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Monday, 28 April 2014

देसी इलाज


हम ठहरे दिल्ली शहर के शहरी बाबू और ससुराल ठहरी गाँव में और गाँव ठहरा गढ़वाल की पहाड़ियों में । अब आजकल तो बाइक या कार में भी चले जाते हैं । पर पहले याने तीस साल पहले ये यात्रा किश्तों में की जाती थी ।  पहले भीड़ भरी रेल गाड़ी में रात में घुसो जो दिल्ली से चलती थी ।  रात भर का जागरण करो । सुबह कोटद्वार स्टेशन से बाहर निकल कर कुछ राहत िमलती । कुछ पहाड़ियाँ िदखती, कुछ आबोहवा में बदलाव महसूस होता । और उसके बाद जीप की ज़रूरत होती थी । 

अब आइए लैैंसडोन की जीप की खोज की जाए । जीपें तो बहुत मिलेंगी पर आपको पर यह भी तो देखना पड़ेगा की सीट वो मिले जिस पर बैठ कर आगे की ओर मुँह रहे जैसे की ड्राइवर के साथ वाली । ऐसा इस लिए की गाड़ी अब घुमाव दार और उतराव चढ़ाव वाले रास्ते से पहाड़ पर चढ़ेगी । और इस घुमाव दार राहों पर कुछ सवारियों के सर और पेट भी घूमने शुरू हो जाएँगे । इसलिए संतरे की गोली चूसते रहो और यात्रा जारी रखो । 

अब हम पहुँचते हैं दोगड्डा । अब तक का रास्ता ज़्यादा उँचा नीचा नहीं था । कमरशियल ब्रेक में कुछ सवारियों ने साथ छोड़ िदया और कुछ नए साथ हो लिए । थोड़ी कमर सीधी हुई । अब चढ़ाई शुरू हुई । रास्ता संकरा हो गया और रास्ते के एक ओर पहाड़ और दूसरी ओर दूसरी ओर खाइयाँ शुरू हो गई । क्या चक्कर आने शुरू हो गए भाई जी ?

जीप का पायलट भरोसेमंद था और उसने सही सलामत भरोसाखाल  पहुँचा िदया । सामान समेत हमें उतार िदया गया । चारों तरफ़ छोटे बड़े पहाड़, ऊँचे ऊँचे चीड़ और देवदार के पेड़ । हवा में ठंडक बढ़ गई थी और पेड़ों में से बहती बयार की सरसराहट भी सुनाई पड़ रही थी । आस पास न कोई मकान, न कोई दुकान, न कोई इन्सान । ऊपर गहरा नीला आसमान और बिलकुल साफ़ । ऐसा तो दिल्ली में कभी नहीं िदखाई पड़ता है । तीन साल के बेटे को मज़ा आ रहा था । दूर नीचे शायद दो हज़ार फ़ीट नीचे, हमारा गांव था झीबलखाल । 

पैदल यात्रा शुरू हुई । एक घंटा लगातार िनचाई नापी । पैरों के पंजे, टखने, घुटने और जंघाएं चूर चूर हो गए । लगभग तीन बजे िकसी तरह डेरे पर पहुँच गए और तब तक तीन साल के बेटे को बुखार चढ़ गया । अब आसपास की सीनरी भूल कर डाक्टर की चिंता सताने लगी । गाँव वाले हाल चाल जानने और स्वागत के लिए इकट्ठा हो गए थे । 

- अजी ठीक हो जाएगा भाई जी एक दो िदन में - एक महिला ने कहा । 

- पहाड़ नाम पूछता है जी नए आने वालों का भाई जी - एक पेंशनर बोला । 

- अरे ये तो आम बात है परसों तक िफट हो जाएगा साब जी । ज़रा हवा बदली है और क्या ? - िरटायर्ड फ़ौजी बोला । 

- अरे बैद जी को बुला लाओ जल्दी से - नानी बोली । 

नानी की बात मान ली गई और बैद जी को लाने के लिए राजदूत भेज िदया गया । तीन घंटे बाद बैद जी पधारे, बच्चे का हाल पूछा और तसल्ली दी की सुबह तक ठीक हो जाएगा । िफर बैद जी बच्चे के बारे में कम और दिल्ली के बारे में ज़्यादा सवाल करने लगे ।  मन में कई तरह की शंकाएँ थी इस झोला छाप डाक्टर को ले कर । कहीं कोई गड़बड़ न हो जाए । 

बैद जी ने पुराने मैलै झोले से टीन की पुरानी डिब्बी निकाली और उसमें से काला सा पाउडर अख़बार के एक टुकड़े पर डाला और एक पुड़िया तैयार कर दी । मन में शंका और बढ़ गई । पुड़िया हाथ में ले कर मंत्र पढ़ा और थमा दी ।

- अभी िखलानी है ?

- न भाई जी बालक के सर के नीचे रखनी है । 

आश्चर्य घनघोर आश्चर्य हुआ पर तसल्ली भी हुई की पुड़िया नहीं िखलानी पड़ेगी ।

अगले िदन सुबह बालक बकरियों के पीछे दौड़ रहा था । 

 

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

अंग दान महा दान

कुछ िदनों पहले श्रीमती मेरी-थेरेज़ अपने परिवार सहित फ़्रांस से भारत भ्रमण पर आईं । श्रीमती मेरी-थेरेज़ को १४ मार्च को अचानक तेज़ सर दर्द हुआ और वे बेहोश हो गईं । उन्हे तुरंत मैक्स अस्पताल दिल्ली में दािखल करवाया गया । डाक्टरों ने बताया की उनका िदमाग क्षति ग्रस्त हो गया था और उनके दिमाग़ ने काम करना बंद कर दिया था अर्थात ब्रेन डेड हो गया था । उनकी उम्र ६८ बरस की थी ।

परिवार के लिए यह बड़ी कठिन घड़ी थी । उनके ४१ वर्षीय पुत्र सेबासटियन ने माँ के बारे में बताया की वे हमेशा दूसरों की मदद करती रहती थीं । उनका इच्छा ये भी थी कि उनके प्राण त्यागने के समय उनका परिवार उनके पास ही हो । 

डाक्टरों व परिवार के बीच बातचीत हुई । उनके पुत्र ने बताया की उनके लिए यह मानना कठिन था की माँ का ब्रेन डैड हो चुका था । परन्तु उन्होंने माँ की भावनाओं को देखते हुए फ़ैसला कर लिया की माँ के अंग दान कर देंगे ताकी िकसी ज़रूरतमंद की मदद हो सके । 

श्रीमती मेरी-थेरेज़ की एक किडनी (याने गुर्दा ) ५४ वर्षीय महिला को लगाई गई जो २ साल से डायलिसिस करा रहीं थी । 

दूसरी किडनी  ४५ वर्षीय महिला को लगाई गई जो की लगभग ५ साल से डायलिसिस की यातना झेल रहीं थी । 

उनका लीवर एक ३८ वर्षीय फ़ौजी को लगाया गया जिसे liver  transplant की सख़्त ज़रूरत थी । 

यह ख़बर पढ़ कर मन में सहानुभूति, करुणा और आदर की मिली जुली भावनाऐं आईं । पहले कभी इस बात की ओर ज़्यादा ध्यान नहीं िदया था । हां नेत्र दान कैम्प में एक बार पंजीकरण करवा िदया था । नेत्र दान का तो भारत में काफ़ी प्रचलन हो गया है परंतु अंग दान  अभी इतना ज़्यादा प्रचलित नहीं हुआ है । 

अब अंग दान से सम्बन्धित जानकारी के लिए इंटरनेट पर नज़र डाली और कुछ बातें समझ में आई जो इस तरह से हैं । 

िदमाग का काम बंद कर देना या ब्रेन डेड हो जाना क़ानूनी तौर पर मृत्यु है । इस अवस्था में मशीन द्वारा रक्त संचार जारी रखा जा सकता है और अंगों का प्रत्यारोपण िकसी ज़रूरतमंद के शरीर में िकया जा सकता है बशर्ते मृतक के नज़दीक़ी इस बात के लिए तैयार हों । 

कुछ अंग एैसे हैं जो एक जीवित व्यक्ति भी दान दे सकता है और इसी कारण से इस कार्य में बहुत सी िशकायतें सुनी गई की अंगों का व्यापार होने लग गया है । इस पर सरकार ने १९९४ में क़ानून बनाया ताकी अंग दान को बढ़ावा मिले ।  इस क़ानून में २०११ में संशोधन किया गया । और अब एक विस्तृत क़ानून तैयार िकया जा रहा है । 

कुछ देशों में ड्राइंिंवग लाइसेंस में यह शर्त डाल दी जाती है की अगर सड़क दुर्घटना में चालक की मृत्यु हो जाती है तो कुछ अंग िबना क़ानूनी अड़चन के निकाल िलए जाएँगे । 

ईरान में अंग देने वाला क़ानूनी तौर पर मुआवजा पाने का हक़दार होता है । इस व्यवस्था के कारण वहाँ अंग पाने वालों की सूची लगभग न के बराबर रहती है ओर transplant का काम काफ़ी व्यवस्थित है । 

दुनिया के सभी धर्मों में अंगदान को अच्छा ही माना गया है । प्राचीन ग्रंथों में ऋषि दधीची का वर्णन आया है जिन्होंने जीते जी अस्थियों का दान इन्द्र देवता को िदया । उन अस्थियों  से बने शस्त्रों से असुरों को परास्त िकया गया । 

अंग दान का भावनात्मक पहलू भी है िजसकी वजह से इतनी बड़ी जनसंख्या में से बहुत ही कम लोग अंग दान कर रहे हैं। इस विषय पर खुल कर सामाजिक चर्चा करने की ज़रूरत है । कोख किराए पर देना (surrogate mothers) और  'लिव इन' सम्बन्ध भी तो आम बात होती जा रही है और क़ानूनी तौर से भी इन को स्वीकार कर लिया गया है । तो इस बदलते समय में अंग दान की भी एक सम्मान जनक जगह होनी चाहिए । 

मैं तो गम्भीरता पूर्वक इस विषय पर िवचार कर रहा हूँ की वसीहत बना दूँ की भैया मेरे प्राण त्यागने के बाद जो भी अंग वंग चाहो वो िनकाल लो । अब मुझे इस बात की जानकारी तो नहीं है कि प्राण त्यागने के बाद नीली छतरी के तले कहाँ बसेरा होगा । ये भी नहीं मालूम की मैं उन्हें - जिन्होंने मेरे अंग लगा रखे हों- देख पाउँगा या नहीं । या िफर उनमें रह कर कुछ महसूस कर पाऊँगा या नहीं । जो भी हो अंग दान से किसी का तो भला होगा, कोई तो याद करेगा की किसी फन्ने खां से पाला पड़ा था !


इस विषय पर बहुत से NGO देश में कार्यरत हैं । और अधिक जानकारी के लिए इनमें से कुछ नाम नीचे लिखें हैं जिनसे सम्पर्क किया जा सकता है । 
giftyourorgan.org,
www.mohanfoundation.org,
donatelifeindia.org,
https://www.facebook.com/shatayu,
health.india.com

Sunday, 20 April 2014

चुनावी चाय पानी

पिछले साल सपरिवार राजस्थान और गुजरात में काफ़ी लम्बी कार यात्रा की । जयपुर, िचतौड़गढ़, अहमदाबाद , जूनागढ़, सासनगीर, सोमनाथ, द्वारका वग़ैरा । ज़्यादातर खाना पीना हाईवे ढाबों और रेस्तराँ में ही हुआ । खाने के साथ छाछ भी पीने को मिलती थी कभी गिलास में और कभी जग भर के । छाछ पाचक और रोचक भी लगी । बड़ा आनन्द आया छाछ पी कर । 

पर चुनाव के चलते मोदी जी ने छाछ के बजाए चाय की चर्चा बढ़ा दी । अब किसी विरोधी दल ने चाय का विरोध नहीं किया जबकी चर्चा का विरोध तो हो ही रहाहै । ऐसी कोई कोशिश नहीं की  गई िक भई चाय के बजाए छाछ पर चुनावी चर्चा कर ली जाए । चाय है तो िफरंगीयों की देन जबकी छाछ तो बस ठेठ देसी पेय है । 

पंजाब और हरियाणा में चर्चा का बढ़िया सा पेय था लस्सी । बड़े बड़े और कड़ेदार िगलासों में लस्सी लेकर चर्चा होती तो मज़ा ही कुछ और होता़ । लस्सी नमकीन और मीठी दोनों ही उपलब्ध हैं और लाभकारी भी है । इसलिए दोनों पक्षों को मज़ा देती लस्सी । 

महाराष्ट्र, गुजरात, उत्तर प्रदेश, और देश के बहुत से भागों में इस मौसम में गन्ने के रस का बहुत प्रचलन हो जाता है । रस में अदरक, पुदीना, मसाला और निम्बू डाल कर रस क्या ख़ूब ज़ायक़ेदार बनता है । क़रीब क़रीब हर पार्टी को बहस करने में मािफक आता । लगभग हर पार्टी का स्वाद उसमें शामिल है । क्या कहते हो?

इस मौसम के चलते ठंडाई, आम का पना और ठंडा मीठा दूध भी कारगर हो सकता था । 

और देश के साउथ में गरमा गरम रस्सम की क्या बात । इमली और मसालेदार पेय पर ज़बान चटक हो जाती है और भाषा भी चटकारे दार हो जाती और चुनावी चर्चा भी । 

कुछ इलाक़ों में काफ़ी भी उपलब्ध है जैसे की िचकमगलूर और केरल । काफ़ी पर भी चर्चा भी  की जा सकती थी जिसमें कुछ विदेशी मेहमान भी शामिल हो जाते । 

अगर आप समंदर तट के साथ साथ गोआ, केरल और ओडीशा की ओर  चलें तो नारियल के पेड़ों की कमी नहीं है । ऐसे में नारियल पानी का उपयोग चुनावी चर्चा के लिए इतमीनान से हो सकता था । पेट भी शांत रहता और बहस भी शांति पूर्वक हो जाती । कहीं कहीं नीरा भी उपलब्ध है उसका प्रयोग भी किया जा सकता था । ताड़ी का इंतज़ाम होता तो तगड़ा प्रभाव ले आता बहस में । 

पर इन सब के बीच एक और शानदार पेय को क्यूँ भूल जाएँ ?  गोल गप्पे का पानी ! ये भी तो पूरे भारत में मशहूर है कहीं पानी पूड़ी के नाम से तो कहीं पुचके के नाम से । कई तरह के पानी उपलब्ध हैं - इमली वाला, पुदीने वाला, हींग वाला वग़ैरह ।  गोल गप्पे पर चर्चा कर लेते । कम से कम कुछ मिनटों के लिए िवरोिधयों के मुँह सी सी कर के बंद हो जाते । और कुछ देर के िलए तो शांत रहते । 

अब अगर ठंडी ठंडी बीयर का नाम ले लिया तो बस बहस  १६ मई को भी पार कर जाती । तो कथा यहीं समाप्त की जाए और प्रस्थान किया जाए । 

Friday, 18 April 2014

चुनावी दावत

- आजा आजा बैठ मेरे यार ।  ले चाय ले । और के ख़बर है भई?

- लो कललो बात । थमने भी चाय पर चर्चा सुरू कर दी के?

- अरे ना यार ना । चर्चा तो आय पर करणी है की चाय पर । और खाय पे जो ख़र्चा बढ़ गयो वो? उसकी चर्चा न करोगे? आय बढ़ी ५% और ख़र्चा १०% । क्या कहो तम?

- अजी छोड़ो भी महँगाई ससुरी को । और २ - ४ िदन की छुट्टी मारो मौक़ा अच्छा है यो । चलो चुनाव प्रचार में चलते हैं । 

- उससे क्या होगा ?

- भई खाणा पीणा मुफ़्त में और करणा कराणा कुछ है नहीं । बस पर्चे बाँट िदयो या िफर नाम वाम भर िदयो सिलपों पर । और नहीं तो गाड़ी में घूम लेंगे ५ -४ नारे लगा देंगे । और झंडा ही तो िहलाणा है क्यों?

- मैं तो यार कभी गया नहीं िकसी पार्टी के दपतर न ही नारे लगाए कभी । 

- गया तो मैं भी नहीं पर ट्राई मारते हैं । अपणा क्या जा रा है?

- अरे यार न तो कोई कैंडीडेट जाणता न कोई पार्टी तो कैसै होगा ?

- अरे मेरी भी कभी सुण ले या अपनो रािगणी गाए जाओ तम?

- चल सुणा अपनी रािगणी । हल्ला ज़्यादा करे है तू । 

- देख यार सबके बारे में थोड़ी घणी जानकारी ईकटठी  करी है । मफ़लर वाले के यहाँ तो सूकी चाय है और उपर से चंदा और माँगेंगे सुसरे । 

- तो फेर क्या फ़ायदा हुआ जी ? यो तो मज़ा न आया । 

- तो सुण पप्पू के दफ़्तर में चलते हैं चाय, ठंडा, छोले भटूरे वग़ैरह ख़ूब हैं ऐसा बतावें हैं । शाम का भी जुगाड़ सुणा है पक्का है । 

- यो तो िफर भी कुछ ठीक सा लग रा । इसके अलावा भी कोई और है के?

-  अरे कई हैं मेरे यार तू तैयार तो हो । अपणा फेंकू है ना । उसके यहाँ बढ़ीया इंतज़ाम है परन्तु कुर्ता पजामा पहन लियो और ज़रा बोली ठीक से बोिलयो । बाक़ी शाम को न िमलती वहाँ पे। घर पर ले लियो । 

- टंगड़ी न िमलती कहीं ? ज़रा सा जी सा लग जा । क्यूँ ?

- जब देखो तब टंगड़ी थारी लार न थमती?

- इब छुट्टी भी लें और मज़ा सा भी न आवे तो क्या फ़ायदा ? बता । 

- देख एक मशाल वाला भी है वो करा सके टंगड़ी की फ़रमाइश पूरी । और एक यो है तलवार वाला वो भी करै है पूरी सेवा । पर्चे बाँटे जाओ चाय पाणी िलए जाओ हाथ के हाथ । क्या कहो?

- देखो जी छुट्टी की दरखास कल दे दूँगा दपतर में आगे तू समझ ले । और अगर मज़ा सा ना आया तो बस मेरे यार ढाई किलो के हाथ देख ले । छुपता िफरेगा गन्ने के खेतां में ।                                                                          


Thursday, 17 April 2014

Election times on dining table

On the eve of a holiday or weekend the dinner proceeds leisurely. In election season discussions get longer, there are different opinions & sometimes discussion ends abruptly.

Now that there was a weekend that's why there are 3 glasses of beer for male voters & 2 glasses of water for respected female voters. There is butter chicken for 4 voters & veg mutter paneer for 1 younger female voter. Male voters are the first to assemble on the table to say cheers with beers.

A female voice is heard coming from kitchen:

- Acche din aane wale hain aur beer bandh hone wali hai!

- No-no-no! No feku can bring prohibition here. Nothing like this is going to happen in the Capital. Otherwise will throw him out in next term.

- I say let's go with pappu then.

- No-no-no. Let's go with muffler-man instead. All of us do need a shot of cough syrup now & then. Don't we?

Then there was younger female voice:

- Acche din aane wale hain & chicken bandh hone wala hai!

- Oh come on. It's only a food item to be taken once or twice a week. That's about all.

- Yeah it is a cheaper source of energy. Malnutrition is a problem in India for which chicken & eggs are the answer. We need people built like Arjun & Bhim. Therefore ghar ghar mutton ghar ghar chicken.

- Nonsense. Say ghar ghar makkhan. You should start having veg dishes in place of chicken & juice of Lauki instead of beer.

- Lauki? Who wants Lauki?

- Well I wonder what these netas eat & drink.

- Simple. The muffler-men eat mangos, pappus eat toffees & chaiwalas eat rusk with tea.

- And in banana republic every neta eats bananas.
                                                                              

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Election times in family.

Come election & noisy tv debates start. Occasionally these debates overflow on to our dining table with family members getting as noisy. Bigger the election noisier the debates till a loud & firm voice is heard coming from the kitchen 'No talking while eating'. The high pitched voices cool down. Smiles appear & then blame game starts. A blames B for dragging everyone in to political discussion & B blames C & so on. In the end everyone denies starting the political debate like the politicians & matter is over.

Usually there are five of us on the dining table. For your information all are voters & their classification is as under:

Occupation
           Pensioner -- 02
           Service ----- 03
Gender
           Male ----- 03
           Female -- 02
Qualification
           Graduates --- 03
           Post Grad --- 02
Income
           Tax payers -- 05

But the opinions of these five voters vary from left to centre to right & consensus on a candidate or a political party is rarely reached. Voters get split on such trivial issues like potholes on roads, age of the candidate, gender of the candidate or even on 'smartness' of a candidate. So I would not venture into a pre-poll survey. It is really unpredictable. Earlier pre-poll predictions have all gone wrong.
Percentage of polling remains impressive 100% as every family member votes & that too in early hours of election day. For this no incentives in cash or kind are needed. No ads or party flags are needed as things are available in facebook, twitter, hangouts etc. Good bye to those candidates who are not on social media as they are not considered.

Ready for Election?

There are turncoats also in these voters as they don't stick to a party but jump from one to to another if the candidate of the other party is assessed smarter.  

It may be told in confidence that there have been instances of betting of pizza or of a film show on a winning candidate. But for sure these are one off incidents & were financed from own pocket & not from any party funds.

Good luck to you if you are a candidate in this election.

Friday, 11 April 2014

तना तनी

हम शादी की ३३ सालिगरह मना चुके हैं जिसे सुनकर या पढ़ कर ऐसा लगता है कि हमारी आपस में ख़ूब बनती है और ख़ूब छनती है । क्यूँ नहीं साब क्यूँ नहीं । ये और बात है कि यदा कदा विचार नहीं मिलते छोटी मोटी बातों में । स्थिति को ज़रा उदाहरण से स्पष्ट करना ठीक रहेगा वरना आप से भी विचार न मिलने की संभावना बढ़ सकती है । और मेरी इच्छा है की कम से कम आप तो मेरा साथ देते रहेंे ।


                                    


आप इन दो तौलियों को ज़रा देखें । मैंने ितरछा सा टांगा है हरा वाला ताकी ज़्यादा एिरये में हवा लगे और तौलिया जल्दी सूख जाए । दूसरा सीधा सीधा टांगा है वो मेरा नहीं है । 
'ऐसे आड़ा ितरछा टाँग देते हो कितना भददा लग रहा है इसे ठीक करो'
लो कर लो बात । अब इस बात पर मुक़दमा तो नहीं चलाया जा सकता ना । क्या िवचार है आपका आड़ा ितरछा ही रहने दिया जाए या सीधा कर दिया जाए ?

अब उस दिन रात दस बजे घूम घाम कर वापस आए । फटाफट कपड़े उतार कर डाइिनंग टेबल पर डाले और दूसरे पहन लिए । जूते उतार कर एक तरफ़ सरकाए और चप्पल पहन ली । चप्पल फेंक कर िबसतर में छलाँग लगा दी । वाह अब आराम से सोया जा सकता है । आप भी तो ऐसा ही करते होंगे ? पर औरडर हो गया । तुरंत आदेश हो गया :
'इन्हें ज़रा अलमारी में टाँग दो भई और जूतों को रैक में ढंग से रख दो । दुबारा नहीं पहनोगे क्या ?'
अब इस चक्कर मे १५ िमनट की नींद ख़राब भई उसका क्या ?
                                                                         
  













आप शोपिंग ही ले  लीजिए । साड़ी की दुकान में चालीस मिनट हो चुके थे । पानी भी पी लिया था, ठंडा भी पी लिया था अब चाय आ गई पर साड़ी न पसंद आई अब तक । पर सेल्स मैन कमबख़्त होिशयार था । 
'भैंजी इतमीनान से देिखये जी । चीज़ पसंद आए तभी लेना जी । हमारा तो काम ही यही है जी । चाय लो जी आप भाईसाब' । 
एक घंटा दस मिनट में एक साड़ी पसंद आई । उस पर कनपटी में गुर्राहट सुनाई दी:
'पास मे बीराजमान हो कभी कलर वलर पर राय तो दे दिया करो । घुघू की तरह बैठै हो ।'



















बस इन छोटी छोटी बातों के अलावा हमारे सभी िवचार िमलते हैं । 
आप क्या लोगे चाय या ठंडा ?

Which caste?

Branch was situated on slope of a scenic hill in a small bazaar comprising of a dozen or so shops cum houses. The road passing through bazaar spiralled up towards Lansdowne and downwards it went to a link road & then towards Kotdwar. Two mini buses passed through in the morning & same returned in the afternoon. Branch was on ground floor & a room, a kitchenette & toilet on the first floor served as the Taj Palace of the manager. Banking here revolved around Pensioners' accounts. During first week branch had 30-40 visitors daily & by the end of the month none. 

On the left side of the branch beyond bazaar a group of smaller huts were visible at some distance. These were said to be of Dom's who were of lower caste & did hard labour jobs, scavenging of dead animals etc. One of the residents named Bhajani 55+ was occasionally hired for cleaning the branch & residence. Main village with a population of three thousand or so lay in the valley couple of hundreds of feet down. All government employees had pucca houses there & others had huts built with local stones & slates.

Branch staff comprised of a manager, an officer, a cashier & a peon cum guard. Sharma the only officer in the branch visited his family on weekends about a hundred km away. However during rainy season commuting became difficult in hilly areas & Sharma stayed & we had dinner together a couple of times.

One Friday it was cold & drizzling. Dark clouds threatened with heavy rain or even light snow. Sharma decided to stay with me for dinner. We were chatting & having rum while Sharma was preparing omelette. Somebody knocked at the door below on the ground floor. It was Bhajani soaked in rain with some eggs & grocery items. I asked him to come up & take payment also. I requested Sharma to give a large peg to Bhajani. Sharma looked at Bhajani & then me & I nodded yes. He poured a large one for Bhajani who by now had squatted on the floor just outside of door. I gave Bhajni my plate with a piece of omelette. Bhajani gulped down quickly & disappeared in to the rain & darkness. 

Sharma was not happy on sharing the drinks with Bhajani. He gave a long lecture on Bhajani being a Dom & how the likes of him were not to be treated at par with ourselves. After all there were rules & regulations in the society and in our religious books which must be followed otherwise society might collapse. He said 'You will go back to Delhi & we shall be left to deal with these people here everyday. We can not allow this'.

Thereafter Sharma left. That evening I washed plate & glass used by Bhajani. 
   
Hills & Valleys

Meerut a short write-up

Meerut is situated about 70 km north-east of Delhi & is well connected with roads & rail. Meerut district was created in 1818 under British rule comprising of Meerut , Ghaziabad, Mawana, Sardhana, Hapur & Baghpat. Ghaziabad & Baghpat are now separate districts. ( Update - I understand Hapur is also a separate district now.)

Meerut cantonment is spread in 3500 hectare & was established in 1803 by British East India Company. Meerut district has an area over 2500 sq km (Delhi is nearly 1500 sq km) & population of approx 35 lacs as per 2011 census.

Being close to Hastinapur, Indraprastha & situated in Doab region between Ganga & Yamuna several legends are associated with Meerut.

Having shifted to Meerut I was keen to know the history of the city. Following information has been gathered from internet, history books etc. Your comments are welcome.

* This area was under the rule of King Maya (or Mayasura) & hence the name Mayarashtra or Maya-Dant-Ka-Khera which over a period of time became Meerut. The King Maya had a daughter Mandodari who got married to Ravna. It is believed that Mandodari used to worship Goddess Chandi in Chandi Devi temple in Nauchandi ground.

* Another story is that Shravan Kumar carried his parents on his shoulder behngi for pilgrimage & stopped here for rest. While he was taking water in a pitcher, the sound so made was mistook by King Dashrath as that of a deer drinking water. He shot an arrow towards the source of sound & killed Shravan Kumar instead of dear. Parents of Shravan Kumar cursed the King that he would also suffer & die due to separation from his son.

* Another version is that King Yudhishter awarded the area to Mahi an architect who built a palace in Indraprastha & hence the name Mahirashtra or Meerut.

* The name is also attributed to King Mahipala of Indraprastha as this area fell under his rule.

* Alamgir, Meerut had a settlement which is considered to be the eastern most part of Indus Valley Civilisation.

* During the reign of Emperor Ashok (273 - 232 BC) it had been a Budhist centre . One of the Ashoka pillars was found here. Pillar was ordered by Firoz Shah Tughlaq (1351 - 1388) to be carried to Delhi & installed at Ridge near present day Bara Hindu Rao Hospital / Delhi University.

* In eleventh century part of Meerut was ruled by King Har Datt of Bulandshahr which is mentioned in Ain-i-Akbari. He built a strong fort He was defeated by Mahmud Ghazani in 1018. It was regained by local Hindu Raja shortly thereafter.

* In 1192 Qutbudin Aibak a general of Mohammad Ghori attacked & looted the city

* In 1398 came the devastating invasion of Timur (also called The Lame due to hip injury) despite tough resistance by Jats & Rajputs at Loni fort. From there & from Delhi Timur took & massacred 100,000 prisoners as per his own write ups in Tuzk-e-Taimuri.

* In 1788 Marathas took over from Ghulam Kadir despite stiff resistance. In 1803 Marathas ceded the area to British as soon as they captured Delhi.

* In 1857 began the Great Indian Rebellion against British East India Company in Meerut. The cartridges for use in new Enfield rifle were pre-greased with beef tallow & pork lard. To load the rifle cartridges had to be opened by mouth which proved offensive to both Hindu & Muslim sepoys & sowars. Over 2000 Britishers & about 2500 sepoys of 3rd Bengal Light Cavalry were stationed in Meerut at that time.

On 24-04-1857 Lt Col of 3rd Cavalry ordered 90 of his men to perform firing drill with new cartridges. 85 of them refused & were court marshalled . 74 were punished with 10 years imprisonment & 11 younger ones five years with hard labour. The condemned prisoners were stripped of uniforms, shackled & marched to jail as all other troops at the station watched them.

Next day Sunday 10-05-1857 as the news spread, Indian troops revolted & there was general unrest in the city & Britishers were attacked. Kotwal Dhan Singh Gurjar opened the gates of jail & 85 sepoys & 800 other prisoners were freed. Lot many Britishers were killed. 'Delhi Chalo' movement started towards Delhi next day. Thus began the first attempt to be free of Britishers.




Banking in India - a brief note

Trading & merchant banking in India date back to ancient times & find mention in Vedic period ( 2000 - 1400 BC) literature also. Money lending, debt & interest has been mentioned repeatedly in various epics. Manu the law maker also wrote about the Vaishs earning interest through loans & accepting deposits etc.

During the Maurya period( 321 to 185 BC) an instrument similar to a Draft or Bill of Exchange called Adesha was used for payment to third parties. Merchants used references or letters of credit for purchase of goods. 

Arthashastra by Chankya also mentions traders receiving deposits & extending advances & playing some role in the economy. During Moghul period also desi bankers played vital role even in times of war for procurement of arms. 

Modern age banks started in 18th century. Bank of Hindustan was the first bank to open in 1770 in India (& which folded up in 1829). Bengal Bank was the first bank to allow use of cheques in India.

Savings accounts were opened by Presidency Bank in India in 1830.

British East India Company by it's charter established three banks in India in 1806 - Bank of Calcutta ( which became Bank of Bengal later), Bank of Madras & Bank of Bombay. In 1921 these were merged to form Imperial Bank of India which became State Bank of India in 1955.

State Bank of India is the first bank to start mutual funds in India.

Comptoire d'Escompte de Paris was the first foreign bank to open office in India in 1860 & HSBC landed in 1869.

Oldest joint stock bank Allahabad Bank was established in 1865 & is still working. Another joint stock bank Punjab National Bank wholly owned by Indians & result of Swadeshi movement was established in 1895 in Lahore. As of now it is one of the largest banks in India.

The Reserve Bank of India was established in 1935 & was nationalised on 01-01-1949. Banking Regulation Act was enacted in 1949 which gave power to RBI to regulate, control & inspect all the banks in India. 

Bank of India opened first overseas branch of an Indian bank in London in 1946.

In 1969 central government issued an ordinance - Banking Companies ( Acquisition & Transfer of Undertakings) Ordinance 1969 & nationalised largest 14 banks with effect from 19-07-1969. Another six large commercial banks were nationalised later in 1980. 

In 1993 government merged a nationalised bank New Bank of India in to another nationalised bank Punjab National Bank which is one & only merger of its type so far. 

Policy of licensing was liberalised in 1990 & new banks like Global Trust Bank which was later amalgameted in Oriental Bank of Commerece, UTI Bank now Axis Bank, HDFC Bank & ICICI Banks were started. ICICI Bank was the first bank of India to allow internet banking.  

As of 31-03-2013 there were 151 commercial banks in India with 1,10,000 branches.

First bank to issue credit cards in India is Central Bank of India. Debit cards started in India in 1988. Presently 13 crore cards are said to be in circulations as per Wikipedia majority of which are debit cards. 

First ATM was installed by HSBC Bank in 1987 in Mumbai. As on 31-03-2013 number of ATMs in India is a little more than 114000. Considering the size of population & geographical spread of India a lot more ATMs are required.
Growth in economy requires more banks

Lost & found - purse

In January last year we were in process of shifting from New Delhi to Meerut. The flat we purchased in Meerut was being white washed, electrical gadgets & new furniture was being added, & old items were being polished. Simultaneously arrangements for marriage of our elder son were also in progress. Both shifting to a new place & to prepare for marriage was tougher than we had imagined it to be.

To organise a Indian wedding requires enormous amount of patience, energy & of course cash. Now the Indian wedding also requires that parents of the groom be as well dressed as the groom for the grand occasion. And father of the groom must also go to a good saloon to have all sorts of repair, denting & painting done to face & hair which was a bit too much for me.

With labour working at new flat it was getting difficult to leave the house & look for a good saloon in the city. So I decided to make a dash at 7.30 in the morning into the first available saloon. Had a trimming paid him off & came out. I hurriedly lifted the sweater I wore & put the purse in side pocket of kurta & pulled the sweater down again not knowing that the purse had not entered the pocket but had fallen on the roadside.

Saloon is Open
On reaching home had a bath & while getting ready found that the purse was missing. I hastily retraced the steps, asked the security guard at the gate & barber also but no sign of purse. Came back worried, frustrated, trying to recall the contents & to consider further action. Purse contained Delhi driving license, a credit card, two debit cards, few unpaid bills of carpenter, a joint photo & rupees nine thousand odd in cash but no visiting card to show my contact number.

We lost the hope of finding it back but wished that at least driving license is retrieved somehow. Reputation of Meerut being a city of many criminals added to discomfort. We were getting ready for lodging complaint when the mobile phone rang. It was Kapoor saab from Pensioners & Retired Persons Association, New Delhi. I had become a life member of that Organisation about a month back by paying Rs. 1k. I recalled that the receipt was also there in my purse. Kapoor saab asked:

'Are you in Delhi or in Meerut? Please note down a mobile number of one Garg saab who has called from Meerut. He says that he has found your purse.'

Well Mr Garg turned out to be an Asstt Engineer in a state government deptt. He said that he examined the contents of the purse. Only phone number available therein was on the printed receipt of Pensioners & Retired Persons Association New Delhi & he contacted them. Kapoor saab also responded very promptly & purse was back in pocket in an hour & ten minutes.

I have saved number of Mr Garg in my mobile phone as Garg Purse Wale.
All is well that ends well

Inauguration blues

There is a news in the newspaper today that Mandi House Metro station is ready but launch is postponed due to non availability of a neta for inauguration.

Fact of the matter is most of the netas are preoccupied with their horoscopes or sitting in poojas or consulting hand-readers, face-readers, fate-readers due to elections. Some of them have even obtained Kundalis of rivals to compare their fates as well.

Now this reminds me of a similar situation I faced when I was posted as branch manager in Jhumri Talliyya. The branch had installed a new ATM which was to be inaugurated by our Regional Manager popularly known in our friends' circle as The Baldy. He was nearing 58, short of height, with bulging beer belly & with no hair on his head which led to an affectionate nick name The Baldy.

Matter was discussed over a cup of tea. He desired that inauguration be kept for following Tuesday morning at 9.30. VIP account holders, traders around the branch, branch staff, government officials, police officials, journalists, local MLA & MP be also invited. High tea for VIPs shall be arranged in the manager's cabin menu of which was settled. Rest would be served under  tent properly decorated near the ATM.

He hinted that he always cut the red ribbons with silver scissors placed on a silver platter.

'Yes sir and the occasion demands an appropriate gift also sir' - I replied.

He smiled approvingly.  

On Saturday The Baldy informed that he had been called to Head Office & inauguration was to be postponed. After coming back from HO he fell ill & function was postponed again. After he resumed his duties his wife fell ill so he went on leave & function got postponed for the third time.

Meantime HO annoyed on delay, intervened. They ordered for quick action or else. Red ribbon was cut by the District Commissioner of Jhumri. Of course the silver scissors, silver platter & silver statue of Lord Ganesh went to District Commissioner.

After a couple of days The Baldy confronted me - 'Hmm, so you were in too much of hurry for inauguration. No?' 

'Not me sir. Guys at HO would not listen to me sir. The machine was already activated by them sir'

'But you listen to me now & get yourself activated. Where is my silver scissors, silver platter & silver Lord Ganesh?' 
  
Getting ready for inauguration

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Dog catcher

In a transferable job one gets postings in far flung unknown places inhabited by different people with their different languages, clothing styles & food habits. if you are living in one part of India where certain type of clothes or food items are in vogue & considered the best, the same may not be applicable in some other part of India. That is the diversity which needs to be appreciated & even enjoyed. Easier said than done though.

From Delhi I got posted to a remote branch under North East Region, Guwahati. Compared to dusty & crowded Delhi, it was refreshingly green, less populated & less polluted. Within the districts of each state there & within the seven states of North East there are differences in languages, dialects, clothing styles, food habits etc. 

The branch I was heading had normal banking business those days. But somehow it was a peon-cum-guard who was causing headache in day to day functioning. His duty included inter-alia opening the vault, taking out heavy cash metal box in the morning & putting it back in the evening & locking up the vault. He would take leave for a day but would disappear for days. On some occasions he won't even inform anybody in the branch & take a few days off. His salary was never paid for a full month because his leave remained exhausted. No amount of persuasion & counselling helped. To make alternate arrangement one had to look for some other guy on payment which was another headache.

So one day I landed at his place at about 8 in the morning to get first hand report. A small house in the village accommodated his parents, himself, his wife & five school going children. He himself was not there & there was a language barrier also. His wife called a neighbour for interpretation & the matter was understood.

They were always short of money & for a few rupees more he resorted to catching stray dogs in the night. For this purpose most suited time was midnight to 4 am during which dogs slept most peacefully. He would throw wet jute bags on them & catch. These dogs were then sold in nearby tribal areas for meat. Black dog was considered a delicacy & meant bonus which was more than a day's salary.

That's why he needed to sleep during the day!




Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Boss gets a designer Kurta

My boss is the Regional Manager of 27 branches in Jhumri Talliyya region & has his office right in the middle of the town. View from his office window shows a crossing crowded & full of variety of vehicles like tonga, buggi, rickshaws, bikes, autos & cars blowing their horns & all trying to race ahead ignoring traffic police man as far as feasible.

In the heat of May - June & humidity of July - August those who are stopped at crossings by traffic police men feel like in hell. They start sweating, cursing & then overtaking from left, right or centre as fast as they can. Though our traffic law is simple enough - left is right & right is wrong but heat takes your patience away. And the electricity failure in traffic lights adds to the discomfort as traffic man takes his own time to allow you to pass.

Left is right & right is wrong!

This was not new to our Regional Manager who had faced many transfers across India & was used to heat & dust of the towns. Let me introduce him. You see he is 55+, short, with large beer belly & bald. That's the reason we call him The Baldy out of love & affection of course. So when suggestion for an outing & that too boating in the evening in a Jheel just outside of Jhumri was made to him, The Baldy promptly accepted with delight. Mr Singh dropped a hint about arranging chilled beer during boating, Mr Gupta was ready to arrange veg snacks & Mr Rajput agreed to organise fresh fish bar-be-cue right there for the boss.

Mr Sharma felt that he ought to add something or the other to the party or else he would be left out of race in forthcoming interview. He gathered his wits & thought hard. Suddenly he declared that he would like to see the boss in designer kurta - pyjama while boating. The Baldy was delighted & so was Mr Sharma.

The Baldy was enjoying the boat ride with can of beer in his right hand with his left arm dipping in the cool water of Jheel. He was enjoying indeed. He would take a sip of beer & then would attempt to row the boat with left arm. His left arm was completely wet by the time he was out of boat. The party was enjoyed by all & was a smashing hit.

About a week later The Baldy casually mentioned to Mr Gupta that there was something strange about that kurta. Left sleeve of kurta has shrunk & is now shorter than right sleeve. Even after a wash & ironing left one is short & right one is long. How's that?

Mr Gupta informed Mr Singh, who informed to Mr Rajput & who informed to Mr Sharma. These days Mr Sharma is a worried man. Can you help him?   

No traffic signal here, enjoy the ride