Sunday, August 15, 2010
Today we celebrate the Greatest Day in our recent History---Independence Day!!!The feeling of being born in Independent India is something I learnt to rejoice in at a very young age---as I was born in 1953---just 6 years after the event.I grew up surrounded by the new Optimism of building a new India----my father being the main influence there---and stories of Rana Pratap, Shivaji,Tipu Sultan, Mangal Pandey,Rani Lakshmi Bai of Jhansi,Lokmanya Tilak,Bhagat Singh and Subhas Chandra Bose being my favourite History Tales.
The First War of Independence in 1857 was dubbed the "Sepoy Mutiny" by the British and this added the Spark needed to fuel the minds and souls of our Freedom Fighters---the wave of Patriotism that was generated ended only 90 years later----on 15th August 1947.India has seen a fair share of Trials and Tribulations before awakening to keep her "Tryst with Destiny" at the stroke of the Midnight Hour of Freedom----the first Independent Day Break after 150 years of British Rule!!!In 1757 after the Battle of Plassey the East India Company began turning from a Trading Company into a Ruling power----after the bloodless debacle by Robert Clive against the Nawab of Bengal,Siraj-ud-Daulah---the first victim of their greed for Power!!!After this the Company gained strength through battles fought against the weaker Rulers creating the fear of "Company Bahadur" based on Military might.From here the Policy of annexing those States which had no direct Heirs to the Throne was put in motion by Lord Dalhousie-----and this added to their growing Power!!!The Indians plotted a campign against the Company---the message was concealed in "Laal Chapatties"or Red Rotis and circulated. The spark was lit unexpectedly in Meerut a few days before the planned date due to extrenous circumstances---on the 10th.of May 1857 Mangal Panday fired the first salvo!!!
From then on the British Crown took over the administation of India and it became a Prime Colony called "The Jewel in The Crown" with a Vice Roy---the only Imperial British Colony to be given it's special Insignia,Seal and Coat of Arms!!! However the die was cast---the roughshod Treatment meted out by the "Company Bahadur" and the atrocities perpetrated through it by dictating the growth of only Cash Crops like Indigo,Tobacco and Opium had left a deep scar on the Indian psyche. The Freedom Movement steadily gained momentum and finally after losing countless people made extraordinary thanks to their Patriotic fervour---India became free!!
To me Freedom is precious---it has allowed India to progress to where we are today---a growing Nation developing so well!!!We have come a long way through sheer hard work to reach where we are today--and while many things need to be ironed out and are still painful---we are slowly growing in stature and gaining self sufficiency in most Sectors.Today I'm proud of all that India and Indians have achieved----my heart fills with Pride----as I renew my Pledge to my Country!!!I quote the Poem of the great pre-Independence Indian Poet and Patriot----- founder of "Shanti Niketan" University of Calcutta---Gurudev Rabindra Nath Tagore--a Nobel Prize Winner who returned his Award in protest!!!
"Where the Mind is without Fear and the Head is held high
Where Knowledge is Free
Where the World has not been broken up into Fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of Truth
Where tireless Striving stretches it's arms towards Pefrection
Where the clear Stream of Reason has not lost it's way
Into the dreary Desert Sand of dead Habit
Where the Mind is led forward by Thee
Into ever widening Thought and Action
Into that Heaven of Freedom my Father
Let my Country Awake!!!"
Today I salute The Motherland-----Vandey Mataram---Jai Hind!!!
Thursday, August 05, 2010
Since I can remember Mountains have mesmerised me-----Chandigarh is planned in such a manner that the Mountains are always there---lofty Purply Blue and hazy in the Distance!!!During my early childhood I'd wait for the Evening Dusk to descend-----as the Sun st the Mountains acquired a different look----mysteriously enchanting---and then those Lights would begin twinkling all over them--in clusters,by themselves----it looked as if the Slopes wore a cCarpet of Stars---Blue,Yellow and Red----flickering and twinkling in the distance---seemingly hanging from the Sky---specially on the Black Moonless nights each month!!!I was a dreamer---nourished on a diet of Enid Blyton"s Fairy Tales(still love reading these with relish) my Imagination would people the mysterious heights with Fairies,Elves,Imps and Goblins---these became my version of The Wishing Chair and The Faraway Tree!!!!So convinced was I of these that I searched under the Clover growing wild in the Garden for Leprechauns---and each time the Wind howled in the cold Winter nights---I'd think that the Banshee was summoning me!!!
As I grew older,the Mountains became my Friends and confidantes---they knew all my childish and girlish Secrets---I'd whisper these to them when the World slept at night---and they'd wink back their message of having understood me through the twinkling Starlike Lights!!!It may surprise many to know that I was lonely----despite having a barrelful of Best Friends,Good Friends and Friends---because I've always been very outgoing,gregarious and friendly---with literally tons of Friends!!!That I love people is a fact---but that I have a withdrawn and locked Core in my heart is a fact too----the Mountains were the only Confidantes privy to this core----rather that this Secret Core was exposed only to the Mountains---guess that's more logical---sounds more grammatically correct too!!!I have spent endless Nights just sitting in my Window---just drinking in the early Autumn nights---scented with all the beautiful Perfumes of a North Indian Garden---a hypnotic mixture of fresh mown Grass,various strains of Jasmines mingled with other equally heady Scents of the Lilies,Narcissus, Magnolia and the Tea Roses climbing over the Verandah,warm loamy Earth and the acrid Smoke of the fallen Leaves and Twigs----burnt at Dusk in the Evening----all combining to form a wonderfully heady Perfume!!!
That is not all.My ties with my Mountains grew stronger because I visited them often----the crisp clean Mountain Air,the Summer Slopes abloom with heady Wild Flowers,thick Forests of Pine and Spruce,bubbling Brooks tumbling down the steep slopes------numerous Memories crowd my mind of long Treks over these Mountains with my Father and Jeanneret Uncle-----sometimes drinking Black Tea made in a Tin Kettle placed on 3 stones put togther in a verdant Meadow and dried Cow Pats used as Fuel!!!The endlessly deep upturned bowl of the Sky----the cool,crisp Air----the scent of Wild Jasmine and other Flowers mingling with the caressing Breezes----shady Thickets of Wild Berries---Straw Berries,Red Currants and Black Berries just growing wild ---tiny but sweet---I have been scolded so often on my return for tearing and staining my Clothes in the Bramble Patches!!!I romped so often on their craggy shoulders and was familiar with each Evergreen Tree and blade of Grass----the Breeze whispered a "Hi" each time we met and the innumerable tiny Streams gurgled "Hello" each time we passed!!!I have often watched the Sun come up on their Slopes---the Skies turning from Grey to Violet to Mauve then blushing a lovely Rose Pink and finally Gold!!!I have seen the Sun saying "Good Night" too---the Snow capped Peaks awash with a range of myriad Colours from a rich Gold and Rose Pink to a soft velvetty Indigo!!!
To tell you the Truth these Mountains came with me to Bombay after my marriage----locked in the secret Compartment of my heart!!!They shared my secret fears of Childbirth and heard me out patiently when I ranted against the "harsh" treatment meted out to me during that latter phase of my preganancy by my mother ---following Medical advice!!!After my return to Bombay Life's tempo changed---other duties took precedence and apart from a very short and hurried "Hi!!"each time I visited,there were very few exchanges between me and the Mountains---but they understood---reassuring me of always being there for me---all I had to do was lie back and close my eyes----Lo! and Behold!!!There they were!!It was later when the Girls grew up a little that we bonded with the Mountains again---this time as a Family!!!Today I can no longer travel that far----but the bonding stays----the Mountains understand too so they come to me--in various Photographs and Films I connect with them regularly.
"I dream of the Day my Soul will be free
This Body no more attached to Me
Then like an Eagle I'll soar up into the Sky
Alighting on a high Peak watch the World go by!!!
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