Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Stumped and Out

Today was very unusual day in many ways. A very very wet September evening, with rains, winds and lightening. I thought Gods must be angry today. And He seems to be. Anyway, only god knows what He is thinking.

After reaching home, completely drenched, of course, and a hot cup of tea, I settled down and opened my favourite HT newspaper, I was stumped to see the headline on the first page: Have sex, Indian cricket team told. This headline and the the news story completely stumped me, and made me smile.

And, later while having dinner with family, I was allowed to swap news channels in-between the dreadful soaps to catch some news. I was unlucky to hit Times Now button on remote and watched Mr. Arnab Goswami, Editor-in-Chief interviewing Mr. Raj Thackeray. Only the questions of Mr Goswami were in dear old English and answers of Mr. Thackeray were in Marathi. It made for few minutes of fun watching, most for my children who do follow Marathi, but it made me Out. I know some dear soul will make a YouTube video of it and I will certainly post it. Just to share the fun.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Yesterday I happen to be walking by near the Flora Fountain, Bombay. On an impulse I thought I will check the pavement second-hand booksellers to see if I can get a rare P.D. James book. And I was lucky, I was able to get her first book, Cover Her Face. I had asked a bookseller if he had any P.D. James book, and he replied no, but they had an almost complete set and someone had purchased it just a few days ago. I felt dejected. And the person called me back, as I turned to go back, and handed me over the book Cover Her Face saying that one copy of this book is left and would I be interested? My dejection turned into happiness instantly. I have been on the lookout for this book for many weeks. Barely containing my excitement, I said yes yes, of course, and I purchased it, immediately. Now my P.D. James Library is growing slowly and steadily. The following is the list of books written by P.D. James :
  1. Cover Her Face, 1962 (have, and currently reading :) )
  2. A Mind to Murder, 1963 (did not have, yet)
  3. Unnatural Causes, 1967 (have and read. The first P.D. James read by me)
  4. Shroud for a Nightingale, 1971 (have and read)
  5. Maul and the Pear Tree, (co-author) 1971 (did not have, yet)
  6. An Unsuitable Job for a Woman, 1972 (have and read)
  7. The Black Tower, 1975 (have and read)
  8. Death of an Expert Witness, 1977 (have, yet to read)
  9. Innocent Blood, 1980 (did not have, yet)
  10. Skull Beneath the Skin, 1982 (have, yet to read)
  11. Original Sin, 1995 (have, yet to read)
  12. A Certain Justice, 1997 (have and read)
  13. A Time To Be In Earnest, 2000 (did not have, yet)
  14. Death In Holy Orders, 2001 (have and read)
  15. Devices and Desires, 2004 (have and read)
  16. The Murder Room, 2004 (did not have, yet)
  17. A Taste For Death, 2005 (have and read)
  18. The Children of Men, 2006 (did not have, yet)
  19. The Lighthouse, 2006 (did not have, yet)
  20. The Private Patient, 2006 (read, but not have, yet)
Hope my own P.D. James Library will be complete soon. In the meanwhile, I continue to enjoy reading P.D. James on my train commute.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Goodbye, Gulshanji

Just read the news that Gulshan Bawra is no more. Gulshanji wrote lyrics for many songs composed by R.D. Burman. May his soul rest in peace.

The following lines of Gulshan Bawara, written for song Sanam Teri Kasam, are my all time favourite.

माना के ख़ता मेरी है पर इतनी सज़ा न दे तू
ले पइयाँ पड़ू तेरे सजना अब तो गले लगा ले तू
तेरे दम से है मेरा दम
सनम तेरी क़सम ...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A charming tale

Finished reading `An Unsuitable Job for a Woman' by my current favourite P.D. James. I must say I found this book, though it is a crime thriller, very charming. It features Cordelia Gray, and it is her first case. My heart went out to Cordelia as she tackles her first case to prove a suicide is a murder. Do read this if you get a chance.

Yesterday I visited my favorite bookshop and asked for P.D. James titles. They had none. I then went for a hunt on the pavement booksellers near Fountain in Bombay. I was very lucky to find five PDJ books in very good condition. Needless to say I grabed them immediately. The tittles are: A Taste for Death, Devices and Desires, Death in Holy Orders, A certain Justice and The Original Sin. On reaching home it was difficult to decide which one to begin first. I settled for Death in Holy Orders, which I am reading currently. The title appealed to me for some reasons, maybe because I am an atheist.

P.D. James has now become a habit with me. With so many titles at hand, this monsoon I will be preoccupied both at home and in the train. Thanks P.D. James for writing so well and telling a good story, every time.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Finsished reading ...

Last week i finished reading The Private Patient by P.D. James. This was second James book which I had read. I must say I found it quite engrossing and it made for a good read while commuting. I had borrowed this from a kind blogger, who happens to work in the same place where I do, and had mentioned about this book in her blog.

Now I had become a fan of P.D. James. Last Friday, I purchased, from the pavement stalls, near American Express Bank in the Flora Fountain, Bombay, two second-hand books by P.D. James: An Unsuitable Job for a Woman, and Shroud for a Nightingale (which I am currently reading and is making my train commute a pleasure). These pavement book stalls have many other James books, and I plan to build my complete library soon.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Email Forward

Got the following email forward today.


A store that sells husbands has just opened in New York City, where a
woman may go to choose a husband. Among the instructions at the
entrance is a description of how the store operates. You may visit the
store ONLY ONCE!

You may choose any man from a particular floor, or you may choose to go
up a floor, but you cannot go back down except to exit the Building!

So, a woman goes to the Husband Store to find a husband.

On the first floor the sign on the door reads: These men have jobs and love the Lord.

The second floor sign reads: These men have jobs, love the Lord, and love kids.

The third floor sign reads: These men have jobs, love the Lord, love kids, and are extremely good looking.
"Wow," she thinks, but feels compelled to keep going.

She goes to the fourth floor and sign reads:These men have jobs, love the Lord, love kids, are drop- dead good looking and help with the housework.
"Oh, mercy me!" she exclaims, "I can hardly stand it!"

Still, she goes to the fifth floor and sign reads: These men have jobs, love the Lord, love kids, are drop- dead gorgeous, help with the housework, and have a strong romantic streak.

She is so tempted to stay, but she goes to the sixth floor and the
sign reads: You are visitor 4,363,012 to this floor. There are no men on this floor. This floor exists solely as proof that women are impossible to
please. Thank you for shopping at the Husband Store. Watch your step as you exit the building, and have a nice day!

Sunday, April 05, 2009

1349- pages !

Started reading A Suitable Boy (1349 pages) today. Wish me luck.

The author of the book is Vikram Seth. This book was published in 1993 and I rememberit had good reviews. Naturally, one tends to praise longish book, as one has done superhuman task of going through it. 1349 pages is bit too much for a fiction. It certainly is longest Indian fiction book. I had hesitated to buy this book for long time, I was sure that it will lie in my bookshelf unread. A few days ago, I happened to see this book lying around in an office in our department. On enquiring to whom this belong to, it was revealed to me that the previous owner, who I know was voracious reader, had now left our department, had left this book in case some one is brave enough to pick it up and read it. So far, no one has been brave enough. But I had mustered enough courage to picked it up, and am its temporary owner, until I finish it.

I have braved myself read this book. Maybe I will finish it in two or three months or maybe more. I hope it will be a goodl read. And it will certainly will be a personal achievement, I mean reading it till page 1349.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Too good reads

I recently had two good reads. Let me tell you about them.

The first book was `Six Suspects', by Vikas Swarup, who has earlier written Q & A, which was adopted for movie Slumdom Millionaire. Six Suspects is his second book. I had happened to see a person, for whom I had great admiration, reading this book, and went out and purchased a copy for myself.Well, the story is about a bartender girl who is shot dead, in presence of several people, by son of a minister. And this man is in turn shot dead at a party he has thrown, to celebrates his acquittal of the murder charge. The plot is reminiscent of Jessica Lal murder case, which was in news some years ago. The book made for very good read. The flow of the narration was very smooth and was on track. I read most of the book while commuting to work and finished it on a Friday night at around 1:30 a.m. Well, I must say I was a little disappointed by the end, I wish it could have been different. Anyway, it kept me engrossed for several days.

The second book is `The Unnatural Causes' by P.D. James. A few months ago, I had mentioned to someone, whom I chat regularly at breakfast table in the office canteen, that Arthur Conan Doyle is the greatest crime writer. And the person had shook his head and advised me to read P.D. James. Frankly I had never heard of this writer. Anyway, I happened to spot a P.D. James book at my favourite bookshop and purchased it immediately. The book, The Unnatural Cases, tells a story of a crime finction writer, who is found dead, in a small boat, with both his hands cut. Police Superintendent Adam Dalgliesh, who happened to be on a holiday at the place of the crime, gets involved in the happenings after the handless body is found. It made for a very very good read. I must say I am hooked and am looking forward to reading more P.D. James books. The narration and the characters were so life-like and believable, and the motive for the murder, which I think is the backbone of any crime thriller, was just too good and believable. This book too was finished on a Friday night at 1:30 a.m. Some coincidence.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Early human gets the tiger

During my recent trip to Kanha, the main attraction was a trip to jungle for the tiger sighting. It is called locally as Tiger Safari. It was scheduled for morning of Saturday, February 14. I was really looking forward to it. We were told that the reporting time for the Safari is 5:30 a.m. in the morning. I was quite surprised to know about such an early start time. We were told that the core zone of Kanha National Park is about 8 km away from our resort and we have to drive quite deep into jungle to spot a tiger. I thought maybe an Early human gets the tiger. Anyway, almost all the registered persons reported at 5:30 a.m. in the morning. We were at the Park gate at around 6:00 a.m. It was very cold, maybe around 7 or 8 degrees. The gates opened at 6:15 a.m. and our jeep was allotted a guide. BTW, only locally registered open Maruti Gypsy jeeps, which can seat 6 people comfortably, are given entry inside the park. Once inside the park, a persons is not allowed to disembark from the jeep. Inside jungle we have to follow and respect the rules laid down for us humans. It is a National Park after all.

We begun our journey inside the jungle after a guide was allotted to our jeep. It was still dark. After some time I spotted the Sun between the trees and I was sitting next to the driver, and took the picture. It felt sublime. As the sun came out the cold started receding a little. I kept hoping a tiger may cross any time on our path and we early humans can get a gilmpse of the king of the jungle. No such luck for the next few minutes. We sighted animals such as gaur, spotted deer, peackocks, etc. but no tiger so far. Then we were driven to a spot called Kana Camp where one can alight from the jeep and relieve himself or herself. Here the guide informed us that we will get the information about where the tiger is sighted today. We got down and stretched our legs after sitting in the jeep for more than an hour. The guide informed us a tiger has been sighted today at a place called `Raja Pachchad Talab', and we have to register for the sighting. The sighting will be done riding an elephant. I was excited that we also get to ride on the elephant too, besides having a lookg at the tiger. I told the guide let us register for it immediately. Well, he told me we have to drive back to the Park gate to register for it by paying 100 rupees per Indian and 600 rupees for per foreigner. Why such a disparity. The guide told me the rules are made by higher authorities of the Park. So we drove back to the gate from where we have entered the Park and registered for 6 persons (we were all Indians in our jeep). After half an hour drive, we eached the spot where we saw few elephants. The guide gold us that there are two seater and 4 seater elephants, the small elephant will take two persons and a large one will take 4 persons. Mounting an elephant was quite easy, as a staircase was provided for it. I got on the elephant back with Prithvi who was in our jeep. After elephant walked for a few steps inside the jungle, the mahout pointed to a spot and told us see the tiger.

So here was the king of jungle, sitting and enjoying a good sunshine. He looked at us for a moment and then just looked away. It seems so heavenly to see a tiger sitting there just a few meters away. The picture (left) is the best picture I could get. I wished that the tiger may look again in our direction, but no such luck. The tiger just sat there majestically and seemed indifferent to our presence. The mahout then turned back the elephant, despite our pleas to stop for a few moments more. So I just said a quick goodbye to the majestic tiger and we came back to our jeep. Such a short sighting of the tiger left me speechless for some time. It seemed sublime.

As we were driving back, the guide showed us the pugmark of a tiger on the side the path. He said the pugmark are fresh, maybe the tiger has walked this way in the morning. We could not had a more closer look at the tiger, we certainly had a long look at the pugmark. I still wished our mahout had stopped a few more moment so we could have a longer look at the tiger. Anway, so we drove on but could not spotted another tiger. The guide informed us that the Kanha National Park is home to around 89 tigers, and if we are lucky a tiger can cross our path. We had no such luck. We certainly spotted many deers, spotted and without spots. Here is one such picture of a young spotted deer.

We back back to resort at around 12:00 noon. I will always remember my trip. It was an experience. We all in urban jungle, but to see the real jungle so closely is something which I cannot describe in mere words. One has to see it and feel it. Though I was little disappointed that I could not got a good picture of tiger. It seems many persons who were on different jeeps have the same story to tell. But some were quite lucky. One of the participant, Takeshi, was quite lucky to get pictures of a tiger crossing their path and also some pictures of a tiger at Kanha Meadows. Takeshi also got some pictures of Barasingha (Swamp Deer). With his kind permission the beautiful pictures are given below. Click on the pictures to enlarge.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Goodbye, Mr Shanbhag

I just read the sad news in papers today that Mr T. N. Shanbhag, owner of my favourite bookstore The Strand Book Stall is no more. He died after a brief illness. Strand Book Stall is a unique institution in Bombay. My only hobby is buying books and reading them, and Strand never disappoints me in finding the book which I want. Even if I could not find a book I wanted, I invariably spot a book which appeals to me and I end up buying that. In that way I never left without buying a book. Just a few weeks ago, I visited Strand as I wanted to buy The Empires of the Indus. On enquiring, I was told that this book is out of stock and may be available in a few days. I was disappointed, but was happy when I spotted Six Suspects (which I am reading presetnly) by Vikas Swarup. Strand is indded a treasure trove for book lovers like me. No bookshop in Bombay gives 20 per cent discount on books.

Goodbye Mr Shanbhag. May your soul rest in peace.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Jai Ho, A.R. Rahman and Gulzar Saab

Congratulations to A.R. Rahman and Gulzar Saab for winning Oscar award for their song Jai Ho. We all are very proud for both of you.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Tiger and A Plane

During my recent trips to Kanha, I was looking forward to seeing a tiger in a real jungle and to fly in a plane. Well, I will be writing soon in detail about my trip to Kanha and also tigers and planes, but for now I would like to share the following two photographs, the first one shows the tiger in the place which is rightfully his, and the second one shows me in a plane, on my first real flight.

[click to enlarge]

Saturday, February 14, 2009

me at Kanha

I have been at Kanha since Tuesday, Feb. 10. I am here as a Woorkshop secretary for a workshop organized by our Department. The picture above shows, among the fantastic greenery, my resort room. We are staying at The Krishna Jungle Resort , which is a wonderful resort. It is soooo peaceful here. More later ...

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

A Memorable Evening

On the evening of 4th January 2009, Forever Pancham, a group of true Pancam lovers from Pune, had organized a function on the occasion unveiling of R.D. Burman Chowk on the 15th death anniversary of R.D. Burman. I have been reading the Pancham Yahoo Group for many years now and one of the organizers of the evening, Saiprasad Raut, who is part of Forever Pancham, had sent a post in the group inviting all Pancham lovers for the evening, mentioning venue and time of the function. Being a RD fan, I just had attend the function.

I reached North Avenue, Santa Cruz at around 4:45 p.m. well ahead of 5:00 p.m., which was the scheduled time of the function. The venue was near Maryland building, where Panchamda used to live, The medley of songs of RD were being played at full blast. What a bliss to hear only RD songs, one after another. I selected a good seat for myself and waited for the programme to begin. I looked around and it seemed the people who live in the locality too were invited, and most of them had come with their children. The ambiance was festive. While waiting and enjoying RD's songs, a local elderly person, sitting next to me, got friendly with me. He was surprised to know that I have come from Ulhasnagar. And asked me are you a relation of R.D. Burman? How I wish I was. I said no, I am no relation of RD, but just one of his numerous fans, I relate to his songs so maybe in a way I am his relative. Then he asked was RD a sindhi, like me, no I said he was a Bengali. May be the local persons did not seem to know that a genius music composers had lived among them for many years. Some people are just lucky, without knowing it.

Well the wait was over. At around 6:05 p.m., I spotted Asha Bhosle walking in, followed by other guests of the evening - Gulzarji, Amit Kumar, Bhupinder Singh, Shailendra Singh and Manohari Singh and many others. Ashaji got a standing ovation from all present. By now quite a lot of people have filled in all the available space. The compere of evening was Harish Bhimani. Harish welcomed us all and thanked profusely Mr Ashish Shelar, the local corporator, who was instrumental in getting the chowk named after RD, and called the Panch Pancam Premees, who are part of Forever Pancham group on the stage. One of them, Sanjeev Langarkande said that today's muic is like medicine which comes with an expiry date, while Pancham's music is for forever, timeless, and has no expiry date, like ayurveda medicine. It made me smile. No truer words were said before.

We were then shown a nine minutes edited version of Pancham Unmixed: Mujhe Chalte Jaana Hai , which has been made by Mr Brahmanad Singh. Various contemporaries of Pancham talk about him. A few of them just stuck my mind like Manna Dey just said, I loved him, I just loved him. One can hear Mannada's voice full of emotion, and eyes moist. I also found my eyes moist too. I just could not wait to watch the whole documentary, which is about 2 hours long. Maybe it get released some day in a DVD or CD format.

Next Ashaji was invited to say few words about Pancham. This was the moment we all were waiting for. Ashaji looked frail, and said she has not been well for few days, but wanted to attend this ceremony, come what. She begun by saying that Mumbaikers should feel ashamed, what they could not thought or did, Pancham's fans from Pune had thought and got it done. She said the naming of chowk in his name has come 15 years late. ``... Agar aap sab ne isi tarah se Pancham ka haath 1992-93 main thaama hota, to aaj Pancham humaare saath hee hota'' She said Pancham had two passions in life music and cooking. She also said that she used get upset that Lata got all easy and romantic songs, while Pancham gave her all difficult and unusual songs. Pancham had replied to her that day she refused to sing such songs, he will stop composing them. Thanks Ashaji for not refusing Pancham. She also sang few lines from Mera Kuch Samaan.

Next Gulzarji was requested to say few words about Pancham. Gulzar, in his style and poetic way said that genius like Pancham cannot be described in moments (lamhon), Pancham brought a new era of sound, music and sur and that era ended with him. Pancham can only be compared with only one person and that person is Pancham. Gulzarji eneded with a couplet ``yohon nahin bante yeh sur ke rishte, saat sur lagte hain, us main ek pancham hai''.

Haresh Bhimani then said something very interesting. He said he was fortunate to interview Pancham a couple of times (lucky man) and on being asked what sets him apart from other composers, Pancham had replied simply that his job, like other muic composers is mechanical, but he always tries to do something new. This is why, humble person like me, who would have been tone deaf, had it not been for RD, invariably find something new in his compositions.

Harish then invited the other associates and contemporaries of Panchamda to say something. Lyricist Gulshan Bawara said he could not believe that Pancham is dead, he believes he is among us. He was happy that RD got first Filmfare award for movie for which lyrics were written by him. Music composer Uttam Singh said he was amazed how Pancham used to bring up something new almost every second day. On asking Pancham how he does it, Pancham had replied `bus ho jaata hai yaar'. Uttam Singh said that in his opinion just merely naming a chowk (square) in RD's name is not enough, Khar should be named as R.D. Burman Khar. Amit Kumar recalled how Pancham had told him to sing a song of Kishore Kumar and Amit had sung Main Hoi Jumro Jumoro, but very badly, as he was afraid to sing in front of RD. And next day Panchamda had called him and asked him to sing for his film. The song was Bade Aache Laagte Hain. Pancham had obviously spotted that Amit is a good singer.

Bhupinder Singh said he is still trying to find a wrong note in the compositions of RD, and have not found one in any RD song. How could the evening end without Manohari Singhji saying a few words about Pancham. Manohari Singhji said he has been with Pancham right from Chotte Nawab to his last film, 1942 a Love Story. He wished that in his next birth too he wish to be again with RD.

The unveiling ceremony was then performed by Ashaji. It was really
a memorable moment. Hope the chowk is maintained properly in the coming years. Well the ceremony was over and it was time to go home. But I thought I will have a closer look, and maybe shake hands with friends and associates of Panchamda, and may be, if I am lucky, shake hand or namaste to Ashaji. The fans of Pancham were requested to put their autograph on the billboard put up at the venue. I was among the first to put my name on the billboard. I spotted Ashaji surrounded by security persons walking by. Though I could not take a photograph of her or say namaste to her, I had a good close look at her. I was able to shake hands with Gulzarji, Bhupinderji, Amit Kumar and Shailendra Singh.

I thought now it was time to go home. Still I was clueless about location of Maryland, the home of RD. Suddenly I spotted a huge picture of RD at a building nearby. Yes, this is home of RD. The invited celebrities and media persons were having a get together in the lawn of the building and entry was restricted for ordinary persons like me. Sigh. I took a picture of it from outside and spent many moments nearby. I was feeling sublime. For Pancham fan like me, his home is like a temple. I had read somewhere that Ashaji has preserved it like a museum. Maybe some day it will be open for RD fans like me. But I was happy just to see it from outside.

Then I saw Manohari Singhji walking out. I immediately asked him can I take a picture of yours, he just similed and stopped. I was so glad to take his picture and shook his hand. I should have touched his feet, but don't know why I hesitated. Manoharida is still keeping the spirit of Pancham alive. May he live long.

Before leaving I thanked Saiprasad Raut, whom I had spoken yesterday, for organizing a wonderful evening and for keeping the memories of Pancham alive.

I spotted one fan had written the following on the billboard: Agar Tum Na Hote Pancam, To Yeh Zindagi Itani Musical No Hoti. Agreed. Totally.

Update: The video of the above function is available here.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Pancham, forever

The name unveiling of the Rahul Dev Burman Chowk, near his home, was done by Ashaji. I was there in the programme and the bove picture was taken by me. I will soon do a detailed a post of the programme. I was very happy to be there. Long Live Pancham.

If you are a Pancham fan ...

[click to enlarge]

If you are a Pancham fan, like me, then please click on the above and read it. A chowk in Santa Cruz in Mumbai, near the home where R.D. Burman used to live, is being named as `Music Composer Late Rahul Dev Burman Chowk'. The function will be held today (5:00 p.m.). I will be there, certainly. See you there, if you are a Pancham fan.

And yes, Today is the 15th death anniversary of great Panchamda, but he still lives in our hearts.