Junagadh , Gujarat Jan 24 , 2012 Tue 8 : 49 PM
Its a day out in the city of Junagadh. The location some minutes away from the residence where I rest. The streets lined with the happy faces of fans and well wishers. It seems like the good old days ! Of the mid 70′s to the 90′s and then some more … but to have them at age 70 seems a little out of place. I wonder at times what they must think and why they push themselves to come out in such large numbers and cheer and scream.
The caves where we shoot are 3rd and 4th century, carved out of a single rock of mountain into rooms and drainages and storage for water compartments, stairs leading to other compartments below and generous sized rooms or areas with closeted walls. I wonder what went on in here in those times. They say they were Buddhist caves where meditation and peaceful existence of the Buddhist teachings were taught. Some reading that I was doing stated that Buddhism existed even before Hinduism, but that would be debatable.
Some repairs have been conducted by the Archeological Survey of India, a Government body that looks after and cares about all heritage sites.
The caves and the pillars and the rooms below, some walls strengthened by modern pillars to support the walls from caving in. But distressing to note that among the letterings and carvings of old, there is evidence of modern defilement, where lovers find themselves expressing their fondness on the walls. Was this the only place in the entire city to express their ‘love’. There is no sense of pride in our heritage and in the preservation of what we must guard and secure from the ravages of time, as our most prized possession … our, our country’s .. India’s .. embarrassing !!
These are markings on some of the walls. They look Arabic and could be the remnants of the Moghul invasion and their rule over the country. These markings were found to be of a later date than the construction of the caves for Buddhist learning and meditation. Perhaps to justify the presence of the new rulers ! Below is someof the genuine and related carvings on the walls -
A closer view of the Arabic letterings ..
And above the back waters before reaching the Rann of Kutch, where the most exquisite birds were found, early morning .. serene and just so beautiful !
My parents wedding anniversary today the 24th of January .. a sudden unplanned meeting of the two at a common friends place on the 1st of January and an instant decision to get married. An inter caste marriage – she a Sikh girl from an affluent Sikh family out of Lyallpur, Lahore and Karachi and my Father a poet of very limited means from Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh. She with all the grace and etiquette fromBritish nannies in her employ, her Father Khazan Singh Suri a Bar at Law from England in the late 1800′s, his wife and my Grandmother from another prominent family of the Punjab, Sodhi, whose ancestors were on the Prabandhak Committee that served and looked after the Anandpur Sahib Gurudwara. My Grandfather served as a Revenue Minister in erstwhile Patiala State. My Father and his Father a teacher and a clerk in an office. My Mother and her family enjoying the summer months in Muree the it hill resort, now in Pakistan, driven in the latest British cars. My Father living in almost mud laden houses, studying in the night with lanterns, sitting on the floor on wooden desks and walking miles everyday to earn a meagre tuition fee of about Rs 24/- , to be able to feed and run his family home.
My Mother modern and brought up in near Western environs. My Father ortodox Indian and Eastern in his upbringing. And I their first born the bearer of a wonderful mix of the West and the East in mine.
My Mother introducing me to Philharmonic Orchestra, Herbert von Karajan the famous conductor, to films, theatre, modern art galleries, sporting events, outgoing, fun loving, warm hearted and full of joie de vivre. My Father asking me to accompany him to ‘kavi sammelans’ , poetic evenings in remote smaller cities in the middle of the night, reciting his works to lakhs of enthusiastic listeners and to earn that little extra to be able to add to the means within which we lived, to send me to a boarding school and thereafter to University.
And I remember today the winter Delhi evenings and night when a few friends would gather together at our home to celebrate this auspicious day. Special food being cooked by special friends, music impromptu with a ‘dholak’ and spoon and the singing of Punjabi folk songs and those from U.P constructed especially for weddings ! The fire burning bright in the fireplace, and all of us wrapped round in blankets and wollies sitting by it and enjoying the liberty of a late night, but within a day to be up again very early in the morning to go across to India Gate on the 26th to find a vantage seat for the Republic Day Parade. Ah ! The pride and the thrill of watching Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru drive in and then receive the President in ceremony and then the official march past of India’s armed wealth, culminating in the roaring climax of the jets from the Air Force flying past in intricate formation. And then the tricolor balloons sent off into the air amidst chants and screams of a proud nation as the gun salutes went off and the National Anthem was played by the pipes and band of the armed forces …
Today I guess the Delhiites still show the same enthusiasm on the 26th and venture out to witness the grand display, the rest of India switching on the Tv sets to get a glimpse of the event, perhaps. Not many have the desire to get up early. But in our time before the Tv there was All India Radio and the wonderful sonorous and eloquent commentators – Melvyn de Mello and Surajit Sen, who took us through the day making us feel the proceedings almost as though they happened in front of our eyes.
A few days later came the most elegant ceremony of the Beating of the Retreat at Vijay Path, right below the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the exquisite march past and the filing of the various bands, culminating with that famous hymn when the bells from the two towers of the Secretariat, synchronized their sound with the band below and then almost magically the entire frontage of the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the Secretariat would light up in almost Diwali light fashion, in excellent timing.
To me the precision and the smart elegance of all these events demonstrated a most efficient system that worked to order. A system that was monitored and executed by the Armed Forces. I believe, and do excuse me if I am wrong, but the only institution that brings in the kind of organized discipline, precision and order remains just with the Army. The uniform and the respect that it receives still, is awe inspiring. And I would like to believe that this may be so in almost every other country.
It is a fact that when we see order and formation and its precise execution, it brings in us a sense of pride, of security and of a feel that all is well – ‘these are our boys and girls !!’
Parade attention !! Left and right turn !! Stand at ease !
Love and more …