150 Years of Swami Vivekananda


MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           JULY 31 , 2012           11.40 P.M.

Русский: Свами Вивекананда Свами Вивекананда в...

Swami Vivekanand (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As I have stated in my earlier blog about Charles Dickens , I was introduced to the world of books and knowledge by my grandfather . Later on , I was encouraged by my father , who used to buy books for me and saw to it that I should read them . My Maa , who too was a voracious reader , also encouraged me to read good books and magazines and thus a life – long passion started very early in my life .

English: Swami Vivekanand

A Young Swami Vivekanand (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My father introduced me to the world of Swami Vivekanand . One day he came with a book titled ” UTTISHTHATA JAGRATA ” . I was a book of the lectures of Swami Vivekananda , compiled and edited by Shri Eknath Ranade , a Hindu ideologue and RSS Pracharak .

It was my first brush with the renowned sanyasi of India . I started reading the book and was mesmerized by the sheer beauty of the poetic language and powerful thoughts . His speech in the Parliament of the World’s Religion in Chicago is epitome of lucidity in language . It is something which I have not imagined . It is something which will never be obfuscated from my memory . The words uttered by Swami Vivekananda in his Chicago sermon still keep on ringing in my ears , though I read it many years ago .

English: Higher detail image of Swami_Vivekana...

Higher detail image of Swami_Vivekananda.jpg Swami Vivekananda, September, 1893, Chicaco, signed (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After I finished reading ” UTTISHTHATA JAGRATA ” , I bought many books about Swami ji and read them . ” UTTISHTHATA JAGRATA ” and all the other books still adorn my library in my ancestral house at Deoria . I became admirer , follower and a virtual disciple of Swami Vivekananda .

Swami Vivekananda ;  (12 January 1863–4 July 1902), born Narendra Nath Datta  , was a key figure in the introduction of Indian philosophies of Vedanta and Yoga to the western world , and was credited with raising interfaith awareness , bringing Hinduism to the status of a major world religion in the late 19th century . He was a major force in the revival of Hinduism in India , and contributed to the notion of nationalism in colonial India . He was the chief disciple of the 19th century saint Ramakrishna and the founder of the Ramakrishna Math and the Ramakrishna Mission .He will always be known for his inspiring speech beginning with “Sisters and Brothers of America,” through which he introduced Hinduism at the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago in 1893.

Parliament of the World’s Religions opened on 11 September 1893 at the Art Institute of Chicago as part of the World’s Columbian Exposition . On this day Vivekananda gave his first brief address . He represented India and Hinduism , and began his speech with, “Sisters and brothers of America !” .To these words he got a standing ovation from a crowd of seven thousand, which lasted for two minutes . When silence was restored he began his address . He greeted the youngest of the nations in the name of  “the most ancient order of monks in the world , the Vedic order of sannyasins , a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance .” And he quoted two illustrative passages in this relation , from the Bhagavad Gita“As the different streams having their sources in different places all mingle their water in the sea , so , O Lord , the different paths which men take , through different tendencies , various though they appear , crooked or straight , all lead to Thee !” and “Whosoever comes to Me, through whatsoever form , I reach him ; all men are struggling through paths that in the end lead to Me .” Despite being a short speech , it voiced the spirit of the Parliament and its sense of universality.

Dr. Barrows, the president of the Parliament said, “India, the Mother of religions was represented by Swami Vivekananda , the Orange-monk who exercised the most wonderful influence over his auditors .”  He attracted widespread attention in the press , which dubbed him as the “Cyclonic monk from India”. The New York Critique wrote, “He is an orator by divine right, and his strong, intelligent face in its picturesque setting of yellow and orange was hardly less interesting than those earnest words, and the rich, rhythmical utterance he gave them.”  The New York Herald wrote, “Vivekananda is undoubtedly the greatest figure in the Parliament of Religions. After hearing him we feel how foolish it is to send missionaries to this learned nation.” The American newspapers reported Swami Vivekananda as “the greatest figure in the parliament of religions” and “the most popular and influential man in the parliament”. The Boston Evening Transcript, reported on 30 September 1893 that Vivekananda was “a great favourite at the parliament…if he merely crosses the platform, he is applauded”. He spoke several more times at the Parliament on topics related to Hinduism and Buddhism and harmony of religions . The parliament ended on 27 September 1893 . All his speeches at the Parliament had one common theme of universality , and emphasised religious tolerance .

Whenever I read above mentioned facts about him or try to visualize his presence in Chicago congregation , a sense of pride engulfs me completely . Adoration for him , which started very early in my life , refuses to subside even today.

I wish to visit his birth place and the place where he was cremated and the Rock memorial at Kanyakumari , which incidentally was spearheaded by Shri Eknath Ranade , whose book ” UTTISHTHATA JAGRATA ” hooked me to Swami ji .

English: Birth place of Narendranath Dutta (Sw...

Birth place of Narendranath Dutta (Swami Vivekananda), now it is maintained by the Ramakrishna Mission. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Swami Vivekananda temple at Belur Mat...

Swami Vivekananda temple at Belur Math, at the place where he was cremated. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Memorial for Swami Vivekananda, offsh...

Memorial for Swami Vivekananda, offshore, Kanyakumari, India. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I feel myself lucky to be born in the same country , where Swami ji was born . I feel myself fortunate to follow the tenets of same Hinduism , to which he also subscribed . I am blessed that by writing this blog on his 150th Anniversary , I could claim that I am also a part of the celebration , though insignificant , though just a spec in the scheme of things , but still I am a part of it .

Swami Vivekananda at Chicago in 1893.

Swami Vivekananda at Chicago in 1893. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Goosebumps and a strange kind of sensation overpowering me at this time , as I am completing this blog .

[ I have taken some facts and some quotes from Wikipedia . I express my gratitude . ]

VIDUR

MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA

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200 Years of Charles Dickens


MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           JULY 29 , 2012           00.30 A.M.

Charles Dickens, a former resident of Lant Street.

Charles Dickens. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Years ago , when I was still a child , my grand father introduced me to the world of books . He bought some books from Gita Press , Gorakhpur and gave them to me . Those were illustrated books about the lives of Bhagwan Ram and Bhagwan Krishna . Each illustration was explained with the help of a couplet . I still remember the name of the books ; BAL CHITRAMAYA RAM LEELA and BAL CHITRAMAYA KRISHNA LEELA  . I read those books countless times , almost mugged up each line and I still possess those books in my library in Deoria .

Since then I was hooked to the world of books and the fascination still continues many decades later . When I was in High School , I became member of GHARELU LIBRARY YOJNA of  HIND POCKET BOOKS , which was initiated by a famous Hindi publication house , Rajpal & Sons .

I used to order books and used to receive them through post office . One muggy afternoon , when the post man delivered packet of books to me , I opened the packet with excitement . There was a book titled DO SHEHRON KI DASTAN . I glanced the book and went through the introduction and got to know the name of the writer . It was Charles Dickens . I also got to know that original name of the book in English . It was A TALE OF TWO CITIES .

It was my first introduction with the celebrated British writer . Though I could not complete the reading because I got bored . Many years later , when I was doing post graduation in Allahabad University , I got to know the writer once again . A TALE OF TWO CITIES was in my course and this time I was able to understand it properly . I then realized beauty of his prose and appreciated his style of narration . Hindi translation , which I read years ago , was not lucid enough .

 

Cover of

Cover via Amazon

When I read in the papers that 2012 is the 200th birth anniversary of the celebrated British author and novelist , I decided to note down my encounter of Charles Dickens also . These old memories , which were consigned in some dark and hither to unvisited corners of my being , rushed to the firmament and I decided to become a part of the 200th anniversary celebration of Charles Dickens .

My curiosity reached its zenith , when I read a news item in a paper . The heading was enough to draw my again to Charles Dickens .  ”  Christopher and Jonathan Nolan Explain How A TALE OF TWO CITIES Influenced THE DARK KNIGHT RISES “

Charles Dickens a.k.a. Charles John Huffam Dickens , ( 7 February 1812 – 9 June 1870) was an English writer and social critic who is generally regarded as the greatest novelist of the Victorian period and the creator of some of the world’s most memorable fictional characters .During his lifetime Dickens’s works enjoyed unprecedented popularity and fame , and by the twentieth century his literary genius was fully recognized by critics and scholars . His novels and short stories continue to enjoy an enduring popularity among the general reading public .

Born in Portsmouth , England , Dickens left school to work in a factory after his father was thrown into debtors’ prison . Though he had little formal education , his early impoverishment drove him to succeed . He edited a weekly journal for 20 years , wrote 15 novels and hundreds of short stories and non-fiction articles , lectured and performed extensively, was an indefatigable letter writer , and campaigned vigorously for children’s rights , education , and other social reforms .

 

Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dickens rocketed to fame with the 1836 serial publication of The Pickwick Papers . Within a few years he had become an international literary celebrity , celebrated for his humour , satire , and keen observation of character and society . His novels , most published in monthly or weekly instalments , pioneered the serial publication of narrative fiction , which became the dominant Victorian mode for novel publication .The instalment format allowed Dickens to evaluate his audience’s reaction , and he often modified his plot and character development based on such feedback . For example , when his wife’s chiropodist expressed distress at the way Miss Mowcher in David Copperfield seemed to reflect her disabilities , Dickens went on to improve the character with positive lineaments . Fagin in Oliver Twist apparently mirrors the famous fence , Ikey Solomon ; His caricature of Leigh Hunt in the figure of Mr Skimpole in Bleak House was likewise toned down on advice from some of his friends , as they read episodes . In the same novel , both Lawrence Boythorne and Mooney the beadle are drawn from real life – Boythorne from Walter Savage Landor and Mooney from ‘Looney’ , a beadle at Salisbury Square . His plots were carefully constructed , and Dickens often wove in elements from topical events into his narratives .Masses of the illiterate poor chipped in ha’pennies to have each new monthly episode read to them , opening up and inspiring a new class of readers .

Dickens was regarded as the ‘literary colossus’ of his age .His 1843 novella , A Christmas Carol , is one of the most influential works ever written , and it remains popular and continues to inspire adaptations in every artistic genre . His creative genius has been praised by fellow writers—from Leo Tolstoy to G. K. Chesterton and George Orwell—for its realism , comedy , prose style , unique characterisations , and social criticism . On the other hand Oscar Wilde , Henry James and Virginia Woolf complained of a lack of psychological depth , loose writing , and a vein of saccharine sentimentalism .

Most of Dickens’s major novels were first written in monthly or weekly instalments in journals such as Master Humphrey’s Clock and Household Words , later reprinted in book form . These instalments made the stories cheap , accessible and the series of regular cliff-hangers made each new episode widely anticipated . When The Old Curiosity Shop was being serialized , American fans even waited at the docks in New York , shouting out to the crew of an incoming ship , “Is little Nell dead ? ” Part of Dickens’s great talent was to incorporate this episodic writing style but still end up with a coherent novel at the end .

Charles Dickens published over a dozen major novels , a large number of short stories (including a number of Christmas-themed stories) , a handful of plays , and several non-fiction books . Dickens’s novels were initially serialised in weekly and monthly magazines , then reprinted in standard book formats .

Novels

Short story collections

Christmas numbers of Household Wordsmagazine:

  • What Christmas Is, as We Grow Older (1851)
  • A Round of Stories by the Christmas Fire (1852)
  • Another Round of Stories by the Christmas Fire (1853)
  • The Seven Poor Travellers (1854)
  • The Holly-Tree Inn (1855)
  • The Wreck of the “Golden Mary” (1856)
  • The Perils of Certain English Prisoners (1857)
  • A House to Let (1858)
Christmas numbers of All the Year Roundmagazine:

  • The Haunted House (1859)
  • A Message from the Sea (1860)
  • Tom Tiddler’s Ground (1861)
  • Somebody’s Luggage (1862)
  • Mrs. Lirriper’s Lodgings (1863)
  • Mrs. Lirriper’s Legacy (1864)
  • Doctor Marigold’s Prescriptions (1865)
  • Mugby Junction (1866)
  • No Thoroughfare (1867)

Selected non-fiction, poetry, and plays

[ Facts of his life and list of the books , written by him , are taken from Wikipedia . I express my deep gratitude . ]

 

Charles Dickens, ca. 1865

Charles Dickens & His Famous Chair (Photo credit: Penn State Special Collections Library)

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B. R. Ishara : Departure of An Avant – Garde Film Maker


MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           JULY 27 , 2012           08.05 P.M.

Avant – Garde and Path  – breaking film – maker , a true iconoclast and a renaissance – man , Babu Ram Ishara , a.k.a. B. R. Ishara died on July 25 , 2012 at the age of  77 in Mumbai . He was suffering from tuberculosis . Last year he got paralytic stroke also .

He could be called a renaissance man of Hindi cinema , as he heralded a new wave in the world of formula laden Hindi film industry with his unconventional and critically acclaimed film  ” Chetna ” [ 1970 ] .

Chetna

Chetna (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When the film released I was in Allahabad doing graduation at Allahabad University . I vividly remember the sensation it created . The poster of the film was really a shocker . Two naked legs of a female and a peeping Rehana Sultan from there was enough to arouse amorous feelings of youngsters in that era of conservative India . Since Rehana Sultan hailed from Allahabad , the curiosity was at its peak and palpable . Film opened with critical acclaim and was a box office hit too .

Anil Dhawan & Rehana Sultan in Chetna

Anil Dhawan & Rehana Sultan in Chetna

Before ” Chetna “ , films used to be shot in studios . B. R. Ishara shot the film in a bungalow and thus started a new trend . Today shooting a film in bungalows has become a normal affair .

Ek Nazar

Ek Nazar (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Apart from ” Chetna ” [ 1970 ] , his three other films were also special and significant in another way . A love story ” Ek Nazar ” [ 1972 ] , will be remembered because of  the lead pair . It starred Amitabh Bachchan and Jaya Bhaduri , as she was called and was known to the world before marriage . This film came and was a super flop . It is ironical that just after one year Amitabh Bachchan came with ” Zanjeer ” , a super hit , which changed his career graph and position in the industry . ” Prem Shastra ” [ 1974 ] was again a film with big star cast . It dealt with the issue of incest and starred Dev Anand and Zeenat Aman . And ” Rahu Ketu ” [ 1978 ] was his biggest . It starred Shashi Kapoor , Rekha , Pran , Prem Nath , Kamini Kaushal , Bindu and Aruna Irani .

Apart from above mentioned four films , his other films are : Gunah Aur Kanoon ” [ 1970 ] , ” Man Tera Tan Mera ” [ 1971 ]  , ” Man Jaiye ” [ 1972 ] , ” Zaroorat ” [ 1972 ] , ” Milap ” [ 1972 ] , ” Nai Duniya Naye Log ” [ 1973 ] , ” Dil Ki Rahen ” [ 1973 ] , ” Charitra ” [ 1973 ] , ” Dawat ” [ 1974 ] , ” Kaagaz Ki Nao ” [ 1975 ] , ” Ghar Ki Laaj ” [ 1979 ] , ” Log Kya Kahenge ” [ 1982 ] .  ” Hukumnama ” [ 1996 ] was his last film .

Milap

Milap (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dil Ki Rahen

Dil Ki Rahen

Rahu Ketu

Rahu Ketu

Ghar Ki Laaj

Ghar Ki Laaj (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He worked with many stalwarts of Hindi film industry . He signed Prithvi Raj Kapoor , Sanjeev Kumar & Kumkum for ” Gunah Aur Kanoon “ , Shatrughan Sinha , Anil Dhawan , Nadira & Rehana Sultan for ” Chetna “ , Amitabh Bachchan , Jaya Bhaduri & Nadira in ” Ek Nazar “ , Vijay Arora , Reena Roy & Danny Denzongpa in ” Zaroorat “ , Shatrughan Sinha , Reena Roy & Danny Denzongpa in ” Milap ” , Reena Roy , Danny Denzongpa & Nadira in ” Nai Duniya Naye Log “ , Dev Anand & Zeenat Aman in ” Prem Shastra “ , Sanjeev Kumar in ” Dawat “ , Sarika , Raj Kiran & Pradeep Kumar in  ” Kaagaz Ki Nao “ , Shashi Kapoor , Rekha , Pran , Prem Nath , Kamini Kaushal & Aruna Irani in ” Rahu Ketu “ , Sanjeev Kumar , Moushumi Chatterjee & Sohrab Modi in ” Ghar Ki Laaj “ and Shabana Aazmi , Sanjeev Kumar , Shatrughan Sinha & Navin Nischol in ” Log Kya Kahenge ” .

His discovery , his lucky muse and future wife , Rehana Sultan appeared in 4 films directed by him . They are ; ” Chetna ” , ” Man Tera Tan Mera ” , ” Man Jaiye ” and ” Dil Ki Rahen ” .

His other discovery Reena Roy worked with him in 3 films . They are ; ” Zaroorat ” , ” Milap ”  and ” Nai Duniya Naye Log ” .

Shatrughan Sinha  repeatedly worked with him in 3 films . They are : ” Chetna ” , ” Milap “ and  ” Log Kya Kahenge ” . 

Danny Denzongpa , a very choosy actor , worked with him in 3 films . They are ” Zaroorat ” , ” Milap ” and ” Nai Duniya Naye Log ” .

An actor of the caliber of Sanjeev Kumar worked with him in 4 films . They were : ” Gunah Aur Kanoon ” , ” Dawat ” , ” Ghar Ki Laaj ” and ” Log Kya Kahenge ” .

Shabana Aazmi , who does not sign films easily and left , right and centre , also worked in his film ” Log Kya Kahenge ” .

Thespians like Prithvi Raj Kapoor , Sohrab Modi , Pran , Prem Nath , Kamini Kaushal  and Pradeep Kumar also readily worked in his films .

Asit Sen , Johny Whisky , Nadira , Rakesh Pandey and Raza Murad repeatedly worked with him and were almost in every second films directed by B. R. Ishara .

It is astonishing that a man , who was not so well-educated and who used to wash dishes at Qamar Jalalabadi’s house and used to serve tea at Roop Tara Studio , made 30 films and stars of the calibre of Shabana Aazmi , Rekha , Shashi Kapoor and Sanjeev Kumar readily agreed to work with him .

He introduced Rehana Sultan , Reena Roy , Parveen Babi , Raza Murad , cricketer Salim Durrani and music director Bappi Lahiri in films .

His 2 Discoveries Anil Dhawan & Raza Murad at the Funeral

His 2 Discoveries Anil Dhawan & Raza Murad at the Funeral

It is sad that a director of the calibre of B. R. Ishara left the world in penury and was almost work less during his last years .

VIDUR

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Hotel – 5 : Varanasi [ Hotel Gautam Grand ]


 

MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA -INDIA           JULY 25 , 2012           08.00 P.M.

As I have stated in my travel diary of Varanasi , I took morning flight to Varanasi from Mumbai on June 16 , 2012 and landed there in the afternoon . I booked a pre – paid AC cab from the Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport and reached Parade Kothi , which is just in front of Varanasi Cantt. railway station . Parade Kothi lane has numerous hotels , some good , some bad and some pathetic .

On my previous visits I used to stay in Hotel Ayodhya or Hotel Glory . But now these hotesl are not worth staying anymore . Their maintenance is pathetic and they are not hygenic also . So this time I chose another hotel , which appeared and seemed better .

I stayed in Hotel Gautam Grand in Parade Kothi .

Exterrior of Hotel Gautam Grand

Exterrior of Hotel Gautam Grand

Its exterrior is impressive . And it has two major attractions . It is stones throw away from Varanasi Cantt. railway station and quite close to Godaulia , the main market place . Vishwanath Temple and Dashashwamedh Ghat are also not very far away .

Its another plus point is its reastaurant , Mezbaan . For people , who don’t want to spend too much amount on food , Mezbaan is a boon . It serves delicious North Indian , South Indian and Chinese food and since it is located in the basement area of the hotel , it is convenient also . Food is very good , service is efficient and environment is healthy and conducive . At least after a day – long sight – seeing , you can have a quiet and sumptuous dinner . Even if you are staying somewhere else , Mezban is highly recommended by me for lunch and / or dinner .

Apart from these two plus points , it has nothing much to offer . Rooms are claustrophobic and are painted with dark colours , which makes them look smaller than their actual size . Bed – sheets and pillow – covers were not clean enough . Bathroom is small and are just okay .

It has two major minus points , which I dislike in any hotel room . Study table is too small to even accomodate my mini laptop . And the second is non availability of enough sockets to plug in your mobiles and laptop for re – charging . There was just one for my two mobiles and one laptop . My wife also has one mobile . So it was huge problem to charge our gadgets . I am always put off by this and it is needless to say that I was not amused by this defficiency .

I must appreciated the staff members , who were cooperative and well – behaved .

Hotel Gautam Grand will be prefered by tourists , who don’t want to spend much . It will keep on finding guests because of its wonderful restaurant Mezban and its proximity to the railway station and market place . But for me staying there will not be easy because of some of the reasons , which I have stated above .

For its 50% plus points and 50% minus points , I am giving it 2 & 1/2 Star out of 5 .

VIDUR

MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA

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Hotel – 4 : Manali [ Hotel Piccaddily ]


MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           JULY 25 , 2012           00.35 A.M.

Due to prior booking , we had to shift from Hotel Quality Inn River Country Resort after few days and checked in Hotel Piccaddily . I was initially happy because it was stones throw away from The Mall .

But my joy was short – lived . Barring its proximity to the main market , there were no other attraction for me . The hotel has not much to offer .

It has impressive exterior . It looks more attractive during the night when lights are on . But ……..

Exterior of Hotel Piccaddily - Manali

Exterior of Hotel Piccaddily – Manali

Exterior of Hotel Piccaddily - Manali at Night

Exterior of Hotel Piccaddily – Manali at Night

Even the lobby and reception area are opulent . But that’s all .

Rooms are just okay . Rooms have double bed , which can’t be detached . Study table was too small . Rooms at Piccaddily don’t have enough sockets to charge your mobiles and laptops . Either you have to remove your side table and then you can plug-in your gadgets or you have to put them to charge in the bathroom .

Horrible ! Extremely pathetic .

Room service was just okay .

Another uncomfortable area was the bathrooms . It was too small for comfort and was made in such a way that you cannot avoid making it wet while taking shower .

Travel desk was almost non – existent . Intercom was not working as long as I was staying there .

But yes it was too close to the main market . So you can make innumerable trips , can go for shopping umpteen times and after dinner even go for a quick stroll .

Its tariff is almost same as Quality Inn River Country Resort . Its proximity to the Mall is boon . It looks grand from the outside . But that’s all .

My stay was okay but definitely not comfortable .

As per my choice it deserves just 2 Stars out of 5 .

VIDUR

MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA

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Hotel – 3 : Manali [ Quality Inn River Country ]


MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           JULY 24 , 2012           07.30 P.M.

As I have stated in my Manali Travel Diary , I took morning flight from Mumbai for Chandigarh on March 18 , 2012 and reached there around 10.00 A.M. I was given a car by the production people and after 11 hour-long road journey I reached Manali at 10.00 P.M. in the night . My car stopped in the compound of Quality Inn River Country Resort . It was dark so I could not see much . But illuminated exterior of the hotel looked very impressive . It was huge and well maintained . I clicked this photo next morning .

The Exterior of Quality Inn - Manali

The Exterior of Quality Inn – Manali

When I entered in the lobby , I found that the lobby is cosy and warm and the reception area quite spacious .

I was ushered into my room on the 3rd floor . Quite spacious room with 2 separate beds greeted me . I have the problem with joint double – bed . So I was happy to see two separate single beds . Bed – sheets and pillow – covers are another area of concern . Here they were spotless white , clean and well – ironed . Since it was quite cold and windy outside , so heater was on .

After entering a hotel room and after bed , bed – sheet and pillow – covers , I next look for the study table and sockets for charging my mobiles and laptop . I found a pretty big study table placed diagonally opposite the bed . It had a table lamp and a switch – board nearby with multiple sockets . Switch – boards , in some hotels , are very neglected things these days , though they are most essential . In some hotel rooms they are not placed properly . Either they are beneath the study or side tables or they are fitted somewhere near the floor . And you have to go through all the inconvenience to plug-in your electronic gadgets . Here in Quality Inn River Country Resort switch board was nicely fitted near the corner of the top of the study table . I heaved a sigh of relief .

Bath – room was well – lit and quite big and all the sections ; commode , wash – basin and bathing closet were evenly separated and were roomy . Surprisingly cupboard was just in front of the bathroom . After having shower , you have to just step out and can lay your hands on your clothes .

Side tables near the bed were big enough to accommodate your wrist watch , mobiles , magazines , reading glasses and medicines . Again a welcome change .

Dinning hall of the hotel was located on the first floor . Breakfast and dinner was included in the tariff and I realized that in a way it not very costly hotel , though it is a 3 Star property .

Dinner was a sumptuous affair and since it was buffet , you have choices also .

After dinner , I came to my room and crashed .

My Room in Hotel Quality Inn - Manali

My Room in Hotel Quality Inn – Manali

Another View of My Room in Hotel Quality Inn - Manali

Another View of My Room in Hotel Quality Inn – Manali

In the morning , when I woke up and opened the front window , I was ecstatic . Fresh , cold and hilly winds caressed me , played with my body for a while and overwhelmed me completely. I could see pine , deodar trees trembling in the wind and river Bias flowing magnificently in front of me . I have rarely seen anywhere a river flowing adjacent to the main road . In Manali it is exactly that .

When you look up from the window , you can see snow – capped mountains a little far away . From the window of Quality Inn River Country Resort river Bias and snow – capped mountains seem within your reach , near your vicinity . It looked as if you could stretch your hand and touch them .

Front View from My Room in Hotel Quality Inn - Manali

Front View from My Room in Hotel Quality Inn – Manali

Front View from My Room in Hotel Quality Inn - Manali

Front View from My Room in Hotel Quality Inn – Manali

Front View from My Room in Hotel Quality Inn - Manali

Front View from My Room in Hotel Quality Inn – Manali

Scene at the rear of the hotel was also breath – taking . Mountains , gushing winds and beautiful cottages dot the compound of the hotel . It would have been nice to stay in a cottage but the tariff was on the higher side .

View of The Cottages from My Room in Hotel Quality Inn - Manali

View of The Cottages from My Room in Hotel Quality Inn – Manali

Backside View from My Room in Hotel Quality Inn - Manali

Backside View from My Room in Hotel Quality Inn – Manali

After Hotel Golden Tower of Chennai , I found another hotel , where the travel desk is managed very efficiently .

Courteous staff , ready to help manager and efficient people managing front desk make your stay pleasant . Since it is a 3 Star property , tariff is on the higher side but since breakfast and dinner is included in the package , I think it becomes affordable and manageable for middle class tourists also .

It’s only drawback is 2 km. long distance from the Mall , the market . Since finding a rickshaw is difficult , you have to walk to the market . And if you are a shopaholic or a die – hard wanderer like me , it becomes quite tasking to walk to the Mall throughout the day .

Apart from its distance from the main market place , I found no negative points in this 3 Star property .

Lack of internet is another deterrent but it is not confined to this hotel alone . It is a problem you will face everywhere in Manali . Barring BSNL every other internet service provider fails in Manali .

If you want a comfortable stay in Manali within affordable budget and just one deterrent , I highly recommend this property.

According to me Quality Inn River Country Resort deserves 4 and 1/2 stars out of 5 .

VIDUR

MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA

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In Memoriam Rajesh Khanna : Zindagi Kaisi Hai Paheli , Hai!


MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           JULY 24 , 2012           01.15 A.M.

Dara Singh died on July 12 , 2012 . Within a week another luminary of the Hindi film industry bid adieu to this world . Rajesh Khanna died on July 18 , 2012 .

In Glass Casket

In Glass Casket

Akshay Kumar with the Dead Body In Glass Casket

Akshay Kumar with the Dead Body In Glass Casket

Let me state honestly . I am not his fan . In fact I was never ever a fan or admirer of Rajesh Khanna , the actor or the man . Though I have watched many of his films . I do admire some of his cult films . I definitely remember and hummed many of his iconic songs . I am very much aware of his stupendous super stardom , which , once upon a time , engulfed the film industry like a hurricane or tornado or tsunami . I am witness to those years when every star  was dwarfed in front of him . I am well aware of  those momentous days when everyone or everything became insignificant in his presence . His blitzkrieg darkened all the other objects . His tumultuous rise momentarily eclipsed all the other stars and consigned some of the mightiest stars into the trash bin of history . I am witness to those days . I was living in that era . I am privy to those happenings . In 1972 I was here in Bombay [ now Mumbai ] . I have seen the crowd in front of his bungalow Aashirwaad . I have witnessed the fan adulation . But still , I was not his fan or admirer .

But I was saddened beyond words when I heard the news of his demise . My wife , again not his fan , cried profusely when she watched his funeral procession . So the question arises , what happened to us ? Why we felt for Rajesh Khanna so deeply ? Is it not enigmatic ? Is it not ironical ? No , it is not . Just watch these pictures posted below and notice the horrific changes in his personality down the years and you will fully understand the reason of our empathy .

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From a dashing , charming young superstar to a pale shadow of his own self , these photos tell us a very tragic and pathetic story . For present day generation of movie – goers , his popularity during his heydays is unknown and unimaginable . I am presenting some of the milestones of his life’s journey one by one .

Aakhri Khat

Aakhri Khat (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1966 : Made debut with ” Aakhri Khat ” .

1967 : Made his mark with ” Raaz ” .

1969 : Attained Super stardom with ” Aaradhana ”

1969 : ” Bandhan ”

1969 : ” Do Raste ”

1969 : ” Doli ”

1969 : ” Khamoshi ”

1969 : ” Ittefaq ”

[ 6 super hits in 1969 ]

1970 : ” Aan Milo Sajna

1970 : ” Safar ”

1970 : ” Kati Patang ”

1970 : ” The Train ”

1970 : ” Sachcha Jhootha ”

[ 5 super hits in 1970 ]

1971 : ” Anand ”

1971 : ” Haathi Mere Saathi

1971 : ” Dushman ”

1971 : ” Mehboob Ki Mehndi

[ 4 super hits in 1971 ]

1972 : ” Amar Prem ”

1972 : ” Apna Desh ”

[ 2 super hits in 1972 ]

Within 3 years of making his debut , he attained unimaginable , unheard of and unprecedented super stardom in 1969 with ” Aradhana “ and gave 15 consecutive super hits till 1972 , a record still unbroken . ” Daag ” [ 1973 ] and  ” Namak Haraam ” [ 1973 ] were also big hits . But 1973 was a watershed moment in his career . He was eclipsed by Amitabh Bachchan in ” Namak Haraam “ . Amitabh Bachchan’s career defining film ” Zanjeer “ also came in 1973 . And thus began the well – known downward slide of mighty Super Star Rajesh Khanna .

Alarmed by his waning popularity , he married much younger Dimple Kapadia and made headlines temporarily.

Though in 1974 he gave 2 super hits like ;Aap Ki Kasamand ” Roti “ but the slide was visible and evident . The era now clearly belonged to Amitabh Bachchan , who once played second fiddle to him in super hit , iconic cult films like ; ” Anand ” and ” Namak Haraam ” .

Poster of Anand

Poster of Anand

Poster of Namak Haraam

Poster of Namak Haraam

Poster of these two films can give you Amitabh Bachchan’s position in the industry in those days vis-a-vis Rajesh Khanna . But alas , the cruel hands of fate had started writing some unknown and inglorious chapters of his life with indelible ink .

In 1975 Amitabh Bachchan gave ” Deewar ” and ” Sholay ” . Rajesh Khanna’s mentor and lucky mascot Shakti Samanta made ” Mehbooba ” [ 1975 ] . ” Deewar ” and ” Sholay “ were super hits and became ageless cult classics . While ” Mehbooba “ was a resounding flop and sealed Rajesh Khanna’s fate finally. After 8 years gap and some insignificant films in between , in 1983 , he again came with 2 mega hits like ; ” Avatar ” and ” Soutan “ but the magic was missing . Even these massive hits could not salvage his lost position in the industry . His turbulent career affected his personal life also . In 1984 came the tragic separation from Dimple Kapadia .

From 1983 [ his last hits ] to 2012 [ his death ] ,  29 years of his eventless , colourless career and lonely personal life proved fatal for him . It is regrettable and cruel irony that a c-grade movie ” Wafaa ” [ 2010 ] is his last film .

In between he dabbled in TV also . In total he worked in 4 TV serials . ” Apne Paraye [ B4U TV – 2001 ] , ” Ittefaq ” [ Zee TV – 2002 ] , ” Bhabhima ” [ 2008 ] andRaghukul Reet Sada Chali Aayi ” [ DD 1 – 2008 ] . But none could touch the popularity of Amitabh Bachchan’s ” Kaun Banega Crorepati ” [ Star Plus – 2000] .

It is a well-known secret that the title superstar was coined for him by his publicists ; Devyani Chaubal and K. Razdan . But the mass hysteria which he generated in those days and that too without the help of internet , twitter and facebook , is unimaginable , unfathomable and still unattainable . It is regrettable that his stardom or superstardom lasted just for 4 years . 15 successive super hits in a row and then 7 consecutive super flops in a row defines Rajesh Khanna’s strange film career . Compare his 4 year tenure with other stars :

DEV ANAND : 65 Years [ 1946 Hum Ek Hain – 2011 Chargesheet ]

ASHOK KUMAR : 61 Years [ 1936 Jeevan Naiya – 1997 Aankhon Me Tum Ho ]

DILIP KUMAR : 54 Years [ 1944 Jwar Bhata – 1998 Qila ]

AMITABH BACHCHAN : 40 Years [ 1973 Zanjeer – 2012 Bol Bachchan ]

Stars of this generation SHAH RUKH KHAN , SALMAN KHAN and AAMIR KHAN are reigning kings even after almost 20 years . HRITIK ROSHAN has 12 years of stardom behind him . Even DARA SINGH survived for 45 years [ 1962 King Kong – 2007 Jab We Met ] . But alas ! Rajesh Khanna vanished from the stardom and was banished from the film industry just after 4 years . Though he did 165 films and played solo lead in 107 films but was forgotten by the masses and ignored by the friends and the same film industry , which once said , ” Upar aaqa ; neeche Kaka .”

It is sad . It is heart – wrenching . People say many things about him . I , myself know many stories about him , which are said to be the cause of his downfall . But I don’t want to write those stories after his death . After all he was human and to err is human . Just re – think about some facts of his life . He debuted when he was 24 . He attained superstardom when he was 27 and lost his empire when he was just 31 . After that , till his death , it was 38 year – long wait for regaining his lost empire . It was 38 year – long wait for The Knock at his door by any producer or director . It was 38 year – long wait for the crowd to assemble again at his doorstep . It was 38 year – long wait for the same mass – hysteria , same mass adulation which was once his right and he thought it was his birth right  .

Mass hysteria , mass adulation did happen again but alas , it happened only after his death . See these pictures of his funeral procession and then watch the  crowd in front of his bungalow Aashirwaad and you will be able to feel the irony of fate . I wish , this attention should have happened a year before ……….. or a week before ……… or even a day before ………… he would have died a happy and contented man . But strange are the ways of destiny.

Crowd at Funeral Procession

Crowd at Funeral Procession

Crowd at Funeral Procession

Crowd at Funeral Procession

Crowd at Aashirvad on July 22

Crowd at Aashirvad on July 22

Crowd at Aashirvad on July 22

Crowd at Aashirvad on July 22

Crowd at Aashirvad on July 22

Crowd at Aashirvad on July 22

Crowd at Aashirvad on July 22

Crowd at Aashirvad on July 22

Crowd at Aashirvad on July 22

Crowd at Aashirvad on July 22

I agree , he did make some mistakes . He did err like a human and for that mistake , for that error destiny punished him with all its might , with all its ferocity , with all its lethal cruelty . He , for his mistakes , never got same benevolence by destiny , which others easily got for their sins . Fate was condescending to others , not to him .

He was like quintessential Greek tragic hero . You can only feel sorry for him . You can empathise with him . And you could hum his memorable song …. zindagi kaisi hai paheli , hai ; kabhi ye hasaye , kabhi ye rulaye ……. Ek din sapno ka rahi , chala jaye sapno se aage kahan ………..

Phenomenon , known as Rajesh Khanna , regained some of his glory once again but alas , only after his death . He had gone forever and had gone even beyond his dreams .

As I finish my blog , I feel , I must express my admiration and gratitude to his son in  law Akshay Kumar and his long – time friend Anju Mahendru , who took every care to give him comfort during his last days . Though it seems futile , but still , it was because of them that a befitting funeral could be arranged for this forgotten phenomenon , fallen Super Star and a lonely icon , who once ruled supreme . Thank you Mr. Akshay Kumar , thank you Madam Anju Mahendru , I bow my head in gratitude ! May God bless you two !

My heart also goes for Rinke Khanna , my student , who was very close and was very much attached to her father .

If I could feel so much without being his fan or admirer , then you can imagine the pain and pathos of his fans and near and dear ones .

Rest In Peace Sir ! Destiny was cruel to you . Better luck in next life .

VIDUR

MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA

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