Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Friday, March 20, 2009
This was Mr. Richard Brown. After serving many years as a Guard in the Railways he had chosen
Our collection of stamps and coins were shown to each other and we even got the pleasure of exchanging our extras. Time made our friendship deeper and there came a time when not visiting the Browns was out of routine! Mr. Brown’s vivid description of fairy-tale-like-real stories were enchanting and seemed to take me back in a time machine. His memory was sharp to detail. He narrated with a twinkle in his eye the happier stories but his face turned pale when he recalled how he missed many opportunities that came his way but let them pass by. He never tired admiring Father Didier and Mrs.Webb, [a social worker in
A couple of ‘proverbs’ narrated by him stand out in my memory: “A job well begun is half complete” and “A hobby should be like a loaded cart pulled uphill, without stopping.” I later realized the truth of the latter since I stopped pulling my hobby cart! For stingy people he used to put it nicely as “he was fond of money.”
I offered my help these two old gems by way of repairing things like watches and clocks, which I knew. Mr.Brown had some old watches and clocks. In fact, all things in his simple house were old, antiques to which he used to tell stories how they came to him! Since he did not trust giving the watches outside for servicing, he gave me and was so happy to see them back in fine condition. 65-year old Mrs.Brown used to give me some odd little repair jobs. I had never seen a musical box before and it was thrill to put its simple mechanism back in action. She was delighted when she heard its melody again.
At the beginning of our acquaintance she showed me her stamp collection, loosely kept in books, unlike Mr.Brown, who had meticulously stuck to his album pages – Airmail stamps were his fancy. I reckon not many collectors go away while showing their collections to visitors, but she did. When she went in to the kitchen, I pocketed three of her common extras out of sheer temptation, heartbeat crossing 100/min. Stealing was alien to me but was committed. As friendship bonded with passing of time I realized it was a great mistake – the act had been troubling me. I had to return the stolen stamps somehow. One day, I planned to do that. Again, heart pumping heavily in nervousness, I asked her for the collection on the pretext of seeing some stamp. She gave me and would never go in to the kitchen this time! I did not know what to do. After a really long while, spent discussing many things she finally went in to check something on the stove. Without wasting time, I kept them back in her album among other loose stamps. I felt so much relieved after that. I had learnt a big lesson in life.
Some years later, on one of my usual Saturday-visits, as I was climbing the stairs to meet my 78-year-old friend, Mrs.Brown with tears in her eyes, conveyed, “Don’t go, he’s not there!” It shocked me. He had died suddenly the previous Monday. Mrs.Brown was sorrowful and looked quite upset, because they lived in ‘Green Pastures’ in the company of one another for more than 20 years. My visit a couple of weeks later happened to be the last when I met her. She never seemed to have recovered from losing Mr.Brown and that old cheerfulness had gone. She told that she is now dependent on her son’s decision – most likely to be taken with him to the
My association with these two gems had helped me gain more knowledge, wisdom, confidence in English conversation, inspiration to hobbies and reading. Mr.Brown had got a few coins of Shivaji’s time from a friend while he was serving in
Monday, March 16, 2009
It is not easy to sustain hobbies without the element of friendship. It becomes dull without like-minded friends.
Our college lecturer was absent and so I had made a trip to nearby Sayyaji Rao Road to see if there are any interesting old coins on sale [out of the meager pocket money my father gave] with the pavement coin-seller. I was there standing with my bicycle looking at those old coins spread out on a sheet. I noticed a dhoti-clad bald and old man with a darkish complexion, hands on knees, next to me looking closely at some coin. Since I did not know many who collected coins, I was eager to know if there were any. So I asked. He said “Yes, I have a small collection. Do you also collect?’. I said yes, boasting about the 100 odd coins. My request to see his collection was honoured almost instantly and enthusiastically. He was going home from a short market errand. I went pushing my bicycle beside the walking old man to his nearby old house. His name was Ganjam Krishnappa, son-in-law of Banumaiah.
Waiting in his living room, admiring the beautifully framed old paintings all over the walls, I was imagining he would bring it in a box, or some bag. But no, he came out of another room with the clinking sound of a key bunch. He went to a wide table that was right next to me, leaned over and lifted hinged table top to expose his ‘small collection’ through the locked glass top! The sight of so many coins, meticulously labeled country-wise, had me awe-struck! It was a unique table-showcase that housed some thousand coins from 200+ countries. And he called that ‘a small collection’, so humbly! I was astonished that he had earnestly sustained his collection for over fifty years.
Little did I know that he was a renowned numismatist, having one of the best collections in the city. I came to know of this many months later. Further conversation at the time of my leaving revealed that I was the grandson of his family lawyer who had won many cases for them! He was so happy about this coincidence, what with a youngster interested in the hobby. The friendship was to deepen further and was to provide the impetus to our common hobby as well as fatherly affection. He was at least 40 years older than me. Soon, my visits became weekly, or whenever I felt like.
Krishnappa never commercially put a value to his collection, which he often emphasized and he collected purely for he enjoyment of the hobby. He bought coins, which he fancied without bothering about its ‘future value’. He also had a fancy for paintings and did the same when it came to buying them. Another great quality in him was his joy to show his collection to all those interested, but never exhibited anywhere outside. All these and much more impressed me.
Being his revered lawyer’s grandson, I got special affection. That also gave him much joy. He also showed my grandfather’s picture, which he kept with him! He used to tell me that the last pronote my grandfather wrote a day before his death was for his case.
I was never once sent from his home without any snack, food or drink. Later on, it was the affection that attracted me more than the coins. If I missed visiting for one or two weeks [due to cricket] he would ask me why I did not come. He used to encourage me with his extra coins and even empty album sheets. With the enthusiasm of a child, he would show me new mint releases and tell about new developments in the numismatic world – he was a member of the numismatic society. He would willingly help identify any old coins from his catalogue. One special privilege I had was seeing a couple of rare gold coins, which he showed from his iron safe – this he never did to anyone else.
On one of my usual visits I was shocked to see his daughter’s sad face – he had passed away just a few days before. His month-long fever had never subsided. He left behind his collection that is still preserved by his grandson.
Our friendship lasted just 8-9 years. It ended as abruptly as it began. My interest in numismatics waned off, with his loss, but not the memory of this simple, kind-hearted man. The generation gap was no matter at all.
Some links relevant to the hobby of coin-collecting:
Friday, March 13, 2009
Many of us would have enjoyed one particular unforgettable meal at one point of time or other. Mine 'happened' in 1999. In fact, I had won that meal! Connect cricket to a meal. Let me share how that happened.
Our office team, had won the final of a cricket tournament in a thrilling last ball finish. It was an unbeaten 48 from my blade that had secured victory. I was taking strike with 3 runs required to win from the last ball. The connection of bat to ball was so-so and we could manage only two. Two unforgettable runs! It was a tie. We won because we had lost lesser wickets. My partner Ravi perhaps ran the fastest two runs of his life and even now wonders how he completed them comfortably, at full stretch and landing on his tummy!
My innings won the 'man of the match' prize that included a little trophy and something surprising to go with it. It was a letter from the sponsor, a popular 3-star hotel, offering a free lunch for two. It was a rare offer! A fortnight later I went to the hotel with my family consisting of my wife and our two young kids. My request about the kids' inclusion was happily agreed by the manager when I showed that prize-letter. Thanking him, we settled down at a table. A buffet system was waiting for us. It was a Sunday and surprisingly, the other tables were bereft of customers.
The number of food items completely left me awe struck! I did not know where to begin. Once I began, there was no end... or so it seemed, much like that innings! The number of trips I made to the serving table became my family's teasing topic for some days. But I never cared. For, the gastronomer in me was on song, hitting boundary after boundary!
I fail to recall the name of the cuisine on the label. It was not the south Indian, pictured above. This was verily different. Each recipe had its special taste that tickled the buds. They say the freebies tickle more, but I disagree. IT WAS REALLY, REALLY DELICIOUS! Caught in utter vegetarian delight, we forgot to count the number of recipes - there must have been more than twenty. What salads, what ice creams, what curries, what desserts, what what what.... sorry, I cannot remember all names on those individual labels either, because I was engrossed in encouraging a fight between the hand and the mouth.
I never had dreamt that it was going to be such a magnificent meal, one that would also be the squarest to be remembered for long.
My family enjoyed as much as I did. The young kids' relished those variety ice creams, which they recall fondly, but suddenly remember my trips to the serving table! Happy memories and enjoyment of relishing the 'prize' still lingers on even after many years. It was a unique prize that is remembered more than the little trophy [read link below]. My innings on the dining table was comparable to that on the field! I had remained not out, there, but here at the table, I had to declare the innings closed!
Read here, http://mymiscelany.blogspot.com/2007/05/how-we-pose-for-pictures.html how I received the prize from the chief guest and about people posing for cameras - a brief note.
Thursday, March 5, 2009
This is at the Poona Club in 1985 taken before our practice match - it was against a very strong team consisting of many Maharashtra Ranji players. We beat them. I took 6 wkts and scored a quick 35. I remember one particular shot I hit off fast bowler Ranjane. It was past the bowler in the on side and the long on did not have a chance to stop the boundary. One of my best - I can still feel it! Nana had come to watch us play. Milind Gunjal scored a century in that match and retired, but I got Srikant Kalyani's wicket caught behind by Kokhane cheaply. Kokhane will never forget that catch. I bowled 26 overs on the trot, 6-52. Lovely 'English-feeling' ground, with super green grass and vintage pavilion, dressing room, clock, hangers.... I really enjoyed. There was a small crowd too as there were so many local heroes in their side!
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
We have all manner of pollution these days affecting our senses. Noise pollution is one of them, silently bothering many people with stress and depression leading to many diseases.
The horn is usually intimidating, loud and harsh which always annoy the one in front and not the one pressing the button. There are some countries where the horn is used most judiciously because sounding the horn is considered an insult. But then, in our country, people live among insults and have utter disregard to others on the road. Does this make any sense to them? Peaceful traffic is scarce. One wonders about the urgency everybody has these days! More than real urgency, it is their restless and want-to-be-ahead-of-others attitudes that prompt such unmindful honking [and rushing].
No sooner the signal turns amber, the restless honking begins behind us. They are not even patient for a couple of seconds more, when every body will automatically begin to move on amber changing to green. They honk as if everyone in front will make way for the ‘maharajas’ immediately! It is such a noisy scene.
If you just observe, many use the horn indiscriminately and mostly when they are not required at all. There will be ample free space, [lucky we have that on our roads here till now] but still they honk, even when an announcement of their presence is not needed. They honk even at zebra lines when people are crossing the road. Wonder they know what those lines are there for! Some two-wheelers are found fitted with truck horns! Some play ‘music’ with their horns by continuous honking when just a single, short honk is needed to ask way or announce their presence. Bullying others by such indecent honking is another bad practice that is noticed.
Have we seen any ‘no horn’ boards near hospitals here? Even if there are, they stand ridiculously with their ‘deaf ears’! And how many keep their horns silent in that zone? We have ‘interceptors’ on the prowl but then they catch only easy prey. Who can monitor and catch the offenders in heavily crowded traffic?
Since there is no punishment for these trivialities, I think, at best, the authorities should strictly instruct and educate all DL applicants about good driving ethics and discriminate use of the horn, which may greatly contribute in reducing the decibel level of noise pollution. Supposing, at least in a dream, they do it, it is highly doubted that the individuals wont follow them because they well know that there is no punishment for even the bigger offenses!
How I wish they made only those old rubber bulb horns valid in present times! Even buses and trucks had those, if old timers can remember.