ARYAN SPEAKS: O YE COMMON MEN…

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As the custom goes, a happy Republic day to all of us..

Now that all that pomp and regalia at the Rajpath is over, the fancily dressed Royal Guards on the back of those splendid horses have already escorted the President back, Doordarshan have reverted back to the daily soaps with intermittent songs like “Mile Sur Mera Tumhara” and the country kicks off a day long celebration of Democracy by staying at home, relaxing and doing nothing ( yes, we planned it), allow me to bore you with some pessimistic and not so populist ideas of mine, and I am sure that I wont be sued by anyone, for I am posting them on a blog that’s not read by many in fact.

Last year, we witnessed the rise of a man named Arvind Kejrival. Many of us chose to say that it was the rise of an idea….but despite my best efforts, I could not see any idea out there. Then I was told that the basic idea was that of a corruption free country. Then I asked myself…who does the corruption? On thinking, and I did not have to think much, I found out that it’s the common man of  a nation who does the corruption.Now what is a nation? I have given the definition of nation in my post on the last 15th of August, which simply says that a nation is made of a particular people which have certain things in common among themselves like aspirations, history and most importantly, a will to survive together, come what may. Everyday, around us, we see corruption going on in various forms, when a common man among us, who sits behind the desk in a Sarkari office takes a bribe from beneath the table, or when some one among us hits a proxy for us in the class, or we leave our platters on the canteen tables rather than throwing them in the bin, or when we change the specifications of Augusta Westland monster machines, or when we grab lands for the real estate honchos, or when a bank manager demands 10% for every loan…all this is corruption. There is no particular breed which is corrupt and is doing corruption. The corruption, is being practiced by the people from among us. So…I will have to say, very sadly, that the nation on the whole, is corrupt. But we wont admit it….why? Because we are the common man…we think that unless it is not in crores, it is not corruption. So, we are innocent.

So what’s  the idea? The idea is to set up a vigilante body. To make the existing rules tight, and to implement new rules…and to persecute those who are held guilty. In China, corruption is punishable by capital punishment. Every year, China executes more people than the whole world put together. Did corruption stop? No, it didn’t, it wont. Corruption, is a state of mind. Until we change that, it wont stop. Although my views are considered to be pro BJP, I deeply respect the man named J.L. Nehru. He was too pragmatic to be born in India at that time. A stark socialist, Nehru envisioned an equal distribution of assets among the people by keeping the reins of industry and every other productive actions in the hands of the Government which was to be chosen by the people and to be responsible to them. But he did a grave mistake, which the whole theory of socialism, from where I see it does all the time. He underestimated his people. We did not become corrupt in last 10 years. We have been corrupt all  through our history. We were corrupt when Jaichand invited Ghori…were corrupt when Rana Sangram Singh invited Babur…we were corrupt when the Mughal officers took bribes to sell 3 villages to the English one of them being Kalikata, today’s Kolkata, we were corrupt when  Mir Jafar cheated Siraz. Our corruption oozes out from the stories like ‘Namak ka Daroga’ and from novels like ‘Godan’. The very men who ‘fought’ in the freedom struggle, did the first scam of India. Yes people, we have been corrupt all through our history. Yes people, corruption is a state of mind, there is no denying this. Nehru failed, and he failed badly, he had to. No law, no rule,no theory can contain corruption. And Mr. Arvind Kejrival, I am more sure than anything else that he can’t do it the way he doing it.

He started his journey by the Jan Lokpal movement waged by Anna Hazare. I have no doubt in saying that inspite of all the  honesty and dedication, good old Hazare lacks the political cunning. And this cunning is necessary. Could the 13th amendment be enforced without all that lobbying which Lincoln did? This is where Arvind stepped in. He has got a brilliant mind without any doubt, and I mean it. He stepped into politics and riding on the popular wave, he ended up being the CM of Delhi. While campaigning, he was spewing venom against the Congress as if he held  any personal vendetta against them. When he won an unexpectedly high number seats in the assembly election, he did not hesitate to form a minority government with the support of the same Congress from out side, based on a kangaroo referendum. True, its not a coalition government….but it’s a minority Government set up on the grave of ideals. We all know that this minority government would last only for months….and thus, Mr. Arvind is keen on leaving no stones unturned to be a poster boy of the Aam Admi in the meanwhile. Starting from the freebees and the so called ‘end’ of the VIP culture and security cover, he can be seen, now a days, inspiring a civil disobedience movement. But there is a very fine difference between civil disobedience and anarchy. You deny your security cover, and Delhi police has to escort the whole metro route on which you  travel. You sit on a dharna , 5000 police men need to be deployed, 4 metro stations need to be closed. You hold the 26th January celebrations for a ransom. Its not democracy.  Its not the way you end corruption.

Actually, the thing is that we don’t need any hero. We don’t need any Modi or any Kejrival….and obviously not Mr. R**** *****I. The need of the hour is a wave of anti-incumbency. When you go out to vote, don’t vote for a man…vote for an idea, for a goal. Believe me, none of these so called leaders can change the scenario. Yes we need them to run the system. But, it is us, who constitute the system, who choose the system. Each one of us will have to be a leader, each one of us will have to be the change we want. The initiatives, the first steps, will have to taken within our families…we will have to teach our children the value of morals and that anything which you don’t earn with your merit, is never yours and that you should be ashamed of taking it…and teach ourselves the same. We can start with a step as simple as throwing the next cold drink can into a bin….even if we have to search for it. This is the only way out. Don’t wait for a certificate of honesty by following a particular party……and keep in mind that if any one needs to change first, it’s the Aam Admi himself. He is not innocent, he never was.

On the long path of our history, we the Indians, have stood on some tough crossroads and made some tough decisions. Some proved  to be wrong, and some turned out to be right. This 26th of Jan, we, once again, are standing on a cross road of the same nature. We have to choose between two things, whether to respect our constitution, or to deny it completely, whether we can be  free from corruption following the constitution, or will we have to write a new one. And before you decide, keep in mind the sacrifices which were given to write the existing one…it was not written for free. Make sure that you take the right decision…O ye common men.

Chalo ab ‘Mile Sur Mera Tumhara‘ sun hi lo…aaj 26 Jan hai yaar.

ARYAN SPEAKS: A Different Diwali…With kids differently fortunate…

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Had I not been encouraged by someone as sensible as the one who encouraged me, I would never have written about how I spent my Dipawali yesterday. But then, I was assured that if I share, people will find it inspiring (instead of thinking that I am bragging about it) and some thing good will come out of it. So, here it is..

The day was just like any other day I have spent at this place. Wait, it was not like just any other day….I was feeling painfully nostalgic. Bored as usual, sending Happy Diwali messages to every one and updating “missing home badly…. Crying face ” type of statuses on facebook,I ended up watching two movies at last. It was in midst of the second movie, “ Argo” that I got the call of one of my good friends here and got invited to where I was to spend my Deepawali evening. Now what he said to me seemed to be a good idea….actually an idea better than that of roaming on roads and watching others bursting crackers.

The idea was to visit some people, some children, who are less privileged than us and to spend our Deepawali with them, sharing sweets, crackers and joys with them and making their Diwali happy too. But before that, we worshipped a goddess…an unusual one. Instead of the goddess Lakshmi ( hope she will pardon us for that..) we garlanded and prayed in front of the idol of Mother India. By “we” I mean some of my friends of my year and others from different colleges and occupations here who are the members and patrons of a NGO which in addition to being one of India’s oldest and world’s largest, faces the ire of many a “intellectuals” and the so called seculars. Well we had an intellectual among us too, who was against idol worship… Open-mouthed smile.

After that we headed to the place to where we were actually destined. Its name is Maatri Chhaya (मातृछाया)। It is an orphanage of sorts and also a  children’s home. We had with ourselves sweets and crackers. This organisation is home to children who are actually orphans, or were abandoned by their parents  for some reason or another, the street children who dwell on streets or beg on railway stations and place like those and the children who are mentally challenged and have no one to take care of them. Children up to 10/12 years of age live here and the organisation, namely Sewa Bharati, bears the expenses through the donations which people make to it.

First of all we were made to meet the toddlers. I have no words to describe my emotions which developed when I entered the dormitory. There were babies in cribs, one year, one and a half years, 6 months, 8 months……10 days,14 days old, abandoned to survive in this world on their own. They all were so cute, and so lovable that I was compelled to to think about how could one abandon them ever…!!! The moment you offer your arms  to them, they would stretch their little arms to climb in your lap.  Once in your lap, they play with you like they have known you forever. Those tiny smiles are among the most beautiful things I have seen till date. All of them were so elated…laughing, shrieking with joy, clapping and slapping ( one was actually slapping every other guy she could find). And they simply refused to climb down from our laps and to leave us. Some were abandoned by their parents….some, mostly the girl babies, were simply left on the door steps of the building by their parents. These unfortunate children would never get to know who their real parents were. It was  really difficult to leave these children of fate at the end…but then, time is a ruthless thing. From the toddlers we moved on to the older ones, to whom we could talk and fire the crackers with. But there were rules according to which it could be done only under the supervision of the authorities, and unfortunately, none of them was present at that moment.

We talked in detail about the modus operandi of the organisation…and were really impressed by it. The parent organisation’s name is Sewa Bharati and it runs on donations. The children are grown up and nurtured to be raised as good men, and takes care of their well being and education. The organisation also encourages adoption. One thing which was clearly visible  that it was not like the ordinary children homes in which the children are kept like prisoners under pressure and spend gloomy lives. Every kid out there was happy, there was a smile on almost every face. They knew that today is Diwali and it is a happy thing. Second most important thing was the hygiene of the place…it was really up to mark. The children were wearing clean clothes and were being served with good food. The manager told about us the problems they have  to face as an organisation. The street children, who don’t know  the value of education and ethics, tend to run away back to their usual life, which seems to be far more elusive than the hostel life in the Matri Chhhaya. This problem is not with those who have been raised from infancy in this very organisation.One of them, perhaps named Feroz, even refused to go back to his real parents. On being grown up, these kids are sent to the Saraswati Shishu Mandir, of which I too am a proud product, and this is enough to assure that they are given the best education, culture, traditions and ethics. Lot of them get adopted as toddlers…and those who are not, get absorbed in the society seamlessly.

So what we can do for them…?

We can visit these “differently fortunate children” and make them feel that they are not alone. People have small families of four or five or so people, we can make these children feel that whole world is their family. Later in night I got to know that some of my batchmates have been celebrating their birthdays with these children…it indeed is a noble idea and I extend to them the deepest of my respect. This is really a very noble and sensible thing to do. Yes,I was late to visit, or to take any such initiative, but better late than never. You also can visit these children and spend time with these children on normal days… the timing is from 4 to perhaps 8 in evening and 9 to 11  in morning. It would be better if we visit these children on the days of festivals so that they don’t feel being alone. Just think, despite  of having all the comforts and facilities, how alone we feel if we are not able to visit our homes on the festival…and how alone these children would feel, who have never known anything such as a home or a family. We can visit them, spend time with them, donate as much as our pockets allow and even complain about anything we think is not being done properly. We owe something to these children…lets be their brothers, sisters, parents….friends, family. After all, it has been taught to us in the oldest of our scriptures..

 
अयम् निजः परोवेति गणना लघुचेतसाम्।
उदार चरितानां तु वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम्।।

It means : This is mine…that is yours, this type of thinking is possessed by those who have mean consciences, small thinking. For those who are kind hearted, whole earth is family.

So…… KAR KE DEKHO, ACCHA LAGTA HAI…you will never be able to forget those tiny smiles…

There will be people who after reading this, will think that look at this bigmouth…he did one thing and is bragging about it all around. I will like  to say thankyew to them and to tell them ‘Argo F*** Yourself’ Winking smile. If this one piece makes even a single person visit that place, or even think about it in a  positive way, I will consider its work done…

ARYAN SPEAKS: ऐ मेरे घर, तेरी याद बेइन्तहाँ आई …

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दिल ए नादान कल मुहब्बतों का हिसाब करने करने बैठा…

ऐ मेरे घर, तेरी याद बेइन्तहाँ आई …

पता नहीं कब बड़ा होऊँगा मैं… पता नहीं कब ये साली घर की याद आना बंद होगी। दिन भर तो ठीक था…मगर शाम को किसी गली से गुजरते हुए एक जले हुए पटाखे के बारूद की महक ने तबाह कर दिया। फिर से खींच ले गयी बचपन की डाइरी के के किसी भूले हुए पन्ने पर। वो पन्ना जिसपे हमारी तस्वीरें हैं…वही पटाखे छोडते हुए, चाचा के साथ बाज़ार जाते हुए। बाज़ार मे मिल रही हर एक चीज़ को खरीदने के लिए मचलते हुए। पटाखे खरीदना, उन्हे धूप मे सुखाना , दीयों को पानी मे भिगाना, उनमे बाती डालना, मोमबत्तियाँ जलाना….सब याद आया ना उस एक मिनट मे, उस एक पन्ने पर। फिर तो लिखना जरूरी हो गया…भाई हम अकेले क्यूँ झेलें? अब ये तो हिन्दी मे ही लिखना होगा होगा ना…अङ्ग्रेज़ी मे वो मजा ना है।

छोटे थे तो बड़ा मन रहता था त्योहार के काम मे अपना भी योगदान देने का। घर की सफाई मे हम भी बढ़ चढ़ के हिस्सा लेते थे। बावजूद इसके की बारहाँ बजाय सफाई के गंदगी ही फैला देते थे। अब हाथों और पैरों दम होता नहीं था…और चल देते थे बड़े लोगों से टक्कर लेने समान उठाने के मामले मे। जब अपने हिस्से की तोड़ फोड़ कर चुके होते, और घर के लोग ये बोल देते की बेटा…तुमसे ना हो पाएगा…तो मन मसोस कर हम अपने लायक कोई दूसरा काम खोजने चल देते। मगर काम कोई मिलता नहीं था। वैसे एक काम था। पटाखों की लिस्ट बनाना…इस बार कौन से खरीदने हैं, और कितने खरीदने हैं। एक बार लिस्ट तैयार हो जाए तो फिर हिसाब लगाने की बारी आती। हमारे पास कितने पैसे हैं और पापा से कितने मिलने की उम्मीद है। हर बार ये होता था की पैसे जरा कम ही पड़ जाते थे…अब हमारे पास उतना दिमाग तो हुआ नहीं करता था की महंगाई की दर के हिसाब से पटाखों के दाम मे हुई बढ़ोत्तरी का अंदाजा लगा सकें …. वो तो सीधा पटाखे की दुकान पर ही पता चलती थी। और जब पता चलती थी तो पैरों तले जमीन खिसक जाती थी। सब हिसाब किताब पानी में… वो तो भला कहिए की कोई बड़ा साथ मे होता ही था, वरना रोना तो वो आता था जिसका कोई हिसाब नहीं…भाई साल भर के सपने एक बार मे चूर होते थे।

बाजार जाने का मजा भी अलग ही है। जी नहीं, बाज़ार जाने का मतलब कार मे बैठ कर बजार नहीं जाना। हम एक छोटे शहर के बाशिंदे हैं भाई, हमारे यहाँ पैदल बाज़ार जाया करते हैं। पैदल इसलिए नहीं की हमारे पास गाडियाँ नहीं हुआ करती हैं…पैदल इस लिए की इन दिनों आप बाजार मे गाड़ी चला ही नहीं पाएंगे। बाज़ार मे घुसने से पहले हाथ पैर सीधे कर लें और शरीर से मजबूत हों तभी बाज़ार मे घुसें। हमारे यहाँ छपरा में हमारा पारंपरिक बाजार है गुदरी बाज़ार। उस बाजार मे तीन गलियां हैं…एक में फल और सब्जियाँ मिलती हैं, एक मे कपड़े और एक में किराने के समान। उस बाज़ार की एक खासियत है। शाम के समय किसी एक गली मे घुस जाइए। आकाशवाणी पटना पर अगर कोई गाना चल रहा है, और किसी दुकान के रेडियो पर वो आपको सुनाई दिया तो आगे की हर दुकान पर आपको वही गाना सुनाई देगा। बाज़ार के इस छोर से उस छोर तक डॉल्बी के सराउण्ड साउंड की तरह आपको वही गाना सुनाई देगा…बाजार से आप वो गाना पूरा कर के ही निकलेंगे। सो उस बाज़ार में हर वो चीज़ मिलती है जिसकी दिवाली मे जरूरत पड़ सकती है। कठिन काम हैं उन चीजों को खरीद लेना, भीड़ से लड़ कर , झगड़ कर …हंस कर, मोलभाव के साथ। समझ मे नहीं आता की सारे के सारे लोग एक ही दिन पूरा बाजार खरीदने क्यों निकल पड़ते हैं…

खैर…वो बाज़ार आज भी वैसा ही सजा होगा। आज भी वो दिये वाला बाज़ार के आखरी कोने पर बैठा होगा। शायद दिये का दाम भी बढ़ा हो ….तब तो बीस रुपया सैकड़ा हुआ करता था। दिये मे डालने के लिए लोग वही “धारा” का सरसों तेल खरीद रहे होंगे….मोमबत्तियाँ खरीद रहे होंगे। कोई बच्चा किसी पटाखे की दुकान पर जमीन मे लोट रहा होगा। मलाई बरफ वाला बाज़ार की मुहाने पर बरफ छील रहा होगा । भीड़ तो उमड़ पड़ी होगी …दुकान दार परेशान होंगे। मगर हर चेहरे पर एक मुस्कान जरूर होगी। बच्चे फिर जतन से पटाखे सुखाएंगे … लक्ष्मी गणेश की मूर्तियाँ फिर खरीदीं जाएंगी…झूरियाँ फिर छनेंगी। अफसोस…हम वहाँ न होंगे। हमारा बचपन न होगा। हम पढ़ रहे हैं…इंसान बन रहे हैं।

पता नहीं कहाँ पढ़ा था ….

बचपन की वो अमीरी न जाने कहाँ खो गयी…

वरना बारिश के पानी मे कभी हमारे भी जहाज़ चला करते थे…

ARYAN SPEAKS: The Free Fall of Rupee…Understanding it a Layman’s way.

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Recently we heard about the free fall of rupee against the dollar, and we were told to grieve upon it and blame the government, God and everything else, and we did. Many of us took a step further and tried to understand why for the heavens sake this free fall even took place. But in their endeavor, they encountered heavy weight words like Current Fiscal Deficit, the Gross Domestic Product, the Gross National Product, the bond buying program etc. etc. and they lost their patience, dragged their cursor to the tiny red button with a ‘X’ on it, and found their way to the nearest bed. True…we all are not economists, and all the time, I suspect some kind of hidden grudge in it, the real economists put things in such a way that the non economist find it a hard nut to crack to understand what they actually want to say. Now, this is they way of those black suited people of asserting that they are economists.

But what about us engineers, who want every thing simplified and spoon fed, and that too on our laptop screens? In the Geeta, the God promised to visit us again and again to free us from evil and tyranny. So here I am, with my simplified version of a complexified problem, to fight against the tyranny of the wily code worded conversations of the bloody economists.

There are two simple reasons why the price of rupee falls against dollar…first, there are less dollars out there in country…second, there are more rupees in the country. Less dollars simply mean that every single dollar will cost more, and more rupees mean that every existing dollar can buy more of our rupee. Its just like when we have a fresh stock of tomatoes, we sell one tomato for one dollar. But if more tomatoes come in, in fear of rotting and to clear the stock, we start selling two tomatoes for that single dollar.

So, now we know that what things can cause the fall. Now, let us see what things triggered this fall. In May, the Central Bank of America thought that it was right time to announce that American Economy is expected to recover. This simply meant that now America was a better place to invest, and thus, the foreign investors started pulling out their money from India. So the amount of dollars in India decreased and as explained earlier, the value of dollar shot up.

Adding to this situation, our Sarkar, led ( HA HA HA..) by one of the greatest economists of our times, introduced the National Food Security bill. Do you want to know how much it is gonna cost us? Rs 1,25,000 crore. Now that’s called a whooping sum….it will cost us 3-4% of all the products we produce during a year ( this very thing is called the GDP… ) and about 21% of whatever we earn during an year ( and this is called the total receipt…). अब इतना पईसा डालोगे, तो GDP घटेगा , उस से export घटेगा , और फिर रुपया गिरेगा। अब ये हो न हो, मगर रुपया डर के मारे पहले ही गिर गया। मगर मेम साहब को कौन समझाये … अगले साल चुनाव जो है.

Again, the major imports of India are crude oil and, of course…Gold. Now, all the countries from which India imports oil demand payments in dollars. Once again, outflow of dollar. So, we need more and more dollars. The difference between exports and imports is called the current account deficit. And this difference owes to the heavy imports of oil, which we need to pay in dollars.  Dollars come in India in three ways…investments, NRIs and exports. The investing companies are going away, the NRIs are not coming back and since we are producing less, we are exporting less. इम्पोर्ट्स रोक नहीं सकते और प्रोड्यूस कर नहीं पा रहे. Again, the money supply, or simply, printing the notes, increased by 21% last year, but production did not increase. This means that more money was printed than required. हो गया ना KLPD…!!!

So, what did the government do?

It took its first step by increasing import duties on gold. Means, make the gold expensive, so the people will buy less, and there will be lesser imports. But this did not have any effect.

Now, reducing rupee supply would control the situation effectively, but there is a problem with this also. If rupee supply is reduced, the net production will go down and nations growth will be hampered as the purchasing power of people will go down.

What next? If you cant bring dollars in, stop the out going rupees. So, the Government introduced limits on the money which Indians could invest abroad. Also, they introduced limits on local investments.

And last but not the least….they tried to attract the NRIs to deposit more money in India, who, unfortunately, are more interested in withdrawing.

So, the firefighting steps of the government did more harm than recovery. But we cant blame the government for it. These are pan world phenomenon. So is the situation today with every growing economy of the world…be it Brazil or Russia or Malaysia. So, what is the solution? The predictions say that if we let the situation run itself, it will be the best. The government should keep the markets open instead of restricting. So, at some point of time, the Indian goods will become so cheap for foreigners that our exports will increase. As the exports increase, the production will increase….and at last, there will be an equilibrium between the inflow and the outflow and the inflation will be checked. Its not as easy as it sounds…but it’s the most feasible solution and the government will have to introduce it keeping its personal benefits in the upcoming polls at bay.

How can we help…?

We can help by being good Indians. कुछ दिन कोक पेप्सी छोड़ो और अमूल की लस्सी पियो….बाकी समझदार को इशारा काफी होता है…

जय राम जी की…

ARYAN SPEAKS: You bring out the U.P. walli in me…

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A UP walli girl sings the song of her heart. I bet you will be smiling as the poem given below draws near its end. Read it once…you wont regret…and the UP wallah people wont regret even reading it twice…or thrice…

You bring out the UP-walli in me,
The zari, gota, sitaraa,
The sweet, sweet bataasha,
The lilt of my (m)other tongue,
simmering under these words in me.

I play for you. For the twinkle in your eyes
when I rant in Hindi.
Kya hai.

You bring out the UP-walli in me,
The toe rings and the nose pin in me,
The glitter and the large earrings in me,
The kohl around my eyes in me,
The love of wearing bangles in me,
The folklore and the folk music in me,
The jigar and the beedee in me,
The loud weddings in me,
The raunchy numbers in me,
The beats of dholak, the songs of naughty grannies in me.

You bring out the UP-walli in me.
The love of the epic in me,
The Mahabharat and the Ramayan in me,
The chastity vows and the infinite appetite in me,
The warrior-sage ancestor in me,
The meek minions and the mighty queens in me,
The banished one, the vengeful one, the dark one who rebelled in me,
The woman who had five husbands but loved only one in me.

They say my name means Seeta, daughter of the earth.
You bring out my name in me.

You bring out the UP-walli in me.
The blue neel in me,
the pink mahaawar in me,
the crimson gulmohur in me,
the yellow amaltash in me,
the cactus in me, the crotons in me,
the redolence of Eucalyptus, the scent of henna in me.

For you I’d mulch the mehendi leaves that hedged
our government bungalow in Jhansi.
For you I’d paint my palms and
I won’t complain.

Wild roses in Ranikhet,
Empty fireplaces in Benaras,
The smell-less smell of a desolate Noida fog,
The fragrance of raat ki raani in Karbi.
Like all these, I long for you.

Come sit on the floor beside me.
Eat kaddoo curry with soft kachauris
laid out on plates made of dried leaves.
Dip your finger in the yogurt to stir the boora,
Make love to me with our fingers sticky sweet,
Say hum when you mean I,
I’d raise my skirts and let you in,
caress you with fumes from the dhoop batti
that used to be lit every dusk
in my Nani’s house,
and pat you to sleep.

Come. Call me jaan, or raaje.

You bring out the UP-walli in me,
The surprise of heeng in hot daal in me,
The shock of ghee sizzling with whole, red chillies in me,
The bite of raw ginger sprinkled on aloo-gobhi in me.
The sepia dust storms in me,
The mango orchards in me,
The tales of dacoits and bandits in me,
The bhaiyya complex in me,
its self-deprecatory humour
but the hidden pride in me.

I play for you. For your gritted teeth and
shut eyes when I move over you.

You’re the only one I’d allow to call me Raani,
You’re the only one I’d let overtake the kitchen,
Bring me breakfast in bed,
And sometimes wine.

You bring out the UP-walli in me.
The proud grandfather and the generous parents in me,
The love of literature in me,
the scholar in me, the nerd in me,
the wannabe Anthropology intellectual in me,
the show-off-I-got-100-out-of-100 in me,

You’re the one I spin these yarns for,
At 4 am,
Overworked and sleep deprived.
Let me show off to you.

You bring out the UP-walli in me.
Hand pump water with a tang of metal in me,
Sugarcanes eaten on terraces
In dusty villages in me,
(hard teeth around firm flesh bursting with sweet in me),
Sugarcane juice running down my elbow in me,
The sexual innuendo in me.

The hot-white glare of the Taj Mahal,
The thick walls of the Jhansi fort,
The withered wooden door of my gaon house
Complete with iron knockers in me,
All nestled in me, marinating and
Roasting in me, always torturing me,
Never letting go of me.

Of naked feet on hard,
Cool, stone floors,
Of air coolers, of khus-khus
In summers,
Of peeling walls that smelt of wet earth
When sprayed with a hose,
Of blistering boulders with a whiff
Of heat.

You remind me of all these.
The forgotten, pushed away,
Hidden parts of me,
The lekin and the agar in me,
The abey and the oye in me,
The ab to ho gaya in me.

You bring out the UP-walli in me.
Let me love you.
(You do.)
Let me show you.
(Kyunki)
You do. Yes. You do.

Now that’s a hilarious read. Written by a UP wali girl of course…this poem goes straight through the heart. Simply beautiful. Expressions of love, culture, ethics and a love for her own identity are clearly visible. This poem is based on the poem “You bring out the Mexican in me” written by Sandra Cisneros. But the motifs and metaphors are shuddh desi. I found this poem on the blog of the author named Ink Slinger, via the awesome blog Social Scribblers, on which I too, am a writer.

Hope you enjoyed the read….

ARYAN SPEAKS: यही है जो कभी अपना था…बाकी तो हम सब भूल गए

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Ustaad Bismillah Khan, Bharat Ratna

पता नहीं ये बरखा की मेहरबानी है या क्या, आज सुबह उठते ही कुछ ठेठ सुनने का दिल कर गया. अब बरसात के मौसम में एक कजरी न सुनी तो क्या सुना। पहिले सोचा की गिरजा देवी का कुछ सुनते है, पर फिर तबियत पलट गयी.… देवी जी कुछ ज्यादा ही रागदारी लग देती हैं, तलब न हो तो आदमी बीच में ऊब जाए। फिर अगला नंबर आया डा. सोम घोष का और देखिये की कजरी भी मिजाज की मिल ही गयी , ” मिर्जापुर कइले गुलजार हो, कचौड़ी गली छोड़ गइले बलमू “, और मजा सवाया तब हो गया जब देखा की उस्ताद साहब खुद शहनाई पर हैं। बस फिर क्या था, अगले दस मिनट में हम तो दोनों जहाँ की सैर बेटिकट ही कर आये। धुनें कैसे चलती हैं ये भी बड़े मजे की चीज़ है , रागदारी वही रहती है, जगह बदलती है, बोली बदलती है, लयकारी बदलती है और बनारस की ये कजरी हमारी शारदा सिन्हा गाती हैं और ये छठ के एक एक गीत में बदल जाती है.… पर मजा नहीं बदलता।

ये बात उस्ताद साहब भी मानते थे। उनका कहना था की अल्लाह के अलावे सिर्फ एक ही चीज़ है जो सिर्फ एक ही है…. सुर। अब हम तो बेवक़ूफ़ ठहरे , मगर फिर भी कभी कभी , जब कोई शहनाई ऊपर के सुरों से खिलवाड़ करती है, या कोई हठधर्मी गायक पंचम को तार सप्तक पे पहुँचाने की जिद कर बैठता है तो लगता है की नहीं, बात में कुछ दम है।  दम क्यों न हो… जरा ये तो देखिये बोल कौन रहा है. अच्छा अगर मिजाज में हों तो कभी उस्ताद साहब का कोई इंटरव्यू देखिये। जैसे और बड़े लोग साक्षात्कार देते हैं, बड़ी बड़ी बातें करते हैं , अपने सारा संगीत ज्ञान हम निरीह प्राणियों में उढेल देने की चेष्टा करते हैं, वैसा उस्ताद कुछ नहीं करते।

आप तो उनका इंटरव्यू देखिये मस्त हो जाने के लिये…. ये देखने के लिए की कैसे कोई भारत रत्न आदमी खटिया पे बैठ कर आपको पकौड़ी छानने की तकनीक बताता है . प्रेमचंद ने लिखा था, ‘ बुढ़ापा बहुधा बचपन का पुनरागमन होता है ‘…एक दम सही लिखा था। एक इंटरव्यू में उस्ताद साहब बरसात को याद करते कहीं खो जाते हैं –

” कभी कभी जमघट ऐसा होता था.… बनारस मे… झूला पड़ा है… सावन का महिना है। तो सब गायका बुलाई गयी हैं.… और एक तरफ जो है सो , पूरी , तरकारी, आम है.… सब बन रहा है, एक तरफ झूला पड़ा है, तीन गायका बैठी हैं, और दो पेंग लगा रही हैं और गाना क्या हो रहा है.…सिया संग झूले बगिया में राम ललना (गा के बताते हैं )… इतना गाया , और पेंग चढ़ी, और मामू बजा रहे हैं हमारे, और हम भी बैठे हैं साथ में, और हम भी बोल कह रहे हैं साथ में ”

इसी इंटरव्यू में आगे जा कर टीमल साहू का भी जिक्र होता है जिनके यहाँ से उस्ताद घी लाया करते थे नानी से पराठा और पियाज का कतरा बनवाने के लिए …” खा रहे हैं और झिमिर झिमीर पानी बरस रहा है… वो मजा आ रहा है…. और वो जायका है उसमे के अब वो नहीं है.… पैसा खर्च करने के बाद भी वो जायका नहीं है. ” आगे बेग़म अख्तर का भी जिक्र होता है… वो गाती हैं, “पिया ना जाए, प्राण जाए “, तो खान साहब पिन मारते हैं , ” पिया जाए, प्राण न जाए ” . वो कहती हैं की अमाँ खान साहब, ये क्या कह दिया …तो खान साहब कहते हैं की वही तो कह रहे है जो तुम कह रही हो.

खान साहब वो शख्स थे जिन्होंने सैंतालिस में भी शहनाई बजाई थी , बालाजी मंदिर का पट भी उनकी शहनाई से ही खुलता था और मुहर्रम का मातम भी उनकी शहनाइ के बिना पूरा नहीं होता था। दुनिया जहान घूम आये, मगर थे पूरे बनारसी। उनका कहना था की जब वो हिन्दुस्तान के बाहर जाते हैं  हिंदुस्तान ही दिखता है, और जब हिन्दुस्तान के किसी शहर में जाते हैं तो बनारस ही दीखता है।  बहुत से लोग बाहर चले गए अपने संगीत को दुनिया में फैलाने, और फैलाया भी.… मगर खान साहब से हिन्दुस्तान नहीं छूटा।  ठुमरी, कजरी, दादरा…. ये सब अपनी धरती के के गाने खान साहब को बड़े प्यारे थे, कैसे छोड़ते ?

मगर खान साहब… हम ठहरे भुलक्कड़।  सब भूल जाते हैं।  ये कजरी वजरी क्या होती है हमें नहीं मालूम।  अभी तो आप यदा कदा दिख जाते हो टीवी पर तो याद हो, एक दिन आपको भी भूल जाएँगे। हमें ये भी नहीं मालूम की हमारे गाँव घर में भी कभी सावन में झूला पड़ा करता था और बड़ी बूढ़ियाँ यही चैती , यही कजरी गाती थीं, या होली की रात संगत बैठती थी और चैता छाना जाता था, और वही पकौड़ी छनती थी जो आपके यहाँ छनती थी .  हमारे पास इतना समय कहाँ है।  एक दिन हमें कुछ याद नहीं रहेगा, सब बहा देंगे . और एक दिन ऐसा भी आएगा की हमारी नस्लें सवाल करेंगी कुछ ऐसा भी है जो हमारा अपना है.…  या सब कुछ पच्छिम से ही उठा लाए हैं ? पता नहीं जवाब देने भर का मुंह भी बचा होगा या नहीं।  उम्मीद है की यू ट्यूब पर तब भी आप लोगों के कुछ विडियो होंगे।  सो वही दिखा देंगे की देखो , यही है जो कभी अपना था , बाकी तो हम सब भूल गए.….माडर्न जो हो गये।

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Links to interviews

1. Ustaad Sahab on RKB show: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15CdeNLb7KQ

2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k8kyjwOhsw8

Dr. Soma Ghosh :

1. Mirkapur Kaile.. : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_OHOgnnj7JM

ARYAN SPEAKS: Another Rape…? Lets move on dude..

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Another rape. Again there will be silent marches, candle marches, protests, probes will be ordered, men will be held and cases will be lodged. Netizens will share pictures, mourn on their walls, make comments on others’. Political parties will search for heads to blame. Bloggers will write morbid blogs… I am writing one. And a day will come, may be tomorrow, two days later, or a week later, when we all will forget this one rape and move on with our respective lives, thinking that we have done our bit.

And again, there will be another rape. Some girl, of whatever age (it doesn’t matter at all), will be held, raped and tortured, may be killed. And again the rituals will be repeated. Some foreigner girl will come to our country, God’s own country, the country which says that where women are worshipped, Gods dwell only there, and will be touched, groped, harassed…may be raped, and even killed. Again the rituals will be repeated. Again we will forget and move on.

Travellers’ Bible, The Lonely Planet online guide for India warns, “ While there is no need to be paranoid, you should be aware that your behavior and dress code is under scrutiny and that local men may have a misguided opinion of how foreign women behave. Getting constantly stared at is something you will have to get used to.”  Now this is our international image. Simply it says that you are entering a country of perverts, so be careful.

But the situation was not always as horrid as it is now. I can recall a very beautiful Italian woman on Benaras Ghats commenting cheerfully on the swarm of mosquitoes buzzing over my head, “ You have got a lot of friends…and they are on your head.” I asked her if she wanted some of them. She was surprised and asked how would I do so. I made her stand and moved around her in circles, as we do in our villages, and the whole swarm over my head got transferred to hers. She was amazed by this trick and thought it was some kind of magic. I was with four or five of my friends  and she was with her boyfriend, and their English was not very good. So we were square it terms of language…since she was asking the difference between Italy and Idly. Another incident I can recall is when my cousin dropped one of his slippers in the Ganga and we had to chase it and make a human chain to take it out…and we were photographed in our effort by a white lady who was finding it tough to decide whether to laugh or to click.

But this was five years ago and when I was in Benaras and these interactions were a normal thing. Recently, I visited Benaras, and we went to the top of the Man Mandir Mahal where some foreigners were already sitting. Ours was a group of 6 boys, and as we approached the roof, they grew visibly restless, and finally shifted their positions far away from us, as if we were a band of hooligans approaching to assault them. Really, a lot have changed in this country over these four or five years. And this change, is surely not for good.

“As our population expands and the ranks of the unemployed swell, as more and more people feel marginalized and disenfranchised, and as city life grows brutal, it is becoming increasingly difficult to ensure the safety of every citizen.” This is what the Times of India reasons. But I don’t think it is an excuse. Unemployment does not give you the right to rape, marginalization does not force you to be brutal. Yet, it is the very truth. Some people do, others forget…and the nation suffers.

Please, don’t forget things. Don’t move on. Our whole identity is at stake. Please, behave as human beings. In a recent survey, we were among the most loved countries around the world…don’t make us the most hated. No, you have not done your bit if you have updated a status, or tweeted a tweet or written a blog. Your bit of work is much larger. Its some thing bigger..its about being human and making sure that the generations to come remain human. Don’t forget…. You need not the news arising from Delhi or Bombay only. Keep in mind that at each interval of 20 minutes, a girl is raped somewhere in this country.

And the clock hanging in your home too has got the minute hand.

Think…behave.

ARYAN SPEAKS : Mera Bhookha, Nangaa Hindustaan

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In Kashmir, the stone pelters shout a slogan, one of their favorites… “ Bhookha Nangaa Hindustaan… Jaan se Pyara Pakistan”. Believe me, it hurts. They hit it where it hurts the most. Right on our conscience. I first came across this slogan when our very own intellectual Arundhati Roy attended a separatist meeting in Kashmir and allegedly repeated the same slogan from the stage. Later many explanations were given and apologies sought and sworn, but one thing struck my mind sure and hard…what was it that led to the creation of such a slogan. I don’t care about the second part of the slogan. It is the first part which hurts… Bhookha Nanga Hindustan. Are we really what they say? Are we really a hungry and naked country…?

If we go on the statistics, it is true. We are home to one third or the population of poor people of the earth. The UN estimates that 2.1 million Indian children die before reaching the age of 5 every year – four every minute. The 2011 Global Hunger Index (GHI) Report ranked India 15th, one of the hungriest nations. The GHI between 1996 and 2011 went up from 22.9 to 23.7 and most frustrating fact is that the countries like Kenya, Nigeria and Pakistan succeeded in keeping it low. We are damn hungry. Latest data from the National Crime Record Bureau suggests that a woman is raped once in 20 minutes and 10% of all crimes in India are of women abuse. According to the 2013 UNDP report on Human Development Indicators, all countries in South Asia except Afghanistan were ranked better for women than India. Do you understand what it means…they are talking about Afghanistan!!! It cant get worse. We are damn naked too..

But this is not the only problem… or the biggest problem. There is a problem which  even more horrid, stark and dark. We are loosing hope. Arundhati Roy lost it years ago. And there is a growing mass of our populace which believes that nothing can be done… “ Is desh ka kuchh nahi ho sakta”. I believed that it was only the intellectual class, which knows a lot more than us lesser mortals, believes that nothing can be done. But I had a reality check recently when one of my closest friends uploaded his facebook status that ‘it was time to leave this shitty place…’ when a high court gave a verdict announcing that a man and woman who are unmarried but have gone physical will be considered married in legal manner. Then I understood that this mentality has slithered in our minds too…we are beginning to loose hope. Thank you Miss Roy and others of your league.

But I have a question to ask. When such people slam my country for being so poor and hungry and naked and what not, do they ever try to think WHAT THE HELL IS THE REASON BEHIND IT? No, they don’t think. They don’t have time. The eat whatever they are fed, through news papers, magazines and facebook. Please, if you know nothing,say nothing…because when you open your mouth, it reeks of ignorance. Have you ever bothered yourself to think  why this country, your country is this poor and hungry? There are people out there who are dying every day to keep this shitty country and her people safe. Sighting the problems and faults is very easy, even easier is to condemn others for those faults, but the thing which is really tough is to analyze the cause of those problems and to find their solutions.

Whenever I say that my country is progressing, although slowly, there are people who slam me sighting the example of the developed countries like America. They compare the GDP, the growth rate the happiness index and many other things to prove that we are nothing more than ground licking vermin as compared to those countries. But today, I too have some comparisons to make…

America got her independence 230 years ago. At that time, black people from Africa used to be held as slaves by American white people. They were chained all over…their legs, hands and even necks used to be chained. They were made to work in the plantations like animals and were kept and treated even worse than animals, beaten by hunters, canes and boots for slightest of the mistakes. Then there came a man named Abraham Lincoln. it was due to his desperate efforts that the 13th Amendment was made in the American constitution and slavery was abolished. But was slavery really abolished? Naah…it turned into a form much worse than the previous one. Separate schools were set up for Negro, in buses, there were black seats and white seats, they could not walk on certain streets…and worse, they were now getting lynched by the lynch mobs. The hopes of real freedom generated only later as the great Martin Luther King Jr. gave the famous speech ‘ I have a dream’ in August, 1963 and finally, after an effort spanning two hundred years, the blacks and whites of America were given equal status. Today, the two most progressive states of India have an OBC and a Scheduled Cast man as their chief ministers, the same dalit even the touch of the shadow of whom could pollute a caste Hindu not more than 60 years ago…so what America took two hundred years to do, we did in 66 years….are we slow? I don’t think so…at least with respect to social evolution.

We talk of woman empowerment. Lets see. French Revolution is considered the gem of all the revolutions of the world and is remembered for the ideas which it gave to the world..the idea of a nation state, equality and the right to choose. But this right to choose was not for women despite all those talks of equality. And when we talk of countries like France and England, we are talking about countries which have never been ruled by others. They did not consider women intelligent enough to choose. It was only in 1918 that the Eligibility of Women act was passed after a long struggle of women and it gave adult suffrage to all women above an age of 21. We gave our women the right to vote, the right to choose the very day we were able to take our own decisions. Only 21 years later, a woman named Indira Gandhi robbed Nixon of his sleeps…it was 1971. Can you forget?

These were only two examples. There are countless others. Friends, don’t compare our country with the countries which have either never been dependent or have gained their  independence centuries ago. They have never known what it is like to live for a thousand years under foreign rule.  We became in dependent only 60 years ago. Today, we have a recognition of ourselves in world. Do you know from which level we have risen? Have you even once thought about it? In 1947, we were not even zero…we were in minus. The average life expectancy of a common Indian was only 37 years. In the decade of 1920-30, our death rate was ahead of our birth rate. In the Bengal Famine of 1943, four million people died. 22 lakh people were killed in the riots following the partition and crores were displaced. We were handling the greatest migration of the history of mankind. There were people who were homeless, wounded, sick, dying of hunger. The English left us ravaged and drained of all our wealth. We had nothing but debts…we were starting our journey ahead and our capital was in the wrong side of zero.

But we rose. We may be weak…but our spirit is not weak. We may be poor, but our spirit is not poor. We showed to the world the power of non violence. We proved that despite having this much diversity, religions, languages, we can survive and rise together as a nation. We lost the battle of 1962 to China but not without the comment of Time Magazine..

‘ In this battle, Indians need every thing except courage’

Our soilders fought in – 40 degrees temperature with jute bags tied to their legs, because they had no snow boots to wear. But they fought. And the nation stood behind them together as one entity. Lakhs of women donated their gold, prepared food and sent Rakhis to the the men fighting and dying on the border. And for writing this, I don’t need any wikipedia…this all have been in my granny’s bedtime stories. We lost, we mourned, we moved ahead. We had green revolution…jobs were generated. We won three wars, we tested nuclear weapons and when the US issued sanctions on us banning the export of wheat to us, by God’s grace, we had surplus wheat for 3 years in our granaries. Give us time yaar…it has been only 60 years…and you expect us to become America? Ridiculous.

Friends, take pride in what we are, because whatever we are, it has never been easy to achieve. People have died in their efforts to achieve. At least respect the scrifices. The next time you open your mouth to criticise this country, ask yourself a question.. “ What I have done for this country?”  And if the answer is in negative, better shut up. Yes, I do live in a bhookha, nanga Hindustan, but I am proud of this fact. I live in the country of a people who have a sprit to fight all the odds, to rise, to curb their hunger. When a farmer toils hard in his fields in hot sun, he is growing grain to feed an engineer who for 8 hours a day toils to make sure that there is enough capital to help that farmer in case of a failed monsoon. This is how we survive. We have survived, and we will. A day will come, and come it shall, when my Bhookha, Nanga Hindustan would rise and then, it would not be hungry…or naked. Maybe in  our lifetime, may be not in our life time. But someday it will happen. Till then, I am extremely proud of My Bhookha Nanga Hindustan…no matter what Kashmiris say, or The Roys or the Leftists or anyone in this world.

Maithili Sharan Gupt Said..

विचार लो की मर्त्य हो न मृत्यु से डरो कभी
मरो परन्तु यूँ मरो के याद जो करें सभी
हुई न यूं सो मृत्यु तो वृथा मरे वृथा जिए
मरा वही नहीं जो की जिया ना आपके लिए
यही पशु प्रवृत्ति है की आप आप ही चरे
वही मनुष्य है की जो मनुष्य के लिए मरे..
Don’t loose hope…we have been great, we will continue to be so… do something, for the country, for the people.

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ARYAN SPEAKS: The girl that goes away… Weddings, The Desi Istyle- III

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So the dancing, stumbling and firing baarat arrives on the duar of the hosts and is honors are done with the high pitched gaalis. The people in the baarat get seated, are served with the Naashtaa boxes (which the children of the house made).  The marriage process finally begins with a ritual called the Dwarpooja. I don’t know what exactly is done in it, but it’s the first public appearance of the groom and so, it is very important step. Meanwhile, the baraatis are diverted towards the dinner. Generally, in villages, the guests are served with food on tables, being seated on chairs and the food is served by the members of the family and other helping hands from the village itself. Earlier, people sat on mats on the ground in a line, called the Paant, and food was served in Pattals made of leaves. Even now, that tradition is followed in some core rituals. The beauty of the table and chair system lies in the fact that it gives a real meaning of hosting, where the hosts themselves serve the food in the plates of the guests. Every here and there,there are scenes in which the guest is denying and the host is forcefully serving food in his plate…” Are lihal jaaw Maharaj…!” The elders keep a sharp vigil lest someone’s plate goes empty and he has to ask for more of the finished item. As soon as they spot someone with empty plate or plate deficient in some dishes, they immediately rush those dishes to that man. No one has to fight for a place in the line and no one has to ask for more, unlike today’s buffet system where we have to go with the same smudged plate again and again to the food counters and ask for more or serve ourselves with the same dirty hands.

But most exciting phase of the dinner comes when the Pundits are fed. The Bhumihars of Mithilanchal of Bihar do it in most grand way. The pundits are seated in a row and are first served with Dahi ( curd) and Chuda (chiwda/ poha). The chuda is soaked in milk before being served. The Pundits, on their heap of chuda, make a crater in which dahi is filled and then they are served with sugar or Gud, as demanded. Now, the elders of both the sides sit together to enjoy the show. The pundits of this region have legendary appetites. They eat three to four serves of dahi- chuda. And now the game begins…the Rasgullahs are brought in, in buckets, hundreds of them. Each pundit eats 20-30 Rasgullahs. After this, one or two of them quit, unable to eat more. Now, a prize money is kept on the Rasgulaahs…say Rs 5 for each rasgullah being eaten. The second phase begins. Each of them eats until two or three more quit. The prize money increases…say Rs 50 for each Rasgullah. Third phase begins and now the ones who have eaten upto their maximum limits, fall on ground. In the end, one or two of the pundits remain and the prize money goes as high as Rs 1000 per Rasgullah. The last surviving pundit, who eats the last rasgullah, is the winner….and normally, he is unable to walk, or even sit or roll on the ground. He has to be carried away by his chelas.

The baraatis, with their tummies full, are sent to the Janwasa. Now here, the stage is set for the show of Orchestra. When is say orchestra, don’t mistake it with all those clarinets and drums and violas….in our region orchestra means something else. It includes dancers, female, who dance on the recorded songs. Both the varieties of dances are available…as late as the people from both the families are present, the dancers stick to old Hindi Muzra numbers, famous ones being ‘Salaam E Ishq’ and ‘ Dekh ke mera aisa husn o shabaab’, but at the night darkens and alcohol spreads its sway, the songs change to the Bhojpuri ones, those which indicate meanings . Demands for dances are made on some particular songs and often, fights erupt if the demands differ among the two groups or villages. Some villages are notorious for their fighting spirit…they believe that until and unless there is a fight in a wedding, the wedding is not complete. So they create a fight scene where ever they go… and take immense pride in doing so.

Meanwhile, inside the bride’s home, the marriage procedure goes on. Now the gaalis change into emotional wedding songs. There is a song for every ritual, and singing never stops in the background. As the night moves on, the mood of the songs changes from jubilant to a tense one and when the ritual of Kanyadaan comes, the songs, both in lyrics, tones and sentiments turn into morbid songs of parting, the women singing and shedding for the daughter they are going to part with. Kanyadaan, in tradition, is considered most sacred act of giving, or Daan, of the world, in which a father gives away his beloved daughter to a world unknown to her. Its like giving a piece of one’s own heart away. Every one present cries, the bride, her mother, her father, the women, uncles, aunts, brothers, sisters … just everyone. I have seen hearts which I thought to be made of stone melt on this particular point of time. These tears wont stop for a few day…

Slowly, the night turns into morning, and the silent sobs turn into wails… ones which give the feeling that someone is clinching on the heart from within. The bride has to leave her home forever. The place which was her home only a day ago now stands alien to her. People say that women are more emotional than men. I don’t believe so. In our society, the men are bound to remain strong, they are not allowed to cry, to wail. Had there been social allowance to shed tears, no one could stop those being shed from eyes of the father whose little daughter is being taken away from him. The girl clinches his hands, clothes…every other thing she can, but his tough hands push her away, to make her go… for he is not allowed to cry, he is a man. Not every one can survive this heart breaking scene…in fact, no one.The girl’s mother is not allowed to come to the vidaai…she has to wail sitting in the mandap only, not allowed to see her daughter who is going away from her…no ritual could ever be so hard.

Finally, the crying, stumbling and fainting bride goes with her husband, to a whole new world, leaving tears in everyone’s eyes… people who have loved her, who have seen her grow up.

These were some traditions and customs of our region. Some are sweet, some sour and some are naughty. Generally, only the arranged marriages have the luxury of such fun and celebrations. Love marriages, especially the enter-caste ones, have not yet got much social acceptance and thus, as few as they are, they go unattended and uncelebrated largely. The boys and girls themselves don’t want to hurt the sentiments of their parents, elders and the society and prefer arranged marriages… and the main reasoning behind it is that parents will never choose something wrong for his children. The statement is true to a large extent, but at times, is little bit faulty too. But now a day, some changes are there to be seen. Indeed, our society needs to open up to new ideas…but at the same time, we need to protect our customs and traditions.

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This is the last part of the series on weddings …hope you enjoyed reading this account of marriages of my region. Comments awaited.

Click for previous parts

 

A serious post will be uploaded on August, the 15th. Till then, keep reading…..

ARYAN SPEAKS: Of Guns and Bands, Weddings…the Desi Istyle- II

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So the marriage is fixed now. And now that it’s fixed, even Brahma himself will think twice before cancelling it without the permission of both the parties. The next thing to do is to move to the base camp… I mean, the ancestral village. In most of the cases, all the marital ceremonies are carried out in the respective villages. In villages the setup is different from the cities. There is not any system of catering companies which take the contract of getting the marriage performed. Everything has to be managed by the families themselves. Whole infrastructure has to be setup in such a way that there is no compromise with the pomp and show off. In every family, there is a born manager who knows the addresses of all those who must be contacted. He would contact the cooking party, the tent house, the decorators, the videography ( MS word is underlining it in red) wallah, will get the cards printed and distributed  and will arrange for SUVs needed for the baarat in the case of the groom side. It depends upon his managerial abilities that how economic and grand the “wyawastha” is.

Now, the guests start arriving. The khatarnaak ones arrive right 20 days before the marriage and pretend to take all the arrangements in their hands. The never do…all that they do is to roam from here to there and to disturb the one who is really doing something. The other variety is of those who has their own demands. Since he was a DFO in his youth, he would drink only coffee. Now, amid all that rush, you will have to arrange for his coffee. Most of the older ones come with a valet of their own who takes care of them and iterates  the demands of their respective Sahebs. In our region, there is tradition of lavish hosting. Lots of guests are invited, whole families…and they live till the marriage in the same house, or houses. So when the number of the guests increases, the already existing kitchen system of the house fails.  For this, in our houses, large utensils, the ones used for making food in parties are kept ready. Temporary chulhas of larger size are made and two or three men from the village, who are expert at it, are hired to prepare the daily food. This frees the women of the house. Now they are left with only two topics, jewels….and sarees.

The nights are really hilarious. Every single night’s food is sponsored by some guest. And when they sponsor, they volunteer to show their expertise in preparing that food, be it meat, be it fish….or be it the Litti. Now Litti is one thing for which a Bihari can take his heart out. And making a good littis is an art, a classic one. Right from the masala of the gram-flour, the sattu, the proportion of spices, khatai and namak has to be maintained delicately. Then this masala is filled in cups made of atta dough, and  the cups are rolled into balls. A huge fire is made of dried cow dung, and when it becomes glowing red, it is beaten and made flat. Now the balls are arranged in fire in a circular manner and are covered with the ash. Toppling the balls upside down on the fire is a game of experts only. It’s always good to see old men fighting like children over the method of doing it. When the balls have been roasted, a bowl of ghee is kept and each litti is is punched using the thumb and is bathed in that ghee until the ghee enters every particle of the masala inside. Now its ready….and so is the bharta of baigan. Tummies full, the next demand is that of a Harmonium, or saaj… and these old guys relish their bygone days singing the oldies, the folks and ghazals. Whole clan, khandaan, sits around as the singers take turn, demands pour in, admirations pour in, the shy old ladies voice the classics, the Kajlis and the thumris from behind their veils, and we, the younger ones, listen mesmerized… and the night rolls on.

The marriage procedure is carried out in two step, one is the Tilak and the other is the marriage itself. For the process of offering the Tilak, the bride’s party visits the groom’s party. In this process all the monetary transactions are finalized. As I have told you, neither of the parties is ever satisfied with the terms finalized. Traditionally, the ladkiwallahs always bring an amount little less than demanded. So when such situation arises, one final weapon is used by the ladkawallah…the rice!! The process of Tilak is finally over only when rice is distributed among all the married persons present there and they throw it on the groom. Someone from the groom’s side captures the rice basket, and holds it until a truce is worked out. And the most interesting thing is that after a transaction of lakhs of rupees, the rice gets stopped only for a matter of few thousands. It has become more of a tradition, a funny one. The Agua then steps in, gets abused by both the parties, and works a truce. In worst cases, he may get thrashed too.

Finally, the date of marriage arrives. In our region, only males go in the baraats. Right in the morning, the village barber, ventures out in the area with an “Agya”, a command, issued by the head of the family, to invite all those who have to go with the baarat. It is never said directly, it is always said in passive voice, in an indirect manner. Like he would say, “ Baabu Dhoti rangwa leb…jekar dhoti piyar na hoi okra ke bolahta naikhe”. In turn, the old tradition was to chase the barber away from the house. This is called “Vijay”. Strange, but lovely. By evening, all the SUVs line up and to carry the village people, the band wallahs and the goods, usually a bus is also hired. Finallly, the contingent leaves for the destination with the groom in the decorated car, with the blessing of his kuldewta , mother, aunts, sisters…etc etc..

In the way, some of the cars stop at the liquor shops and quota for the night is made full. Those cars always run ahead or behind of the cars carrying elders. First pegs are taken in the running cars themselves so that pahuchne tak mood ban jaae. Believe me, as a child, when alcohol was still a bad thing, I had many myths, many of the elders were my ideals. But when I saw this mast wala system, I understood….beta, sab moh maaya hai.

At bride’s place, the ladkiwallah side, the preparations to host the baraat starts 3 or 4 days before the marriage. The house gets all dolled up with lights, all the tents are put in place…and the cooking party reports. First things to be prepared are the sweets. And after they have been prepared, they are stored in a room, the room is locked and the keys are handed over to the manager about whom we talked earlier. The preparation of food for the baraat starts only on the day of its arrival, and one man from the family is assigned to keep constant vigil on that. The children of home are given the task of making cardboard boxes to keep the sweets in them. In childhood, it seemed to us that the biggest of the responsibilities have been handed over to us…making boxes, and we did it with the same zeal. Several boxes of Thandha, or cold drinks, arrive and so does the ice to keep them cool. In villages, we have granaries, called Bhusauls, to store grains. The cold drink bottles, wrapped in ice, is lowered into the one containing thatch to keep them cold. Decoration of the mandap is done with papers and colours. In our village, Mustafa, the tailor, is called for doing this since time immemorial..

The arrangements for holding the baraat are made at some distance from the home, usually some school ground or simply a field. The place is called Janwasa. The baraat is received here and served with light breakfast and paan. And then, the village barber, in our case Kalamuddin, comes with the “Agya” to move the baraat to the ladkiwallah’s duar. The Vijay on this Agya is done by rewarding the barber.  And then the barat marches. Spearheading the baraat are the light wallahs, after that, the band wallahs and after that, the the Great Indian Baraat dancers. These includes the brothers, their fathers, friends, uncles, grandfathers etc.. etc. The alcohol has already done its magic. The singer of the band usually can sing in both male and female voices. The most favorite dance songs  are Jimmy Jimmy, I am a Disco Dancer, the Naagin tune and last, but surely not the least, Yah Desh Hai Veer Jawano Ka. I still cant understand how the hell this one song made into a marriage playlist. Dance steps are sheerly easy…just hold both your hands up in air and jump up and down. These dancers can dance on any tune…even on the sound made by a generator. Along with the Baraat, several veterans with their guns held high move, usually recoiling Dunaalis, and keep firing rounds in sky.

Finally, the dancing, stumbling and firing Baraat reaches the duar of Ladki wallahs. The swagat of the baraat is done with high pitched Gaalis sung in chorus by the ladies of bride’s side, and garlands of course. Now this, is a scene of utter chaos…the sound of band, sound of shahnai, and sound of Gaalis together produce a baffling effect. If you want to brake in a party, this is the best time to do so. The two samdhis embrace each other and the groom is taken out of his car…but this also, is not without trouble. Usually, the driver of the car locks the gates and seizes the key. Only after a handsome bribing he opens the gate…

And thus begins the marriage….but more fun is to follow, the feast is still to be given, and the Naach or the orchestra is still to come into action and so are some more lovely traditions.

Wait for the next part…