswami’s guilt.

    Francis and Samuel: Francis is a Eurasian clerk to an Indian money lender, whilst Samuel is a clerk to some of the pleaders. Both are sons of Christian missionaries, the book explores attitudes towards their mixed heritage.

PLOT

    The novel is set in the imperial Burma of 1920s. In the fictional district of Kyauktada. The original of Kyauktada is Kathar (formerly spelled as Katha), a township where Orwell served. Kyauktada is the head of a branch railway line above Mandalay on the Ayeyarwady (Irrawady) River. The story opens with U Po Kyin, a corrupt Burmese magistrate. Who is planning to destroy the reputation of the Indian doctor Veraswami. The doctor looks for protection in this disaster from his friendship with Flory who happens to be a pukka sahib (European white man) who has a higher prestige. Dr Veraswami wants to become a member of the prestigious British club because he thinks his standing with Europeans is good. U po Kyin intrigues against him and refuses to cow down. He starts a malicious campaign against the doctor and persudes the Europeans that the doctor holds disloyal, anti-British opinions. He also releases false anonymous letter with false stories about the doctor and thinks it will work wonders. He even sends a threatening letter to Flory.

   Flory is a worn out 35 year old teak merchant. He is responsible for appropriation of jungle timber for three weeks in a month. He is unmarried and even friendless among his fellow Europeans. He has a ragged crescent of a birthmark on his face. Flory is disillusioned with his lifestyle. Living in a tiresome expatriate community centred round the European Club in a remote part of the country.

    On the other hand he has become so embedded in Burma that it is impossible for him to leave and return to England. Veraswami and Flory are great friends. Flory often visits the doctor for what the latter delightedly calls ‘cultured conversation.’ In these conversations Flory details his disillusionment with the empire. But the doctor flares up whenever Flory criticises the Raj and defends the British as great administrators who have built an efficient and unrivalled empire. Flory dismisses these administrators as mere money makers, living a lie. ‘The perennial lie that, we’re here to uplift our poor black brothers instead to rob them.’ Though he finds a temporary rejoice with his Burmese mistress. Flory is emotionally bedevilled. On the one hand Flory loves Burma and craves a life partner who will share his passion, which the other Europeans find incomprehensible. On the other hand, for essentially racist taste, Flory feels that only a European woman is acceptable as a partner.

    Flory’s dilemma seems to be answered when Elizabeth Lackersteen. The orphaned niece of Mr Lachersteen, the local timber firm manager arrives. Flory saves her when she thinks she is about to be attacked by a small water buffalo. He is immediately befriended by her and they spend time getting close, culminating in a highly successful shooting expedition. Where, after several misses Elizabeth shoots a pigeon, and then a flying bird. Flory shoots a leopard and promises the skin to Elizabeth as a trophy. Lost in, romance and fantasies. Flory visualises Elizabeth to be sensitive and non-racist. He so much desires a European woman who will understand him and give him the companionship that he needed. As a result he turns away Ma Hla May, his pretty, scheming Burmese concubine out of his house. Under the surface, however, Elizabeth is appalled by Flory’s relative egalitarian attitude towards the native, seeing them as ‘beastly’ while Flory extols the virtues of their rich culture. She finds the Burmese repulsive. Worse still are Flory’s interests in high art and literature, which remind Elizabeth of her boondoggling mother who died in disgrace in Paris of ptomaine poisoning as a result of living in squalid conditions while masquerading as a Bohemian artist. Despite these reservations, of which Flory is entirely unaware. She is willing to marry him to escape poverty, spinsterhood, and the unwelcome advances of her perpetually inebriated uncle.

    Flory is about to ask her to marry him, but they are interrupted first by her aunt and second by an earthquake.  Mrs Lackersteen’s interruption is deliberate because she has discovered that a military police lieutenant named Verrall is arriving in Kyauktada. As he comes from an extremely good family, she sees him as a better prospect as a husband for Elizabeth. Mrs Lackersteen tells Elizabeth that Flory is keeping a Burmese mistress as a deliberate ploy to send her to Verrall. Indeed, Flory had been keeping a mistress, but had dismissed her almost the moment Elizabeth had arrived. Elizabeth is appalled and falls at the first opportunity for Verrall, who is arrogant and even ill-mannered to all but her. Flory is devastated and after a period of exile attempts to make amends by delivering to her the leopard skin. A bungled curing process has left the skin mangy and stinky and the gesture merely compounds his status as a poor suitor. When Flory delivers it to Elizabeth she accepts it regardless of the fact that it stinks and he talks of their relationship, telling her he still loves her. She responds by telling him that unfortunately the feelings aren’t mutual anymore and leaves the house to go horse riding with Verrall. When, Flory and Elizabeth part ways. Mrs Lackersteen  orders the servants to burn the reeking leopard skin, representing the deterioration of Flory and Elizabeth’s relationship.

    U Po Kyin’s campaign against Dr Veraswami is simply to malign him so that he can push his candidature instead for the membership of the European Club in Kyauktada. The club has been put under pressure to elect a native member and Dr Veraswami is the most likely candidate. U Po Kyin manoeuvres to let go a prisoner and plans a rebellion for which he conspires that Dr Veraswami should get the blame. The rebellion begins but is quickly put down. But in the process a native rebel is killed by the acting Divisional Forest Officer, Maxwell. Uncharacteristically courageous, Flory speaks up for Dr Veraswami and proposes him as a member of the club. At this moment the body of Maxwell, cut almost to pieces with swords by two relatives of the man he had shot, is brought back to the town. This creates tension between the Burmese and the Europeans which is exacerbated by a vicious attack on native children by the spiteful arch-racist timber merchant, Ellis. A large but ineffectual anti-British riot begins and Flory becomes the hero for bringing it under control with some support by Dr Veraswami. U Po Kyin tries to claim credit but is disbelieved and Dr, Veraswami’s prestige is restored.

     Verrall leaves Kyauktada without even saying goodbye to Elizabeth. Heartbroken she falls for Flory again. Flory is happy and plans to marry Elizabeth. However, U Po Kyin has not given up. He hires Flory’s former Burmese mistress to create a scene in front of Elizabeth during the sermon at the Church. Flory is disgraced and Elizabeth refuses to have anything more to do with him. Overcome by the loss and seeing no future for himself. Flory first kills his dog, and then himself.

    Dr Veraswami is demoted and sent to a different district and U Po Kyin is elected to the club. Devious plans of U Po Kyin have succeeded. He now plans to redeem his life and cleanse his sins by financing the construction of pagodas. He dies of apoplexy before he can start building the first pagoda. His wife envisages him returning to life as a frog or a rat. Elizabeth eventually marries Macgregor, the deputy commissioner, and lives happily in contempt of the natives, who in turn live in fear of her, fulfilling her destiny of becoming a ‘burra memsahib’ (respectful term given to white European women).

*****

By Kamlesh Tripathi

*

https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

*

Share it if you like it

*

Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases. Should you wish to donate for the cause the bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

*

Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(Archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. Book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

Story of an Indian salesman who is lowly qualified but fights his ways through uncertainities to reach the top. A good read for all salesmen. Now available in Amazon.com

(CAN BE BOUGHT FROM ON LINE BOOK STORES OR WRITE TO US FOR COPIES)

*****