Khushwant Singh : The Man In Bulb


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MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           APRIL 02, 2014           00.15 A.M.

Khushwant Singh's Iconic Image on Editor's Page of The Illustrated Weekly of India

Khushwant Singh’s Iconic Image on Editor’s Page of The Illustrated Weekly of India

This obituary is a much delayed blog post . I wanted to write it immediately after sad demise of Shri Khushwant Singh ji . He died on March 20, 2014 at the age of 99 . But due to work pressure of my acting institute , I was , unfortunately , not able to do that .

Khushwant Singh : In The Winter of His Life

Khushwant Singh : In The Winter of His Life

I came to know about him in 1969  . In my life , 1967 is a watershed year . I left Deoria , my home town in Uttar Pradesh and landed in Allahabad for higher studies . In the hostel of Government Inter College , Allahabad , I was introduced to new horizons , unknown vistas and leading Indian luminaries .

In 1969 , after completing intermediate , I took admission in Allahabad University . I started living in Sir Ganga Nath Jha Hostel . There I got to know about Khushwant Singh , who shot into fame because of the unprecedented success of   The Illustrated Weekly of India  . In the reading room of my hostel , for the first time , I had a chance to glance the above mentioned weekly magazine . A bearded Sardar ji sitting in a light bulb with volumes of books , bottles of booze and photos of buxom beauties , attracted my attention . I read his editorial page week after week and became a life – long fan . As I started knowing  him more , my admiration for him grew .

Khushwant Singh I Know

Khushwant Singh , I Know

Just look at the startling facts of his fascinating life :

+  In 1938 he started his professional career as a practising lawyer . He worked at Lahore Court for eight years.

+ In 1947 he entered Indian Foreign Service . He started as Information Officer of the Government of India in Toronto, Canada . He was Press Attaché and Public Officer for the Indian High Commission for four years in London and Ottawa .

+ In 1951 he joined the All India Radio as a journalist .

+ Between 1954 and 1956 he worked in Department of Mass Communication of UNESCO at Paris .

+ From 1956 he turned editor. He had edited Yojana , an Indian government journal ; The Illustrated Weekly of India , a newsweekly ; and two major Indian newspapers , The National Herald and the Hindustan Times . During his tenure, The Illustrated Weekly became India’s pre-eminent newsweekly, with its circulation raising from 65,000 to 400000 .

I still have some old , dog – eared and pale copies of  The Illustrated Weekly of India   in the study of my Deoria house . I felt sad , when I read that one day on 25 July 1978 , a week before he was to retire, the management asked him to leave ” with immediate effect ” . He was the editor of the magazine for 9 years , from 1969 to 1978 precisely . The circulation rose to 4,00,000 from the previous 65,000 . After his departure it plummeted again .

I read that he woke up at 4.00 AM each day to write his columns by hand . His works ranged from political commentary and contemporary satire to translations of Sikh religious texts and Urdu poetry . He also wrote his highly popular column  ” With Malice Towards One and All “ regularly . It was widely syndicated in all the famous news papers .

Collage of Books

Books of Khushwant Singh :

Short story collections

  • The Mark of Vishnu and Other Stories. London, Saturn Press, 1950.
  • The Voice of God and Other Stories. Bombay, Jaico, 1957.
  • A Bride for the Sahib and Other Stories. New Delhi, Hind, 1967.
  • Black Jasmine. Bombay, Jaico, 1971
  • The Collected Stories. N.p., Ravi Dayal, 1989.
  • The Portrait of a Lady
  • The Strain
  • Success Mantra
  • A Love Affair In London
  • ना काहू से दोस्‍ती ना काहू से बैर

Play

Television Documentary: Third World—Free Press (also presenter; Third Eye series), 1983 (UK).

 

Book - 1

I am his admirer and shall always be that , till I am alive . It is strange that he attracted large number of people , who became life – long fan . Though he was a Gandhi – Nehru sympathiser , still he had my unflinching admiration . Even Shri Lal Krishna Advani is an admirer , whom he vehemently criticized for his role in Ram Janma Bhoomi Movement of Ayodhya .

Shri Lal Krishna Advani - A Lifelong Admirer

Shri Lal Krishna Advani – A Lifelong Admirer

It is strange , as well as unique . I am baffled and amazed .

 

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On behalf of all the students and staff of VIDUR Acting Institute , I offer my condolences to the family and legions of admirers of Khushwant Singh ji.

VIDUR Editing Studio , and VIDUR Club also pray for the departed soul .

May you REST IN PEACE Sir ! I , a believer and idol worshipper , will always miss an unapologetic atheist and crusader iconoclast like you .

 

[ Acknowledgment : I have taken some facts of his life and information about his books from Wikipedia . I have copied the list from Wikipedia and posted it here . Expressing gratitude . ]

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Neil Armstrong : First Step on Moon ; Last Step on Earth


Flag of the United States on American astronau...

Flag of the United States on American astronaut Neil Armstrong’s space suit (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           AUGUST 31 , 2012           07.30 P.M.

It was July 20 , 1969 . I had passed intermediate from the Government Inter College , Allahabad and then took admission in the University of Allahabad in B. A.

In the morning , I woke up and as per my habit glanced at the newspapers . All the newspapers were full of the photos of Apollo 11 and the minutest details of  the Moon Mission . I saw the pictures of a man standing on the surface of the moon and unfurling American flag . This photo got etched in my memory box permanently . I came to know that this first man on the moon is called Neil Armstrong .

Apollo 11 Patch

Apollo 11 Patch (Photo credit: gregw66)

Apollo 11 was the spaceflight which landed first humans on the moon . Neil Armstrong became the first to land on the moon surface and Buzz Aldrin was the second . They stayed for the 2.30 hours on the moon . Third member of the  Moon Mission , Michael Collins remained in the lunar orbit . After 8 days of space mission all the three astronauts safely returned to earth .

Apollo 11 was the 5th manned mission in the Apollo programme of NASA .

The Apollo 11 crew portrait. Left to right are...

The Apollo 11 crew portrait. Left to right are Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It was epoch-making historical event . Never ever we thought that one day in our lives we would be able to witness this kind of moment . A man on moon was an unimaginable and unthinkable event . Neil Armstrong was the first to land on the lunar surface , so naturally he became the hero of our generation .

Born as Neil Alden Armstrong on August 05 , 1930 in Ohio , U.S. , he was an US Navy officer and also served in the Korean War . In 1962 he joined NASA Astronaut Corp .

His first spaceflight was the NASA Gemini 8 mission in 1966, for which he was the command pilot, becoming one of the first U.S. civilians in space. On this mission, he performed the first manned docking of two spacecraft with pilot David Scott.

Armstrong’s second and last spaceflight was as mission commander of the Apollo 11 moon landing in July 1969.

Armstrong was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Richard Nixon along with Collins and Aldrin, the Congressional Space Medal of Honor by President Jimmy Carter in 1978, and the Congressional Gold Medal with his former crewmates in 2009.

Armstrong died in Cincinnati, Ohio, on August 25, 2012, at the age of 82 due to complications from blocked coronary arteries.

With his death a gigantic figure of my growing years is gone forever . It is sad , though inevitable . This ephemeral world is not a perennial abode of anyone . But fading away of my childhood icons one by one is heart – wrenching .

Farewell Mr. Armstrong !

May your last steps on this terra firma be the first step on some other unknown planet .

Rest In Peace gentleman !

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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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60 Years of Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II


MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           JUNE 07 , 2012           01.40 A.M.

Queen of United Kingdom (as well as Canada, Au...

Queen of United Kingdom (as well as Canada, Australia, and other Commonwealth realms )

I am a student of history and I have studied History of England also . I am quite familiar with numerous kings and queens of United Kingdom . When I was doing post graduation in English Literature , British history was a subject in the University of Allahabad .  Reign of Queen Victoria always fascinated me . Her reign is epochal and will be remembered because she is the longest reigning monarch in the history of United Kingdom . She ruled for 63 years and 7 months .  Since Queen Elizabeth II , is celebrating diamond jubilee of her coronation this week , and she has become the 2nd longest reigning monarch of United Kingdom after Queen Victoria , I thought that I must write a blog on this event .

She is the longest-lived and second-longest-reigning monarch of the United Kingdom, after Queen Victoria and the second-longest-serving current head of state after King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand , who ascended the throne in 1946 , 6 years before Queen Elizabeth II .

Victoria of the United Kingdom (英女王維多利亞)

Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom (Photo credit: Kvasir79)

English: Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej wa...

Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej waves to well-wishers during a concert at Siriraj hospital in Bangkok on September 29, 2010.(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For the connoisseurs and students of history , Queen Elizabeth II has other many fascinating records also to her credit . She outlived many Prime Ministers of India and United Kingdom and several Presidents of France and United States of America . During her 60 year-long tenure , India has seen , from Jawahar Lal Nehru to Manmohan Singh , as many as 13 Prime Ministers . Out of these 13 Prime Ministers 09 are already dead .

During her tenure , USA saw 12 Presidents . From Harry S. Truman , the 33rd President to the present incumbent Barack Obama , the 44th President , she has seen them all .  Out of these 12 Presidents of USA , 7 are already dead .

During her tenure , France elected as many as 11 Presidents . Out of these 11 Presidents ; 2 belonged to the 4th French Republic and the rest 9 , including the present incumbent , belonged to the 5th French Republic .

She , during her tenure , administered oath of office to as many as 11 Prime Ministers of United Kingdom . Out of these 11 Prime Ministers , many served for more than one term .

So for the record , she has seen 11 Prime Ministers of United Kingdom , 11 Presidents of France , 12 Presidents of USA and 13 Prime Ministers of India . 3 more years of her reign and she will eclipse Queen Victoria also as the longest reigning monarch of United Kingdom .

Philip Alexius de Laszlo: Princess Elizabeth o...

Princess Elizabeth of York, currently Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, painted when she was seven years old (1933) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

” Queen Elizabeth II (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary; born 21 April 1926 is the constitutional monarch of 16 sovereign states known as the Commonwealth realms, and head of the 54-member Commonwealth of Nations. She is also head of state of the Crown Dependencies. On her accession in 1952, she became Head of the Commonwealth and queen regnant of seven independent Commonwealth countries: the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Pakistan, and Ceylon. Between 1956 and 1992, the number of her realms varied as territories gained independence and some realms became republics. Today, in addition to the first four aforementioned countries, Elizabeth is Queen of Jamaica, Barbados, the Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize, Antigua and Barbuda, and Saint Kitts and Nevis. Her reign of 60 years is the second longest for a British monarch; only Queen Victoria has reigned longer at 63 years. Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee is being celebrated during 2012. ”

{ Above posted piece is taken from Wikipedia ]

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of ...

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Coronation portrait, June 1953, London, England.

Badge issued for Queen Elizabeth II's coronation

Badge issued for Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation

GB Elizabeth II Coronation Stamp 1953 Scanned ...

GB Elizabeth II Coronation Stamp 1953 Scanned from personal collection Jeff Knaggs 10:45, 29 Nov 2004

English: Coronation Tree, Lincoln's Inn Fields...

English: Coronation Tree, Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London WC1 This tree was planted in 1953 to commemorate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. [1247865]

Members of the Royal Family in the Royal box a...

Members of the Royal Family in the Royal box at Westminster Abbey during the coronation of Elizabeth II.

English: A map of the British Empire in 1921 w...

A map of the British Empire in 1921 when it was at its height. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The same as previous version but much nicer co...

Queen Elizabeth II’s Empire in 2012 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Cropped version of File:Bundesarchiv ...

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip

Records always fascinate me . Queen Victoria’s reign of 63 years and 7 months [ 20 June 1837 – 22 January 1901 ] , Queen Elizabeth’s reign of 60 years [ 6 February 1952 – Present ] and Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s reign of 66 years [ 9 June 1946 – Present ] is very fascinating for me .

I have nothing new or personal things to say about Queen Elizabeth II . She ascended the throne in 1952 , the year I was born in and she is still there as I am a 60-year-old man . I did watch her celebrating her Silver Jubilee in 1977 and Golden Jubilee in 2002 . And in 2012 , I am watching her celebrating Diamond Jubilee of her coronation . The fact that she is the second longest reigning monarch of United Kingdom and within 3 years she will become the longest reigning monarch of United Kingdom , is very exciting for me .

I think , I will be witness to that epoch – making event also , when she will become the longest reigning monarch of United Kingdom . Or who knows , she might outlive me also as she outlived so many people .

United Kingdom

Flag of United Kingdom (Photo credit: stumayhew)

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