Tuesday, December 30, 2008

On the IITs (Indian Institute of Technology)

In the early years of the India story, the CBS 60 minutes featured a slot on the IITs. I remember being in the US within a month or two of its telecast and quite a few Americans had seen it, were fascinated and asked me about it: amongst them corporate employees, the car hire firm manager and even a stripper.

So here's the original

Sax appeal: Down memory lane with Manohari Singh

article in
interspersed with youtube videos (courtesy me)

Manohari Singh turned any Hindi film song into a duet. Capturing the 50-year journey of the man with the golden saxophone is Sudipta ChandaUsually musicians of yesteryears fail to find space in the media ~ the reason perhaps lies in their failure to be good ‘public relation officers’ for themselves. Manohari Singh’s saxophone has never failed to pep up Hindi songs or earn the respect of music directors. The saxophonist ~ known for his work in Guide, Chalte Chalte, Veer Zaara and numerous other films ~ is celebrating 50 years of being a part of the Indian music industry. The journey from the golden age of Hindi film music to Laage Raho Munnabhai has been a pleasant one, with some milestones being more memorable than the others.

After bringing him to Bombay in 1958, Salil Chowdhury introduced him to another legendary music composer ~ SD Burman, who gave him a break in Sitaron Se Aage. Singh never had the opportunity to look back. That year his work was heard in Madhumati (Salil Chowdhury had a soft corner for the saxophone and the flute).

Music director Jatin Pandit is lavish with his praises for Singh. “He is one of the finest musicians in the world. He can read notations as if it were his native language. There was hardly a song made after the late 1950s that didn’t feature him. He is a living example what can be achieved through hard work and god’s blessing.”

A long time back, during a show in Kolkata, Singh was performing at a concert attended by Naushad, SD Burman and Salil Chowdhury. The last named couldn’t check his emotions and went on to give Singh a break in Pasher Bari. One incident led to another.

Sabita Chowdhury says, “Salil gave him shelter in Mumbai and even introduced him to Burman dada.” He later joined Pancham. She adds, “Music runs in his blood. Salil used his mastery on the English flute and the saxophone as if it were a second voice. His musical instrument changes scales like the human voice. Listen to Jare Ud Jare Paanchhi.”

Out of a bagful of memorable incidents, Chowdhury picks one, “During the recording of Haalud Gandar Phool Salil had problems with his second flute player, who was supposed to play with Aloke Nath Dey. Manohari da was present and agreed to play on my song.” Eminent musicologist Ranabir Neogi says, “I consider Jare Ure Jare Paakhi a duet between Lata Mangeshkar and Manohari Singh.”

Beside Salil Chowdhury, SD Burman too offered Singh an extravagant platform to showcase his talent in umpteen songs ~ Raat Akeli Hai (Jewel Thief), Gaata Rahe Mera Dil, Tere Mere Sapne (Guide), Roop Tera Mastana (Aradhana), etc.

“The fact that I am six or seven years elder to Pancham, helped to nurture our bonding. It was easier to make suggestions to Pancham than approaching Burmanda (senior). From watching English films to discussing music, Pancham was my partner. I joined him on the background score of Bhoot Bungla and kept working with him till his last film,” says an emotional Manohari Singh.

Besides the saxophone and flute, Pancham brought out a unique feature in Singh. Remember the beautiful whistling in the prelude of Yeh Shaam Mastani or that in Yeh Dosti Hum Nehin? Both are the efforts of Singh. Try to recollect the song Hoga Tumse Pyara Kaun in Zamane Ko Dikhana Hai. A flute was used in the interlude.

“Once Pancham bought a musical instrument made out of bamboo from a shop near Metro Cinema in Calcutta. He asked me to play the instrument. The bamboo clarinet sounded quite different.”

Singh had a good run with fellow musician Basudev Chakraborty. They had a successful innings as the music director duo Basu-Manohari, music composer in Saabse Bada Rupaiya, Yaasmeen, Chatpati, besides a number of Bangla songs.

Some of Singh’s memorable numbers are Gulabi Ankhen (The Train), O Hasina Zulphonwale (Teesri Manzil), Hai Duniya Usiki (Kashmir Ki Kaali), Dil Jo Na Kehe Saka (Bheegee Raat), Mehbooba Mehbooba (Sholay), etc. In Bengal he left his mark in Taar Aar Por Nayee, Ek Boishakhe (Bilombito Loy), Bujhbe Na Keu Bujhbena (Kobita), Phoole Gandho Nei, Moner Anka Banka and Bandho Moner Duyaar (Mohonar Dikay).

Music director Viju Shah says, “He worked often with my father and uncle (Kalyanji-Anandji) and I can’t help but recall a memorable incident that took place during a recording session involving Asha Bhonsle.

“During recording a song, papa asked Manoharida to put on the headphone and fill the gaps with his sax. Without notations he did a brilliant job. He simply changed the outcome of the song and it became known as an Asha-Manohari duet.”

The golden age of music in the Hindi film industry involves music directors like Naushad, Shankar-Jaikishan, Madan Mohan, OP Nayyar, Roshan, Salil Chowdhury, Laxmi-Pyare, SD Burman, RD Burman and Jatin-Lalit (the duo entered the scene much later). Singh has worked with all of them. He has even worked with one of the best musicians of our era ~ Shantanu Moitra in Pareenita and Laage Raho Munnabhai.

Since Singh was born and brought up in West Bengal ~ starting his journey here ~ he will be felicitated by the Amit Kumar Fan Club on 27 November. Fifty years have gone by and hopefully many more are to come. This is truly the man with a golden saxophone.

(To celebrate Manohari Singh’s 50th anniversary in the music industry, visit Odyssey in south Calcutta on 27 December).

Monday, December 29, 2008

Vyakti Ani Valli (Personalities And Characters): 2008- # 1

The magazine Outlook does manage to surprise me sometimes. At a period in time, when most popular Indian magazines publish / rehash garbage, Outlook once in a while manages to be original, serious, not trivial and mature.

The latest issue (the New Year Double Issue) has a series of articles on ‘The Native Place’ that make quite interesting reading. But what delighted me particularly was the article by Ebrahim Alkazi, an Arab of Saudi Arabian descent but an ‘Indian’ by birth and belonging: a tremendous influence on the theatre and acting crowd in India, frequently unsung and more in the shadows.
But a giant in his own right, as acknowledged by many greats time and again.

Here’s the article reproduced below with due acknowledgements to Outlook magazine. Also at http://www.outlookindia.com/full.asp?fodname=20090112&fname=IAlkazi+%28F%29&sid=1

My roots extend back to Saudi Arabia, but the richest years of my life are the ones that I spent in Poona, where I was born and raised. The education I received there—from my father, and from the Jesuit school I attended—and the rich life of the area around me, have shaped me into the person I am today.

I have never really gone back to Poona except for a short trip a couple of years ago, and I have never staged a play there. It isn't that I don't miss it, but places change and some have changed beyond recognition. The Poona I knew, of my family and neighbours, no longer exists for me to go back to.

My father was the first member of the Alkazi family to leave Saudi Arabia.

He was an orphan, who had to make his way in the world, so his uncles sent him to Bombay, which had a centuries-old tradition of Arabs coming to trade. He worked initially with the Bassam family, who were primarily in the tea trade, but then went on to become a businessman in his own right, trading in textiles, tea and whatever else was in demand. The Arab traders made their presence felt through business or from things such as Iraqi horses imported for the Poona races. Many of the Arab families did not circulate much beyond this circle, but my father preferred to mix with others.

Although he continued to work from Bombay, where his office was on the fifth floor of the building, and his flat on the fourth floor, my father decided to rent a house in Poona, which was a military town known for its quiet and salubrious environment, and a good place to raise children. Our house was in the cantonment area, but just at the edge, so we enjoyed the quiet of the military areas but were not that far from Poona city. I grew up in a family of nine children.

Beyond my immediate family, there were three other families living in the compound, each in their own villa. There was a Parsi family, where an emigre German-Jewish music teacher would come to give piano lessons every day. Then there was an English family in the next villa, and an emigre Persian family in the last. This created a very cosmopolitan environment. There was a tremendous feeling of good neighbourliness and a great tradition of visiting each other, very informally. On top of which every family—the Parsis, Christians and us—would celebrate its own festivals and invite everyone from the compound. This was a taste of the "communal" in the very best sense of the term.

In the neighbouring compound, there was a long bungalow divided between a Goan Christian family and a Parsi one. The Parsi women were very skilled at playing Western classical music, while the Goan Christian family loved jazz, so different types of music were constantly in the background as I grew up. Beyond the compounds were the green fields of a Maharashtrian farmer, from whom we bought our greens and vegetables. He was one of my father's closest friends, although they really had no common language to communicate in. The farmer spoke only Marathi and my father had some knowledge of Hindustani but they were both drawn to each other. As I think back, all of this was also my education in theatre. Theatre is primarily about social observation and I saw a really rich slice of life, including a Parsi family that was like out of a Chekhov play. The sisters were all spinsters, and the one brother was a weak man, always drinking and borrowing money from the Pathan moneylenders.

My father was a self-taught man, and created libraries everywhere he went. These would include encyclopaedias, books in English, and he also subscribed to the latest journals from the Arab world, such as Al Ahram from Egypt

We read Naguib Mahfouz when he was just starting out, long before he became famous or received a Nobel. My father firmly thought that our cultural roots were in Saudi Arabia; we spoke only Arabic at home, and we had a teacher of Arabic and Islamic studies who was brought over from Saudi Arabia and lived as part of our family.

I never had a day's vacation from studying. My brothers and I would return from our Jesuit school—St Vincent's High School—to the study of the Quran and its interpretation at home. My sisters were taught at home. This gave us a solid foundation in Islam and Islamic studies. The second great influence on my early life was also a person in charge of a library—Father Riklin, who was also the principal of St Vincent's, and it was he who encouraged me to participate in the annual school play. I acted in those plays from age nine to 14.

Outside our immediate lives, other great events were happening. Poona played an important role in the Independence movement, which was at its height at this time. Gandhi and other Congress leaders would stay at the Aga Khan Palace in Poona city and I remember cycling around it. At night we could hear the Congress leaders working up the crowds. At the same time, you would have regimental bands marching through the streets, emphasising the presence of the British army. It was exciting, and scary.

I remember that on Saturdays, which were half-days, I would carry my bicycle over the sandy patch in the compound so that my mother wouldn't hear me leaving the compound. Some instinct would still alert her, and she'd call, "Ebrahim, Ebrahim!" But I'd pretend not to hear and cycle to Poona city. There I'd go to the International Book Service, which used to get the finest of new English literature from Europe. The intellectual fraternity of Maharashtra would also gather there, and they'd be discussing all the important issues of the time with the shop owner, a Mr Dikshit.

Then World War II broke out in 1939, and a great transformation took place. The Fathers at St Vincent's were Swiss and German; the Germans were taken to the internment camps. We watched it happen, feeling almost bereaved. My father, who had bought a plot of land in our compound and had made me measure it, also began to feel increasingly like an unwelcome alien. He had to carry his passport; every Friday evening when he returned from Bombay, he had to report to the police.

I left for Bombay soon afterwards, in 1941, to study at St Xavier's College and to work with my father. Bombay was where I really became involved in drama and this was deeply tied to my connection with the Padamsees. To a certain extent, Bombay was also my native place—of my life in theatre. Sultan Padamsee had just returned from Oxford. He was a young man in his 20s then, but he had such a strong personality, and such command over poetry and production. I also met Roshen, Sultan's sister, who I would later go on to marry. At this time I was also getting more entwined with India. You could go from listening to Gandhi at Chowpatty, to Mohammed Ali Jinnah's house to see what he had to say. I won an elocution contest on behalf of the Communists, but when I visited Calcutta and saw the results of the Bengal Famine, I was disgusted that the Communists were taking part in these petty things rather than dealing with the famine.

My father felt a greater bond with the larger Islamic world, and he moved to Karachi after Pakistan was founded, as he had once gone to Turkey when he had initially been enthusiastic about Ataturk. In Pakistan, too, he was disappointed.The army had its eye on the building he owned, and one day they just came in, threw all his beautiful furniture out, and took it over. He went on to Beirut, and later most of my family would end up in Kuwait. I've gone to Saudi Arabia with my mother and the family as part of Haj, but not to Aniza where my father came from. But I consider India as my homeland, and I have a debt to repay.

Although I have no real "native place" to go back to, nevertheless I am very, very attached to Poona. In a sense, my native place has followed me rather than I ever going back to it. When I was at the National School of Drama, many of my finest students were from Maharashtra.

A couple of years ago I was honoured for my work in theatre at an award ceremony in Poona. When the door of the car opened, there was this old man who tapped me on the shoulder. I had no idea who he was and couldn't meet him then, but I met him again as I was leaving and he handed me this small envelope. Inside was a photograph from my wedding. Early in his life, he had worked as a very young peon at my office in Bombay and he had kept that picture all these years.

The people of Maharashtra have taken to me in a great way, and shown me tremendous regard. At times I am so overwhelmed by this that it becomes harrowing because of the responsibility it puts on me to return that regard. My work, in preserving and presenting India, is a part of what I give back.

(Ebrahim Alkazi, the founder-director of the National School of Drama, has recently established the Alkazi Foundation of the Arts in New Delhi.)

As told to Omair Ahmad

Other resources






Sunday, December 28, 2008

P.G. Wodehouse - 5

From ‘The Heart of a Goof’

To my daughter Leonora without whose never-failing sympathy and encouragement this book would have been finished in half the time

It was a morning when all nature shouted ‘Fore!’ (page 1)

I wish to goodness I knew the man who invented this infernal game. I’d strangle him. But I suppose he’s been dead for ages. Still, I could go and jump on his grave. (page 5)

I frequently find myself enrolled as a father-confessor on the most intimate matters by beautiful creatures from whom many a younger man would give his eye-teeth to get a friendly word. Besides, I had known Barbara since she was a child. Frequently – though not recently – I had given her her evening bath. These things form a bond. (page 7)

‘My angel!’ said Ferdinand.
He folded her in his arms, using the interlocking grip (page 26)

……he was heard to observe to the purser that if the alleged soprano who had just sung ‘My Little Grey Home in the West’ had the immortal gall to take a second encore he hoped that she would trip over a high note and dislocate her neck. (page 29)

I attribute the insane arrogance of the later Roman emperors almost entirely to the fact that, never having played golf, they never knew that strange chastening humility which is engendered by a topped chip-shot. If Cleopatra had been outed in the first round of the Ladies’ Singles, we should have heard a lot less of her proud imperiousness. (page 104)

His brow was furrowed and he had the indefinable look of one who has been smitten in the spiritual solar plexus. (page 144)

I have seen him in a club dining-room musing with a thoughtful frown for fifteen minutes on end while endeavouring to weigh the rival merits of a chump chop and a sirloin steak as a luncheon dish. A placid, leisurely man, I might almost call him lymphatic. I will call him lymphatic. He was lymphatic. (page 147)

‘William,’ I said ‘as one who dandled you on his knee when you were a baby, I wish to ask you a personal question. Answer me this, and make it snappy. Do you love Jane Packard?’
A look of surprise came into his face, followed by one of intense thought. He was silent for a space.
‘Who me?’ he said at length.
‘Yes, you.’
‘Jane Packard.’
‘Do I love Jane Packard?’ said William, assembling the material and arranging it neatly in his mind.
He pondered for perhaps five minutes.
‘Why, of course I do,’ he said. (page 149)

The fifth and sixth holes at Mossy Heath are long, but they offer little trouble to those who are able to keep straight. It is as if the architect of the course had relaxed over these two in order to ensure that his malignant mind should be at its freshest and keenest when he came to design the pestilential seventh. (page 162)

From ‘Money for Nothing’

John drew a deep breath. He was not one of those men who derive pleasure from parading their inmost feelings and discussing with others the secrets of their hearts. Hugo, in a similar situation, would have advertised his love like the hero of a musical comedy, he would have made the round of his friends, confiding in them, and when the supply of friends had given out, would have buttonholed the gardener. But John was different. to hear his aspirations put into bald words like this made him feel as if he were being divested of most of his more important garments in a crowded thoroughfare (pg 34)

John’s emotions as he approached the head waiter rather resembled those with which years ago he had once walked up to a bull in a field, Pat having requested him to do so because she wanted to know if bulls in fields are really fierce or if the artists who depict them in comic papers are simply trying to be funny. (pg 39)

Most of the head waiter’s eyes were concealed by the upper strata of his cheeks, but there was enough of them left visible to allow him to look at John as if he was something unpleasant that had come to light in a portion of salad. (pg 39)

‘Was that you, Ronnie?’
’Was what me?’
Hugo approached the matter from another angle.
‘Did you see anyone?’ (pg 131)

From ‘The Code of the Woosters’

He spoke with a certain what-is-it in his voice and I could see that, if not actually disgruntled, he was far from being gruntled, so I tactfully changed the subject. (pg 3)

Aunt Agatha, who eats broken bottles and wears barbed wire next to her skin. (pg 4)

‘Bertie,’ she said, ’I wish to begin by saying a few words about Sir Watkyn Bassett, CBE. May greenfly attack his roses. May his cook get tight on the night of the big dinner party. May all his hens get the staggers.’
’Does he keep hens?’ I said, putting a point.
’May his cistern start leaking, and may white ants, if there are any in England, gnaw away the foundations of Totleigh Towers. And when he walks up the aisle with his daughter Madeleine, to give her away to that ass Spink-Bottle, may he get a sneezing fit and find that he has come out without a pocket handkerchief.’
She paused, and it seemed to me that all this, while spirited stuff, was not germane to the issue.
’Quite,’ I said. ’I agree with you in toto. But what has he done?’ (pg 22-23)

She was definitely the sort of girl who puts her hands over a husband’s eyes, as he is crawling in to breakfast with a morning head, and says: ‘Guess who!’ (pg 35)

Old Bassett has been listening to these courtesies with a dazed expression on the map – gulping a bit from time to time, like a fish that has been hauled out of a pond on a bent pin and isn’t at all sure it is equal to the pressure of events. (pg 36)

He gave me a look, a kind of wide-eyed, reproachful look, such as a dying newt might have given him, if he had forgotten to change its water regularly. (pg 90)

’Said he would beat you to a jelly, did he?’
‘That was the expression he used. He repeated it, so that there should be no mistake.’
‘Well, I wouldn’t for the world have you manhandled by that big stiff. You wouldn’t have a chance against a gorilla like that. He would tear the stuffing out of you before you could say “Pip-pip”. He would rend you limb from limb and scatter the fragments to the four winds.’
I winced a little.
’No need to make a song about it, old flesh and blood’ (pg 95)

Owing to the fact that the shock had caused my tongue to get tangled up with my tonsils, inducing an unpleasant choking sensation, I found myself momentarily incapable of speech. (pg 103)

The hair was ruffled, the eyes wild, the nose twitching. A rabbit pursued by a weasel would have looked just the same – allowing, of course, for the fact that it would not have been wearing tortoiseshell-rimmed spectacles. (pg 103)

He recoiled as if he had run into something hot, and a look of horror and alarm spread slowly over his face.
The whole situation recalled irresistibly to my mind something that had happened to me once up at Oxford, when the heart was young. It was during Eights Week, and I was sauntering on the river-bank with a girl named something that has slipped my mind, when there was a sound of barking and a large, hefty dog came galloping up, full of beans and buck and obviously intent on mayhem. And I was just commending my soul to God, and feeling that this was where the old flannel trousers got about thirty bob’s worth of value bitten out of them, when the girl, waiting till she saw the whites of its eyes, with extraordinary presence of mind suddenly opened a coloured Japanese umbrella in the animal’s face. Upon which, it did three back somersaults and retired into private life. (pg 119)

….Totleigh Towers was one of those country houses which had been built at a time when people planning a little nest had the idea that a bedroom was not a bedroom unless you could give an informal dance for about fifty couples in it……. (pg 126)

’What ho, Stinker.’
‘Hullo Bertie.’
‘Long time since we met.’
‘It is a bit, isn’t it?’
’I hear you’re a curate now.’
’Yes, that’s right.’
’How are the souls?’
’Oh, fine, thanks.’ (pg 137)

Stiffy…..one of those girls who enjoy in equal quantities the gall of an army mule and the calm insouciance of a fish on a slab of ice….. (pg 141)

I wouldn’t say he smiled – he practically never does – but a muscle abaft the mouth did seem to quiver slightly for an instant. (pg 226)

From the Introduction by Joe Keenan
‘Are you going for a stroll?’ said Aunt Dahlia, with a sudden show of interest. ’Where?’
’Oh, hither and thither.’
’Then I wonder if you would mind doing something for me.’
’Give it a name.’
’It wont take you long. You know the path that runs past the greenhouses into the kitchen garden. If you go along it you come to a pond.’
’That’s right.’
’Well, will you get a good, stout piece of rope or cord and go down that path till you come to the pond.’
’To the pond. Right.’
’And look about you till you find a nice heavy stone. Or a fairly large brick would do.’
’I see,’ I said, though I didn’t, being still fogged. ’Stone or brick. Yes. and then?’
’Then,’ said the relative, ’I want you, like a good boy, to fasten the rope to the brick and tie it round your damned neck and jump into the pond and drown yourself. In a few days I will send and have you fished up and buried because I shall need to dance on your grave.’ (pg viii)

’I admit that any red-blooded sultan or pasha, if offered the opportunity of adding M.Bassett to this harem, would jump to it without hesitation, but he would regret his impulsiveness before the end of the first week. She’s one of those soppy girls, riddled from head to foot with whimsy. She holds the view that the stars are God’s daisy chain, that rabbits are gnomes in attendance on the Fairy Queen, and that every time a fairy blows its wee nose a baby is born, which, as we know, is not the case.’ (pg ix)

Bertie himself once inadvertently proposed to Madeline while pleading Gussie’s case. Though Madeline’s passion for Gussie got Bertie off the hook, she has since viewed him as a sort of vice-fiance, ready to step in should anything go amiss with the current office-holder. Bertie’s code as a gentleman will not permit him to correct this misconception. After all, ‘If a girl thinks you’re in love with her and says she will marry you, you cant very well voice a preference for being dead in a ditch.’ (pg ix)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Thoughts… … …

There is an orientalism in the most restless pioneer,
and the farther west is but the farthest east.
- Henry David Thoreay (A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers)

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness,
starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking
for an angry fix,
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection
to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night
- Allen Ginsberg

Like a falling star, like a bubble in a stream,
Like a flame in the wind, like frost in the sun,
Like a flash of lightning or a passing dream –
So should you understand the world of the ego.
- Buddha

My swaraj (self rule or independence) is to keep intact the genius of our civilization. I want to write many new things but they must all be written on the Indian slate. I would gladly borrow from the West when I can return the amount with decent interest
- Mahatma Gandhi

Say it with Numbers: #9-2008

  • When Iraq invaded Kuwait, there were only 58,000 men in the Saudi Arabian army. Iraq on the other hand had a standing army of nearly a million men – the 4th largest army in the world – not counting its reserves and paramilitary forces
  • The Beijing-Lhasa train cost $4.2 billion to build and runs on the highest rail tracks in the world, crossing passes at an altitude of around 16,000 feet
  • India exported Buddhism to China around 70 BCE
  • The number of Tibetans killed during the Cultural Revolution varies between 200,000 and 400,000
  • The first book printed in the world in 868 AD was a Chinese translation of the Sanskrit treatise ‘Diamond Sutra’ which was intended for free distribution
  • Between 12 and 29 million Indians were deliberately allowed to die during the 1877-78 famine under British rule
  • When the East India Company was founded in 1600, Britain was generating 1.8% of the world’s GDP while India was producing 22.5%
  • Manasarovar, at 4500 metres is the highest lake in the world and with a circumference of 88 kms, one of the largest too
  • Death Penalty

    A total of 135 countries have abolished the death penalty in law or in practice

    In 2007, only 24 countries carried out executions

    China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and USA are the top 5 perpetrators. They account for 88% of all known executions. India chose to vote against a motion (alongwith Pakistan and China) in response to the UN General Assembly call for a Universal Moratorium on Death Penalty
  • Indonesia is an anthropologist's fantasyland. It is made up of 17,500 islands, on which 230 million people speak more than 300 languages. The archipelago's culture is colored by Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim and Dutch traditions.
  • While there are 32 Americans per square mile of America, there are some 840 Indians per square mile of India.
  • Bacterial counts on the hands range from 5000 to 5000000 colony-forming units per sq.cm. The hair, underarm and groin harbor greater concentrations. On the hands, deep skin crevices trap 10 to 20% of the flora………The worst place is under the fingernails.
  • Speed of light: 299,792,458 m/s
  • Baba Budan, a 17th century Sufi is supposed to have brought coffee to India, from Yemen
  • 1 in 7 Filipinos is abroad working at any point in time. A quarter of the world’s seafarers are from Philippines. The Greek word for maid is ‘filipineza’.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Sabko Sanmati De Bhagwan

If the 24-hr news coverage of the Mumbai terror attacks doesnt depress you, few things will.

The less said the better about the Indian media which indulges in wholesale misquoting or selective quoting, jingoism, repetition and sensationalism. Serious journalism……..whats that?

And the politicians are a topic by themselves. One changes clothes thrice in the latter half of the day at a time of national crisis. A dapper gentleman this. The other, no less than the chief minister, visits the scene of terror and carnage (the Taj Hotel) with his actor son (and his film director friend). Was that a family outing, terror tourism or blissful mindlessness of public sentiments.

His deputy, says that such type of incidents (the Mumbai carnage) happen in big cities. No doubt this person was handicapped by his poor knowledge of Hindi and made a mistake in his nervousness but I would have expected a better press statement

And it doesn’t stop at that.

Another chief minister down south visits a freshly martyred father who has forewarned the CM that he is not welcome. The CM not surprisingly is then shown the door. The CM later remarks that were it not for the martyred son, no dog would have glanced at their house.

Isnt it our right to expect some statesmanlike figures in politics?

Another one from a different party says that the lipstick/powder/suit crowd is defaming the politicians over this incident. All leaders of all classes seems to be fighting each other like cats and dogs (surprisingly the communists seem to be away from all this mayhem, part 2. Are they the saner ones?)

Is this nation or political class imploding? Or are they so self-absorbed in their private cocoons that they have lost all sense of a nationalistic spirit, an empathy with the masses, a control over the tongue (and the ego). Indian politics depresses. And the only seemingly decent guy, the Prime Minister seems to be isolated in his administration with minimal control over others.

Will my nation wake up to a better tomorrow, with slightly more wise public leaders?

To mouth a cliché, its darkest just before the dawn. Hopefully the dawn is round the corner.

In such times, Lata soothes. ‘Allah tero naam’ is the cry of the sane for the mayhem that surrounds us

As for me, the bitter cynic that I am, I hope my envisioned world is a lie and a better future awaits.


The lyrics and English translation

This is a song sung by Lata Mangeshkar in the Hindi film Hum Dono. The score was composed by Jaidev.

Allah tero naam, Ishwar tero naam
sab ko sanmati de bhagwaan
...maangon kaa sindoor naa chhoote
maan behenon kee aans naa toote
deha binaa bhatake naa praan
o saare jag ke rakhawaale
nirbal ko bal denewaale
balawaanon ko de de gyaan

The translation

Allah is your name, Ishwar is your name
Bless everyone with wisdom O God
May wives not be widowed
May the hopes of mothers and sisters not be broken
May lives not flounder disembodied
Oh Protector of the whole world
Giver of strength to the weak
Do grant wisdom to the strong

Courtesy: http://sacred-songs.blogspot.com/2007/06/allah-tero-naam.html