Stories About Men

My father Dr. D.S. Chowdhary 1902-1959

Author: 
Shakun Banfield

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Shakun Banfield nee Chowdhary was born and brought up in the U.K.  She retains a keen interest in her parents' achievements in their adopted country England and has many memories of a happy family life with them and her brother.

She worked for 30 years in the criminal justice system as a probation officer as well as in the family courts as a welfare officer and mediator.  She is now retired and lives with her husband in South London.

My father, Dr Dharm Sheel Chowdhary, was born in a small village in Punjab, India in 1902. He was sent to a Hindu boarding school at the age of 7. Here the regime was physically  strict and the academic teachings intense. This equipped him with an extensive knowledge of Indian and Persian literature, Hindu philosophy and religious teachings, and a good knowledge of the ancient language of Sanskrit.

On graduating, he was ordained as a Hindu priest. However, as far as I am aware, he did not go on to practise as such. Instead, he chose to enrol at Lahore Medical College to study medicine.  He graduated with an MBBS in 1927, and came to London for post graduate studies the following year. He obtained further qualifications in Edinburgh and Liverpool as well as London. In 1931, he joined Dr Gilder's practice in Laindon, purchasing the practice from him when he retired.

Bhupendra Hooja – An Obituary

Author: 
Rakesh Hooja

Editor's note: This obituary was written by Hooja sahib's son, Rakesh, and edited at that time byt Rakesh's brother-in-law Subodh Mathur.


Bhupendra Hooja. London. Late 1940s.

Bhupendra Hooja (1922-2006) came to Rajasthan in the beginning of 1959, which, as he wrote in a 2002 article "Life at Eighty", became his "Karmbhumi" as he became "a small petty agent" in the sustained efforts for the development of the State. By the end, Jaipur and Rajasthan had adopted him as its own.

As regards the influences of his youth, he once wrote "having been born in an active and committed Arya Samaj family (I was) baptized by the mantras of social change, freedom and revolution as preached by Gandhi and Nehru and Subhash on the one side, and the revolutionary youth like Shaheed Bhagat Singh and his brave and young Comrades on the other". His older brother G.B.K. Hooja, who preceded him into the IAS via the undivided Punjab Civil Service, was a major source of inspiration to him, as was Marxist Socialism until the Soviets crushed the Hungarian uprising in 1956. Both in his youth and later as an adult, he could never appreciate the growing consumerism and commercialization in society. As a student he is known to have more than once given away his woollen clothing to poorer friends, and helped many others with their studies.

My father and Alwar

Author: 
Meenakshi Hooja
Meenakshi Hooja

Meenakshi Hooja (nee Mathur) was born at Jhalawar on 26th June, 1952 and after spending early years of her childhood at Jhalawar, Bikaner and Ajmer moved to Jaipur with her parents and family.
Meenakshi taught Political Science at the University of Rajasthan before joining the Rajasthan Cadre of Indian Administrative Service in 1975.  She served on many important positions in Government of Rajasthan and Government of India.
She is widely travelled in India and abroad and was a visiting fellow at Queen Elizabeth House, Oxford in 1999-2000.  Post retirement, she was a Member of the Central Administrative Tribunal.
She has written on a number  of development and administration  related subjects  She has also so published books of poetry in Hindi and English.

Khemchand, our father or Daddy as us siblings addressed him, was born in Alwar on 10th April 1911. Our grandparents, Shri Ramchand (Babaji) and Srimati Lakshmi (Dadi) had strong roots in Alwar, though the family was originally from Delhi.  Our Babaji served the Alwar State as In-charge of Gardens and Horticulture, after having done his studies from St Stephens College, Delhi and Forestry from Dehradoon. He is credited with building the special Shimla area in the Company Bagh gardens of Alwar.

Ramchand, my grandfather. Alwar. Early 1900s.

 

Thata's Betrayal

Author: 
Meghana Joshi
Megahana Joshi

Meghana has two passions in life. One is for anonymous art and architecture, which is her field of study. Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright are her role models not just in the field of architecture, but in life too. Her other passion is writing about things she observes in everyday life. Meghana lives in Irvine, California.

It really broke my heart when Thata (mother's father) decided that the rightful heir to his name and home was his grandson, and not me, his granddaughter. Only because he was a man and I was a woman!

Thata and Ajji (mother’s mother) had no sons – their only children were my mother and her older sister. My mother herself had no sons. The only male progeny that Thata had was my aunt’s son.

Thata

Papaji's Inspiration

Author: 
Valarie Kaur
Valarie Kaur

Valarie is a writer, filmmaker, and lecturer who has become a brave new voice on race and religion, hate and healing in post-Sept 11th America. A third-generation Sikh American, Valarie wrote and produced the critically acclaimed documentary film Divided We Fall (2008), which chronicles hate violence in the US after Sept 11, 2001. She earned bachelor's degrees in religion and international relations at Stanford University, master's in theological studies at Harvard Divinity School, and is now a student at Yale Law School.

Editor's note: This is a slightly edited version of an article on the author's blog. http://valariekaur.blogspot.com/2008/11/papa-jis-funeral.html

Papa Ji was my mother's father. His wisdom and love made me who I am - and inspired Divided We Fall.

In November 2008, in California, I stood before his casket adorned with flowers, where his face shone regal in a red turban, and gazed out at a hundred people who had gathered in the small chapel. I never write down what I will say before an audience, but I knew that I needed to draw courage from words on paper.  I clutched the pages and spoke through tears:

My Beautiful Papa Ji,

A Pearl of Water on a Lotus Leaf

Author: 
T.S. Nagarajan

T.S. Nagarajan (b.1932) is a noted photojournalist whose works have been exhibited and published widely in India and abroad. After a stint with the Government of India as Director of the Photo Division in the Ministry of Information, for well over a decade Nagarajan devoted his life to photographing interiors of century-old homes in India, a self-funded project. This foray into what constitutes the Indianness of homes is, perhaps, his major work as a photojournalist.

Editor's note: This story is reproduced, with permission, from Mr. Nagarajan's not-for-sale book of his memories, A Pearl of Water on a Lotus Leaf &amp\; Other Memories, 2010.

When I think of my father now, in my twilight years, the picture that forms in my mind is one of a thin tall man with no great looks, clumsily dressed, who led a simple life and remained till the end just as God created him.

His cotton suit was never pressed\; shoes never polished\; tie invariably shrivelled, the knot he tied was not bigger than a red cherry. Added to this, he wore a felt hat when he went out to work looking somewhat like a taller version of the great Charlie Chaplin.

Uncle Ponnu

Author: 
T.S. Nagarajan

T.S. Nagarajan (b.1932) is a noted photojournalist whose works have been exhibited and published widely in India and abroad. After a stint with the Government of India as Director of the Photo Division in the Ministry of Information, for well over a decade Nagarajan devoted his life to photographing interiors of century-old homes in India, a self-funded project. This foray into what constitutes the Indianness of homes is, perhaps, his major work as a photojournalist.

Editor's note: This story is reproduced, with permission, from Mr. Nagarajan's not-for-sale book of his memories, A Pearl of Water on a Lotus Leaf &amp\; Other Memories, 2010.

My mother's brother, Uncle Ponnu, was a man apart: apart from good looks, apart from erudition, apart from any social life outside of his addiction to alcohol and the automotive world of the C. Perumal Chetty (CPC) Motor Service, where he worked as a bus conductor.

Low in stature and ungainly, he was a bachelor not by choice but by lack of choices. His face, which hinted of a hundred thousand hangovers down the drain, was heavy, eyes reddish and fierce like his body, which suffered from a congenital deformity. His hands were clubbed, bowed inwards, and the forearms markedly short. All this made him look grave and unfriendly.

The bullock cart salesman in Mysore

Author: 
M P V Shenoi

Shenoi, a civil engineer and MBA, rose to the rank of Deputy Director-General of Works in the Indian Defence Service of Engineers. He has also been a member of HUDCO’s advisory board and of the planning team for Navi Mumbai. After retirement he has been helping NGOs in employment-oriented training, writing articles related to all aspects of housing, urban settlements, infrastructure, project and facility management and advising several companies on these issues. His email id is mpvshanoi@gmail.com.

 

Venkataramana Shetty ­- I have changed his first name - was perhaps middle aged when I was born. In those days, in Mysore, in our community - and probably elsewhere in India, too - there was no way a child like me could talk to an outsider like Venkataramana.

But he was so active in our mohalla, and the older members of the family and community would talk about him, and I would hear their discussions. My father did not like him, but my maternal grandfather liked him. Sometimes they talked about Venkataramana.

Shettys are from a community whose Dharma is to take to business as their profession. This is as per the tenets of the Hindu caste system (Varnashrama Dharma). Following this, in those days, most Shettys were engaged in business, big or small as per their ability from a young age.

Remembering S P Varma and N C Chatterjee by A H Somjee

Author: 
A H Somjee

A.H. Somjee received his Ph.D. in Political Science from the London School of Economics. He is a charter member of the Simon Fraser University, Canada, where he is also an Emeritus Professor of Political Science. He has taught at the University of Baroda, the London School of Economics, University of Durham, and the National University of Singapore. He was also appointed as an Associate Fellow at the Queen Elizabeth House, Oxford University, and was invited to Harvard University, several times, as a Visiting Scholar.

 

Editor's note:

This article was written at the request of Prof. P C Mathur, a student and colleague of Prof. S P Varma at the University of Rajasthan, Jaipur, who believes that Prof. Varma brought about a major change in the field of Political Science in India, and wants Prof. Varma to be remembered

S P Varma retired in 1973 as the Head, Department of Political Science, University of Rajasthan, Jaipur. He took his D.Phil. degree from Agra University. He was required to teach civics and politics during the British Rule, and he did a magnificent job of it. He deeply reflected on the nature of Indian democratic politics and produced a number of very useful books on the subject. He was widely regarded as a great teacher who produced a number of good students.

A Tribute to Shri A.J. Zaidi

Author: 
Bal Anand

Bal Anand was born in 1943, in a village about 20 km south of Ludhiana, in a family of saint-scholars who practised Ayurveda. Graduated from DAV College, Jalandhar, and did Master in English Literature from Govt. College, Ludhiana. After a stint for a few years as lecturer, joined the Indian Foreign Service. Served in nine different countries and retired as India's High commissioner to New Zealand. Now reading, reflecting and writing in nest in Delhi, on the East Bank of Yamuna.

Having spent my childhood years in a village and later growing up in a town, both located in the closer vicinity of Malerkotla, the only princely state in the East Punjab ruled for centuries by the Muslim Nawabs, I had started wondering and pondering since long over the harmonies and divides between the Hindus and Muslims.

The small state of Malerkotla had remained comparatively immune from the mindless violence during the Partition of the country. I have a vivid memory of an inscription, intact in 1951 but decimated soon after, of the name of Nawab Iftikhar Ali Khan on the front wall of the Gurudwara in Ahmedgarh for his donation of Rs. 500.00 - it must have been a princely sum in those days! I had instinctively developed a faith in the mutual accommodation among faiths long before I was destined to be an Indian diplomat in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Maldives!

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