Sheila Kaul in her youth

Congress leader Sheila Kaul’s 100th Birthday

Sheila Kaul addressing people.She smiled and said, “You know a cup of Nimish would cost from one anna to two annas (16 annas made one rupee). Along with Nimish, came the vendors with golden crispy ‘Jalebis’ full of sweet syrup and these were sold on fresh green leaves, 10 to an anna. At times this could be our breakfast together with a glass of milk which the milkman brought in over-sized containers. My mother came to meet her father every year in Lucknow and it was here that I was born.”

Suddenly there was silence. I turned and looked at her. She had slept off with smile on her face while she was telling me how she was born. It was a special day and she had many a visitors. She looked tired but she was smiling. An hour later she woke up, looked at me and asked, “Why are you sitting here my dear? Want something?” I smiled and said, “Yes you were telling me about your childhood.” She laughed and said, “It was long back and I don’t remember. Can you make me a cup of tea please?” I smiled, “Yes.”

She held the cup in her hand trying to balance it with my help and said, “There were no buses or cars in Multan and the only transport was the ‘Tonga’. However, within two years a bus came and we used it for going to school. Amy, the girl next door would also come with us. One day she told me her young aunt had died and would I care to see her when she was being taken away. I went, they made her look like a bride who was going to be married. Her face looked so pretty.”

She continued and asked me, “Tell me why are all these people here with flowers? I said, It is your birthday. They have come to wish you.” She looked at me… “Am I this much?” I said, “Yes you are.” Then she went back to sleep.

The above conversation happened few years ago.

Sheila Kaul addressing a function.Sheila Kaul, born on the 7th of  February 1914 to Rajeshwar Nath Kaul and Saraswati Kaul, turned 100 this year. She spent her childhood in Lucknow, Multan, Ferozepur and Lahore. In her youth she was driving, her father had a Willy’s Knight and eventually a Sedan Chevrolet. People in those days around 70 years back had not seen many a cars so they would gather around her car and see velvet seats and the glass windows going up and down the door of the car.

As she completed her matriculation, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi had come to Ferozepore. They all went to hear him speak. When they came back they made a bundle of all non-khaadi clothes and discarded them. New khaadi sarees were bought and khaadi blouses stitched at home. By this time, Bhagat Singh along with Sukhdev and Rajguru had become her heroes.

She graduated for teachers training from Sir Ganga Ram Training college, taught for a while and then got married to Kailas Nath Kaul. In 1939, for the first time, she attended the Congress Session, along with Jawahar Lal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Vijay Lakshmi Pandit and met Subhash Chandra Bose. The same year she sailed for London on the July 1 in the S.S Strathmore. Her husband was in-charge of the India Section at the Royal Botanical Garden, Kew.

The second World War had started and she moved to Gloucestershire and gave birth to her first son in 1941. In 1944 her second child was born in London after which she moved to India. Then she moved to Kanpur had her third child there and shifted to Lucknow in 1953 where she started her social work with the Red Cross. She was elected as a Sabhasad and later became the Member of the Legislative Council of U.P.

Sheila Kaul with Margaret Thatcher

She won the Lucknow seat in 1971 an entered the Parliament. Then she worked hard and travelled to Paris, USSR, Copenhagen, the U.S. and Yugoslavia from 1971 to the early 1980s with the Indian Delegation. In 1980, Indira Gandhi became the Prime Minister and she won from Lucknow and looked after Education and Social Welfare Ministry.

Her husband died on 21st of February 1983. What a coincidence, they were married in the month of February on the 9th and both were born also in the same month. He loved the month of February and did not know that the same month would take him away.

In 1984, she was the Member of Parliament from Lucknow and a minister in Indira Gandhi’s Cabinet when a few minutes past 9:00 am she received a call at her office at Shastri Bhawan when a voice on the other side said, “Indira Gandhi has been shot.”

Rajiv Gandhi made her the Chairman of the centenary celebrations of the Congress  Party and she travelled all over and in 1989 she won the elections from Rae Barely. In 1991, she became the Urban Development Minister till 1995. And then, the small girl who was running in the by-lanes of Rani Katra entered the Raj Bhawan as the Governor of Himachal Pradesh.

Sheila Kaul in her youthA dynamic lady who always had undying love and devotion for people and an honest lifestyle is what can be said about her, today. She is the oldest living member of India’s Congress Party.

As I recalled her life on her 100th birthday this 2014, watching her …as we all celebrated, cut cakes, blew out candles, she could be seen smiling as everyone sang for her. I’m yet to see a person as awesome as she, who once said – Preserve Your Youth While You Are Young.

Happy Birthday Nani on this 100th Birthday! Cheers!! Stay young and make me even younger!!!

Fete de la Musique France – World Music Day Celebrations – 21st June

Someone asked me today, “What is World Music Day?” Well I would like to say here that thanks to internet, now we all celebrate so many days of happiness together. Social media and blogs help us in this. Among all the other days 21st June is celebrated as World Music Day. The first celebration started in France in 1976 and since then it has been on.

I yet have to meet people who are not dipped soul deep into music. Be it any country, any continent, any language, the only thing which joins all in harmony is plain and simple music.

And so it started, celebrations all over. The Fete de la Musique music festival started in 1982 in France and is now celebrated everywhere. Well that is what people do, now tell me what do you do?

What do you do to celebrate? Do you actually celebrate the presence of music in your life? Have you ever thanked God for making each bone in your body musical? Imagine if music was not there life would have been such a nightmare. The world would be an empty, silent place and so many people associated with music would be jobless.

Movies, a great source of music in today’s world would be without a single note and gosh… a nightmare it is. I remember my days of youth when we used to wait for the new releases. We would drop by the vendor every now and then asking,”Has any new music album been launched this week?” And if yes, I would collect my pocket money and quietly buy them and make my collection of these gems grow larger. Then the best part would be to showoff the new album to my friends… Oh what fun it was.

Doesn’t that bring back tonnes of memories!!! Now music is released online and is on You Tube which can be downloaded easily, so that kind of fun is not there in being the proud owner of that only compact disc or cassette in the market which we had earlier.

The other day I happened to witness a drum festival on the campus I was in and would you believe, I was stunned by the drummers. Oh, what a performance by sheer drums of all sizes. I can never forget that evening where people from all age groups with all sizes of drums came together and danced in abandon. Such is truly the power of music.

Well, whatever said and done music brings so much happiness, cheer and creates memories forever more.

I wish you all a musical year ahead. Keep notes and songs close to your heart. You shall never be alone.

COLLAGE FOR MUSIC

…week full of love

Today as you all know is the 1st of February. Now I know you will say what’s so special buddy…every month has a first. True. But this is the month of February dude, the month of love, the month of reaching out to your loved ones, the month of the Valentines and my favourite time of the year. Keep your songs, flowers, lines, gifts et al lined up.

As I stepped out, the market, shops, cafes, hotels, shopping malls, florists… oh everyone was red and red was all I could see wherever I went. Well, I know they are advertising and making money on this but what the heck! It is for a good cause. I feel if anything or any act spreads love and brotherhood, it’s worth any price paid.

As I passed by the florist gave me a beaming smile and showed me some red roses, which I was very tempted to pick up but then I let it go. My roses will come soon, I know.

You know there are 7 days before Valentine’s Day which are celebrated as various days. Well for those who don’t the list as follows:

  • Valentine's DayFebruary 7th: Rose Day
  • February 8th: Propose Day
  • February 9th: Chocolate Day
  • February 10th: Teddy Day
  • February 11th: Promise Day
  • February 12th: Kiss Day
  • February 13th: Hug Day
  • February 14th: Valentine’s Day

So girls this Valentines do something different. Don’t run after him. Let him run after you. Look after yourself. Love yourself. Pamper yourself – You deserve it. And boys go on chase her. That’s the fun my dear. That’s the way it should be. Go say I love you and make it special and mean it. Celebrate the love you have been granted and feel lucky. There are so many who are sad, lonely and sitting all alone, craving for company. So go out and get your girl and tell her you love her.

Don’t let mundane things ruin your youth and your love yet. Get the missing love hormone back in your life and spice it up a bit.

Have a extraordinary Valentine’s this year and don’t forget to tell me what you did.

Jyoti Singh Pandey – Happy Republic Day

This year has been a very strong year, beginning with a lot of turmoil amongst the Indian youth.

I saw the crowd standing up for what they want and they fought silently and bravely for this one girl Jyoti Singh Pandey, who gave her life but joined the entire nation for a cause each and everyone is today talking about.

It’s like a revolution rising in which the young and the old all rose together. We also saw a lot of politics and drama happening everywhere.

Candle light marches, human chains, protests at India Gate, Raisina Hill and Jantar Mantar, court proceedings, media gossips and so many other upheavals we saw and heard and so many we forgot.

The accused are still not punished. Justice is still under the clouds.

Today, I write just to remind everyone our promise to that young innocent girl that we will fight the system for her, and that we will not let her die in vain.

On this 64th Republic Day of India, I want to just remind everyone to keep their forces strong and do their little bit in their own little ways. Remember every small step makes a difference.