India and Pakistan

My only anti-date is to read news coming from Pakistan. On incidence of violence and corruption they score over us as they often do in cricket matches. We are the same people and gained independence the same time. We succeeded in establishing democracy in India; they failed miserably to do so.

For most years of their existence they were ruled by military dictators. Our democratically-elected leaders at the helm of affairs were immune to corruption. Not one of our Presidents or prime ministers was ever accused of making illicit money. In Pakistan it was the other way round. Their military dictators, however ruthless they may have been in dealing with their detractors, were never found guilty of filling their own pockets, while their democratically-elected leaders from Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, his daughter Benazir, her husband Asif Ali Zardari as well as his principal opponent Nawaz Sharif made vast fortunes and put them in Swiss banks or buying real estate in Europe, America or the Emirates.

The recent decision to annual the amnesty granted by General Pervez Musharraf to Zardari and two co-horts reads like crime fiction. It opens up a vast network of corrupt elite of the country: it is not eight, or 80, or 800 but 80,000 who are to answer charges of corruption while holding office. President Zardari, commonly known as ‘Mr 10%’ is known to have stacked away billions of dollars and bought huge estates to add to his late wife’s unearned wealth. Amongst the accused is Pakistani defence minister and a few others.

We may well wonder what has gone wrong with our Pakistani cousins? What happened to the dreams of making the Garden of Eden (Chaman-e-Pakistan) and the land of the Pure?

To hear or not to hear

That was the question facing me. I was losing hearing steadily over the last few years — one after the other sounds I could hear clearly faded out: Calling of birds, soft music and finally human voices. I made light of it and when asked why I did not get a hearing aid, shrugged off the suggestion by replying “saves me from a lot of bullshit”.

It got worse and worse. One evening an old friend A R Kidwai, who has retired after 17 years governorship, dropped in. He has a very soft voice. I could not hear what he was saying. And told him so. “Why don’t you get a hearing aid?” he asked plucking them out of his ears. “It would only cost you three lakhs — with rebate a little less. I can arrange it all in your home.”

After he had left, I thought over the matter. Three lakhs was a tidy sum and I was not even sure I would last that long. I put the matter out of my mind.

I was bullied by Harjeet Kaur, owner of Hotel Le Meridien to allow myself to be cross-examined by Koel Purie for her TV channel. She is the daughter of Arun Purie, owner of India Today, Harper Collins and much else. I went reluctantly. There was a sizeable audience — the elite of the city including the prime minister’s wife Gursharan Kaur. I saw my daughter go up to Koel who was on the stage giving directions to the camera crew and told her that I was hard of hearing. She nodded her head.

Koel had done her homework: read some of my books, asked my friends what kind of a person I was. I was impressed: ravishingly beautiful, beautifully turned out, animated, oozing with self-confidence and professional competence. It lasted little over half an hour.

I got home totally exhausted and swore I’d never again appear on TV. However, I was anxious to know how it had gone. A month after the recording it was shown on her channel. A day before I asked Kidwai to arrange a hearing aids for me.

He brought Dr Aditi Shekhar, audeologist and her sales manager Deepak Pareek. She peered into my ears with a torch, pumped some kind of wax in them to take impressions of the inner labyrinth of both ears. They were back again with the hearing aids and literature how to use them. It was a near miracle. Sounds I had not heard for years came back — louder than ever before. I heard a barbet call. People I could not hear earlier in the day yelled at the top of their voices. But I was able to hear every word that Koel said and every sentence I spoke.

All said and done, it was personal vanity and desire to get an ego-massage that made me shell out so much money on the eve of my life. My answer to the question to have a hearing aid or not is a compromise: put in your ear plugs when you want to hear; pluck them out when you have had enough.

Selective hearing

An elderly gentleman had serious hearing problems for a number of years. He went to the doctor who was able to have him fitted with a set of hearing aids that allowed him to hear 100 per cent. The gentleman went back in a month to the doctor. The doctor remarked, “Your hearing is perfect. Your family must be really pleased that you can hear again.” The gentleman replied, “Oh, I haven’t told them. I just sit around and listen to their conversation. I’ve changed my will three times.”

(Contributed by Vipin Buckshey)

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