Sunday, January 31, 2016


Coming generations would hardly ever believe that such a man existed in real flesh and blood .
                                                                 Albert Einstein

Because seeing is believing, Mr Einstein. The statues and roundabouts,  the institutions and roads, the Museums and Galleries named on the great leader make the visitors reminisce what is past, history, bygone, over.
Those of us-actually the majority of us have not seen him except through the ancient glittering eyes and nostalgic narration by our fathers (if we are born around 60s), our grand fathers if we belong to the era of 1980s born. If we are fortunate young people born after 1990s and blessed to have great grand parents whom we care for enough to listen with receptiveness , pay heed to what the 1940s and pre or post independence meant and brought to them; the literal or the catastrophic change in lives  may give a glimpse of the days of the yore when the frail bodied but with rock like strength of commitment and content of character Gandhi led the freedom struggle and forced the British to go back, freed us from the shackles of slavery.
Living in this our world influenced by extreme individualism, let's pause and ponder what selfish motive did Gandhiji ever have,what individual gain he meant to gain, what treasures he happened to achieve, what personal accolades he aspired for through all the relentless, steadfast efforts, fasting, leading through Satya, Ahimsa and Swadeshi?
I feel and believe that in almost all towns and cities, villages, blocks or districts there are some people who are doing things they don't have to do, regardless of appreciation or recognition they are contributing their mite to make this world a better place to live in, a more clean place to breathe in; there are people who do not have an iota of aspiration or rude questioning like 'what the country has done for me?'  but they are diligently and relentlessly working for a better today and tomorrow in their chosen field of activity with the spirit of ' jodi tore dak shuni keu na aashe tobe ekla chalo,ekla chalo,ekla chalo re' .
In a recently concluded 'Aaj ki Raat Hai Zindagi', the serial facilitated encounters with some of living Gandhis who have been trying hard to make this world a better place to live in contributing in their exquisite kind of way in small and big towns, known and places forlorn, single handedly or as team leaders with indomitable spirit of never say die and ever motivating canon of :we shall overcome some day. The nation salutes all such living Gandhis who are making the difference for the better. So many of us have felt motivated and encouraged by this programme. Is it not just the right time to make a start in any...a n y of the fields of activity-be it sanitation or health and hygiene, contribution in initiatives like adopting a day as car-free or cycling for hobby, motivating ten persons/ families for garbage segregation or beautifying the parks or not aggravating the congestion and helping in managing the traffic, leading the clean the street campaigns or plain participating by not adding to the filth around, imparting health through Yoga classes or learning to remain healthy by following simple tenets, spending an hour a week with specially-abled children or imparting patriotism through songs and theatre?  The list can be as exhaustive as we choose. After all doing something is definitely better than doing nothing at all.
Let's search for a Gandhi in us, shall we?

Wednesday, January 27, 2016



He was not an ordinary man though he took a lot of pride in being a 'common man'. Yes, everything about him was extra ordinary-his patriotism, his penchant for cleanliness, his regularity for long walks and tennis, his passion for gardening and roses, his open hearted hospitality, his expression of love for his own daughters and for his nephews and nieces and their daughters and sons, his uncompromising love for English language and literature, his boldness to speak and write nothing but the truth without caring for the price it could and did cost, his ability to appreciate and motivate, his positive attitude despite all ordeals that life had laid for him, his firm faith in basic human goodness,  his irritability at sullen faces or sulky demeanour, his inability to accept per se any casual or frivolous remark.
His life, thoughts, working, ideas revolved around his country. His commitment to freedom struggle delayed his marriage. He was 32 years old when he did relent for marriage in 1946. He found an equally patriotic and strong willed partner in my mother Shanta Kataria and both of them decided that they would have an issue only after the freedom of the country became a reality. He could never gulp down a n y t h i n g said against the country and he was fierce and fiery in his words spoken and written against the leaders who seemed to let down the system in words or deeds! His heart bled and he cried after reading about the heinous crime of Billa and Ranga in early 1970s. Any grief or hurt would put him off and we could feel him mutter or murmur and invariably, the catharsis would take place only when he had poured his feelings in a letter to either one of his daughters or to the person who caused such fallout. 
26th January and 15th August were celebrated with great fervour and enthusiasm in our home. The flag was hoisted on the top most roof (shikhar) followed by singing of the national anthem. Thereafter, the servings of home cooked Halwa Kheer or Krishan halwaee's  Laddoos were savoured. 

He called himself an atheist but his faith in Bholenath as ameliorator of all deprivation and suffering remained unshaken. He performed no rituals but loved to perform Hawan. His favourite mantra was the Gaytari mantra and  Jeevem Sharda Shatam. He did not ever object to my Mother's religious bent and inclination. I feel he was true follower of Dharma and all its ten tenets: Dhirti(patience), Kshama (forgiveness), Dhi(benevolent intelllect) , Dhairya, Dham(sef control), Indriynigrah, Shoucha (cleanliness), Astey(non stealing) , Vidya (knowledge), satyaam (truthfulness), Akrodha(non-anger). His anger was sentient anger against anything he found unjust, unholy, and unpatriotic.
Throughout his life he wore only the white Khadi. Unmatched was his taste for neat, white, well ironed white Khadi shirt and payjama dress and white cotton bedsheets. Synthetic dresses were neither common in those days nor actually acceptable for any of the members in our family.
He embodied an exemplary combination of humility and boldness. As a doting father he took a lot of pains to groom all his daughters as leaders and all rounders. He was a perfectionist when it came to pronunciation and accent in delivery of speech. I can never ever forget how he would make us get up at 4 in the morning and over cups of tea make us rehearse speeches that he dictated after a lot of contemplation. He took a lot of pride when we would deliver well regardless of the prizes won. I vividly remember how I had won a Table Tennis match after a long struggle but it was my opponent who was appreciated by him, as she had indeed played better than me.
He was born with flair for writing. His letters written in beautiful handwriting in Hindi or English or neatly manually typed are cherishable treasures for us. His keen and avid reading made his missives so poetic and literary. Sharing through letters was so personal, intense and open. Indeed, it was a strong bond. And he would not relish any laxity in acknowledgment or a reply and in any such an eventuality, a telegram would follow: WIRE WELFARE. No wonder all of us while studying in Panjab University and residing in Hostels were envied for the letters we received. During my two years’ stay in UK, I missed and missed and missed this sacred medium of sharing with him.
He died the way he wished- silently, in healthy state of body. Even an MI a few years before that had not dampened his spirits nor deterred him from following the regular regime of long walks.  It has been thirty-five years that he left us but the legacy of memories is enriching indeed as they exude positivity, enthusiasm for life with inimitable art of living. 
Wish you Happy Republic Day, Pitaji.
Jai Hind