If you have lived in Mumbai for a long time and then come to visit Chandigarh and adjoining Panchkula, you would be shocked to see how people in the Northern cities flaunt their wealth. When they drive they think that they are the only ones who are on the road.
They talk on their cellphones, honk incessantly without any patient even if they can see clearly why the traffic ahead is halted. It seems that they have utmost urgent jobs to attend to.
At night, many drive with the high beam lights on making the vehicle drivers coming from opposite side almost blind.
I don’t mean that the people in Mumbai don’t have big cars and other assets. I have seen high end cars lying along the roads in the most neglected style. Mumbai being the economic capital of India, many residents in Mumbai may be having more resources and wealth.
But they don’t display it like they do it in the North. It may be that metropolis is used to heavy traffic since so many years and thus people have become quite disciplined barring some aberrations. In the North, the number of vehicles have exploded exponentially while the distances to be covered are shorter. For example, when we were studying in Chandigarh in during early seventies, there were only few cars to be seen. People used mostly bicycles and at the most well off ones had scooters.
Nowadays there are traffic snarls to be seen at many places. One cannot plan for the future changes many many years early when the city was planned. It should have been a continual change which requires future vision. The problems are increasing by every passing day.
Singer Bhupendra Singh has not got what he deserves as a singer. He has sung some very beautiful and difficult songs like “Dil doonta hai”, “Ye var ho ya shaap ho” from Koundra, “do deewane shahar mein”.
He is trained in the classical Indian music by his strict father. He was working in Doordarshan where the great music director Madan Mohan spotted him. He gave him the break in the company of greats Rafi And Manna Dey from Haqeequat “hoke mazboor” composed.
Besides he is the ace guitarist. His list as a guitarist for film songs runs long “Chura liya” , “Dum maro dum”, “Chingari koi bhadke”, “Chalte Chalte”, “tum jo mil gaye hi”, “ambar ek oak surahi”.
Mostly he has worked with R.D.Burman who had a keen eye to spot the talent. But he is not in demand now. He has left singing for others.
When Adam, the first man and Eve, the first woman, ate the forbidden fruit from the tree of wisdom, they become conscious about their nudity. They became so embarrassed that when the Father God came to see them, they were hiding behind the trees and God understood that they have violated the condition which was laid down for them to live in the Eden Garden without ever to do anything for their needs.
When God commanded them to come out of hiding before Him, they wrapped their sensitive organs with leaves. They were expelled from the Heaven condemned to toil for their food and covering their bodies for modesty and keeping themselves warm in winter.
The cotton plant came to the rescue. Fibers obtained from these plants are used to make cloths. Over 40% of the textiles make use of the cotton. India and Pakistan are two of the top producing countries.
The word Cotton comes from cultivated plants from the genus Gossypium. They have been cultivated since ancient times for their fibers which are used as textiles. Cotton has other, more surprising uses too from medicines and mattresses to seed oil and even sausage skins.
Cotton was cultivated first in South Asia and South America. Four species of cotton have been domesticated, but cultivars of the New World species G. hirsutum and G. barbadense dominate todays world markets.
The two species used in ancient South Asia were G. herbaceum and G. arboreum. They originated in Africa and India and were developed as fiber crops at the same time the New World species were used for the same purposes.
Earliest written references in India to cotton are given in the Rig Veda dating from about 1500 BC. But there is evidence in the form of cotton fragments that people of Indus Valley were familiar with the cotton clothes. The fragments are 3000 BC old showing that ancient civilisation of the region was skilled in spinning, weaving and dyeing cotton.
Paintings in the Ajanta Caves in Maharastra show that a variety of patterns and colours had been developed in India by 200 BC to 500 AD. These fabrics were in demand outside South Asia and they were probably exported to Greece before Alexander the Great established the trade routes between Asia and Europe.
South Asia became famous for its textiles, and fine cotton muslin cloth was exported to the Greeks and the Romans. Muslins from Dhaka in Bangladesh were particularly prized.
India continued to be the world’s main producer of cotton textiles. The growing export trade extended to the rest of Europe including Britain. Embroideries of silk on white cotton from Gujarat were the first textiles to reach Britain from India, but the most popular were dyed cotton wall hangings. In Europe textiles became known by their trade names.
Calico fabrics were so named because they were exported from Calicut on the Malabar coast. The fabrics were shipped to the Arabian Gulf, taken by camel to the Nile River, and then shipped to the Mediterranean.
Cotton plant has even other uses. The seeds are full of oil. For headaches, a drink is made from powdered cotton seeds and mixed with milk. Dysentery is also treated with an infusion of seeds and leaves. Spots and other skin conditions are treated using cotton seed or extracts from the leaves.
The leaf extract can also be made into a poultice to ease painful joints. For mild burns, the seeds are ground and mixed with ginger and water to form a paste which is smeared onto the affected area. Snake bites and scorpion stings can be treated using infusions or mixtures of the seeds and leaves, sometimes in combination with mustard seeds. Ayurvedic, Siddha and Unani physicians use cotton to treat blood circulation and ear problems, colds, diarrhoea and gout.
Oil from cotton seeds is made into an oil that can be used in salads and processed to make margarine. Cotton oil and cottonseed cake is used as an animal feed, particularly to fatten cattle in some parts of India.
Cotton seed flour made from ground seeds is used in small amounts in South Asia. It is light in color with a nutty flavor and is used in some baked products.The short fibers covering the seed coat are called linters, and are used as a source of cellulose used to manufacture foods such as ice-cream. Cotton seed oil is used as an edible vegetable oil.
It was yesterday evening past nine o’clock. I was sitting on a bench which stood near the bus stop opposite the shopping arcade. As it was the time when most of the people reach after a long journey to Mumbai.
So at this point of time time, very few people were roaming out. There was no movement in the air. The leaves were not stirring at all. The background looked like a still photo, static not dynamic with only some activity at the bottom of the picture.
One fellow was trundling home with a small bag of some eatables, he had preferably had few drinks outside because people at home must be putting resistance to it.
Four to five boys were sitting in the park and subject of their gossip was the mobile services and cards and refills.
Some people were waiting for the shift bus which arrived timely and took them away leaving the place again bereft of people. Their were some mutts moving aimlessly here and there and following every persons who happen to pass by.
Steppe Eagle is also known as Aquila nipalensis in the scientific language is a scavenger. This species breeds in Eastern European Russia from across Kazakhstan into Kyrgyzstan, China and Mongolia. Birds spend winter mainly in south and south-east Asia.
The bird is placed in the Red List by IUCN in the endangered category. There are many reasons attributed to the decline in population to such an extent. Some are like loss of habitat and exposure to radioactive radiations in its basic habitat.
Bird winters in South and South East Asia. It has suffered in Pakistan and India due to the presence of a drug Declofenac in the carrion of the dead animals which these birds feed on. This drug is used extensively in the treatment of cattle in these countries.
Thus these birds suffer both at the original residence as well as their temporary stay in Asia.
I chanced upon a ditch amidst the bushes where the carrion are being dumped. One can observe the eagles flying over the area. Earlier there were mostly Egyptian Vultures but now a group of these Steppe Eagles have landed here.
In Mumbai, people rarely look heavenwards because they don’t have time for this leisurely activity. They always move like a sea of crowds and will be trodden if they look upwards. After the end of the day, they reach homes totally exhausted by effects of pollution and interminable journeys.
There is no space anymore in the city downtown and almost all the middle class has moved to suburbs. In a way, the bridges connecting the Mumbai islands to mainland of India are like the tongues of dragons licking away the land without end.
I was strolling out my colony in the evening around half past seven and waiting for someone. Vacantly as my eyes were following the diminishing objects about to melt into the darkness, my eyes went heavenwards and there I saw the sickle of moon straddled by two bright stars. It was looking like an emoticon of happiness.
Times Mirror, wrote that after so many days of grief, and trouble, the sight God presented seemed very benevolent. “It seemed that heaven were watching benevolently on the wounded Mumbai” after the terrorist attack on Mumbai.
Moon, Jupiter and Venus has come so close to each other. This is will repeat only in 2012 now.
Lascars were sailors on the European ships mostly the British ships at a time when the European powers were locked in great tussle for taking control of the routes and spices found in India.
British finally ousted all others and took control of India, first as East India Company and from 1857’s mutiny onwards for almost 100 years as British India Empire.
The term “Lascar” is derived from Persian word “Lashkar” which means army or a group of soldiers. They worked on the foreign ships under Lascar agreement which gave the owners more powers under which lascars could be shifted from one ship to another and also to work continuously on a single ship.
Lascars were mostly drawn from Silchar in Bengal, Goa and Gujarat coastal areas. The number of Lascars increased sharply on the ships because of their being better adaptability and sturdiness than their European counterparts.
So much so that the British Government was alarmed and passed a law according to which a minimum of 75% crew should be whites.
Many of these Lascars settled in England where they intermarried white women despite the scorn shown by many British people. Many of them went out of job and became very poor and lived in squalid conditions.
Lascars crew also had rank hierarchy. But ranks of Lascars were different from their counterpart Europeans. For example equivalent of Bosun on the deck was Serang in Lascars, quartermaster’s equivalent was seacunny, carpenter was mistree, Lascar cook was called Bhandari. Over the years, Lascars developed a unique language of their own.
Lascar’s life has been described most elaborately by the writer Amitav Ghosh in his great novel “The sea of poppies”.
Dharavi is the largest slum in Asia. It is situated near Bandra in Mumbai, the economic capital of India. Mumbai was once upon a group of disjointed islands and one had to take the boat to reach an island from another.
British got the island in dowry from Portuguese and saw its strategic importance chose to develop the place because it has the finest natural harbor in the world.
They encouraged the Parsees to come and open industries and develop the city. Soon the city began to expand and people flocked to it in search of better future.
The islands were abridged by reclaiming the land from the sea and continuity was achieved. The city as such has no chance of expanding in all directions like Delhi because of its shape and detached location from the rest of India.
It soon became over crowded. Those who work for creation of wealth for this city, found it difficult to find a place to live in. The slums sprouted everywhere which have very cramped places to live in. Hygiene is virtually non existent. But even then millions live here.
One such area is Dharavi. It has been depicted in many movies like Salaam Bombay by Mira Nair and Slumdog Millionaire by Danny Boyle. The area consists of labyrinth of very narrow lanes. I think one can get lost and never come out. Economically, the people work here to collect the waste materials and recycle them.
One such material is recycling of Aluminum which is found in the form of cans of beverages. Unknowingly these people are shielding the city from the pollution that this metal can do.
Aluminum is very difficult to obtain from its ore because of the lengthy processes like dissolving it in alkali solution, then precipitating it in the form of Alumina and then carrying out electricity consuming process of electrolysis to obtain the pure metal.
The process here is to dip the cans in mild acid to remove the coverings and then after washing and drying melt the individual mass of cans into one solid ingot in a hearth which is a hole in the earth where coals are burnt with the help of air conveyed through a pipe.
The cans are put on a silicon carbide crucible. This way the metal is melted and is ready to use in making utensils and other articles. These people work for hours to earn a living.
Mccluskieganj is a village in the Jharkhand. It is situated about 40 miles north-west from state capital Ranchi. It was established by Timothy McCluskie on the 10,000 acres of land he got from Ratu Maharaj who was local ruler. He wanted to establish a place where Anglo Indians could live together.
McCluskie was a property dealer based in Calcutta. He used to visit some villages in the area for hunting, and even built a hutment at a place called Harhu. His friend PP Sahib worked as the manager of Ratu Maharaja’s estate. And it was PP, who convinced the maharaja to lease out the land to McCluskie.
So, in 1933, Colonisation Society of India Limited was formed and the maharaja signed an agreement with it.
It was decided that the Anglo-Indians could build their settlement in nine villages on land not occupied by the original rahiyats (tenants) of those villages. It was also agreed that the settlers would not be allowed to acquire the rivers and the hills.
The Colonisation Society acquired 10,000 acres of land spread across the villages of Harhu, Duli, Ramdagga, Konka, Lapra, Hesalong, Mayapur, Mohulia and Baseria. The society was registered as a company and started selling shares to the Anglo-Indians who wished to settle at the new colony.
It all started off well. Thousands of shares were sold and around 350 families came to settle down. The Anglo-Indians had dreamt of founding a city here, a homeland of their own. It was a Utopia, the dream of a visionary — a dream that never came true.
Today, McCluskieganj is just a rundown little village, a ghost from the past. Past glory is over. The dream is gone. Of the 350 Anglo-Indian families which settled here in the 1930s, only about 23 are left. It’s a place where — like many other Jharkhand villages — the Maoists rule the roost; where venturing out after sundown is not really safe. People here have got used to the sounds of country bombs and bullets.
If you go to Goa from Mumbai by train, you have to cross Ratnagiri. It is a big historical town located on the coast of Arabian sea. The area still is not polluted because there are few industries. The area which is full of craggy hills and beautiful beaches is an treat to eyes. Arabian sea on the west coast of India is adjoined by the hilly area which is full of forests and rare birds and animals. At a distance of 25 kilometers from Ratnagiri is a place called Ganapatipule which has a historic Ganesha temple. There is a beautiful beach in front of the temple.
Beach with its blue waters is a favorite place for tourists. In the evenings, there is great crowd of bathers who also witness the setting Sun and watch the coppery Sun diving into the sea. The road from Ratnagiri to Ganapatipule crosses hills and winds like a snake. There are trees of Kaju (cashew nuts) growing in abundance. Coconuts trees adorn the coast. Most of the people in the area are fisher folks. The sea when you look from the lofty heights looks like a heavenly place.