50 Years of A Friendship


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MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           JULY 24, 2016           11.00 P.M.

With My Friend Mohd. Masood Saheb at His Lucknow Residence

With My Friend Mohd. Masood Saheb at His Lucknow Residence

 

After a month-long wet and rainy monsoon season in Mumbai, sky is clear today. Warmth of July sun, after a month-long continuous rain, is pleasant.

As I sit in my study watching sunrays slowly and victoriously taking over the Mumbai skyline from hovering clouds, my mind takes me back to my Allahabad days. 50 years back it was same bright, sunny July in 1967. The place was Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh.

In that year after passing High School, I left my native place Deoria, Uttar Pradesh and reached Allahabad to take admission in the Government Inter College. I got admission in the college and was lucky to find a place in the hostel too, which was in the same campus.

Shy and reticent as I was in those days, it took some time before I got acquainted with my class-mates. PRAMOD VAJPAYEE, MOHD. MASOOD & SHEEL BHADRA DIKSHIT were few names, which are still there with me. Of the three, SHEEL BHADRA DIKSHIT died before he could complete intermediate. PRAMOD VAJPAYEE, MOHD. MASOOD and myself passed intermediate and went to Allahabad University. We took English Literature as our subject so our friendship continued.

After completing graduation in 1972, I came to Mumbai [ then Bombay ] . After spending one year in Mumbai, I returned to Allahabad and completed post graduation in English Literature. Before I could embark on my new journey, my father died. I returned to Deoria.

When I returned from Allahabad after my father’s demise, I thought that now I have lost forever all the friends and acquaintances from Allahabad. SHEEL BHADRA DIKSHIT gone to his eternal journey, PRAMOD VAJPAYEE untraceable and now MASSOD Saheb will also be lost on the long, tortuous, unknown and speedy highways of life.

One day door-bell of my Deoria residence rang. I came out and to my utter surprise, I saw Masood Saheb standing there. He was getting married and his would be wife’s family lived in Deoria.

Destiny! ………………….. O Destiny!! …………………. Unknown are thy ways!!!

I attended his marriage and since he used to come to Deoria quite often, our friendship continued. Whenever I used to visit Lucknow, I always used to go to his Aminabad office and used to have chat with him over a cup of tea.

In October 1989, I left Deoria again and came to Mumbai. Masood Saheb visited Mumbai once and we met.

I go to my native place Deoria once or twice in a year. These days I take Mumbai – Lucknow flight and then take a taxi to Deoria. My younger brother and sister are based in Lucknow so I stay there for few days. Since Masood Saheb is now retired and settled in Lucknow, it has become a habit to visit him too.

This year in May, when I paid a visit to his house, he reminded me that we first met in July 1967 and that July 2016 is the 50th year of our friendship.

When I revisit our 50 long year association, I find very few similarities between us. I was a right-winger Hindu nationalist and Masood Saheb was a left-winger Muslim nationalist. We both are same even now. So where is the meeting point?

As I try to find out, our meeting points are HUMAN VALUES, RATIONAL NATIONALISM, LOVE for URDU LANGUAGE & LITERATURE and RESPECT for EACH OTHER’S CORE VALUES.

I remember, I used to write him letters in Urdu on RSS letterhead. And he used to send Urdu newspaper AZAYEM from Lucknow to Mumbai for me.

And so, our friendship endured all the bygone 50 years. As I said earlier I met him this year in May 2016 in Lucknow. He was frail as usual but his indomitable spirit is still there. And his love for books , literature and Urdu language still continues. And yes, he is still a LEFT-WINGER MUSLIM NATIONALIST.

May God permit him to be so!!!

May God give him a long, happy and active life!!!

Amen!!!!

 

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Arun [ The Last ] Nehru


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GURGAON – NATIONAL CAPITAL REGION – INDIA           AUGUST 25 , 2013           11.50 A.M.

Today as I am sitting in Gurgaon , Haryana [ National Capital Region ] and waiting for the cab to arrive and take me to Indira Gandhi International Airport , New Delhi , I cannot miss the irony of the situation .

It is uncanny that this blog , which is an obituary of Shri Arun Gandhi , is being written in Gurgaon . Shri Arun Nehru died in Gurgaon . This blog is being written on August 25 , 2013 . Shri Arun Nehru died exactly one month before . He breathed his last on July 25 , 2013 in Gurgaon .

Arun Nehru

24 April 1944 – 25 July 2013

I would say that he was a reluctant politician and after retiring as a politician , he became a columnist and he was an excellent columnist .

He was member of the 7th and 8th Lok Sabhas from Rae Bareli on an Indian National Congress ticket . He , after resigning from the Congress , was member of the 9th Lok Sabha from Bilhaur as a Janata Dal leader.

Arun Nehru was born in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, and had worked in business for 17 years , before he entered politics . He was president of the Jenson and Nicholson group at the time when his aunt , Indira Gandhi, persuaded him to change career .

As a representative of the Indian National Congress , Shri Arun Nehru was a member of Parliament in the 7th Lok Sabha (1980-84) and 8th Lok Sabha (1984-89) . Aside from sitting on various consultative committees during this time , he was Union Minister of State for Energy (December 1984—September 1985,) and for Home Affairs (September 1985—October 1986) .

Later due to some differences with his cousin Shri Rajiv Gandhi , he left the Indian National Congress for Janata Dal and was elected to the 9th Lok Sabha, where he was Union Minister for Commerce and Tourism (December-November 1990) .

During his tenure as minister in the Home department in 1985-86, he was allegedly involved in the Czech pistol case, where a deal with a Czechoslovakian firm Merkuria Foreign Trade Corp. had resulted in a loss of around INR25 lakh . But it is not the time to discuss such issues . We should be respectful to the departed soul . A man should not be criticized , when he is not there to defend himself .

FULL EDITNG STUDIO

NEWS LETTER

I used to read his columns and was fan of Arun Nehru , the columnist . It is sad that he is gone and gone too soon .

On behalf of all the students and staff of VIDUR Acting Institute , which is known as Vidur’s Kreating Charakters  , I deeply mourn the death of Shri Arun Nehru .

VIDUR Editing Studio , VIDUR Club and VIDUR Theatre also joins in expressing grief over the sad and early demise of Shri Arun Nehru , the Last Nehru .

Adieu Shri Arun Nehru , perhaps the Last Nehru in Indian politics .

[ Personal details of Shri Arun Nehru and his alleged involvement in Czech Pistol Case has been taken from Wikipedia . I express gratitude . ]

 

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Life at 60 : No Retirement At The Age Of Retirement


In My Office at Vidur's Kreating Charakters

In My Office at Vidur’s Kreating Charakters

MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           DECEMBER 17 , 2012           11.59 P.M.

Yesterday I got a call from my younger brother , Atul  . He was calling from Lucknow and reminded me that today I would be completing 60 years of my existence . Tomorrow 61st year will start and according to government rule , it is time to retire and take rest .

I was bemused . It suddenly dawned on me that all my childhood friends are now leading a retired life and are busy in asinine activities with their grand-children .

Today , when I returned from my acting institute , I got a call from my younger brother , Devesh . He was calling from Jabalpur and he too gently reminded me that it is very important day of my life and now it is time to slow down .

Throughout the day I got calls and messages from my nephews and nieces . Their calls were also a silent and wordless reminder that they have grown up and yes , I am getting old . Or I am rather old .

Life at 60 is definitely different .

It is the time when you become feeble and vulnerable .

It is the time when any uncouth , uncultured and abusive upstart can abuse and threaten you with impunity .

It is the time when you are looking for help , another muscular accomplice keeps a vigil at the door , so that you can’t get any timely succour .

It is the time when you would like to react but have no physical strength to fight or even oppose the brute , his accomplice and his factotum .

It is the time when a person , unworthy of even becoming your peon or a scavenger in your house , can sent you an abusive message on facebook and you have to behave stoically because you are unable to give a tight slap on his abominable face .

It is the time when people working for you and who are family , can be abused and beaten up , and you are unable to protect them and you have to look the other way .

It is the time when you can be called fake by some people who are themselves unscrupulous and unethical .

It is the time when all the credits are usurped and blames are put on your door-steps.

I laughed at turning 60 . When my friends and peers are leading a retired life , I am waging a relentless struggle for my survival .

When my class-mates are leading peaceful life and enjoying fruits of their hard-earned money , I have to wager my house and other belongings and start my professional life from scratch .

When people of my age are playing with their grand children , I am risking my existence , my reputation and 23 years of my life as an acting trainer , tutor or whatever you can call me , and trying to shield myself from continuous and unabated onslaught of a brute , his accomplice and his factotum .

And then I remember phone calls of my brothers . Is it really a day to plan retirement ? Is it time to call it a day ?

No , my work is not over yet . I have to wager my existence , my whole life and prepare for a new Mahabharat . Sound of Krishna‘s Panchajanya is reverberating in my mind . His voice beseeching relentless war against lie and untruth is filling my psyche . As I am writing this blog Robert Frost’s lines are coming to soothe my frayed tempers :

My horse must think it queer ,

To stop without a farm-house near ,

Between the woods and frozen lake ,

The darkest evening of the year .

The woods are lovely dark and deep ,

But I have promises to keep ,

And miles to go before I sleep ,

And miles to go before I sleep !!

I know that I am in minority but I know that I am not alone . Conspirators have their accomplices but I have my benefactors . Children of a lesser God stood with me in my darkest hour . Apart from these 6 people shown in the photograph , 2 more have joined me in my was against lie and injustice .

Children Of A Lesser God

Children Of A Lesser God

Bhishma Pitamah stood to fight , when he was 120 years old . I am half his age . Time is not yet ripe for retirement .

Krishna fought when he was in minority . Chankya fought when was alone . But they defeated mightiest of armies .

I thank all my extended family at Vidur’s Kreating Charakters for standing with me . At the age of 60 , when I have become feeble and vulnerable , they stood with me , became my shield , braced all the hardships , worked without money and still they never complained .

I have to re-pay their debt . So even though government decides to retire people at the age of 60 , I won’t be able to take this luxury .

Battle goes on . The Saga still continues .

VIDUR

MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA

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Vidur’s Travel Diary – 13 : Varanasi


MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           JULY 03 , 2012           01.15 A.M.

Varanasi or Benaras or Kasi or Kashi , this old and perennial city of India , which symbolises Hindu ethos and its timeless tradition , is a new metropolis , yet it existed and started its journey several millennium ago . As per tradition and folklore it is 5000 years old city . Its mythical and cultural name is Kashi . Rigveda mentions this city as Kasi or Kashi . During British era the name was changed and the city came to be known as Benaras . After independence the city was rechristened as Varanasi . Varuna and Assi are two rivers , which caress the city from two sides , hence the city was rechristened as Varanasi .

Varanasi predates history . It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities of the world and the oldest city in India . As per Hindu mythology this city rests on the trident of Bhagwan Shiva . This city is closely associated with the legendary Raja Harishchandra , an ancestor of Bhagwan Ram . Harishchandra ghat still exists and bears his name and reminds us of his supreme sacrifices in pursuit of truth . Along with AYODHYA , MATHURA , MAYA [ HARIDWAR ] , KANCHI , AVANTIKA [ UJJAIN ] and DWARKA , Varanasi , for the Hindus , is the 7th Holiest Cities of India . I consider myself lucky and fortunate that I have chance to visit all the above mentioned seven cities .

I have been to Varanasi several times . I first visited this city with my parents and other siblings , while I was a toddler . It was for the MUNDAN [ Tonsure Ceremony ] of my younger brother . I still remember my first journey to Varanasi by train . I was a kid and I used to converse with my parents only in Bhojpuri . My father insisted that while in Varanasi , we all must converse in Hindi . I was finding it difficult and avoided speaking throughout the journey .

I have visited this city numerous times since then . Every year when I visit my native place Deoria , I have to make a halt either at Varanasi or Lucknow . This year in June , I took a morning flight from Mumbai on June 16 , 2012 and along with my wife , landed there in the afternoon . Varanasi now has a swanky and sprawling airport . Old airport was not worthy of the reputation of this ancient city . This new Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport is truly impressive .

Lal Bahadur Shastri Airport - Varanasi

Lal Bahadur Shastri Airport – Varanasi

Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport - Varanasi

Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport – Varanasi

I took a cab and drove to Hotel Gautam Grand near Varanasi Cant station .

Hotel Gautam Grand - Varanasi

Hotel Gautam Grand – Varanasi

When in Varanasi , you have to enjoy the crowded lanes and by-lanes of this mythical yet  modern metropolis . Godaulia is the nerve – centre of the city .

Godaulia - Varanasi

Godaulia – Varanasi

The world-famous Kashi Vishwanath Temple is one of the 12 JYOTIRLINGAS of Bhagwan Shiva in India . You dare not afford to miss this shrine . The old temple , built by Adi Shankaracharya in 8th century , was destroyed by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb , who built a mosque on the ruins of this temple , which , today , is known as Gyanvapi mosque . The present Kashi Vishwanath temple was built by Ahilya Bai Holkar of Indore in 1717 . This temple was adorned by Maharaja Ranjit Singh , who donated 820 k.g. gold in 1889 .

Kashi Vishwanath Temple - Entrance

Kashi Vishwanath Temple – Entrance

World Famous Lane of Vishwanath Temple

World Famous Lane of Vishwanath Temple

World Famous Lane of Vishwanath Temple

World Famous Lane of Vishwanath Temple

 

Gyanvapi, the original holy well between the t...

Gyanvapi, the original holy well between the temple and mosque (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After darshan of Kashi Vishwanath temple , you proceed to Dashashwamedha Ghat , where Ganga Aarti is performed in the evening . Dashashwamedha Ghat was built by Maharaja Savai Jai Singh II in 1693 . It is one of the 100 ghats of Varanasi . Originally Ganga Aarti was started in Haridwar by Mahamana Madan Mohan Malaviya . Few years back it was started in Varanasi also and today it is major tourist attraction .

Ganga Arti - Varanasi

Ganga Arti – Varanasi

Ganga Arti - Varanasi

Ganga Arti – Varanasi

Ganga Arti - Varanasi

Ganga Arti – Varanasi

Ganga Arti - Varanasi

Ganga Arti – Varanasi

Ganga Arti - Varanasi

Ganga Arti – Varanasi

Ganga Arti - Varanasi

Ganga Arti – Varanasi

Ganga Arti - Varanasi

Ganga Arti – Varanasi

Ganga Arti - Varanasi

Ganga Arti – Varanasi

Ganga Arti - Varanasi

Ganga Arti – Varanasi

Ganga Arti - Varanasi

Ganga Arti – Varanasi

Apart from Dashashwamedha ghat , Kedar ghat and Harishchandra ghat are other two major ghats of Varanasi .

Kedar Ghat - Varanasi

Kedar Ghat – Varanasi

Harishchandra Ghat - Varanasi

Harishchandra Ghat – Varanasi

Godaulia - Varanasi at Night

Godaulia – Varanasi at Night

A British Era Church at Godaulia

A British Era Church at Godaulia

Sankat Mochan temple is the another famous temple of Varanasi . According to the folklore , Sant Tulsidas worshipped here and Bhagwan Hanuman gave him darshan . After Kashi Vishwanath temple , it is the 2nd most revered temple of Varanasi for Hindus .

Sankat Mochan Temple

Sankat Mochan Temple

Varanasi is famous for Sants like Tulsi Das , Kabir Das , Ravi Das , Tailang Swami and Keena Ram . Tailang Swami and his disciple Keena Ram Baba followed AGHOR PANTH . Keena Ram Baba is most famous exponent of AGHOR PANTH . I visited his Ashram also . This was my first visit . I visited it twice . First visit was in the afternoon of June 16th and the second one was next day , on June 17 , 2012 .

The Ashram of Keena Ram Baba - Main Entrance

The Ashram of Keena Ram Baba – Main Entrance

At The Ashram of Keena Ram Baba

At The Ashram of Keena Ram Baba

The Ashram of Keena Ram Baba

The Ashram of Keena Ram Baba

The Ashram of Keena Ram Baba  - Residence

The Ashram of Keena Ram Baba – Residence

At Keena Ram Baba Ashram

At Keena Ram Baba Ashram

My Wife at The Ashram of Sant Keena Ram

My Wife at The Ashram of Sant Keena Ram

I left Varanasi on June 17 , 2012 in the morning . While proceeding towards Sarnath and Aundihar , I started remembering several luminaries of Indian history , who were born in Varanasi and spent their lives in this city .

Notable residents of Varanasi

Temple of Markandeya Mahadev in Aundihar is another famous shrine of Bhagwan Shiv , which I visited with my wife , while on my way to Deoria .

At Markandeya Mahadev Temple - Aundihar

At Markandeya Mahadev Temple – Aundihar

My Wife at Markandeya Mahadev Temple - Aundihar

My Wife at Markandeya Mahadev Temple – Aundihar

Varanasi is not a remote place for me . It is in between Mumbai and Deoria . I can and will visit it as long as I am alive . But then being alive is the big , unknown and unanswered question . Who knows it is my last visit or not ? Who knows whether I would be able to visit it again or not ?

I started for Deoria with heavy heart . Though I do hope to visit Varanasi again in winters for Allahabad Kumbh mela . Lines of Agyeya come running in my mind :

पार्श्व गिरि का नम्र चीड़ों में , डगर चढ़ती उमंगों सी ;

बिछी पैरों में नदी ज्यों दर्द की रेखा , विहग शिशु मौन नीड़ों में ; 

मैंने आँख भर देखा , दिया मन को दिलासा ; 
पुनः आऊँगा , भले ही बरस दिन , अनगिन युगों के बाद ;

क्षितिज ने पलक सी खोली , दमक कर दामिनी बोली ;
” अरे यायावर ! रहेगा याद ? “
………………………………………………..अज्ञेय 
[ Tenderness of mighty mountains reflected in pine trees ,
Upward moving pathways symbolizing my enthusiasm ,
River , flowing deep down like a line of pain ,
Tiny tots of birds sitting silently in their nest ,
I saw everything with contentment ,
Consoled myself , I would come again ,
After a year or may be after ages ……….
Horizon opened its eyes , lightning dazzled in the sky ,
As if saying ………………
O Wanderer ! Would you ever even remember ? ]

Not A Drop of Tear for Baleshwar Yadav ?


I am so pained and sad to hear that eminent Bhojpuri folk singer Baleshwar Yadav died on January 9th, 2011. This 68 years old legendary BIRAHA singer was being treated in Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Hospital in Lucknow at the time of his death. He was cremated on January 10th, 2011 in Lucknow.

He was born in the Badanpur village of Mau District of Uttar Pradesh on January 1st, 1942. The folk song , he specializes in , is known as BIRAHA. “हमार बलिया बीचे सजना भुलाईल सजनी”  and  “निक लागे टिकुलिया गोरखपुर के”  are some of his famous BIRAHA songs. Among his admirers and fans he was known as Balesar baba. After being famous in his birth-place, he was invited to come to Lucknow [ Capital of Uttar Pradesh ] by the local leader and Member of Parliament Late Jharkhande Rai in 1962. He never looked back after that.


Apart from recording several cassettes and CDs, he started doing stage shows from 2008. His shows were very popular not only in India but also in countries like Mauritius, Germany, Holland, Thailand and various other European countries. He gave a new respectability to Bhojpuri folk music. His last stage show was in Surinam.

He was awarded Yash Bharati Puraskar by Uttar Pradesh Government in 1995 for his contribution to popularise Bhojpuri folk music, specially BIRAHA.

 

Indian state of Uttar Pradesh

Image via Wikipedia

He is survived by his wife Chhanguri Devi and three sons – Rajesh, Avadhesh and Mithilesh.

I am so peeved that the news of his death was completely ignored by electronic and print media. Indian News Channels have time to mourn death of Salmaan Taseer, a rabid India hater and Hindu batter and Governor of Pakistani Punjab. They are inviting his children for sound bytes. They are shedding copious tears for so-called liberal ( ? ) and Shaheed ( ? ) Salmaan Taseer , but they don’t have time to inform the viewers about the death of this son of the soil called Baleshwar Yadav. I am giving few of the tweets of Salmaan Taseer, so that readers can gauge the mentality and true feelings of liberal ( ? ) and Shaheed ( ? ) Salmaan Taseer:

Salmaan Taseer
SalmaanTaseer Salmaan Taseer
We pray 4 the heroic brave ppl of Kashmir. Inshallah 2011 bring them azadi from the brutal occupation they have faced 4 so many long years
Salmaan Taseer
SalmaanTaseer Salmaan Taseer
Pak has always resisted US pressure on Iran why is India so subservient? Transfer of nuclear technolagy?
Salmaan Taseer
SalmaanTaseer Salmaan Taseer
Why does India make fools of themselves messing in space technology (GSLV)? Stick 2 bollywood my advice
 

Salmaan Taseer
SalmaanTaseer Salmaan Taseer
Me India bashing? Im shocked! It’s because I like India that I advise them 2 stop butchering Kashmiris & messing up things in space
I hope that now you can understand the psyche of this so-called liberal Salmaan Taseer. I will write about him some other time. Here I quoted from his twitter handle to show what kind of person he was and our anchors have time for him and not for Baleshwar Yadav. Only Jai Bhojpuri.com informed us about his death.
Any way, leaving Indian Media aside, I have to state that I am a huge fan of Baleshwar Yadan and his music. ” Kawane Karanawa Nhauji Gharawa Me Bolawalu ” and ” Patana Saharia Me Ghume Dui Nataniya “ are his evergreen hits and are my personal favourites. I am sad and I deeply mourn the death of Baleshwar Yadav, who went unwept and unsung, though he sang all his life.
VIDUR
MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA
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