THIS ABOVE ALL
The misfits of
IN my home we
celebrate Diwali in our own way. Like others we light diyas
outside and around the antique stone statue of Ganapati in an
alcove by the entrance door. We also put a garland of marigolds
round his neck. I have a fetish for Ganapatis. I have six in my
home — an original by Badri, two of mixed metals, ashtdhatu,
two made of stone and one porcelain. Since I don’t believe in
God, I regard him more as a friend than a deity.
I was born into a
Sikh family and continue to conform to the outward appearance of
a Khalsa. My son, though a product of Cambridge University,
looks like a maulvi of a madrasa. He does not bother himself
with any religion. My daughter married a Hindu but continues
visiting gurdwaras. Her daughter is a Hindu-Sikh mixture.
She has her
private altar adorned with Hindu gods and goddesses to whom she
lights incense sticks and puts flowers every morning. She buys
kitchen utensils on dhanteras. The mother and daughter
visit gurdwaras, temples, dargahs and churches. Theirs is
a cocktail of religious beliefs, which produces no
Diwali is a special festival. Besides lighting diyas on the day, the occasion is also meant to light up our souls
Most of our
friends happen to be Muslims. A few of them are pork-eaters;
others drink liquor. Not one has ever got drunk in my home.
Hindus and Sikhs are beef-eaters and Scotch-drinkers. We often
spend festive occasions together — be it Holi, Eid, Diwali or
Christmas. We drink and make merry. Diwali is special because it
is meant to light up our souls. We are westernised Indians,
ahead of our times, and misfits in today’s Bharatvarsha.
There are hundreds
of thousands like us in all our cities. Do you celebrate
festivals with friends who belong to communities other than your
own? If not, make a start by inviting them and their families on
festive occasions to your house. It will open up new horizons
and be your contribution to knitting India together.
Rats for breakfast
A news item
appearing in The Indian Express of August this year escaped my
notice. It has been reproduced in London’s Private Eye
in its column entitled ‘Funny Old World’. I found it very
funny; so might you. "Rat meat is a healthy alternative to
rice and grains", Vijay Prakash of the Bihar State Welfare
Department told a press conference in Patna, "and should be
eaten by one and all. Rat and chicken have equal food values,
not only in protein, but throughout the entire spectrum of
nutrition. I haven’t tried it myself, but my mother has, and
she finds it delicious. In fact, whoever has eaten rats says
they are more spongy and better than even chicken meat".
secretary’s words were greeted with dismay by many listeners.
"Indian culture is based on vegetarianism", said chef
P. Soundararajan of the Mahindra resort chain. "Our culture
and customs are based on not harming any living beings. And
besides, rats are dirty creatures that only the very poor would
But Prakash was
unrepentant about his government campaign. He said: "Almost
50 per cent of India’s grain stocks are eaten away by rodents
in fields of warehouses. Increased human consumption of rodents
will ease soaring food prices and provide increased employment
for rat catchers. Rats have almost no bones, but many people do
not know this simple cuisine fact. We will have a massive media
campaign to persuade people to try rat meat. Some of the hotels
here in Bihar have already started selling rat meat, as a
starter. If you order patal-bageri at one of our roadside
hotels, that’s what you will get. Roasted rat".
Blood is thicker
A rich Arab Sheikh
was admitted to a five star hospital in Mumbai for a heart
transplant. Prior to the surgery, doctors needed to store his
blood group in case the need arose.
The Sheikh had a
rare blood group which couldn’t be found locally. So a call
went out to a number of countries. Finally, a Sindhi was located
somewhere in Zaire, Central Africa, who had a similar grouping.
The Sindhi willingly donated his blood for the Arab.
After the surgery,
the Arab sent the Sindhi a new Hummer, diamonds, lapis lazuli
jewellery and a hundred thousand Kuwaiti Dinars.
Once again the
Sheikh had to go through a corrective surgery. His doctor
telephoned the Sindhi, who was more than happy to donate his
blood once again. After the second surgery, the Sheikh sent the
Sindhi a thank you card and a jar of almond halwa.
The Sindhi was
shocked to see that the Sheikh did not reciprocate his kind
gesture as he had done earlier. He phoned the Sheikh and asked
him why he had expressed his appreciation in
not-so-generous-a-manner as before.
The Arab replied:
"Varri Saaie, now I have Sindhi blood in my veins.’’
Vipin Bucksey, New Delhi)