Friday, September 22, 2017




Sounds unusual but it remains a fact that Dr S Radhakrishnan was a great admirer of singer Mohd Rafi.

And Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru had publicly expressed his admiration for Mohd  Rafi several times .

( Autar Mota )

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Thursday, September 21, 2017



          (The  Bride’s Jewellery )

When Rupawati   entered Baithak or the sitting room ,she was happy to see her New daughter in law seated on a raised platform with some pillows on her back . Embracing her affectionately , she kissed her forehead . That made both of them happy . Straightening the sheet underneath before sitting near her daughter in law ,she said;

“ Guss Vaash Heu kudd Zangunn .  Akissi Jaayi   Bih Bih Hayee Chhu Thakaan. Vaen  Iyyi Na Kaanh . Ba  Ti Traavai  Shaandus Kalla . Me Zun Khot Kaaf Hue.  

“Go and just stretch your legs .One gets tired by sitting  in one posture only.  Now None is expected to come this way. I shall also sleep a while . I feel  like taking some rest.”

It was 2 PM . The family had already  finished their Lunch . No lady from Mohalla was expected now . No relatives were expected at this odd time.  Rupawati pulled a Pillow towards her and tried to sleep.

She had barely closed her eyes  when she heard  a knock at the door .  It was sham Rani . She had come  to have tea from  the New daughter in law ( Nov Nosh ) . That was  a custom in kashmiri Pandit families . Every close relation would come to see the New bride and the  custom demanded that the guest would have a   cup of Tea prepared by the new daughter in law. The custom also demanded that the bride would be   paid some cash by the Guest  for this cup of  Tea   .  

 Post marriage , Every  girl  was   given  a new name in her in laws house .  Accordingly,  Rupawati had  renamed her  daughter in law   as “ Lakshmi” . Prior to her marriage Lakshmi was known as Asha Koul in her parental home .

 Shaam Raani , Who had just arrived to have her cup of Tea  from the bride was sister of Rupawati ‘s Husband ( affectionately known  as Bai sahib ) . Bai Sahib Or Moti lal Dhar worked as Head clerk in PWD . He enjoyed respect and command amongst his relations . Every one was impressed to see his Boss Nazir Sahib ( Divisional Engineer ) in the marriage of saeba  (  Moti lal’s son ) . Nazir Sahib had  even sent his personal car and driver for three days to Moti lal Dhar ‘s residence during the marriage days . The family felt grateful for this act.

Coming close to Lakshmi, Shaam Rani kissed her forehead and said;

“ Bajaah Guss . Mooss Nerinukh ”

“ Let you prosper .Let this family flourish now  with your arrival. ”

 Though relations between Shaam Rani and Rupawati appeared to be good but some insiders knew it well that they were actually not so intimate and considerate to each other .  There was some bickering in this   relation on account of marriage of  Gaasha or  Shaam Rani’s son . Shaam Rani Believed that Rupawati had  been instrumental in  Conveying some adverse reports to the middle man ( Manzimyor ) about Gaasha  ( Shaam Rani’s son ) as a result of which his marriage   proposal  with a girl from a wealthy  family had  frittered away . Shaam Rani had lodged this complaint with her brother  Moti Lal as well but he had not dealt the issue on expected lines . He had neither rebuked his wife nor shown much desired  sympathy with his sister sham Rani. In the alternative he had told his sister;

“ Godda Vaenni Ni Tchein Baeykaakin   Yuuthh kenh .  Tche Vantum Gaasha  Chhuna Matric Pass . Tche kuthh Chhuth Tekini Leukhmut  B .A .   


“ First I don’t believe that your sister in law ( Moti lal ‘s wife ) will say so.   Isn’t Gaasha (   Shaam Rani’s  son ) a matriculate ?  Why have you written BA Pass  on the marriage proposal  document  ( Tekini or Tewadaa )?  

When  Sham Rani had  heard all  this from her own brother , she  had  turned  dumb. She had always  believed that   after the death of her parents , her link with her parental home was almost  severed by None except Tarawati  ( Her brother’s wife ). She believed that Tarawati had also changed  her brother’s behavior  Drastically .   Now  Moti Lal  openly  sided with his wife in any argument .But then she had only one brother . No choice but to remain tied  to this relation even  if it gave her perpetual  annoyance . 

Now Shaam Rani came closer and started inspection of lakshmi’s Jewellery .She touched her ear rings , her necklace and the golden Bangles . She also took her dangling Dejhurr ( A Special  Golden Ornament  worn by Kashmiri Pandit women as mangal-sutra )  in her hand as if to weigh it .  She inspected the Dejhurr carefully and then looked towards Rupawati . Her facial expressions conveyed some surprise. At this   point of time ,  Rupawati looked towards Lakshmi and said ;

“ Vothee Yemiss  Aunn  Chaai ."
" Now Get Up and prepare tea for Shaam Rani “

 Suddenly freeing herself from Shaam Rani , Lakshmi got up and went downstairs to prepare a cup of Tea  . Finding that Lakshmi had left the room , Shaam Rani turned to Rupawati and said

“ Kuth Henurruss Chhekh Phatmeuch . Kashirie gayeyaa kaah  garra ?Go'dda assi maa bhi chha gandan dohhus taam kenh Khabar.Khaa'r vaen guvv ruut  Magar  Me Chhu Basaan sorruy Chhu “Phoukka” . Myaani Noshi Haai Ous soruyii “Tokka” . Tche Hai chhuyi  Laal Potur . Saeba Laalus   hai banihay Kuss Khaandar . Lorri Pyaath Chhuhaai Soruff tormut ”


“ You have fallen  into filth and   garbage with  this marriage . Had Kashmir shrunk to just eleven households? But yes , we  knew nothing till you fixed up the engagement date. Now all is okay but I find All this Jewellery just hollow and Light weight  and meant for show off  only ( Phokka )  . My Daughter in law  had everything made of heavy and solid gold ( Tokka ) .  Your son Saeba Ji   is  a Jewel. He would have been married to a   girl from some wealthy and prosperous  family .  I believe you have been befooled and trapped.   

That made Rupawati pensive . She had nothing against lakshmi . But she also knew that Shaam Rani's observation was bound to disturb her position among her relations and neighbours.   She knew that now onwards   Sham Rani was not going to remain silent about what she  had  observed with regard to  the Ornaments  of the New  bride .

( Autar Mota) 


The story is set in Kashmir of 1970  when the old  practice of inspection of jewellery of a bride by  lady relations of her husband continued    to exist   in bits and pieces  in kashmiri Pandit society . Though the Practice of  Dowry demands were almost non existent or negligible in kashmiri Pandit society , yet the custom  of  inspection of jewellery  of a bride  by Ladies survived  till it died its own death . Curious women would put a common question to  the lady who inspected the jewellery first ;

“Kehaai Phokka Chhaa kina Tokka ?


“ Is it Just for show and light weight or Solid and heavy jewellery ? ”

  With the  spread of  education and exposure   , this practice vanished altogether   . 

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Wednesday, September 20, 2017





"Saal voan shatuss
sabh beeth batuss
vaaen pyom tcheitus
Graekki vizi noon..."

( Meaning  of the  Above Lines..  .About hundred guests were invited to the feast ; When the guests sat for the joint feast, it suddenly struck to me that we had not added salt to the dishes...)

Kashmiri use the line "Vaen Pyom tcheitus Graekki Vizi Noon" . It used to be a popular saying in kashmiri society. It means remembering something  at a very late stage when nothing can be done. In kashmiri language,Graekk or Graekki  literally means boiling.But in above lines it would be better to understand the word as peak time or when too many things are to be done and we are stressed with no time to attend to something that should have been already done .

(Autar Mota )

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Tuesday, September 19, 2017




Chaand toota pighal gaye taare
Qataraa qataraa tapak rahee hai raat,
Palkein Aankhon pe jhukati aatee hain,
Aankhadiyon mein khatak rahee hai raat,
Aaj chhedo na koyee afsaana,
Gul karo shama rakh do paimaana,
Keh do hai aaj bandh maikhaana,
Aaj ki raat hum ko soney do.........

(Kaifi Azmi)

My English rendering is like this.....

Broken is the moon and the stars too have melted down.
The night trickles on earth drop after drop,
Tired eye lids drop down effortlessly ,
Restless lies the night within my eyes ,
Love! Do not talk about
That tale of despair today !
Blow out the candle ,
Put down this wine cup,
Tell every one “ The Tavern is closed today ”
And Let me sleep tonight .

( Autar Mota )

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Monday, September 18, 2017




M F Hussain also wrote poems in Blank verse.Small poems written in a language of images , landscapes and colors.

I quote one such poem that I came across today..

The poem has been rendered to simple English by me.....


If only ,
Someone could pass on that
entire white sheet of snow from the sky,
That entire spotless white sheet,
Then only,
I Could cover the infinite gloom
Appearing on your face.
How can I decorate this gloom
with white flowers?

And listen,
The moment I start my painting,
Please hold the sky in your hands,
I still remain unfamiliar with the spread and dimensions of my canvas..

(Autar Mota)

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 Biju Patnaik was born in Cuttack  Orissa in 1916, into an aristocratic family.Apart from being a politician from Odisha , Biju Babu was an Aeronautical engineer, Navigator, Industrialist, A daring  pilot and a front line Freedom Fighter .Biju Babu had been a daring man right from his childhood. As a young college boy, he Bicycled all the way from Cuttack to Peshawar . Much before 1947, He had joined as a pilot in the Royal Air Force of British Empire.


On 24th July 1947 , At Pandit Nehru’s request ,Biju Babu airlifted and rescued Sultan Sariar Khan and Muhhamad Srihatta , two key Indonesian independence leaders from a remote hideout in Indonesia and flew them to India. He flew to Jakarta and Java under extremely dangerous conditions of Bombing and fight where his aircraft could have been shot down any moment. A specific request was made by Sukarno to Nehru for this Rescue Mission. The colonial Dutch were after his blood when they came to know about this rescue Mission . The Indonesians Named him “Bhumi Putra” and in 1996 Indonesian Government awarded the highest national award, the 'Bintang Jasa Utama'. In this rescue mission,Biju Babu was accompanied by his daring wife Gyanwati Sethi who was also a trained pilot.Gyan was a Punjabi girl from Lahore and she married Biju in 1939. 

                                                         ( Biju Babu and Gyan )

( Biju Babu and Gyan )

 Biju himself piloted the plane that carried his Barat( Wedding party ) to Lahore.

During second world war, Biju Patnaik and his wife Gyan played crucial role in air dropping medicines and supplies for soldiers and also evacuating Indians to safety from war ravaged  Burma.

During India’s Freedom struggle , Biju Babu gave shelter to Aruna Asif Ali In his Cuttack House when British Government declared a reward of 40 thousand rupees to capture Aruna Asaf Ali 

He was awarded “ ORDER OF LENIN “ By Russians for his commendable work in helping the Russians during 2nd world war against Hitler’s Army .


At Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru’s specific request , Biju Patnaik played a daring role in carrying first Batch of 17 Soldiers of Sikh Regiment to Srinagar at the crack of Dawn on 27 October 1947. It was rumoured that Tribals had already captured Srinagar Air Port and some daring Pilot was needed for the Specific mission of air dropping first Batch of Armed solders . That Day, He flew at a very low level to look around whether the enemy had already taken over the airport or not. He flew over Srinagar Airport for about 30 Minutes and once he was sure that the landing was safe , he landed his DC -3 Aircraft and hurried back to Capital to bring more soldiers . Pandit Ji had given very clear instructions not to land if he felt the presence of Pakistan sponsored Tribal raiders at Srinagar Air Port .

At that crucial time , Maharaja had suddenly left Srinagar and there was practically no administration. It was reported that the advancing Tribal raiders were approaching Srinagar city via two routes ; one Bandipora -safapora road and the other Pattan- Baramulla road . They had almost reached srinagar’s outskirts , The city had already plunged into total darkness with Raiders destroying Mohra Power house. Fear and panic prevailed all over . Volunteers from Men and women Militia marched through the street of Srinagar city , building confidence of the population terrified from reports about advancing Tribal Raiders . They Guarded Bridges , Roads and Vital Installations in the city . The First Indian Aircraft ( carrying Soldiers ) that Kashmiris saw flying over Srinagar city during those Turbulent days was piloted by Biju Patnaik.

Residents of Srinagar city heaved a sigh of relief once they saw all this. They had every reason to believe that the impending death and destruction in the city from the hands of marauding Raiders had been averted .

Mohhamad Sayeed Malik well known Journalist from J&K Informs me as under :

During the Emergency (1976) Biju Patnaik, against whom there was an arrest warrant along with other opposition leaders, stayed in Srinagar for nearly two weeks and my boss (at PATRIOT newspaper) Aruna Asaf Ali asked me to look after him. It appeared that Mrs Gandhi was not that keen in pursuing Biju's arrest warrant, probably because of her father's close association with him.
Arunaji called me to receive Patnaik at Srinagar airport and his accommodation had been booked at the then Oberoi Palace hotel. He was accompanied by his wife who was closely related to 'Sethis' of ND Radhakishen & Co (red colour Mail bus service).

 During that time I had taken long leave from PATRIOT to take up the contract job of State's Director Information and PR in Sheikh Saheb's govt. Sheikh Saheb willingly permitted me to 'give company' to Biju during his stay here. At times it necessitated joining the Patnaik's at dinner in their hotel. To keep company with Mrs Patnaik, Arunaji desired that my wife too joined me, as courtesy. So it became our daily duty to visit them late afternoon and my wife was not all too comfortable with her imposed role because of her own domestic preoccupation.
Probably, appreciating the value of time we were spending with them, Biju offered me to take local agency for his Kalinga Pipes in J&K. I politely declined saying business was not my cup of tea and that I would only make a mess of his company's market reputation. He just would not listen. He shoved Rs 1, 000 into pocket literally forcibly and suggested I start with this as my capital. I still owe that amount to him because he just would not accept the fact that I could be so foolish as to reject such a good offer.  Mrs Patnaik did visit Sethis during that time. On their return, Biju did call a few times to thanks us. But he saved me the embarrassment of again saying 'no' to his Kalinga Pipes offer.

Biju Patnaik is survived by daughter Gita Mehta (author of Karma Cola, Raj, Snakes & Ladders etc) and two sons-Prem and Naveen Patnaik. Naveen Patnaik happens to be the present CM of Odisha .

 And Biju Babu remains unknown and unsung…

( Autar Mota )


Gyanwati sethi was an ex student of Lahore’s prestigious, Kinnaird college  .  Originally her family  hailed from Raja Bazar area of Rawalpindi. Gyan was one of the first women in the undivided India to get a commercial pilot’s licence in 1937. She co-piloted with her husband and former Chief Minister of Orissa Biju Patnaik’s aircraft on several  trips around the world.


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Thursday, September 14, 2017


                                          ( Photo source ... The  Hindu Newspaper )

Stray Dogs under stress. Running away from nets.

Jammu Municipality launches drive to catch stray dogs with hand held nets. Saw yesterday Many safai karamcharis running after dogs with hand held nets.

What is to be done to dogs that get trapped ? Are these poor animals to be Sterilized ?

I am reminded of 1988 when something strange happened at Mattan town in Kashmir .
One Ramesh kumar  was posted in BDO's office and assigned to look after cleanliness of shops and eatables in Mattan Bazaar  . I don't remember his designation but we used to call him “ Ward Officer” .  Many friends told me that he was a sanitary inspector .He would be seen inside a milk seller's shop gulping curd Lassi free . Quite often this hospitality was extended to me and a common friend and engineer Mr  Bamzai.

Ramesh ji would also take home mutton free from Hassan butcher who had a shop just opposite our  branch .  Many times I would see him gossiping with the butcher .This butcher had a truck loan with our Bank branch which was irregular . I would keep visiting his shop for recovery and he would always show me some prescription or relate some problem as the reason for his default . He would conclude :
“ Ba dimma jaldhaai   Soruyii bamaai sood Hyaath “ or “ “ Very soon .I will repay all with up to date Interest. “
That “ very soon “ never saw the light of the day till I remained posted at Mattan  Branch of the bank .

There were lot of stray dogs in Mattan those days. Some residents had also been attacked by these dogs.  Accordingly , it was decided by BDO’s  office to end this dog menace and a contract was awarded to Hassan Butcher .This contract was secured by Hassan Butcher with active help and inside cooperation from Ramesh ji. Ramesh ji and Hassan butcher had  planned a novel and cheap  way to get rid of dogs. Hassan butcher stored mutton waste and bones etc from his shop for two / three days and then, as planned , he threw some pieces outside his shop . So many dogs collected  and busied themselves in the  devouring the liberal feast offered by Hassan butcher .At that moment ,  Hassan Butcher  brought his truck , opened the back side plank and made a ramp for  the dogs to walk in to the truck.. He then threw bones and mutton waste into the truck's back side. Both Ramesh ji ,Hassan butcher and another Employee from the BDO’s  office guided dogs to go into the truck with pieces if mutton being flung inside . When sufficient number of dogs were enjoying the mutton and bone pieces in the truck, the scheming contractor and his helpers closed the back of the truck and carried the dogs to Sangam Bridge Bijbihara ( about 20 kms ) and let them jump out. The exercise was repeated. People heaved a sigh of relief as no dog was seen on  that Saturday in Mattan Bazaar .

Since it  was Saturday and we closed the Bank at 2 PM and I would invariably   rush to my family at srinagar . That Saturday , Ramesh ji and his friends stayed back for a grand party from earnings of this dog contract that had been executed almost free by Hassan Butcher.

 When I  resumed on Monday morning I  found a  noisy crowd outside Hassan Butcher's shop. I  also came to know that Ramesh ji had already been given a good thrashing by National Conference Leader Mustafa Bodha and his nephews in main Bazaar of Mattan. Dogs had enjoyed all the mutton and bones  from Hassan butcher’s shop  but had   walked back to Mattan town from Bijbihara on Sunday . On Monday , They were roaming as usual in Mattan town.

( Autar Mota)

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