1947-Partition Archive

Some time back I came across an organization who are running this drive to conduct video interviews of India Pakistan partition survivors. The objective is simple- to record history from those who saw it happening. While we have numerous books and lot of material in every form where the history of partition is recorded; but accounts of people shared by them, who were part of the biggest change this sub continent has seen, are rare. So a group of individuals from US, decided to take this up and now they have formalized this drive and invite people to become part of their organization and record interviews. As we know, the survivors would all soon be gone. Already, we are in the last phase where we can still find some living people who were old enough to remember the happenings of the gruesome events that happened around partition in 1947.

Their website is- http://www.1947partitionarchive.org/

I have always been interested in history. Specially the modern history of India which covers the British Raj leading upto independence. I am always ready to lap up stories about that time. I am not sure when my interest in this area began, but in the past few years I have been actively reading about partition, how and what led to it in every form. Apart from the books on history of partition, I am particularly on look out for fiction which is based in that era. Though I am not sure of the reason of my interest in this area, but may be its because of the fact that I have spent the initial years of my life amidst partition survivors and their descendants. I am basically from Uttaranchal. I am not aware of anyone in my immediate or extended family who has anything to do with freedom struggle, or later partition for that matter. However, my parents are settled in Saharanpur for the past 35 odd years. Its a small city in the northern part of UP,  India which borders Haryana and now the relatively new state of Uttaranchal. Saharanpur was one of the places where a lot of partition refugees settled down. When I was born, my parents also stayed in a refugee colony where all the occupants were people whose previous generation had migrated from some or the other part of Pakistan. They all were Punjabis displaced from West Pakistan. Our landlady was an old aunty, whom we use to call “jhaaijee” and the old uncle was referred to as “bauji”- by everyone including his own and my parents too. The neighborhood was all Punjabi. We stayed their till I was about 6 years old. The next house we moved in was also in a refugee colony where everyone around us was Punjabi, migrated from West Pakistan. My father who had mostly Punjabis as his colleagues, always had interesting stories to tell about people who had migrated and how they had re-build their life in India. Most of the big shop owners or businessmen in our town were people who had come here with practically nothing with them. Many of my classmates in school were kids from families of migrants. So, overall the initial period of my life had a huge Punjabi influence. I would hear stories of how one of my classmate’s grandfather was a tonga owner or a fruit vendor when they moved to India, leaving everything behind. I guess it was a combined effect of all this, that as a grown up, I am always attracted towards stories and tales from that period of time. I am equally fascinated by the description of Lahore of that time as I am by any Indian’s account of a visit or stay in Pakistan now. (Just to mention here- there is this beautiful book by Pran Nevile called Lahore. Its one of the most beautiful accounts of a city I have read. It literally transports the reader in time)

I have picked up numerous books which cover those dreadful times of partition – both fiction and non fiction- and have always loved reading them. In recent times I read this book – Beyond the Border by Yoginder Sikand, it also shows some glimpses of Lahore; however much in stark contrast to the Lahore of 30s and 40s as depicted in Pran’s book.  Needless to say, the current situation is disappointing.

So basically, I am enchanted by the partition history, not only by what happened at the macro level, but also by the life and times of that era. It interests me like nothing else. Sometimes i feel I must have been there in my previous birth. A soul from Lahore trying to cross the borders with nothing but a faint hope of making it alive to this side!

So when, I came to know of this amazing opportunity, of becoming a citizen historian and do interviews of partition survivor, I was elated. It was like a wish come true. I enrolled for their mandatory training program last month and attended a 2 hours long training over web. It was basically a session on how to conduct interviews, the methodology, etiquette etc. Post that the requirement was to do and submit one interview within one month of the training to become a member and continue the membership. Now, I know a couple of partition survivors in my native- that is Saharanpur. However, since now i reside in NCR and the requirement was to conduct a video interview, I started writing mails to all people I could possibly think of who could give me any reference.  After writing to all possible contacts on all Whatsapp groups I am part of, and e-mailing all friends I could think of, I was surprised, that nobody could give me a single reference. Either, people did not take it as seriously as I thought they would, or we actually do not have many of the survivors from that time period left. In both cases the situation is very disheartening. I have not given up though. I plan to take the online training once again, whenever it happens next, and will plan a short visit to my hometown, to get in touch with the people I know and would be more than happy to share their story. My only fear is, that hopefully by the time my plan materializes, the said contact points are alive and kicking. No I am not being pessimistic; fact is that those people are actually very old, and while I pray for their very long life, I am still scared deep down of something unforeseen happening.

If you happen to read this blog, and know of any partition survivor in NCR (National Capital Region- which includes Delhi, Gurgaon, Noida, Faridabad and Ghaziabad in India); pls do share the reference in the comment box. It will be or a great cause. Narration from those who saw it all is history in its best form which we can archive for our future generations, for whom partition would be something not more than a mere event in history, as they would be even more distant and unknown to people who experienced it first hand!

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K Updates

This is a long pending post. I have been wanting to record K’s latest developments here, but somehow could not get into the frame of mind to jot down everything at one place.

K will turn 16 months on 20th of this month. She is getting interesting and clever with every passing day. She now understand instructions to a great extent, like when told to go and close the door or bring her book of rhymes, or pick up something and give to aunty/ papa, she understands most of what is told to her. Her vocabulary has also grown manifold and now she even combines words to form small sentences. Like she has started saying- papa gaye, or aunty aa jao…or thanda paani…infact few days back she also said a complete sentence..nanaji..kaaiype aajo (naanaji skyepe par aa jao). I think by the time she is 1.5 years old, she would be making fairly coherent sentences.

She knows all her rhymes now. I bought a book of rhymes for her, which she used so much that it was torn into bits in a month. I have brought the same book for her again. She knows the rhymes by the pictures in them. Following is her version of rhymes:

Hot Cross Buns is hau kau bun..

Twinkle Twinkle is Tukkal tukkal

London bridge is..phoi daun phoi daun…

Pussy Cat Pussy Cat is..pukki tat pukki tat

Ba ba black sheep is..Ba ba ba ba

Georgie Porgie Pudding and pie is…poggi poggi…

One two buckle my shoe is..won two wan two…

Humpty Dumpty is dumpy dumpy…

Its fun to see her saying these rhymes…:)

She now also knows what Skype is. I am amazed sometimes at the intelligence these kids display. They can catch anything and everything we say. We speak to our parents over Skype. Suddenly one day K started saying, bua..kaaiype..nanaji..kaaiype….she had noticed that we call people and then we speak to them and can also see them..:) She was no more satisfied with mere phone calls, she wanted to graduate to Skype permanently…:)

Now she brings my phone and starts saying- kaaiyepe..kaaiyepe..:)

She loves kharbooj and tarbooj (watermelon). Whenever someone asks her, Kya khaoge…her first reply is khabooj. She can have kharbooj anytime anywhere. The moment someone mentions kharbooj..she goes and stands in front of the fridge and starts saying khabooj khabooj..:) so these days i use the word watermelon when i have to direct my maid to wash or cut the fruit and keep in fridge..:D

Yesterday, i asked my maid to take her outside and play with her. I said- “Aap baahar jaake ise khila lijiye thora”..K immediately jumped..”khabooj..khaooj..khabooj..”..she thought I was asking the maid to give her something to eat…:D

When asked ..K aaj aapne kya khaya..(what did you eat today?)…she says..cakke!! She has never eaten cake..only seen it in pictures…but she is already a fan of cake. When told…no, you did not have cake..what did you have?..the next answer is chokate!!..(chocolate)

….

FB- Deaddiction

I am off Facebook. I deactivated my account few days back. I think the account will be deleted in 14 days. Like many others i had become kind of FB addict. I would spend a lot of my time online on Facebook. Not that i was too much into posting stuff, but I would spend a lot of time browsing through profiles of people on my friend’s list, in their friend list and so on! It was such a wastage of time. With a full time job and a baby to take care of, I realized that I cannot afford the luxury of wasting my time on non productive activities like FB. However, I cannot say that I am unaffected by the move. When a click any good picture these days, the first thought which comes to mind is, will put it on FB..and then I realize that I can no longer do so. And then a train of thought starts…it suddenly feels weird, that now no one will know, that I had this awesome moment which I have just captured in my camera! What will I do with it if I am not going to share it on FB and tell the whole world…It seemed weird. Because for a long time now, pictures were clicked with the sole intention of uploading them on FB, in expectation of likes and comments. I feel a void suddenly. It seems that I am isolated..I am not connected to anyone…no one will know what I am upto….it feels like a disconnected life!! yes, I know this is abnormal, and to get rid of this abnormality only I decided to quit FB. This constant need to peep into others people’s life and subconscious comparisons with batch mates and colleagues were not doing even an iota of good to me. For a person of my maturity, I would need to attain nirvana to be in a state where I am on a social networking site and not affected by any of the happenings there. So, I decided to quit. Good part is, when the said train of thoughts ends, I feel relieved. I am no longer bothered about a good or a bad picture…I no longer have to feel bad because of that old classmate from LKG who was a bhondu in class, but is touring the world now! I no longer have to feel depressed about my mundane marriage life where my husband does not surprises me with cushions printed with our pictures on our anniversary!! I no longer have to feel like a loser reading about some random senior from college doing cross country marathons along with a full time job and two kids to look after! Basically, I can live a life which is not constantly being compared with others..in my head of course!! I am still getting used to it…but i know I am not going back to FB any time soon.

I have already started to realize the benefits of staying away from it. I clearly have more time on hand. Even if I spend that time online, I can spend it on stuff which actually adds some value to me and gives me happiness, like- writing more often on my blog or reading something I really like…or just arranging K’s pics in order and selecting the ones which I want to get printed in hard copy. Anything is better than spending time aimlessly peeping into random people’s lives and then feeling miserable about my own!

Husband is already off FB for quite sometime now. He spends his free time mostly reading either on net or a book. I had quit FB earlier also, i guess three years back. But such was the temptation of wasting time and energy on keeping myself updated with happenings of others life that I returned to the site after barely a month!! But this time things look a bit different and better. I do not see myself committing the same mistake again. Wish me luck and hope this wisdom prevails!!

Song on my mind right now…

Friend

I spoke to my best friend S after a long time yesterday. It was a long phone call which lasted for one and a half hour. She is my soul sister. I guess the person I am most compatible with in this world. We connect like anything. We understand each other so well, that I can speak to her about anything under the sun, with full assurance that I am being understood completely. I can talk to her without the fear of being judged. I am blessed to have someone in my life who I can speak to as if I am speaking to myself. When she was in India we would speak like almost everyday. Now the phone calls are much spaced, but whenever we need each other, we make sure that we are available for each other.

Yesterday was one such day. S called and i knew she wanted to discuss something. And that something was mid life crises, which she is going through these days. Surprisingly I am also going through something similar, so it was kind of not very difficult to understand what she was saying. We discussed at length about her thoughts, her feelings, stuff troubling her etc…in the course of the conversation many queries got answered, many new cropped up, her doubts got cleared, and as the conversation flowed, some of my thoughts were re-assured and echoed and  .. eventually we both ended the conversation feeling lighter by tones! I guess my wisdom and ideas are at their best while speaking to her. Even I am surprised by my own piece of advice and analysis of things when I speak to her. That is my analytical best! I am never so sure and clear in my views and thoughts except when talking to her. It amazes me…seriously!

No matter what the problem is, it has never happened that any of us has come out of a discussion, empty handed. The problems do not necessarily get solved, but just speaking to each other gives us the much needed peace of mind and hope! Same happened yesterday. I would not want to write what all we discussed, but the fact that she was much relieved after speaking to me makes it all worth.

This year November, it would be 10 years of knowing S. We met at my first job way back in Nov 2004. We did not interact much in the beginning and did not like each other instantly, but I remember one day while taking a stroll after lunch on the office terrace we had a conversation wherein some serious stuff was discussed, and bang! I knew i had found a friend for life! The friendship became stronger only after that. Though we were hardly in the same city when she was in India, but we were always in touch. I miss her immensely today as she is in the US, and the time difference coupled with our individual responsibilities towards family/ work has made it difficult to call each other as frequently as we would have wanted. But then, as time has passed I have realized that after a certain point in time you do not make new friends who can get very close to you. Its just the old friendships, that too the ones which you really believe in, which survive the test of time which remain. I am so thankful to God, that I have such a friend and I hope to maintain this friendship for life!

Ek chakke ke…

I had read about Bushra Ansari sometime back. She is a very famous, versatile and talented performed from Pakistan, who is known for her comic , mimicry, writing and singing. Yesterday, while browsing through you tube, i found this video.

This is a parody on the 1986 Australasia Cup final in Sharjah. it was a match between India- Pakistan which Pakistan won, by a sixer hit by Javed Miandad on the last ball.

I had heard about this match through my father many a times. He use to tell how 4 balls were needed from the last ball, Chetan Sharma was the baller and Javed Miandad hit a six on a full toss by Chetan Sharma and won the match for Pakistan. I can imagine, what an exciting watch it must have been!

This is a parody on some Salma Agha song by Bushra Ansari on the praise and gifts showered on Javed Miandad after he returned to Pakistan and the ordinary treatment given to his partner at the time of that six- Tauseef Ahmed. I loved it!! One of the best parodies.

From across the border…

Zindagi is the new channel started by Zee. It is airing Pakistani dramas (serials are called drama in Pakistan) these days, which have already been a hit back there. I saw a couple of episodes of one, and given my craze for good TV programmes, I immediately googled and in turn You Tubed all the episodes and finished the most popular one among them in two days straight! The drama is called Zindagi Gulzaar Hai.

Yes, it matched the hyped around it and I really liked the story and execution. Then, on google’s recommendation, I found another famous drama with the same actor in lead- Humsafar, and watched this too back to back. I loved it.

It made me very happy that Pakistan TV is far superior in terms of quality of production. They are still making good dramas which not only have a solid story, but it is also backed by superb acting, direction, programming and not to forget- amazing dialogues! Both the dramas quoted above are brilliant when it comes to content and dialogues. The characters are believable, there situations seem real, the context seems relevant, and the execution is seamless. I do not even want to compare them to the crap we are being served on Indian channels in name of daily soaps!

Zindagi Gulzaar Hai is a story of two people with very strong personality who come from opposite strata of society and fall in love with each other. How they eventually overcome their insecurities and settle down for good. The male lead is played by the very charming actor- Fawad Khan, who apparently will also be seen with Sonam Kapoor in her next film- Khoobsoorat (God save him!), and the female lead is Sanam Saeed– a very fresh looking girl, who apparently is also a singer and a VJ, and has sung in Coke Studio too. The supporting cast is brilliant, every actor has done justice to the character- be it the main leads or the other actors. The dialogues are so good that it seems as if you are watching someone within your close circle speak. I specially loved the character of Sanam’s mother, played by Sameena Peerzada. She has played the character with such poise and grace, that you feel a breath of fresh air every time she appears on screen. Such calmness she displays in her act, I totally loved her. In short, a much recommended watch for those who like watching good content on TV.

Humsafar also has Fawad Khan in main lead, along with Mahira Khan, who is so beautiful, that its difficult to keep eyes off her when she is on screen. This drama is to be watched purely for its romance content!! The chemistry between the lead pair is sizzling! The romance is so beautiful that by the end of it, you start to believe that that they should be a couple in real life too! Fawad Khan is a brilliant actor and once again, the dialogues are written very well.

Dhoop Kinare was the first Pakistani drama that I watched. This was like 2 years ago. I came to know about it through newspaper, as some guy called Kamlesh Pandey, was remaking it for Indian audience by the name- Kuch To Log Kahenge. After watching the original, which was a classic in true sense of the word, I also spent some of my precious hours watching the remake on Sony. It was a disaster to say the least. They had converted a beautiful love story into a daily soap, by making a mockery of the soul of the story. It was artificial and bad! No wonder, because of the poor TRPs the show was eventually moved to a late night slot!

I am so glad, that this time no one is making any fake copies. We are being served the original masterpieces with the soul intact. thanks Zee for introducing us to good quality entertainment. Would love to watch more such shows from across the border!

Ah, I cannot end this post without mentioning what a beautiful language Urdu is! I simply love the poetry like words it has…a beautiful word for everything. I so want to learn the script!

cheers…