Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Humble Broom

The humble "jharoo"(broom), beyond one's imagination, has got a status now, the symbol of power.

While the physical jharoo still keeps its down to earth job of cleaning floors or streets, the symbolic version has been assigned a very noble and exalted role. And a lot is expected from its upgraded assignment. It could be the beginning of a promising career but the job is a tough one. Still the chore is basically the same to clean, rather complete and deep cleaning. This area has actually never ever been cleaned. And over the years a lot of dust and dirt have accumulated over the surface that nobody has ever seen how does it actually look.

The jharoo, in its new role, has to be a tough one. Anyway, my best wishes to "aam" guys and gals who will be swirling the humble jharoo for the long overdue cleansing.

Friday, October 18, 2013


Musings about Home Sweet Home

By Promod Puri

Back in 1972, when I immigrated to Canada and made my first home in
Winnipeg, Manitoba, I happened to meet a very helpful and friendly
person by the name of CR Bector. He was a distinguished professor of
mathematics at the University of Manitoba. And out of respect, as he was my elder and held an academic professional status, I along with other close acquaintances addressed him as ‘Doctor Sahib’ or ‘Doctor Bector’. He was not a medical doctor but had a PhD degree in his extensive portfolio of

CR Bector, although to most of us in the Indo-Canadian community sounded
like an English name, especially since the surname hails from Punjab and is typically Punjabi. He was a popular personality in Winnipeg simply because of his informal, lively and sociable temperament.

However for me, the enticing thing about him is that his real name is Chajju
Ram. It is really an old-fashioned North Indian name as we seldom come
across people with that name any longer. And his first name, Chajju, immediately strikes up memories of the famous Indian proverb “jo sukh chajju ke chobare, na balakh na bukhare.
Translation: East or West home is the best.

The name Chajju certainly resonates with the importance of home
as it is part of life’s triangle, rather I would say the most
sought-after trinity of “roti, kapadra aur Makaan”, meaning
food, clothing and shelter.

The fact is anybody with a home in reality owns his or her little sovereign
kingdom or queendom. It is one of those virtues of life which one aspires to have. Life begins and revolves around home and we also enjoy the pride of
having that possession.

Home is not merely a physical dwelling of walls, windows and doors; floors
and roofs. It is not just a rest spot either, but a cozy place of peace and
tranquility in the midst of family or friends’ lively togetherness and
entertainment. Home is the place of absolute independence within acceptable social norms.

Home sweet home is a simple expression carrying deep feelings of that warmth
and comfort which one yearns for.

If the home does not give all that is expected then it is a house, and for
that reason home sickness is better than being confined under a sort of house arrest.

Home is the place of everlasting nostalgia of living with parents,
brothers, sisters and dear ones, the childhood anecdotes of little fights and
laughs, the home-cooked food, books and beds, and a lot more. The physical
remembrance of each and every household item is also a somewhat nostalgic

Home is where we accumulate our cultural values, connect with our heritage
and acquire our family’s social, linguistic and religious identities.

Home is that place of security and independence where with elated feelings
one can unwind, recline and relax.

As eighteenth century English poet James Thompson has exquisitely expressed:

“Home is the resort
Of love, of joy, of peace, and plenty; where
Supporting and supported, polished friends
and dear relations mingle into bliss.”

But that bliss is denied to millions of homeless people all over the world sheltering under the open sky at the mercy of Mother Nature. It is this sad aspect of humanity that is visibly invisible as life goes on in busy metropolises.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Size Small


By Promod Puri

In all my adult life and now in the entry-level of my senior years I have been habitually putting on only boys' size sox because the regular ones, especially of 100 percent cotton, always gimme a little flabby nuisance at the ankles. It is not that I am of diminutive framework, but my feet somehow did not mature beyond size 8.

I accepted long time ago this abnormality, if one can tag me with that, but it was a done deal conforming to my feet's karma. However, in my early ordeal years the consoling factor was that there used to be no tax on children's clothing, and my shopping for sox was always tax free. Not any more. Still, it is a cheaper buy compare to the price of men's socks especially the name brand "gold" toes ones.

I am unquestionably aware that I'm not alone in the small foot grade. There is a whole flock of men looking to cozily snug their feet in size small as they shop discreetly in the boys's section or even ladies section like I did many times.

Most of the sox available in the men's section are deceitfully labeled as "size 7 to 11" or more vaguely as "size 7 to 13". How that is possible! The feet don't magically shrink or expand to wriggle or drop into a sox, nor the latter is elastic enough to fit one size for all. But people of all adult ages do buy those seven-elevens or seven-thirteens.

My discriminating aversion create that bumpy layer in the hind foot or droopy folds at the toes when wearing extra size sox. It seems to be ok for those adults who don't care much about that soft bump, or perhaps they like the extra little cushioning. Anyway, that is a personal choice.

But my story does not end at the foot level.

Accepting that the age factor has taken off some layers of fat in the upper body, a natural physiological phenomenon including some muscle loss if I ever accumulated one, that lately I have downgraded myself from size "m" to size "s" shirts. Perhaps, it was overdue, but I knowingly ignored the fact, with some reticent feeling, that size small was the perfect fit to represent me physically speaking.

However, unlike sox buying for which I have to go to somewhat reluctant area of boys' section ( ladies's too ), the small size shirt shopping in the men's territory is a commonplace area for everybody from medium, large, extra large to 2extra large sizes folks.

As a matter of fact it is true for many men who just need the small size but they keep on wearing shirts and other outfits beyond their size. It is a puzzling commitment not to accept that their real fitting size is small.

And for many others small is ok in the neck area but arms and shoulders are too short or still too long. Still the main problem arises for those with Bartlett pear belly where the shirt buttons refuse to close, especially when one tries to sit down. This is a real personal dilemma which the readymade shirt makers have not addressed at all.

Not only that, both the designers and manufacturers have not realized the changing demographics that the population is now of mixed races with different sizes. And that we need further subdivisions within a size, like extra small, medium or large small; or small medium,medium medium or large medium. After all one size does not fit all.

In short my message to the shirt designers, manufacturers and retailers is simple and clear: the body needs a shirt to fit into, nor the shirt needs a body for the right fit.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Prof. Hari Sharma


By Promod Puri

It was tense, divisive and provocative violent period in the mid ‘80s when the communal and religious hatred almost divided the otherwise peaceful and amicable Indo-Canadian community in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia.

Tension between Hindus and Sikhs was swiftly escalating as a result of separatists’ fierce Khalistan movement in Punjab, India, and which was having emotional and enraged repercussions in B.C., especially after the Golden Temple attack by the Indian armed forces.

More than that, the entire Punjabi community was severely divided within itself as it was fearfully inflicted with religious fanaticism from extremists dominating the scene with boycotts, threats and violence. 

Our inter-caste and inter-religious harmony as a community was falling apart. Our years of united struggles, fighting prejudice, hatred and discrimination and seeking equality in the overall Canadian society was seriously obstructed. We were facing very serious situation whereby as a major ethnic community we were in deep crisis.

Alarmed by the deteriorating situation and accepting the immediate and unexpected challenge, a few of us as community activists openly started holding meetings in an atmosphere of threats and violence to access and tackle the damage being done.

At this critical moment our friend and guide was none other than Hari-bhai. He was bold, forthright and tough personality with meeting-protocol skills that we were able to form a small but effective force which was named Forum For Communal Harmony.

Although we elected not to have any designated titles among us from our membership, but Hari-bhai was certainly a mobilizing force to direct our earnest efforts to combat hatred and violence, and stressing on the need to restore harmony within the community.

It was during participations in the Forum’s meetings and working with Hari-bhai that I as publisher and editor of The Link, the South Asian newspaper, started admiring and recognizing the selfless and passionate for freedom of expression qualities in him. And out of respect for his mature and unbiased thinking, concerned and caring nature, and being fanatically secular personality that I started calling him Hari-bhai.

Although being a newspaperman, I did not join or participate in many of his other diverse campaigns over the years, but I always acknowledged and supported his causes and ardent struggles.

Hari-bhai had been a motivational force to bring out people to fight for causes for our betterment as a society. He challenged the silence and apathy of people toward injustice and violence against minorities whether in India or in Canada. In this regard he seemed to share the views of famous Indian film producer Mahesh Bhatt who once said “I always maintained that society is not devastated by the misdeeds of badman, but by the silence of the so-called good people”.

As a relentless campaigner on numerous issues like anti war and nuclear weapons, human rights and social justice, oppression of landless workers and Scheduled Casts in India, Hindu fundamentalism and minority rights Hari-bhai was certainly a “voice of “consciousness. He reached the “pinnacle of success” as he had always been uninterested in money, compliments or publicity.

Hari Sharma made a very significant contribution in drawing and shaping the political,social and to some extent economic landscape of our community particularly in this part of Canada.

(Prof. Hari Sharma, a distinguished academic at the Simon Fraser University in the department of sociology, died three years ago after fighting a long battle with cancer at the age of seventy-five).

Shri Ganesh


By Promod Puri

As there are no matter-of -fact inspired utterances attributed to the Hindu pantheon of gods and goddesses, except Lord Krishan thru his Gita sermons, the symbolic representation of each of them thru their statued or graphic images convey a lot of interpretations.

And all these perceptions cover their collective or individual roles which appeal to varied and reverent prayers and adorations of devotees.

It is in this iconography that Lord Ganesh occupies popular place among the major deities in the Hindu religion as his clearly recognizable elephant tusk-hooded form portrays an array of virtues.

According to some Hindu scriptures "The broken tusk that Ganesha holds like a pen in his lower right hand is a symbol of sacrifice, which he broke for writing the Mahabharata. 

The rosary in his other hand suggests that the pursuit of knowledge should be continuous. 

The laddoo (sweet) he holds in his trunk indicates that one must discover the sweetness of the Atman.

 His fan-like ears convey that he is all ears to our petition. The snake that runs round his waist represents energy in all forms. And he is humble enough to ride the lowest of creatures, a mouse."

Ganesha's head symbolizes the Atman or the soul, which is the ultimate supreme reality of human existence, and his human body signifies Maya or the earthly existence of human beings.

The elephant head denotes wisdom and its trunk represents Om, the sound symbol of cosmic reality. 

In his upper right hand Ganesha holds a goad, which helps him propel mankind forward on the eternal path and remove obstacles from the way. The noose in Ganesha's left hand is a gentle implement to capture all difficulties".

Ganesh is popularly worshipped as the god of Beginnings. "Sri-Ganesh" is the common expression for any new event, purchase or startup enterprise and at the beginning of rituals and ceremonies.

The humble Ganesh's picture or moorti beside being inside a Hindu temple, is often seen at the entrance of homes as "doorkeeper" to keep out adversary, analogous to the legend that his mother, Parvati, conceived him in clay and placed him at her door for protection. 

And the anecdote continues that Lord Shiva beheaded him out of anger, and later restored Ganesh' head with that of an elephant baby. 

These days the "doorkeeper" is mostly placed as decorative adoration at entrance.

He is the Lord of Obstacles, Vighaneshvara or Viganharta to remove obstacles. One belief is that he even puts "obstacles in the path of those who need to be checked", and "his task in the divine scheme of things, his dharma, is to place and remove obstacles. It is his particular territory, the reason for his creation".

Beside being bestowed upon with mythical powers or symbolic interpretations over his unique figure, Ganesh is a popular deity in the contemporary spiritual world as lord of knowledge, intellect and wisdom. 

It is in this portfolio that Ganesh captures the most imaginative and creative art for his portrayal.

Versatile Ganesh is drawn in a multitude of actions from sitting, dancing, playing and in contemporary visionary situations like working on a computer with mouse in his hand, while his lifelong mouse companion jealously looking on.

In the world of modern Indian art, Ganesh is one of the most favored and trendy subject matters taken up by artists to create their artwork, be it is in metal or stone statue, traditional drawings or ingenious material like pipal leaves or even fruits and vegetables.

The handling of this multi-facet divinity by artists in their own imaginative ways and thru their own selected tools creates an innovative and popular Ganesh art. 

And over the years innumerable art work has been produced just on the figure of Ganesh that a big exhibition can be organized to recognize artists' talent and works.

The visionary and artistic study of Ganesh makes him the most interesting, lively and art-inspiring deity who is emerging in the art world as a playful secular god beyond the Hindu religion.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


By Promod Puri

When the 10th Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, close to his death,sealed the continuity of human gurus and declared that henceforth the holy book Adi Granth would be the eternal Guru of Sikhs,the hymn composed by him for that declaration encourages a devotee to read, research and contemplate on the enlightenments contained in the sacred book.

Agya bhai Akal ki tabhi chalayo Panth
 Sabb Sikhan ko hukam hai Guru manyo Granth
Guru Granth Ji manyo pargat Guran ki deh
Jo Prabhu ko milbo chahe khoj shabad mein le
Raj karega Khalsa aqi rahei na koe
Khwar hoe sabh milange bache sharan jo hoe."

While the first three lines of the hymn translates like this: the Sikh panth (meaning a path) was created by the orders of the Supreme Being whereby all Sikhs are asked to accept the Adi Granth (Sikh holy book) as their Guru which is also an embodiment of all the gurus; the fourth line emphasizes that whosoever wishes to "milbo" (meet or seek) Him can realize Him thru "Khoj" (search) in the "shabad" (words) of wisdom explicit in the scriptures.

And the last two lines of Guru Gobind Singh's hymn mean "The pure shall rule, and the impure will be no more, Those separated will unite and all the devotees of the Guru shall be saved".

"Khoj shabad mein le" is a very rational expression conveying the message that the acceptance of the Adi Granth as Guru,involves studying and following this treasure of revelation, inspiration and consultation as well. 

As such,along the lines of the hymn,Guru Gobind Singh offers complete reasoning in his abiding declaration of "Guru Maneyo Granth".

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

$11 Million Bonanza

Subject: $11 Million Bonanza


When the news finally reaches every nook and corner of India from Kashmir to Kanyakumari that the BC Government gives away $11 million to set up an event here in the province for 2014 Bollywood awards, a lot of Indian media outlets would line up for this generous bounty.
And why not!
Conceding the Provincial Liberals somehow come back to power, as they should not give up hope because much has been invested thru the "ethnicgate" in the growing and thriving ethnic market, that eleven million dollar affair would be repeated next year too.
The TOIFA will come back along with other media contenders like HTFA (Hindusthan Times Film Award), IEFA (Indian Express Film Award), or even the Chandigarh Tribune to apply for this no-question-asked liberal grant.
As the provincial government has not laid out strict terms and conditions for this massive dole, except that the event should promote BC for tourism or some business that any media outfit, big or small, can apply for the sponsor money.
So media folks in India, hurry up. Rope in the who's who in the glamorous world of Bollywood, have some Liberal connection, just write on top of the application "to promote BC", submit it and get your guaranteed $11 million bonanza from the considerate tax-payers’  representatives in the provincial government. 
And here in the province, in addition to the acclaimed boost to BC tourism and business, the 11-million-dollar kick-start would also help in providing some career opportunities for exiting politicians to dance along in the alluring world of Planet Bollywood. Sure, some of these politicians are well qualified for variety of roles in the Indian film industry, and one BC politician has publicly demonstrated his acting skills on stage and expressed his intended Bollywood foray at the award ceremony last week.

( Promod Puri is the former editor and publisher of South Asian publication, The Link ).

Thursday, February 21, 2013


-A Satire

By Promod Puri

Lately, I am having viral itch to be appointed a Canadian Senator.

I must admit that, perhaps like most Canadian citizens, I have a very limited insight about what the job description is of being a Senator. 

However, I do know that one of the determining and pressing tasks a Senator has to undergo is to travel, and travel a lot. It could be travel within this vast country or any where else in the world as long as a Senator is roaming he or she is performing the job.

And here I perfectly qualify to become a Senator as I love traveling. Send me anywhere in the world I'm adaptable, though my preference would be sunny and warmer places,especially in winter months.

I have already earned thousands of mileage of being a frequent traveller that I'm well entitled for the job notably when it is related to travel.

Beside being an experienced ever-moving itinerant my other qualifications of being a rightful and exemplary Canadian citizen are as follow:

1. I have lived in Winnipeg and walked around Main & Portage several winter months for several years that I truly know what a Canadian winter is like.

2. Although I have never played and seldom seen a live hockey game, I follow this Canadian sport and cultural icon on TV including the world-famous after-defeat street show in Vancouver.

3. I have travelled Canada relatively more than an average Canadian from British Columbia to Quebec, and this summer I plan to cover the Atlantic provinces as well (if I am appointed Senator).

4. I am a non-partisan middle-of-the-road main-street Canadian having no membership ever to any political party, though I must admit that I voted just couple of times for the Green Party, and never voted for the Conservative.

5. Yes, I have RRSP too.

If I am appointed Senator I promise that I will do my job relating to travel to the best of my physical ability, and report back to tax payers every month all the expenses absorbed without waiting for any audit.

I hope to be seen,rather unseen, as touring Senator all over the globe especially in Hawaii, Tahiti, Bora Bora or even Timbuktu.

Here, I must concede that I won't be a trendsetter, but I'm confident that within one year of my appointment I can beat any record relating to travel  expense.