Monday, January 23, 2012


Subject of blog today is the redoubtable MJL. We dare not unravel that name in such a thing as a blog, boss!

Way back in the early 1880s we were put in charge of a Delhi branch of the Little Chabiwala Bank. The branch was ‘on the edge of a deserted block in a remote part of the city’, as our Security Officer from Head Office had put it succinctly in his first report. Ergo there were few opportunities for dhanda- business, and our predecessors relied exclusively on funds cadged from remote parts of the city, be it Nehru Place or Connaught Place or Outer Space. In that Satyuga of banking, the interest rates were all RBI controlled, the services were atrocious uniformly, and the behavior of the entire frontline staff, uniformly obnoxious. Mince, the only way one could ‘achieve’ ones deposits budget was the use of one’s connections, which could be that of the Gandhian variety. MJL was not ‘that’ sort, of course, it’s a sin even to think of that, maaan!

MJL was the Finance Head of a very large Corporation, which liberally doled out funds to their various bankers, they haddd to keep them in sommme bank or the other. Our branch had some deposits which matured as soon as we took over, and were withdrawn. But we were confident of achieving our budget on the back of MJL’s Corporation or Cooperation, for, MJL happened to be a Maharashtrian , moreover from our kaashhte. So… we ventured forth to test the Fevicol in our bond, and one afternoon fumbled into his August Chamber, to chat up our man and discover common relatives. Normally the ghati-to-ghati degree of separation turns out to be Zero. And the end of our exploration is to meet one of our relatives, he, he, he…! With apologies to nobody, he, he, he…!

Things turned out to be a bit more complicated. MJL was, and that was the first time we set our eyes on him, a short bald dour gentleman with a wiry muscular body and with due respect, a bulldog like countenance. Charity begins at home, and charity for a Marathi is NO, and therefore we heard that two letter heartbreak word, almost before we could say ‘what about your funds, Sir?’ Bahhh.. given the reputation of Marathis, we should have expected that nooo….? They repel each other like same-polarity-ends of two magnets.

 Bade be abroo ho kar tere kooche se hum nikale….(first line of couplet is ‘nikalna KHuld se aadam ka sunte aayaiN haiN lekin..’)

But being the never say die type, and finding no option, we continued to woo and court MJL, and at the end of the second expedition, knocked, on Diwali eve, the door of his lavish abode in Asiad Village, to be ushered into the living room by his un-Marathi-like and extremely courteous wife. Happy Diwali to you and your family. With our better half in tow for effect, hands clutching a huge dry fruit box, and our Corporate compliments. “he ajun yaaychehet…, basa..” Madam said, MJ was not yet home, naturally, we should have expected him to be a workaholic. As we continued to discover our common Roots, inn stormed MJ…whew…and blew his top! “Who the h_ _ _ gave you my address, I’ll sack that madrassi PS…who who who allowed you to come here..?” said he. Verrrry Marathi… Puneri tadka…but to our relief, he was (still is) blessed with a grrreat wife, I sayyyy… “Youuu…, tumheee mhanje agadich na…..go to your room and change”…and turning her head to us told how much she detttesssted his manners, not to worry please.

MJ is all courtesy when he changes into informal attire. Bon homie returns… like sparrows returning, reassured, to the shelter of the dense tree they has so fluttered away from in panic, a while ago. Conversation warms upp, Missus enthralling us with her gharana bandish “kalaa naaahi aaaaye“ in Maru Bihag and that does the trick. Say it with Maru Bihag.

Arrre….Deposits I never place with a Marathi, but what’s a deposit? It’ll go away in 30-60-90-180-365 days, I’ll give you things you’ll cherish till your last day…something priceless… And he trots into his room, dipping into his treasure-trove, comes out brandishing or better still, cavorting with, an audio cassette. Vintage Malini Rajurkar, live, recorded by me stealthily at a private concert. No qualms compunctions there. Friend, I have got a hundred such recordings which don’t exist anywhere but in imagination, or in my collection, which shall be issued to you one by one, when you surrender the one you took last, you can copy them and return them, and God save you if something happens to wonnnnne cassette. Two at a time… please pleaded Madam, how many times do you want him to come and go, come and go in suchhh a big stupppuid city…

Duly appeased, we rode home on our old warhorse, the grey Vijay Super and copied the cassettes before MJ kaka changed his mind. Much of that collection is there in our custody, now on CDs.


Collection is priceless certainly, particularly Malinitai. In which she jokes and talks about the courtesy one must extend to the accompanists, ...very articulate for a right-brainer. We almost worship her, sharing as she does, a Gharana with Missus….Gwalior. Ya.. that’s where Miyan Taansen happened. Haddu and Hassu Khan. Ramaashray Jha. Gwalior Sangeet Sammelan…Self effacing, she says she is simply a house wife dabbling in music, with no talent for music like…methinks she alludes to K somebody who is rude to accompanists… ! With dead pan seriousness she says! 

The links here will lead you into that magical world…


Not to forget the greatest Charukeshi ever:

With limited blinkered knowledge, with the due consent of Missus, we can averrr that so far Gwalior Gharana is concerned, there is no one like her today, including Dr. Sahiba…Who else can execute a crisp taan consisting well-demarcated-ly, only rishabh and gandhar?

House wife, naa tya swatahla mhanalya naahi kaaa? Her khayal is like a well kempt homestead, mince aggadi vyawastit… pasaara.. haaaaan, even pasaara awarlela, he, he, he. Neatly kept household. Few can match that flawless sur. Manik Verma…yes!

Pt. Bhimsen Joshi’s renderings we can say, so far our limited knowledge goes, are like dark halcyon mysteries, Panditji pulling out a miraculous taan, gesturing as if picking an invisible anu-renu out of vacuum…. he, he, he…In the case of Mailinitai, they are pre-crafted to perfection, and Kumarji-like,… not exactly staccato…, but not long-winded…apparently Tai has had some respiratory problems in the past ? Every style has its own place and significance….times also change…aur tappa to waisa koi ga hi nahi sakta..

Tempora… MorAy…ssss:

We are always perplexed with eminent Marathi light-singers endlessly presenting Lata, Asha, Dinanath songs, along the entire time continuum starting the first rendition, the birth of the song. Singers have become bold enough to sing songs immortalized by Latadidi or Ashaji. Light music is tough, Missus always says. Classical is course material. But then there are artistes who make the age-old song sound brand new. How the basics of compositions get transformed with times! Some rendering and albums are off IPR, aren’t they? We keep onnn listening to some audacious renderings. Bela Shende throws even Missus off-guard. Listen to Lataji and Belaji sing Gadima's  “Dhund Madhumati…” from Kichak Vadh.. The only difference is that Latadidi’s rendition drips honey. In Beladidi’s favour we can say ..tempora…mores…who’ll accept that old point of view…?Times are less sentimental today..aren’t they? 

To us Belaji looks more comely in her plain-Jane “Dhund Madhumati…” video avatar than in her ‘makeover’, but now it is too late, we suppose, too bad!

Post script:

Here goes the immortal ghazal from Mirza Ghalib sahib, tolerably translated by some nice lady Meenakshi Madhur, courtesy

hazaaroN KHwahishaiN aisee ke har KHwahish pe dam nikle
bahut nikle mere armaaN magar fir bhee wo kam nikle
thousand desires and each one worth dying for
many of them were fulfilled yet so many remain unfulfilled
nikalna KHuld se aadam ka sunte aayaiN haiN lekin
bohot be_aabru hokar tere kooche se ham nikle
ousting of Adam from heaven we have heard of, but
the dishonour with which i was ousted from your heaven was worse
mohabbat meiN naheeN hai farq jeene aur marne kaa
unhee ko dekh kar jeete haiN jis kaafir pe dam nikle
in love, living and dying lose their differences
you go, die for the same person who breathes life in to you.
KHuda ke waaste parda na kaabe se uThaa zaalim
kaheeN 'eisa na ho yeh bhee wohee kaafir sanam nikle
For heaven's sake lift not the veil from the 'kaabaa'
lest you may uncover the same infidel whom I (am not supposed to) adore
kahaaN maiKHaane ka darwaaza 'GHalib' aur kahaaN waaiz
par itana jaante haiN kal wo jaata tha ke ham nikle.
the priest out of the door of wine house (they say) thats never possible
but all i know is that yesterday i saw him enter the same door that i departed from!

                                              Closest we can get to revealing him

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