Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Watching the traditional dress competition on Friday evening as a judge, I learn that when everything else is a given- everyone had decked up- the winners are different, in a class apart. They carry the audience with them, they had a skill to display- a song or a impromptu garba step and that took the audience’s heart and mind.

On Saturday, at the traditional Diwali puja at work loved the calm of the prayers, the chants of the lalitasahastranam as they washed over me. Returned home with a copy of Gandhiji’s autobiography, courtesy of one of the big bosses’ relatives who now is devoted to propagating the Gandhian way of life. Wealth and Bapuji- a paradox!

Sunday was a blank day- the Indian calendar is fill of surprises that way-but we ended up wishing everyone for the new year – a full day in advance.

At Bandra seaface, at the Carter Road promenade even as the palms shimmered in the lamplight and the sea turned black, got talking to a stranger we shared the bench with- an old man past 80. His father had been a Gandhian, stayed at Wardha ashram 1937-1944 and set up a ladies school and college in Karachi pre-partition. It was quite an honor to hear about the greats- Gandhiji, V Bhave, Nehruji, BG Kher, Pyarelalji, Mahadevbhai. This man was a kid of ten and collected stamps so he had a chance to meet the greats, plus he had free run of the premises where the Congress Working Committee meetings were held. Of particular interest was his request to Mr Nehru for an article on J Bajaj for the anniv issue of the kids magazine- a magazine that was put together on handmade paper- and Mr Nehru’s hasty, scowled, scribbling of an autograph in reply, apparently he had been interrupted in one of his famous tempers/ moods. But this ten- year old stood his ground, asked for an article for the special issue and that was that. After partition, he’d begun working in Bombay, but got so disgusted with the compromises expected that he lived the next forty years in the US. In listening to this person- Mr Gulrajani, the sunset and evening lost out on grandeur.

6 comments:

AmitL said...

Wow,Austy-that's one nice n simple Diwali plus New Year..good going.:)Which ones did you pick as the best, in the traditional dress competition?
---
Another wow to your meeting with Mr. Gulrajani-always a pleasure to hear the ole folks talking about those days.
In fact, can you believe it-our neighbours opposite-we'd gone to meet them for NY, and it turns out the Uncle(retired) is a trustee of Manekrao Akhada(which is now a gym,teaching karate,etc-I didn't know that), and Mr. Manekrao was his Uncle..plus, he studed under my Chacha(who passed away in late 1960s) in 1961-the world's a small place,indeed.I bet you'll know this family, from somewhere in the past,too..)

mark said...

a: nicely written, interesting post

PQ said...

Yahaan pe to aankh band karke judge kiya and gave it to a messy outfit...hope u did a good job :-)

Nice to hear about the old gentleman, he should definitely feel great to have seen the great leaders. Hope I'd get a chance to see somebody famous someday :-)

austere said...

amit- nope.neither the Manekrao's or the Gulrajani's. well truth be told in the good ole days when girls didn't talk to boys there was a verrry handsome Gulrajani in my class, I think class 8 maybe- but now I see he's added a whole lot of rr's and ii's to his name I wonder what happened to that wonderfully sharp brain.

amit, pq- In the ladies category, we picked a collegue dressed in a traditional navvari maharashtrian style, with nose ring and all. Also a girl with chaniya choli who danced an impromptu garba step.
In the gents- a Keralite dressed in dhoti etc who gave a flowery speech in his language- or so it seemed. Also some one dressed as a marwari, with turban and all, who gave a good speech.

pq- the old man was so lost at the condition of the country today.

mark- thank you.

AmitL said...

'or so it seemed'??For all you know, he might have been ordering idli-dosa and chai!!:)

austere said...

ha ha ha.. knowing the man, that's quite likely. make that a crisp masala dosa, dash of butter on the side.