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Since 1st March, 1999
 
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MONEY MATTERS, OR DOES IT'

Most people regard money as the yard-stick of success. The more anyone has in one's bank, in farmland, factories, real estate or commands as fees, the more successful he is considered. This way of measuring success has become all-pervasive. A doctor who commands the highest fee is regarded as the best doctor. An artist who gets the highest price for his work is regarded as the best painter. Even scientists or inventors who have the largest number of patients to their credit are regarded as the best in their professions. The reverence for money has invaded the realm of sports too: the more a player gets for playing well and the more fees he can get for appearing in advertisements, the more he or she is looked upon as a success.

One cannot dismiss this method of gauging people by the amount of money they have, provided they have made it themselves by honest means, not inherited it from their forefathers or acquired it through misuse of power as is done by most politicians. Money is important: next to good health it is the most important thing to have. It is the only means of living in comfort. If you have some to spare, you can help other people who are short of it, cannot buy medicines they need, are unable to give their children proper education. And if you have lots of it, you can build schools or hospitals. But one must take care not to misuse money. It has many pitfalls. The lines of Khalish Badaulvi are pertinent:

Jis jagah aaee hai, tanha naheen aiee daulat

Buzdili aaee hai, aish aaye hain, dar aaye hain

(Wherever wealth has come, it has never come alone/ With it comes cowardice, desire to indulge in pleasures, and insecurity).

Look at the lives of the rich people you know. Most of them are scared of their own shadows and keep a horde of retainers to guard them. Most find outlets in drink, debauchery and squander their wealth. They have regular nightmares of losing what they have amassed. There is no need to envy those who have a lot more than you: most of them deserve our pity.

All said and done, what can a billionaire do with his billions' He can have many mansions, but only live in one. he can have fleets of cars but can only ride in one. he can eat in the most expensive restaurants and drink the most expensive wines and hard liquor. If he does so, he has to go to the expensive doctors to treat his indigestion and obesity. There is no need to turn green with envy; count your blessings and forget their existence.

Liver of contention

Two words which frequently appear in Urdu poetry for which I have failed to find an English equivalent are jigar and kalejaa. Literally, they mean liver, much prized by meat-eating epicures. Liver is much relished in the West. But it is not for its taste that Urdu poets write about it. And no other indigenous language uses it the way they do. Although it has become common usage in spoken Hindustani, for example, jigri dost for a bosom friend, jigreywala for a bold person, besides Urdu it is rarely used in Indian poetry. I am sure the concept is taken from Persian or Arabic. It stands for desire, passion, guts, lust. For example, Ghalib's lines:

Dil say teyree nigaah jigar tak uttar gayee

Ek hee adaa mein dono ko razamand kar gayee

(Your glance went down from my heart to my liver/ With one glance you won my love and my lust.

What induced the eminent poet from Moradabad take it as his takhalus, Jigar Moradabadi' Can any reader help me out'

Naming game

'Remember ' the name has to survive playgrounds, schools, teasing class-mates, nicknames, perhaps future fame; it must be for cooing and more likely being yelled or screamed', writes Ranjitha Ashok in Chennai Latte: A Madras Brew, illustrated with telling cartoons by Biswajeet Balasubramaniam. In that short, amusing essay, she deals with the problem of putting a name tag on a present for a new born child of a friend. It is hard to spell; Jagadwikshat. Her friend assures her that many good Tamils give their children names that are tongue-twisters, for example, Icchudhanva or Vikalinikamba. Tamilians have a penchant for names that are a yard long ' father's name, name of the village and a couple of deities thrown in for good measure. They end up by being known by their initials: TTK, VTK, RGK. They don't have much problem finding pretty names for their daughters. No longer are common names like Sita, Uma or Usha in vogue, instead they have more attractive ones like Jayalakshmi, Vasanti, Shivashankari Narayani, Subbalakshmi etc.

We northerners are not so innovative as our southern brethren. A few names go on being given to sons and daughters at times without sex discrimination. Parents are also not as careful in choosing names which may become embarrassing to their children as they grow up. School-mates can be cruel in giving them nick-names, based on their real names; they hang like halters round their necks for rest of their lives. But I know at least two men who, despite being poorly named, rose to eminence: Tota (parrot) Singh became a minister in the Punjab government. Mota Singh became a judge in England.

Love thy neighbour

A sweetness spreads across their faces

As Manmohan and Musharraf smile

And a silent joy and subdued hope

Of immense scope

Suffuses the sub-continent

Silent and subdued, because the blood of our Kargil youth

Still flows from our eyes;

Suspicion, even cynicism is not entirely out of place

When we remember the Agra disgrace,

But then, trade is the worst enemy of terrorism

And commerce a friend of peace,

There is no interest, they say, better than self-interest

And whatever suits me is always the best,

So, if not culture and common language, profit is the thing

And not for nothing doth the bard sing;

Love thy neighbour, for he could be closer than your brother.

So, though never give up caution, never in readiness fail

Hail Musharraf, our Manmohan Singh, hail

And may their duet continue to regale.

(Courtesy: Kuldip Salil, Delhi)

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