Inseparable Friends


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At school we have a lot of classmates and some of them we get along with and become friends, whereas others are there as our classmates only .

Do we like each other's faces or our eyes meet and say  "yes ,I would like to be friends with him ."Its not clear how children choose some over many others to be their friends .

As children we made friends and fight  with some over silly things and say KUTTI talking to you and after a few days we used to call it ABBA , meaning we were friends again .That is how many of our childhood friendships are like except a few which continue for a long time .

We did go to school for studying various subjects but our excitement was in meeting our friends there daily and tell them about something that happened in our life or in our locality .Morning prayers were boring rituals and our principal giving speech - we don't even remember it .

May be human mind is selective in storing what it likes and do not store what it doesn't like .

I had a childhood friend called Ravi seth studying with me at my school who was to remain  my friend for a long time to come and then suddenly he disappearing in the thin air .

Ravi seth was the only son of his parents and had four sisters ,three elder to him .He became a pampered son just like me , since I had two sisters and was the only son of my parents .

Ravi's father was a dark complexioned tall guy , with a glint in his eyes yet ,  as a child I was dead scared of him ,though ravi remained close to his father more than his mother all along .

His father owned a bullet motorcycle those days when most of the people had bicycles to commute and was a man with a large heart and always trusted his people .He arranged marriages for his daughters very well and later owned a car .He built his own spacious house near SD Mandir ,a central location and good place to stay in at Ambala Cantonment .As a Contractor with Military engineering services ,he had to work very hard to build roads and buildings .He did well for himself financially .

Defence area at Ambala is very neat and clean with wide roads and well maintained bungalows and quarters .Civilian areas remained haphazard .Houses built as per the choices of its owners and coloured accordingly from outside and inside .

Whitewash was a common interior of houses till the paints came in .Outside houses had different paint and shape as well as the colour shade .

This divide between defence and civilian culture continues till today in our society .Defence customs and areas were built strictly as per the British  standards and are maintained to a great extent even today .

Civilian life and areas have outgrown with time but in a haphazard way .

Old buildings still exist but the new ones have been built to congest the city completely .

Moreover , science apparatus workshops have become a household industry at Ambala Cantonment .Grain market , vegetable market and sweet shops have gone in the background .

Ambala City has created a name for its wholesale cloth market in the region ,apart from many temples and educational institutions .Yes there has been a successful Mixi manufacturer  here called Gopi , who has maintained good quality and supplies throughout India .

Scooters, cars ,bicycles ,manually driven tricycles and cattle driven carts , still keep the traffic going in a weird fashion .This has been the story of most of the cities in India as well as metropolitan towns in India .

New technologies have overlapped over the traditional patterns of living .

I was closer to my mother than to my father ,always .

My mother was a dark complexioned and very energetic  woman .She  had tastes for  all kinds of arts and culture . She used to get up early in the morning and had her bath before children got up .We got our discipline from her but none of us became as compassionate as she was .A humble soul who suffered at the hands of her destiny .She used to call it PRARABDH ( Destiny ). 

As we grow up ,I have observed children closer to their fathers,  grow womanisers as adults and easy going with their girl friends , whereas children closer to their mothers are quite shy and hesitant with girls in physical relationship .Psychology can better eplain this phenomenon ,

Long back , at my university days ,my girl friend Aneeta realised that I was closer to my sisters and saw sisters in other girls too .She was a student of psychology .

There was a gang of boys who came from Model Town ,a slightly posh  society in terms of infrastructure and the level of people staying there .These boys brought their books in steel trunks whereas we all used to carry cloth or leather bags .Backpacks have become common now , which were not seen those days .

Anil Thakur was the only child from Model Town , I became friendly with and we kept in touch as we grew up .He became an architect and moved to Melbourne in Australia .

He was very fond of calling souls by keeping hands on the table and I found many clairvoyants doing this kind of a trick .Talking to the dead souls .

Ravi and me remained childhood chums and during 1962 , when I was leaving for Chandigarh ,he invited me over to his house for lunch at Bansa bazar ( Bamboo market ) .His sisters  served us .His father was a civil contractor and wanted his son to become a civil engineer .

His elder sister Shashi used to study in our school , whose marriage went on rocks afterwards .

Subhash was a school friend who stayed , as one went up the stairs , beside pachranga chat ( Indians in North of India are very fond of fried Samosas and Golgappas called PANI purée in West ) at the corner of Saudagar bazar .His father or grandfather used to dress up in a weird way and kept his bicycle very decorated .

Go ahead and we had Sunar bazar ( Jewellery market ) where we had a dark complexioned boy whom we used to call DHUUCHA .While  while learning German or Spanish they use this word for a shower .

Altjough at our homes ,we were known by our nick names yet ,  at school we were fond of giving funny names to many friends .I was called Bharta Bhui , which doesn't mean anything but that was a name given to me .

Kohli was a fat Sikh boy whose father had a mobike repair shop in Rai market .Thete was a photographer there , where much later ravi and me had a photograph .

Ravi left the school in class VI , since somebody wrote in the bathroom , the name of a girl Bimla against him and he left the school and joined SD School near his home .

We became very mischievous in class VIII. .Rakesh Bhatnagar was my friend then , who was a rough guy and grew up to be rougher still .His wife was murdered by a police officer at his Delhi flat and the case remained in the news  paper headlines for many years .He became a Legal editor at a leading English newspaper .

Yes , I used to sing songs from 1962 onwards  .I sang a song on my school stage , when a guy in the  crowd  gave me five rupees in 1964/65( equivalent to 5000INR today ) .He was happy to listen to me .

We did a one act play on shiva Ji and I did Afzal Khan vs Shiva Ji episode with Ravi .

This story is about two young kids who became friends at schooL.

For some years they learnt cycling together and doing other mischiefs .

My father was a government servant and we lived a life full of shortages always .

Both of us stayed at Ambala Cantonment and my friend in a slightly higher locality there and we stayed in a locality where we could afford the low cost housing etc ,

Life went on and I met ravi  in 1969/70 during our college days and we kept long hair and stuck together to be known as an inseparable friends .

I was fond of a short statured girl from Model Town who was good at English speaking .

Sushma Swaraj who became a minister in the Governemnt later on ,was a Hindi debater .She was a Hindi student and we were science students more respected those days than students doing graduation in arts .

We participated in Youth festival and professor Kaushik our English language teacher directed a play with Ravi ,myself ,Anirudh and Reeta .I went in for a paper reading contest at Model Town .

Zorawar singh was an English debater and Sushma used to be after him whereas Zorawar was after Sneh Preet lambaan Enlish language debater .

During 1970 , I joined Panjab University physics department and Ravi joined engineering college to do civil engineering .

After I got good marks in Pre engineering ,I was able to get admission in most of the places but I chose Physics honours .Many engineers used to be unemployed those days but the situation changed later on .

Like a bird out of his cage ,I tasted freedom for the first time in my life .

Staying at the boys' hostel which was open 24x7 . My room mate was doing his master's in zoology who became a scientist later on .

Both of us were good singers and I sang once on a stage and became a popular  singer of my University .

We joined music department at the university which provided hobby classes in music .

Indian theatre department was started in front of us and Kiron Kher was a student there with Bobby Garewal .Anupam Kher and Aneeta Kanwar and Harry Baweja joined later who were all good actors .

.Harry became a Director at Bollywood and Anupam a successful actor and married Kiron Kher later on  .Aneeta acted for sometime but escaped the industry and built her flat in Gurgaon .

Ravi was in engineering college where there were no girls and he used to visit me to go around and chase girls on his scooter .Bakhtar Ali was a dark complexioned beautiful girl we used to chase .

I became friendly with a lot of students from art faculty .

Vinod Kohli was from Psychology and Lakhvinder singh too .Vinod used to read Kafka and all nihilist philosophers and was a hashish  lover .

I was hooked on to hash for sometime and it was amazing that I lost concept of time completely .Listening to music was a great experience after hash .

Subhash gupta my classmate was my ATM those days and I used to take out money from his small tin box for my cigarettes or taking my girl friends for a cup of tea .

Subhash retired as an Incime tax commissioner later on .

Ashok singhal was a serious student of Physucs who went on to  do astronomy and became a scientist and travelled to OOTY ,Netherlands and east Germany and Pune .Finally he settled at Ahemedabd .

We had many more classmates but we were never close to them .

Life was a great fun and we did mischiefs in our classrooms which we had never done in our school days even .

1973 I did poorly in my physics graduation , because I had lost all interest in my studies .

English, philosophy or psychology used to attract me a lot . 

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Chapter -1


It  was like the nearest metro town to people staying at Ambala or anywhere in Punjab ,Haryana or Himachal Pradesh .

A newly constructed and well,planned town by a French architect during 1950's  , whereas Ambala Cantonment was created by Britishers during 1840 and the civilian area remained largely unplanned and haphazard .

Divided into mohallas which can be translated as communities of people with almost similar professions and level of living .

For a long time we stayed at a government quarter provided to my father called P&T colony which was behind  GHEE GODAM ( a warehouse for storing ghee ) .We had to cross the railway lines to go to our school or come back to our colony .Much later an underpass was introduced below the railway lines for bicycles and two wheelers .

We got used to trains shunting to attach or detach compartments and we will always be careful while crossing the railway lines .Our parents were a worried lot for the safety of their children ,

Ravi had his house at what  is called PUNJABI MOHALLA ( a community of Punjabis ) .

We always had a lot of Sikhs in our city  and their gurudwaras whereas Hindu temples were also there .

We never had any Muslims in our town or may be quite a few which I have never known ,

BANIYAS ( Traders) have always been a wealthy community in India doing trading of commodities  or other items and keeping a simple life style to earn and save money .Jains ,Guptas and Agarwals were a plenty in our town apart from Sikhs and punjabi people .

Punjabis have been lovers of good food and good clothes always .They hardly saved any money for themselves except building their own house ,as their pockets allowed .I find them akin to Americans n this respect but never supported by their government as Americans or westerners are in their old age ,

Ambala Cantonment was established by Britishers during 1843 and built a church near to the airforce station .It got bombarded badly during 1965 Indo-Pak war while planes were targeting the airbase .As children we went to see the bombarded church in the morning and collected some pieces of bombs .

A huge cemetery exists at Ambala which is lying desolate now .A lot of wild plants have grain around the planks where bodies were buried .There are not many Cristian's in the town now yet the cemetery reminds us of the old British days .

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