Does Man wear religion like a cloak to differentiate his ‘tribe’ from the other??

29 Jul

Man is essentially a territorial tribal ‘creature’. The homosapien owed its allegiance to a tribe as a cave dwelling Neanderthal that hunted in packs thus it formed a ‘kinship’ with its tribe which allowed them to protect their territory(essentially their ‘bread basket’). Any human belonging to another tribe was seen as the enemy for it was the ‘other’ that encroached upon your territory hence was seen as competition to be combated. To distinguish yourself as different to other tribes whilst identifying yourself with own tribe, specific body markings/style of hair/style of attire was adopted and initiation cemented by rituals. Through the ages in order to help ward away ‘evil spirits’ (a word for any illness which man could not explain otherwise eg Smallpox, Epilepsy, Mental illness etc), rituals and sacrifice to the spirits were adopted on the say so of learned tribal elders…..the pagan rituals were extended to offering your tribe protection against ‘evil’ tribes helping you to defeat them. These pagan rituals and sacrifices also were Man’s way of dealing with natural calamities such as earthquakes, volcanoes or hurricanes over which it had no control, same applied to unusual phenomenon emanating from the skies such as a total or a partial eclipse..a strict list of “do’s and do not’s” came in to existence as the only way of dealing with these ‘unnatural’ events shrouded in mystery………..village society looked up to the village elders or wisemen who had a lot of sway…these wise men would further reinforce the “do and don’t” list adding their own contribution to it!(sounds familiar hey!)

What does this have to do with religion you may ask? Whilst genetic evolution over the many millennia has allowed man to adopt modern ways of living through progress in Science & Industrial revolution, our primordial instincts still make us “tribal” in nature……as the mystics/witch doctors in tribal society gained a special status as the ‘enlightened ones'(akin to having the crystal ball). The common uneducated folk in an effort to find cures for their loved ones clutched at straws’ and turned to the ‘mystics’ giving them an elevated social status. As Man progressed from a hunter gatherer in the jungles to a farmer/fisherman in settled village communities, the Sun and Rain(Water) Gods became very important to their livelihood…the wandering mystics offered special prayers/rituals for good harvest and protecting crops from devastation by rain/wind/locusts etc By this time the communities that had emerged from distinctive tribes had started worshiping essentially similar Gods dedicated to Earth, Fire and Water..this manifested itself as worshiping the ‘life giving elements’ such as Sun, Earth(Mother Nature) and Water….thus the first semi ‘organised’ religion emerged gradually some 5000+years ago and as the earliest religion it is not surprising that it heavily dwelt upon ritualistic worship, many Gods(Or Many facets of the 3 primal forces), as science was in its infancy, it placed a greater emphasis on warding of evil spirits and through the ‘contribution’ of mystics over the centuries it became riddled with superstitions (add ons to the “Do and Don’t list)….although this religion was led by the ‘privileged class’ Brahmins who had the privilege of being literate in Sanskrit, one of the earliest written classical languages……but the religion was not organised under one figure head as later religions became…..thus it was a bit like a “buffet” where you could pick and choose to follow only one or two of the many “Gods” or a spiritual Guru’s whilst ignoring a whole host of other rituals or deities and still … essence it allowed the freedom to be more or less religious as you see fit….and for many it was more a case of being spiritual with the added baggage of rituals that marked birth, marriage, death and moksha. The later religions were more organised having a “Head of Religious order” steering his flock….and a set of do’s and don’ts,(many of them added by followers long after the messiah’s had left the departure lounge). This also applies to the youngest religion, the Sikh Guru’s as the head of the ‘new theological order’ gave guidance on leading a spiritual life without enemity, devoid of the ritualistic baggage that had been added to the ‘gospel’ of earlier Maharishi’s…..but humans being primordially tribal in nature have already started to “add to the list of do’s and don’ts” in order to preserve their tribal identity as they see it……considering this religion is only half a millenium old, is it any wonder that hinduism that has been around for five millenia plus gathered some “moss”(read “add ons”) ……alas will Sikhism resemble Guru Nanak’s teachings in 5+millenia? Well for sure, those that understand the spiritual message whilst disregarding the “add on’s” will carry on heeding the teachings of humanity for essentially that is what SGGSji embodies…but for those who through the generations become more obsessed with the “add on’s” to the extent they are ready to” throw the baby out with the bath water” would call themselves true believers without realising they have become more obsessed with the “wrapping” the holy book was delivered in than the teaching of a common human brotherhood contained within it! It is a great shame that this primordial tribal instinct steers Man to adopt religion like a ‘cloak’ as a means of a differential identity…it then develops into a narcissistic behaviour where He believes his adopted “cloak” to be superior than those around him…next step then becomes to overtly or covertly (depending on self interest) denigrating other ‘cloaks’ as inferior or without the holy merit ordained in your own ‘cloak’…..Yep Man is tribal and the dumbest amongst us carries his religion like a Tribal ‘Cloak’……which He reckons is the only righteous cloak to be worn whilst all others are wearing the ‘fools cloak’ or worst still the ‘devils cloak’ …….GOD must be a little peeved that despite dispatching messiah after messiah to go have a word with the earthlings… sooner has the messiah’s returned….the primitive Neanderthal gene kicks in and Man is doing what he does best…..twisting the words of the messiah and adding his own “Add on’s” in the form of “Do’s and Don’ts”!
Now to bring this full circle from where i started, the modern urban Man of the 21st century living here besides me in the UK is less religious in theological terms but that primitive tribal instinct has not left all of us… the modern urban setting he may have shed off the ‘cloak of religion’ but has adopted his football club as his new tribe, some have rebelled against society and adopted lifestyle as a Punk, or MotorbikeRockers etc as their new tribe! Those people of faith, any faith, that do not allow them selves to be blinkered by the “add on’s” don’t have a conflict with those of another faith around them……for they can see through the “tribal” facade……..erected like scaffolding around a building……the beauty of which they are able to decipher whether they be sikh, hindu, muslim, christian , Jew or buddhist…GOD ain’t interested in your religion …God is only concerned with your deeds! No, religion is not needed to perform good deeds………Philosophers of conscience have attempted to focus people around being good human beings they Nanak or Jesus..but time ‘n again humans have been found wanting!

Some strategic rethinking required by Pakistan in light of Peshawar School attack

17 Dec

Having listened to a revealing @BBCasiannetwork interview with former head of #ISI LtGen Asad Durrani in light of the barbaric attack by Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) on a Peshawar Military Public School, i had to pen my thoughts. Former head of ISI in 1990s LtGen Asad Durrani seemed to accept the basic accusation and did not make any attempt to deny that ISI may indeed have aided/abetted/funded the Taliban (+othr Jihadi networks) not just in the 1980s(when it was done with full US backing against Russian occupying forces in the region),but implication is that it may have done so recently over the last decade, well after USA stance on Taliban/Mujahideen had turned full circle from being an ally against Russia to being an enemy offering Al-Qaeeda a base to train & attack western interests in less than two decades. Pakistan establishment became a target for TTP when Musharaf was caught between a rock and a hard place after Bush turned around post 9/11 and said you’re either WITH US or AGAINST US…Musharaf was astute enough to know which side of his chapatti is buttered, so he allowed US drones access to bomb regions in NWFP where Afghan Taliban were re- grouping helped by TTP. The Pashtun have a concept of revenge when one child in their village is killed, that village becomes dutibound to take revenge and their enemity against perpetrator lasts 3 generations…thus the guns were turned against their former aider/abetter>The Pakistan authorities…this enemity will not disappear overnight…the callous act of killing masoom little kids has provoked even those Pakistani Taliban sympathisers who hitherto had some sympathy for the Tribal Pashtuns in that they wrongly believed propaganda by the west was invented(even Malala has become an icon of western propaganda in their eyes) to unfairly malign what were otherwise brave orthodox muslim tribals defending their home territory & ‘islamic way of life’ against outsiders whom they see as infidel invaders. Finally the ‘wood for the trees’ is clear for all to see…some refused to condemn Taliban stance on female education seeing it as unwanted external interference..these would be the same apologists who stayed quiet when centuries old Buddha Statues of Bamiyan carved into the hillside were destroyed by Taliban in 90s…they even stayed quiet when Taliban imposed Zizya(Infidel Tax) on non-muslims in Afghanistan….their sympathisers remained silent when TTP anounced their mission to forcibly convert the #Kailash tribals who have co-existed peacefully in the picturesque chitral valley for centuries, the sympathisers were dumbstruck when TTP turned on the #Ismaili followers of AghaKhan this year to convert or face their wrath.. finally these Pakistani Taliban sympathisers were mute when POLIO vaccine aid workers were being killed in open daylight by TTP because they prefered to believe the Talibani Mullahs who convinced these muffins that foreigners are vaccinating Pashtun kids to make them sterile in an effort to finish off their ‘tribe’! Yep these were the same Taliban Mullah’s who saw any form of music as unholy punishable by Allah….but all this was not enough for some to “see the wood for the trees” (i can only hazard a guess that these sympathies stemmed from an ill conceived allegiance of ‘brotherhood’ simply because the Taliban with all their anomalies prayed to the same God by the same name hence by definition these guys ‘can’t all that bad can they?’ attitude must have fogged the minds of even god fearing people with one iota of compassion for humankind) …IT TOOK A PHENOMENALLY CATASTROPHIC AND CALLOUS ACT for some to realise this TALIBAN sort of MENTALITY aint so HOLY after all because it goes as far as killing defenseless children of fellow Pakistani’s many of whom supported them until recent times! I rest my piece. (nb; Those Pakistanis who in their patriotic zeal hold the #ISI to be their saviour from external threats to the nation need to ask themselves and their government some probing questions and reappraise critically whether ISI backing for terrorist organisations has made Pakistani citizens safer or more at risk of being target of terrorism for there needs to be a top-down rethink through the ranks whether its right for ISI to support/aid/abet/fund the likes of #HaqqaniNetwork and all those other terrorist outfits who are no different to TTP in so many ways. To my mind the workings of the ISI backed by military high command are a self fulfilling prophecy that works in the best interest of a select group of people within Pakistan that have their hand firmly on the stearing)

Will Somnath Bharti’s ‘Khirki incident’ be what ‘Plebgate’ was for Andrew Mitchell?

27 Jan

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Lady Godiva & Peeping Tom

22 Dec

Some of you no doubt will know the much fabled story about Lady Godiva the wife of the Earl of Mercia an 11th century landlord who rode naked on horseback(NOT the EARL thankGod but his nice lovely looking wife) through the streets of the city of my birth Coventry where I still reside more than half a century later.
The legend or should we say ‘myth’ as it is disputed by many, goes back to the time when her husband imposed harsh taxes upon his tenants for whom Lady Godiva had a soft spot.

Here is the historical version of how, why & what happened in a nutshell as explained in that online encyclopedia:
“According to the typical version of the story,[18][19] Lady Godiva took pity on the people of Coventry, who were suffering grievously under her husband’s oppressive taxation. Lady Godiva appealed again and again to her husband, who obstinately refused to remit the tolls. At last, weary of her entreaties, he said he would grant her request if she would strip naked and ride through the streets of the town. Lady Godiva took him at his word and, after issuing a proclamation that all persons should stay indoors and shut their windows, she rode through the town, clothed only in her long hair. Just one person in the town, a tailor ever afterwards known as Peeping Tom, disobeyed her proclamation in one of the most famous instances of voyeurism.[20] In the story, Tom bores a hole in his shutters so that he might see Godiva pass, and is struck blind.[21] In the end, Godiva’s husband keeps his word and abolishes the onerous taxes.”
peeping tom
Now you might ask what brings me to this story?

Well, as I could not bare to watch India turn what should have been a victory in a test match against South Africa where we (India who else?) were about to concede defeat despite having a 2nd innings lead of 457 runs in a cricket match, I chose to get up and wander off to my local ‘watering hole’ named “The Peeping Tom”. Well I’m relieved to tell you that the match ended in a draw whilst I was nourishing my grey matter with endorphins provided by mother nature from hops and living yeast cells! (Yeah I’m talking about the amber nectar)
lady godiva tweet
It is in this ‘higher level’ of conscientiousness that I remembered an episode that went back 42 years! Hence my tweet earlier:

There I was as on the verge of my teens, listening in to a conversation in India between my mum(who had returned after a decade in UK) & my grandmother (Daaddiji), which went something like this:

(Oh before I jump into my recollection of the conversation, please bare in mind my paternal grandmother had never stepped foot outside India in an age where there was no TV etc, so her perception of the ‘British way of life’ was what imagination had built up from the ‘exemplary’ conduct of memsahibs in the days of the Raj!)

So here’s my recollection whilst I chewed away at a Gunnah (Sugar Cane) sat on a Muda (lovely Punjabi word for a stool):

Mum: “Gorrey (a polite word for fair skinned i.e. British whites) apne asoola de badde pakke aa”(The Brits stick by their principles”)

Daaddiji: “Achaa oh kidda…” (“How come…”)

Mum:”Sadde shehr vich ek rajah di timmi ne usnu janta de khilaaf tax laun toh rokyaa par oh mann da nai si” (“in our city [i.e.Coventry] the wife of a “maharajah”[i.e. Earl] asked him to lift the harsh taxes upon his tenants but he would not agree”)

Daaddiji: “Achaa phir ki hoya” (“Ok so what happened?”)

Mum: “Ohdi timmi kendi je tu awaam te tax hatayaa naa tah meh saare mohalle wich Nangi hoke GoddSawaar galliyaan wich gumoon gi” (“His wife said if you don’t lift the taxes I will ride naked through streets of Coventry on horseback in protest”)

Daaddiji: “Hai hai ni meh marjawaa….ehda kidda ho sakda…rajahe di timmi nu nangi hone toh sharm nai aai….meh ni mann di kidda hoh sakdaa..huh….kaun karda ehda kittey” (“Blow me down Betty….How could that happen…You taken me for a fool or something..”)

Mum: “Nai Mattaji sachi kahaani aa………ehdai hoya si” (“No mum(inLaw) its true..thats how it happened”)

Daaddiji: “Rajey ne nai rokyaa oh Randi nu….” (“Didn’t the Earl stop that “loose Woman”)

Mum: “Raja kehnda …achaa je tu karke dekhaaywe ..tah meh tehnu mann jawaa….pakki shart” (“The Earl said if you do ride naked thru streets of Coventry I will honour my pledge to lift the taxes”)

Daaddiji: “Hai hai ni… kidda de raje raaniyaa si…..oh bilkul nangi si ohne kuch bi nai si paiyaa” (“What sort of ‘Kings’ & ‘Queens’ were they then….to let her ride naked…was she wearing nout”)

Mum: “Sadde shehr de saare lokaan ne apn darwaaze band kar laye si…kisse ne bhi nangi raani walnu jaak ke nahi dekhyaa” (“The residents of Coventry shut their curtains and no one dare to look at their ‘queen’ in her nakedness”)

Daaddiji: “Leh eh kidda ho sakda….kisse ne bhi nai jaak ke dekhyaa…”(“How come no one peeped at her?”)

Mum: ” Haan ek bande ne dekhyaa si ….oh annaa ho geyaa si” (“One person did peep at her…and he went blind”)

Daadiji: ” Ni tu tah menu bewakoof banaundi aa” (“You expect me to belive that?”)

What can I say……….this memory stuck in my mind…one of those rare ‘Mother-in-law vs Daughter-in-law” dialogues that remind us that Kids are never as young and aloof as you think…… careful what you discuss infront of your 12yr old!!

Now, I must bring this up to date and ask you folks… you believe the Lady Godiva Story? I suspect most of you like me could comprehend a noble lady baring her bossom ..but to expect ONLY ONE PEEPING TOM LOOKED THRU THE KEYHOLE….now that defies the law of MANkind! Here is what is more likely to have happened as that famous comedian Benny Hill re-enacts for us in a comical sketch:


What is in a name?

21 May

It was in late September 1970, when my father finally decided to ‘pack his bags’ and return to his large extended family in India that he had left behind in Punjab more than a decade previously. He would be carrying back a little more ‘baggage’ than he had come to the UK with in early 1950’s when he stepped off the aeroplane at Heathrow with little more than a suitcase and a few rupees in his pocket.

Mum & Dad newly married

Mum & Dad newly married in their teens

He would be returning with mum and us five siblings (all but my eldest sister born here in the UK), plus whatever belongings he could take with him having sold his regency house in Royal Leamington Spa, having given away most of the furniture to friends and relatives. Many of my earlier memories are tied up in that house right in the centre of this Victorian town in the heart of England where my dad had accommodated a whole succession of families as they first arrived in the country. There was no Gurdwara (or Sikh temple) in L/Spa in those early days, so a family relative known as Giani uncle had conducted more than one marriage in our house including my own chachaji’s (fathers younger brother).

Having come from a large farming family in a typical Punjab village Musapur in Nawanshehr district (Now named Bhagat Singh Nagar),

1972 Dad with Brothers on Farm in Bazpur

1972 Dad with Brothers on Farm in Bazpur

my father had been persuaded to make a life for himself in England by my Nanaji (maternal grandfather) who had been one of the very first Punjabi settlers in Coventry in early 1950’s. My Nanaji had himself spent several years in Argentina before setting up home in Coventry,England. He was soon followed by many of his nephews and other pendu’s (fellow villagers) from his village Littraan (Nakodar,Punjab) later joined by my Dad & other pendu’s from Musapur village.

Dad soon after arriving in UK without a turban

Dad soon after arriving in UK mid 1950’s

Dad without his long hair & turban soon after arriving in UK

Dad late 1950s

Dad(left) with fellow Pendus(villagers) in Coventry

Dad(left) with fellow Pendus(villagers) in Coventry

Working in Courtaulds textile and chemical factory, father had made Coventry his home until he moved to Leamington Spa after getting a job with Midland Red Bus Company.

Dad in Midland Red Bus Uniform

Dad in Midland Red Bus Uniform

Although he had a close knit circle of family and friends around him, nevertheless he still missed his six brothers, one sister and parents that he had left behind in India, so much so that he would work extra overtime and accumulate as much holiday entitlement as he could so that he could spend a few weeks with his family in India every year.

Dad with Brother, Nephew & Puaji

Dad with Brother, Nephew & Puaji

He had seen his younger brothers get married one by one, so the family grew larger each time he returned, with nephews & nieces adding to the list year on year.

Dad at Heathrow 1963

Dad at Heathrow 1963

One of Dad’s younger brothers, my Chachaji joined us later in late 60s.

Pittaji (my paternal grandfather) had retired from the army and had sent my eldest tayaji (fathers eldest brother) to U.P. (Uttar Pradesh) to start farming on newly acquired land amongst jungle country around the small town of Bazpur at the base of Nainital hill district at a time when few farming families had ventured outside Punjab to farm in other parts of the country. In 50’s, the Indian government had settled post-partition refugees originally from West Punjab(now in Pakistan) and from Bangladesh(then East Pakistan) in the Terai region of Uttar Pradesh bordering the Himalayan foothills & Nepal. Most settlers from West Punjab had been land owning Sikh farmers hence they were allotted land smallholdings in this district which would in time become as productive agriculturally as the lands left behind, especially with abundance of underground water & rich fertile land due to the climate at the base of the foothills.

Grandfather in the British Army

Grandfather in the British Army

My tayaji would tell us the story about how when he first arrived in U.P. as a newly married person, tigers roamed the jungle freely.  All of Dad’s family soon shifted to their new home in Terai region of UP, a fertile belt on the plains below the Kumaon range of the Himalayan foothills.

Punian Family Military Service World War Medals

Punian Family Military Service World War Medals

Midland Red Bus Crew 1982

Midland Red Bus Crew 1982

If his decision to move back to his country of birth was unusual in so far as it was swimming against the tide which was flowing in the other direction with mass immigration in to post war Britain, his chosen mode of transport to return was even more daring, he had decided to fulfill his ambition of travelling by road thus visiting several countries spread over two continents. One day, whilst I was watching a newly converted DVD copy of an old super8 projector cine film of that very day when we had set off in a German Commer Van all those years back, I asked him “Daddiji, why did you choose to travel by road?”, he told me “Six of us fellow drinkers in a pub one evening had decided we will head back together in a convoy by road back to India later in the year“. So naturally I questioned him, “How come only you headed back with your family” his reply “One by one they dropped out of the plan, but I was adamant that is what I was going to do so I put my house up for sale and sold my Car and bought a camper van instead“. Knowing my mum and dad I realised the true sacrifice to allow him to uproot once again must have been made by my mum who had brought up five children in a place that had become home.

Dad Mataji tayaji

Dad Mataji tayaji

The plan had been made by dad to send my three elder siblings by air earlier in the year so they could commence their convent school education at the christian missionary boarding schools in the picturesque hillstation of Nainital (lake district) to join their cousins already studying there. As a seven year old I can vividly remember the day we waived my older brother and sisters goodbye at Heathrow through the wide gallery window overlooking the departure lounge as they disappeared out of our view, i caught a side glance of mum standing to my right with tears rolling down her cheeks. It was then I realised the courageous person she was to allow dad to send her three young children 9yr to 14yr unaccompanied on an aeroplane to a country they had never been to and an extended family they had never met!  Suffice it to say that they were going to be received and welcomed with open arms and lots and lots of love not only from their grandparents but also from their extended family, particularly tayaji who would become like a father figure to all of us, so much so that after passing away of the grandparents tayaji would be the glue which held the family together through his equal love and affection for all of us and our cousins that numbered in the dozens.

So in November 1970, the day had cometh when we would bid farewell to friends and relatives gathered around to see us off from uncle’s house in Warwick. Dad had installed a port-a-loo in the van, seats had been removed to form a double bed at the rear, I and my younger brother aged five would sleep on the bench seats, it was cosy and functional. Mum had packed what ever grocery rations she could as well as a paraffin operated portable stove for cooking. What was left of our belongings was tied to the roof rack covered in tarpaulin! So finally, we waived good bye to leave behind the only friends & relatives we had known, and departed for dover for ferry crossing to Belgium and beyond.

Dad had signed up as a member of AA who had been very helpful in providing a detailed route map of the journey. Wisely, dad had got himself a firearm license and purchased a pistol for security, but it added to the paperwork of which their was plenty to keep in order for smooth transition through land borders across western Europe, Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan finally crossing in to India. The final leg of the route through Pakistan would require alteration as we discovered before disembarking due to a build up of hostilities between the neighbouring countries leading to eventual war.

I have many memories of the four week journey which I hope to share with you in a separate blog, but I now turn to the incident which occurred en-route thus giving the title to this blog. The van provided a safe haven and for the best part of the journey it did not give dad (the only driver as mum could not drive in those days or even now for that matter) any trouble. However, the inevitable happened, it broke down somewhere in the border region between what was then Yugoslavia and Bulgaria (unfortunately I do not know which side of the border this happened and cannot ask dad as he left us for heavenly abode three and a half years ago). Dad managed to locate a public phone nearby but knowing that English was not widely spoken in these parts he glanced through the pages of the phone directory and located a Dr Singh. The tenth Guru of the Sikhs had ordained all followers of the religion to adopt the surname Singh for men, (means lion) or Kaur for women ( means princess) and follow the 5 K’s (the five symbols of the Khalsa Panth beginning with letter K: Kesh(Uncut Hair), Kanga(Comb), Kachchaa(a loose undergarment), Karra (Steel bangle) and Kirpan (Sword). The tenth and last guru of the Sikhs in the human manifestation had given this command so that a Khalsa (a baptised Sikh) would be visible from a far as one of the ‘Warrior Saint’ panth(religious order of purity). Now, dad himself was a Sikh, and a turban wearing Sikh just like his father and brothers, when he left India for England, however he had cut his hair soon after arriving to blend in and make himself less ‘conspicuous’ in an effort to avoid facing prejudice in finding a job etc. He phoned the number and the voice at the other end was pleasantly surprised to hear a fellow Punjabi, “Wait where you are and I will be there shortly” came the reply from Dr Singh. Suffice it to say he was only too pleased to help a fellow Sikh get back on the road.

It is ironic that dad had cut his hair to make himself look less conspicuous and blend in to a sea of people in his adopted home in England, yet it was the conspicuousness installed upon Sikhs by the tenth Guru Govind Singh that makes the Sikh stand out in a crowd, by sight (uncut hair, beard, turban) and by name ‘Singh’ in a sea of names. It was only some years later dad told us that on his first return flight from UK to India, on meeting him at the airport at Delhi our grandfather refused to speak to him because he was saddened to see my dad had cut his hair, thus no longer wore a turban.

Dad & his brothers, us & cousins in Corbett Tiger Reserve lodge

Dad & his brothers, us & cousins in Corbett Tiger Reserve lodge

The last leg of our 1970 road journey home was onboard a cargo ship from Basra (Iraq), where the van was lifted by way of a crane in to the cargo hold. The ship would dock in the port of Karachi but we could not disembark due to escalation in hostilities between Pakistan & India, thus we had to bribe workers to bring fresh food onboard until we were given clearance to sail three days later.

Dad & grandson with family in Corbett Tiger Reserve

Dad & grandson with family in Corbett Tiger Reserve

Four weeks after departing from England, it was in Bombay, on 24th October 1970 we finally met our granparents who had travelled from U.P. by train to receive us at the sea port. It took three further days of quibbling with customs and bribing a few of them to secure release of our goods including van, sewing machine, revolver, cine camera, projector etc. After a couple of days, we finally arrived late at night at our farm in Bazpur, to be greeted by our new family of tayaji’s and tayiji’s, chachaji’s and chachiji’s, as well as several cousins who would become our brothers and sisters in this new wonderful family in a corner of what is now known as Udham Singh Nagar district (Punjabi’s have made the terai region their home from home, it is bustling green fertile farming area) in Uttarakhand state carved out of U.P. My recollection of those first few days includes those joyous congregations in our verandah where surrounding villagers would also gather to watch the hilarious black and white silent projector movies of Laurel & Hardy and Charlie Chaplin, which Dad bought enroute from West Germany along with the Super8 Cine Camera/Projector. The van or should I say the shell that is body of the van still lies in a corner of the farm yard to this day.

Just like every Punjabi from Punjab longs to return to their village in Punjab, our childhood was spent in Bazpur and our Schooling was in Bazpour/Nainital that is our home away from home. In the school holidays, we would look forward to the 12 hour drive due west to Punjab where we would spend happy times with our Naanke (maternal grandparents & family) in Nakodar.

There are many memories of the epic road journey across the plains of Europe and Asia, few would dare to take nowadays especially with a young family.

Suffice, it to say, we returned to England five years later in time for our secondary/higher education in England followed by my siblings( Alumni All Saints School/Colledge Nainital, Col. Brown School Dehradun, Bishops Cotton School Shimla, St. Bede’s Colledge Shimla) the following year in time for their A’Levels/Degree For mum and dad it meant setting up home all over again, but there is no regret, for we gained more than we lost. We gained the love and affection of our extended family and knowledge about our beautiful country of origin and its varied cultures, traditions, languages and people, basically it added another dimension to our lives. We siblings graduated and followed our professional careers in England/Canada but there is a corner of our hearts which is forever in Bazpur, just like our dad did before us we return to see our cousins and each time the family is ever bigger with new additions…..most of our cousins continue farming the land and many of their children attend the schools we did a generation before.

Thanks dad. RIP
Twitter @Singh_Mo