Saturday, May 11, 2002
M A I L  B O X

Dining with Khushwant Singh

THIS is with reference to Khushwant Singh's column, "This Above All" of April 13 where he talks about dining out in Delhi. I find his whole attitude rather fastidious and overbearing in laying down conditions with the hosts when accepting their invitations to supper at their residences. He writes, "For me it has to be a small party of no more than six to eight guests, the food must be cooked by the host or hostess and not by their khansamas; it should have the right wines to go with it…". I really feel sorry for the so-called gentry of Delhi and elsewhere which gets itself knocked about by a very boorish man all the time,and still puts up with it. What a person serves on his table is entirely his own business, and suffice it to say every host does put his or her best foot forward when looking after his guests.

In 1985, my wife and I invited the Khushwants over to our place at Raksha Bhavan, New Delhi, for dinner. We had also invited quite a few other writers and poets, and I distinctly remember that Amrita Pritam, the Punjabi poetess, and Keki Daruwala, the English poet, were also there. Throughout the evening the Khushwants sat in the verandah, did not meet any of the other guests present, rushed my better half to serve them both an early supper, and went their way home abruptly after they had had their meal, as if they were angry or something. Though we still meet once in two or three years when I run into Khushwant while walking down the Kasauli Mall, my wife and I have decided that a supper with Khushwant is definitely out, after our experience in Delhi. Such eccentric habits may not be a vice, but they certainly are not a virtue either.


Incidently, this writer and many others are not interested in knowing how Rekha Puri or some other XYZ known to Khushwant is faring in his or her cooking. From Khushwant surely, one expects something more worthwhile, and I hope he will start addressing himself to some more pressing issues facing the country and society, and start writing about these, rather than wasting his own (and other people's) time on such mundane chatter.

Himmat Singh Gill Chairman,
Akademi Chandigarh

Wolves in classrooms

I have been teaching French at the St. Bede’s College, Shimla, for more than 30 years. I am of the view that students still respect good teachers and traditional ground has not been lost. Technology has not eroded this relationship. Students find, in a good teacher, ‘a new avatar’.

I do agree that one change that has come about is that nowadays students relate to the teacher with a sense of equality. The entire relationship is a unique experience that spells charm but modern relationships are intolerant of moral talk — more so these days. Thing have changed, even the dress has been decodified and teachers, too, dress like students. I am extremely critical of teachers who take tuitions in a big way. They should quit their jobs if they so desire. Students, I feel, are more tolerant of a bad teacher than a teacher is of bad students.

Paramjit Singh

A commendable job

This refers to "Khushaali comes to Kharaudi" by Reeta Sharma (March 23). The writer has done a commendable job by highlighting the work done by Dr Sukhdev Singh Bassi and Gurdev Singh Gill for the uplift of their village Kharaudi. It is inspiring for many other NRIs to do similar work. More than 40 per cent of all NRIs belong to Punjab. The government of Punjab should encourage more and more NRIs by combining its funds with their economic resources for the uplift of the rural areas of the state.

The NRIs of Kharaudi village have not only set an example by making their village 'a model village' but have also exposed the corrupt face of the bureaucracy. Mr Bassi and Mr Gill have proves that the financial resources in our country are not scarce but they are not properly utilised. A major part of the funds fixed for any development package announced by the government goes into the pockets of the bureaucrats and local politicians. This leads to the slow progress or failure of the various projects concerning the economic growth of the rural areas.

The bureaucrats and politician should learn a lesson from the voluntary and fruitful services of NRIs like Dr Bassi and Mr Gill.

T.L Bali

.................................... This feature was published on May 4, 2001