Archive for the ‘RASHMI TALWAR’ Category

Of the Indo Pak Candle Lit Vigil ————–By Rashmi Talwar


Candle-lit Vigil 2011-Indo-Pak Border.. Mahesh Bhatt, Kuldip Nayyar, Tara Gandhi

By Rashmi Talwar

On the midnight of August 14-15, a candle in hand, I walked with peaceniks, to Wagah-Attari Indo Pak Joint check post.
The dark trees and shrubs draped in twinkling drops of fairy lights swathed and transformed the gloom into a bejeweled bride, decked for the Independence Day Celebrations of India and Pakistan.

It was the 16th year of Peace overtures by organizations ‘Folklore Research Academy’ (FRA), ‘Hind Pak Dosti Manch’ , ‘Punjab Jagriti Manch’, that conceived the idea of Candle lit Vigil annually on this momentous occasion of a time when one country’s dusk coincided with dawn for the other. A moment relived at the time of Freedom but also of deep cuts of separation from ones own.

Lighting candles came as a symbolic gesture of peace with the borders, near the no-man’s land between forbidding Gates – an unspoken barrier of no trespass. This simple gesture was to vent the pains of separation, longing hearts and a call for harmony on the midnight of Freedom. It started as a friendship mela at Wagah, in memory of Raja Porus a common hero for denizens of both countries.

I reached a little early, giving me the luxury of retrospect. Gaping at the peeking moon beaming now, in full circular glory a moment back, through diaphanous clouds, I wondered if there shone a moon on those sultry, bloody August nights of 1947, 65 years back. The nights of stealth, loot, rape, fear, blood and gore, of screams and surrender to the greatest inhumanity to shake earth leaving millions homeless, naked and bewildered.
“Did they too fold their hands in prayer looking at the sky for a savior or in thanksgiving? A thanksgiving for a wandering displaced existence, with only their lives, just out of the womb.

The cities, towns and villages shuffled like a pack of cards by a single stroke of a pen, quivering at their changed destinies, of fear of the bottomless depths of depravity by human-turned animals, blood- thirsty, drenched and bizarre in a frenzy of faith.

Was this, one of the routes traversed by those loaded bullock carts, donkeys, sheep and goats and teeming millions, household buckets brimful with oddities, weary animals, to have written their footsteps in blood, crossing the Cyril Radcliff line.

I looked questionably at the trees, asking, if they stood mute spectators to the inhuman torch of innocents waylaid by marauding mobs. Forlorn and fearful migrants, gored by a knife or chopped or looted or arsoned or many a fair maiden and not so, made away, to quench the lust borne out of fury.
I had heard of many a family head’s frozen turbulence, in putting their girls and woman on a the sacrificial altar. A swift stroke of a sword and the bloodied heads let loose from the neck, rolling onto male feet. The silent scream of mothers, sisters and daughters or some too little to make sense of the senselessness that elders forced upon them, lest they be mauled, maimed or raped by marauding gangs or converted to other faiths. Brave these women stood with not a trace of a whimper, in their doom or of their blood and flesh.

The blood curdling screams, whimperings, implorings and chilled faces. The ‘nanga nachch of vaishiyaat’ (naked dance of death)…I stilled these stirrings of scenes wherein man had turned rogue, crushing all in his madness….

Tonight was different, Guards had been raised, and BSF personnel guarded at every 50 steps.
A threatening barbed wire fence, darkness but glowing faces in shimmering fairy lights I saw , people had changed !
Perhaps, the wounds healed and generations that faced it all, turned greyer and wiser. Hatred divided and Peace Unites; There was no third path !

The call from Indians this time too was answered with solidarity and support from Pakistan’s peaceniks of SAFMA (South Asian Free Media Association). A call, for harmony, peace and mutual coexistence, for progress and prosperity.

Now an annual feature, the candle-lit vigil first started as a trickle say FRA’s leading names Ramesh Yadav and Talwinder Singh; with the first breakthrough of poetical symposium at Wagah Indo-Pak border by Kendri Punjabi Lekhak Sabha in 1993.

Down the years the innocent blaze of candle lights contributed to awaken the political authorities from their forced or self-imposed slumber.

The flag of peace taken forward this time by famed film producer and director Mahesh Bhatt, Tara Gandhi, Mahatma Gandhi’s granddaughter and noted journalist Kuldip Nayyar joining in with his Hind Pak Dosti Manch, to further illuminate the corridors of Peace highlighting the commonalities of Punjabis beyond the dividing line .

Kuldip Nayyar had one slip to his discredit as member of the Rajya Sabha , he had failed to turn up following the aftermath of the Kargil misadventure by Pakistan in May 1999. Ironically, it was the same year that Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Pak PM Nawaz Shrief flagged off the first Indo-Pak bus service-’Sada –E Sarhad’ in February, earlier that same year grandly labeled- Bus Diplomacy.

Alas, Kargil war, viewed as a back stabbing operation by Pak , served as a bolt from the blue, for the efforts of peace, close on the heels of the CBM euphoria over improving Indo Pak relations .

Nayyar however regrets that his RS membership held him back from joining Peace activists, when he was most needed. The journalist’s recent revelations of attending conferences organized by Ghulam Nabi Fai –an American Indian Kashmiri funded by the notorious Pak agency ISI, has him apologetic for the same.

That he showed up, despite the allegations and his knobby knees without assistance is the man’s indisputable courage to take up responsibility and face consequences and questions of the alleged unholy rendezvous.

In its 65th year of Independence, and 16 years of ‘candle lit vigil’ this is only the 4th time that peaceniks from Pakistan were allowed to come near the gate to give momentum to the movement for peace and prosperity in the region.

And the jubilation turned infections when Hans Raj Hans an Indian sufi singer sang from the Pakistan side where he graced the occasion on the mutual Peace Exchange programme.
Hans has been a regular in the peace overtures held annually. While the Indians glowed and waved the candles to the other side, Pakistanis took the protocol liberty more enthusiastically and mounted upon the metal gates, peeking through and singing songs while the Pak Rangers and Border Security Force personnel smiled and laughed at their antics indulgently.

Hans along with Mohsin Shaukat Ali sang extempore ‘Tere Mere geetan pyaar da Pul bandhna, Iss kaandiyali Tarr ne ek din Phul banna …’ (Our songs shall one day become a bridge, ..this barbed wire shall one day turn into a flower..). ‘Heer’- another common legend of love invoking sufi Waris Shah to smoothen the paths of love and friendship And the crowds on both sides were in raptures. Hans and Mohsin churned soul stirring melodies, drawing encores, wah-wahs and irshads .

Tara Gandhi grand daughter of Father of the Nation, joined along with Satnam Manak, Punjabi crooner Harbhajan Mann of ‘galaan goriya , te vich toye’ (fair cheeks with dimples!) fame to make the night dance in euphoria.

Famed Pakistani Punjabi sufi singer ‘Shaukat Ali’ sang ‘Chala’ Meriya —Gal sunn chaleya, Dhola ve kannu Rola..”, along his equally gifted son Mohsin Shaukat Ali during the candle lit vigil, making the crowds clap in unison. It was an indescribable moment of intoxication.

Indians Maasha Ali, and trisome teenage Ali Brothers drummed out the famed trespasses of ‘Jugni’- the cult female , brave and rebellious stamping the huge crowd thumping on with slogans of Peace . While Jyoti and Sultana- the Noora Sisters, unleashed sufi classical bonding the gathering of multitudes that trickled in from border villagers. The crowds swung into a frenzy of music, Bhangra and Buraaah !

A 40 member peace delegation From Pakistan of Gen Sect SAFMA Ijaz Ali, former minister Chaudhary Manzoor Ahmed, Sobia Cheema, Ayesha Sohail made fervent appeal to both nations to grant a visa-less travel to senior citizens, for a year, especially those who had suffered the pain of the partition.

The call did not end here. It called for visa less travel for under 12 year olds. The idea was brilliant. In other words it called for grandparents to take their grandchildren to the land of their forefathers and forge a feeling of love amongst those who have no idea of the lingering enmity between the two nations goaded by vested interests amongst politicians and others whose lifeline lay in continued hostilities.

”Visa counters at JCP on both sides to facilitate travel for the common people between the two nations” was another suggestion that had made visa granting cumbersome. The vetting and grant on both borders meant more people to people contact and a chance to remove long festered misgivings and doubts.

I again stole a glance at the moon. The clouds had vanished and its baby face shone glorious in magnificent halo joined by twinkling stars, banishing darkness, its shimmering glow mesmerized humanity and drenched them into a glow of love.

…………….eom

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Laughter challenges tears of Kashmir……………………. By Rashmi Talwar


“Kashmir Comedy Theatre Festival -2011”

Laughter challenges tears of Kashmir

By Rashmi Talwar

Bumbroo ! Bumbroo ! at 'Kashmir Comedy Theater Festival -2011

FIRST PUBLISHED IN KASHMIR TIMES MAGAZINE FRONT COVER ON JULY 10, 2011

‘Myon Shoosh’–My Love- Whisper the majestic Kashmir Mountains to me, opening their tessellated imposing arms, in a bear hug. I immerse into their beauty. The prickly needles of emerald hued conifers outlining their conical bodies, hurt me no more, they bring tickles at first, a smile and then a rolling laugh. It has been a quarter of a century since I last set foot in this wondrous land. ‘Maayi Barut Istaqbaal’ – Warm Welcome, ‘Khush Aamdeed’ – Happy Tidings, they murmur softly in my ear.

I raise my hand in a silent salute to the Jammu Kashmir Film Makers and Artists Co-operative Ltd (JKFMAC), the organizers who have brought the 10-day ‘Kashmir Comedy Theatre Festival -2011’ to this paradisiacal valley in the throes of tumult, as Shabbir Haider the Secretary General and CEO of JKFMAC puts it, “Where smiles come at a premium and laughter is in danger of growing extinct”.

A whole generation of Kashmiris turning old at 23 years, growing up in lurking fear and a daily call of attending dirges along with their elders, are completely cut off from what ‘normal’ childhood, adolescence and teenage years meant for others in India. For this generation it is so special to feel the emotion of hilarity, few have encountered or tasted in their lifetimes.

I feel there could be no better time. The ‘Amarnath Yatra’ is in full bloom albeit ‘under the shadow of the gun’, that provides pre-set security cover for the ‘laughter challenge’.

Serene, languid, doppling and dancing Dal Lake in Srinagar shows no sign of any fracas, smoothly letting the ‘shikaras’ or oblong romantic boats, slide on its beautiful belly, poked off and on by the paddle and rippling in mirth…

At Jammu and Srinagar airports, the almost embarrassing body search, the feel of metal detectors and human hands (even though female) feel like an amorous encroachment of privacy, not once, as at most airports, but three tier and times. Add to that, is the quick pick of a lady’s ‘tampon’ by a security guard and askance expression of suspicion followed by giggles when explained.

Strange, but some emotions of glee are traceable everywhere. I brush aside realms of media reports on turmoil and blood-baths to a ‘fake sting operation’ feeling some conspiracies lurking beneath the surface to bring disrepute to this virtual heaven on earth.

***
The grandeur of the inaugural ceremony on June 25th can hardly be gauged from the periphery of the venue of Sher-i-Kashmir International Convention Complex (SKICC) with gun-toting, quick response teams and armoured vehicles lined up, outlined with camouflaged-capped sharp shooters.

Inside, however, the cyan hued ‘pedicured’ lawns and lofty elusive Chinar trees are busy spreading their enchanted halcyon beauty to the surroundings, where guzzling laughter and fragrances of colors will rule for more than a week.

Ravinder Kaul, globally renowned theatre critic, has a wonderful take on comedy and satire in theatre. He puts it thus, “The man who slug out the first ‘abuse’ has done a great service to humanity. He has inadvertently given an alternative to human kind to vent out anger other than to invite the rival for a ‘bloody-duel’ to end the argument. His displeasure therefore has shed no blood or caused no bodily harm to anyone”.

And continues, “In theater, especially in ‘satire’, an alternate way lends itself to vent out pent-up anger against the government policies, inadequacies of administration, all pervasive corruption, excesses of armed forces and of dogged militants with their quirky logic; creating havoc, deeply affecting and attacking the lives and vital ethos of Kashmiris”.

“Kashmiri-a peace loving community, is facing a whole gamut of daily life–threatening situations, robbing them of their privacy, peace and progress. The massive extent of corruption deprives and saps their ‘celebrated strengths’ and relegates their development in multiple spheres, to a mere trickle. For them, comedy and satire has come as a whiff of fresh mountain wind to air their grievances.”

***
The ceremony of the book release “Theatre Akh Tarruf”, authored by veteran theatre personality and Additional Director General, Doordarshan, Ashok Jailkhani is equally ‘theatrical’, albeit in the positive sense. Seeds of ‘Issbad’ are touched upon the heads and shoulders of the author, the chief guest and others at this auspicious occasion, as a tradition practiced by both Hindu and Muslim Kashmiris, and then thrown over the simmering coals in a ‘Kangri’ or a traditional vessel kept burning for warmth in the winter chill. A ‘pious’ fragrance emanates from the burning seeds and envelopes the surroundings, warding off evil spirits.

Thereafter, the Governor of this beauteous state Mr. NN Vohra unties the ribbon on the book, declares the Festival open with lighting of the ceremonial lamp to the flash of festoons and a swirl of colors of rainbow ‘phirans’- a typical Kashmiri garment, and matching swinging jewellery, classically Kashmiri.

It is ‘Bumbroo, Bumbroo’ time, a melody, as ten lovely lasses of Kashmir roll their ‘mehandied’-henna patterned hands-and lift themselves to melt into a frenzy of dance, bringing the audiences in close clasp of what one could say ‘befikri’-unmindful of worries.
Jammu girls match their Kashmiri counterparts in obvious competition with gusto on a Dogri dance and song and steep the audience into an untamed, full-blooded frolic.

***
‘Local Taxes Extra’- the opening play releases the first choking veil of curtains restricting the overenthusiastic actors waiting to showcase their talent for the Comedy Festival.

Written by Dr Sohan Lal Koul and directed by Ayash Arif of the Kalidas Theater Group, the play revolves on social issues facing a Kashmiri Pandit couple Bhushan Lal and Usha Rani who fall on the mercy of a quirky landlord out to take advantage of their plight in a series of hilarious situations wherein the servant Gash Ram too develops a taste for intrigues to create misunderstandings between the couple.

That the play in Kashmiri language sustains the attention of the State Governor, one known to have just a formal flavor of the Kashmiri language and constrained for time as dignitaries are wont to say for effect, speaks volumes about the histrionic prowess of the actors on stage. Of more significance, however, is a largely Kashmiri ‘Muslim’ audience glued to their seats watching the play with all Kashmiri Pandit characters. It seems to me, to be the true bearing or ‘icing’ of the lurking agony of separation of these two ethnic communities both of whom claim Kashmir as their rightful home and hearth.

It is this spirit of communal harmony and a composite culture that truly spells the values of the lush valley wherefrom many a Bollywood movie scripts have taken their first cues of unbridled love.

Kashmiri Pandits have been pushed, evacuated and left to fend for themselves due to hatred of alien mercenaries in cahoots with some local hawks and hardliners. Their Muslim brethren still hold them dear in unconditional love, that is what the attendance and attention at this Festival reinforces.
***

The Festival continues for the next ten days, bringing in fun and tears of joyous laughter. The themes revolve around overall corruption in high places and at the grassroots level. Even state run ‘Doordarshan’ is not spared to bring in guffaws while a play by tiny-tots takes the audiences to matchless taste of twists and turns in the ‘kiddy’ world.

Artistes include Bhands from Akingaam and Wathoora, the Akingaam Bhands’ group being in existence for many centuries, having been elaborately mentioned in Sir Walter Lawrence’s seminal book ‘The Valley of Kashmir’ (1895). As it began, the Festival ends with another hilarious tale revolving around a Kashmiri Pandit family. ‘Dastaar’, the play, has already become a part of the popular folklore of Kashmir with legendary actor Hriday Nath Gurtoo’s inimitable dialogue ‘Dastaaras karizam raachh’–‘Protect My Turban’-albeit ‘Honour’; on the tip of everyone’s tongue.

That Gurtoo died in a miserable condition in a migrant camp in Udhampur soon after being forced to migrate from his happy dwellings in Kashmir, in the early 1990s, has in no way dimmed his creation but rather highlighted the plight of some of the ‘Jewels of Kashmir’ being ostracized from their beloved land and perishing in misery.

The Festival comes to an end, the armored vehicles and sharp shooters leave the venue, but it has successfully scattered the seeds of tangible merriment in the entire valley.

My eyes scan the picturesque landscape and rivulets flow down my cheeks, I feel a tug, as if a dear one says ‘Maty’e Rozu Dama Roz Dariyam Chany’e Lol Re’! ‘My love, stay a while longer’. However agony of separation from Kashmir is lesser than the wish that Almighty may shower His choicest blessings and cheer to this Land of the Gods.

In their forlorn imploration, asking me to return to the valley blooming with spring flowers ‘Rosh wala myani dilbaro, poshan bahaar aav, yoori walo’– I peer to look for smiles down from the window of the plane. The arc that begins at one mountain top and, after covering the flat valley, ends at another mountain top, seems like a broad smiley like smile. Today, even the sun has been veiled by clouds on the top to spread the huge glowing smiley that I look for in the crinkly as well as reddish lips of Kashmiris blessed with unsurpassed beauty and as I place my hand on my heart it leaps and cheers ‘Aall izzz well’!

*****
FIRST PUBLISHED IN KASHMIR TIMES MAGAZINE FRONT COVER ON JULY 10, 2011

*ZOOLOGIST WHO BONDS PEOPLE*- By Rashmi Talwar *Times of India*.


By Rashmi Talwar
His Multiple interests have made Dr Amarjit Singh Tanda stand tall in Australia ——

Dr Amarjit Singh Tanda with flowers

Mealybugs, weak stocks and wilted leaves irked him no end, as he looked with wonderment at the vast expanse of green fields and thus his passion for seeing ‘unspotted’ green leaves and a rich harvest of crops in his ancestral farms in village Dherian, Nakodar , in the food bowl of India (Punjab) ,shaped his destiny .

It drove him to Entomology- a subject dealing with pest and insect study. And so emerged Dr Amarjit Singh Tanda as the Managing Director of One of the largest independently-owned pest control companies in Sydney, Australia- ‘Tanda Pest Control’- making this decrepit village proud of its son .
With it, he also added the business of ‘Real estate’ finding opportunities galore to explore lands from Down-Under.

However his success did not rob him of his sensitivities, rather it reinforced him to pursue his other desire manifold to consolidate his roots.

Riding high on his commercial success, he grew equally passionate to give back to his motherland in ample measure -through community services, writings, poetry.
He thus won over his fellow Punjabis in faraway lands as well as in the country of his birth — organizing platforms and connecting them across the seven seas with the incomparable flavors of their rich language and culture.

His motherland too took pride in one of its own –Dr Amarjit Tanda as ‘founder’ President of Indian Overseas Congress Australia (IOCA) (established in 2004 by him ), was recently conferred the “Hind Rattan Award 2010” by the Advisory Board of NRI Welfare Society of India, on the eve of Republic Day in New Delhi. For outstanding services, achievements and contributions for keeping the Flag of India high.
In his long service to the community Dr Tanda as IOCA President was nominated as an Independent from Commonwealth Electoral Division of Greenway (New South Wales, Australia ) and has contested three times in the Federal Elections in NSW.

The Punjabi who has distinguished himself as an Entomologist, a Congressman, Poet and Social worker of Indian and Punjabi community has also managed to warm the hearts of fellow Punjabis in Australia and India with his unique style of penning poetry. Having written five collections of Punjabi Poetry -‘Hvavan De Rukh’, ‘Likhtum Neelee Bansri’, ‘Kore Kagaj Te Neele Dastkha’, ‘Diva Safian Da’ and ‘Sulgade Harf’ –his natural pride is in the winning of 11-Firsts and one second prize in poetry competitions and that indisputably remain his most prized possession .

Similarly he has left no stone unturned with his contributions in filmmaking too, with Production of 3 Punjabi Feature films by ‘Tanda Brothers Productions’ –‘Vairi, Dhee Jat D’i, ‘Pehla Pehla Pyar’ and a Hindi Feature Film-‘Smuggler’.

His original research work in the field of Entomology has been recognized by ‘American Biographical Institute, Raleigh, USA’ and his name was included in the 5000 Eminent personalities of the world. He was also awarded with honorary degree in Biology by the ‘Institute of Biology, UK’ as a Charted Biologist.

Dr Tanda often travels to India and touches his Alma Mater – Punjab Agriculture University- PAU Ludhiana , enriching them with useful tips, sharing his vast repertoire of New practices in this field to sustain bumper crops including bee pollination, bio-control of crop insect & pests.
PAU –is where he did his MSc degree in 1976 and PhD degree in 1983 after which he served the university for 15 years in teaching and research in the Department of Entomology and was also In charge of Young Writers’ Association, of the Varsity.

He has authored four books on the ‘Biology & Control of Cockroaches, Biology and Control of Rats and Mice and Management of Termites in Australia’.

The ‘Sikh Society of Australia, Melbourne’ recognized his work for the welfare of the Indian community and conferred him with the ‘International Volunteer for the year 2001’ award.

Dr Tanda is also the Founder President, Punjabi Sahit Academy Sydney and Punjabi Welfare & Cultural Association, Australia.

Speaking to TOI from Sydney, Dr Tanda says – ‘I was a topper in school throughout and poetry is my first love from school days.’
A peek into his poetry gives away his monumental struggle and his never-say-die spirit in true Punjabi style.

The urge to succeed are laid raw in the lines —-
’Agg jadon vi chhaati vich baldi hai
Parbat vi uchche nahin lagde..’(Whenever fire rages in the chest, the mountains do not appear to be too high).

Dr Tanda has worked relentlessly to bring Punjabis together on several platforms including organizing many cultural and welfare programs that has encouraged the community to retain its distinct identity with prizes for children for Bhangra -Gidha performances , Punjabi Dress and Punjabi Singing competitions, besides religious Programs on the ‘Shabad Goshti’ and ‘Aassa Di Vaar’ that saw participation by Intellectuals of Punjabi community and Sikh Scholars .

His joys are in Editing a literary Magazine in Punjabi namely ‘Kaleere’ and Painting. He has to his credit portraits he painted of Gurus, – star crossed lovers of Punjabi lore – Sassi Punnu and a series of paintings related to Punjabi Culture called ‘ Reetee Rivaz’ .

Who will call the PM ‘Mohna’ again?….. By Rashmi Talwar


PM Dr Manmohan Singh Classmate from Gah Village Pakistan at Khalsa College Amritsar

PM Dr Manmohan Singh Classmate from Gah Village Pakistan at Khalsa College Amritsar


http://www.tribuneindia.com/2010/20100930/edit.htm#5

Who will call the PM ‘Mohna’ again?
by Rashmi Talwar

I look at the golden shower cassia tree in my garden and I am reminded of two such cassias growing in far-off Gah village in Pakistan, that I had presented to the late Raja Mohammed Ali, a childhood classmate of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
“Meinu mere Mohne nal milva do! Meinu Hindustan da visa mil gaya hai!” was one call I received in May of 2008 from Rajaji alias Babaji. I was aghast! ‘Mohna’ was the nickname he used for the Prime Minister. In March that year I had met Babaji the second time in Katasraj (Pakistan) and carried copies of an article by me in The Tribune about him and his friend ‘Mohna’. I gave a copy to a senior officer of the Indian High Commission at the Katasraj shrine, urging him to issue Babaji a visa.
After four rejections, three months later, Babaji was ready to come to India and elated in anticipation of a meeting with his illustrious classmate – albeit without any appointment!
I looked for ways to fix that seemingly ‘elusive’ appointment, on the Net. I wrote on the PM’s website, even found an IAS officer, seemingly by divine intervention, who helped script a letter and fax to the Prime Minister, but to no avail.
Meantime, a thrilled Babaji, unaware of the ‘trials and tribulations’, called everyday and we agreed on ‘priceless gifts’ for the Prime Minister comprising ‘soil and water’ of the PM’s school and ancestral home in Gah besides ‘tilley wali chakwali juttis’ and a 150-year old ‘resham ka lachcha’ made by Babaji’s grandparents.
A week left, and still no reply! Finally, media had to become my ‘sole-mate’. There were renewed media contacts in Lahore, Amritsar and Delhi. A foreign news agency in Lahore filmed the story about preparations to meet the Prime Minister, and ended it with a question –‘Whether the Pak friend would meet the Indian PM?’ It was featured on BBC just prior to Babaji’s arrival in India. Still no reply!
On Babaji’s arrival a local school gave him a thumping welcome with bhangra by kids at the Wagah Indo-Pak border. The press grabbed bytes of the dancing children, gifts of soil, water and juttis!
The same night an official of the PMO called! More relieved than elated, I requested for accommodation and conveyance in Delhi for them, besides security during travel to Delhi, the following day.
Babaji reached Delhi and was whisked off to a five-star guest house and given a chauffeur-driven car. Two days before the meeting, Babaji urged me to accompany him but my refrain was “this is the time for only friends, not me”.
It turned out to be a most poignant moment between India and Pakistan. Later, a tearful Babaji left India carrying the cassia saplings, a booklet with publications of his visit, a large photo with the Prime Minister and him wearing the chakwali juttis, gifts by the PM of a pair of watches, suits, shawl, dry fruit and Assam tea and even a doctor’s prescription, as live proofs for his village-mates.
Even though Babaji is no more, the entire village safeguards these prized possessions and has even framed the Indian doctor’s prescription — as a historical memory of Gah’s priceless connection with India.

FIRST PUBLISHED IN “THE TRIBUNE” ON SEPTEMBER 30, 2010

Publications in India of PM Friend in Pak

Times of India & Indian Express Publications in India of PM Friend in Pak

FIRST PUBLISHED IN THE TRIBUNE

Indian Television artists Dhani Drashti and Gurmeet Choudhry visit Amritsar


BY RASHMI TALWAR

……AMRITSAR May 21 st 2010 ————Indian television artists Dhani Drashti and Gurmeet Choudhry likes a Punjabi Jutti (Shoe ) at a shoe shop in Amritsar . Dhani Drashti and Gurmeet Choudhry visited Amritsar for the shooting of their upcoming television serial “Geet” which telecast on Star One Channel

Here’s what is happening in India :Pak Journalist



Written by a Pakistani journalist about India……. By Dr Farrukh Saleem

Here’s what is happening in India :

Indians and Pakistanis have the same Y-chromosome haplogroup. We have the same genetic sequence and the same genetic marker (namely: M124). We have the same DNA molecule, the same DNA sequence. Our culture, our traditions and our cuisine are all the same. We watch the same movies and sing the same songs. What is it that Indians have and we don’t? INDIANS ELECT THEIR LEADERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And also to mention: They think of Construction of own nation, unlike other nations who are just concerned with destruction of others… Simple answer to why the Indians fare better than the Pakistanis – They don’t focus on religion all the time and neither do they spend time and money in devising ways to kill their own and everyone else over religion.

The two Ambani brothers can buy 100 percent of every company listed on the Karachi Stock Exchange (KSE) and would still be left with $30 billion to spare. The four richest Indians can buy up all goods and services produced over a year by 169 million Pakistanis and still be left with $60 billion to spare.

The four richest Indians are now richer than the forty richest Chinese. In November, Bombay Stock Exchange’s benchmark Sensex flirted with 20,000 points. As a consequence, Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries became a $100 bill ion company (the entire KSE is capitalized at $65 billion). Mukesh owns 48 percent of Reliance. In November, comes Neeta’s birthday. Neeta turned forty-four three weeks ago. Look what she got from her husband as her birthday gift: A sixty-million dollar jet with a custom fitted master bedroom, bathroom with mood lighting, a sky bar, entertainment cabins, satellite television, wireless communication and a separate cabin with game consoles. Neeta is Mukesh Ambani’s wife, and Mukesh is not India ‘s richest but the second richest.

Mukesh is now building his new home, Residence Antillia (after a mythical, phantom island somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean). At a cost of $1 billion this would be the most expensive home on the face of the planet. At 173 meters tall Mukesh’s new family residence, for a family of six, will be the equivalent of a 60-storeyed building. The first six floors are reserved for parking. The seventh floor is for car servicing and maintenance.. The eighth floor houses a mini-theatre. Then there’s a health club, a gym and a swimming pool. Two floors are reserved for Ambani family’s guests. Four floors above the guest floors are family floors all with a superb view of the Arabian Sea On top of everything are three helipads. A staff of 600 is expected to care for the family and their family home. In 2004, India became the 3rd most attractive foreign direct investment destination.

Pakistan wasn’t even in the top 25 countries.

In 2004, the United Nations, the representative body of 192 sovereign member states, had requested the Election Commission of India to assist the UN in the holding elections in Al Jumhuriyah al Iraqiyah and Dowlat-e Eslami-ye Afghanestan. Why the Election Commission of India and not the Election Commission of Pakistan? After all, Islamabad is closer to Kabul than is Delhi .

Imagine, 12 percent of all American scientists are of Indian origin; 38 percent of doctors in America are Indian; 36 percent of NASA scientists are Indians; 34 percent of Microsoft employees are Indians; and 28 percent of IBM employees are Indians.

For the record: Sabeer Bhatia created and founded Hotmail. Sun Microsystems was founded by Vinod Khosla. The Intel Pentium processor, that runs 90 percent of all computers, was fathered by Vinod Dham. Rajiv Gupta co-invented Hewlett Packard’s E-speak project. Four out often Silicon Valley start-ups are run by Indians. Bollywood produces 800 movies per year and six Indian ladies have won Miss Universe/Miss World titles over the past 10 years. For the record: Azim Premji, the richest Muslim entrepreneur on the face of the planet, was born in Bombay and now lives in Bangalore.India now has more than three dozen billionaires; Pakistan has none (not a single dollar billionaire).

The other amazing aspect is the rapid pace at which India is creating wealth. In 2002, Dhirubhai Ambani, Mukesh and Anil Ambani’s father, left his two sons a fortune worth $2.8 billion. In 2007, their combined wealth stood at $94 billion. On 29 October 2007, as a result of the stock market rally and the appreciation of the Indian rupee, Mukesh became the richest person in the world, with net worth climbing to US$63.2 billion (Bill Gates, the richest American, stands at around $56 billion). Amritsar

KIDNAPPED GIANDEEP @RICHIE IS STILL ALIVE : PARENTS


Kidnapped Giandeep@Richie 's parents


BY Rashmi Talwar

Four Sikh boys came in a white ‘Maruti’ van with tinted glasses, one stepped out, picked lil Giandeep@Richie from a cycle Rikshaw in the cantonment area of Amritsar, that fateful morning of August 19, 1996 and the “world came crashing down” for Dr Hardeep Singh and his wife Mrs Harpreet Kaur.

“Our Lives Changed Forever,” says Harpreet whose younger son Gaindeep only 5- years, was kidnapped that morning. “For past 14 years there has not been a moment’s peace, not a happy time that we really enjoyed. By taking our son the four, have permanently wiped the smiles off our faces.

I knew that, asking them to relive the incident was going to hurt, but I moved forward, as I left myself no choices.. “THIS had to be done and SHARED !”

IT HAPPENED ……

Dr Hardeep opened layers of his child’s memorabilia, showed us his ‘last’ school bag that was left behind in the rikshaw when 4-kidnappers– all young, came with muffled faces. The poor rikshaw walla showed courage, scuffled and caught the main kidnapper’s leg, who kicked him with the second leg and made off with the child. The only witness to this, is the rickshaw wala, a woman selling corn on the roadside and an employee of a school.
Giandeep, being the youngest was sitting in the middle of five older children. The petrified children ran off following this..” , wiping his tears, he continued — ” I was at the time writing thesis at the Library of Government Medical college, Amritsar when some known people came and whisked me off home without telling me anything on the way.
When they said “Richie is Kidnapped’ I felt the earth had given way under me. Ever since sleep has evaded us, we have shattering dreams and in some we see Richie smiling and we long to hold him in our arms, hug and kiss him everywhere…..

ONLY 5 DAYS BEFORE HIS B’DAY ……

As the father showed us Giandeep’s school notebooks and report card, he pointed to the rank ..” See Giandeep was brilliant, stood first in his class in nursery and only joined the Junior Study School, Amritsar in the April of that fateful year 1996.
Just as, we were preparing to celebrate his 5th B’day that falls on 24th August, with this two favourite songs “Akhiyan milaon, kabhi akhiyan jhukaon , kia tu ne kia jaddoooooooo……” and “Mai hi Mai, munder pe Bol raha hai Kaga….”, which he sang with a multicolored umbrella on his head …, he was abducted.
Remembering every small detail about him, the father says.. “He Called me ‘Dey Da’, said he resembled me and not his mom, otherwise a quiet boy, very obedient, organized in everything , would polish his shoes everyday, refuse to wear an unwashed garment, loved combining red with his blue jeans. And oh! he was left- handed , Very fair complexioned ,had a black spot in his left eye and a prominent 1 ½ inch birthmark on his upper left thigh .” Surprisingly, No Ransom call was ever received.

HE IS ALIVE

Holding a lil school craft, the mother showed “Giandeep had made this in school”. Opening a pencil box, she peeped, “See how neatly he kept his pencils, sharpner, eraser and color box..”. He loved coloring and could solve addition and subtraction sums, even before he joined school, by watching his elder brother Chandandeep Singh @Honey.
“If we ever scolded Honey, he would take up for his brother….”That’s the kind of boy we lost ..How can we be at peace, knowing that he is still ‘alive’ somewhere?
How do you know that ? …The mother answered quietly ,” Every astrologer we approached, said he is alive and well’ .

Joining in with his wife, the father said, “So much so, that I studied astrology as a 2-year degree course started in a local college and topped the exam. Other than indicating that he is alive and well I could read nothing more in Giandeep’s birth charts, it did not give me any other clue’, he lamented. The kidnappers could have left him in a train bogey, or a street in any city …we don’t know. But we know he is alive.

MUKH VAK
Dr Hardeep suddenly rushed in and came up with an old diary. He pointed out how he had documented every ‘First’ visit of his son to a gurdwara , a dear friend’s Suman Sharma’s place who stood with him through the thick and thin of looking for Giandeep . Not only this, he had carefully noted down the ‘MUKH VAK’ (First Verse from Guru Granth Sahib) of the day, of his every first visit in gurdwaras in Tarn Taran, Mohali (Nanke ), Goindwal (where he was born), Chandigarh, .
When he was born and the first time we went to a Gurdwara with him, the VAK was —
“Tum daate Thakur pritpalak nayak khasm hamare
Nimak nimak tum hi pritpalo hum baarik tumre Dhare “.

It is strange and an irony , that I suspect the family of my aunt, to have a hand in this kidnap. The aunt alongside whom I prayed for a child and who remained childless for a long time, until at a place of worship I was chosen as an ideal family member to tie the ‘maanat mauli’ (sacred thread). Soon after, she (my aunt) bore her first son, followed by the birth of a daughter. I suspected this very son of my aunt and his friends kidnapped my child. And what a harsh stroke of fate that this very son of my aunt died in a traumatic incident of drowning a few years back .….

WE WILL LOOK FOR HIM ..WE WILL FIND HIM ….. was all we could say…..