Saturday, June 24, 2006
Sitting outside the temple is Baba Tikaidas, an eighty-eight year old pujari who has spent his entire life managing the temple, his wife Parvati explains animatedly,“ my husband has been here since he was a fat and muscular young man!he has spent his entire life here. We know no other life, our world begins and ends in this row.” The withered pujari with sparkling eyes talks of his temple and Sri Ravidas as the rest listen, “Ravidasji was a mystic saint, like Kabirdas and Guru Nanak. He belonged to a family of cobblers and used to tan animal hide and make shoes but spent time in the company of sadhus and other spiritualists. Forty of his verses have been used in the Guru Granth Sahib as well.” Relating a story about how Bhagat Ravidas offered two paisa to a pundit who was visiting the Ganges. The Pundit offered the two paise to the Ganges who in return offered a bangle…. He wanders off singing a couplet before he completes the story. The crowd of cobblers returns to their shoemaking, one lingers offering to help do the darshan in the temple.
The inner sanctum has an idol of Sri Ravidas raising his hand in blessing, the age of the building is palpable as one can see the age of the arches and the Hanuman idols in the walls, and they are falling apart now. Parvati the pujari’s wife points to the rows of cycles standing inside the temple premises, “There is a boys hostel upstairs and the boys park their cycles here. We’ve requested them to park outside but who listens?” The cobwebs on the light bulb inside the temple have been there a long while too, “The young boys come and clean these sometimes, its tough to do it ourselves. This temple has seen better days though.” Guptaji mentions how MLAs and even a mayor once used to frequent the temple and promise measures to ensure upkeep, “The shopkeepers are keen on rebuilding part of the temple, by buying five bags of cement and some money, as a dakshinaa to Sri Ravidas’s memory.” The saint and his temple, have initiated in the people who live in the “Sri Ravidas row”, a determination to join hands and celebrate his teachings of equality and harmony.
In the express Newsline---
Sunday, June 18, 2006
August 1947- catastrophic events overtake everyday lives. The Chaudhary family residing in
Encouraged by his success with the old box, Kalidas began to spend time in the lanes of Nakkhas and Chowk searching for other such goods. “Every Sunday I would walk the lanes and haggle with sellers for anything that caught my eye, a china cup, an old glass vase, lamps”, lifting a dusty oil lamp he explains how the servants of the Nawabs would sell broken lamps to corner shops and merchants in the area. His ability to spot something unique in a trove of old junk is what made Kalidas the man he is today. A chikan seller by trade, his hobby soon became a profitable passion and he began to visit the old aristocracy- Nawabs, Rajahs and Taluqdars. The families began to know and trust him as their “Kaanch Wallah”, the man who could repair their chandeliers or “Jhaad”, replace their “Fanoos” the glass lamps and whenever required help the nobility sell off some of their old glass ware and china, anonymity was assured.
“English merchants and representatives of Danish and Belgian chandelier companies used to visit the Nawabs of Lucknow with catalogues. These companies had special centers in
Kalidas’s interactions with the royalty of
In the express---
Saturday, June 17, 2006
August 1947- catastrophic events overtake everyday lives. A business family residing in
Every possession no matter how dear or associated with memories was a saleable commodity- and thus the old camphor box one day found itself being examined by an old shopkeeper. The offer was princely sum of 500 rupees. Kalidas took the money back to his unbelieving mother who suspected that something was amiss, “You must have stolen the money, I don’t believe you!” After a little coaxing she accompanied him to the shopkeeper who offered 800 rupees if they would sell him similar box. Encouraged by his success with the old camphor box, Kalidas began to spend time in the lanes of Nakkhas and Chowk searching for other such saleable goods. His hobby soon became a passion and he began to visit the old aristocracy- Nawabs, Rajahs and Taluqdars. The families began to know and trust him as their “Kaanch Wallah”, the man who could repair their chandeliers or “Jhaad”, replace their “Fanoos” the glass lamps and whenever required help the nobility sell off some of their old glass ware and china, anonymity was assured.
Lest you bemoan the fate of the aristocracy there was a time when English merchants and representatives of Danish and Belgian chandelier companies would visit the Nawabs of Lucknow with catalogues. “These companies had special centers in
“Kaanch Wallah” is known across the country by the lovers and collectors of glass ware. His customers regard him as the “Man to visit when you break things like your grandmother’s paan-daan, an old hookah base, an old china cup or want to replace or buy a Jhaad or Fanoos”. His hobby of collecting wares which catch his eye has enabled him to meet some of the oldest families of the state. He fondly remembers recreating the ambience of old
In the Indian Express---
Do dreams come true?
He used to cross the children everyday, thirty of them kicking out in the air, learning a Korean martial art in the middle of Alambagh.
She wasn’t the only one who wasn’t too sure, the neighbors and relatives made it a point to tell her that sports won’t take her too far. An eight year old girl couldn’t care less, especially when she won her first gold medal. Her mother Suraiyya carefully brings out stacks of certificates, school, state and national level. There are sixteen gold medals, two silvers and 3 bronzes, but Safeena holds one bronze out- “I won this last year, national championship 2005, they gave me a scholarship worth fifty thousand.” 5 feet 2 inches tall, tanned and could easily pass as a thirteen year old boy but Safeena is twenty and is Uttar Pradesh’s number one taekwondo player in the pin weight category. In the twelve years she’s practiced taekwondo, it’s been the dream of a gold at the nationals that’s kept her going. All of old sardari kheda knows her as “Gudiya”, the girl who can “fight back and kick”.
The fifth house opposite the choti masjid is a four room structure for a family of seven. This where she grew up, with her three sisters and two brothers. A typical day in Safeena’s life begins with waking up at 4:30 a.m., reaching the academy as 5 and training children till 7:30. She leaves for college at 11 and is back at 5 to take the 5:30 p.m. class. In between all this, Safeena does housework and runs errands for the family. Working as a coach at the academy earns her fifteen hundred rupees a month. This is what she uses to pay for a BA degree from
Waseema, a nine year old girl from the same locality is learning taekwondo from Safeena, “I want to go to different championships across India, Gudiya appa has been everywhere!” and its true, Gudiya has represented Uttar Pradesh every year since she started practicing taekwondo. The competitions have taken her to
But will these medals and certificates amount to something? So far no, “Whenever I go to an office to apply for a post they keep my certificates aside, Taekwondo isn’t recognized in Uttar Pradesh. They have a quota for kho kho and kabaddi but not taekwondo.” But challenges are not new to Safeena, bearing the taunts of the neighbors was never easy. People quizzed her father and mother, how could they let a young daughter practice a martial art with boys? How could they allow her to travel to unknown cities? Was it right to allow a girl so much freedom?
Gudiya dreams of the day when she’ll be able to make them all eat their words and show the community why she spent so much time learning taekwondo, why she did her BA and why she dared to dream. Will talent and the desire to achieve get her a job? “Do they have a reservation for me?” questions this girl of steel, she might as well have asked, “Do dreams come true”.
The story in Newsline, The Indian Express--