No stopping the pen

At times I am astonished by my own fecundity  (C pronounced as K - fekundity, meaning fertility). On my last six book launches, I announced it was going to be the last. I exploited my friendship with VIPs to preside over the launches.

They included Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Amitabh Bachchan, Maharani Gayatri Devi of Jaipur and other celebrities. It paid me handsome dividends. At one launch by Gursharan Kaur, wife of the Prime Minister, the first edition of Hymns of the Gurus (Penguin) sold out in one evening. And I did not have to spend a single naya paise. The costs were borne by Harjeet Kaur, owner of Hotel Le Meridien. Believe it or not, I have yet another book coming out. It is a compilation of articles I write for my two weekly columns, edited by Nandini Mehta for Penguin Viking. She has given it the title Khushwant Namah. I am now too old to go out as I have to have someone hold me by the hand to go from one room to another. Yet I am toying with the idea of being taken to the launch on a stretcher. Launches are great ego boosters and I continue to hanker after boosting my ego.

Policeman poet

Rajbir Deswal is head of police of his home province, Haryana. While he uses his baton to maintain law and order in his State, he uses his pen to sing its praises. I have written about him many times before. His first was on Haryana humour. It does not compare with Sardarji jokes. I have not heard a new Haryanvi joke for many months, while Sardarji jokes are never-ending. The latest which the eminent lawyer Fali Nariman (Padma Vibhushan) sent me was the suggestion that after Bombay first airport being named Santa Cruz, the second one should be named Banta Cruz.

However, Rajbir has more to him than Haryanvi jokes. He has been writing middles for many national dailies including The Tribune, The Hindustan Times, Indian Express, and Pioneer. He has put them together in a book Holypol: DK’s Books for all. It is a very readable collection which will not disappoint readers who enjoy Haryana’s latthmar lingo (speaking with a lathee). And this time it is a compilation of his ghazals.

Bundars and Langurs

Bundars (rhesus monkeys) are fascinating creatures. When I spent my summers in Kasauli, I used to spend my afternoons sitting in a balcony outside the verandah overlooking the garden. They arrived soon after the garden was bathed in sunshine - around 30-40 at a time. They played with each other; they fought and bit each other. At times one of them would come to me, glower at my face, bare his teeth and ask “What are you doing here?” I picked up the danda which I always kept beside me and replied:
“My danda will tell you what I am doing here.” And wave it at it. It would beat a hasty retreat hurling abuse at me.

But my addiction to bundar-watching is as strong as ever. Whenever a TV channel has a programme devoted to them. I sit glued to it. They make lovely pets. Once my maalee’s (gardener’s) son found a new-born abandoned by its mother. He picked it up and fed him with milk with a human baby’s milk bottle.

The baby monkey got very attached to him. It clung round his neck and slept in his lap. Although hordes of monkeys visited the garden everyday, it preferred to stay on with his adopted human family.

At one time I knew why some monkeys have red faces and bottoms, but I have forgotten. I’ll be thankful to readers who remind me.

Langurs, though bigger and stronger than the rhesus,  is a gentler species of monkey. The rhesus are scared of it and as soon as they see one, they beat hasty retreat. They are extensively employed by humans to combat the menace of bundars in human habitations.

Mistakes

Architects cover their mistakes by planting vines
Advertising executives put theirs on TV
Cooks cover theirs with mayonnaise sauce
Doctors cover their mistakes by burrying them
And Lawyers visit theirs in jails
Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes
So said Oscar Wilde.

Politician: Well, dear I’ve been re-elected!
Wife: Honestly?

Politician: I don’t see that there’s any need for you to bring that up.

Teacher to students: Who is man’s noblest friend?
A student: The hot dog - it feeds the hand that bites it.

(Contributed by Prof R P Chaddah, Chandigarh)

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