Kulvinder Chawla

I know
I am not
your love
the drought struck
land of my heart
yearns for
a drizzle of
of your love
to moisten
its parched
I know
I am not
your love
then even
each night
your dreams
knock at
the threshold
of my sleep deprived eyes
and sing a lull – a – by
I like a child sleep
in the swing
of your arms
I know
I am not
your love
But when
sets in
the naughty Spring
cosmos conspires
and Cupid’s arrow
hits hard
On my icy lips
I feel
the warmth of
your breath
that melts me through
I know
Love is
neither achieved
nor lost ever
Love is lived
and I live my love
in my yearnings,
in my dreams
in my fantasies…..

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Kulvinder Chawla

you stepped
into my life
took you
for breeze
walked into
in your arms
in ecstasy
submission full
dreaming elysium
lovelorn blind
shaken shocked
dashed to ground
a truth unkind..
A storm
you were
usurped the
once mine
my heart leaving
a barren land
bareft of shine….

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Amanat for a hundred years

PC Sharma

IN his nineties and standing ramrod straight at 6 ft is Balwant Singh, a veteran soldier of World War II. He fought on several fronts in Europe and also in El Alamein, but more significantly, he remembers his role as an Army soldier when he, along with a handful of other Army men, saved many lives — Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs — during the Partition.

After completing his service in the Army, Balwant Singh settled down in his village. A daily visit to the gurdwara and interaction with friends set the tone of his life. Often, he used to regale his friends with war stories, when Hindu, Muslim and Sikh soldiers fought together, as of one nation. Never a thought crossed their minds that their communities would be fighting one another during the Partition that followed soon. He laments the cruel incidents of conflict that occurred then, as much as the gruesome incidents of lynching and killing of persons on sectarian beliefs these days.

Nostalgia overtakes him and he fondly reminisces the life lived in his village in the midst of all communities. But above all, he remembers his childhood friendship with Mir Deen, a pious Muslim.

Mir Deen left for Pakistan during the Partition. At the time of parting, he came to bid farewell to Balwant Singh. Also, he entrusted him with a heavy bundle wrapped tightly in a thick piece of cloth. About its contents, no questions were asked, no answers were given.

Balwant Singh’s siblings, and later his children — ever curious about the contents — were never permitted to touch it, not even dust it. They often said Mir Deen would not return. Why not, then, see what the bundle contained? Forbidding them, Balwant Singh used to say, ‘Amanat is amanat, and its life is not less than one hundred years’.

A day came when Balwant Singh’s son was returning from his fields and was stopped by an elderly man. There was no doubt that he was a Muslim — Mir Deen himself. He asked the young man if he knew Balwant Singh. He told him that Balwant was his father. The visitor jumped with joy and thanked Allah. Impatiently, Mir Deen asked him to take him to his house. Fighting hard to control their emotions, the two childhood friends met after 30 years. The entire village turned up to welcome Mir Deen.

After a few days, Balwant Singh gave Mir Deen his amanat. He dusted the bundle, and not believing his eyes, saw his valuables — in fact, his treasure — intact. His eyes welled up with tears. In shukrana, it was time for him to leave. Both embraced each other, echoing as it were, the famous line of poet Iqbal — ‘mazhab nahin sikhata aapas mei bair rakhna’.

Source Link: http://www.tribuneindia.com

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A big world in a shell

Siddharth Oswal


I WOKE up to the alarm at the break of dawn and after freshening up, dragged myself to the gym, half a kilometre away from my place. Summer had started in earnest, but this time of the day was reasonably pleasant. I entered the gym, and like always, started my hourly stint with the treadmill. Slowly, but steadily, I picked up pace. The guy on the treadmill next to me suddenly stopped and said, ‘Excuse me?’ I looked at him, a little surprised, and still panting, said, ‘Yes?’

‘Are you Shama’s fiance?’ he asked. Astounded, I almost fell from the treadmill. Not only was he right, but also because of the following facts: Since my birth, 26 years ago, I had lived and grown up in the same town, Ludhiana. It had been only a couple of days since I had got engaged. And my wife-to-be was born and brought up in the national Capital, a good 300 km away. She had been to my city on very few occasions. Given these facts, only I know how confounded my state of mind was — being recognised as so-and-so’s fiance in my own hometown, that too at this hour of the day, and of all the places, a gym! Moreover, it was a little demeaning. The guy had, after all, attacked my individuality, albeit unmindfully.

It took me a few seconds to regain my composure. Still gaping, and with my tone clearly reflecting bewilderment, I replied, ‘Yes, and you are?’ ‘I am her batchmate from school,’ he said nonchalantly, stretching out for a handshake. This statement of his gave me another shock. So, my next obvious question was: How come he was in this city? He told me that a foray into the hosiery business had brought him here a few months ago.

But then, how did he know me! ‘Oh well, Shama and I are friends on Facebook and a few days back, she had posted a picture of you and her together, with a caption suggesting that you are engaged to each other!’ It took me a moment to digest this explanation before I shook hands with him.

I thought how the advent of the Internet and the use of social media had changed the face of the world. How, by the use of this platform, the world had shrunk really small. How the big wide world had been reduced to a shell. How it had changed the way we connected, and more specifically, how we got introduced to people! We have begun to lead a second existence in this virtual world called social media.

With these thoughts still meandering in my mind, I jogged back home and the first thing I did was to call up my fiancee and ask her to remove our picture from Facebook, lest I get floored by another acquaintance of hers.

Now, more than five years into our marriage, her friend and I occasionally bump into each other at public places and social gatherings. His mere sight rings a bell. Of course, we are now ‘friends’ on Facebook too!

Source Link: http://www.tribuneindia.com

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Lost and found in translation

Lt Gen KJ Singh (retd)


WITH the installation of Mulayam Singh Yadav as the new RM, there was a flurry of activity in South Block. The policy section of the Military Secretary’s (MS) branch had the onerous responsibility of briefing the new RM on HRD-related issues. While briefings were a regular occurrence and standard briefs were available, the challenge was of a different kind — the RM had to be briefed in Hindi. We had heard of the much-quoted ‘old wine in new bottle’, but my challenge was to literally serve ‘som ras’. It was also being watched with some interest by others as it was the first in series, and as they say in the forces, with no ‘PCK’ — previous course knowledge — on the issue.

Unlike the current apps, which make switching to Devanagari easy, we had to hunt for the elusive New Delhi font and install it. This had to be complemented with putting stickers on the keyboard to correspond to Hindi letters. An even bigger challenge was the process of official translation, which seemed to be progressing at slower than a snail’s pace. A chance encounter with the minister’s PS, coupled with an old association of flood relief from his SDM and my subaltern days, resolved the problem. It was clarified that the minister preferred working Hindustani over Sanskritised one. There being no officially mandated agency for this, we were on a roll, it was as if IMFL instead of ‘som ras’ will also do.

Such high-powered briefings have restricted attendance and one problem was to get my boss in. Like a good subordinate, I volunteered to sit out, but he knew the perils of dealing with moody computer technology. So, he opted to stay out and let me be on the chopping block. The real and bigger threat for me was my annual confidential report (ACR), which was with the boss.

Just before the briefing, we were told that RRM, Mr NVN Somu, will also be present. He belonged to Tamil Nadu and his parents were the leading lights of an anti-Hindi agitation, and had even been jailed for it. He didn’t know Devanagari. We had a new emergency on our hands. Luckily, I was carrying a printout of our original briefing in English and my boss could now be injected as a translator to assist the RRM. The briefing passed off well, both ministers, chief and MS were pleased and the boss was thrilled.

In the lighter vein, it was ultimately the good old English wine served along with ‘som ras’ that saved the day, for me at least. It may also be a lesson for those in a hurry to discard English.

Source Link: http://www.tribuneindia.com

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The day mighty Windies were humbled

My first byline after almost 16 years in journalism. Write-up on the ’83 World Cup win published in Feb 2015.

Rakesh Chopra, Former  Assistant News Editor, Hindustan Times

Rakesh Chopra, Former Assistant News Editor, Hindustan Times

As another cricket World Cup is upon us, I am reminded of the 1983 World Cup final when my love for cricket began with India’s victory over the mighty West Indies.
Those days, television was not common in small towns. We had to depend on the radio for entertainment. As a 12-year-old living in a small town in Himachal, I could make little sense of the cricket commentary in English being aired on radio and used the medium for listening to Hindi film songs.

On a sultry afternoon on June 25, I had ample time on my hands owing to the summer break at the boarding school which I had joined recently. I had not followed cricket till that day, let alone stay abreast of India’s exceptional showing in the tournament in England. I was blissfully unaware of the Indian team prevailing over the great West Indies in a group match and Kapil Dev’s marathon effort against Zimbabwe when he had singlehandedly taken India out of a hopeless situation.

But that afternoon, there was a buzz that India were just one step away from cricketing glory. There was an excitement in the air: can India pull this off? Day-and-night cricket was still a few years away but the time difference between India and England had reduced it to a virtual day-and-night affair and people eagerly awaited the big one to start.

I also wanted to have my share of the fun and decided to go to the place of an acquaintance who had a TV set. Seeing the rush of people gathered to watch the match, the owner placed the black-and-white TV set in the courtyard of the house.

I don’t remember much of the Indian innings except that Srikkanth scored 30-odd runs and was the highest run-getter in that low total of 183. At half-way mark, a few silent prayers went up, while others were hopeful of India crossing the mark. Soon, the gathering erupted into joy as Balwinder Sandhu claimed Greenidge early. Richards was going great guns and threatened to take the match away from India when the young Indian captain ran quite a distance backwards to take a stunning catch. Then it was the turn of Mohinder Amarnath to tease the Windies lower order with his slow-medium bowling. It was just a matter of time as wickets fell in quick succession and India romped home.

There were boisterous celebrations into the night as Kapil Dev lifted the Cup at the Lord’s. As Jimmy Amarnath was declared Man of the Finals, he became my favourite cricketer. The win had turned me a cricket fan for life.

Source Link: Hindustan Times

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Remembering extraordinary Brig Kataria

His infectious smile, positive aura and compassion for the poor will be missed

Col DS Cheema (retd)

Brig ML Kataria (retd) with Haryana Governor Kaptan Singh Solanki (right). FILE PHOTO

Brig ML Kataria (retd) with Haryana Governor Kaptan Singh Solanki (right). FILE PHOTO

Brig ML Kataria (retd) passed away a few days ago. Touching 96, I did not expect him to go as yet because he was no ordinary man whom death could claim so easily. He was the kind of man Chandigarh was fortunate to have as its citizen. My association with him goes back to 1999 when I was the principal of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan’s Dayanand College of Communication and Management. On a Sunday morning in winters, I had two surprise visitors at my home. Maj-Gen Bachittar Singh (retd), whom I had met a couple of times, introduced his companion, a towering man donning a cap and standing ram-rod erect, as Brig Kataria. I clearly remember how the presence of these two tall men made me conscious of my short height.

As we chatted in the soothing warmth of the sun, enjoying cups of tea my wife had so lovingly prepared, I began to warm up to this very descent and modest man with an infectious smile. I felt awkward and humbled to go through the professional profile which he respectfully placed in my hands. He asked me whether he could be engaged as a part-time faculty for teaching marketing management or any other subject. I felt proud to offer the job to as qualified and eminent a man as him and requested him to join the college the very next day.

It was in later years that I learnt he was working for the sick and the poor in the tricity. Invited to the polyclinics in which he worked. I was always surprised at his zeal and commitment towards his patients. He would leave at 8.30 in the morning, had no time for an afternoon nap and would leave home immediately after lunch. He woud return after 6.30 in the evening.

He amazed all with his cheerful disposition and energy, even when he was on the other side of 90. It is only appropriate to remember him as the ‘Saint of Slums.’ We shared space on many occasions at seminars and workshops. He was miles ahead of me in age and scholarship, and more importantly in qualities of head and heart. I was always overawed by his presence.

He encouraged me to explore new avenues of professional excellence and offered to review my book “Getting more done in less time” which was published in The Tribune with my over-sized photograph.

He always addressed me as “Sir” to my huge embarrassment. One day I requested him to stay back after his lecture for a cup of tea with me. I asked him not to “Sir” me. He said he did it on purpose and would continue doing so because, being the college principal, I was his senior.

Never late for the session, he never left the classroom a minute before the scheduled time. On special occasions when I offered to send a vehicle to pick him up, he declined the offer, preferring to use his own Ambassador car.

He helped arrange my meeting with RS Mann, the then Chief Secretary of Punjab, to be the chief guest at the college convocation ceremony. But for Brig Kataria’s intervention, Mann, known to be media shy, would not have accepted my request. RIP Sir. Thousands of your fans will miss you, and above all Chandigarh will miss you.

Source Link: http://www.tribuneindia.com

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