Archive for February, 2017

Wired and wireless Friends

Once again ‘friendship day’ is  here  like every year. And  the social  media  is  agog  with messages  of  friendship giving various  definitions as to  how  ‘friends  help  each other’ and   ‘friends are  forever’ and how  ‘caring and sharing ‘ is  a part  of friendship.

As a kid I  had  many friends in my coloney  where I lived   and  everyday we  used  to  play,  talk, and even fight . But by  next  day  we had forgotten everything   were  friends again. We  had  never  heard  or read  about  the  definitions of  friendship. Nor  was  it told  to us by our  parents , teachers  or elders. We  just  knew it; friend  meant  ‘you have  priviledge  rights  over  him’ . You  can  call him  at odd times, you  can borrow  a  copy  for doing  your home work,  you  could  even take  his  scooter  for  a ride,  you cud unhesitatingly borrow  money and  even  forget  about  paying him back till he asked  for it and  so on . We  were all wired through a thick  and  unbreakable cord of faith, resolve and unconditional  love for  each other. Our  parents  hardly bothered  to intervene  in our friends circle. And   if someone asked  how  many frends  you have? The quick reply would be, ‘so many’  which if elaborated  would mean  five or  six, some  would  answer  eight  to ten,  exceptions  may go  upto fifteen or  twenty.  Beyond  that even  the human mind  cannot focus on  interpersonal relationships .  The word  friend meant the person  about whom you know  everything and would vouch for him and his trust at all times.

With the coming in of  social media   this ‘unwritten but practiced concept ‘  of friendship began  to  change. A  number of  new  categories of friendships have mushroomed like ,  friendship with a  common interest, friendship for venting out feeling, friendship to  fight loneliness, friendship for  just  exploration, friendship for  duping purpose, friendship for  satisfying  lust, and the list  of motives  is not exhaustive. The social media of today has   defined  a unique  paradigm of  friendship  where  you  haven’t even met  your  friend  and  yet you  promise   friendship and all the corollaries  which  are  attached  to  the word ‘friend’. This  type of  friendship can  best  be called  ‘wireless  friendship’. And as  the  name suggests  wireless  connections  are  very tenuous. They  are always  susceptible to twists  and turns of  events in life  and   can  snap at  small ripples and  ruffles  leading to emotional   breaks. Inspite of its  shortcomings  this ‘wireless friendships’ as it may  be called    mushroomed initially through the social media of Orkut, followed  by the ubiquitous Facebook and now  with the omnipresent  Whatsapp.

And today  you  ask a person as to  how many friends does he have? The answers  runs into hundrends and  thousands. The  definitions and  promises  are  rampantly  circulating in  the social media but there is  no  cord  of faith, resolve and unconditional  love connecting these wireless friends.   He sits  inside his room and  chats  and  makes promises to  hundreds  but when he  needs help  there is  no one  to give him company,  or  share his feelings. The number of friends  has  increased in multitudes  but  the feeling of  loneliness unfortunately  has multiplied exponentially. My hypothesis is not theoretical  it can be  tested by one and  all. Try it out  yourself today and  you  will understand the  depth of your own wireless friends. Send  an SOS to your  1000 friends  on Fb or Whatapp that you are in ‘shit’ and  need  urgent help , except from those  few  wired  friends  of  your childhood  what  you will get  from the ‘wireless  friends ‘ of today will  be tons of  rhetoric and lots of  sympathy.

Long live Friendship and Friends!

The Sunrise Club

THE  SUNRISE  CLUB

By- Mohinder Pal Singh

 Vikram , son  of  an  IAS officer  of Maharashtra Cadre,  had  just moved in   from  a small  town of Hingoli  where  his  father  was  the  DM  for last four years. He  was studying  in class  V  in   a  small  convent  school  run  by  the  local church. Coming  to  Delhi  was  a  big  shock for  the  little boy  who had  become so  used  to  the  small  town  living. He  could  only  communicate  in Marathi  or  English. From  friends and teachers in  his  school to friends  and  relatives  of  his  father  and  mother  all  spoke  Marathi  or  a little English.  Now  staying   in  an  IAS  officers’  colony, he  had heard  his father  tell  his  mother  to  quickly  get  familiar  with   some Hindi and  punjabi  words  as  they  were  now in  Delhi  and  this  would  be  necessary   for  her  to  mix  up  in  the  social  circles.

 

One  day  when  Vikram  was  playing  in  the  central  park of  the  colony  where he  saw  a   a  chubby  boy  playing  football  with some friends    . Vikram  desperately  wanted  to  play  football  as  he  used  to  play  in  his  school at  Hingoli.  While  he  was  gaining  courage  to  go  near the  chubby  boy, he  saw  him   gave  a hard  kick  to  the  ball and suddenly   the  ball came  very  near  to  Vikram. Vikram  took  the  opportunity  and  kicked  the  ball  well towards the  chubby boy.  It  was  indeed  a  good  professional  kick. The  chubby  boy  stopped  the  ball smartly,  stood  akimbo with one foot  on  the  ball, looked  at  Vikram and  said,“Good kick”.

 

“ Can  I  play  with you” Vikram  lost  no  opportunity  to propose.

“ Sure” . pat  came  a  reply  from  the  chubby  boy.

 

Now  there  were  four   boys  and so  they  made  two  teams  of  two  each. Chubby  boy  and  Vikram  were  in opposite  teams  and  at  the  end  of  30 minutes  of  play  both teams were locked 2-2.

 

They  shook  hands.

 

My  name is  Nischay  Singh and  I study  in  class  VI in  Modern  School. What  about  you?”.” asked the  chubby  boy  .

 

“I  am  Vikram  and  would  also  be  going  to  class  VI  but   my  father  will  enrol me  in  a  school  when   the  schools  open  after  the  summer  break.”

 

“Great, would  you  come  to my  house  now to  play  computer  games?” Asked  Nischay. Being very  friendly   by  nature Nischay  never  lost opportunity to  make new  friends.

 

“  Sure , nowdays  I  have no  friends here” said  Vikram. He  was  glad  that  Nischay  could  speak  good  English  like  him.

 

BOTH  START  WALKING  TOWARDS   NISCHAY’S  HOUSE   WHICH  IS  ACTUALLY  THE  NEXT  DOOR  FLAT IN THEIR BUILDING. VIKRAM  SEES  HIS  MOTHER  IN  THE  BALCONY  AND  SIGNALS  TO  HER  THAT  HE  IS  GOING  TO  HIS  NEW FRIEND’S  HOUSE.

 

They reach   the  playing  room of Nischay  and  both are  soon  engrossed  in computer  consols. They seemed  to  have  instantly comfortable  in  each  others  company. After  a  while  Vikram  gathers  some  courage  to  ask  Nischay  something  which  has  been intriguing  him since they  met  in  the  park.

 

“Can I ask  you  something “ said  Vikram.

 

“Sure  friend  , go  ahead” answered  Nischay. Nischay  had  a  habit  of  calling his  friends  as  ‘dost’, rather  then  their  first name. It  was  only  when three  four  friends  were  around  and  he   wanted  the  attention  on some friend  in  particular  only  then  he  would  use  his  first  name.

 

“Why  do  you  tie  a knot  of  hair  on  your  head  and  why  have   you  covered  it with  a  cloth? Though  you  look  smart  , but  don’t  you  cut  hair  like I  do ?” He  asked  innocently.

 

Nischay  thought  for  a  moment. Then  said,“because  I  belong  to  a  religion  called Sikhism. All Sikhs  have unshorn   hair  and  beard” answered Nischay. “Though I  have  no  beard  now, but  once  it grows   I  will  keep  it   and  not  shave” answered  Nischay  confidently. “We   worship  the  holy   book  called  GURU  GRANTH  SAHIB. Which  is  kept  in  a  holy  abode  called a   Gurudwara,  which  is  akin  to  your  temple  where  you  have  a  deity. My  father  has  taken me  to  a  temple  too.  And  you  know  the Guru  Granth  sahib  contains writing  of  6  Sikh  Gurus  and  15  Indian Sufi  Bhagats (who belonged  to all religions  and  castes). Have  you  heard   of  Bhagat  Kabir, Ramanand , Namdev etc?” Nischay  carried  on  non-stop  . He  loved to  talk and  he  rattled  out  whatever  his father  had  told  him  about  his  religion.

 

“ Yes , I  have  heard  of  Namdev  Ji, He  is  a  Maharashtrian and in  our  community   we  revere  him.” answered  Vikram.

 

“Great, his  contribution in  GURU GRANTH  SAHIB  is  63  verses. I have  heard  our  Gurudwara  priest  sing the  hyms  of Bhagat  Namdev  ji  and  also  once  narrated   his story about  how  the  upper  caste  Brahmins  ill-treated  him and  how the  God  came  to  the  rescue of Namdev ji.  .” Said  Nischay.

 

“ I  can’t  believe this-  You  mean  sikh   Gurus actually  honoured  the  people  of  other  communities so  much  that  they  included their  verses in  their  holy  book  along  with  their  own  verses? This  is  an  act of  unparalled reverence which  I  have  never  heard.” said  Vikram  completely awed at  this revelation.

 

“ Vikram,  my  father  told  me  when  we  bow  our  head   in front  of  Guru  GRANTH  SAHIB  in  The Gurudwara  we  are  actually  bowing  our  head   to  all the  31 apostles whose  hymns are   included in  the Holy  book” said  Nischay.

 

“Would  you like to  visit our  Gurudwara   and  see how  we  worship  and  sing  the  hyms  of  all  the  saints and gurus in  the  same chorus . Incidently  , nowdays  we  are  having  a  very  nice  preacher  who  comes  to  gurudwara   every  day  to  tell the  children   about  the  sikh  history and  heritage” added Nischay.

 

“For  the  next  one  week  I  am  totally  free so  won’t  mind at  all and  incidently  your  religion  really  intruiges  me.” said  Vikram.

 

In the  evening  when  Nischay  told  his  mother  that Vikram   will  come  with  him  for  the  morning  class  at  Gurudwara,  she  was  not  happy at all. She  said, “why  are  you  taking  him? What  will  he  understand  of  our  religion?”. Nischay was adamant, “he  will, he is  my  friend, I  will take  him”.  His mother  turned  her  face  away  not  liking  the  comment of her  son. ‘Of late  Nischay  was  becoming  very adament’ she  thought. ‘He  just  does  not understand.’

 

The  same  story was  taking  place  at  Vikram’s house  where  Vikram’s mother too  was   not  comfortable   with  her son going  to  a  Gurudwara.  But  Vikram  said, “Mom  he  is  my friend  and  he  is  taking  me  to  a  good  place. Let  me  explore”.

 

 

Inspite  of  their  mother’s reluctance  Vikram  came  to  Nischay’s house  on  time  and they  were both dropped  by  Nischay’s father   to  the  Gurudwara..

 

AT THE  GURUDWARA  NISCHAY  SHOWED   VIKRAM  AROUND  THE  GURUDWARA  BUILDING AND   THEN THE   GURU GRANTH SAHIB KEPT VERY  RESPECTFULLY  IN  THE GOLDEN PALANQUIN.

 

Nischay  then  took  Vikram to  a  hall  where a Preacher was   telling  the  children about  the  writings in  Guru Granth Sahib.

 

“ Guru  Granth  Sahib  was  compiled  by  the  fifth  Sikh  Guru  Sri  Guru  Arjan  Dev  Ji in  the  year 1604 and   was  given  a  reverend  place  in  the Golden  Temple on  15  Aug 1604.. And  children  do  you  know  who  laid  the  foundation  stone  of  the  first  sikh  gurudwara- The  Golden Temple?” asked  the  Preacher.

 

“Sain Mian Mir” said  Nischay raising  his arm. He  remembered  his  father  telling  him  this  name  during  their  visit  to  Golden  Temple   few  months  ago.

 

“A  muslim?” Vikram  whispered  in Nischay  ear.

 

“ Nischay ,  is  right  Saint  Mian   Mir  was  a  very renowned  Muslim Fakir of  his  time  and  had  a mass following  in  those  times. After  he  had  come  in  contact  with  the  guru  ji  he  had  developed  profound respect  for  the  Guruji’s teaching which  revolved  on respect  and  patience  towards all  religions”. Said the  Preacher.

 

“Children it  is  easier said  then  done. It  was  a  time  when  caste , creed  and  religion  had strong  beliefs.  Our  country was  torn  between  wars  fought  on  basis  of  community  , religion and   castes. Social  evils were  rampant.  Women were  looked down upon. It  was at  this  time that  the  Fifth  Guru  ji  compiled  a  HOLY BOOK   which  had  teaching  of   saints  of  all  religions  and  castes. People  could  not  believe  that  the  sikhs  would  actually  worship a  HOLY  BOOK  WHICH WAS SO  SECULAR   IN  ITS  CHARACTER”. He  added.

 

“ Uncle please  tell  us  why  people  were  surprised  at  the  character  and compositions  of Guru  Granth  Sahib?” asked  a small  girl   Jasnoor  Kaur.

 

“ Because  at  that  time  there  was deep  hatred  and  difference  among  the  Hindus  and the  Muslim rulers of  the  country.   Among  the  Hindus a  big  ravine  between  the  upper caste  and the  lower  castes.  But  GURU GRANTH  SAHIB  contained  the  verses  of  the  following  :-

  • Muslim peer and  saints-  Sheikh  Farid,  Bhagat  Bhikhan ji, Mardana ji
  • Upper caste bhramin saints- Ramanand ,ji, Trilochan ji
  • Lower caste Hindus- Namdev Ji and Ravidas Ji
  • Farmer – Bhagat Dhanna ji
  • King turned Sadhu – Bhagat Pipa Ji
  • Butcher – Bhagat Sadhna ji
  • Weaver – Kabir Ji

 

“So , children  you   see  what  more  evidence  of  secularism  do  you  want  in  today’s context. This  was  possible  because  Guru ji  felt  that  there  is  only  one almighty  GOD  , hence  if  any  body  is  a  true  muslim  or  a  true  Hindu  his  faith  would  converge toward  a  attainment  of a  common goal  with  God.” He  said.

 

“ Uncle , You  said  women  were  not  treated  properly  in  the  society. What  did  Guruji  say  about  that.” asked  Jasnoor.

 

“ Very  Good  Question  , I  am  happy  you  all  are  paying  good attention to  my  lessons. Guruji  wrote  in  so  many  places  Guru Granth  sahib about  the   equal  treatment  of  women  in  society. He  said  if  God  has  created  both  of  them   then  how  can  one gender  be  better  then  other. He  also  shunned  the  prevalent practices  of  female foeticide, Sati  and  child  marriage.”he said.

 

“I  think  I  will  finish  today’s   lesson  here.  Tomorrow  we  will  talk  about some  important  verses from  the  HOLY  BOOK  AND I  WILL  EXPLAIN  THE MEANING  OF  THEM  TO  YOU WHICH  WILL   FURTHER SUBSTANTIATE   THE  SECULAR   FORM  OF THE  GURU GRANTH  SAHIB. Anybody  wants  to  ask  anything  about  what  I  have  covered today?” He  said  closing  his talk.

 

A  hand went up   from the rear  seats. Nischay  was  surprised to   see  his   friend raise his  hand.

 

“ Sir, who  is  the  author  of  Guru  Granth  Sahib?”

 

“A very  good  question . And the  answer is  everyone whose  verses  are  there. Though  Guru  Arjan  Dev  ji  compiled  and  edited it. He  never claimed  the  authorship  of  this  HOLY   BOOK. The  36  persons  who  have contributed  the  verses  are  as follows-  Six  Gurus  , 15  contemporary  saints,  11 Bards  of Guru and  2 devoted  Sikhs  of that time.

 

 

At the end of  the  class  Nischay  took  Vikram  around  the  Gurudwara  and  they  also had   parshad  given  by  the Head Priest  who  blessed  both of  them alike  . Vikram  likes  the  parshad  and  wants  one more  helping. But Nischay  says  why  not  come tomorrow if  you  are  free. Vikram agrees.

 

 

 

 

 

II

 

Next  week  Vikram  gets  admission in  the  same  school    and  the  same  class as  Nischay  and  both are  really  upbeat about it. They  are  both  very  happy  as  they  would  be  going   in  the  same school  bus from  today.

 

After  about  a  month  in  the  school   Vikram  makes  a new  friend  by  the  name of  Gulshan  Ali who travels in their  bus.  Ali  is  from  a  very  simple  family  and carries with him rich  values. Both  his  father  and  mother  are  teachers in a  public  school. He   lives  just  across  the  road  and  boards  the  Bus  from  the  same  Bus  Stop  everyday.

 

After  they   became friends , Ali  shared  with Vikram and Nischay   that before  this  he  was  studying  in  a Vedic  School   and  he  knows  more  about  the  Hindu  religion then would  Vikram. He  challenged  him to  ask  him any  question  from  the  Ramayana or  Mahabharta.

 

“ Ok , I  accept  your  challenge, but  before that I  will ask  you  two  facts  from  your  religion too” said Vikram which  intruiged  Ali.

 

“OK go  ahead” muttered  Ali.

 

“Ali  , do  you  know  who  is Sain Mian Mir?” asked Vikram flaunting  his newly  acquired  knowledge.

 

Ali  is  taken  back  at  the  question.  He  had  heard  this  name  from  his  father  but  could  not recollect  the  context in  which  it  was mentioned.

 

“ No  I  will  ask  my  father.” He said sheepishly.

 

“ Oh, he was  a  great  muslim  Pir  who  was  revered   by  both muslims  and  Sikhs.” answered Vikram with a smile.

 

“ How  do  you  know?. Asked  Ali, feeling  belittled  by  the  knowledge  shown  by  Vikram.

 

“ I  also  know  that  a  sikh  Guru  had  given him  the  highest  honour  of  laying  the  foundation  stone  of  the  Golden Temple. The  highest  seat  of  sikh  religion.” he added

 

“ And now  my  second  question to  you  is,  who  was  Sheikh  Farid  ji?” Vikram  fired  his second  salvo at Ali .

 

Ali  rocked  his  brain, there  was  familiarity  with  this  name too  but  he  could  not  instantly recollect anything. So guiltily he declined.

 

“ Oh ,  he  was  a great  muslim scholer of  the  sufi era. His  verses  are  even recorded  in  the Holy  Book  of  the  Sikhs . –  THE  GURU GRANTH.  Imagine  Ali , the Sikh Gurus  included  his  verses  in  their  Holy  book. What  an honour. All  Sikhs  bow  their  head   to him.” Said Vikram.

 

“ Now  should  I  ask  you  questions  about  Hinduism?” asked  Vikram.

 

“ No, No”  said  Ali with  arrogance  gone  they  became  good  friends. In  the  break  they  played  together and  Vikram  also  introduced  him to  Nischay. Nischay  invited  Ali  to  come for   playing  football with  them  in  the  evening in  the park.

 

Next  day after  a   game of football in  the  evening,  Ali  Invited  both  Nischay  and  Vikram  to  his house. He  said  his  father  would  like  to  tell  more the  about   Sheikh  Farid  Ji  and   Sai Mian Mir.

 

Ali’s  father  , Mr  Nawaz Ali  was  very  renowned history  teacher and  a person who  had love for history  as  a passion.  These  questions  not  only made  him happy  but  also gave  him  a  chance  to  show  his  indepth  knowledge of  the  subject. This was  the  first  time that  his  son  had  shown  interest  in  his  subject. Till now  Ali  was  always  interested  in   his  mother’s  subject  and that was  Mathematics.  He called  his wife Nafisa  and  daughter Soha  and told  them  to  join  the  children  . He  then  began  his  discourse.

Mian Mir was a friend of God-loving people and he would shun worldly, selfish men, covetous Emirs and ambitious Nawabs who ran after faqirs to get their blessings. To stop such people from coming to see him, Mian Mir posted his disciples at the gate of his house.

Once, Jahangir, the Mughal emperor, with all his retinue came to pay homage to the great faqir. He came with all the pomp and show that befitted an emperor. Mian Mir’s sentinels however, stopped the emperor at the gate and requested him to wait until their master had given permission to enter. Jahangir felt slighted. No one had ever dared delay or question his entry to any place in his kingdom. Yet he controlled his temper and composed himself. He waited for permission. After a while, he was ushered into Mian Mir’s presence. Unable to hide his wounded vanity, Jahangir, as soon as he entered, told Mian Mir in Persian: Ba dar-e-darvis darbane naa-bayd (“On the doorstep of a faqir, there should be no sentry”).

Pir Mian Mir, whose mind and soul were one with the Lord, caring little for the emperor’s angst, replied in Persian: Babayd keh sag-e-dunia na ayad (“They are there so that the dogs of the world/selfish men may not enter”).

The emperor was ashamed and asked for forgiveness. Then, with folded hands, Jahangir requested Mian Mir to pray for the success of the campaign which he intended to launch for the conquest of the Deccan. Meanwhile, a poor man entered and, bowing his head to Mian Mir, made an offering of a rupee before him. The Pir asked the devotee to pick up the rupee and give it to the poorest, most needy person in the audience. The devotee went from one dervish to another but none accepted the rupee. The devotee returned to Mian Mir with the rupee saying: “Master, none of the dervishes will accept the rupee. None is in need, it seems.”

“Go and give this rupee to him,” said the faqir, pointing to Jahangir. “He is the poorest and most needy of the lot. Not content with a big kingdom, he covets the kingdom of the Deccan. For that, he has come all the way from Delhi to beg. His hunger is like a fire that burns all the more furiously with more wood. It has made him needy, greedy and grim. Go and give the rupee to him.”

Mian Mir, holds a pivotal legendary place in Sikhism and in Sikh history. Sikh Children and Sikh people around the world learn about him, his spiritual contribution . In 1588, The  Fifth  Sikh  Guru  invited Mian Mir to lay the foundation stone of Harmandir Sahib..

In 1606, the fifth  Guru Arjan Dev was implicated in the affair of Prince  Khusraw, who had rebelled against his father, Jahangir. Guru  Arjan  was imprisoned in the Lahore fort and tortured by  Jahangir’s men. When Mian Mir heard about it, he came to see the Guru. He found Guru Arjan calm and serene, having completely resigned himself to the will of God. Mian Mir suggested to the Guru whether he should intercede with Emperor Jahangir on his behalf. The Guru forbade him saying that God’s will must have its course unchecked, as it was not proper to interfere with its working.

Mian Mir’s Mazar (Mausoleum) still attracts hundreds of devotees each day and he is revered by many Sikhs as well as Muslims.

All  were  spellbound  at  the  indepth  knowledge   of  Ali’s   father. He  continued , he  had  to  show  them  today, his  years  of  labour  had not  gone  in  vain. So without  skipping  a breath  he  continued.

And about  Sheikh  Farid  ji:- listen

Hazrat Baba Fariduddin Masood Ganjshakar commonly known as Baba Farid was a 12-th century Sufi preacher and saint of Punjab. He is recognised as the first major poet of Punjabi language. Baba Farid is considered one of the holiest and pivotal saints of Punjab. He has been honoured by the Gurus of Sikhism by his verses being collected and compiled in the Sikh holy Guru Granth Sahib .   Baba Farid died during Namaz.   His darbar is in Derh Pindi, and his name is Khwaja Sheikh Muhammad Paak Gareeb Nawaz.

 Nischay  and  Vikram  were spellbound  at  the  sea  of  knowledge shown  by  Ali’s father. Ali  too sat  alongside them feeling  proud  of  his  father.. After  his  father  had  finished  his  verses, Ali asked,“ Father, Sikhs , bow  their  head to  Guru  Granth  Sahib which  contains the  verses  of  Baba Sheikh  Farid  Ji?”

“ Yes, My  children  at  that  time  this  was  the  greatest  secular  holy  book  ever  composed. It  was  an unmatched  teachings of  Muslims, Hindus ,  Sufis  and  the  Gurus  themselves.  The  Gurus  had  culled  the good  teachings of  all  religions  and  trail blazed  a path  of :-

  • Religious tolerence.
  • God is one- almighty-invisible-invincible-omnipresent.
  • Worship of the  formless
  • Attainment by narrating the The  praises of the  guru and  the  invisible  god.

Ali’s mother  now  brought    hot  soup  for  all of  them. After  devouring  the  soup they all left.

Sunday was  always a   special day  for  the  ‘three  musketeers’ as  they  were  labelled  in  the colony as they  would  be  always  seen  together. They  would  get  up early,   go  for  a  football  game. After    sweating  out  for an hour  they  would  not  come  home. They  would  head  for  the  big   Garden  across  the  road  and  sit  on  a  bench  and  watch  the  early  morning  sun and  the chirping  of  the  birds. Here  they  would  plan  how to  spend  the  rest  of  Sunday. One day they decided  to call their  friendship ‘ The Sunrise Club’. They  would  only  leave  the  bench when  their  mobile phones would  show “Mummy Calling” .

Once  on a   Sunday  and  they  all had  a  game  of  football in  the  morning  and  then breakfast  at  Nischay’s  house. Nischay  introduced  them to  his  elder  sister  Deepjyot,  who  was  studying  in class XI.  Nischay’s  mother  who  is  from a small  town  of  Punjab  is  not  happy  as  to  why  Nischay’s  is  becoming  friendly  with  boys  from  other  faiths. “today  he  has  brought  this  muslim  boy” she  whispered  in Deepjyot’s ears. “Oh so  what  Mummy, they  are  friends” answered Deepjyot.   With  a  frown  on  her  face  she  served  breakfast  to  all the  three  boys. Nischay’s is  seeing  the  frown  on  his  mother’s face  but  enjoying  the  breakfast too .

“ Nischay  , would  you  like  to  bring  your  friends   to  the gurudwara  today ? there  is gurupurab celebrations . There  would be  recitals  about  the  gurbani  and langer(community  food).” asked  Deepjyot.

Nischay’s  face  lit  up  on  hearing langar. He  not  only liked  to do  sewa( service) in the  langer  but also  liked  the  eat  langar.

“ what  is  langer?” asked  Ali  while eating  aloo-parantha.

Langer  is  food cooked in  the  community kitchen of  the  gurudwara” answered   Nischay.

“It  is  cooked  with  cleaned  hands  and  clean  mind. While  you are  cooking  the langar (food  for community) everyone  is  reciting hymns. Like  this  the food  is  cooked  with  purity of  mind  and  soul. It  is then eaten   by sitting  together on  the floor. And  let  me  tell  you it  is  so  yummy  that  everytime  I  end  up over-eating” Added Nischay.

“Really” said  Ali  and  Vikram their  tongues   already  salivating  while  they  were  hearing  the  description .  They  were  both  tired  of  their  mothers  humdrum menu at  home .

“Will they serve  ice cream too?” inquired  Vikram.

“Saiwaya?” Asked Ali

“ In  our  Gurudwara   they  always  serve  hot  rice Kheer  which  is  laden  with  dry  fruits   as  pudding” said  Nischay.

“Nischay  , So are  you  coming  “shouted  Deepjyot from  the   other  room.

Nischay  looked  at  his friends. They  both  nodded  their  heads  in an   affirmative gesture.  On their  way  to  Gurudwara  both  the  boys  informed their  mothers  that they  are  going  for  a  feast   with  Nischay.

Once  they  reached  the  Gurudwara,  deepjyot  took  them to  where  the  Langer  was  being  cooked.  The  priest  incharge  of  the  cooking  section  stopped  the  kids. He  told  Deepjyot, “these  boys  are  very  small,  they  may  burn  their  fingers  etc”.

“Uncle  , they  will  only do the  ferrying  service. i.e  shifting  the  cooked   food  to  the  storage  space  or  they  will  knead   the  floor” Deepjyot  said.

After doing  some  service ,  that  they  all sit  to   eat  langar   and  the  rice  kheer laden with dry fruits. After  that they preferred  to  walk  home as  they  have all over-eaten.

The  friendship  of  this sunrise club  continued  unabated for  years  and  they  learned  to participate  in  various  festivals . Its   Id  celebrations  at  Ali’s  house  and  visiting  the  local  Id  mela  with  Ali parents. When  Dusherra and  Diwali  came  there  was   Ramlila  to  be  watched   by all of  them .  Every Dusherra Vikram’s  father  takes  them  to  the  Ground  where  the  effigies  of  Rawan , Kumkaran and Meghnath were burnt, where he  reminded them that   good  wins  over  evil . For  all   festivals  the    children  always  roped  in their  parents  too  in the  celebrations. Their  mother’s  too had  become  good  friends and     used to be   busy   admiring  new  suits  and  saris  and finding reasons  to  go  for  shopping together.  The  father’s  too started to share the   common  cribs   about their offices. After  the  office/ boss issues  were  exhausted they often shared some  national  and  international issues  and  lament about the state  of  affairs. The sunrise  club had  changed  the outlook of  their  parents  too.

Like this the  three  children  continued  to  grow into  good secular  citizens  the  nation  needed.

Vikram  became  a  Senior  Bureaucrat like his father, Nischay served in Foreign service  and  Ali  became an effluent  businessman. They  continued  to travel  across  the  globe  but  would  often meet  whenever  they were home .

After  fifty   years  of leading  their fast-paced lives  they all settled  back in Delhi in a Senior  Citizens Society near Lodhi Road. Every day  they  would  go  for  a  morning  walk and  not  go  home after  they  finished  walking. They would  sit   on the same old  bench at Lodhi  Gardens where  they used  to  sit and  had  formed  the ‘Sunrise  Club’.  They  still  love  to  chat  and  watch the rising   sun till  their mobiles  shriek  “Wife Calling”. They would  stop their nattering and  rush homes  in their  chauffer  driven  cars before  their  wives  could  ring  up  their chauffeurs  to drive home without  the  Sahab.

(this story is  an outcome of  inspiration  drawn from the  book  ‘ The Sunset Club’ by Khushwant Singh)

GENERAL BODY MEETINGS

17334187656857General  Body-Meetings

 

As I entered the classroom I found that there were only five girl students sitting on the last row of chairs . On seeing me they all  turned around  and then there was a sudden hush-hush talk.

“I think , he is a new student in our class.” I could hear some voice in between giggles.

I moved in and sat on the first bench. Opened my bag and took out a notebook. And tried to look into the blank  black-board  on  the wall . I knew that in college  Zoology as  a    subject  generally had few boys but here it seemed there were no boys in  the  class. Its going to be very difficult, I thought. I had come from a  boys school and was very uncomfortable in front of girls. Here the giggling from the rear  benches seemed to have moved closer. I think the girls had moved ahead. From the corner of my eye I could see that they were now occupying the row of chairs just one row  behind mine. Being first day in the college in Mumbai I was actually worried about being ragged by the seniors but here it seemed the situation was worst. I looked at my watch nervously and pat came a comment from the rear.

“We still have 5 minutes for the class” the pun was accompanied with a laughter.

The class room was very small room with just five rows of six chairs each. The chairs had a book rest on which one could write. I Thought there is no point in sitting here in the class, let me wait outside and let the girls have fun alone. Why should they have fun at my cost. So , I got up to move out of the class room , and suddenly a girl got up from the rear row and came to me.

“Hi I am Minal” She said and extended her hand for a shake.

I was taken aback at this intrusion. Till now I had never shaken hands with a girl. It was not so common in small town culture from which I hailed. Even if we wanted to do it   in our heart of hearts , the girls would not appreciate it and our extended hands  would remain extended in thin air only . So we never extended our hands in thin air infront of girls. Here I had a delicate hand in front  of  me to  be  shaken and as I looked up , a pretty face .

I was tempted but I was scared.

How  it would be to shake hands with a girl?  I did not know the  answer. Everybody seemed to be watching as there was a pin drop silence from the rear benches. Almost five seconds passed in this stalemate and the nubile hand was in front of me.

“Come on, I am not a untouchable. This is apartheid” She commanded.

I could not decide what to do. So I left the decision to my hand.

“Hi, I am M Joined the college today”. I replied and my hand decided to stay in the pocket only. I wanted it to come out but it held steadfast to the principles which the master had taught him for years. I respected the decision of my right hand .

The nubile hand  widrew slowly. And then another girl got up and came ahead.

“Hi I am Yasmin” said the second. Without extending her hand.

“Hi , I am Arpita”said the third

“Hi I am Geeta”said another .

Then the last to come ahead was seemingly the ring leader of girls. I could see from gait of confidence about her.

“Hi , Do you believe in General body –Meetings?” She said curtly giving me a sly smile and looking at others simultaneously.

“Which gereral body meeting? Departmental?” I said innocently.

“No I mean just general body-meetings” She said trying to be serious.

But just then my eyes quickly scanned the other girls and they had kept a hand on their mouths and were laughing.

It dawned on me what she was hinting at. But I didn’t want to get my leg pulled further so I showed ignorance.

“I don’t know” .I replied.

“tch, tch … so sad” she said looking at her friends.

“Whats your name” I asked the gang leader.

“You will come to know by yourself”. she answered arrogantly.

“Leave him , yaar, he will learn. Today is his first day.” said another one and they all went back to their chairs.

The teacher walked in and just behind him came in two guys and another girl who were standing outside in the corridor. The class started.

So in the next one week or so the class attendance was complete and we finally had a class of four boys and six girls. Among  the  classmates there was a  permanent pair of  a  boy  and  a  girl who would walk hand in hand all the time. And then another boy called Louis, who   had his girlfriend from some other class and would most of the time keep bunking . And the third boy called Dinesh was too busy all the times in his books and his goal was already set i.e to study in US so he talked of only how to crack  the GRE and so he was too boring for the girls. And that left me , whom they had given up on the very first interaction   because I was dumb and didn’t know the meaning of general body-meetings. For a number of days they maintained an ice wall.

But as the semesters passed  by  the interaction increased,  as we had to do lot of projects together. The ice wall began to melt , albeit slowly. My shyness also reduced to some extent and I started to communicate more freely. Me and Dinesh became good friends and sometimes  in the lab we both and the five girls would sit together and chat freely. Being a small class there was interdependence in terms of sharing notes and doing projects. I also came to know the name of that girl ; the gang-leader , she was Sandra. Sandra was a  bit softer now but still had her arrogant airs. Gifted  with good looks  and     fair  complexion she  knew  she  could pull crowds. Though she  was   slightly plump but  that  did not  dither  her  confidence  . She was always engaged in troubling teachers when she was not troubling the co-students with her sharp remarks.

The year ended well and Dinesh and I scored first and second position respectively. The girls too were not far behind and generally the class as a whole had done very well.

The next year my father was posted out of Mumbai and so I shifted to the hostel. The boys hostel was within the main building of the college campus. It was a five storied building with twenty rooms in each floor. All rooms were on twin sharing basis. I was sharing the room with a boy from the arts stream for whom enjoyment took far greater priority over studies. His father was a rich person and was sending him adequate money to enjoy  life in  Mumbai. Each one of us had a bed , a study table and a Cupboard all in one line along the length of the room touching respective side walls. One end of the breadth had the door and the other end two large windows. Now Paarjit , my  roommate had spicy tastes and he had a large collection of posters and centre page pin-ups from Playboy and Debonair magazines. On the very first day he displayed his collection on the wall above his bed. And along the bed he had pinned a six foot poster of his most favourite Hollywood actress , offcouse in bikini. In the manner that  when  he would sleep on the bed they would both be juxtaposed. Room Number 55 (our room) became the hot spot of the hostel and all the boys would come and admire Paarjit’s collection. He soon became a Hero of the hostel. On the opposite side my wall gave a deserted look. He told me that he can lend me some posters if I wanted but I said it is fine without it.

Second month in the hostel, one day Paarjit requested me if I could stay out of the room from 1 PM to 6 PM . I asked why did  he need the room to himself?.

“Are you going to do some more pinning up?” I asked.

“No, I am going to get my girl friend to the room. We wish to spend some time together.” He said.

“But girls are not permitted inside the boys room. You will get caught”. I said.

“Hey , you don’t know the customs of the hostel. Tomorrow is last Saturday of the month and is called ‘open day’ in the hostel. Girls , parents, sisters all are permitted from 9 AM to 6 PM in the rooms. Wake up, Mike(as he used to call me)”  He said.

“Oh, I see” I replied.

“So you getting your GF , eh? Why you need the room for 4 hours she can see it in ten minutes?” I said. It was my turn to pull his leg. I had a chance to pull the leg of the Hero of the hostel. Now I understood why he had decked up the room.

“Come on Mike, be a sport ,yaar. I have to help her with some project work. You know she is from first year class. Please yaar”. He pleaded.

“Ok, enjoy yourself Buddy.” I said and he gave me a big smile as to say how considerate I was to help him do the project of his GF.

Within a month of the first open day of the hostel the word spread in the college also. Somehow it reached the girls of our class too. One day when me and Dinesh entered the class in the morning we found the girls looking at me and giggling.

“ Am I wearing something funny?” I asked.

“No , No. when did we say that? said Minal.

“Then why are you laughing? I asked. My doubts were rising.

“nothing” they said.

“ok , then carry on laughing , if there is nothing”. saying this I moved to my seat in the front row.

There was a sudden silence at the rear benches where girls were sitting.

“No, there is something we want to ask you, Mr M”. Spoke Sandra.

“Oh, but you said there is nothing? I said. I never left any opportunity to pull  Sandra’s leg. Though she seldom gave  others a chance as it was she who would be teasing us most of the times.

“All this while you have been fooling us, eh. You are not so simple as you look. No?” She said.

“What do you mean? What have I done?” I said. I turned back to face them.

“We came to know that you have pinned up very spicy posters in your room.” She said amidst fresh giggles from her friends.

“So?” I replied.

I was enjoying this chat now. I didn’t want to defend myself yet by saying that my part of  the wall was  still  barren.

“We all want to visit your room” She said.

I was taken aback at this. I did not expect this. I thought they would just tease me and I would also just enjoy it. But this request was tricky.

“That is only possible next week when there is ‘open day’ of the hostel.”I said.

“Wake up, M , today is open day. Don’t try and dodge us , Ok?” said the gang leader Sandra .

OMG they had done  their homework, I thought.

“I will take you next month , today my room is in a mess” . I tried another trick.

“Never mind the mess. We just want to see it for a short while” She said.

I looked at Dinesh. He was smiling too. I understood this information has been leaked by him. But now I had to handle it myself.

“Ok , lets go.”  I said.

“Now? , Immediately?” Now it was their turn to be shocked.

“Yes”. I am ready.

The reaction from the girls was slightly slow but they all got up.

Within minutes we were at the reception of the hostel and then the lift. I pressed the button and the lift door opened.

As girls started to move towards the lift I stopped them and said. “All of you can’t go together. I will take you one by one”

Saying this I softly caught Sandra from her wrist and said, “first I will take Sandra to my room then all of you one by one”.

All girls were looking at Sandra now as to how she would react to the situation.

“ Why you want to take me  first?” She said . First time I could see an amalgamation of apprehension and innocence in the eyes of the gang leader.

“Because I have just decided to start believing in General Body-meetings ” I said looking into her eyes .

She jerked her wrist .

“Nooooo” she shouted and ran out of the hostel door.

Me, Dinesh and all the girls could not hold back our guffaws had a big big laugh standing there. They knew I had settled my score with her.

That day we  all went back to the class smilingly.

Next year i.e in my final year my roommate was changed and the walls were neat and clean again. I invited all girls from my class for a small party in my hostel room. And we all enjoyed. Sandra was there too. In her true form again. And there was no General body-Meeting held.

  1. All charcters in the story are fictitious, though the incident on which this is based is real.

 

FAIR WEATHER FRIENDSHIP

FAIR WEATHER FRIENDSHIP

 

Friendship is a very pious word and has a history which is replete with instances of sacrifices and self less devotion to each other. Its a concept which has a very deep meaning and a very labyrinthine dimensions. Two important dimensions of this word are Purity of thought and purity of action . In simplification this means that you can’t deceive your friend and you must not even nurture bad thoughts about ignoring a friend. And one another important but hidden dimension of this word is tacit help which you must render to a friend in need. The classic example of this is the friendship of Shri Krishna and Sudama. Krishna helped Sudama so tacitly that Sudama never felt hurt or low in front of Krishna.
But Alas!, lets view the friendship  patterns prevalent today in the society. All of us have different groups of friends around us. Like the Computer Administrator we allot them with different rights and privileges and off course different passwords of our life. We tend to disclose our secrets also in different quantum with different categories of friends. So now lets see these categories of friendship groups.

Job Friends . These are our friends in our work place . Whom we purport to be very close as long as we are in a particular job. We say that we are very close but we share only some secrets related to our work, boss or our peers in the work place. We party together , drink and eat together but seldom share our personal life with them. In today’s fast-pace environment they drift away with our shifting of job/ location . Thereafter its only Hi ! and bye! on a social networking site.

Internet Friends. Now this is very recent phenomenon . Though its roots can be linked with pen-pal ship of yester years. Germinating due to attraction,  common interest or common hobbies seen through a not-authenticated profile and photographs of a person only on The Net. Even without meeting a person you grade him as a friend and start sharing some very shallow information about yourself. Both ( now so called friends) are hiding behind a façade and show to be very emotional about each other. But both want to keep their true identities hidden. Due to fear from parents , spouses or due to fear of revealing their own true identities. This is friendship in its worst ever form. It does not fullfill even a single dimension of the purest word called friendship.

  • Chat friends. Oh , this is another form of shallow friendship which is floating around. Internet Chat Rooms, Mobile chat Rooms enter a chat – room and you have so many friends welcoming you. Exit from there and you are alone. Everybody wants to listen only happy messages. Everybody wanting to listen to romantic , chirping and cool talk. Nobody wants to listen if you start to share your problems.

    Friends in Relations. The fourth category is also friends who purports to be very close are times very dangerous because they are privy to your certain secrets which you would generally would not like to share. Now these friends are watching you very closely and every move of mistake of yours is well dissected in the broader family. So lots of people are vary of them too.

    So what happens when we are in turbulent waters? or in real need? Do we go to friends in social sites, chat rooms or to our True friends. Friends, whom you have never met in person , friends who are reluctant to share their true self with you, friends who only want to chat with you on romantic lines and shallow promises and dreams are what I call as Fair weather Friends. Undoubtedly in times of need our true friends will only come to our rescue. But believe me the younger generation has been so badly enamoured by this concept of virtual friendship that they invest all their time in nurturing this virtual friendship. They seldom read and practice the concept of true friendship. They seldom learn to care and share and help others in the time of need . Before they realise how harmful is the effect of this friendship it will be too late. Sitting inside a room in front of a screen and feeling that you have 500 friends is nothing but a false fallacy . Its time that we coin a new term for this kind of a relationship. May be net-pals would be more appropriate term.

    I feel such a pious word Friendship has been badly been mutilated by the social sites/internet.

Now closing my quip with the last word on fair- weather friends.

Well they were always there in everybody’s life , but the only thing is now-a-days there are rather too many of them floating around . And for such people making and dumping friends is no big deal. When they need you they will beckon you in every possible way . When you no longer mean of any value to them they turn their faces away.

Hence, beware of FW friends and invest in true friendship. True friendship takes time to mature, you have to take pains to mature it properly.

As always I am reminded of a true story.
I visited a friend (a classmate) after 20 years and after exchanging niceties I enquired about his father. He took me outside his house and sitting under the tree were a group of six oldies , all with shinning white hair and engrossed in gleeful talk( not internet chat).
When I asked, “ Uncle, Do you remember me?”. He said “Off course, Beta you were my son’s best friend in School”.
“Uncle how are you?” I asked.
“Oh, you can see how happy we all are” Saying this he looked at his friends and they all smiled and nodded in agreement.
He then introduced me to his five friends ( all above eighty years  of  age) and all of them had smiles on their faces which were suffusing with bliss and contentment .
“ Mohinder , in our  younger days when people were desperately  investing their time  only  to earn more money we six were investing in our friendship by helping each other in all spheres of life and see now how we are reaping the dividends of that investment here under this tree. We pray, we chat, we lament, we stay together.

Son, if you invest in true friendship today, the dividends will be unlimited happiness in your old age. Investing too much in Money will only bring loneliness and worries”.

This was his parting advice to me.

Who is worthy of your true love?

Old  quips  like  ‘love  is  blind’ and  ‘love  is  unconditional’ are  needing  a    re-look  today.  A  quick  talk  with  the  various  spectra of  society  leaves  the  listener  bemused  at  the  intermediaries  which  seem  to  have  seeped  into  this four  letter(erstwhile pious)  word in  this  fast-moving 2k society.

The moot  question  which  I  posed  to  all I  spoke  on  this  issue  was:-

Who  is  truly worthy  of  your  love in  life?

And  the  options   which  I  attached  to  the  question were:-

  • One who loves  you, but  you  don’t ?  or,
  • One whom you  love  but  he/she doesn’t? Continue reading