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In memoriam

Statesman News Service |

The death of Surendra Nihal Singh ends an old link with The Statesman, which he joined as a staff reporter and rose to be its editor after several prestigious assignments. Son of a former Governor of Rajasthan, Gurmukh Nihal Singh, he was the quintessential pipe-smoking Brown Sahib, soft-spoken and always impeccably dressed. He discarded his turban and got his hair cut on a whim while on a visit to Bombay as a youngster.

One met Nihal Singh for the first time in 1960 when he came to Agra to cover Vinoba Bhave’s campaign to persuade the Chambal Valley dacoits to lay down their arms. He went to Morena and Bhind with father and slept in the open at night, unmindful of the mosquitoes and the lurking Badmen of the Badlands. The second meeting took place when he covered Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip’s visit to the Taj in 1962. He went up to Peshawar, in Pakistan, with the royal couple and wrote his memorable piece on the land of Kipling’s Gunga-din and Chapali kababs. Like another doyen of this paper, Hamdi Bey (so renamed in infancy from Hamid Beg by a refugee Turkish soldier staying in his house during World War I), Nihal Singh preferred to see rather than be seen.

After one joined The Statesman he remembered old ties and, during a meeting in the verandah of the old red building, remarked, “So what are you dreaming up today?” This was said in the context of his belief that one was always wallowing in nostalgia. He married a Dutch lady, who predeceased him when he was editor of Khalij Times in the Gulf, without an issue. After the death of his brother, he is survived by four sisters and a nephew. He was the blue-eyed boy of former editors Charlton and Crosland.

Yoga of laughter

Laughter is the best medicine. That is what the wise ones say. And it is not incorrect as behavioural psychologists also agree on this. Laughter, Yoga teachers say, is the best exercise, in fact. Laughter relaxes the muscles of the whole body apart from bringing relief to the person from anxiety and depression. But the Yoga teachers in the parks in metro cities like Delhi take laughter to another level. They call laughter Hansi Yog, or the Yoga of laughter. While there is no special posture involved in Hansi Yog, all that the Yoga teacher says is that this Yoga should be done with the entire body. So much so, that a person in a Yoga session starts convulsing with laughter and shaking. While for others it may be a spectacle of sort but the people who do it experience joy, or so they say.

Minor panic

It is very hard to gauge the mood of kids. Mischief is normal at their age, but they can also become very stubborn, and so one can’t predict anything about them. Sometime these kids go to such an extreme that they can set off a minor panic. A colleague recalled how a little one created mayhem in a five-star hotel. As our colleague was leaving the restaurant after dinner, he spotted a lady rushing around, asking everyone about her missing kid. She was followed by her husband and mother in law, and they were all looking for the missing child. This created havoc in the restaurant, with everyone, including diners and staff searching for the kid. Finally one of their family members found the little girl, hiding under a table. A visibly relieved father explained this was what she did whenever she got angry. This time, her father said, the parents had refused to give in to her demand for an ice-cream. Annoyed, she had walked away. And the rest was history.

Tailpiece

Our in-house wisecrack feels the entire police force would need “re-education” if they are to give up “third-degree” practice.

Contributed by: R V Smith, Abhijeet Anand, Rakesh Kumar and Asha Ramachandran