“When the Bharat Yatra entered Madhya Pradesh, Arjun Singh who was then chief minister of the state directed the officials to welcome it. Besides, Singh himself called up Chandrashekhar to know whether he required any help.”
Rahul gandhi yatra

Illustration By Hasan Zaidi

Arup Chakraborty

Rahul Gandhi’s Yatra

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s 3, 570-kilometre Bharat Jodo Yatra, which began from Kanyakumari on September 7, reminds every Indian of the Bharat Yatra taken out by former prime minister Chandrashekhar in 1983. The Bharat Yatra, which started from Kanyakumari on January 6 in 1983, reached Kashmir on June 25, 1984, covering 4, 200 kilometres. Before taking out the Yatra, Chandrashakhar had said that he had no intention to become another Shankaracharya or another Vinoba Bhave, but that he longed to see the real India. Rahul Gandhi says his objective is to wipe out the seed of bitterness bred by religious intolerance. His message is clear: let's walk and talk to the common man; let’s not do any politics. The response he is getting from the people is enormous.  As his Yatra is progressing, Rahul is also getting nasty comments from a few media houses as well as from some senior politicians. Chandrashekhar had no such problem. A senior journalist said, “When the Bharat Yatra entered Madhya Pradesh, Arjun Singh who was then chief minister of the state directed the officials to welcome it. Besides, Singh himself called up Chandrashekhar to know whether he required any help.” Both Singh and Chandrashekhar belonged to two different political parties, but that never spawned animosity between them. The journalist said, “Can such behaviour be expected from today’s politicians?”

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Byomkesh Bakshi turns 90

Byomkesh Bakshi Turns 90
Illustration By Hasan Zaidi

People of all ages across the world marvel at whodunnit novels and at those who try to crack such mysteries. The dramas involving crimes and the detectives have also been flashing across large silver screens from the earliest days and, with the advent of television, the number of detectives portrayed on small home TV screens has increased. Some of these characters are Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, Philip Marlowe, Miss Marple and Byomkesh Bakshi. The creator of Byomkesh Bakshi, Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay, was born on March 30 and died on September 22, 1970, and his Byomkesh Bakshi or Satyanweshi (Truth Seeker) came into existence in 1932. This fictional sleuth has always fired the imagination of many teenagers and youths in West Bengal. Inspired by this character, many of them aspired to become a detective. Yet the character became a household name across the country only after a television serial was made on it. Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot completed100 years last year, which Byomkesh Bakshi will do in 1932. Still both are alive and kicking. As Alfred Hitchcock once said: “These great detectives are unique; they are intensely individual. They range from the deceptively stolid tenacity of French Inspectors to the Gallic and mercurial intuitiveness of Hercule Poirot. Some are eccentric, some ordinary, some naïve, some sophisticated.” Byomkesh Bakshi is a dhoti-panjabi-clad Bengali gentleman whose quest for truth never ends.  


Treasure trove
Illustration By Hasan Zaidi

Old book shops, especially the ones set up on roadsides – though many of them have been removed now – limn the real cultural countenance of a city. If New Delhi and Kolkata are the realms of such roadside book stalls, the ones found in Lucknow, Bhopal, Patna and in other cities, are equally rich. The other day, when a friend was standing at one such stall in Old Bhopal, he came across a rare book – Good English. Written by G H Vallins and published by English Language Book Society (ELBS) in the United Kingdom, the book is a treasure-trove for those who want to know how the English language can be written. Most of its pages have become yellow, because it was published in 1942. Ergo, one should handle it with care. No sooner had the friend seen the book than he bought it whose original cost was one shilling and sixpence. It is not much, though the shopkeeper wanted fifty rupees. The friend had every reason to part with that small amount of dough. After all, the contents of the book are more than the amount the friend had parted with. Once a well-known grammarian and author of Usage and Abusage Eric Partridge put it: ‘This very good book…’  Similarly, Sunday Times wrote: ‘Packed with shrewd comment…’ A few comments on the grammatical errors made by many renowned English authors, which the book contains, really evoke titter. The book is out of print now, though it stands up to the passage of time.

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Illustration By Hasan Zaidi

The preposition plays havoc with any language in the world. The English language is no exception. Let’s see how the prepositions ‘beside’ and ‘by’ confused a crime reporter of an English daily and how it kicked up sniggers.

The crime reporter wrote: “A small bottle of poison was kept by the bed of the man …”

The News Editor commented“The bed should be hanged till death for committing such a heinous crime!”