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Precept and myth

Statesman News Service |

In an age when technology and associated games like Pokemon and the dreadful Blue Whale attract children, octogenarian KL Bhatia, a retired Ministry of External Affairs official, devotes his evenings to inculcating in them love for Indian, Greek and Roman mythology. Two of those handpicked by him are 13-year-old Kashish and her 15-year-old brother Aman who, with his help, won the first prize in a recent state-level essay competition on Global Warming.

Walk into Bhatia’s MIG ground floor flat and you will hear the brother-sister duo reciting the names of the months. January is named after two-headed Janus, who looks before and after, March is the month of Mars, the Roman god of war, June commemorates Juno the wife of Jupiter, to whom the peacock is sacred. July and August are named after Julius Caesar and his nephew Augustus, in who reign Christ was born. September, October, November and December are the seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth months of the Julian calendar.

Then there are the patriotic poems about the dedicated sailor and soldier, the call of duty, the love of nature and cou try and a whole litany of dos and don’ts for leading a good life and honouring father, mother and teacher. The two kids just stand up and go on with their recitation until you think it’s time for them to sit down and relax. After the death of his wife Bhatia Sahib, who used to teach at YMCA, now takes pleasure in this sort of coaching, for which he has prepared thick files with newspaper and a magazine clippings to revive a lost branch of learning.

In remembrance

Martin Louis, a short man who sat with a broad smile in his Harinagar Louis Phillippe (later K Louis) readymade garments outlet, is no more and the locality and the Mayapuri John de Britto parish are the poorer for it. Martin, who was buried in Kerala, did not sell his stuff but advised customers on what to buy and what not in between cigarette puffs, which eventually proved his nemesis at the age of 68.

Ever willing to help the needy and giving things on credit despite sometimes running losses, he was the ideal salesman, now greatly missed by all, particularly women shoppers and the local Malayali Association. A lover of classical names (like his own), no wonder one of his two sons was named Russel after the great pacifist Bertrand Russell. The British peer, who grew up in the court of Queen Victoria, once hurting his little member in the royal bathroom, remembered that the Queen was stickler for cleanliness and regularly inspected the petticoats worn by the ladies of her entourage. Martin has left behind a legacy of such anecdotal associations. Now his school teacher-wife Aleyamma looks after the K Louis outlet in off-duty hours.

Arrogance for what?

It is known to everyone that the National Capital suffers from a very serious crisis of traffic jams. The sudden rise in the number of private vehicles, leading to the choking of major roads of Delhi, has never failed to leave daily commuters in a quandry. Inadequate public transport options, traffic mismanagement and pathetic plight of roads are the major reasons that makes the city crawl. But sometimes even arrogance can become a major reason for traffic jams too. Recently, a colleague, who had gone to shop in Connaught Place, witnessed something that seriously needs to be given attention. After finishing his shopping, our colleague came back to the parking lot right next to the Odeon Cinema Hall. He noticed that a group of young men had parked their SUV in the middle of the busy road and were enjoying pan from a local outlet, pretending to be completely unaware of their nuisance value. When confronted by the parking lot attendant, they bullied and manhandled him, boasting about their political background and wealth. The poor lad couldn’t do much and requested the police authorities to intervene but it yielded no results. However, a few passersby noted down the number of the errant SUV and shared it with the authorities. It is very unfortunate that people are always ready to blame the authorities for not taking their responsibilities seriously but when honest and responsible citizens, like the parking lot attendant, take a stand, no one cares to come forward to support them. If the spectators had helped him right away the outcome would have been different and positive.

Tailpiece

Overheard a concerned parent: If public schools’ security is found wanting, heaven help decrepit government schools.

Contributed by: Ashmit Dyes, Rakesh Kumar, R V Smith, Kunal Roy and Asha Ramachandran