Sunday, 2 June 2013

Sahir aur Jaadu - A short story by Gulzar (Translation by me)

This occurred just before Sahir's funeral departed.

The story is about Jaadu and I mentioned Sahir Ludhianvi.

Jaadu and Sahir shared a unique relationship. Jaadu, Javed Akhtar's nickname, was both poetic and rebellious - a trait that ran in his family. He is the son of Jan Nisar Akhtar. Majaz was his maternal uncle. And Kaifi Azmi, his father-in-law.

He never respected his father. There was some anger that was bottled up inside him. He tolerated his father for as long as his mother was alive. After she passed away, there would be repeated brawls between the father and son. Eventually, Jaadu would leave home to land at Sahir's place. Sahir could figure what must have happened by merely looking at Jaadu's face, but he would never bring the topic up. He knew that Jaadu would, at first, flare up; and then give way to tears. Under both circumstances, it would be difficult to control him.

After some time Sahir would say, "Jaadu, come, eat something."

Once on the dining table, Jaadu would vent out everything, and would then spend the rest of the day at Sahir's place, sulking. Sometimes though, Sahir would warn him, "Listen, Akhtar will be arriving... for lunch".

Jaadu would look at Sahir in dismay. If only he could muster up the courage to tell Sahir, "I don't believe my father! Why can't he just leave me alone?" 

Jaadu, though the son of Jan Nisar Akhtar, had the characteristics like those of Majaz, his maternal uncle - very emotional and very short tempered. Sahir cared for him as a son and treated him as a friend. He would often send him to the movies at Eros, "Why don't you go for that new movie? Umm what's its name?", thus avoiding a confrontation between Jaadu and Akhtar.

One day, Jaadu stomped out of Sahir's place yelling, "You have spoiled my father!" Sahir chuckled at that. "Laugh!" Jaadu flared up, "Even my father laughs at me! I don't want to stay here! I don't want you, I don't want him!" He slammed the door and left and remained untraceable for a few days. 

Jaadu was close friends with Kamal Amrohi's production manager. He stayed with him that evening and spent the night at the studio, in the production store, among all the equipment and two Filmfare trophies won by Meena Kumari. In front of a life-size mirror he would  present the trophy and then receive it too, then  he would applaud on behalf of the audience and also take a bow and deliver an acceptance speech. At an interview years later, Jaadu admitted doing this every night before going to bed. He spent days at end at the studio.

He turned up at Sahir's house, seemingly upset. Sahir tried to speak to him affectionately, but Jaadu was still very angry.

"I am here just to take a shower. I just want to use your bathroom and soap, if you don't mind."

"Not at all! Why don't you eat something first."

"I will eat anywhere else, not here."

When he stepped out of the shower, he noticed Sahir sitting in front of the dressing table with a note of hundred rupees placed there, casually brushing his hair. He was actually contemplating how to ask Jaadu to take the money. Sahir adored Jaadu for his self-respect. He gathered the courage to say, "Jaadu, why don't you keep these hundred rupees? You can return the money later."

Back then, a hundred rupees was a huge amount. Change for a hundred rupees could only be obtained at a bank or a petrol pump.

Jaadu took the note as if he did Sahir a favour, "Fine!" he said rudely, "I'll return the money when I get my salary."

Javed worked as an assistant to director Shankar Mukherjee. That's how he met Salim Khan and went on be become a successful writer and lyricist. He took to alcohol and would drink just like Majaz. And then vent out his anger on his father, in Sahir style. But he never repaid those hundred rupees. He went on to earn thousands, then lakhs. But he would always tease Sahir, "Forget the money, you are never going to get those hundred rupees."

Sahir would lovingly respond, "Son, I will definitely have you cough it up."

This affectionate tussle lasted all of Sahir's days. Sahir didn't have many friends, but he sincerely loved all those he called friends. After a few drinks at night, he would abuse all those he hated. In the days when he resided at Krishanchander Apartments, his old friend Om Prakash Ashk was also his flat mate. One evening when I went to visit them, Ashk asked Sahir in Punjabi, "Sahir, why do you start abusing after a few drinks?"

Sahir answered candidly, "Don't you need something tangy with your booze?"

Among Sahir's friends was one Dr. Kapoor, a heart specialist and a heart patient himself. Sahir would often ask, "Kapoor, should I come over to check on you or to get a check up done for myself?"

This is exactly what happened that evening... that fateful evening. In so many years, Sahir had built a bungalow for himself - Parchhaiyaan, whereas Dr. Kapoor stayed in a bungalow at Versova. Jaadu was now a successful writer. That evening, Sahir went to visit Dr. Kapoor. He was told that the doctor wasn't keeping too well. Dr. Seth, another heart specialist was on his way. I guess Ramanand Sagar was also present, or perhaps he arrived later. Sahir asked for a pack of playing cards to lighten Kapoor's mood up a bit. As Sahir was distributing the cards, Kapoor noticed Sahir's face slowly stiffen. Perhaps he was trying to hide his pain. "Sahir?" Dr. Kapoor called him.

At that moment, Sahir collapsed on Dr. Kapoor's bed. Dr. Seth entered. The two doctors tried their best to revive Sahir, but it was too late. Seeing the fear on Dr. Kapoor's face, Ramanand Sagar took him to his place.

Anwar, Sahir's driver reached Dr. Kapoor's residence. He laid Sahir's body on the bed. They tried contacting Yash Chopra - a close friend of Sahir's, but he was in Srinagar. Finally, they informed Jaadu. He took a cab and reached there as soon as he could and in the same cab he got Sahir to Parchhaiyaan. With help from Anwar and the taxi driver they got Sahir to the first floor of Parchaaiyaan, where he used to stay.

All this while Jaadu was silent. They reached Sahir's home at 1:00 AM. Once there, Jaadu burst out in tears. He fell on Sahir's chest and wept - he hadn't wept this way all his life. A myriad of questions went through is head - where to go? whom to call? He sat there by Sahir's side. The neighbours got there. One of them said, "The body will stiffen in some time. Get his hands on his chest and tie them. It would get difficult later." Jaadu did just as he was told, with tears rolling down his eyes.

In the morning, they started making calls, informing everyone. The news spread, people began arriving.

"Get the sheets out for people to sit"

"Remove those chairs from there."

"Open that door."

Jaadu did everything they said.

He went down to receive the undertakers and noticed the taxi driver standing there.

"Oh God, why didn't you tell me? How much is it?"

The man seemed to be well cultured. He immediately folded his hands, "Sir, I didn't stay here for the money. I mean, where would I go in the dead of the night?"

Jaadu removed his wallet. The taxi driver insisted, "No sir, please."

Jaadu almost yelled at him, "Here! Take these hundred rupees. Even in death he had me cough it out." And then cried bitterly.

This occurred just before Sahir's funeral departed.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Toba Tek Singh - Sa'adat Hassan Manto (Translation by me)

Two or three years after the partition, it occurred to the governments of Pakistan and Hindustan that, just like the prisoners, lunatics in the asylums of the two countries should also be sent to their respective new nations. That meant, while the Muslims in Hindustani asylums would be sent to Pakistan, the Hindu and Sikh lunatics in Pakistan would be transferred to the asylums in Hindustan.

Whether this decision was reasonable or not, one can't say. But after many rounds of high level conferences among important officials on both sides, a date for exchanging the lunatics was fixed. Every minute detail pertaining to the exchange was clearly chalked out. Those Muslim inmates whose families chose to remain in Hindustan were allowed to stay there, the rest were sent to the border. Considering almost all Hindus and Sikhs had left Pakistan, there was no question of keeping their lunatics here. So all the Hindu and Sikh inmates were sent to the border along with the police.

The situation out there in Hindustan was not known, but when the news of the exchange reached the lunatic asylum here in Lahore, it immediately became a matter of intense discussion. When a Muslim lunatic, who, for the last twelve years, read the Zamindar newspaper daily, was asked "Maulvi sa'ab, what is this Pakistan?", he answered after deep reflection, "Its, er, a place in Hindustan where they manufacture razors."

This answer satisfied his friend.

Likewise, a Sikh lunatic asked another inmate, "Sardarji, why are we being sent to Hindustan? We can't even speak their language." He replied "I know the language of these Hindustanis. These devils behave as if they own the earth."

One day, while bathing, a Muslim lunatic raised the slogan "Pakistan Zindabad" with such passion that he slipped on the floor and fell unconscious. There were some other inmates who hadn't really lost their senses. They were perfectly alright. Their families greased the palms of officials to prove them insane, thus sparing them from the hangman's noose. These inmates had a faint idea about the partition and about Pakistan. But they too did not have complete knowledge of the situation. Little could be deciphered from the newspapers. They couldn't fathom anything from eavesdropping on the conversations of the guards, who were but illiterate. All they knew was that there is this man named Muhammad Ali Jinnah who is referred to as the Qaid-e-Aazam, and that he had created a separate nation for Muslims called Pakistan. They had no idea as to where is this new country situated and what are its boundaries. This was the reason why even those inmates who hadn't completely lost their sanity, were unable to decide whether they were in Hindustan or Pakistan. If they are in Hindustan, then where is Pakistan. If they are in Pakistan, then how is it possible that just the other day they were in Hindustan?

One of these partially lunatic inmates was so lost in Hindustan-Pakistan-Pakistan-Hindustan hassle that completely lost his remaining sanity. One day while sweeping the lawn he climbed up a tree and for two continuous hours he delivered a speech on the delicate issue of Pakistan and Hindustan. When the guards tried to get him down, he climbed higher. Upon being threatened with punishment he announced, "I wish to reside neither in Hindustan, nor in Pakistan, I will reside in this tree."

With great difficulty when he finally came down, he hugged his Hindu and Sikh friends and wept. He became emotional when he realised that they would leave him and go to Hindustan.

A Muslim Radio Engineer with an M.Sc. degree who would remain aloof from all the other inmates and would stroll at one corner of the garden in the asylum suddenly took off all his clothes, handed them over to the guards and started running around naked throughout the garden.

An obese Muslim lunatic named Muhammad Ali from Chiniot, who was once a zealous activist of the Muslim League and would bathe at least fifteen or sixteen times a day, suddenly stopped doing that and declared himself to be Qaid-e-Aazam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Imitating him, a Sikh lunatic decided to become Master Tara Singh. Apprehending violence, the asylum authorities decided to lock them up in separate cells.

Also housed there was a young Hindu lawyer from Lahore, who lost his senses after a failed love affair. He was saddened to find out that Amritsar had now become a part of Hindustan. He had fallen in love with a girl from this city. Although she had rejected his proposal, he hadn't forgotten her, even in this state of insanity. He abused every Hindu and Muslim leader who connived with each other to divide Hindustan into two states, causing him to become a Pakistani while his beloved became a Hindustani.

While discussing the exchange, many lunatics tried to explain to him that he would be sent to Hindustan, the country of his beloved. But he did not want to leave Lahore as he felt his practice would not prosper in Amritsar.

There were two Anglo-Indian inmates lodged in the European Ward of the asylum. When they came to know that the English had granted India her freedom and had left, they were shocked! They would secretly discuss what would their status be in the asylum now that the English are not in control. Would this European Ward remain? Would it be demolished? Would they continue getting breakfast? Or would they have to survive on that "bloody Indian chapati"?

There was one particular Sikh lunatic who was an inmate there for the last fifteen years. Time and again one could hear him mumble "upar di gud gud di annexe di be dhayaana di moong di daal of the laalten". An insomniac, the man hadn't slept a wink in the last fifteen years. He wouldn't sit, nor lie down. Albeit sometimes he would stand with his back against a wall. Those fifteen years of standing had caused his feet and toes to swell immensely.

Whenever the inmates would discuss the partition or the exchange, he would listen in carefully. When asked for his opinion, he would wistfully reply "upar di gud gud di annexe di be dhayaana di moong di daal of the Pakistan government". Later, the words "of the Pakistan government" were replaced by "of the Toba Tek Singh government". He began asking the other lunatics, "Where is Toba Tek Singh?" That was the place from where he hailed. But no one knew if it was in Pakistan or in Hindustan. The ones who would try to answer were themselves perplexed that Sialkot was earlier in Hindustan, but now it is in Pakistan, apparently. God knows if Lahore, which was till yesterday a part of Pakistan, may now be in Hindustan. Or if all of Hindustan had now become Pakistan. And who would guarantee that one day both Hindustan and Pakistan would not be wiped off the surface of the earth.

That Sikh lunatic had scanty hair. And since he seldom would bathe, the little hair on his head had merged with his beard that gave him a frightening appearance. But the old man was harmless. Never did he fight or argue with anyone. The old employees at the asylum only knew this much of him that the man owned acres of land in Toba Tek Singh and was a wealthy landlord there. But suddenly he lost all his senses and was brought to the asylum, fettered.

His family would visit him once every month for years, but when communal tensions broke out in Punjab, they stopped coming. His name was Bishan Singh. But everyone called him Toba Tek Singh. He had no idea about the day, date, month or year. But every month when his relatives were scheduled to meet him, he would get some kind of intuition. Hence, he would inform the guards that his family would be arriving, then bathe, cleanse himself, oil and comb his hair, put on clean, new clothes and go meet his visitors. He never spoke at these meetings. However, occasionally he would mutter, "upar di gud gud di annexe di be dhayaana di moong di daal of the laalten".

He had a daughter he left behind before entering the confinement of the asylum. Over the years she grew into a fine young girl. But Bishan Singh couldn't recognise her. As a kid, she would cry looking at her father. Even as a young girl, she still had tears rolling down her cheeks.

When this rigmarole of Pakistan, Hindustan and the partition began, he started asking other lunatics where exactly was Toba Tek Singh located. But when he didn't get a satisfactory answer, he grew restless. Even his relatives had suddenly stopped visiting. His intuitions that would alert him of these visits had withered.

He missed them. He missed their care, concern, the gifts, fruit, sweetmeats and clothes that his relatives would get for him. And he knew that they would tell him whether Toba Tek Singh was now in Hindustan or Pakistan. He felt that they came from Toba Tek Singh, the place where he lived.

At the asylum, there was another lunatic who claimed he was God. When Bishan Singh asked him whether Toba Tek Singh is now in Pakistan or Hindustan, he chuckled and said, "It's neither in Hindustan nor in Pakistan, because I am yet to issue orders in this matter".

Bishan Singh begged this God time and again to issue orders so that this matter could be resolved. But this God appeared to be busy with other important issues. Finally, he lost his cool and cursed this God saying, "upar di gud gud di annexe di be dhayaana di moong di daal of Vaahe Guruji da khalsa and Vaahe Guruji di fateh... jo bole so nihal! Sat Sri Akal!" by which he meant, "You don't answer my prayers because you are a Muslim God. Had you been a Sikh God, you would have helped me!"

A few days before the exchange, an old friend came to meet him - for the first time in fifteen years! When Bishan Singh saw him, he turned around and began to walk away. A guard stopped him and said, "He is Fazal Diin, your friend. He has come to meet you." Bishan Singh saw him once and started murmuring. Fazal Diin reached out to him and placed his hand on his shoulder. "I have been meaning to meet you since a really long time. All you relatives safely left for Hindustan. I did everything I could do to help them", he said. "And your daughter Roop Kaur, she too is fine and had left with them."

Bishan Singh kept mum. Fazal Diin continued: "Your family asked me to make sure that you were well. Now I hear that you will be leaving for Hindustan. Please do convey my regards to Balbir Singh and Wadhaawa Singh. Oh, and also to Amrit Kaur. And please do tell Balbir Singh that Fazal Diin is doing well by the grace of God. The two brown buffaloes that he left here are also doing well. Both gave birth to calves, one male and one female. Unfortunately, the female died six days after she was born. Tell them that I think of them. And if there is anything I could do for them, they could surely let me know."

He went on, "Here, I have got you some Marundas (rice sweets)"

Bishan Singh took the bag of Marundas, handed it over to the guard standing there and asked Fazal Diin, "Where is Toba Tek Singh?"

Stunned, Fazal Diin replied, "What do you mean where is it? It is there where it has been forever"

"In Pakistan? Or Hindustan?"

Fazal Diin was confused. "Er, I guess Hindustan... No, maybe in Pakistan!"

Bishan Singh left murmuring "upar di gud gud di annexe di be dhayaana di moong di daal of the Pakistan and Hindustan of the dur fite muhn!"

All the arrangements for the exchange were completed. The list of lunatics from both sides had reached the respective authorities and the date of the exchange was fixed. It was a cold winter night when trucks with the Hindu and Sikh inmates was sent to the border. The concerned officers accompanied them. Superintendents of both sides met each other at Wagah and after preliminary proceedings, the exchange of inmates commenced. It lasted all night.

Getting the lunatics out of the lorries and handing them over to the officers on the other side was a painstaking task. Some just wouldn't get out and it was difficult to manage the ones who would alight. The naked would tear off any clothing that would be given to them. Some were abusing, some were singing, some were fighting, bickering, and some were weeping, it was chaotic! And the howling women would just add to the chaos. The bitter cold was just unbearable.

Almost all the inmates were against the exchange. They were unable to understand why were they being transferred. The few who had some knowledge of the situation were raising slogans of "Pakistan Zindabad" or "Pakistan Murdabad". Some Muslims and Sikhs took offence to these slogans and almost broke into a scuffle.

Finally Bishan Singh was taken to the officer on the Hindustani side of the border. As the officer was registering his name, Bishan Singh asked, "Where is Toba Tek Singh? Is it in Hindustan, or Pakistan?" The officer chuckled saying "Pakistan". On hearing this, Bishan Singh jumped with joy, stepped aside and ran towards Pakistan. The Pakistani sepoys caught hold of him and tried to force him to the Hindustani side. But he resisted and exclaimed, "Toba Tek Singh is here! Toba Tek Singh is in Pakistan! Upar di gud gud di annexe di be dhayaana di moong di daal of the Toba Tek Singh and the Pakistan!

They tried to reason with him and explain that Toba Tek Singh had been moved to Hindustan, or would be transferred soon. But Bishan Singh was adamant. When they tried to force him to the other side, he stood with his swollen feet in such a way as if no force in the universe could move him an inch.

Since he was harmless, the guards eventually gave up and let him stay there. The exchange or the others continued through the rest of the night.

Just before sunrise, Bishan Singh cried out in a loud voice. Officers from both sides ran towards him and saw that the man, who stood for fifteen years, lay there collapsed, on his face.

There, on one side, behind barbed wire, lay Hindustan. On the other side, behind a similar fence, lay Pakistan. And in between the two, on that strip of land that had no name, lay Toba Tek SingH.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Khol Do - Sa'adat Hassan Manto (Translation by me)


A special train left Amritsar at two in the afternoon and reached Mughalpura after eight hours. En route many were killed, injured and some went astray in the mayhem.

10:00 AM. Sirajuddin lying on the cold ground of the camp, opened his tired eyes. The swelling sea of women, men and children perplexed him. He kept staring at gloomy sky for a long time. There was havoc all across the camp, but Sirajuddin’s ears were blocked. He couldn’t hear anything. Anyone seeing him would easily conclude that he was lost in deep concern. But it was not so. His senses were numb. He felt consumed by a void.

Browsing aimlessly at the gloomy sky he glanced upon the sun. The piercing rays woke him up with a jolt. And in a jiffy, many an image flashed in front of his eyes: loot, fire, stampede, station, bullets, the night, and Sakina. Sirajuddin got up suddenly and, like a lunatic, started frantically searching through the vast sea of women, men and children. For over three hours he looked out for Sakina but he couldn’t find his young, and only daughter. There was chaos all around him: someone was looking out for his child, while someone was looking out for his mother, and someone was looking out for his daughter.

Tired, Sirajuddin sat in one corner and tried hard to recollect when and how he parted from his daughter. And every time he tried recollecting, his mind would take him to the disemboweled corpse of Sakina’s mother. He was not able to think of anything further. She breathed her last in front of him saying, “Leave me! Take Sakina and go away from here!” Sakina and Sirajuddin ran barefooted. On the way, her dupatta fell off. Sirajuddin stopped to pick it up but Sakina protested, “Abbaji, leave it, let’s go!” But Sirajuddin stopped to pick it.

Lost in this thought, he put his hand in the pocket of his coat and found a cloth: the same dupatta. But where was Sakina?

Sirajuddin tried hard to recall but was unable to come to any conclusion. Did he get her to the station? Did she board the train with him? When the train stopped en route and the rioters got in, did he fall unconscious? Did they take Sakina along?

Sirajuddin had countless questions, no answers. He needed sympathy. But so did every human being around him. Sirajuddin wanted to cry. But his eyes would not cooperate. His tears dried up.

Somehow he regained his senses after six days. Sirajuddin finally met people who could help him: Eight young volunteers (razakaars). They had a lorry and guns. Sirajuddin blessed them a million times, over and over again and gave them a description of his daughter. “She is fair, very beautiful, just like her mother. Around seventeen years old, big eyes, black hair and a big beauty spot on her right cheek. She is my only daughter. Please find her. God will bless you.”

The young razakaars assured Sirajuddin that if his daughter is alive, she will be with him in a few days. The eight razakaars tried their best. Risking their own lives they went right up to Amritsar and safely got back many men, women and children. Ten days went by, but there was no news of Sakina.

One day, for the same work, the razakaars, were on their way to Amritsar. Near Cherat they saw a girl by the road. Startled by the sound of the lorry, she began to run. The razakaars stopped and all of them ran after her. In a field, they managed to catch her and noticed that she was very pretty. She had a huge beauty spot on her right cheek. “Don’t be scared” said one of the young men, “Are you Sakina?”

Her face became pale. She did not answer. It was only after the men reassured her, did her terror vanish. She accepted that she was Sakina, Sirajuddin’s daughter.

Eight razakaars tried their best to comfort Sakina. They gave her some food, some milk and sat her in the lorry. One of them took his coat off and gave it to her because she was uncomfortable without her dupatta and was unsuccessfully trying to cover her breasts with her arms.

Days went by. Sirajuddin had no news of his young daughter. All day he would run from one camp to another, one office to another, all in vain. All night he pray for the success of the young razakaars who had assured him that if Sakina were alive, she would be with him in a couple of days.

One day he saw those young volunteers in the camp, sitting in their lorry. As they were about to leave, he ran to them and asked, “Son, any news of my Sakina?” They all said as if in one voice, “We will, we will”. Sirajuddin once again prayed for their success and felt a bit relieved.

The same evening, he noticed some commotion in the camp. Four men were bringing in something. He soon found out that a girl was found unconscious near the rail track and that the men had got her here. Sirajuddin followed closely. The four men handed the girl over to the hospital staff and left.

For some time Sirajuddin stood by the fallen wooden pole outside the hospital. And then with slow steps, he went inside the hospital. There was no one in the room. There was a stretcher there with a corpse on it. With small, hesitant steps, Sirajuddin went close to the corpse. Suddenly, the room lit up. Sirajuddin saw a beauty spot on the pale face of the corpse and cried out “Sakina!”

The doctor who had switched the lights on asked with a rather stern voice, “What’s going on?”

All that Sirajuddin could say was, “I… I am her father.”

The doctor looked at the corpse on the stretcher, checked the pulse, and told Sirajuddin “Khidki khol do!” (Open the window).

There was a slight movement in Sakina’s lifeless body. Her lifeless hands loosened her shalwar and dropped it. Old Sirajuddin whispered loudly, “She is alive! My daughter is alive!”

The doctor was drenched in sweat from head to toE.





Tuesday, 29 January 2013

थोड़े से करोड़ों सालों में - गुलज़ार

थोड़े से करोड़ों सालों में
सूरज की आग बुझेगी जब
और राख उड़ेगी सूरज से
जब कोई चाँद न डूबेगा
और कोई ज़मीन न उभरेगी 
दबे बुझे एक कोयले-सा टुकड़ा
यह ज़मीन का घूमेगा
भटका-भटका मद्धम ख़ाकिसतरी रौशनी में

मैं सोचता हूँ उस वक़्त अगर
काग़ज़ पे लिखी इक नज़्म कहीं
उड़ते उड़ते सूरज में गिरे
और सूरज फिर से जलने लगे
-गुलज़ार

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

एक सौ नब्बे रुपये

मुश्किलें मुझ पर पड़ीं इतनी के आसाँ हो गई।
-मिर्ज़ा  असदुल्लाह ख़ान 'ग़ालिब'

एक पुराने दोस्त से मिलने की तद्बीर एक अरसे से हो रही थी। तो सोचा आज ही मिला जाए।

जेब में, इतना ध्यान था मुझे, कुल मिला के पाँच सौ रुपये के अलावा अलग से छुट्टे पैसे रखे थे। दोनों ने कॉफ़ी पी, तसवीरें खींचीं, कुछ खाया, और तीन सौ तिरानवे रुपये ख़र्च कर वहाँ से चल दिए। रह गए एक सौ नब्बे रुपये।

मेरी दोस्त ने कहा कि उसे घाटकोपर स्टेशन तक छोड़ दूँ। हम दोनों bike पे सवार हुए, चल दिए, और क़रीब पंद्रह मिनटों में घाटकोपर स्टेशन के बेहद क़रीब आ गए। यहीं पहुँचके पता चला कि bike के सामने के पहिए में हवा बाक़ी नहीं। शर्मिंदा-ओ-मजबूर होके मुझे अपनी दोस्त से कहना पड़ा कि आगे का सफ़र उसे अकेले ही तय करना होगा। मेरी लाचारी समझ, मुझसे गले मिलकर वह विदा लेके चली गई।

मैं वापस अपना ध्यान अपनी bike पे लगाता, इतने में मेरे भारी बसते के दाएँ पट्टे ने जवाब दे दिया। "ख़ैर" मैंने बाएँ काँधे पर बसते का भार डाल, आगे बढ़ने का फैसला किया।

राह चलते लोगों से नज़दीकी गराज का पता पूछ पूछ कर मैं जैसे तैसे वहाँ पहुँचा। Bike को स्टैंड पर रखते रखते बसते का दूसरा पट्टा भी टूट गया, और बस्ता धम्म से गिर गया। "ख़ैर" मैंने bike को स्टैंड पे रखा और बस्ता उठाया। दुकानदार बाहर आया, और बिना कुछ पूछे, बिना कुछ कहे वह अपने काम पे लग गया।

कभी कभी यूँ ही हमने अपने दिल को बहलाया है...

"एक सौ नब्बे रुपये..." "एक सौ नब्बे रुपये..."  यही मेरे दिमाग़ में चल रहा था। मैंने खुद से कहा, "सौ या डेढ़ सौ रुपये। उससे ज़्यादा तो क़तई ख़र्च नहीं होगा। उसने पहिए में से ट्यूब निकाला, देखा, और कहा, "बदलना होगा। यह ट्यूब तो गया"

"कितना  होगा?"

"कम से कम दो सौ अस्सी रुपये।"

"क्या! देखो भाई, फिलहाल मेरे पास सिर्फ़ 
एक सौ नब्बे रुपये हैं।

"अर्रे तो ATM से निकाल लाओ"

"भाई, मेरे पास ATM कार्ड नहीं"

"एक मिनट, पूछ के आता हूँ।" यह कहकर वह अपनी छोटी-सी दुकान के अंदर चला गया। अंदर एक अधेढ़ उम्र का आदमी बैठा पान पे किमाम लगा रहा था। दोनों में कुछ बात हुई, और दोनों बाहर आए। दोनों बाप-बेटे लग रहे थे। 

उस अधेढ़ उम्र के आदमी ने मुझसे पूछा, "कहाँ रहते हो?" 

"ठाणे" (उस जगह से क़रीब सोलह किलोमीटर दूर)

"ठीक है। अभी एक सौ नब्बे रुपये दे दो, बाक़ी के कल दे देना।"

निकलना ख़ुल्द से आदम का सुनते आए हैं लेकिन...

"पर मैं यहाँ रोज़ नहीं आता।"

"कोई बात नहीं, जब आओगे, दे देना। ख़ास पैसे देने के लिए यहाँ आने की ज़रुरत नहीं।"

"अरे लेकिन"

"लेकिन-वेकिन छोड़ दो।"

एक लंबी साँस भर के मैंने कहा "ठीक है। शुक्रिया।"

इतने में वह लड़का काम में जुट गया। अच्छाई की आदत न हो तो शक़ होने लगता है। "शायद इन्हें एक सौ नब्बे रुपये ही दिया जान ठीक होगा। बाक़ी के पैसे तो शायद ऊपरी कमाई ही होगी।" पर शक़ भी कितने देर अच्छाई को छिपाता? "शायद, नहीं।"

मरम्मत होने पार उन्हें एक सौ नब्बे रुपये थमाके मैं bike पे सवार हो गया। 

वह जो एक शख़्स तुझसे पहले यहाँ तख़्त-नशीन था 
उसे भी अपने  ख़ुदा  होने का इतना ही यक़ीन था 
-हबीब जालिब 

उन्होंने मुझे अपने पास बुलाया, सो मैं bike से उतरके उनके पास गया। "तुम्हें घर भी पहुँचना है, काफ़ी दूर तक जाना है। तुम्हारी जेब में कुछ नहीं है।" जो पैसे मैंने उन्हें दिए थे, उसमें से बीस रुपए निकाल कर उन्होंने मेरे हाथ में रखा। पान पीककर, मुस्कुराए और दूकान के अंदर चले गए।

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

आँखों को वीज़ा नहीं लगता - गुलज़ार

आँखों को वीज़ा नहीं लगता,
सपनों की सरहद नहीं होती।
बंद आँखों से रोज़ मैं,
सरहद पार चला जाता हूँ
मिलने महदी हसन से।

सुनता हूँ उनकी आवाज़ को चोट लगी है,
और ग़ज़ल ख़ामोश है सामने बैठी हुई।
काँप रहे हैं होंठ ग़ज़ल के।
फिर भी उन आँखों का लहज़ा बदला नहीं 
जब कहते हैं...

सूख गए हैं फूल किताबों में
यार "फ़राज़" भी बिछड़ गए हैं,
शायद मिले वो ख़्वाबों में
बंद आँखों से अक्सर सरहद पार
चला जाता हूँ मैं।

आँखों को वीज़ा नहीं लगता,
सपनों की सरहद कोई नहीं।
-गुलज़ार 

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

मकान की उपरी मंज़िल पे अब कोई नहीं रहता - गुलज़ार

मकान की उपरी मंज़िल पे अब कोई नहीं रहता।
वो कमरे बंद हैं कबसे।
जो चौबीस सीढियाँ उन तक पहुँचती थीं वो अब ऊपर नहीं जातीं।
मकान की उपरी मंज़िल पे अब कोई नहीं रहता

वहाँ कमरों में इतना याद है मुझको,
खिलोने एक पुरानी टोकरी में भर के रखे थे।
बहुत से तो उठाने, फेंकने, रखने में चूराँ हो गए।

वहाँ एक balcony भी थी,जहाँ एक बैत का झूला लटकता था।
मेरा एक दोस्त था वह तोता|
वह रोज़ आता था, उसको हरी मिर्च खिलाता था।
उसी के सामने एक छत थी जाहाँ एक मोर बैठा आसमान पे रात भर मीठे सितारे चुगता रहता था।

मेरे बच्चों ने वह देखा नहीं; वह नीचे की मंज़िल पर रहते हैं।
जहाँ पर पिआनो रखा है, पुरानी पारसी स्टाइल का फ़्रेज़र से ख़रीदा था।
मगर कुछ बेसुरी आवाज़ें करता है कि उसके रीड्ज़ सारे हिल गए हैं, सुरों पर दुसरे सुर चढ़ गए हैं।

उसी मंज़िल पर एक पुश्तैनी बैठक थी जहाँ पुरखों की तसवीरें लटकती रहती थीं।
मैं सीधा करता रहता था, हवा फिर टेढ़ा कर जाती।

बहु को मूछों वाले सारे पुरखे clishe लगते थे।
मेरे बच्चों ने आखिर उन्हें कीलों से उतारा।
पुराने न्यूज़पेपर में उन्हें महफूज़ करके रख दिया था।
मेरा एक भांजा ले जाता है फ़िल्मों में कभी सेट पर लगाता है, किराया मिलता है उनसे।

मेरी ही मंज़िल पे मेरे सामने एक मेहमान ख़ाना है।
मेरे पोते कभी अम्रीका से आएँ तो रुकते हैं 
अलग साइज़ में आते हैं, वह जितनी बार आते हैं।
ख़ुदा जाने वही आते हैं या हर बार कोई दूसरा आता है।

वह एक कमरा, जो पीछे की तरफ़ से बंद है,
जहाँ बत्ती नहीं जलती,
वहाँ एक रोज़री राखी है वह उससे महकता है।
वहाँ वह दाई रहती थी के जिसने तीनों बच्चों को बड़ा करने में अपनी उम्र दे दी थी।
मरी तो मैंने दफनाया नहीं, महफ़ूज़ करके रख दिया उसको 

अब उसके बाद एक-दो सीढियाँ हैं, नीचे तयख़ाने में जाती हैं।
जहाँ ख़ामोशी रोशन है, सुकून सोया हुआ है, बस इतनी सी पहलू में जगह रखकर,
कि जब सीढ़ियों से नीचे आऊँ तो उसी के पहलू में बालू पे सर रखकर गले लग जाऊँ, सो जाऊँ। 

मकान की उपरी मंज़िल पे अब कोई नहीं रहता।
कोई नहीं रहता।
-गुलज़ार 

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

मजबूरी

सारी रात देखता रहा चाँद मुझे,
शायद हमदर्दी की उम्मीद थी उसे मुझसे |
सारी रात सूरज का आईना बना रहा वह |
बूँद-बूँद पिघल, बरसा चांदनी बनके |

और मैं,
और मैं निहारने के अलावा कुछ न कर सका |

Monday, 22 August 2011

थोड़ा आगे तो सरकिए

कहते हैं कि बंबई में सर्दियां नहीं होती | यहाँ पे सिर्फ़ दो मौसम हैं - एक गर्मी और एक बरसात| मगर कुछ लोग बंबई की सर्दियों को बख़ूबी पहचानते हैं... ख़ास तौर पे जो ट्रेनों में सफ़र करते हैं |

कुछ ऐसा सर्द ही दिन था | धूप मानो सुहानी सर्द हवा को चीरती हुई आ रही थी | और प्लेटफ़ॉर्म पे खड़ा मैं ट्रेन का इंतज़ार करते  कानों में earphones लगाए रेडियो सुन रहा था |  फिर लौड़ स्पीकर पे किसीने कर्कश आवाज़ में ट्रेन की आमद का ऐलान किया और देखते ही देखते प्लेटफ़ॉर्म पे भीड़ जमा हो गयी |

मैं ग़ज़लों का बड़ा शौक़ीन हूँ | रेडियो पर ग़ज़लें चल रहीं थी | "रंजिश ही सही दिल ही दुखाने के लिए आ..." | कुछ ही पलों में ट्रेन प्लेटफ़ॉर्म के उस सिरह पर दीख पड़ा | इस ट्रेन का सफ़र इसी स्टेशन से शुरू होने वाली थी | ज़ाहिर था की भीड़ ज़्यादा नहीं होती | सब ऐसे तय्यार होने लगे मानो दुश्मन ने हमला किया है और अब उसपे फ़तेह हासिल करनी है, चाहे कुछ भी हो | मैं इस फ़िराक़ में था की यह सारा हुजूम ट्रेन के अन्दर चला जाए और मैं घुटन से बचने के लिए दरवाज़े पर ही ठहर जाऊँ |  

जैसे तैसे सारे मुसाफ़िर सवार हो गए | मैं दरवाज़े पे ठहर गया | अब दरवाज़े पर आराम से चार लोग ठहर सकते हैं | शोर और हंगामे से अलग रहने में रेडियो बहुत अच्छा मददगार साबित हुआ |

लोग कभी दोस्तों के सात सफ़र करते हैं या फिर संगी मुसाफिरों के साथ दोस्ती कर लेते हैं | पर मैं, मैं तो किसी अजनबी से दोस्ती तो दूर, बात तक करने की हिम्मत नहीं कर सकता | इसिलए रेडियो पर ग़ज़लों का साथ मुझे अच्छा लगता है |

दरवाज़े पे मेरे पीछे दो लोग थे और मेरे आगे एक लड़का था |  उसकी उम्र  शायद २४  या २५ साल की थी | मुझसे थोडा नाटा था | दरअसल मुझे उसी जगह खड़े रहने की आदत है जहाँ पे वह खड़ा था | इसी उम्मीद में की वह आते किसी नज़दीकी स्टेशन पर उतर जाएगा मैंने एक कान से earphone निकलकर पूछा "भाई कहाँ उतरोगे?"

उसने सर उठाकर मेरी तरफ़ देखा | उसकी आँखें लाल और नम थीं | लब उसके काँप रहे थे | उसने कहा "स्टेशन पर ही उतरूँगा |" इस अजीब जवाब को मैंने हैरानी से, पर चुप चाप क़बूल कर लिया | पता चला वोह बेइंतेहा परेशान है | शायद कोई ज़ियादती बात होगी |

थोड़ी देर में ट्रेन चलने लगी | हौले हौले रफ़्तार पकड़ती ट्रेन हम दरवाज़े पे खड़े मुसाफ़िरों को सर्दियों का एहसास दिला रही थी | हवा चुभ रही थी और धुप सहला रही थी | अचानक उस ने एक सवाल पूछा, "भाईसाहब, एक बात बताइए..." | मैंने एक earphone निकाल, उसकी तरफ ध्यान देने की कोशिश की  | "कोई अगर सुधरना चाहे तो क्या सुधर नहीं सकता ?" "सुधर सकता है न !" मैंने कहा " क्यों नहीं" | यह कहकर मैंने earphone को वापिस अपने कान में लगा लिया | मैं ज़्यादा बोलना नहीं चाहता था | एक तो वह एक अजनबी था,  न जाने मेरे कुछ कहने से उस पर क्या असर पड़े? और तो और रेडियो पे ग़ज़लों पर से ध्यान तो मैं पल भर के लिए भी नहीं हटाना चाहता था |

देखते ही देखते ट्रेन अगली स्टेशन पर पहुँची | कुछ लोग ट्रेन से उतर गए, और उन से ज़्यादा ट्रेन पर सवार हुए | तरस आ रहा था उन पर जो ट्रेन के अन्दर भीड़ का शिकार हो रहे थे | ऐसे में सारा भीड़ हम "द्वार के यात्रिओं" पर कहर ढाते हैं | भीड़ में से कोई इल्तेजा कर जगह माँगता, तो कोई गालियाँ देकर | कोई किसी मुसाफ़िर को कोसता, तो कोई एक ही साँस में बाक़ी सारे मुसाफिरों को | कुछ ही देर में दो लोगों के दरमयान बहस का आग़ाज़ हुआ |

पर अब मेरा ध्यान न तो कम्पार्टमेंट के अन्दर चल रही "लफ़्ज़ी कुश्ती" पर था, और न ही  ग़ज़ल पर | मेरा ध्यान उसके सवाल पर टिका रहा | उसके सवाल में शायद मदद की गुहार थी | दरवाज़े पे अपने आप को संभालते और ठंडी हवा से आखे मींचते हुए मैं यही सोच रहा था की शायद उससे बात करूँ तो उसका मन हलका हो जाए | यह सोच ही रहा था की इस प्रोग्राम की आख़िरी ग़ज़ल चलने लगी  |   

"ज़िन्दगी जब भी तेरे बज़्म में लाती है हमें..." इस ग़ज़ल के आख़िरी लफ़्ज़ और मैंने earphones कानों में से निकाल दिए | बात करने के लिए लब खोलने ही वाला था कि सामने से कुछ ही दूरी पर एक ट्रेन आ रही थी | एक तो चेहरे पे ठंडी हवा के थपेड़ों की वजह से मेरी आवाज़ तो वैसे ही दब जाती, और अब यह ट्रेन अगर बग़ल से गुज़रे, तो उसे ख़ाक कुछ समझ में आता | अब तक वोह ट्रेन यहाँ तक नहीं पहुँचा, तो मैं ठहरा रहा की ट्रेन आए और गुज़रे |

लेकिन इससे पहले कि यह सोच मेरे दिमाग़ में से गुज़रती, मेरे सामने खड़े इस लड़के ने ट्रेन के आगे छलाँग लगा दी |

ट्रेन बग़ल से गुज़री | उसके गुजरने की आवाज़ में मेरे और मेरे साथ सफ़र करने वाले बाक़ी मुसाफ़िरों  की चीख़ें भी दब गईं | और वोह, वोह शायद चीख़ा तक नहीं |

इतने में कम्पार्टमेंट से एक अजनबी आवाज़ आई "भाईसाहब, थोड़ा आगे तो सरकिए |"

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

No Room for Violence

Hindustan Times of January 9th, 2011 carried the following headline: Uddhav condemns the police for beating MNS legislator. Please do go through the article before you read any further.

Maybe Mr. Thackeray has forgotten his own stance when it comes to violence. Oh! The Sainiks love violence. It is, perhaps, high time someone asked the Thackerays why did they have an opposing opinion when it came to them resorting to violence?

If your memory is low, sir, let me show you these...



Thursday, 30 December 2010

Morality and Politics?!?!?! What a farce!

2010 – The Year of the Tiger, has been publicized by both the media and politicians alike as the year of scams.

A few days ago BJP President Nitin Gadkari was interviewed by Rahul Kanwal on Headlines Today. The issue being discussed was the 2G scam and why has the Opposition decided to become a bunch of cry babies and not allow parliament to conduct business.

Gadkari was prompt to blame the government for the ruckus that the Opposition had caused. However, Rahul Kanwal was equally quick in reminding Gadkari that even the BJP does not have a clean image either. When the Adarsh Land Scam broke out, the Chief Minister of Maharashtra offered his resignation immediately, but when another land scam broke out involving the Chief Minister of the BJP ruled state of Karnataka, this CM was allowed to continue in his post.

Gadkari responded saying “the decision of the Karnataka Chief Minister may be immoral, but not illegal!”

Ridiculous!

This implies that the CM’s office has no moral responsibility. And that we, the people of India, blindly bring them to power.

Hence I decided to rewrite the Preamble of our Constitution.

WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN CORRUPT SECULAR AUTOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens:
JUSTICE, social, economic and political using nepotism;
LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship as long as it favours my favourite political party;
EQUALITY of status and of opportunity for the people of my community (preferably my family members);
and to promote among them all
FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the political partY;

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

The Tipping Point of Corruption

My association with the Mint dates back to my SYBA days. It is an interesting newspaper for those interested in finance, economics, and all the allied and peripheral subjects. Pertinent words, pleasant layout and well shot images are very appealing. But, if you think I am selling this newspaper to you, let me tell you that I AM SELLING THIS NEWSPAPER TO YOU.

Last night I sat on my bed reading this article written by Anil Padmanabhan. It is indeed an interesting read on The Tipping Point of Corruption.

Hope you guys enjoy iT.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Worth A Read

Veteran Journalist Aroon Tikekar wrote an article Timidity has no room in academics in the Mumbai Mirror.

This can be read in continuation to my previous post (the post below).


I agree with every word written in this article. Especially the last paragraph.

Really thought provokinG.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

O Judgment! Thou Art Fled To Brutish Beasts, And Men Have Lost Their Reason.

Friends, Maharashtrians, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Shivaji, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Shivaji. The noble Thackeray
Hath told you Shivaji was ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Shivaji answer'd it.
Here, under leave of Thackeray and the rest--
For Thackeray is an honourable man;
So are they all, all honourable men--
Come I to speak in Shivaji's funeral.

He was our friend, faithful and just to us:
But Thackeray says he was ambitious;
And Thackeray is an honourable man.
He (Shivaji) hath brought many values home to Maharashtra
Whose virtues did the general culture fill:
Did this in Shivaji seem ambitious?
When that the poor have cried, Shivaji hath wept:
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff:
Yet Thackeray says he was ambitious;
And Thackeray is an honourable man.
You all did see a long time ago
They (thrice) presented him a godly throne,
Which he did (thrice) refuse: was this ambition?
Yet Thackeray says he was ambitious;
And, sure, he is an honourable man.
I speak not to disprove what Thackeray spoke,
But here I am to speak what I do know.
You all did love him once, not without cause:
What cause withholds you then, to mourn for him?

http://origin-indiatoday.intoday.in/site/video_page.jsp?vid=112899&secid=42&page=2&display=null








O judgment! thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason. Bear with me;
My heart is in the coffin there with Shivaji,
And I must pause till it come back to m
E

Friday, 23 July 2010

Worth A Watch

I watched this show last night (22nd July, 2010) and managed to get the video today. It is damn interesting…

I will not comment much on this show. I would leave this as an open discussion forum for the readers.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Fracture

"You look closely enough; you'll find that everything has a weak spot where it can break, sooner or later.”

The story is of a wealthy aeronautical engineer Theodore "Ted" Crawford (Anthony Hopkins). The movie starts with Ted discovering that his wife Jennifer is having an affair with Robert Nunally (Billy Burke) who is a police detective. That very night, Ted shoots Jennifer seriously wounding her. The servants and others suspect that someone has broken into the house and has taken the couple hostage. They call the police. Nunally arrive at the scene alien to the fact that this is Jennifer’s home. Suspecting a hostage situation, he attempts to negotiate with the “hostage-taker” who tells Nunaly this is his house and confesses that that he has shot his wife.

The case falls on the shoulders of William Beachum (Ryan Gosling) – a well known lawyer and deputy district attorney. Assuming that this is a simple case, he takes this case up and goes to trial. Meanwhile, he also plans a shift from criminal law to corporate law. Hence winning this case is crucial for him.

Ted decides to defend himself in this case. Going against the advice of the judge and even the prosecution lawyer, Ted decides to be his own attorney. The case which earlier seemed be an open-and-shut case, now becomes a challenge for Beachum as Ted retracts from his statement at the beginning of the trial. Beachum confronts Ted in jail. Ted tells Beachum that “everything has a weak spot” and that he knows where Beachum’s weakness lies – he loves to win.

While in court, Ted reveals that Nunally was having an affair with Jennifer. The prosecution discovers that Jennifer (who is now in coma) was not shot from Ted’s gun. In fact, Ted’s gun had never fired a bullet.

The prosecution is now left with the responsibility of proving that Theodore Crawford had actually shot his wife even though they know it.

Every character, every shot, every word stated in the movie was true to the story.

The story breaks the conventional ways of portraying the positive and negative characters in the movie. There are a lot of traits we would normally attribute to a negative character; traits such as wife stealing, indecisiveness, falsifying evidence, etc. But these are traits that have been found associated with the lead characters. On the other hand, the Ted appears to be a very calm, composed, sure, tactful, organised and a disciplined person.

The camera and the music complement each other. The lights used to portray the character are meticulously planned. They have added immense depth to the qualities of the character and the substance of the ongoing scene.

Director Gregory Hoblit has done a commendable job. This movie deserves a 4.5/5. AmazinG.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

I Am Insulted... Am I?

We, the people of India, are known for our sense of humour… our ever-racist jokes on castes and communities… we don’t even care to spare anyone. But, what about when it comes to us as a country? We laugh best at ourselves. And when a non-Indian does so? How do we react?

Please go through the appended article before thinking any further. It was published in the TIME magazine by Joel Stein

My Own Private India
I am very much in favor of immigration everywhere in the U.S. except Edison, N.J. The mostly white suburban town I left when I graduated from high school in 1989 — the town that was called Menlo Park when Thomas Alva Edison set up shop there and was later renamed in his honor — has become home to one of the biggest Indian communities in the U.S., as familiar to people in India as how to instruct stupid Americans to reboot their Internet routers.

My town is totally unfamiliar to me. The Pizza Hut where my busboy friends stole pies for our drunken parties is now an Indian sweets shop with a completely inappropriate roof. The A&P I shoplifted from is now an Indian grocery. The multiplex where we snuck into R-rated movies now shows only Bollywood films and serves samosas. The Italian restaurant that my friends stole cash from as waiters is now Moghul, one of the most famous Indian restaurants in the country. There is an entire generation of white children in Edison who have nowhere to learn crime.

I never knew how a bunch of people half a world away chose a random town in New Jersey to populate. Were they from some Indian state that got made fun of by all the other Indian states and didn't want to give up that feeling? Are the malls in India that bad? Did we accidentally keep numbering our parkway exits all the way to Mumbai?

I called James W. Hughes, policy-school dean at Rutgers University, who explained that Lyndon Johnson's 1965 immigration law raised immigration caps for non-European countries. LBJ apparently had some weird relationship with Asians in which he liked both inviting them over and going over to Asia to kill them.

After the law passed, when I was a kid, a few engineers and doctors from Gujarat moved to Edison because of its proximity to AT&T, good schools and reasonably priced, if slightly deteriorating, post–WW II housing. For a while, we assumed all Indians were geniuses. Then, in the 1980s, the doctors and engineers brought over their merchant cousins, and we were no longer so sure about the genius thing. In the 1990s, the not-as-brilliant merchants brought their even-less-bright cousins, and we started to understand why India is so damn poor.

Eventually, there were enough Indians in Edison to change the culture. At which point my townsfolk started calling the new Edisonians "dot heads." One kid I knew in high school drove down an Indian-dense street yelling for its residents to "go home to India." In retrospect, I question just how good our schools were if "dot heads" was the best racist insult we could come up with for a group of people whose gods have multiple arms and an elephant nose.

Unlike some of my friends in the 1980s, I liked a lot of things about the way my town changed: far better restaurants, friends dorky enough to play Dungeons & Dragons with me, restaurant owners who didn't card us because all white people look old. But sometime after I left, the town became a maze of charmless Indian strip malls and housing developments. Whenever I go back, I feel what people in Arizona talk about: a sense of loss and anomie and disbelief that anyone can eat food that spicy.

To figure out why it bothered me so much, I talked to a friend of mine from high school, Jun Choi, who just finished a term as mayor of Edison. Choi said that part of what I don't like about the new Edison is the reduction of wealth, which probably would have been worse without the arrival of so many Indians, many of whom, fittingly for a town called Edison, are inventors and engineers. And no place is immune to change. In the 11 years I lived in Manhattan's Chelsea district, that area transformed from a place with gangs and hookers to a place with gays and transvestite hookers to a place with artists and no hookers to a place with rich families and, I'm guessing, mistresses who live a lot like hookers. As Choi pointed out, I was a participant in at least one of those changes. We left it at that.

Unlike previous waves of immigrants, who couldn't fly home or Skype with relatives, Edison's first Indian generation didn't quickly assimilate (and give their kids Western names). But if you look at the current Facebook photos of students at my old high school, J.P. Stevens, which would be very creepy of you, you'll see that, while the population seems at least half Indian, a lot of them look like the Italian Guidos I grew up with in the 1980s: gold chains, gelled hair, unbuttoned shirts. In fact, they are called Guindians. Their assimilation is so wonderfully American that if the Statue of Liberty could shed a tear, she would. Because of the amount of cologne they wear.

This article caused uproar amongst Indians. The Indian media seemed to be after Stein’s life. But some other Indians found it funny and laughed at this saying that the writer has aptly used his creative license and felt that the media was blowing this out of proportion.

TIME magazine responded: We sincerely regret that any of our readers were upset by Joel Stein’s recent humor column “My Own Private India.” It was in no way intended to cause offense.

Joel Stein added: I truly feel stomach-sick that I hurt so many people. I was trying to explain how, as someone who believes that immigration has enriched American life and my hometown in particular, I was shocked that I could feel a tiny bit uncomfortable with my changing town when I went to visit it. If we could understand that reaction, we’d be better equipped to debate people on the other side of the immigration issue.

But as for me, I find myself sitting on the fence when I question myself about this article. Even I laughed. Even I was troubled when he referred to us Indians as “dot-heads”. But I’ve still not made up my mind and I leave this to you to decide and express your thoughtS.