Wednesday, July 12, 2000,
Chandigarh, India
L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Ludhiana is unprepared to combat fire mishaps
From A.S. Prashar
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, July 11 — A review of the fire-safety measures in Ludhiana by the Institute of Fire Engineers (India) has shown that almost the entire town is fire-prone.

The review has also shown that Ludhiana has one of the biggest stock of inflammable material like acrylic, woollens, textile yarn and fabrics in the region. The town also has huge stocks of gadgets and extensive electrification which are prone to fire accidents.

The review has also revealed that the fire services available here are showing signs of “deficiencies in terms of manpower and infrastructure". Instead of growing and modernising itself to ensure the safety of life and property, the local fire service has depleted, according to the study.

The study has been conducted by Dr P.N. Panchal, President of the Institution of Fire Engineers (India) and formerly Fire Adviser to the Government of India. It was commissioned by the Municipal Corporation of Ludhiana.

It says that fire-fighting appliances, fire engines and fire stations in Ludhiana are incompatible with the fire-safety requirements of the town. The Ludhiana fire brigade which has to deal with fires in industries and high-rise buildings, has no snorkel and hydraulic platform. There are no special vehicles using foam, dry chemical powder or extinguishing agents. No portable high-pressure pump is available and the fire-station equipment, rescue and protection items are not provisioned as required. The fire stations have also not been constructed to facilitate efficient functioning of an emergency service. Fire-fighters should always be prepared and their equipment should be kept in a fully-operational condition, but, it is not so here.

Ludhiana has four fire stations with a sanctioned strength of 132 men, but, the present strength is only 87. It has only 20 fire engines and most of these are outdated.

The study also shows that Ludhiana has about half-a-lakh industrial units of various sizes which present complicated fire hazards. These units, with the exception of a few, do not have even the minimum fire-fighting and fire-protection systems like static water tanks, hydrants, hose reels, fire detection, fixed fire-protection systems.

A large number of high-rise buildings do not have any fire-safety provisions as per the National Building Code. This is because there are no mandatory regulations in force in the state or town. No fire-fighting organization, however efficient, can carry out rescue and fire-extinguishing in such units without inbuilt fire-protection systems, proper means of escape and adequate infrastructure. These are almost non-existent in these buildings with the exception of a few hotels, leading hospitals and municipal shopping centres.

The study has divided the town into different categories from the point of view of fire risk. There are high-hazard areas like Gur Mandi and the other congested markets. Ludhiana has about 80 high-rise buildings, seven-storey high in some cases, which house hotels, business centres, shopping malls and offices. There are also a large number of schools, educational institutions, hospitals, nursing homes and cinema halls. All these occupancies are prone to major fire disasters.

A large number of apartments, offices and residential clusters here fall under the category of medium-hazard occupancies.

Organised industrial estates and areas are generally medium-hazard occupancies. However, wherever inflammable material are being produced or stored, there these occupancies become high-hazard ones. Storage of gas cylinders, explosives, POL, solvents or chemicals makes a unit even more prone to fire mishaps.

Offices, business and housing complexes which are two-storey high at the most, are low-hazard occupancies. However, the town has problems of dense population and narrow lanes. It poses fire-safety problems because of the unrestricted use of cooking gas, electricity and hazardous combustible material.

The most notable challenge to fire safety here is a large number of hosiery industrial units using highly inflammable solvents, chemicals, heating devices, synthetic fabric, yarn and wool. They are located in thickly populated congested areas of the city. Fire engines do not find proper accesses to congested lanes, making rescue operations challenging. The width of the main road is about 3 m in Purana Bazar. There are garment factories, shops and houses on both sides of the road. Some of the buildings are four to five-storey high and violate building byelaws.

Fire can travel from one unit to another across the road, blocking the road for hours together. These areas require the provision of special fire-fighting appliances, water supply, rescue and protective equipment, besides an awareness among residents about fire-safety norms.

The study has recommended the establishment of at least 10 fire stations against only four at present. One fire station is needed in every 3 km radius so that its response time does not exceed five minutes. There Ludhiana unprepared for fire mishaps should be one central fire station and one main fire station for maintenance and training, respectively, besides sub fire stations. The existing fire station opposite railway station should function as a central fire station.

All existing fire stations should be renovated and upgraded. They should be provided with basic and need-based fire-station equipment, extinguishing agents, maintenance equipment, rescue equipment and protective clothing.

All high-rise, institutional, business, public assembly, storage and industrial buildings should have a minimum basic in-built fire-protection and fire-fighting equipment as per the National Buildings Code, Part-IV. These should also comply with the Cinematography Act, Petroleum Act, Environment Protection Act or Factory Act as required.

Accesses for fire engines to buildings and industrial units should be planned. Storage of hazardous inflammable substances should be regulated. Experts should supervise the pre-planning for choosing an appropriate location and fire-safety system for high-rise buildings. The Fire Services Organization of Ludhiana should have a record of the fire-safety status of all high-rise buildings, industrial units, hotels and public-assembly places.Back


Drug smuggling from UP, HP, Rajasthan on the rise
From Ruchika Mohindra

Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, July 11 — The arrest of a large number of narcotics smugglers from Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh in the past couple of days has alarmed the local police.

Highly-placed police sources say that there is an increasing incidence of smuggling of poppy husk from UP, opium and poppy husk from Rajasthan (via Pakistan) and charas from Himachal Pradesh. The police is now planning to make a list of some of the regular drug traffickers of the town and lay traps for them.

Investigations by the TNS have shown that drug trafficking is rampant on the Noorewal Road, along the Dhuri Line, at Engine Shed, Dhokkan Mohalla, Dhakka Colony, a few localities near the Sherpur area, Simlapuri, Chowni Mohalla and Salem Tabri. Even in some of the surrounding villages of Mehmoodpura, Pamal and Gara, a village near Phillaur, smuggling of narcotics goes on unabated.

The poppy husk (called chura post in common parlance) is bought from legalised vends in Uttar Pradesh at Rs 150 per kg. However, it is sold at prices between Rs 200 and Rs 250 per kg. The charas smuggled into the town, mainly from Himachal Pradesh, is bought at Rs 150 to Rs 200 per 10 gm (tola). It is sold to addicts here at Rs 200 to Rs 250 per tola.

Earlier this month, the Model Town police had arrested two persons hailing from the Meerut district in UP and had seized 35 kg of poppy husk from their possession. While talking to the TNS, the two persons — Prem Chand (60) and Prem (42) — said since poppy husk was openly sold in UP, it was not difficult to buy it from there and sell it in Punjab where there were a large number of addicts.

The two said that especially in villages surrounding Ludhiana, they could sell off 10 kg to 15 kg of poppy husk in a single day. They said they had been smuggling poppy husk into Punjab in trains or buses as there was no stringent checking. They also said a large number of persons in Meerut alone smuggled poppy husk into Punjab, especially Ludhiana.

Two days ago, the police had arrested Arvind Singh, a Bihari youth of Sherpur, and had seized 15 kg of poppy husk from his possession. While talking to the TNS here today, Arvind said he was a factory worker who had been peddling drugs for the past two years. He said earlier he used to sell poppy husk in Delhi and had arrived in Ludhiana only a month ago. Here he began selling poppy husk which he brought from Bareilly.

He said he had been regularly buying poppy husk from a vend in Bareilly for the past two years and his customers had complimented him for bringing the best stuff. He also said his clientele generally consisted of truck drivers. Therefore, he used to peddle drugs at roadside dhabas mostly.

Yesterday, the CIA staff led by Inspector Maninder Bedi had arrested two youths — Sikandar Kala and Raj Kumar — and had seized 2.5 kg of charas from them. While talking to the TNS here today, the two persons, who are residents of Salem Tabri, said they used to get the drug from outside the dera of Lakh Baba Pir near Una in Himachal Pradesh. They said they would visit this dera almost every fortnight and buy about 15 to 20 tolas of charas, for self-consumption and selling it off.

Sikandar Kala, a fruit seller, said their clients comprised college students, children, labourers and rickshawpullers. He also said their main area of operation was Noorewala Road. Besides direct selling, they also used to sell drugs to a woman subagent.

The Senior Superintendent of Police, Mr. Kuldeep Singh, said the police was making efforts to arrest those involved in the business.


Basati Bazaar — a paradise for women
By Asha Ahuja

THE men are from Mars and women are from Venus. Right! Basati Bazaar — a small square of about 30 shops — is women shopper’s paradise and a “beta noire” for men. The bazar is located in the heart of the city. One can approach it either from Chaura Bazar side or from Sarafa Bazar.

Women can spend the whole day window shopping or buying knick-knacks like ‘bindis.’ and you would probably think buying ‘bindis’ is an easy task. Think again. There is so much of mindboggling variety in various shapes and sizes, colour and craftsmanship of the bindis — and in the price range too — that a customer can spend the whole day looking at bindis only . Om Parkash and Deepak Narula are the biggest stockists of bindis. They buy them from Delhi’s Sadar Bazar. Deepak Narula also stocks hair pieces and wigs ranging from Rs 15 to Rs 1500. Bindis too vary from Rs 2/- a packet to Rs 50 a packet. One single bindi studded with artificial diamonds and other stones sells for Rs 60 to Rs 100.

Can you imagine the bazaar has been in existence for over a century? Of course, the changes have crept in. There used to be a well in the middle of the square. It is covered now. Madan Lal satiates the appetite of women shoppers with chole bhature, gol-gappas, tikki chat.

Rahul, another shopkeeper, told me that season will pick up a week before Rakhi and reach its peak by “Karva Chauth”. During those days the shopkeepers will almost go beserk for there will be so many women who will be marching towards this bazar. In a shop called National Stall, three generations are working. They stock leather bags which they buy from Bombay. They are stockists of clips, jewellery, cosmetics. The company’s representatives supply them with the goods so they do not have to go out to buy.

‘Lakme’ is the most popular Indian brand. It offers a wide variety of cosmetics ranging from nail polish to eye shadows to lipsticks etc. This brand is preferred by middle class ladies, whereas the affluent class of ladies prefer imported cosmetics like L’oreal, Maybelline or Revlon.

A lot of N.R.Is visit this market and are thrilled with the variety of things offered by the shopkeepers. The ladies from neighbouring districts like Moga, Batala, Faridkot and Jagraon also visit this market for shopping. Most of the shopkeepers complain that during the peak season a lot of shop-lifting was carried out by women. Mr. Om Prakash, the bangle seller, said: “Many women just wear the bangles and walk away, we are so busy that we cannot notice everything”. Women, even pocket nail-polishes, bindis, rubber bands etc.

There were red and white churras for the brides. They looked really lovely. Their prices varied from Rs. 200-500 but if you are fussy and want churra of ivory. Well, it comes expensive. You have to order and the cost of one bangle is Rs. 200/-. But why do you want an elephant killed so you could get a bangle made from his tusk? So wear a plastic churra only.

Om Prakash was not very happy as he said that many customers wander away to Gurmandi, which is just across the road. There are two shops that deal exclusively in laces — laces as fine as gossomer and very delicate and fascinating. Delhi seems to be the main market for the laces too. As the trend changes, some laces go out of fashion causing a loss to Tarun. His complaint was said: “Mausam kharab hai, bazar bahut thanda hai”.

R.K. Gota store glittered with the shiny gotas and colourful famous Patiala parandas and nadas. He, too, was waiting for customers. Darshan Kumar Arora stocks artificial jewellery. To a layman, the gold plated jewellery would appear to be as real as gold. It comes cheap. Gold-plated kadas start from Rs. 200-1000/-. He said if you got them made in gold, the ‘polishing’ would be more than this amount. According to him, all classes of ladies, whether rich or middle class, preferred gold plated jewellery. Real gold jewellery is for lockers only. Even the brides are renting out gold plated jewellery. The rates vary depending on the value of the article. The shopkeepers take a security as many women have cheated them by disappearing with their jewellery.

S.P. Kangri has had his shop air-conditioned which is the only one in the bazar. You would find it hard to believe but his shop is named ‘Whitehouse’. Air-conditioning has helped him to improve his clientage.

According to Rahul, another shopkeeper, mostly young girls frequent his shop “silver is in vogue”, he says. And since he has a good stock of white metal jewellery, artificial diamond jewellery, the girls like buying these items from his shop. They really looked beautiful. He has displayed the latest brands of cosmetics along with gift schemes in the show window. The latest thing to arrive in the market is “ladies shaving gel and cream”.

Mr. Raghunath is the ‘surmewala’. His forefathers have been making the surma for the last 114 years. The surma is a powder which is put in the eyes with a ‘silai’. When I told him that doctors do not advise the use of surma as it can damage the eye, he replied: “Many ladies still use it as they think surma makes the eyes of infant water and his eyes will become clear and bright”. Well, each one to its own.

The square has a narrow outlet which joins the Sarafa Bazar street. The last shop is Madan Di Hatti. His speciality is buttons. Buttons of all shapes and sizes made of plastic, glass, wood and metal are available there.

Thus ended my fascinating journey of Basati Bazaar or Chudian da Bazar. It glittered alluringly. The prices are competitive and one can really buy from a small nose ring to a very heavy gold-plated or stone-studded or fake diamond necklace, cosmetics, laces, lace collars, gotas, nadas and parandas. Jaswant Rai pierces the ears and nose in a very traditional way with a thread and a needle. He can also thread the beads in any design. Back


MC men flay policies
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, July 11 — More than one dozen trade unions of the municipal corporations and municipal committees held a state-level meeting in the city to discuss the ‘anti-worker policies’ of the government and to put an end to exploitation of the employees in the civic bodies in Punjab.

Among other things, it demanded an end to contract system, abolition of mohalla committees set up to supervise sanitation, new recruitment of safai workers in view of increase in population in the major towns and cities, payment of bonus to municipal workers, provision of another option for pension scheme and benefit of holidays to the workers at par with other cadres.

The meeting was organised at the joint call given by the Bahujan Mazdoor Federation, the Safai Labour Union, the Sanitary Supervisor Union, the Safai Mazdoor Congress, the Safai Mazdoor Federation, the Municipal Safai Mazdoor Union, the Municipal Workers Union, the Safai Karamchari Union, the Municipal Electrical Employees Federation, the Municipal Mechanical Union, the Municipal Seweragemen Employees Union, the Punjab Municipal Light Patrollers Association and the Punjab Municipal Workers Federation.

The speakers at the meeting criticised the government for its indifferent attitude and delaying tactics towards genuine demands of the workers, who were persistently being discriminated against by civic administrations and threatened to resort to agitational approach if the government failed to initiate measures for acceptance of their demands and give justice to municipal workers all over the state.


Cong flays partiality in development works
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, July 11 — Congress and Youth Congress activists have decried the discriminatory attitude of the municipal corporation in execution of development work in the city. In a meeting, held in New Simlapuri to discuss the civic problems of ward numbers 27, 28 and 30, it was alleged that despite allocation of sufficient grants, certain councillors were neglecting some of the localities on the basis of political differences.

Speaking on this occasion, the PPCC member, Mr Parminder Mehta, lamented that streets in New Simlapuri and Daba Road were in a pathetic condition, with potholes, stagnant water and inadequate streetlights, further adding to the misery of the residents. The civic body, he charged, had failed to respond to the persistent demand of the residents to improve sanitary conditions. The main park in Janta Nagar had virtually become a garbage dump as a result of poor maintenance.

He wondered as to why the streets in these localities were not being paved, even when the work for laying of underground electric and telecom cables and water supply and sewerage lines had long ago been completed. The inadequate and erratic water supply in these localities also came under sharp criticism in the meeting. He also highlighted the poor quality of development work carried out in many localities, including Vishwakarma Colony, Sahibzada Ajit Singh Nagar, Parbhat Nagar, Arjun Nagar and Ram Nagar, and demanded immediate measures to improve power supply in these areas.

Among others, Mr Harvinder Singh Sokhi, Dr Avinash Sawal, Mr Surinder Singh, Mr Sarbjit Singh Bunty, Mr Achru Ram, Mr Gurmel Singh, Mr Kewal Arora, Mr Jarnail Singh and Mr Pankaj Sood attended the meeting.Back


Seminar on engg technology
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, July 11 — Punjab Agricultural University will organise a one-day seminar on July 17, on “Role of engineering technology in modernisation of rural Punjab”.

Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, former Minister of State for Industries, Government of India, will be the chief guest. Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha, Minister for Technical Education, Punjab, will be the special guest. About 100 participants, consisting of research and extension engineers, progressive farmers and prominent entrepreneurs, will participate in the seminar and will discuss ways and means for effective utilisation of the latest know-how in the fields of information technology, processing technology and farm machinery.


Camp on yoga
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, July 11 — An impressive lecture-cum-demonstration camp on yoga and its usefulness was conducted at Punjab Police Academy, (PPA) Phillaur, yesterday. It was conducted by Mr Nirmal Singh, Director of the Yog Sadhan Asharam at Banga. During the demonstration, trainees faculty members and their families were told about various ashanas and the advantages of these. Mr Nirmal Singh said yoga was essential for character building and improving mental and physical strength.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr A.A. Siddiqui, IPS and Director of the Punjab Police Academy, announced that a month-long, training camp would be held at the academy. After this, trainees will be able to further train the rest of the police force. Mr Siddiqui also announced a reward of Rs 10,000 for the Yog Sadhan Asharam.


LPG distributors' warning 
From Our Correspondent 

LUDHIANA, July 11 — The Ludhiana LPG Distributors Association today warned the hotel, dhaba and tea stall owners against the use of LPG meant for domestic purposes.Mr Chander Shekhar Azad, President of the association, said since the use of domestic gas cylinder for commercial purposes was illegal, these were liable to confiscation. The LPG meant for commercial use is priced at Rs. 470.14 per 19 kg.Back


Sabha to support Uttrakhand demand
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, July 11 — The Garhwali Pratinidhi Sabha, Punjab, has decided to join the struggle for the creation of a separate Uttrakhand state, according to the sabha President, Mr Tanki Singh Negi.

Mr Negi said a decision to this affect had been taken at a state-level meeting of the sabha here on Saturday, which was attended by representatives from Jalandhar, Patiala, Sangrur, Ropar, Bhatinda, Abohar and Pathankot.

The union and UP Governments were blamed for not expediting various developmental projects in the hilly areas of Garhwal.


How to design a lawn
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, July 11 — Lawns can serve to project our moods and festive spirit. Flowers in the lawns convey an eloquent message. Hence a lawn should be designed thoughtfully.

The open space for lawns is essential for proper air circulation and availability of light in the house. The landscaping of lawns on front, back or on the sides of the house helps in creating place for relaxing and playing for children, thus making life more enjoyable.

First step in designing the lawn is to change its shape from rectangular to little curvaceous to create shape for beds, and plants widthwise. The layout of the lawn is marked distinctly for grassy area by fixing the tiles vertically at the level of the drive way or little lower. In certain cases, a drive way could be a part of the front lawn by careful designing.

The space meant for grass is filled with manure and watered to allow the porous soil to settle down for one or two days. The soil is again levelled by using the soil mixture upto the level little lower than the edge of tiles and keeping the centre gently raised for the drainage of water.

No one can match nature’s infinite colours.Back


A gift for someone you love
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, July 11 — A bouquet is an ideal gift for someone you love. A bouquet has an eloquent message and evokes a deep feeling. Gift your friend or a loved one with a bouquet, personalised presentation of flowers.

A single rose can look as charming when arranged on its own as it would teamed with other flowers. Colours have a significance in floral composition as they are often associated with emotions. Flowers of various hues are used to match the occasion and the setting.

One can go beyond the ordinary and invoke imagination to create special themes by using all kinds of props to dress up the bouquet so that it stands apart. Just as the artist conveys his own ideas and perceptions of a theme by the strokes of his brush, a bouquet may render an interpretation of the emotions of the heart. The arrangement should look pretty.

“Be it a birthday, a wedding anniversary, or any other occasion, bouquets hold a very special place for me”, says Amit and specially when they are presented by Rajneet.

There is a bouquet for every occasion. From birthday greetings to get well soon. Seems wonderful. So girls and guys, move out, buy a bouquet for someone you really love, for every little occasion. It will definitely convey to him/her what you always wanted to say!Back


Attack attempt foiled
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, July 11 — With the arrest of two persons, the Model Town police has foiled an attempt to attack and loot a Laddowal based rice-sheller owner.

The DSP Sarabha Nagar, Mr Harmanbir Singh Gill, had received reliable information about two persons going on a scooter carrying some weapons. The SHO of Model Town Police Station, SI Jaswinder Singh, was asked to lay a naka near the Jawaddi bridge. At around 11.30 p.m., the police spotted two persons — Darshan Singh and Jaspreet Singh — on a scooter and when they were asked to stop, they tried to run away.

However, the police succeeded in nabbing them and seized a .12 bore and a 315 bore loaded pistol and several rounds of live cartridges for the two pistols.

During interrogation, the accused confessed that they were planning to loot a Laddowal based businessman and use the weapons for settling their personal scores. The accused have been booked under Sections 25, 51 and 59 of the Arms Act.

Two scooters stolen: Two scooters were reported to be stolen during the past 24 hours. While a scooter with registration number PB-10L- 6235 was stolen from Kidwai Nagar on July 6, another scooter with registration number, PB-10K- 5150 was stolen from near Gurudwara Singh Sabha, near Model Town at around 2:30 p.m. on July 10. In both the cases, the police has registered a case under Section 379 of the IPC.

Woman injured: Poonam, a resident of Rahon Road, is alleged to have sustained injuries when she was attacked by Hari Pal of Basti Jodhewal on July 8. Old enmity is stated to be the reason behind this attack. The police has booked a complaint under Section 324 of the IPC.

Liquor seized: The Sadar police seized 12 bottles of country made liquor from Ram Saroop during patrolling and booked the accused under sections 61, 1 and 14 of the Excise Act.

Seven lakh embezzled: A man has accused a Haryana based company of embezzling his over Rs 7.50 lakhs on the pretext of supplying him machinery. A case under Sections 406 and 420 of the IPC has been registered in this regard at Police Station Division No. 6.Back


Waterlogging ! Who cares

TWO of the poshest colonies of the city, Sarabha Nagar and Gurdev Nagar, get waterlogged after every spell of rain. The colonies are inhabited by what are supposed to be the elite of the city. They are in turn visited by those who are supposed to be the elite of Punjab.

They include the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, who makes it a point to drop in on his Cabinet colleague, Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha, whenever he is in town. The Chief Minister’s son, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, likes to frequent his friend, Mr Manjeet Gill’s house in this locality. The SHSAD leader, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra’s favourite haunt during his visits to Ludhiana is Dr Gurinder Singh Grewal’s nursing home, Grewal Medi Scan which is also located in Gurdev Nagar. The former SAD chief, Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, resides in Sarabha Nagar.

But the local Municipal Corporation continues to adopt a couldn’t-care-less attitude towards the upkeep of the area. The power supply is erratic to put it mildly, sewerage choked full, garbage removal grossly inadequate while the roads are full of pot holes. During the rainy season, they get water-logged and driving becomes an arduous task. And don’t be surprised if you run into an electric pole erected smack in the middle of the road because neither the MC nor the PSEB has time or inclination to relocate them.

The Pakhowal Road has been in a state of disrepair for almost a year. It is the major approach road to these two colonies. The shopkeepers on that road have had to suffer a lot of financial loss. Is some one listening in the MC?

Literary pursuit
Dr N.L. Sharma, Head, Department of English, Malwa College, Bondli (Samrala), presented his research paper on “Similarities in Thought and Perception in Poetry of Emerson, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson and Sri Aurobindo” at the XXXIII annual conference of the Indian Association for American Studies held at Kamraj University, Madurai, from June 23 to 25.

More than 42 research papers were presented on Indo-American literature and allied studies at the conference, Dr Sharma’s paper explored the poetry of three representative American poets and one Indian seer poet Sri Aurobindo. His paper points out a marked affinity of concern and perception in the poetry of the Indian seer poets like Sri Aurobindo and Rabindranath Tagore and the great American transcendentalists like Ralph Waldo Emerson, Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson. He has already presented more than 20 research papers through the years of his association with American studies in the country since late sixties. Dr Sharma was also invited to chair a paper-reading session of the conference.

Imbued with keen literary interests, Dr Sharma has presented a number of research papers on Indian English literature, Canadian literature and literature of Indian diaspora in America and Canada through his long association with various academic and literary bodies of the country.

Dr Sharma says that he always keeps himself aloof from all organisational politics to concentrate on literary studies and research work. But he regrets that he often finds himself a loner in this field.

Incidentally, he was the only college teacher from all universities and colleges in Punjab to present a research paper at the Madurai conference, where more than 80 university and college teachers of eminence took an active part in academic and literary discussions on various research papers on subjects of mutual interest and concern for both India and America.

Bus woes
The ever-exp-a-n-d-i-n-g city of Ludhiana prefers to be called a Maha Nagar. The Mumbai of Punjab, let us say. But can it claim any place close to the megapolis as far as the bus services within the city are concerned?

The very basic concept of public transport had been massacred by the Municipal Corporation long ago when it decided to leave the commuting residents completely at the mercy of unscrupulous private transporters.

Hundreds of private mini local buses ply in the city. Most of them are ‘illegal’. In the sense that for every permit, there are at least three buses. Even that does not matter. What matters is that these buses have no fixed stops, or fares either.

Though it is to the advantage of the travellers that they do not have to walk, say half-a-kilometre or so, to reach a bus stop (there is none, anyway), traffic-wise, it is a foolish act on the part of the drivers to stand on the brakes the moment they hear the conductor’s whistle or spot a passenger or two beckoning for a halt.

And the fares are highly unfair for the majority of the passengers. For example, a bus running between ‘Metro Tyre’ and ‘Ghanta Ghar’ charges Rs 5 for the whole distance, i.e. from start to the finish. Samrala Chowk, which is en route, is about the half of the distance. But a passenger hopping in at Samrala Chowk is also charged Rs 4 to Rs 5 upto Ghanta Ghar. The one who hops in at the CMC is also charged the same amount. Similar is the practice on other routes.

There is a dire need for having a second, close look at the city’s local transport system.

One can eat it in many ways. Mostly people roast it on charcoal and the lovely aroma tickles one’s palate. It generates employment also as a number of people roast “bhuttas” by the roadside. Invariably people cannot resist the aroma and stop to eat it. But you have to be patient especially if you are fussy. You may choose one which has soft kernels. The photo at the top of the page shows just that. Then you will supervise its roasting as sometimes the fellow may blacken it. Then you have to see how much of lemon and masala you want on it. All this time, your mouth is watering. Finally you dig your teeth into it — the first bite makes you want to take another one and then another and soon you have chewed your way to the last. You turn it around to see if some kernels have escaped your eyes, and you look eagerly for them. The whole experience from roasting to eating a ‘bhutta’ is pure joy.

The ‘ret ki chhalli’ is also very delicious. Hawkers put the bhuttas in wooden carts and pour burning hot sand over it. The ‘bhuttas’ cook nicely and evenly in the cart. The fellow selling them peels off the outer covers, and your ‘bhutta’ emerges steaming hot.

Then you can boil them if the kernels are too hard. Apply imli ki chutney and they taste delicious.

Not only you can have them roasted and boiled but you can make corn fritters, or use them in making sweet corn soup or for making chicken or vegetable. You can bake a corn pie. Corn cooked with capsicum and tomatoes looks so beautiful that it can tempt even the fussiest eater.

People years for corn-on-the-cob for it is seasonal. In America, people liberally apply butter on the cob after roasting it. And then you pop-corns. You can also grind it to ‘makki ka atta’ and have it with ‘sarson ka sag’.

Its food value is immense. It is a complete cereal. It is rich in vitamins and mineral and possesses proteins and carbohydrates. Contrary to the general belief, it is easily digestible and that is why the most popular cereal is-corn flakes all over the world.

Mutual admiration club
Great city. As great as Ludhiana. Great people. As great as Ludhianvis. Entrepreneurship is a way of life coupled with tremendous hardwork and vision. Success is not a probability for Ludhianvis. It is a certainty. Ludhianvis are proud and confident about it. And they never miss celebrating it. They should because they deserve it.

And Ludhianvis have their own way of celebrating success. Here there is no dearth of organisations organising regular functions welcoming someone and honouring someone there. Even if it means extratcing some benefit out of it or putting forth their own point of view. The guest of honour can be anyone who matters. Whether the Chief Minister himself or any minister or a Deputy Commissioner or the PSEB chairman. Anybody who is somebody at any time is included into guest list. The standard norm is one guest at one time.

Formalities in the function include long lectures. Long enough to send the entire audience into a spell of yawning and a longing for food. The function that starts around 9 p.m. extends till late in the night. The important event comes in the end. The chief guest is honoured with a memento or a shawl by the president of the organisation hosting the function, who in turn is honoured by the general secretary, who in turn is honoured by the vice president... so on and so forth. It is a long list with all probability of confusion.

That is what happens in the function. The list of demands is always same, with minor alterations and amendments here and there, in accordance with the place and position of the chief guest. The guest of course always feels “honoured”. So as the organisers in presence of the still and video camera recording the event. Everything gets ‘still’ in no time and everybody leaves “honoured”.

Chhalli season
Come monsoon and the chhalli season begins in right earnest in this heartland of Punjab. Chhallis roasted on a small coal fire and prepared with salt and lemon is relished by all and sundry. The photo at the top of the page shows how the young and the old like it.

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