In My Lifetime - I I


In My Lifetime - II

Shehjar Series from anectdotes narrated by the educationist Brij K. Dass

Humor is inherent in life. It should not take a sage to understand this. Brij K. Dass’s anecdotal humor with banter, satire, exaggerations, wisecracks and ready wit make us see this truth. From this issue forward, till we can, Shehjar will run a series titled In My Lifetime, quoting anecdotes narrated by the renowned educationist.

For the well-being of all, no real people or names are being referenced or referred to in these anecdotes and identities or profiles quoted may be considered imaginary.
Seer gatchya bavun saanes yi natea kya vanya beganasyi.
(A secret must be shared with real human beings, otherwise what to tell to a stranger)

Ya gachi tramus soan banun Natea kiho Niamo Noan vanun.
(Either copper must turn into gold, otherwise Niama what is fun in saying thetruth)
* Niamea Sabh has been a great kashmiri poet

We may share a secret with a stranger, if he is a good human being; otherwise why to disclose our cards to a stranger? If my advice bears fruit, it is nothing short of converting copper into gold. Otherwise what is the fun in telling you the naked truth?

Brijdass chu venan lasiv te basiv.
B K Dass

Nearly lost in translation - Salty Tea

In, 1980, on an excursion to NaraNag, we had to trek a few kilometers up the hill to reach a plateau. My little daughter, Romesh Dass walked ahead of me. At NaraNag, I was surprised to see this upper kindergarten student in gossip with a British national Mr Hakh. His wife Mrs. Hakh was on the staff of the Presentation Convent School, Srinagar. Romesh had assumed the honorary job of a translator between a Gujjar girl and Mr. Hakh. I quietly sat behind Romesh to listen to her conversation. The Gujjar girl was the hostess to the Hakhs. She asked Romesh to ask Mr. Hakh if he wanted to take salty tea.

The translator to Hakh: “Did you take salty tea?”

In response Hakh said: “No.”

The translator conveyed to the Gujjar Girl that Mr. Hakh did not want to take the salty tea. Upon my query, the translator replayed her conversation to me. I said: “You have doomed both the Gujjar girl and her guest, Mr. Hakh. You have interpreted the question and his reply incorrectly. “Did you take salty tea?” meant if he had already taken salty tea. His ‘no’ meant that he had not taken it and he wanted to have it.

Soon, a corrigendum was issued and ‘alen handhi kheratea wangnun segh’ all got salt tea.

Dejie to Dining Table

I belong to the past when rice for the extended family would be cooked in big brass degchies (pots) on a dhan (hearth). Rice to be cooked for each family meal used to be measured with a longun (wicker basket). Hence, there was no very limited or specific number of people for whom the rice would be cooked. At meal time, the grass mat (pateji) would be rolled to swab the naked floor with clay. This process was called deji dieni. On each side of the deji, five to six people could enjoy their lovely meal. The whole process has been replaced by a small steel kawli (cup) as the measure in place of the longun. Two or two and a half kawli are measured for each meal. No extra guest can be accommodated. The deji has been replaced by a costly dining table which accommodates the nuclear family of “we two and our one/two”. Any extra mouth to feed causes blood pressure to the host and the hostess already has hypertension.

Dangerous Scam in Delhi - Beware!

Surfing discovered only one open ticket for 15th October, 2010 for Delhi to Jammu. Without loss of any time, the ticket was booked. Boarding station was Rohila Sarai Railway Station, Delhi. The station was unknown to the general public. Somehow, google helped to locate the station somewhere close to Patel Nagar/ Karolbagh. Departure time was 2215 hrs. I boarded Metro from Noida at 8:30 P.M. to be at the Rohila Railway station right in time.

Descending down the stairs at the Metro Station Patel Nagar, I approached for guidance two youths seated on a parapet wall. While I was seeking their guidance, they were joined by one more well-built youth. To my surprise, he rudely pushed me aside and frowned. Luckily, without entering into any altercation, I retraced a few steps to be at an appreciably secure distance. He turned to me and signaled me by both of his hands to come to him. I walked backward with folded hands to escape his vicious scheme and finally took to the footpath alongside. He followed me. Somehow I managed to dodge him and crossed the road and hired an auto rickshaw for the station. I revealed the episode to the auto driver, who was from Bihar.

He said: “You have been wise. He had instigated you into a quarrel. They are a gang. These two youths too were his men. In the quarrel, the other two would intervene on your side and take away your bag and baggage. You would lose your belongings and miss your train too. At times, they hire an auto and then one of them keeps his dagger on the driver’s neck and loots him of all the little money he may have. Some time, they come to a parked auto and one of them inflicts bruises with a razor on the arm of the driver. They don’t stop until the driver hands over all the earnings he may have. They do all illegal acts in connivance with the Delhi Police.”

I share this event with all of you only to alarm you to beware of Delhi Law and order.

Halian Bhanun Wukeri Thana

Halian bhanun wukeri thane, Hiven hivi chi sumkhan,(Crooked utensils have crooked lids. Birds of the same feather flock together.)

I started my independent career with Rs.3000 in 1973. It was sponsored by my wife who was a teacher in Vasanta Girls High School at Rs.70.00 a month. This money she had accumulated in Post Office account @ Rs.60 a month. She died on 5th. August 2000. I still get her pension. I earned both fame and name but she would just shy the limelight and like many other KP women care for herself after everyone else. She gave me two daughters. Both are engineers of repute. It is she who would take care for their studies. Though MA Economics, with Mathematics up to Degree level, she had learnt 12th grade Physics and Chemistry while listening to her daughters. She used to study university papers of 10 years on computers, set a dummy question paper and ask her daughter to prepare based on those questions. She would explain to me the full form of the abbreviated names of computer engineering subjects. It is the only luckiest who gets a KP girl in marriage. She is real Ragnia Saroop on this earth.


In my childhood, there were no antibiotics. Mortality rate of mothers and infants was at a very high rate. Had the penicillin been invented a little earlier than 1948 and come to the market well in time, my mother could have escaped her death at the age of 37 when I was in 6th grade. Mothers used to deliver many more to ensure survival of a few. My mother was not an exception. She had eight children; six male and two females. Two males and one female went back to God before their first birthday.

Mothers would mostly die during delivery for want of any gynecologist around and due to lack of proper diet and medical facilities. Option for remarriage was open choice for the Pundit ji. To get a mother for his infant orphans used to be an excuse. Very often offspring from the new bride would be cause for miseries to the motherless orphans. Murran and a few villages around were the pockets readily available to wipe the tears of the widower. Infant mortality was mostly due to chickenpox and smallpox besides other diseases. For want of antibiotics and other medical facilities, medical assistants with little education used to subject patients to starvation until normal temperature would be restored. Temperature would many times not come down to normal before three to four weeks. After four weeks, the patient would be put on ‘brinjabea’-(rice water) diet. In the case normalcy stayed, a piece of bread would be prescribed.

Those were the days when no bakery was around. I vividly remember the face of one Sardarji hawker who used to shout at the highest pitch of his voice: “Double-Roti-Biscuit.” The whole city was his area of operation. He was tall and slim with a desk type box on his head, in which he would carry doubleroti (bread) and biscuits. The box top had a slope on either side. The top and sides were transparent through glass fittings. Sunken eyes of the patient, having reduced to a skeleton due to starvation but prescribed a piece of bread after three weeks of fasting used to be fixed on the door. His ears would be eagerly awaiting and vibrating to the call “Double- Roti-Biscuit”.

Once in mid fifties, I took ill. I was on the treatment of Asli Hari Krishan, typist in the Education Department. For more than one week, the mixture prescribed remained ineffective. In the meantime a doonga trip to Tulmul matured. One liter mixture was taken along with as a safeguard. It was presumed that once we reach Tulmul, a little of soil at the outlet of the spring water (Padh-feet of the deity), rubbed on my body would have a miraculous healing effect. A number of examples in support of the miracle were cited by those who were interested more in the trip than in my life and survival. Unfortunately, this faith did not work immediately. After three days stay, when the doonga finally turned its back for return, mutton was purchased from the nearby shop, hosted on marshy land. It was a wonderful view through the water channel, with paddy fields on either side. Fragrance of different dishes of meat was an additional curse for me, the patient put on starvation. While crossing the river Sindh to go to the other side to the river Jhelum, our doonga amidst the confluence was close to the boat of a fisherman. The doonga was finally anchored at the ghat across Shadipore ghat to dress the fresh catch of fish purchased from the fisherman ferrying around the holy confluence of the rivers Jhelum and the Sindh. My temperature continued to be 101 degrees Fahrenheit, but my appetite for the fish could not be resisted any more. My father yielded to my cries and finally the fried fish leveled my temperature down below normal to 97 degrees Fahrenheit. In view of my normal temperature, the dinner at Weir was no more denied to me. Roganjosh, keliae, meatch te muji gadea did a miracle by the next morning.

Today’s dollar salaried youth can’t imagine taste of the dishes prepared in terracotta ‘ledge’ placed on the flame of firewood. With the entry of the pressure cooker and LPG gas stoves in our household items, my father used to say: “Yeth ne pakh su gav na pakh.”(Any dish that is not given due simmer on gentle flame of firewood in an earthen pot, is not worth having.” Next day the doonga was rowed through Keteakoal to the river Jhelum and by 5 in the evening we were back to our swinging palace at Zaindar Mohalla.

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