Sunday, 19 November 2017

The Lake of Life and an open air Waste Treatment Plant

Slowly but surely, the Bassi Wetlands are slipping out of our hands. The changes taking place are purely man-made and people in the say have turned a blind eye to the ecological disaster that is taking place before our very eyes! Each week you visit the spot, you will notice how the waterbody is being filled up with mud and debris in such a way as to raise the ground level thus cutting off part of the lake. This is at a point closest to a gas cylinder depot.

It is true that the spot is visited by numerous birdwatchers with sophisticated cameras and zoom lenses, but they don't even move further or they would be horrified to see how a sewage canal running close to  parts of wetland  has breached its banks at some places and the toxic waste is getting mixed into the water of the wasteland.  One cannot help wondering whether this gross neglect of civic responsibility is intentional or otherwise. No wonder the plot demarcation markers are there, in the form of subtlety sunk wooden poles and the lines tied to them. Wouldn't be surprised to shells of buildings springing up from these spots in a couple of years with swanky names like Westville, or Paradise Gardens, that on the grave of migratory birds and a freshwater body, albeit tainted by the sewage of the city of Gurgaon. One wouldn't be surprised if these plots would be flooded during the monsoons because nature reclaims its own with a vengeance!

Gurgaon is a living laboratory of ecological disasters taking place before our very eyes and we are mute spectators to the tragedy unfolding! The Gurgaon of the early eighties was much different from what it is now. There were more trees, there were more water bodies, and the Arravalis stood tall. There were bunds made in strategic places by the British administration in the 1800s. All of these have gone. The bunds have gone, the water bodies have gone, one wonders about the pond in Sukhrali village, and in place of what used to be a huge pond on the way to Sohna is a stadium. Builders had not yet started building swanky condominiums on the Arravalis close to Bass Village, and sweet water was to be found at 120 feet! No wonder, we had a hand pump at our house! I wish I had taken more photographs of the Gurgaon of the eighties although one of my photographs of a nomad family taken in front of what is the main entrance to the stadium was selected by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting at one of its photo exhibitions!

It gives one great thrill to be able to photograph some of the migratory birds visiting the Basai Wetlands both for archival purposes and for the assurance and inner conviction that writing about them will be a point of reference for our future generations. The speed with which the landscape of Gurgaon is changing is simply mind-boggling! The changing of the name of this city cannot, however, detract us from recalling the Gurgaon that was once home to forests lakes rivers and fruit tree plantations. One could see Nilgai roaming around in the streets and Peacocks and Peahens moving around. But of these there none left, at least not in the center of the city. My father used to tell me that the road to the railway station was once lined with trees, Jamun trees and that it was like walking through a tunnel. Of these there are none!

If you thought the above shots bring out the beauty of nature, then think about the last two shots I am sharing with you below and do share a thought in the comments section of the Blog.

The above two pictures are of toxic sewage that has contaminated parts of the fresh water that forms part of the Basai Wetlands. While walking in the area, I could help noticing the foul smell emanating from the area. No wonder, the Basai Wetlands is turning into a cesspit of apathy, greed, and indifference. It seems this once freshwater body has, after all, become an open-air waste treatment plant!

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Church of The Epiphany, Civil Lines Gurgaon Garden Fete 2017 a glimpse

I was pleasantly surprised to know from today's Church of The Epiphany Garden fete that the C.F Andrews a visiting presbyter of the Church of The Epiphany, Gurgaon, about whom I have written in the history of the church was none other than Charles Freers Andrews, a presbyter and a lecturer at the St. Stephens College, Delhi. This fact was pointed out by the Chief Guest of the Fete, Mr Jyoti Sagar, an eminent Senior Corporate Lawyer and alumni of the St. Stephens College. The Chief Guest on the occasion went on to inform the gathering that Charles Freer Andrews was none other than the person who had been given the title of Deen Bandhu by Gandhi! Mr Jyoti Sagar also told the gathering that Charles Freer Andrews had once advised Gandhi to return from South Africa to India. In a conversation with the Presbyter In Charge of the Church of The Epiphany, Gurgaon, Revd. Sunil Ghazan told me that a large number of Britishers in India were not in favour of the policies of the British Colonialists in India, and this was one of the factors that forced the Britishers to quit India!
It came as a surprise to know that the C.F. Andrews who figures in Indigo, a lesson taught to students of the C.B.S.E English Core syllabus was a visiting presbyter at the Church of The Epiphany, a church where I have been worshipping since the year 1985 when I came from Ethiopia to pursue further studies in Egnlish Literature. Great to know that the Church that I worship in is part of the history of the Indian National movement!

Thank you, Mr Jyoti Sagar for enlightening us about the history of the Church. Glad to know that Deen Bandhu once served this church in Gurgaon. On a lighter note, I would like to share a few pictures taken on the occasion. 

Mr Pramod Sagar was the Convenor of the Garden Fete. His hard work and efforts ensured that the fete was a grand success!

The stalwarts of the white elephant stall stuck to their station until the end of the day! They handled a huge crowd remarkably well!

Saturday, 11 November 2017

At the Dhanpatmal Virmani Education Trust and Management Society Centenary Celebrations

It was an honour to be invited to the centenary celebrations of the Dhanpatmal Virmani Education Trust and Management Society today. The first school run by the Dhanpatmal Virmani Education Trust and Managment Society was established in Lyallpur, Pakistan a hundred years ago. Ever since the Trust has been offering quality education to the underprivileged. The chairman of the Trust, Mr Anil Virmani is a philanthropist and an educationist with a vision that far surpasses expected possibilities. I served the trust for seventeen years which happen to be the most important formative years for me.

The function started with a narration of the history of the school. The partition affected the family adversely. The members of the Dhanpatmal Virmani Family were forced to leave everything behind in Pakistan. Yet, the elders decided to open a new school in Roop Nagar, Delhi at first in a rented accommodation.

Staff members of the Virmani Public school were felicitated for their service by the trust as were the staff members of the Dhanpatmal Virmani Sr. Sec school.

It was a great joy to see the retired staff members with whom I had once worked. Among those present was Mr  G.L. Naswa, the first principal under whom I had worked, Mr  R.B.Aggarwal the first Vice Principal under whom I had worked, Mr  A.R. Ahuja, and Mr Tayal, who had retired before I joined the school in 1994.

It was an emotional moment also to see a group of students of the 1984 batch acknowledge the contribution of their teachers all those years ago because of which they have reached their present status as accomplished professionals.

It was indeed a high energy moment for Mr.Amitav Virmani and Mr Anil Virmani, the Nephew and Uncle combo of the Trust, as you can see from the above snap!

Mr Vinod Dua, eminent media person and alumni of the Dhanpatmal Virmani School was the chief guest on the occasion shared his anecdotes as a student of the school. He spoke at length about the need to go beyond the textbook and what is limited to the curriculum. He talked about developing skills that go beyond the textbook, skills that help equip the learner for life as a professional He talked about the need for crossing the class barrier and to acknowledge one's Indianness. He talked about his memories of life as a small child in Dera Ismail Khan, in Pakistan and his struggles as a child in India after the partition.

The students presented a scintillating cultural programme for all those who were present on the occasion.  

It was an honour to see Mrs Asha Kishore, Vice President of the trust whom I was closely associated with as the editor of the Dateline E-Newsletter. She read out the vote of thanks.

Last but not least, lest you should think I covered the whole function by proxy, I would like to thank Mr S.R.Sharma for acknowledging my presence at the function with this lovely snap!

Thursday, 9 November 2017

A Confirmation Service at the St. James' Church

The fifth of November my family and I heading to the St. James' Church Kashmiri gate to attend our Niece's confirmation service. The Sunday Mass at the church at Kashmiri Gate Delhi was an amazing experience as there is something that is rather special about the church in itself. The church incidentally was built much before 1857 and it bore witness to the uprising also known as the first war of independence. It is also known as Skinner's church as it was built by Skinner a soldier in the British Imperial Army.

The above insignia belonged to Skinner's Horse Regiment. I was able to take a photograph of one of the members of the Horse Regiment, and impressive rendition, no doubt!

At the church, I was able to get a few more photographs that I wish to add to this blog post. They are posted below:

This is a photograph of the church as it was in 1857.

A much later photograph is of the Skinner's Horse Regiment.

But then, I guess enough of the History, I should move on to the children who were confirmed that day, the fifth of November, for it is an honour for them to share a slice of history by virtue of being confirmed in this church.