Some Old Memories

TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 21 Nov 2022

Dr. Ravi P. Bhatia – TRANSCEND Media Service

I have been living in Delhi for decades now. I lived in a Lumsden Square in the city when I was about 7 or 8 years old. The accommodation composed of a room and a toilet on the rear boundary of the house. At that time I did not know who Lumsden was. Subsequently we were informed that he was a senior British civilian who ruled over India. British Colonialism in India occurred for 200 years which ended only in 1947.

One advantage of the house my mother rented was that it was near my school as well as near Birla Mandir which had built beautiful idols of Hindu Gods and Goddesses — Ram, Sita, Hanuman, Lord Krishna, Goddesses Durga, Parvati, etc. in the temple (Mandir). There was also a huge playground for children to enjoy themselves by swinging on a jhoola. There was also a contraption — a bull made of concrete and iron rods. The bull was constructed in a manner that a child could enter it through its mouth and disappear from view till stepped out of the bull’s rear end.

After a few years living near Birla Mandir, my mother moved us all to a rented place in Karol Bagh locality. A large park named Ajmal Khan Park used to be the place where children could play games and swing on the Jhoola. Who was Ajmal Khan? Many years later I found that he was a  physician who treated patients with Homeopathic medicine. He had died about 25 years ago.

Hardhyan Singh Road in Karol Bagh area of Delhi was named after a well known Lyricist and singer of popular songs especially devoted to singing about well known politicians including Indira Gandhi — daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru. Like Nehru, Indira also later became the Prime Minister of India.

My mother kept moving from one locality to another and from one home to another, depending on the schools she was teaching or the tuitions she used to give to small children. One interesting place was on Hardhyan Singh Road itself on a street called Naiwala Gali.

Our home was on first floor of a home that had Moslem architecture as even a novice could see. It must have been a home for Moslems who may have been forced to leave for the new country Pakistan. Now, it was occupied by an elderly Hindu gentleman. My mother had rented the place from this man named Nihal Puri, who was staying on the ground floor of the home while we stayed on the first floor. He had four sons and a daughter who had been married earlier.

Of the sons, two — Chaman and Madan were actors in the Hindi film industry that had moved from Lahore before partition of the country, to Bombay. A third son Amrish also subsequently joined the film industry and he had become a villain par excellence in the many films he acted in. It was always painful to see any one of the sons in various roles in the films acting as a villain and tormenting the beautiful heroines of the film.

Our family had no frills — only basic needs of food and electricity were available. We could occasionally get some biscuits cooked in a bakery at the end of our street if we gave essentials like wheat flour, sugar and butter to the man who was in charge of the bakery. Many years later I had gone to Istanbul Turkey and was delighted to see a bakery identical to the one on our street.

There was a famous mosque on the Istanbul Street which had some information written in Arabic script. Fortunately, Turkey had switched over to Roman script a few months earlier and one could read and understand some guidelines even though the language was Turkish. There had been a lot of influence — cultural, economic, linguistic of Turkey in India much before the British pattern on our lives became dominant.

Those were the days in our lives where we did not have TV, Mobile phones that are common today. As children we jumped around and played different games. One attraction was to ride one’s bicycle around our homes. If one did not possess a cycle , one could rent one and pay a small amount of money for an hour or more to the owner of the bicycles.

My father did not live in Delhi. He taught in a College some distance away from Delhi. When my birthday was approaching he asked me what gift I would want from him on the occasion. Immediately, I replied that I would like to have a bicycle of my own. My wish was fulfilled a day before the event.

What joy, what pleasure I enjoyed on my own bicycle. I would ride it to my school and did some small domestic errands for our home.

I would recommend the same for children of today but now they would want a motorcycle not a simple bicycle. But please don’t ride like mad on our streets and let people walk around without any fear of being hurt by these motorcycles.

There are many other memories that I can remember.  However, let us wait for some more duration. If the editor of TMS, Mr Antonio C.S. Rosa, would want, I could provide other examples of children’s lives and their follies.

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Dr Ravi P Bhatia is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment, an educationist, Gandhian scholar and peace researcher. Retired professor, Delhi University. His new book, A Garland of Ideas—Gandhian, Religious, Educational, Environmental was published recently in Delhi. ravipbhatia@gmail.com


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This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 21 Nov 2022.

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