Friday, April 24, 2009

But Pappu doesn't vote because... पर पप्पु वोट नही करता क्युंकि...

.. Because when the voter enumeration is done, all the villages are covered diligently, and all the flats are left out as diligently.. my entire condominium of 900+ flats was left flat out of the Pulse Polio campaign, and of the voter enumeration. Then i checked the voter lists of Gurgaon online.. (the link doesnt work any more) ... For the village, there were at least thousands of entries. The number was a few hundreds for all the condominiums in the area. Its as if these voters did not exist!

Then, we took the brave step of trying to enter our name in the Voter rolls. The first step, of course, was Jaago Re. Jaagore told us that the voter rolls will open on Jan 10 2009. We found out that the number of the RO listed on the website is wrong. The correct no. is 0124-2224047.
The place is in the Mini Secretariat, Gurgaon.

When we called in January, we were told that the rolls are closed till February. When we called in February, no one picked up the phone. One day, someone picked up the phone, and when we said "Voter roll mein naam jama karanaa hai" (need to enrol as a voter) the voice on the other end said "To karaiye. idhar aa ke form de do." (come here and give the form).

So off we went, with all the paperwork that the Jaago website had told us about, with two copies of the whole thing (you never know)

At the office, the "relevant person" was in a meeting. No clue when he will be back.
"The voter rolls are already closed. We cannot accept any more applications."
When we pointed to them that the Jaagore website and the ECI website indicates that voter roll correction is in progress, they said "Speak to the sir. As far as we know, it is closed. It was open in January." (Jaw dropped)

Another person said "But this form is all wrong. You need 2 copies each."
Smiling we said "But we have 2 copies each."
"You have not attached that English form. " He proceeds to take out a form. On top of the form, right in the header, is the word "Optional" . We point that out to him, and tell him that that form is for the Photo ID card. we just want our names in the voter rolls.
"Nahi, hum is form ke bina nahi le sakte hain." (No we cannot accept this form without the English form)

So we waited for about 2 hours. The relevant person did not come back from the meeting.

After that, we tried to get in touch with Jaagore. For all their weekly emails telling us that we should go out and enrol the whole family, not one response to our weekly emails asking them for help in raising this issue. We were denied an entry in the voter rolls. They refused to even take our forms!

In case you are wondering whether this is a one person story, its not. Quite a few of us faced this while trying to register as voters for the LS elections. Story after story later, I m convinced that this is a deliberate effort to keep educated voters at bay. Someone does not want us to vote if our names are not there already. Officials whose job it is to do door to door enumeration of voters cover thousands of voters in villages and skip all the thousands who do not live in the village.

Pappu doesnt vote because..

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Lucky Qasab

When he was the lone survivor of the attacking contingent of 26/11, I'll bet he cursed his luck. He shouldnt have.
The Indian government is taking great pains to make an example of how it is easy to come to India, kill and then get away with it like Afzal Guru or Qasab. And how has the Congress assumed that Indian Muslims are against the hanging of people like Afzal Guru or Qasab? Indian Muslims refused to give graves to the perpetrators of 26/11, but perhaps that has slipped the mind of the ruling party.

Why a trial? A trial is usually necessary only to establish guilt. Is there a doubt about that guilt? Perhaps the government wants to establish a suitable punishment through trial. How many kinds of death sentence are there in India? Basically, WHY IS THERE A TRIAL?

If the President of India wants to sit on Afzal Guru's mercy petition, let her pay for his upkeep. The indian taxpayer is NOT intersted in paying for the upkeep of Afzal Guru and Qasab. What will we do with the information provided to us by Qasab? We will go to the UN and Cry "mama! see, terror camps!" Really, the world can do without another bawling baby.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Hindi Rhymes for children/ हिन्दी मे बच्चों की कवितायें

What do you do when you find tonnes of Nursery rhymes in English but few in Hindi? You try and make them up. Old ideas, new words. Some other parents may be facing the same problem, so here goes. (No wait, this is not a parenting tips blog yet.. i have a thought about Qasab coming up too :-) )

चिडिया लायी दाल का दाना,
कौवा लाया चावल का दाना,
दोनो ने मिल कर खिचडी पकायी
तभी वहा पर मैना आयी
उस ने सारी खिचडी चुराई
चिडिया बोली "उफ मेरी माई!"

अहा टमाटर बडा मज़ेदार!
एक दिन टमाटर को हो गया बुखार
आलू चाचा ने किया उपचार
भिंडी दीदी ने किया बडा प्यार!

गाजर और आलू की हों गयी सगाई
गाजर बोली "हाय ये मैं किस घर आयी!
मैं लम्बी, और पतली, गुलाबी मेरा रूप हैं,
साथ चले लाला, लगे बड़ा खूब हैं! "

गोभी और बैंगन की हों गयी सगाई
गोभी बोली "हाय ये मैं किस घर आयी
मैं गोरी, और चिट्टी , और खिला मेरा रूप हैं,
काला कलूटा सा मेरा महबूब हैं! "

Monday, April 13, 2009

Sunday for Easter and Monday for Baisakhi

They are about Resurrection.. this is the season of Resurrection.. the trees get their leaves anew, the air is pregnant with summer..

This is the story of Easter.

And this is the story of Baisakhi.

ਦੇਹ ਸਿਵਾ ਬਰੁ ਮੋਹਿ ਇਹੈ ਸੁਭ ਕਰਮਨ ਤੇ ਕਬਹੂੰ ਨ ਟਰੋਂ ॥

ਨ ਡਰੋਂ ਅਰਿ ਸੋ ਜਬ ਜਾਇ ਲਰੋਂ ਨਿਸਚੈ ਕਰਿ ਅਪੁਨੀ ਜੀਤ ਕਰੋਂ ॥

ਅਰੁ ਸਿਖ ਹੋਂ ਆਪਨੇ ਹੀ ਮਨ ਕੌ ਇਹ ਲਾਲਚ ਹਉ ਗੁਨ ਤਉ ਉਚਰੋਂ ॥

ਜਬ ਆਵ ਕੀ ਅਉਧ ਨਿਦਾਨ ਬਨੈ ਅਤਿ ਹੀ ਰਨ ਮੈ ਤਬ ਜੂਝ ਮਰੋਂ ॥੨੩੧॥

देह शिवा बर मोहे ईहे, शुभ कर्मन से कभुं न टरूं

न डरौं अरि सौं जब जाय लड़ौं, निश्चय कर अपनी जीत करौं,

अरु सिख हों आपने ही मन कौ इह लालच हउ गुन तउ उचरों,

जब आव की अउध निदान बनै अति ही रन मै तब जूझ मरों ॥२३१॥

Translation: O Lord grant me this boon, that I may never avoid doing a good deed.Never shall I fear the enemy when I go into the battlefield and always ensure my victory .That I may teach myself this greed alone, to learn only Thy praises.And when the last days of my life come, I may die in the might of the battlefield.

Happy Baisakhi...

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Roti Hak di khaiye ji, paanve boot polishaan kariye..

This post is dedicated to Gurdas Mann. (Wiki here)

When we were growing up in the 1980s, he was THE legend. Today, as i listen to his songs all over again, am struck more and more that:
1. There is never any vulgarity in his videos, or songs.. never any double meaning.

2. The songs have an earthy, Punjabi feeling to them. The values that come up in his songs, are so Punjabi, and yet, popular opinion of Punjabis is not that. The only other people who used to speak like that is my grandparents. Wonder where that Punjabiyat went.. his songs, even the new ones, bring that value system alive again.

3. There is sooo much honesty and integrity in his voice.. and so much control! His Chhalla made me cry the first time I heard it, after 10 years, it still makes me cry every SINGLE time.

Here, then, is the Punjabiyat that comes from his songs(and that i do not hear anywhere else):
(Apologies to people who do not follow the language..i have not been able to translate most)

ਤੂ ਬੇਲਿ ਤੇ ਸਬ ਜਗ ਬੇਲੀ, ਅਨ-ਬੇਲੀ ਵੀ ਬੇਲੀ, ਬਾਜੋਂ ਸਜਨਾ ਦੇ, ਸੂਨੀ ਪਈ ਹਵੇਲੀ..

तू बेलि ते सब जग बेली, अन-बेली वी बेली, बाजों सजना दे, सूनी पई हवेली..
Poor Translation: There will be friends plenty if you are the host. When you are dead, not one of those friends will be around. (Choose your friends carefully)

ਕੀ ਮੁਨਿਯਾਦ ਵੇ ਬਨ੍ਦਿਯਾ ਤੇਰੀ, ਤੁ ਜਦ ਕਦ ਹੋਨਾ ਹੈ ਮਿਟ੍ਟੀਇਸ਼੍ਕ ਨੇ ਹਰ ਦਮ ਤਾਜ਼ਾ ਰੇਹਨਾ ਹੈ, ਭਾਂਵੇ ਦਾਡੀ ਹੋ ਜਾਯੇ ਚਿਟ੍ਟੀ!

की मुनियाद वे बन्दिया तेरी, तु जद कद होना है मिट्टी
इश्क़ ने हर दम ताज़ा रेहना है, भांवे दाडी हो जाये चिट्टी!

(Human beings will die , but love remains eternal, long after the body has aged)

ਰੋਟੀ ਹਕ ਦੀ ਖਾਈਯੇ ਜੀ, ਭਾਂਵੇ ਬੂਟ ਪਾਲਿਸ਼ਾਂ ਕਰਿਯੇ...

रोटी हक दी खाईये जी, भांवे बूट पालिशां करिये...
(Eat bread well earned, though the job be menial..)

ਹੁਸ੍ਨ ਜਵਾਨੀ ਮਾ-ਪੇ, ਓ ਤੀਨ ਰਂਗ ਨਹੀ ਯੋ ਲਬ੍ਨੇ,ਨਹੀ ਓ ਲਬ੍ਨੇ ਲਾਲ ਗੁਵਾਚੇ, ਮਿਟ੍ਟੀ ਨਾ ਪਰੋਲ ਜੋਗਿਯਾ..

हुस्न जवानी मा-पे, ओ तीन रंग नही यो लब्ने,
नही ओ लब्ने लाल गुवाचे, मिट्टी ना परोल जोगिया..

(beauty, youth and parents, once lost, are never found again, no matter how desperately you look.. these are treasures forever lost)

ਮਰੇ ਮੁਕਰੇ ਦਾ ਕੋਈ ਗਵਾਹ ਨਹੀ, ਤੇ ਸਾਥੀ ਕੋਈ ਨਹੀ ਜਗ ਤੋ ਚਲਯਾਂ ਦਾ,ਸਾਡੇ ਪੀਰਾਂ ਫਕੀਰਾਂ ਨੇ ਗਲ ਦਸ੍ਸੀ, ਹਾਸਾ ਸਾਰਯਾਂ ਦਾ ਤੇ ਰੋਨਾ ਕਲ੍ਯਾਂ ਦਾ..ਥੋਡਾ ਥੋਡਾ ਹਂਸ੍ਨਾ ਜ਼ਰੂਰ ਚਹਿਦਾ.. ਦੁਖ ਹੋਵੇ ਦਸਨਾ ਜ਼ਰੂਰ ਚਾਹਿਦਾ..

मरे मुकरे दा कोई गवाह नही, ते साथी कोई नही जग तो चलयां दा,
साडे पीरां फकीरां ने गल दस्सी, हासा सारयां दा ते रोना कल्यां दा..
थोडा थोडा हंस्ना ज़रूर चहिदा.. दुख होवे दसना ज़रूर चाहिदा..

(Laugh and the world laughs with you, Cry and you cry alone.. )
I specially love this song because earlier, the concept of "leaving people alone to be sad" just did not exist. If people insisted on being alone and sad, no one ever let them.. that is just what this song highlights..

ਅਪਨੇ ਪ੍ਯਾਰਯਾਂ ਦਾ, ਦਿਲ ਨਹੀ ਤੋਡੀਦਾ, ਔਖੇ ਵੇਲੇ ਸਜ੍ਨਾਂ ਤੋ, ਮੁਖ ਨਹੀ ਮੋਡੀਦਾ..

अपने प्यारयां दा, दिल नही तोडीदा, औखे वेले सज्नां तो, मुख नही मोडीदा..
(Don't hurt your loved ones, don't abandon them in their troubles)

ਯਾਰੀ ਵਿਚ ਨਫੇ ਨੁਕ੍ਸਾਨ ਨਹੀ ਓ ਵੇਖਿਦੇ, ਮਂਜ਼ਿਲਾਂ ਦੇ ਸਾਮਨੇ ਤੂਫਾਨ ਨਹੀ ਵੇਖਿਦੇਯਾਰਂ ਦੇ ਗੁਨਾਹਾਂ ਦਾ ਹਿਸਾਬ ਨਹੀ ਓ ਜੋਡੀਦਾ..

यारी विच नफे नुक्सान नही ओ वेखिदे, मंज़िलां दे सामने तूफान नही वेखिदे
यारं दे गुनाहां दा हिसाब नही ओ जोडीदा..

(Friendship is not a business, there is no account of a friend's mistakes)

किसे दियां खुशियां ते पानी नही रोडीदा..(don't ruin someone's happiness)
किसे दी गरीबी दा मज़ाक नही उडायीदा...(never laugh at anyone's poverty)
ख़िडे होये फूलां नु नही, तली ते मरोडीदा..

ਛਡ ਤੇਰਿਯਾਂ ਤੇ ਮੇਰਿਯਾਂ, ਤੇਰੇ ਉਤ੍ਤੇ ਰਬ ਦਿਯਾਂ ਰੇਹਮਤਾਂ ਬਥੇਰਿਯਾਂਅਪਨੀ ਔਕਾਤ ਨਾਲੋਂ ਵਦ ਨਹੀਂ ਲੋਡੀਦਾ..

छड तेरियां ते मेरियां, तेरे उत्ते रब दियां रेहमतां बथेरियां
अपनी औकात नालों वद नहीं लोडीदा..

(Why bother with what is mine and what is yours.. the same God has given to both of us..
Want not more than you can afford, and you will not be unhappy)
- This thought also i love. When we were growing up, we would often complain about how little we had compared to the other children in class. My grandmother always taught me to compare, not with children who have more than me, but with children who have so much lesser.. her exact words were आँख नीवी रखो
अपने तो थल्ले तको , उत्ते नही॥

ਆਂਖ ਨੀਵੀ ਰਖੋਅਪਨੇ ਤੋ ਥਲ੍ਲੇ ਤਕੋ , ਉਤ੍ਤੇ ਨਹੀ॥
Very different from what we do today..

More on Gurdas Mann coming up.. do come back, not just for Gurdas Mann, but also to know about the lost Punjabiyat.. of what being a Punjabi really meant..

Pictures from the Library.. as promised..

As you can see, its an assortment all right. But there is also a repetition.. he loves Pooh, Mickey(who doesn't?) and Barney and Grover.. there are friends in those books.. and that's just what we were hoping to get.. Amen!!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

A library for children

This is not exactly a parenting tips blog, but one thought that this information will help parents in general and uncle aunties in particular.

This post is about sourcing books for the infant/toddler without burning a hole in the pocket.

I have about 12 years of experience in setting up libraries for children - cheap, and nice. So thats my credentials for writing this post. :-)

Children have to enjoy their first books. For them, that means being able to eat them, tear them, use them as tablemats, or even as weapons against you. Therefore, Rule No. 1 is to have dispensible books. If a book is very imp to your child, please keep at least 3-4 copies of that book.

Rule no. 2 is to have cardboard based books that can be wiped clean. Till at least the age of 1.

Some inexpensive sources of infant and toddler books in India: (i have to mention them by name because these are not the front slots in a book store. No book store i know has kept value for money stuff up front. Unless you ask for them specifically, chances are you may never spot them. At Landmark in Gurgaon, these books were hidden in an almost inaccessible corner, and in that corner we found some other incredible value for money popup books as well)

1. Navneet Publications: Priced at between 25-45 INR, they are affordable and very nicely done. I especially love the Vikas Fun with Craft series. There are 6 books in the series.

2. Dreamland Publications: By far the best production quality and the highest value for money. Sadly, they are not easily available. But they are worth searching for. Anything from INR 30-60.
3. CBT (Children's Book Trust) - Easily among the best in terms of content. I recommend it more for older children though. They are also expensive now.

4. Amar Chitra Katha: When Ishaan was born, i gifted mahself the entire ACK ever published. At abt 10K, it was more than worth it. Ishaan knows stories of Hindu mythology that even we'd forgotten, and everyone else in the house loves reading them too. They are the most popular part of my library now!

5. Edited to add: Eklavya Books: Wonderful catalogue, and great Hindi books.. the one thing that i was missing. Thanks a lot Silbil for that comment that led me to this bookhouse.

6. The Depot: Store Brand at the Big Bazaar.. you will find all the standard activity books - coloring, magic paint, toddler starter books etc. - good quality and lower price than the rest of the market. The Catch? You should be able to stand shopping in Big Bazaar. (Sorry, it may be fine at other places, but the one at Gurgaon leaves me positively claustrophobic)

7. Imported second hand cardboard books: These are available at a second hand book stall near you. Ask for imported childrens books in particular. They are usually in good condition, are of good quality, and are priced at between 10-40 INR. You have to be careful in choosing though. The right books for the right age, and the best condition.

The disadvantage obviously is that you cannot have multiple copies of the same book, since most of these books are just not available in India. The second hand stores are the only place where i get them. "GoodNight Moon" included. Its just not available in India.
The advantage is that the child reads them for some time, does the activities in the books, and then the book can be easily discraded or given away when the child is bored. The quality is so good that the books will survive your child also and will stand another child in good stead.

At this time, Ishaan has a library of about 70 books and he is very possessive about them. We have had to discard quite a few (he got his first book at the age of 6 months). If you want, I will post some pictures of the books in his library in the next post.