Thursday, September 27, 2012

Interpreter of neighborly themes

By: Rajbir Deswal

I am having a post dinner stroll in the front of our Seattle home. The pavement is well lit with yellow light. Life-sized hedge has a couple of silhouettes appear on it from the other slightly lesser bright side. They approach and materialise in front of me flashing a smile. I reciprocate when they stop by to pronounce the clich├ęd reference to the weather being so good.

“Yeah! It’ refreshing and salubrious here!” I add a comment. Finding me interested, they are now firm holding the ground to pull a conversation with me. “You come from India!”—is not a question asked in Redmond, for a sizable number of engineers and management professionals are Indians. I hum in affirmation and ask if they had been to India ever. “No! But would love to!” says the slightly hunch-backed woman who was till now just listening with a quirky smile on her face. I noticed she could hardly babble but spoke in a way that her partner repeated for me. The reported speech turned out to be very good content in English. The couple seemed to be academics.

Before I could tell the woman she had immaculate language to speak and luring content to taste and savour for me, she scored a first in telling me almost the same thing in the same celebrating vein. I felt pampered and tried further to fine-tune my account. I couldn’t resist the temptation of telling the couple about my pretensions of being some kind of a writer and that I also have dared to bring out a small anthology of poems titled “My Own Khajuraho”.

Obviously they found ‘Khajuraho’ to be some foreign word, when more than the appellation, I had to explain the other finer nuances and ‘sexplicit’ references, in a much milder way than starkly stated in the sculptures. Further pampered into a kind of gratification, I offered to loan a copy of “My Own Khajuraho” to them realising little that ‘sexplaining’ the theme would be more demanding than scripting a few more verses, on the wayside scattered stones, than the compromising idols!

A week later I received the book back, with a note neatly written and appropriately tucked between the leaves, saying: “Thank you for the loan of your book. You have a reverence and awe for the daily appearance of God in the scenery of our lives and you share it in a way that doesn’t invite us to gawk at each appearance but only to reflect. Thank you. Yours neighbour Susan Boe”

I got another couple in my own ‘Khajuraho’ besides adding another poem—of human relations. The neighbours’ reference to the Divine and interpretation of Him confirmed Khajuraho being a temple, built in hearts of people even if they belong elsewhere!




Thursday, August 16, 2012

Projecting a movie scenario

UNFORGETTABLE PROJECTIONS BY RAJBIR DESWAL (Hindustan Times) Those were the days when an opportunity to watch a movie, if it came your way, was the greatest thing to happen to you. Not very long ago, going for a movie was never considered to be a socially acceptable thing. People would keep a watch in cinema halls, to locate and report about the boys in their streets or mohallas - of their ‘misdemeanour’ or ‘undesirable indulgence’ - to their families. That nobody questioned the ‘reporters’ themselves being there in the cinema hall was another thing. Perhaps some errant ones were to be excused. The silver lining then was the government PR (public relations) departments which generally showed movies on social themes, and other classics sometimes, using a portable 16-mm projector. The entire scenario is worth a recall, juxtaposed with the modern-day moviegoing experience, which provides the choice of watching any number of movies any number of times. The projection movie was ‘walled’ (rather than ‘screened’) at a building with white paint. The setting up of the projector instantaneously invited large crowds. Some peeping through the vantage windows, others sitting on rooftops, some squatting on the ground and the more daring ones perched on boundary walls. No, there were no chairs. Even the operator sat on a stool. There would be a large box with reel spools. One by one, these spools would be fixed on the projector and the moviewatchers bore with every change of the spool. Another reel was fixed and the projection would initially show a blank luminous rectangular frame, followed by some numerals, still to be followed by a cue from where t he last reel had been shown. Focusing was needed for clarity of the moving images on the wall. These movies were largely in black and white. The projector’s whirring sound did interfere slightly with the sound track played through a single horn-shaped loudspeaker, placed appropriately to cater to the ears of all and sundry. The projection would not be more than a 6x4 sq ft patch on the wall. Sometimes, the flipping and flitting flying creatures would come in the way of the beamed projection, to appear with their size multiplied on the screen. Everyone would first have a laugh, and then wish these were gone the soonest. The reels also got snapped or broken at times. I remember having watched ‘ Amar’, ‘Andaz’ and ‘Insaniyat’, thanks to a projector, in an open, makeshift theatre. The last of this series was Dev Anand’s ‘Ek Ke Baad Ek’, which had a social message of arresting the population growth, beginning to be felt then (early 1960s) as disastrous for the country’s future. These days, we have 3D movies, with all technological inputs of even dissolving and manifesting, on screen, of things too solid. But the projector movie show can’t be forgotten for the extra amount of thrill, excitement and association which it had at that time, when you would feel blessed having seen ‘yet another film’ which added to your account of maybe six or seven. The experience came gratis and cost you just your discomfort of not having a proper seat to sink in. But who the hell cared for it!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Beware! Dreams can be recorded now!

What if dreams could be recorded on a video...!
By: Rajbir Deswal
Once dreams were recorded, we could even have a modern-day Sigmund Freud set to work on them
How nice it would be if we could record a dream on video!
A patent for a dream recorder, please
I read somewhere, and now I forget where, that ideas are invited to go into a science fiction bank. Here is my idea. I’d like to patent it.

Imagine what it might be, if dreams could be recorded! How revealing it might be, to be able to see the murderer plotting his crime in his head, even as he sleeps.

I could have seen the man plot the murder of my client-yes, I work as a lawyer-and perhaps the dream could also be used as evidence of sorts in court?

A dream recorder might serve as evidence of intention, as the murderer had been plotting away his path to riches.

How nice it would be if we could record a dream on video! So what if the dreams were dreamt by a jaundiced eye, and were recorded in a device not usually used for such a purpose. These could be used as arguments against using dreams in the courtroom.

The science fiction idea could be grabbed by people in research and development in a technology firm, and who knows? It might well someday become a reality.

Was not the cellphone or the TV an idea before the reality? And who, living a few centuries ago, might have imagined them possible? Dream interpreters would lose their jobs, if my idea became reality.

Some people might go hiding, putting the videos in ‘safe custody’ so that others would not have access to them-for obvious reasons, you see!

Some dreamers would sleep under showers, to not let a single wet dream make it into the recorder? Still others who stumble on hidden treasures might seek police protection for all their wealth.

The Dream Recorder would come with user-friendly devices. Like auto-start of equipment at specific points in the dream, auto-off where the dreamer treads slippery territory.

Conferencing while recording dreams, so people could interact while at it, could also be considered. If the dream is an enjoyable one for the viewer (and I mean not the dreamer but his audience), its time could be extended.

If the dream is particularly unpleasant or erotic, the device could insert a warning: ‘unfit for toddlers’.

Once dreams were recorded, we could even have a modern-day Sigmund Freud set to work on them: what depths of psychological insight could be gleaned, from recurring images in dreams!

The role of snakes and spiders, of fire and water could be ascertained, if they reveal patterns.

Why are some people always late? And why do some people dream of examinations? What does it mean, when you dream that you are left alone in a jungle?

Why are you running in a dream? And why do you suddenly realise that you’re barefoot? Where did the clothes go? Why are you suddenly all in the raw?

ll these and more could be revealed, statistically and with scientific precision.

Dreams are not to be dismissed. Holy scriptures are replete with instances when dreams have foretold what was still to be.

Did not Caesar disregard the warning about the ides of March? “He is a dreamer. Let us leave him. Pass,” he had said, without letting the warning mean anything at all.

So here you are now, at the end of my dream! The dream of Rajbir Deswal.

Friday, March 25, 2011


Reforms in police administration have rarely focussed on the much-harassed policemen at the grassroots. As they play an important role at the cutting edge, they need to be trained and equipped well to meet the challenges
Reforms must begin at the grassroots
Rajbir Deswal (THE TRIBUNE)

THE policemen at the grassroots do not get the attention they deserve. When a crisis erupts suddenly at the cutting edge level, they find it difficult to handle it in the absence of adequate training. Their intelligence system often fails and things go out of control, making it difficult for even their seniors to salvage the damage done. No doubt, the hard-pressed subordinates have a plethora of jobs at hand. And each task cries for attention.

There are certain areas where the police action is characterised by highhandedness and violation of the avowed principles of police administration till the final run-up to a satisfactory and fruitful delivery of services expected by society at large. Free registration of crime is still a far cry. Complainants do not get feedback on their petitions, recoveries are fake. And witnesses are non-committal and planted.

Police continue to use third-degree methods to get quick results. Forensic science tools are not fully employed. Intelligence gathering is poor. Most arrests are unwarranted; these are made only to extract money in many cases. Poor infrastructure and resources and outdated communication equipment leave the police far behind the criminals.

Mr K. Koshy, former Director-General, Bureau of Police Research & Development, suggests various reforms in the Indian context to stem the rot. According to him, “open the reporting in police stations to the public. The sentry should concentrate on the prisoner and the malkhana, not to stand there just to intimidate the public. The reporting room should be made a pleasant place with modern bank-like atmosphere. In the UK, the reporting officers are more often than not civilians, specially trained to handle the public. Call Centre type of training should be given to those who attend the telephones. A PRO, as in the US, should be made available for giving out the latest position of cases, complaints, verifications, and other outcomes.” What we lack in Indian police is their non-appreciation of the concept of “participative policing by the people” as in Singapore; social policing as in Sweden; and community-oriented policing as in the UK, Hong Kong, Canada and the US.

Of course, some states like Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh have taken a lead in this regard by enacting laws and building bridges with the community by setting up police-public committees. Ground work, delivery, action and results will flow naturally if the police adapt itself for purposes of investigation to free registration, faithful recording of a complaint (FIR), recording direct evidence corroborated by scientific and forensic attributes, not using third-degree methods, joining genuine witnesses and not from the stock, not making arrests where they are unwarranted and, above all, winning the trust and confidence of the people.

There is a need to tone up the police administration on modern lines. The police can win the hearts of the people by speedy redressal of their grievances; by making themselves available in times of crises; by being courteous; by empathising with them and, above all, by pursuing a thoroughly honest approach to every task they undertake.

The International Association of the Chiefs of Police has debated the issue of ‘Citizens Review’ which envisages “public concerns about racial profiling, excessive use of force, deliberate violations of sanctioned evidence handling procedures, and corruption creating mistrust.” The apparent failure to contain these issues causes public policymakers to consider alternatives. As these issues bear focus on the ground zero, every effort should be made to implement them. All action begins with the first-responder not only in a crisis situation but in peace time too.

The police reforms should begin with the clearly mandated assignment of tasks, fixing responsibility in case of any failure, ensuring proper and fair recruitment and putting through need-based training, regulating day-to-day policing keeping the community interests and expectations in mind, ensuring a speedy and transparent delivery of service to the stakeholders.

Police reforms at the grassroots need to correct the wrongs the functionaries indulge in, in the absence of effective supervision and no accountability fixed on them. Stringent punishment should be given to those found on the wrong side of the law. Action should be initiated against cops for their acts of collusion, highhandedness, corruption and so on. In the US, if a police officer is accused of withholding the truth, or is lying during a trial, in all cases that he stands as the official witness, his testimony is taken with a pinch of salt and is discarded as an interested witness.

There is need for separate police wings in a police station to cover four major areas: investigation and detection; law and order; regulatory duties like traffic, service of summons and warrants etc; and special cells to cater to cyber crime, economic offence, juveniles and trauma victims. It is only the tactical squad which should handle riot and arson cases where crowd control is to be exercised.

Plethora of duties

An average policeman in the country is overburdened with too many duties everyday, besides attending to calls and complaints of various kinds from the people.

Since the ground zero of all activity is the police station, action revolves around prevention, detection and investigation of crime; maintenance of public order; traffic regulation; prosecution and court duties; escorting and production of convicts and undertrials; executing summons and warrants; patrolling the areas and borders; carrying out raids; rushing to accident spots; carrying out various character verifications; VIP security; tracking gangs; and monitoring mafias on radar.

He/she is duty-bound to join parades and drills, acquire knowledge on firearms and ballistics, forensic science, cyber crime, white and blue collar crimes and on gathering intelligence.

Nowadays, the policeman is also involved in tackling crimes bearing on national and internal security, caste and regional conflicts, communications and wireless, video conferencing and crowd control.

There are certain areas where the police action is characterised by highhandedness and violation of the avowed principles of police administration till the final run-up to a satisfactory and fruitful delivery of services expected by society at large.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Gals n Dudes!

Chants n chimes,
Wants n climes,
Monin and moods.
Reasons n rhymes,
Dollars n dimes,
Tempers, attitudes.
Happiness n times,
Bruises n shines,
Horns n hoods.
Natty n grimes,
Naivety n crimes,
Cool n slimes,
Liqour n limes,
Gals n dudes.

Rajbir Deswal Feb 16 2011

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Panipat Flyover Has Much Under It!!! Look Down. The Memory lane!

The legend of Panipat
Rajbir Deswal
PANIPAT comes with a tag not only of history, but mythology, culture, industry, Sufism, poetry, Hindu-Muslim amity, Partition-tales and a vast account of exponential indulgences of Islamic scholars.
Panipat was one of the five villages sought by the Pandavas from the Kauravas, besides Sonepat, Tilpat, Baghpat and Indrapat. ‘Pat’ got corrupted from Sanskrit word prastha.
Legendary Sufi Saint Bu Ali Shah Qalandar, who lived in Panipat, was adored equally by the Hindus and the Muslims, and that contributed a great deal to the amity between the people of two religions
Famous poet Maulana Hali was born in Panipat, who contributed immensely to Persian and Urdu literatures; besides noted writer K. A. Abbas and yesteryear actor Jeevan.
‘Panipati’ is an acceptable accent of recitation of Holy Quran called Misri Lehza. Panipat Gharana is established in exponential vocal classical music. Many a poet and rich persons used to pride themselves with the title ‘Panipati’.
Qadi Thanaullah Panipati and Nazim Panipati were the proud products of the historical town. Nazim Panipati wrote Lata Mangeshkar’s first song "Dil mera toda, mujhe kahin ka na chhoda, tere pyar ne."
Called the ‘Manchester of the East,’ Panipat did not have many industries until the World War II, when some blanket manufacturing units were set up here for Army supplies.
The three decisive battles fought here, in many ways changed the future map of India. En route to Delhi, Panipat was a natural halt, West of Yamuna, for centuries, for the invaders from the North. The culture, in and around Panipat, could not remain unaffected due to these invasions and battles.
Folk tales and folklore of this particular pocket still have impressions (read scars) of the barbarism let loose by the invaders and the chivalric fight put up by the locals, who eternally remained the victims of plundering and marauding.
Under the command of Sadashivrao Bhau, the Marathas fought valiantly but Bhau was feared to the extent that even mothers put their infants to sleep, whispering in their ears hau — someone dreaded.
Kala Amb (black mango) earned its name because of the dried-up blood that made the entire area black, during the Third Battle of Panipat. Panipat still boasts of typical Muslim architectural designs in the havelis and mansions of many rich people.
No Hindu-Muslim riots took place here, ever. In fact, legendary Sufi Saint Bu Ali Shah Qalandar, who lived here and performed many miracles, was adored by Hindus and Muslims, equally. Out of his 19 spiritual masters, 11 were Muslims and eight were Hindus a fact that contributed great deal to Hindu-Muslim amity
Some structures around Panipat, the Mamu-Bhanja Sarai in Gharaunda, the Khawaza Khizar tomb near Gannaur (Sonepat) and many KOS Minars that dot the GT Road, are historical testimony to Panipat being a central place for a civilised Hindu-Muslim pocket.
Close to Panipat lived Sufi Saint Meeran Sahib (at Karnal), who, with the help of his disciples, rescued two Hindu girls, abducted by men from Aurangzeb’s army and lost his life in the process. Another pilgrimage Mughal Pul, now called Pucca Pul, has thousands of Hindus paying their obeisance at the peer’s mazar even today.
Once, Panipat was also famous for its rich Nawabs. I can recall a scene from Pakeezah when a costly carpet was gifted to one of the nauotch-girls as having been sent by Nawab Panipati although no vices like prostitution ever flourished here.
Most appropriate way to round off a peek into Panipat’s past would be appropriate with a couplet by Hali:
"Khudee ko kar buland itna, ke har taqdeer se pehle/ Khuda bande se khud puchhe, bata teri raza kya hai"
(Your sublime spiritual heights of self-actualisation may compel even Almighty seeking it from you what destiny you choose for yourself)
Whoever said battles should have grounds, but grind too.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Who knows!

All that appears
Barren, stark and desolate
May have
An austere and bare
Need based lush
Who knows
All that is
Perceived as such
May be
As productive.
Maybe more.
For it has
Ground enough!

Rajbir Deswal Jan 30