Tag Archives: Delhi

Some places renamed in India during last 5 year

India has been on the name changing spree. During last 5 years names of many places, roads and monuments have been changed on the basis of the present names being reminder of colonial era or names being derogatory and names of some places being after some Moghul king who was not positively inclined towards the original inhabitants. Another argument for changing names was to replace those alien names with our own local heroes. Here is a list of some changed names during last 5 years in chronological order.

November 2014

Bangalore became Bangaluru. In all, the names of 12 places in Karnataka changed to reflect original Kannada pronunciation. Mysore became Mysuru and Mangalore became Mangaluru.

August 2015

Aurangzeb road in Delhi became APJ Abdul Kalam road.

October 2015

Rajahmundry was renamed Rajamahendravaram in the honour of 11th century king

April 2016

Gurgaon became Gurugram after Guru Dronacharya of Kauravas of Mahabharata fame. Mewat renamed to Nuh.

May 2016

Bangalore city railway station renamed KrantiviraSangoliRayanna, 19th century freedom fighter.

September 2016

Race Course road in Delhi renamed Lok Kalyan Marg, giving 7 RCR a new address.

January 2017

Ganda village in Fatehabad district of Haryana renamed AjitNagar after a petition to PM by teenager Harpreet Kaur Malkat. Kinnar village changed to Gaibi Nagar. Both previous names had derogatory shades.

July 2017

Odisha’sWheeler island, home to a missile testing range was renamed APJ Abdul Kalam Island.

September 2017

Kandla port in Gujarat was renamed Deendayal Port to mark the centenary year of JanaSangha co-founder.

February 2018

Chor Basai in Rajasthan lost Chor. Nachania in Bihar became Kashipur.

July 2018

Mumbai’s Elphinstone Road station named after British governor was renamed Prabhadevi.

August 2018

Miyon Ka Bara” village in BarmerRajasthan got new name Mahesh Nagar as residents alleged that due to Muslim sounding name it was hard to get marriage proposals.

August 2018

Mughalsarai junction founded in 1860 and one of the busiest junctions in country renamed as Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya junction.

July 2018

West Bengal assembly passed a resolution to change the state’s name to Bangla. Mamata Banerjee didi found that due to alphabetical pecking order, her bureaucrats were called last at central meetings. With changed name “Bangla” pecking order will be on top almost.

The process continues unabated. Next on the anvil are the names of trains based on the great personalities which belonged to the originating stations.

Premonition of Impending Death

Numerous books have been written on the life of Mahatma Gandhi, the father of Indian nation. Latest in the series is the book written by Pramod Kapoor and is named “My experiments with Gandhi”. Each book tries to explore the different aspects of the life of great man. Some excerpts are given about the thoughts and happenings in the life of Gandhi.

The author cites a number of incidences in the last 48 hours of Bapu’s life which show that Mahatma has premonition about his death and he indicated this to his near and dear ones saying that he wouldn’t remain amid them for long.
For example, on the afternoon of January 29, 1948, the day before the assassination, an agitated member of a group of villagers who had been recently rendered homeless due to communal clashes, confronted Gandhi ji and claimed that he had done enough damage.

“You have ruined us utterly. Leave us alone and take your abode in the Himalayas,” the angry person had said.
This disturbed Mahatma very much. That same evening, while walking to his prayer meeting, he had confided to his grandniece Manuben, “The pitiful cries of these people is like the voice of God. Take this as a death warrant for you and me.”

A few hours later, that afternoon, a four year old Rajiv accompanying Krishna Huthee Singh, Jawaharlal Nehru’s sister and Indira had called on Bapu. Rajiv placed some flowers at feet of Gandhi to which he had playfully chided the little boy and said, “You must not do that. One only puts flowers around dead people’s feet.”
On January 30, Gandhi battled thoughts of death more than just once. Bapu was feeling unwell and had woken up at 3:30 am. He was ‘unusually disturbed with the ‘darkness’ that surrounded him. The darkness being, partition woes and infighting in the Congress. At about 3:45 am, he had surprisingly asked for a rendition of a Gujarati bhajan,

‘Thake na thake chhataye nhon/

Manavi na leje visramo/

Ne jhoojhaje ekal bayen/

Ho manavi, na leje visramo

which roughly translates in English to

Whether tired or not,

O man do not take rest,

stop not, your struggle,

if single-handed, continues.


Few hours later Bapu was asked to take some penicillin pills that his doctor had left for him to cure a bad cough. “If I were to die of disease or even a pimple, you must shout to the world from the house tops, that I was a false Mahatma. Then my soul, wherever it may be, will rest in peace. But if an explosion took place or somebody shot at me and I received his bullets on my bare chest, without a sigh and with Rama’s name on my lips, only then you should say I was a true Mahatma.”

Poplar cultivation

We traveled by Shatabadi Express from Delhi to Dehradun. First it was in winters and second only in June of this year. As soon as the train crosses the industries out side Delhi, the dead river called Yamuna, the green fields begin to span both sides of the train line. Yamuna river, one of the three rivers-Ganges, Yamuna & Saraswati- forming the holiest trinity of Indian rivers is a cesspool of industrial waste, floating dead animals. Its color is almost black and it seems like a corpse. Its chemical oxygen demand (COD), a parameter to indicate the industrial waste pollution must be very high.

 

So with Saraswati which existed once upon a time in the North India and went underground and is which is said to be flowing underneath, becoming imaginary, Yamuna has joined it. First of these was catapulted underground by Nature and Yamuna has been killed by the humans.

Anyway let us continue with journey. So we see amidst this greenery crops like wheat in winter, sugarcane, mustard, green fodder, maize and rice according to the season. The soil of region is enriched by Ganges and Yamuna rivers. But in addition to these crops, there is a tree which is straight in shape cultivated on the peripheries of fields. There sheer number is mind boggling and some of them have become full fledged while others are in various stages of growth.

poplar3 poplar1(1) poplar1 poplar5 poplar4

This is called agro-forestry. The trees along with crops. These trees are very fast growing and are used to make timber and cardboards. The trees are cash crops making many farmers rich.

At the time of journey, I relished and admired the results of hard work put in by the farmers and landowners. This vista continues unabated up to Haridwar. I was becoming curious where all the wood from these trees goes for processing.

We learned this in a hard way. We were returning from Chandigarh to Dehradun after a weekend by our car. We always follow the route which runs from Panchkula to Naraingarh to Kalaamb to Nahan bypass to Paonta to Dehradun. It has been raining last two days in the region. We have some inkling of land slides after Nahan and as we reached about 10 kilometers from Nahan bypass, there was mud all over the road and road was blocked ahead due to blockage.

We returned back and from Kalaamb took the road to Yamuna Nagar to follow the old traditional route to Dehradun from Yamuna Nagar to Saharanpur and Dehradun. As soon as we crossed the timber processing units in Yamuna Nagar, we thought we taken a wrong road. But no. There was almost no road. It was shreds of road in the craters and pools of water. There was worst kind of jam. And the car, it would completely left to God’s mercy. Its underbelly grinded against the edges of craters. The reason for all this was before us. Coming from the opposite side were countless tractor trolleys over loaded with the poplar logs. These were so heavy that tractor’s front wheels went skywards whenever it lunged forward from the rest. What was more threatening was the precarious way these trolleys dipped to one side or the other whenever one of its tyres fell into the craters. It seemed that they will fall on us and crush us alongwith car to death. All these were coming to Yamuna Nagar where a number of processing mills have been established. Many trolleys have turned turtle and blocked the road. Situation was such that we crossed ten kilometer hell of the road in more than 2 hours. It was not until we crossed the bridge over Yamuna that road become worthy of travel.

Incidentally, the agro-forestry was started during 1980’s by an enterprising person called Surinder Singh Hara. He owns about 180 hectares land called Hara Farms near Yamuna Nagar which he made suitable for agriculture by clearing the jungle. He produces crops which belong to this region along with turmeric, many fruits and poplar and specially cloned variety of Eucalyptus.

I think it is the duty of the Government and those who are adding extra burden on the road to contribute and make the road good. This will ease the life of persons who are driving these vehicles and labors. It will also save the fuel and maintenance of the vehicles which will ultimately go for the good of people.

Train Journey from Delhi to Dehradun

It is the beginning of the month of April and Delhi has already become hot. The weather in India changes every 3 months. It is the spring season and soon sweltering heat will envelope North India. Dehradun which is situated in a valley between Lower Himalaya and Shivalik hills named after Lord Shiva.

We boarded the train from New Delhi Railway station at 06 hrs and 50 minutes and it is all sitting on chair cars. Due to being an AC train, it is closed with glass panes.

Soon we were hurtling through the vast plains of North India. The area is situated between two great rivers namely Ganges and Yamuna. It is called Doab meaning the land between two rivers. Naturally it is very fertile and featureless and totally flat.

There were never ending fields of wheat which looked like golden because the time of harvesting is nearing. Then there were sugarcane fields and carts yoked by bullocks and loaded with sugar canes could be seen on the beaten paths.

On the periphery of every field were poplar trees with translucent green leaves on the tops. If you have lived in this area only then you can realize the beauty of this area and sturdiness of the people.

My mind flashed back and I thought how once Mughal kings and their generals must had roamed in this area. Before their coming here, petty Hindoo fuedatories were there and they were always fighting between themselves. This lack of unity undone them.

Then came the British. The East India company established the army cantonments in Meerut and Ambala which employed these hardy people as the soldiers. These people belong to Aryan race and are the fairest and strongest in India. Aryans first established themselves in Punjab between Sind river and 5 rivers. The increasing pressure of population and cattle drove them towards Ganges valley which was even more fertile than Punjab.

First city to arrive at was Meerut which still is the big cantonment of Indian army. Then Muzzafarnagar, shaharanpur, Roorkee and Haridwar followed. There was no change in the scenery of wheat fields till we crossed into Saharanpur and you could see for miles the mango gardens in the bloom. Soon they will bear delicious mangoes like Dushehri which is so sweet.

After crossing the Haridwar, we entered into woods. The trees were sprouting new leaves which were coppery colored and soon shall become greener. At 1240 hrs we arrived in Dehradun.

In Mumbai Again

After almost a year, I am in Mumbai the city in the vicinity of which I have spent more than 20 years of my life. I lived in Panvel where our company had constructed a huge accommodation. But most of the offices are in Mumbai and employees who live in Panvel have to spend at least 4 hours travelling to the work. There is though a trade off. In Panvel colony you have big area for walking and also lesser pollution. It is a gateway to Beautiful Konkan region as well as to Pune. There are a number of good natural spots nearby Panvel. We landed at Santacruz airport from Delhi. Temperature was 29C and as usual humidity was very high. The same stuffy weather which we have become attuned to during our long stay here. In fact, I loved this city for its oddities. But like Saleem and his sister in the Salman Rushdie‘s Midnights Children, I did not shouted back to Bom. We hired a taxi and soon we were lost in the sea of  people on the roads and vehicles. The familiar Udipi hotels, vegetable vendors on the roadside selling their vegetables and ubiquitous Coconut sellers and Koli women selling the sea fish, prawns were before eyes. There were same black and yellow taxis. Many new flyovers have come up in the city’s struggle to ease the traffic pressure. It seemed as if we have not got left the place for good and have been out of station.

Some facts about Dehradun

Bazaar buzz

Dehradun is the capital of Uttrakhand. Earlier, it was an important town in Uttar Pradesh state. Being in the hills it has milder weather than rest of Uttar Pradesh. So British moved to hill stations during summers like Dehradun, Mussorie and Shimla: all situated in the hills of North India and were cooler. It must have been a favorite city of the British as is evident from the fact that headquarters of a number of departments like Forest and Survey of India,  are located here. It is surrounded on the North by Himalayas and in the South by the Shiwaliks thus forming a valley. The valley itself is divided into two parts by a ridge.

It boasted of famous Litchi plantations. During the summer season, one could see the vendors selling this fruit. The weather was not hot even in the summers when I first came here in 1978. Now the things have changed due to deforestation and building activity on a large scale.

Hardwar Dehradun railway line was opened in 1900 thus completing 112 years. It was the continuation of Oudh & Rohilkhand Railway from Laskar to Hardwar. Total distance is 48 miles. During British time Dehradun had many tea plantations and produced 1.6 million pounds of tea in 1903. Timber was extracted and taken to Yamuna River with the help of wet wooden planks. The timber was then was formed into rafts and floated down to Delhi.

Travel travails in North East India:Part-III

Now this is the story not entirely due to North-East but it illustrates the problems faced by people working in that area during 1991. The story again pertains to Silchar where I was posted from 1987-1991. Nowadays, it is only 3 years stint and you are transferred to another place in India but at that time there was no such strict rule. So after spending 4 years there, I was transferred to Bombay which is the most important place because almost half of the crude oil is produced from the offshore of Bombay. Naturally I was very excited and nervous. Nervous because we had heard that there was a problem of finding good residence in the overcrowded megalopolis and everyday one has to spend many hours of the day in the journey to the office from home and back.

I and my wife decided that first of all shall proceed to my home at Chandigarh where family shall stay till I reach Bombay and find accommodation there. The household goods were to be transported by truck. From Silchar to Calcutta, company allowed us to travel by air to cut short the journey period. But from Calcutta to Delhi we had to catch Rajdhani train. There was no booking office in Silchar at that time to book berths for the train. We had to rely on our colleagues who did 14 days on and off pattern duty and were frequently using the train services. They had found one booking agent in Chitranjan Avenue in Calcutta who booked the tickets. Tickets were collected by them and given to the concerned colleagues. Sometimes, after alighting from the plane at Calcutta from Silchar, the tickets were collected from the agent en route.

All the flights to North-Eastern sector operated in the morning because there was no night landing facilities available. The airport was a wooden building and a strip maintained by Indian Air Force (IAF) because basically these were airbases for the Air force. We had booked air tickets and railway tickets were to be collected from the agent on our way to Howrah railway station from Netaji Subhash Chandra International Airport at Dumdum. We reached the airport in taxi and one of our friends’ who hailed from Silchar and who was a great help for people coming from rest of India on postings accompanied us. We had two small kids at that time.

Our luggage was sent for loading and we were given boarding passes. The sky was deep blue and there was not a speck of clouds. It was a perfect weather. Now everyone was waiting anxiously for the arrival of the plane. It was a hopping flight from Calcutta. Its first stoppage was at Silchar and then it used to go to Imphal from there back to Silchar on its way back to Calcutta. The expected time of arrival was approaching fast but there was no sign of plane. Wait of minutes turned to hours. Anxiety of missing the train at Calcutta due to late arrival began building in our minds. At one stage we decided to take back our luggage and return to Silchar. But the people at Indian Airlines which was the sole travelling agency at that time told us that tickets shall be cancelled to rescheduled in any case the flight did not arrive. He further helped us and brought the luggage and allowed us to take it with us in the cabin so that we did not have to wait and loose precious time waiting for its arrival at Calcutta airport.

There was a great anxiety about missing the train at Calcutta and stranded at the big city. At last the plane appeared on the horizon. It was delayed at Imphal where one of its tyres burst during landing. The time of its take off to Calcutta was such that anything could happen. We did not have the railway tickets with us and to add to the troubles we only had the address of the agent but had never visited him. It was with luck that we had a co passenger who had seen the booking shop and he himself had to collect his ticket.

At last plane landed and we had only an hour with us in which to collect the tickets and board the train. Thankfully the day was Sunday and there was not much traffic on the road. We told taxi to wait on the road because the agent’s shop was in a side alley. I and my friend ran to the shop and after reaching there found the shop which was located on the 2nd floor of an ancient building closed due to Sunday. Our hearts stopped. Time was slipping like sand from our hands. Someone told that the fellow lived very near to the shop. We knocked and he came out and went to his office telling us stay on the ground. He tied the tickets with a thread and lowered it so that we could catch the tickets. In turn we tied the money and he pulled it up. Running we again boarded the taxi. It was quite hot and kids were thirsty and restless.

We prodded the driver to drive very fast. He understood and we arrived at the Howrah railway station barely 10 minutes before the train was to leave. Running with kids and luggage in our hands we managed to board in our bogey. We were perspiring but felt as if we had won a great victory. Children were given cold drinks and settled down. Our panting heartbeat slowed down and returned to normal as the train left for Delhi.

Life in Mega Cities through Movies

I am not a film buff. I am not able to watch a movie from the beginning to the end. May be some friend recommends a particular film or it may be good movie is the reason why I watch them sometimes.  There is almost no social life as we are new to this place and I am also not inclined.

Watched three movies in 3 days: Delhi Belly, Dhobi Ghat and Slumdog millionaire. Each one entirely different from another. Delhi Belly captured the life of three friends in Delhi.  The term “Delhi Belly” is used to mean infections in the belly like food poisoning which foreigners especially the Britishers suffered due to taking the strong spicy and unhygienic food and hot weather.

Dhobi Ghat depicts the life in Mumbai: stark contrast between extremes of rich and poors’ living conditions. Te movie moves ahead through the video tapes recorded by a married girl. These tapes are meant to be sent to her brother in USA. The girl narrates stories through which the life in Mumbai is shown. Finally it is found that the girl hangs herself. Based on these narratives, the protagonist of the movie, played by Aamir Khan and who is a painter by profession, paints a series of his work. The story revolves around the South Mumbai and places like Nagpada, Gate of India, Chaupati beach.

Slumdog millionaire also revolved around Mumbai’s underbelly brought about through two brothers. The movie by Danny Boyle is loosely based on the book of te same name by Vikas Swarup. The answers to the questions posed in the show propel the story and are the incidents which come across the life of two slum dwelling brothers. It goes into the back flashes in response to the questions asked in the Who wants to be a millionaire.
And I missed again the Mumbai.

Dehradun Now

I have returned to Dehradun after a gap of 25 years. Like other cities in India, it has also changed a lot. Everywhere it is overcrowded. 25 years ago, there were only bicycles and scooters and life went on a leisurely pace. I remember that most of time, we used to walk down from our office. Now you cannot even walk on the roadsides without being constantly vigilant because of never ending traffic of cars, jeeps and scooters. Building activity is very high and rates of land have skyrocketed since the time Dehradun became the capital of Uttrakhand.

In the Paltan Bazaar the scene is still the same. There are lines of scooters parked in front of shops and only a small space is available for walking. You are constantly jostled by the crowds.

Some good things have also happened. Roads have been widened or new ones constructed. Bus stand have been shifted to outer place and it is at present clean. A very difficult step have been taken by the Government. The Chakrata road near Clock Tower had become a nightmare for the public. There was not a inch of it that was vacant. The road has been widened three times the dimensions of present road. In this process many shops have been razed.

The Rajpur road is very neat and clean. It has so many offices around it. As you move away towards Rajpur which is Tibetan dominated town, there is less crowd and area is full of fresh air.

Today, we visited Sahastardhara, a place around 16 kilometers away from the city. The road is very good and for last 4 kilometers is a serpentine one. There used to be no shops and eateries when I was in Dehradun 25 years earlier. The water of the springs contains sulfur and was thought to be good for the cure of skin disorders. Now the place has been fully commercialized. There are several shops selling inner wears, eateries selling tea, cold drinks and pakoras. And many restaurants serving lunch. The area around the rivulet is very dirty.

Only good thing was the ropeway. For hundred rupees it takes you to the top of a hill. At the top there are well maintained gardens, ozone park and playthings for children. There is a one temple also.

While returning we took a detour and came via Rajpur Road. My God, the whole road was fantastic. Equally good is the scenery. The route to my house is through the Army Cantonment area. This is very well kept and neat and clean.

I shall come again and again as I explore the more places.

So Much Water has flown under the Bridge

It has seriously long while, I have written something in the blog though have wrote many things on the Facebook. Every time, I opened my blog page, I thought of writing something but it seems that some unseen force is holding my hand. Also whatever I have written till date seems all very frivolous when I look back at it.

It is just to begin again, I am trying my hand. Sometimes, the life I am leading seems so purposeless. I ask myself is this what you call life. Sometimes feels like running away to somewhere where nary a soul knows me. All this requires crossing a barrier just like the chemical reactions the reactants have to gather enough energy from heat or other sources to overcome the summit of energy of activation. After this it is all downhill.

Meanwhile, I have almost finished the book “City of Djinns” by William Dalrymple. What a writer!. The book reveals such unknown facts about Delhi. I am very much happy that at last after so many days I have read one good book.

I read very slowly because I meditate too much over the prose. I am surprised to hear some friends saying that they have read such and such book during the flight of 2 hours or in a day. It must be an injustice to the author who God knows had spent so many days collecting the facts for writing the book. Let the book be read slowly, and it shall reveal the nuances much better.

Thank God I have returned again, I seem to be able to catching some words from the hordes which are flying thickly around the paper and placing them on the paper at last.