Saturday, March 31, 2012


The same school bell which sounds repulsive at 7.00 in the morning sounds so sweet at 1.30 in the afternoon!

Sorry Dad, we have to relate a joke of the variety you detested, because there is no other apt illustration for what we want to say today:

School goes for a picnic on the river. Headmaster tosses off his clothes and dives in for a swim. Trapped in swift currents he cries out help. “Bachao, bachaoo..” The on looking kids just shriek in joy: “kal chutti hai, kal chutti hai…”- yeyyy…tomorrow is a holiday..!!!

Well that’s the extent school children will go to in order to maro a holiday from school. Adults too do that regularly. Before the late lamented Morarji died, each retired PM or President was coveted, not for love or labour, but for being another Holiday in Reserve. Gulzarilal Nanda posed a problem- he’d been a PM twice or thrice, but, but….You will however notice that the keenness with which a holiday was anticipated or cadged when we were school-children diminishes with age. The inescapable conclusion is that school was then hated more by us than we can imagine today. 

Why is a holiday suchchh a daaahling? Is it because we hate to work? Thus, why do we defend a holiday with grit and determination? Why do unions demand a five day week? Why are people prepared to shed their blood for a holiday? Why is Sunday such a sweet word? The answer, as we BS trainers of Chabiwala Bank would always say in response to a question which was beyond our capabilities “welllll, it is situational…contextual… depends on the particular case, ha, ha, ha !!!..” Talking about the ‘contextuality’, one recalls the anecdote where Robert Frost goes on a holiday to the Alps with a friend. “Look at that beautiful snow-capped hill shrouded in clouds etc. etc….” he gasps “..youuu…you…didn’t say a word, what …Bob, you’ld describe it better…?!” Frost says demurely, no way, I don’t talk business when I’m on a holiday sir!

In order to ‘examine the issue holistically’, as our Defence Representatives write, we google ‘Sabbath”. The barefoot encyclopedia i.e. Wikipedia, says thus:

Sabbath or ‘a sabbath’ is generally a weekly day of rest or time of worship observed in Abrahamic religions and other practices. Many viewpoints and definitions have arisen over the millennia. The term has been used to describe a similar weekly observance in any of several other traditions; the new moon; any of seven annual festivals in Judaism and some Christian traditions; any of eight annual pagan festivals (usually "sabbat"); an annual secular holiday; and a year of rest in religious or secular usage, originally every seventh year. As we know, Muslims observe the Sabbath on Friday, Jumma, so do the Jews. 

The belief, in a nut-shell is that the Lord created the Universe in seven days, and the last day according to the New Testament is Sunday, the day God finally took a day off.  It’s enshrined in the Ten Commandments thus:

4: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.”

Our Christian brethren of the NE take the issue quite seriously, wellll…. humourlessly, if you understand what we mean. In fact observing the Sabbath is the essence of the creed for some friends. Leave alone asking someone to do an assignment, even the thought of asking out someone is sacrilege. Strolling on our Lommawrie Street one day, missus knocked the door of Tshering, the local headman-baker, forgetting it was a Sunday. His wife was agape and aghast, and hastily we begged pardon. The apologies were accepted whole heartedly, and generous lady that she is, she gave us a loaf gratis, but strictly no commerce, haaan!

How about those who have found a calling after their hearts? A professional drummer, or a clever mathematician, or someone like Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, for instance. YF for one can’t be so joyous unless he’s two-three pegs under. 

The implication of this universal longing is that most of us have undertaken jobs we dislike, or obediently do things like going to school or to the kitchen, which everyone detests. Unless you somehow learn to be a Gandhi, content with what you have. Who the h… is forcing us to do things we detest, the length and breadth of our life?  What invisible hands? Whose conspiracy is it all? Making H… out of our living days, leaving us pining away for Heaven? I’m sure Senior, Mrs. Senior and Junior will do better. 

In the end, we embellish this rather drab blog with this gem used by our beloved sitarist to illustrate a point with: 

मख्तबे इश्क़ और मख्तबे मौसीकी का ये देखा दस्तूर,
उसे ज़िन्दगी भर छुट्टी न मिली, जिसका सबक याद हुआ……   
“This, we learn, is the custom of the School of Romantic Love, and the School of Music- he who learnt his lesson well never got a Day Off!

And here is the url of one of his most memorable performances: Jaijaiwanti by Ustad Halim Jaffar Khan, courtesy DD Bharati:


We’d like to do some research on the Maihar gharana. It is said to have originated in the 19th century. One of the magnets that drew musicians there is the Sharada Mandir. Baba Allauddin, on Saraswati Puja day would perform for the Goddess regularly, but would not enter the shrine, just be seated before the holy precincts. I am a mlechcha, he would say. Baba was the first Maihar Ustad the public knows about, Maihar’s public face. The point is, if the gharana is of such a recent origin, what accounts for the stature or the incredible depth of the Maihar artistes, like Ravi Shankar or Ali Akbar or Nikhil Banerjee, Sharan Rani...endless list, and each disciple like Himalayan Peaks..?  Is Parrikar listening, ha,ha,ha..? Going by the music, it appears to have as hoary a past as Gwalior. A ‘’virtual’ gharana? It’s like National Highway no. 2, the GT Road, which is a recent nomenclature, but is said to be the most ancient pathway of the sub-continent. Or, shall we say, the Maihar cast of today was akin to the British naturalist band consisting of Frank Smythe, who discovered the ancient Himalayan Valley of Flowers in the 1930s and Margart Legge, who studied and developed the Valley? 

We once shared our ultimate dream with Unnikrishnan, our friend and doyen of the Chartered Accountant community of Kerala- to build a beautiful little Shiva temple. Don't do that Carl he said, adopt a crumbling old tembble and do its jeernoddhara..renovate it..

Was that the philosophy behind Baba's decision to perform uddhaar of Maihar gharana at the feet of the jagrut 


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