Humne to Nisaar Kar Diya Dil (Here I offer my heart)

Hum ne to nisaar kar diya dil,
Ab jane woh shokh, yaa na jaane.

Here I offer my heart to her,
To accept or say no is upto my sweet.
[Hasrat Mohani]

This was the ibteda (beginning) of my love. A new phase of my life, back then; I felt that it would decide my fate. If my heart is accepted, then aafreen, otherwise my name will join the list of aashiqs whose love story ended before it ever began.

I have lost the count of days since I first saw her. It must have been years and years, I believe. I still remember when I saw that beauteous face for the first time. And all I could say was,

Aap ko dekh kar dekhta rah gaya,
Kya kahoon aur kahne ko kya rah gaya.

I saw you and couldn’t take my eyes off,
What other words can describe your beauty.
[Aziz Qaisi]

I have no words to tell you how beautiful she is. Her glowing face, her long raven tresses, her honey dripping voice, her graceful gait like a gazelle, and her hazel eyes.

Yeh jafaaen gham ka chara, woh nijaat-e-dil ka aalam,
Tera husn dast-e-isah, teri yaad rooh-e-mariam.
Teri deed se siwa hai tere shauq mein bahaaran,
Woh zamin jahaan giri thi tere gaissuon ki shabnam.
Yeh ajab qayaamaten hain teri rahguzr mein guzraan,
Na hua ke mar miten hum, na hua ke ji uthe hum.

This cures oppressive griefs, that delivers the heart,
Your beauty is the hand of Christ, your memory Merriam’s face.
More beauteous than you is the love awakened earth,
Fertilized by dew of your fragrant lochs.
Strange are the calamities in the path of love,
Nor we have will to live, nor the strength to die.
[Faiz Ahmed Faiz]

And not to forget those ruby red lips,

Gharq-e-shaqar hue hain kaam-o-zabaan,
Jab liya hun main nam tuj lab ka.

My palate and tongue get honey drenched,
Whensoever I mention your lips.
[Wali Mohd. Wali]

And in this way my infatuation began. A strange feeling was all over me,

Dil-e-nadaan tujhe hua kya hai?
Aakhir is dard ki dawa kya hai?
Mai bhi munh mein zabaan rakhta hun,
Kaash puchho ke mudda kya hai?

What ails thee, my silly heart?
What balm for your ache, at last?
I too have a tongue, I too can speak,
Would that you ask, what I crave?
[Asadullah Khan Ghalib]

I was surrounded by her. She was in my dreams. She still is. I was restless. I started looking forward to seeing her each day; Wali has rightly said,

Dekhna har subah tujh rukhsaar ka,
Hai mutaala matlai-anwaar ka.
Subah tera daras paya tha sanam,
Shauq-e-dil muhtaaj hai taqraar ka.

To see your face every morn,
Is to see the glorious flush of dawn.
I saw you just this morning, Love,
Lo, my heart yearns again.
[Wali Mohd. Wali]

One is highly intoxicated when in love. Radiance of light of love spreads its aura all around you. Iqbal farmaate hain,

Anokhi waza hai saare zamaane se niraale hain,
Yeh aashiq kaunsi basti ke yaarab rahne waale hain.

Strange are their looks, out-of-this world they seem!
Wherefrom, O Lord, do these lovers spring?
[Sir Mohd. Iqbal]

I then thought of expressing myself. And thanks to the “Benevolent Lord of the Three Worlds” who arranged that also,

Baam par aane lage woh, samna hone laga,
Ab to izhaar-e-mohabbat barmila hone laga.

She now comes on roof top, face to face we stand,
Love is now proclaimed without least reserve.
[Hasrat Mohani]

But these encounters were unable to put my restless heart to rest. I then pumped all my blood into my heart and approached her, one day. I stopped her. She stopped. Smiled. I opened my mouth and ark! nothing came out of it. Them I stammered & stuttered. Her beautiful radiant face and equally beautiful smile had left me speechless. And before she left, all I could think was,

Mere dil ko kiya be-khud teri ankhion ne aakhir kon,
Ke jion be-hosh karti hai sharaab, ahista, ahista.

Your eyes,at last, have entranced my heart,
As wine benumbs our wits, step by step.
[Wali Mohd. Wali]

And all I could see was a drop of sweat, from her tresses trickled on her cheek and lo, how wondrous to see sun splashed over with dew. She again smiled and ran away. I stood there. Standing there. Still. And I told myself,

Ibtadaae ishq hai, rota hai kya,
Aage aage dekhiye hota hai kya.

It’s only the beginning, why dost thou groan?
O, wait and see what happens as you onwards move.
[Mir Taqi Mir]

I was captured by the long and deadly roots of love. More I tried to free myself, more I got entangled in them,

Yaad karna har ghari us yaar ka,
Hai wazifaa mujh dil-e-bimaar ka,
Aakbat kya howega maalum nahin,
Dil hua mubtla dildaar ka.

Remembering my Love all the time,
Is all the prayer my sick heart knows,
I know not how its going to end,
I’ve lost my heart to my sweet heart.
[Wali Mohd. Wali]

I was then avoided, tracks, streets, bazaars, changed on seeing me. I was sad,

Muddat hui sajan ne dikhaya nahin jamaal,
Dikhla apas ke kad kon kiya nahin nihaal.

For long hasn’t my Love shown her beauteous face,
Nor with her stately presence uplifted my state.
[Wali Mohd. Wali]

And I wailed,

Husn-e-be parwah ko khud bin-o-khud aara kar diya,
Kya kiya maine ke izhaare tamanna kar diya.

Beauty self-oblivious has turned self- aware,
O, why at all did I express my heart’s desire?
[Hasrat Mohani]

The days were tiring; the nights long,

Tum aae ho na shab-e-intzaar guzri hai,
Talaash mein sahar baar baar guzri hai.
Woh baat saare fasaane mein jiska zikar na tha,
Woh baat unko bahut nagawaar guzri hai.
Na gul khile hain, na unse mile hain, na mai pi hai,
Ajib rang mein ab ke bahaar guzri hai.

You haven’t come, nor has the night of waiting gone,
Looking for you the morn has called again & again.
What did not even figure in the tale entire,
To that he has taken very grave offence.
No flames, no wine, no sight of my friend,
In what queer way we’ve spent this spring.
[Faiz Ahmed Faiz]

Nobody heard my cry, but nothingness. All words were lost there. Days passed. Months passed. And even did the years. Nothing was exchanged between us. There was vast, immense, dark and dead silence. My heart was crushed, that was the first time I realized it.

Tujhiko jo yaan jalwa farma na dekha,
Baraabar hai duniya ko dekha na dekha.
Mera Guncha-e-dil hai woh dil grifta,
Ke jis ko kaso ne kabhi wa na dekha.
Aziat, musibat,malaamat, balaaen,
Tere ishq mein hum ne kya kya na dekha?
Kiya mujh ko daaghon ne sarv-e-chiraaghan,
Kabhi tune aakar tamaasha na dekha.

If here we see thee not immanent in thy grace,
What use then, our earthly pilgrimage?
My heart is such a crumpled bud,
None has ever seen it bloom.
Trouble, torture, reproach, disaster,
What all haven’t I suffered in love?
The scars within have set me ablaze,
Alas, you haven’t seen this sight.
[Khwaja Mir Dard]

I had initiated. She had taken a step back. So I coiled all my feelings around myself. Meetings became scanty. On those rare occasions when we used to see each other, I would often think,

Roya karenge aap bhi pahron isi tarah,
Atka kahin jo aapka dil bhi meri tarah.

You too shall weep for hours on end, if your
Heart, like mine, somewhere gets entwined.
[Momin Khan Momin]

Then the sky fell down on my head. She was in love with someone else. The sky had fallen over my head. The world must have reached qayaamat (end of the world). But, I could spare a smile for her,

Donon jahaan teri mohabbat mein haar ke,
Woh jaa raha hai koi shab-e-gham guzaar ke.
Bhule se muskra to diye hum aaj Faiz,
Mat puchh walwale dil-e-naakarda kaar ke.

Having lost both worlds in the game of love,
There goes lonesome man, ending his night in grief.
Today, Faiz, unawares you chanced to give a smile,
O what a swell and surge within my powerless heart.
[Faiz Ahmed Faiz]

Once, when I met her, I told her,

Mera ji hai jab tak, teri justju hai,
Zabaan jab talak hai, yehi guftgu hai,
Tamanna hai teri, agar hai tamanna,
Teri aarzoo hai, agar aarzoo hai.

Your quest is my objective, as long as I live,
Of you alone I talk, while I have a tongue,
For you alone I yearn, if yearn at all,
You are my desire, if I harbour one.
[Khwaja Mir Dard]

And I was reminded of Ghalib’s great ghazal,

Hazaaron khwaaeshen aisi ke har khwahish pe dam nikle,
Bahut nikle mere armaan, lekin phir bhi kam nikle.
Nikalna khuld se adam ka sunte aaye the lekin,
Bahut be-aabroo ho kar tere kuche se hum nikle.

Thousand of desires tantalizing one and all,
Many a wish have I realized; yet I yearn for more.
Oft have we heard about Adam’s exile from Eden,
Humiliating much more was my exit from your door.
[Asadullah Khan Ghalib]

And, with what else can I end but,

Hum parwarsh-e-loh-o-qalam karte rahenge,
Jo dil pe guzarti hai raqam karte rahenge.
Ek tarz-e-taghaaful hai so woh unko mubarak,
Ek tarz-e-tamanna hai so hum karte rahenge.

We’ll keep on plying the pen on the page,
Record shall we the tale of our heart.
A style of indifference will be her way,
A style of submission will be our creed.
[Faiz Ahmed Faiz]

April 1995/ (revisited) May 1997

Copyright JPS Nagi.

The English translation of the Urdu poetry is taken from the book “Masterpieces of Urdu Ghazals” by K.C. Kanda, Sterling Press, India. This was the first piece of writing I put together. I was under many spells, one of them being the Urdu poetry.

Mughal-e-Azam completes 50 years

K.Asif’s Magnum Opus … Mughal-e-Azam. The movie that took more than 20 years in making.
A milestone for Indian Film Industry, with production costs Rs 15 million (this was when a normal film would cost around Rs 1-1.5 million), it broke all records. The tickets sold for 100 rupees, back when the cost of a single ticket was 1.50 rupees. Today, the movie of this value will cost more than Rs 150 Crores ($33M).

The music, the story, the cast, the dialogues – every aspect of the movie was giant. Bollywood’s biggest period extravaganza. Although the orginal movie was black & white (with some colored parts), the movie was colorized recently with the sound converted and re-recorded in Dolby Digital. The new producers brought together the new crew who worked to make it happen, with some of the original cast and crew.

It brought back memories for many movie-goers, and they flocked back to theaters.  Also introduced the next generation to the movie that was, and the movie that is.

Recently, NDTV did a special on the movie as it completed 50 years on August 5, 2010. Here is the special (you would need Adobe Flash to play).

August 14. 2010

JPS Nagi

Shiv – The Golden Voice

Shiv Kumar Batalvi is an Sahitya Academy Award (1967) winning poet of Punjabi language. He is known for his romantic poetry for its passion, pathos and the pain of separation. Batala (District Amritsar, Punjab) became his home town in India after the partition, and that also gave him his takhaluss,Batalvi”. It is said that he had a failed love affair that came out in the form of intense passion and pathos in his writings. He never confirmed these rumors. He tactfully avoided the subject during his interviews.

His poems are very popular among the Punjabi singer on both sides of the border. Jagjit & Chitra Singh, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Surinder Kaur, Assa Singh Mastana, Mahendra Kapoor, Hans Raj Hans, are some of the singers who have brought the birha from Shiv’s songs to the vast audience.

Here, I am presenting some of the rare recordings of Shiv Kumar Batalvi reciting his poems. This is how he meant these to be read, sung, and recited. Click on the links below to play the songs in the browser.

Ek Kudi

Ki Puchdey O Haal Faqiran Da

Shikhar Dupehar Sir Te

The recordings are noisy, as these were converted from ancient All India Radio (AIR) archives. They will sound best with low treble. I am working to clean them up, and will update these.

Please provide comments.

August 2010.

Copyright JPS Nagi

Richard Bach & Me (and her)

What if space shifted and time bent and we could meet ourselves as we’ll be twenty years from now? What if we could talk face-to-face with the people we were in the past, with the people we are in the parallel lifetimes, in alternate worlds? What would we tell them, and what would we ask? How would we change if we knew what waits beyond space and time?

Heavy? Don’t worry, I’ll lighten everything up. The last time I wrote was when I fell in love … … with ‘a book’ … … and that too of philosophy of Plato. And my friend Mols, he wrote recently to me, saying so. My falling in and out of love is a story that stretches far back in time. I fell in love couple of times and (luckily) fallen out of it till I found Gitanjali.

Anyway, flashback. I recall one incident on the time-line during which my heart would skip a beat on seeing her. She was (and is) somewhat of a whizz-kid.

The settings this time are shifted to the beautiful and serene Chandigarh. And that’s here that I fell in love for the second time (yes, it was my second crush). The city is beautiful, the climate – just right and she was absolutely stunning. What else is required? … … Richard Bach? … …

Did I hear someone mention a name that sounded like some classical music composer of olden times whom my friend Misha would very often impress upon me to listen? And what the hell was this Richard Bach doing in my private and personal love story? Well, he was there. No way out of it and no denying of it. Richard Bach. The lines in the beginning of this piece are by him.

I was studying in the local engineering school and she was there too. my junior (I hope everybody has guessed her by now). I fell in love with her, not at the first sight or first bite (as my good friend Mols would put it). But this happened over time, with some encouragement from Mols and other. she was his classmate. Slowly and steadily, the poison of love entered my thought my heart and into my head. “What a girl!”

Lets skip some details of how I got to know her and all the stuff I did to make her notice me which she did, we’ll go directly to one incident of me with her. So flash-forward a little.

I was sitting with her at her place, and we started talking about books (Oh my God! Save me.). I became an avid reader after that encounter, but at that time I would say I was … not a great reader and was likely not very comfortable discussing about them books. But anything for her.

“Do you read?”, she asked. What a question. Of course I read. I did my schooling in a British Convent School, and yes ma’am I do read.


“What do you prefer in fiction?”, now wait a minute, what is fiction … … my mind was running its horses; fiction … fiction … yes – stories.

“I prefer pulp.” In my mind I silently thanked Quentin Tarantino for making Pulp Fiction. If many of you have not guessed, I’m a movie-buff too.

“Do you? What all authors have you read?”

“I don’t read much. I prefer music and movies. But sometimes I read. I’ll tell you about the first novel I read (apart from my school). That was Sidney Sheldon’s If Tomorrow Comes. One of our family friends suggested it.”

“So you like Sheldon in pulp?” Hmmm. OK, so Sheldon writes pulp … …


“Sonu, I’ve read many authors and many styles. Now I would like to read philosophy and some more meaningful writings. Have you heard of Richard Bach.”

That was the first time in my life I heard about Richard Bach. Who was this Bach. Misha would often come to my hostel and put Johanne Sebastian Bach’s compositions at very high volume … boring the hell out of all of us. But same man cannot be a philosophical or meaningful writer and a great composer at the same time (or could be, you never know). Richard must be someone else.

“Yeah.” I was trying to be ecstatic, “Richard Bach. O my God! You should have told me; rather we should have talked about him earlier. Do you know my father reads a lot and Richard Bach is one of his favorite authors? Do you know that he has all of his famous books? I think 5 or 6 of them. But personally I would have skipped though 1 or 2, but his writing do not impress me much. Actually, I am more practical, so I prefer staying away from all that needs brains.” I was trying everything to win her.

Now that I have made an easy way out of all the discussions that I could have gotten myself into, I’ll tell you about my father. Well he reads a lot … he reads jokes, newspapers and his immense collection of advanced calculus books. If you would ask him, he would say who is Richard Bach. He is all logic and no philosophy. He doesn’t even know if a man with such a name ever existed.

“O really? Do you have all the Bach? Well that’s wonderful. Have you read Jonathon Livingstone Seagull? Oh, I have read it long time back. It’s beautiful!”

Jonathon Livingstone Seagull? Now what is this? Must be some seagull.

“Oh yeah, it’s different. Unlike many stories we read in our day to day lives.” This is the most appropriate answer. For those articulate people who are very good in discussion, I think they would understand that at this point I must give discussion a new turn.

“Yes Sonu, this small book really makes a difference in one’s life. After reading the book, one thing has become pretty clear in my mind, we are not here for mere earning our bread and butter. Life is all about exploring new heights, think about them till you reel under the pressure, dream about them and nurture them.”

God help me.

“I read it long time back. So I never perceived it like that. Would you like to read it? I can get it to you.” Let’s get out of this seagull business, I was thinking myself.
“I can get you the book. I have it in Amritsar.”

“Can you?” there was twinkle in the eye and a beautiful smile on the face. I could have done anything at that time.

“Sure. But its in Amritsar. Rather, I’ll get all his books, next time I’ll go to Amritsar. You can read them all.”

“Oh thank you, Sonu. That’s so nice of you”. Oh yes, I am nice.

And henceforth this man … … what’s his name – Richard Bach came to my life.

Well I stayed for some time and had some pakoras (fried fritters) with her while I was being given this dhobi patkaa about Richard Bach. Before taking leave, I promised her that next time I’ll go to Amritsar, I’ll get all of Bachs.

It was 4’o clock in the afternoon when I left her place and it was Thursday. On my way back, I stopped in Sector 17 at Capital Book Depot. My friend Ajay’s dad is the owner of that shop (he became my friend after this Bach). I went to him and asked for Bach … Richard Bach. He looked at me from head to toe (“Don’t I look like one of those Richard Bach guys?”).

He showed me to the shelf and I could see was a rack in front of me with all the Bach. He suggested Kahlil Gibran, if I was about to start with this kind of writings but I told him that I’d buy only Bach. He went away and I counted that six of the titles of this author were lying there. I brought all the six of them on the counter and asked Ajay for the price of all. He said they’d all cost me around Rs 800. And I had none in my pocket. I told him that I have no money with me but I would like to buy all of these tomorrow and he can keep a set aside for me. He said that would be no problem at all and that I can come anytime to buy them.

Now to arrange 800 Rupees. In the evening, my parents called (they used to call me everyday, even today they call me almost everyday) and I told them that I was out of money and needed to pay some hostel dues and I also need to buy few books. My father never questioned me about money. He said that I can collect the money from the driver of a local bus service (Maharaja Travels) that runs between Amritsar and Chandigarh. Wonderful. The very next day around half past 10, I got the money. Two thousand rupees.

Hit Capital Book Depot. Ajay recognized me, I think it was easy for him since I was wearing the same clothes that I was wearing the day before. He was surprised that I have come back for Bach. Many people do not turn out after they have asked the bookseller to keep some books aside for them. I bought the books, made the payments. That’s when Ajay and me came to know each other. I have bought many books after that from him.

Over the weekend, I read Jonathan Livingston Seagull, One, There’s No Such Place As Far Away. So now I knew who is Richard Bach. Then I started with Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah and then later after 3 days I started with Biplane. Well I was through with five of his books. And then the one that remained was The Bridge Across Forever: A Love Story. On Friday Misha came. Misha’s eyes twinkled at the sight of these books. He saw all the books lying scattered in my room. His expression was of a clown who gets struck by a baseball (or cricket) bat and passes out with the smug happy expression on his face.

“Sardarji, theek thaak ho (surdy, are you alright)?” was his instant question. After much dodging around, I ended up telling him the truth. Now it was easy to talk to him. Needless to say, Misha had read almost all the books. We had a nice discussion.

“After reading the book, one thing has become pretty clear in my mind. we are not here for mere earning our bread and butter. Life is all about exploring new heights, think about them till you reel under the pressure, dream about them and nurture them.” I repeated what she had said to me.

Misha had his own ideas, “ It also tells us that to follow freely the promptings of heart, one must not conceal from oneself that life is coarse and ruthless in its own wayward course. The book is a bid to rekindle the sleeping Jonathan Livingston Seagull in all of us. Through the seagull, the author explains this to us and takes us to the finer nuances of life. What does a man need? We always think of common things – bread, butter and a bed to sleep on. After reading the book, you will see that there is more to life than those. You don’t have to simply live for them. How about bringing a pose of roses for your beloved from the stiff cliffs of Alpine, when roses are out of season. This book will teach and prompt you to do that.”

I was impressed. Misha, the great. Now I can talk about this author.

“This book packs into a few short pages a plethora of universal truths. It is a simply written tale of the nature of purpose and of perfection. It’s a story of freedom and thought and immortality that ought to inspire even the most stubborn pessimists and nay-sayers.”, I added as now I understood it better.

Misha made himself comfortable in my room (as he always used to do). Many ideas were exchanged over lunch and over evening tea. Misha wore the same smug expression and was also enjoying every moment of it.

He started another thread of discussion, “There’s No Such Place as Far Away, now that is an amazing piece. When she was about to turn five, a little girl named Rae Hansen invited Richard Bach to her birthday party. Though deserts, storms, mountains, and a thousand miles separated them, Rae was confident that her friend would appear. There’s No Such Place As Far Away chronicles the exhilarating spiritual journey that delivered Rae’s anxiously awaited guest to her side on that special day – and tells of the powerful and enduring gift that would keep him forever close to her heart. Richard Bach’s inspiring, now – classic tale is a profound reminder that miles cannot truly separate us from friends … that those we love are always with us – every moment of the infinite celebration we call life.”

I was getting ideas too. as I said, “This is one of those rare books that has a timeless message and a simple beauty which belie its brevity. You can read this book in ten minutes. And, you can re-read it a hundred times and feel differently about it each time. Consider it the abridged Jonathon Livingston Seagull or Illusions, but don’t think of it as leaving out anything of importance. I particularly like this book because, in a few minutes, it helps me remember some of the simple truths of life – that time and space cannot separate us from the one’s we love. Besides that, it has some fantastic water-color illustrations which I found enjoyable to simply view.”

“Yes, exactly. Very true, very true”, Misha said sipping his tea.

I wanted to explore more. “And Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah. In the cloud-washed airspace between the cornfields of Illinois and blue infinity, a man puts his faith in the propeller of his biplane. For disillusioned writer and itinerant barnstormer Richard Bach, belief is as real as a full tank of gas and sparks firing in the cylinders…until he meets Donald Shimoda–former mechanic and self-described messiah who can make wrenches fly and Richard’s imagination soar…. In Illusions, the unforgettable follow-up to his Richard Bach takes to the air to discover the ageless truths that give our souls wings: that people don’t need airplanes to soar…that even the darkest clouds have meaning once we lift ourselves above them… and that messiahs can be found in the unlikeliest places–like hay fields, one-traffic-light midwestern towns, and most of all, deep within ourselves.”

Misha had something to say too. “The best part is the thought-provoking dialogue between a guy named Richard and a real Messiah. This story will change you if it ever get into your head.”

Misha left for home later in the evening. That night, I finished Biplane. It was first time in my life I felt there is more than Sidney Sheldon to life. There is Richard Bach. Oh what a writer. I was doing it all because of her. Did you guys think I forgot her, talking about Misha and Richard Bach? Of course not.
And all these days, I must tell you, I was meeting her everyday and we talked and chatted a bit – but not Richard Bach.

During the next weekend I finished with The Bridge Across Forever: A Love Story. Bach wrote of a man haunted by the ghost of a wise, mystical, lovely lady who lived just around the corner in time. This story tells of his quest to find her. His search for his dreamed-of soulmate, his detour into wealth and success, and his ultimate meeting with the woman with whom he has found love and enchantment. If you’ve ever felt alone in a world of strangers, missing someone you’ve never met, you’ll find a message from your love in this book. Isn’t it amazing how our life is so in our faces yet we are too blind to see? This reconnects to the hummings from my inner self and not the moaning of the outside world. When we are finally at one, awake, and aware who knows maybe we can all have it. We get the answers all the time but we push them away for whatever reason. An inspiration to love beyond this life.

Well, I had read it all and was ready to talk to anyone about this author. All this to get the attention of that someone special. Over the next weekend, I went to Amritsar to meet my parents. Spent some time with them. Met couple of friends. Missed her. Traveled back to Chandigarh.

On Monday, I met her. After daily greetings, I told her that I had brought the books she wanted. She was happy to know that and seeing her happy, I was happy too. That evening I took the books to her place and gave it to her. And even suggested the one’s she should read first and the one’s that are to be savored last.

She read them in about 10-12 days time. I had continued to meet her wherever I could and even discussed the books individully with her (thanks to Misha). She was happy to know that I had read them all. She was impressed by my versions and understanding of these writings (I think). Afterwards, she suggested many more books to me and many more she demanded (the one’s she wanted to read and Ajay happily supplied me with them (of course not free).

And that how I came to know about Richard Bach. As I write this, I see that set of books in front of me. As I look back, sometimes I think I was making a fool of myself, and at other times, I think that she has to be thanked at some point for making me a more ferocious reader. I have read hundreds of books since, needless to say even more heavier than Richard Bach. But these books have a special place in the time line of my life. It was fate, destiny or her, but in the end, she did make a difference in my life, and my reading.

Wherever she is in the world, I hope she is reading some new book, or maybe she is reading the ‘life’ itself.

February 2008
Copyright JPS Nagi

Epilogue (August 2010): Although my original Richard Bach books are scattered everywhere, my new set of Richard Bach still sits on my bookshelf, as seen in one of the images above.

Policies and Procedures

A study placed eight monkeys in a room. In the middle of the room is a ladder, leading to a bunch of bananas hanging from a hook on the ceiling. Each time a monkey tries to climb the ladder, all the monkeys are sprayed with ice water, which makes them miserable. Soon enough, whenever a monkey attempts to climb the ladder, all of the other monkeys, not wanting to be sprayed with cold water, set upon him and beat him up. Within few days, none of the eight monkeys ever attempts to climb the ladder.

One of the original monkeys is then removed, and a new monkey is put in the room. Seeing the bananas and the ladder, he wonders why none of the other monkeys are doing the obvious; but, undaunted, he immediately begins to climb the ladder. All the other monkeys fall upon him and beat him silly. He has no idea why?? However, he no longer attempts to climb the ladder. A second original monkey is removed and replaced. The newcomer again attempts to climb the ladder, but all the other monkeys hammer the crap out of him. This includes the previous new monkey, who, grateful that he’s not on the receiving end this time, participates in the beating because all the other monkeys are doing it. However, he has no idea why he’s attacking the new monkey.

One by one, all the original monkeys are replaced. Eight new monkeys are now in the room. None of them have ever been sprayed by ice water. None of them attempt to climb the ladder. All of them will enthusiastically beat up any new monkey who tries, without having any idea why?

And that’s how any company’s policies & procedures get established !!

(This was sent as a part of those annoying chain mails, which I never forward. But this was too good not to be shared with the world. Thanks to the original author).

Black Dogs

The ambiance is New Delhi and the time – the summer of 97. A year earlier, I was new to Delhi. Fate brought me to the big city to seek better career. Then I got a job with Siemens.

My career star ted as a Marketing Executive in Siemens Ltd. I was told by many that to start one’s career in such a big company is in fact very lucky – it will give me immense confidence and an open outlook. Being new to the work culture and in an attempt to prove my mettle, I worked hard. Sometimes work as much as two people – work till the late hours, evenings, weekends, at home; well I could do that since I was not married then. In a way, I was challenging my boss’s and my own limits of working hard. I think my boss did not get along well with his wife, and so he preferred to stay at office, rather than home and I with him. So he was happy with me. Early on, I developed a habit of taking over more difficult assignments or the ones people would avoid. Pretty mu ch not saying no to anyone, I would often get more than my fair share of projects. At times it overwhelmed me, but being young(er) and brash, I didn’t think much of it and put in more time towards it.

After few months, things started to slip and then I realized that this cannot go indefinitely. I realized, I had to say ‘no’. Took some courage but in the end said no. Needless to say, since a lot more people were relying on me, things were not digested very well. My boss frowned a little, and then assigned it to someone else, who came back to me on how to get his work done. For next few weeks, I could feel the strange tension at work and I started to feel uneasy with my boss around, who stopped giving me anything. Back then, my father was one of my best advisors; so I called him. I talked to my father about it. It was one of those days when you are just fed up from work and I told my dad that I am thinking about resigning. I was really stressed out. The week that followed was worse. I started having what is called as bad-days in the corporate slang. I was too tired, stressed upon reaching home.

So far I forgot to mention that I was in Delhi with my cousins (brothers). it was a joint family home – three families, with 10 kids in total, ranging from less than a year old to almost 18. Of course, couple of bhabhis (sisters-in-law). One of the middle ones among my bhabhis got really concerned with my state of mind. She would often say, “Forget about him (the boss) and sleep now. Worry about work tomorrow.”; but I guess she started sensing the troubled times I was going through.

One day another cousin of mine from Ludhiana visits Delhi. It was a Friday and I got a phone call at work from home that my cousin is visiting and he has to leave early next day and I should try and come back home early as everyone is going out for dinner.

As a good boy, I do so. I left early from work and reached where everyone was meeting for dinner. After a fun, laugh-a-riot, loud my-big-fat-Indian-dinner, everyone headed home. Everyone settles down, few people were watching TV, others just relaxing, kids were running around. I was helping few of my nephews and nieces with their homework.

That’s when my bhabhi calls me, “Sonu, idhar aanaa. (Sonu come here)”.

I walk into the other room and my sister-in-law is sitting on the sofa with my visiting cousin with all his papers and stuff spread on the table. As I look around I see some charts drawn on the sheets of paper filled with some strange symbols. I knew it was someone’s janampatri (horoscope).

At this point I should mention that my visiting cousin has a fine knowledge of palmistry and astrology. As is quiet common in India, my whole family generally seeks his help in many occasions – starting a new business, in the matters of marriage, kid’s future etc.

Anyway, I found that that the charts and horoscope that were spread around on the tables were mine. My bhabhi told me that while I was at work, she explained to my cousin that I am really stressing out for last few weeks and seems to have lot of trouble at work. My cousin needed my date, time and place of birth and instead of calling me, they called up my mom and found all the details. My cousin then intervenes and tell me that bhabhi asked his help to figure out a more heavenly solution or upaaye (an astrological solution) to the problems I am getting at work. Of course, that what they were waiting to talk to me.

My cousin worked on creating my horoscope and made all the calculations for me during the day. Being who I am, I told them that I was fine and it is just a phase, it will pass.

“I don’t need an upaaye“, I said.

But … I was rendered speechless, and told to sit down and listen to what my cousin had to say. So I did sit there with a blank face. In thick soup, is what it seemed to me. My cousin ran some more numbers on his calculator and kept drawing some strange symbols on the chart in random boxes it seemed. He also kept referencing a red book (Lal Kitaab) and asking me few small questions now and then. Whenever I would try to say something or mention the futility of the situation, my bhabhi would signal me to keep quiet and not to disturb my cousin in his calculation.

Twenty minutes later my cousin lifts his head and I was looking at a face that was very happy with confidence of an astrological solution which will help me out. He tells me that my present boss and I do not get along very well. Wow, that’s was very psychic, I thought, but kept my mouth shut.

He continued, “It is due to that fact that we do not have astrological compatibility”. Here comes compatibility which is tested at every point in your life, in India.

And then he made a prediction, “You will quit this job, but there is still some time in doing so”.

You must understand that by this time, I had decided to give him the audience and was getting amused and surprised. So far he mentioned what everyone sort of knew and maybe predicted that if the things continue the way they were, I would quit this job. Likely there was something on my face that my cousin noticed, but ignored it.

He carried on and explained to me that my boss is a “black dog” who is barking and pushing my good fortune away from me.

I joked that I work for a human, not a dog; of course he gave me a frown and explains that my boss has the astrological characteristics of a dog. Right at this point, in time and space, there is some good fortune and the darker side is trying to take over.

He then presents a solution, “You will have to pacify the dog and then he will be an encouraging and helpful boss. In that role he will also help you in advancing to me for my career. Otherwise, he will continue the way he is”.

He went for next 10 minutes and in the end he suggests an upaaye. He suggested that every morning, I should feed few black dogs with biscuits (Indian cookies) and things will be fine. I was explained that the black dog will eat the cookies, and will be happy that I fed him, and in the end this will change some astrological influences that are causing stress in my life. At that time, I thought it was very funny, and at the same time, a part of me what thinking … this could be interesting; it may make up for a good story later in life. My curiosity got better of me and I decided to test the theories out. I did not speak my mind. I owed it to my bhabhi for the concern she had shown. I patiently listened to my cousin. I also argued that in the morning I have to drive an hour to work, and I’m not going to look for a black dogs and be doing any such thing as feeding them biscuits. I would get late for work. My bhabhi gives me a look to keep quiet and listen to my cousin. I listened.

In the end my cousin suggests bhabhi that if I’m little reluctant in doing so, she should keep some biscuits aside after I touch them in the morning and feed them to the passing dogs in the street. She agreed that this may work out to be the best option. Anyway, it was way past my bedtime and I was feeling sleepy and so all of us retire to their respective rooms.

The morning dawns. I am ready for the day and when I’m about to leave, my bhabhi stops me and hands over a packet of Glucogold biscuits and asks me to throw it to some black dog I encounter on my way. This is getting a little out of hand, I thought. I said that I was not going to do it; she opens the packet and takes my hand, and puts it on all the biscuits, and keeps the biscuits in a separate bowl. I wipe off my hand and drive off. This carried on for about a month and things were fine, not great, but just fine. As far as boss was concerned, I think the tension had subsided a bit and it was better than before. If it was due to the black dogs enjoying the Glucogold biscuits or anything else, I cannot say.

Then probably the stray black dogs stopped coming to our street or the municipal Corporation took them away. And that’s when my trouble started. One fine morning, she told me to take the biscuit packet with me. I was quiet reluctant to do it. So she tried her brahmastra (ultimate weapon), and asked me if I would refuse if my mother asked.

“Think of me as your mother and do this, please”.

If anyone has grown up in India, you would understand that there is no way out of this brahmastra. I then took the packet from her and went on my way to work. I think it was a lucky day as I encountered a lonely (maybe hungry) black dog within few yards from home. I gave it whole of the packet. Felt a little embarrassed as few folks and couple of elderly people stopped and stared at me. We all smiled and went our way.

Every morning bhabhi would give me a packet of Glucogold biscuits to feed the black dogs. She, somehow or the other, would make me take it and let the stray black dogs have a party every morning. Mind it, that sometimes these dogs also get to enjoy the Krackjack, or Monaco or some other brand of biscuits. I am sure they were all getting healthier, to get at least one guaranteed square meal every day. There would always be more than just the black dogs. There would be browns, the grays, the spotted and many other colors. Within few days most of these dogs became familiar with me and would wag their tails when I approached them. It was not just the dogs, even some of the bystanders, elderly folks, some shopkeepers, and others who knew me by now. My nephews and nieces had started calling me Kaale Kutton Waale Chacha Ji (Black Dogs Uncle). It was amusing, most of the time. Above all, my relations with my boss were improving.

Then one day, I did not find any dog. Maybe they decided that they have had enough biscuits and it was time for them to move on. That was the day which filled my life with some difficulties to find the black dogs. I rode my scooter, dressed for work, hunting for the black dogs. Found some, gave them the whole packet and was done. As the days passed, it was getting difficult to find black dogs. I started waking up earlier every morning so that I get to reach office in time. Then I started to carpool to office with one of my friends. It was quiet hilarious the first time I told him what all was going on with biscuits and black dogs. We had a blast laughing in his car. From then on, he also started to help me spot some black dogs if he saw one. If we happen to find no black dog, we would eat the biscuits by ourselves. Once my friend even suggested that I should give them to my boss for he is the ultimate dog we are trying to tame. I listened and did offer few biscuits to my boss; and he did eat few.

On my way to my friend’s place, I would see a black dog and would stop my scooter near it. Now hearing the screech of brakes, the dog would get scared and run away. I would park my scooter and run after the dog and seeing me running after them some of them used to run far away and faster. Few of them would growl back and bark at me. Other times, they would not let me come closer to them and few even ran after me and I would run towards my scooter. At times, I threw the biscuits they would get frightened and run away (maybe thinking I am trying to hit them with something). I couldn’t help in such cases as the biscuits were plied on by cars or scooters. Some of the dogs would stay there only and I would throw them some biscuits. Couple of dogs would run after my scooter wanting more.

Ultimately I was getting a familiar figure in the dog society. Once I almost got bitten by a dog who wanted more. Now that I think about it all it is very funny especially for people watching someone running after the dogs to feed them, early each morning. People on the street would stop to see this dressed person dealing with the dogs. Few would laugh at me and walk away. Couple of them even started recognizing me and we started exchanging greetings. The school children waiting for their bus on the roadside also started to know me and waved when I passed. Many would point towards some dog sitting nearby which I could not locate.

The roadside beggars would say, “Bauji, abhi abhi ek kala kutta us taraf gaya hai” (Sir, a black dog ran away in that alleyway few seconds back).

I would turn my scooter on that road. So my social circle was increasing, among the people and most of all, the dogs.

This was carried on for about three months or so. Many times during this time, I would get late for office. I was too embarrassed to give a reason that I was looking for black dogs. Things carried on. When I used to get late, my boss would get upset sometimes. Over time, I stopped it. And even my bhabhi forgot about it. When I think about it today, I couldn’t help laughing about it. It was really hilarious – specially my encounters with the black dogs.

And about my boss, well he is not my boss any longer, as I left that job, as my cousin had appropriately predicted, to find a new one. My relations with my boss did improve, and he over time also realized that there is more to life than just work. I don’t know whether it was because of the biscuits or something else. He is one of the hardest working people I have met in my life. His passion for his work was commendable. He also expected people working with him to give as much as him to their jobs. I learned a lot from him professionally and personally. He showed me how passionate one can be about his work, and how one person can make a difference in a company. The lessons I learned while working under him are going to last for a lifetime. I believe that I need to thank him for the path he showed me, making my life a little better, enjoyable in Delhi.

Or should I say, thanks to him, few black dogs enjoyed a nice breakfast for some time.

Saturday, February 20, 1999

Copyright, JPS Nagi 1999-2010

Mark those calendars!

I have my own site. Yay!

Back in 2000, I saw a boom of dot coms. And always wished I could have a place parked in the virtual world. Over the last 10 years, I have brainstormed many ideas and created many sites, but this is the final outcome. Now, I have my own site.

Someone asked why Nagi’s World and planet. Do I live in my own little world?

Well … No.

This is a small attempt to show you the my world – the time and place  and people I come from … to show you who I am, what I do – my world from inside. The stories you may read are from earth, not from planet Nagi (which is also a fictional planet of the Star Wars universe).

So sit back, relax, read and enjoy. Do leave comments, by clicking on the comments button on the top of the page or at the end of the story.