Wednesday, 31 August 2011

The Sermon-A Poem

I went to  church  thinking  I’d  get some  inspiration,but
   Couldn’t   hear  the  good pastor’s sermon! For peeping
  At   me  from  the pew  ahead  was a  smiling,chubby li’l
  Baby as  she    peeped    at   me   from  the   lap
Of her mother!

My brother frowned at me, but I  smiled at the little
Baby,   beckoned   at  him  while  the good pastor
Went   on with  the sermon! The innocence on her
Face,  took  my  whole  attention  as she gazed at
Me from the lap of her mother!

The little child spoke of the  life she  had seen in Heaven
For she  was there  before she came down to Earth! I too
Was  a  child once upon a  time, and was  like  that little
Baby  in front of me, innocent - fresh,darling of all, as she
  Looked at me from the lap of her mother!

The  Cherubic face  of the child brings intimations  from
Heaven  inspiring   us to  be innocent  like  a child,  only
Then   can  we inherit the kingdom of  Heaven! That was
  One  lesson  I  learned  from  Church  as  the  little baby
    Peered at me From the lap of her mother!

Perhaps we had met in Heaven once, long ago, which
Is  why  I gaze at you so fondly? Or is it  that we played
By  the  feet of  the Almighty Lord? Perhaps   we try to
Remember distant, vague memories of Heaven which
We’ve  forgotten, but remember when we see a baby!

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Saturday, 27 August 2011

The Wave Against Corruption Sweeps Across North India

The agitation launched in Delhi against corruption by Anna Hazare seems to have caught hold all over North India! In the town of Jagadhri too,  various rallies were organised in the Town of Jagadhri in district Yamnuna Nagar in Haryana! I was surprised to see rallies in favour of Anna Hazare in Jagadhri. I couldn’t help taking the following photos of the rallies in Jagadhri!






The people in the rally seemed to be full of the joy of peaceful agitaton. I could hear people shouting slogans in favour of the fight against corruption!

Everywhere there seemed to be a rather festive atmosphere. People were taking out peaceful rallies in favour of the fight against corruption. For once it seemed as if everyone was united in the common goal of fighting against corruption! Finally it seems as if the Gandhian principles of agitation seem to have sunk into the psyche of the common Indian! Whatever may be the case, it seems Anna Hazare has left his impact on the minds of Indians! The fight against corruption seems to have united the whole of North India! A wave of Patriotism seems to be uniting the entire country!



The Mahasher Diary

We had been told about the Mahasher fish as being a rather elusive and much valued fish to be found in the rivers near Jagadhri. We tried to catch this elusive fish but with no success! What we did catch was however, pictures of crabs and the Mahasher fish caught by the fishermen hired by the contractor to catch this elusive fish with the help of nets. My father, after some time remarked that there seemed to be no fish of any kind in the stream off Dadupur! No sooner than he passed this remark, we got news that some people with a net had caught a Mahasher! We rushed to the people with the net and were able to catch these Images:



And if that was not enough, there were crabs which were scampering across the mud banks!


This bigger crab literally stopped and posed for the camera!


                                                            The little crab didn’t know that its snap

                                                            was being taken!

As if that was not enough, there were butterflies flitting in the air, and perching on the ground:




To wind it all up, I took snaps of my dad with the elusive Mahasher fish in his hands like trophies! Boy, were they huge! We were able to catch these two beautiful specimens of the Mahasher!




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Wednesday, 24 August 2011

The Big Brother Wave in India-Need for Reforms




The recent circumstances associated with the Anna Hazare arrest and his release are reminiscent of the wave of people’s unrest which took place in Egypt, Yemen, Syria, and other Middle-East countries. While Hosni Mubarak was ousted, Saleh of Yemen was forced into exile! The murmurs of the so called Jasmine Revolution were heard world wide! There has been a world wide rumbling of unrest caused by the dissatisfaction of the common man with the corruption in the society at large, and the way the the government was being run! In Egypt, people were fed up with the decades long rule of Hosni Mubarak, and in Yemen the people were fed up of the dictatorship of Saleh. In some countries of the Middle-East, governments ruthlessly crushed the so called popular uprisings of the common man.


Today, Anna Hazare has become an icon for the common man. He has become the modern day equivalent of Mahatma Gandhi and he symbolises the Gandhian way of life. We know very well that he played a very important role in promoting the Right to Information Act in India, a radical and revolutionary movement which promoted the Right to Information, an act which empowers the common man. Today, Anna Hazare is agitating for the passing of the Lokpal Bill, a bill which has wide sweeping implications for a society riddled with nepotism and corruption. What is yet to be seen is whether the bill is passed in its original form, or it is diluted to accommodate the existing structure! We need to see that this much hyped campaign doesn’t fizzle out! There are so many parties and personalities trying to jump into the bandwagon of Anna Hazare, and we need to see what their motives are! Is it that they want to enter the limelight of popularity to launch a political party of their own, or is it that they really want to fight for reforms in the true sense!


when I visited Delhi recently, I could see the signs of change in the air. There were people returning from rallies in support of Anna Hazare’s movement. People riding motorcycles were waving the tri-colour with zest! I could see them from Delhi to Karnal in Haryana. It seemed as if the entire region was united in its goal of supporting the movement launched by Anna Hazare! There were a large number of people who were wearing the Gandhian cap, an affirmation it seemed of support for Gandhian ideals for peaceful agitation. The entire Nation seems to be united in its support for reforms! United by the ideals for which Hazare is agitating!


One however wonders whether the common man really knows the contents of the Lokpal bill, and the process  required to pass a bill! What is clear however is that the common man is fed up of the nepotism and corruption which is hampering the growth of the Nation! The signs are there for the government to see, that we need social reforms, and these reforms need immediate implementation! To make the reforms a reality, we need to bring about a sea-change in the attitudes of everyone, both the common man and the bureaucrat as a whole! Whatever may be the outcome, it is clear that the Anna Hazare movement for reforms is the common man’s expression of disillusionment, dissatisfaction, and disgust with the corruption and nepotism that exists in the Nation today. It is an expression of “enough is enough!” It is an expression of patriotism, and pride in a Nation which is, after all the world’s largest Democracy! It is an expression of pride, an expression of oneness, and and acceptance that the common man is no longer going to take everything lying down!


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Monday, 15 August 2011

The Song of the Woodpecker;Memories of Childhood-A Poem

The little boy of three sits gazing out of the open window,hearing,
Hearing the  song of the Woodpecker echoing in the mountains!
The  song strikes a chord of sadness in the child’s heart- wonder
What the song means,(melancholy in the silence that falls ‘tween).
He  misses  his parents who’ve    gone to work and their absence
Wrenches  at the chords in his heart! Oh! that a child should feel
The  sadness of a brief parting! The scent of the incense wafts in
From  the  church nearby! The chant of the prayers sinks into his
Consciousness.   The evenings  turn  pleasant with grown up girls
Taking him to   church. They laugh and talk and carry or guide the
Little  boy  on. For,  to say  a prayer for a dear one, they bid  him
Wait  at the porch.  The   song  of the woodpecker returns  mixed
With  the  scent    of    myrrh,  bitter-sweet, cloying to the   sense.
The   girls  carry  the little boy  home, laughing and joking, but the
Little  boy is sad having learned the lesson of life, that  nothing is
Permanent,   and  each  parting from loved ones brings  sadness!
The song of the woodpecker and the scent of incense say it all!

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Sunday, 14 August 2011

Epiphany Church Gurgaon ( CNI-Delhi Diocese) Annual Convention-2011

A three day Annual Convention took place in the Epiphany Church Gurgaon on the 12th., 13th. and 14th. of August, 2011. The Convenor of the Convention was Mrs. Helen Harrison, the Co-convenor was Mr. Robin Moses, and the speaker was Pastor Ashok Singh. The programme was over-seen by the Presbyter In Charge, Revd. Sunil Ghazan. The Bishop of the Diocese of Delhi, Church of North India, The Rt. Revd. Sunil K. Singh was the special invitee on the occasion, and he Graced the event on the 12th. and 14th. of August. The theme of the Convention was, “I am the vine and you are the branches!”


                                  The speaker-Pastor Ashok Singh


On the 12th., Pastor Ashok Singh introduced the topic of the convention to the gathering. The special invitees were the Rt.Revd. Sunil K. Singh, the Bishop of the Diocese of Delhi, (CNI) and The Revd. Prabhakar Malhan on the 12th. While the Bishop of Delhi was welcomed by Mrs.Jasmine Samuel, on the 12th. and on the 14th. he was welcomed by Mr.Robin, the Co-convenor. The Revd. Prabhakar Mahlan was welcomed by Mrs. Manisha Naq. The newly ordained Pastor, Revd. Mangla thanked the Bishop of the Diocese of Delhi, and the Congregation of the Church of Epiphany for the support given to him during his period of preparation for his calling as a Pastor under the Diocese of Delhi.


The Right Reverend Bishop Sunil Singh, The Bishop of the Diocese of Delhi being welcomed by Mrs. Jasmine Samuel


The Secretary of the Diocese of Delhi being welcomed by Mrs. Manisha Naq


Reverend Mangla handing a token of thanks to The Bishop of Delhi

Pastor Ashok Singh talked at length about the theme of the convention, and he talked about the relationship of the gardener and his role in pruning the vine in order to make it more productive. He talked about the need to make ourselves, “ available” to the Almighty Lord, to be cautious and conscious. He described how the Disciples and their followers came to be called Christians. The Jews called the disciples, “Christians” because they could see Christ in the work of the disciples. He reminded the gathering that it is a privilege to suffer with Christ, and like Christ! He went back to history and described how the early Christians were persecuted by Nero. He reminded the  gathering that Christ was not made alive, but is alive! Jesus’s purpose and mission was to bring all mankind back to  the Father, the Almighty Lord. He described Jesus as a revolutionary.

The Right Reverend Sunil Singh, the Bishop of the Diocese of Delhi brought greetings from the diocese, and he described the various plans of the Diocese and programmes run by it. He described the parable of the Prodigal Son and its importance in today’s world, He talked at length about the challenges before the Christian of today and the need to imbibe the Missionary zeal. The lesson of the Prodigal Son reminds us to repent and return to our duties towards the Church and the Society as true Christians! Many a times we stray from the true path, and it is in this context that we should return to the Father!

On the occasion of the Annual Convention, the choir of the Epiphany Church presented  some soul uplifting numbers. The Sunday school children too presented some very inspiring numbers.

I have pasted some photographs taken on the occasion below:



               The Bishop of Delhi, addressing the gathering on the 12th.


The Youth Choir presenting a number


Revd.Ghazan addressing the gathering


                                                  A song in Urdu




In the top photograph we have Mr. Peter, and in the lower one we have both Mr. Peter and The speaker prior to a song by the latter.


Sunday School Children presenting a song




In the above three snaps you can see the Church Choir at work!


Both the brothers are perfect percussionists, they are both sons of Revd.Daman Rodgers.




A welcome bouquet being presented to the Bishop of Delhi by Mr. Robin Moses


The first Lady of the Diocese of Delhi, Mrs. Rekha Singh



The Rt. Revd. Bishop Sunil Singh, the Bishop of the Diocese of Delhi addressing the gathering


Sunday school children presenting yet another number


The speaker, Pastor Ashok Singh, making a point


That is the speaker’s Wife, the Speaker and I myself at the far left


Tiny Tots of the Sunday School


The First Lady of the Delhi Diocese, Mrs. Rekha Singh after being welcomed by Mrs. J.Samuel


Mrs. Sabrina Benjamin and Mrs. Nidhi Lal



The Gathering



Tuesday, 9 August 2011

My memories of a Town called Arba Minch (1972-1979)

My first memories go to the year of nineteen seventy-one when I was  four years old. My parents had been transferred to the town called Arbaminch, literally the town of forty springs. This town is located in the province of Gamogoffa in the Southern part of Ethiopia. We had quite a few Indian teachers working under the Ministry of Education. Vijay, the son of an Indian teacher named Mr.Charles was one of my friends, and he was a neighbour of ours.

Mr.Kingston and his wife, were a couple who did not have an issue. In nineteen seventy five, there was a revolution where the Imperial Government of Ethiopia was overturned by a Revolutionary Government  which was first led by a person called Teferi Banti, and then taken over by a young revolutionary called Mengistu Haile Marium. Mengistu soon aligned himself with the Soviet Union. We were told that the revolution had been prompted by the drought and the so called insensitivity of the Emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie. Whatever, I was and Indian Ex-Patriot caught in the midst of the revolution. A large number of our Ethiopian friends were arrested by the Dergue, the Ethiopian Secret Police and most were never heard of again. The charges against the arrested people was that they had been plotting against the revolution. There was an atmosphere of terror, and the schools had been closed for a whole year in 1975, when my sister was born. After the revolution, people from Cuba and The  Soviet Union started flooding in. The Cubans were largely doctors, and veterinary doctors. The people from the Soviet Union were largely teachers and military advisers. We came into contact with various teachers from the Soviet Union. One couple that was very close to us was Mr. Stephen and his wife Vera.

I went to a Missionary school in the twin city of Shecha (we lived in downtown called Sikalla). This school was run by some missionary sisters from the U.K. Sister Lina and Sister Josepha come to my mind. When the revolutionary Junta came to power, the missionary school closed and it became instead a centre for aid supplies. I remember an Italian who used to visit us in the Missionary school. He, we learned later on helped some of the members of the Royal Family to escape to Kenya. His name, I remember was Senor Sarti, he had stayed back in Ethiopia after the Second World War. There were rumors that he had helped the Crown Prince  to escape to Kenya in his World War two  Wiley's Jeep. He had married an Ethiopian Woman and had children from her.

I joined the Arbaminch Comprehensive Senior Secondary school when I was nine years old, and I was admitted in class seven under the instigation of the Russian Couple Stephen and Vera. Their surmise was that I would fail and be detained in class Seven being under age! Fortunately,  I kept on passing, and I studied till class nine after which my parents were transferred to Addis Abeba, the Capital of Ethiopia. What I liked most about the Arbaminch Comprehensive  School was its library. The library was well stocked and my Father initiated me into the habit of reading by introducing me to books which were based on animals. Thereafter, there was no stopping, I was hooked on to Hardy Boys, and Nancy Drew series of books besides many others!

Week ends were spent in visiting the Jungle during evenings. Before the revolution, my Dad had a Beretta Semi-Automatic pistol and he took great pride in it. One evening we went to the jungle, driving on the road towards Sodo, and I remember my Dad saying that a large animal, a predator had come to the jungle. I asked him how he had come to this conclusion, and he told me to look at the deer, and the Baboons which appeared to be rather nervous! When we reached the farm called Limat, my Dad stopped the car, and pointed out towards flashes of pairs of what appeared to be torchlights. He said, “look those are lions,” and he stepped out of the car with a sealed beam that he had attached to the battery of the car. Sure enough, it was a pride of lions, with the male lion, the female lion and two cubs. We rushed back to town and got hold of Mr. Kingston and his wife and went back to see the lions. Sure enough, the pride was sitting on the road. As soon as they saw us, the male leapt into the surrounding jungle, and the female led her cubs into the undergrowth.

My days in Arbaminch passed in studies, reading of books, flying of kites games of football played with the local children and the week end visit to the lake Chamo to fish for the famed Nile Perch. This was a lake infested with Crocodiles. My father and his Russian colleague would wade through the crocodile infested waters to their favourite fishing spots, more often than not, the platform to which the steamer was anchored. I remember feeling worried and apprehensive when I saw them wading towards the platform.

In Arabaminch, I came across a rather frightening tribe called the Gujji Tribe. The men and women were rather regal, tall people, nomadic people who herded cattle. This tribe was renowned for their savagery. When a Gujji man wanted to get married, he had to prove his prowess by cutting off the sex organ of  a male of another community, or in some cases the foetus of a pregnant woman. The trophy would then be hung at the door of his hut as a proof that he was man enough to get married! I came across a number of unfortunate students of The Arbaminch comprehensive High School who had been castrated by men of the Gujji Tribe!

I remember that iit was dangerous to step out doors after 8:00 p.m. because the town of Arbaminch was visited by Lions and Hyenas. The snakes were well known, and there was one occasion when a spitting cobra spat into my father’s eyes, but then that would be another long story!

My brother and I had a lot of Ethiopian friends, and our favourite game was football. More often than not, we played with a ball that was made of a sock filled with hair, or scraps of cloth.

My favourite Ethiopian dishes were Injera, a fermented bread made of the flour of Teff, a seed of a grass like plant, and  kai Wot, and Shoro. Then there was a dish ethnic to Gamo Goffa, it was called Kurrkuffa. It was made of lumps of ground corn flour cooked in a soup containing the leaves of the tree which bears the vegetable called drumsticks.

I remember that Coffee was an important Ethiopian institution, and the women of the neighborhood would gather all the women and invite them to a feast of traditional black coffee served with roasted corn and wheat. The women would gossip and discuss things like the women in India do in Kitty Parties!




It  was  Saturday, and off we went to Chamo!

To   fish  for Nile-Perch and Cat-fish. We saw

The nasty  Crocs  basking in the sun, mouths

Wide-open, lazy, waiting  for a morsel to shut

Those  jaws on. Then  we saw  those Hippos,

Marshalling their  calves to feeding grounds!


First   we  caught  the  Tilapia, with  fishing-rods

And   put  them  in a  tin with holes which we put

Back  in the water. Dad and Uncle  Pastukh  put

Them  on  bigger   hooks,  the  size of my palms!

For they wanted to land a big catch-a Nile-Perch

Taller   than  me!  My brother and I rowed a boat.


A log floated close to the pier, but the eyes on  top

Betrayed   it  for a  cunning  monster, cold-blooded

Waiting  for  a  morsel  of  unsuspecting  meat! Not

Getting a bite,we went on a boat-ride,and the storm

Came, and the waves washed over the bow! So we

Turned  back  to see if we  could have a better luck!


Dad and  Uncle  caught  four Nile-Perches taller

Than   me!  We   had  to  carry them slung from

Poles. Back  home,  Dad and Uncle dressed the

Carcasses   and   packed the flesh to be sent to

The   Embassy. That  evening,  Dad  and  Uncle

Sang    patriotic   Russian   songs,   and  we ate

Bliny  and   pickled  cabbage  and fried potatoes

With  garlic  and Russian  black -bread  all made

By  Aunty  Vera. Thus  ended a  wonderful Day!



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