New Delhi Tit Bits

By Rajiv Sharma in New Delhi

Wedding Blues

Film industry is a bizarre world: no body is a permanent friend or a
permanent foe. Relationships keep changing with time; people forget old
time. The Aish-Abhishek wedding has put Amitabh Bachchan in a spot. Tinsel
town bigwigs are upset over not being invited to the wedding. The gift of
sweets boxes to such legendary folks only rubbed salt over the hurt egos.
Those who were all fire and brimstone after receiving the gift are such high
and mighty: Dileep Kumar, Shatrughan Sinha, Dharmendra, Rani Mukharjee,
Sushmita Sen etc. Let’s recall their pride of place: The Amitabh-Dharmendra
pair of Sholey is a major Bollywood milestone, Dostana (with Sharu) is a
famous big screen example of how friends do remain friends in the end, Black
has seen Big-B beating all in showering best of praises on Rani Mukherjee;
and poor Sushmita calls Abishek her brother.
The uninvited to the wedding, Dileep Kumar is a living legend; and Rajesh
Khanna, the unforgettable of Amitabh’s fist hit Anand, remained grossly
unwanted in the wedding.
So, why did Amitabh behave like this? There has been no clear answer. What
appears is that Amitabh has become too superstitious in the company of
politician Amar Singh, and that he must have finalized the list of invites
at the instance of astrologers. The uninvited also include those who have,
in some way, nursed a few grudges against Big-B.

Mayawati is back

Mayawati has finally got back the throne of Uttar Pradesh. This has driven
many to wild political surmises: could the woman rise even further to become
prime minister. The blue flag of Bahujan Samaj Party has carved a niche for
itself on the country’s political firmament. The BSP goes about its business
of championing the cause of the low-caste based on the principles of Bhimrao
Ambedkar. The party’s founder Kanshi Ram recently died after prolonged
illness. Thus Mayawati assumed the leadership as a part of Kanshi Ram’s
The fifty-something Mayawati is a law graduate, and is a very aggressive and
sharp politician. I have met her a number of times at her New Delhi
residence. She is always dressed in a simple suit. I have observed many
qualities in her during my interviews. First, she has on her finger tips all
the old and new political equations. Second is her bitter tongue. When she
goes after a big leader, her language is undiluted, without restraint. This
election, she turned the caste calculations on their head — quite
literally. This time, she went beyond her party’s traditional line of
hankering only after the Dalit votes and fielded 92 candidates belonging to
the upper castes, which included Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Kayasthas, Banias and
the privileged among the lower castes. Notwithstanding the bitter
mud-slinging, she successfully turned caste combinations in her favour. The
BSP slogans, this time, were far less bitter. Take a look: in previous
elections the most prominent slogan was: Tilak taraju aur talwar,inko maro
joote chaar (bash up the upper castes). This time, it was chadh gundo ki
chchati par, mohar lagao Haathi par (ride the chests of the goons, vote for
BSP). This way she echoed the widely perceived impression of the ruling
Samajwadi Party of Mulayam Singh Yadav that only criminals had benefited
under his dispensation. She convincingly told the upper castes that if they
cared for the BSP, the party would care for them. The result was obvious:
The Dalits voted for her en bloc, the Muslims felt she was best suited
against their bete noir, Bharatiya Janata Party, and the upper castes
shifted their loyalty on the basis of representation they got in the party.
The rise of Mayawati is thus nothing less than a revolution that has boggled
her political adversaries.

Travel Free!

A magnum opus can be attempted on the government facilities in India. I
bumped into a seventy-year-old man, who asked me the way to the Supreme
Court. I got to know that he was a lawyer by profession and had come to
Delhi from Bihar. As we struck up a conversation, I noticed a very old woman
sitting in a bench near us. The lady sat straight and appeared quite active,
but was toothless. Perhaps I had not seen such an old, active woman. Out of
curiosity, I asked him about the woman. He told me that she was her mother
and that she was 105 years old. The old lawyer spoke with pride to tell me
that the woman had been a freedom fighter. The Railways has granted her a
pass that allows her to travel free in any part of the country in an
air-conditioned coach. Plus, a caretaker too can accompany her for free. The
lawyer told me that whenever he had to go out of his town in Bihar, he tags
her mother along. What a way to travel free!

Presious Dada

Computer has arrived everywhere. There is hardly ay work that does not take
help of the computer. Clothes and jewelry are being designed on the
computer. A human hand is limited to the mouse. But what I am about to say
is something different.
Who doesn’t know Sant Kabeer. It is believed that Kaber continued till his
end his weaving profession even after attaining enlightenment. The clothes
woven by him were not very eye-catching: he was always in a state of eternal
bliss, but whatever he wove, was sold. For, the people believed that the
clothes he wove carried his divine power.
I know a very old jeweler living in Old Delhi. He is a Bengali. Everyone
calls him Dada. In his youth in Calcutta during the British raj, he learnt
the art from Englishmen. He uses the same old instruments and lives in a
small room with his work table. A famous jeweler has got the right on the
jewelry that Dada makes with his masterstrokes. Dada gets paid for this –
with a string attached: he cannot work for anybody else. This famous jeweler
exports the pieces that Dada makes. In return, Dada has got his small room
and a paltry sum. Dada specializes not only in small ornaments but also in
creating various shapes in gold– elephants, horses, canons and any
decorative piece.
His fame has been recorded in many video films. But he believes in his work
alone. Dada’s family includes his wife and a 30-year-old daughter, who is
well educated. Perhaps shortage of money has not so allowed Dada to marry
her off. Dada has had no time to spare: a normal gold ring would take at
least a month from him. It is said, a jeweler’s art is often judged by his
skill to embed a precious stone into a gold ring. Without applying a cut or
a stitch, this wok is too difficult and time-consuming, which others have
stopped doing. The work that Dada does makes a precious stone so firmly
fixed that the ring may get rubbed off with time, but the stone stays in its
original place.
Source: South Asia Times (May 2007)

One comment on “New Delhi Tit Bits

  1. shrimpy says:

    I never thought I would be commenting on spelling, but this correction is desperately needed for a non-fat-fingered-typo:

    “New Delhi Tidbits”

    On another note, congratulations on a fantastic site revamp, here’s hoping for some lively community commentary on your articles.

    - Shrimpy at