Tilak Rishi's weblog

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Tilak Rishi, born in India, has been working as a career corporate executive, after doing his MBA. Passionately pursuing his hobby for writing, he also remained a regular contributor to newspapers in India and the U.S. Many true happenings and characters he came across in life, including interaction with former president Bill Clinton, inspired Paradise Lost and Found, his first novel. A family saga, it starts from Kashmir, when this paradise on earth is lost for the tourists who thronged in thousands every year to enjoy its scenic splendor. Terrorists have turned it into one of the most dangerous places in the world. The family is not only a witness to the loss of this paradise, but also to another tragedy of much bigger magnitude. In the aftermath of the partition of India, along with millions uprooted from their homes in Pakistan, the family leaves behind all that it has in Lahore. Starting from a scratch on the difficult path to progress, it still has many joyful moments when along the way it makes a difference in many a life. The survival-to-success story climaxes in California where the family finds the paradise that was lost in Kashmir.

Monday, November 04, 2013

RIP Reshma!

Music lovers all over, particularly in Pakistan and India, were saddened by the death of legendary Pakistani folk singer Reshma in Lahore. The singer of the classic sad song “Lambi Judaai” has gone giving her fans literally the longest 'judaai' (separation) which will remain unsurmountable for ever. But they will be able to bear it, I'm sure, by playing again and again their all time favorite from Reshma, the “Lambi Judaai” - a link to the song:

Reshma always remained amongst my most favorite singers from Pakistan. When Susan Boyle suddenly appeared on the global scene and created a sensation as one of the greatest singers, I wrote the following article, featured as a blog in the U.S. April 18, 2009, which I'm posting on this august platform as a tribute to the departed singer:

Susan Boyle, the Reshma of Britain!

Last weekend, Susan Boyle was just a face in the crowd. This weekend, clips of her singing on Britain's Got Talent have notched up almost 50 million views on YouTube. Her face appears on the front pages of papers in Britain and beyond. Hollywood agents and talk-show bookers are jostling for a few minutes with Susan Boyle. The rise of the 47-year-old spinster from Scotland has been a true global phenomenon.

On Saturday's season premiere of " Britain's Got Talent," from the moment she stepped onstage, was perhaps the most unlikely star, until she started to sing. Boyle, who had some limited previous vocal training and then mostly in church choirs, shrewdly picked "I Dreamed a Dream," a heartbreaking ballad about unfulfilled dreams from the hit musical "Les Misérables." A few bars into the song, as her earthy, pleasing voice took command and soared over the auditorium, the crowd could be heard letting out a collective gasp, then starting to cheer raucously. Her voice confounded all expectations - the judges' eyes bulged, the crowd went wild and Boyle became an instant star. Ever since, the "fairytale" has travelled the globe. It is the story of a talent unearthed. Boyle has shattered prejudices about the connection between age, appearance and talent. She has proved that you don't have to be young and glamorous to be talented, and recognized as such. The YouTube millions have cheered on the underdog, and seen in her the possibilities for their own hopes and dreams.

Boyle's story resembles that of Reshma, the mesmerizing folk singer of Pakistan, who blazed a fiery trail in the firmament of Pakistan’s music galaxy. Born in Bikaner (Rajasthan) and raised in Pakistan, Reshma’s voice has a distinctive, rustic Rajasthani touch. Reshma’s gift for singing was discovered during one of her frequent performances at the shrines. Much of her childhood was spent performing at shrines of saints in Sindh. It was at such a performance when Salim Gilani, Director in Pakistan's radio station, heard her and asked her to perform on radio. The wheels of her illustrious career were thus set in motion, and soon Reshma had become a household name. Immortalizing songs such as Oh rabba do dinan da meil, thay phir lambhi judai. the songstress touched millions with the haunting melody of her songs. Reshma’s voice is that of Mother Earth, coming from deep, deep within the bowels of our consciousness, echoing hauntingly through the cold, dark, empty void of the universe. It is a voice unlike any other. Truly it is the voice of the desert - unending in its breadth and unrelenting in its depth, making listeners believe not only in passion, but experience all its manifestations – the torture of waiting for a beloved, the ecstasy of union, the sharp pain of betrayal, the sadness of loss.

Both performers are classic underdogs, non-threatening people who, in pursuing long-held dreams, managed to triumph over easily understood disadvantages. They both did not have any formal education and training in music, however they sang from their heart in churches and shrines before they were discovered for the world of music. And when it happened, the world stopped to hear them. They both have a voice that comes from the heart and the one that always touches the heart. Their voice possesses that rare quality that is often aspired to, but attained by only a chosen few – what one might almost call the sublime catharsis of the soul.”

RIP Reshma

Sunday, November 03, 2013

The Stolen Hour!

Good Morning and Happy Diwali!

It is 7.00 a.m. of Nov 03 here in California while you in India must have already done the Diwali-puja. We still have a long day ahead, actually longer than usual. Due to Daylight Saving Time setting the clock back earlier at 2.00 a.m., we have 25-hour Diwali day today. Interesting, isn't it?
Daylight Saving Time is one of the West’s great mysteries, like who really killed JFK. It was one of the things I assumed I would never understand. But thanks to widespread knowledge gathered from Google, the mystery is more or less solved for me, and may be for you also if you don't mind my breaking it to you here.

Daylight Saving Time dates back to the good ole’ days when we did everything based on when we had sunlight. Just as sunflowers turn their heads to catch every sunbeam, so too we discovered a simple way to get more from the sun when Benjamin Franklin suggested we all get up earlier to save money on candles. It was a major blow to all the unhappy, unhealthy, and unwise people who love to snooze - early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy wealthy and wise!
The practice wasn’t formally implemented until World War I, when countries at war started setting their clocks back to save on coal. Daylight Saving was repealed during peacetime, and then revived again during World War II. More than 70 countries currently practice Daylight Saving Time, because they think it saves money on electricity (in the U.S., Arizona and Hawaii have opted out).

Daylight Saving Time is the practice of advancing clocks during the lighter months so that evenings have more daylight and mornings have less. Typically clocks are adjusted toward one hour near the start of spring and are adjusted backward in autumn. Although an early goal of DST was to reduce evening use of electricity for lighting, modern cooling and heating usage pattern differ greatly and research about how DST currently effects energy use is contrary. Studies show that Daylight Saving Time actually results in a one percent overall increase in residential electricity. And that it messes with sleeping patterns. Oh, and also it may cause heart attacks, according to the American Journal of Cardiology. So it’s no surprise that more and more countries are reevaluating whether to hold on to this relic from the past.

DST complicates time keeping and can disrupt meetings, travel and sleep patterns. By resetting all clocks to be one hour ahead of Standard Time, we wake an hour earlier than we would have otherwise, and complete daily work routine an hour earlier and will experience an extra hour of daylight following workday activities. Most of the United States begins DST at 2.00 a.m. On the second Sunday in March and reverts to standard time on the first Sunday in November. 'Spring forward, Fall back' is the formula. Phrase Daylight Saving Time is inaccurate, since no daylight is actually saved, Daylight Shifting Time would be better. But who cares, what comes from West is the best – right or wrong.
Widespread confusion was created during the 1950s and 1960s when each U. S. city could start and end DST as it desired – 23 different pairs of DST starting and ending dates were in use in Iowa alone. On one Ohio to West Virginia bus rout passengers had to change their watches seven times in 35 miles. The twin Minnesota cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul are considered a single metropolitan area, but they had one hour time difference due to different DST time settings, bringing a period of great time turmoil to the cities and surrounding areas.
In Antartica, there is no daylight in the winter and months of 24-hour daylight in summer. But many of the research stations there still observe DST anyway, to synchronize with their parent countries.
While twins born at 11.55 p.m. And 12.05 a.m. May have different birthdays, DST can change their birth order – on paper anyway. During the time change in the fall, one baby could be born at 1.55 a.m. And the sibling born ten minutes later would be recorded to have born at 1.05 a.m. In the spring there is a gap when no babies are born at all from 2.00 to 3.00 a.m.
As with the U.S., Great Britain had a checkered past with DST or Summer Time as it is known there. In the early part of the 20th century citizens protested at the change, using the slogan, “Give us back our stolen hour”!

Saturday, November 02, 2013



I'm sending you greetings from the U.S., where the first ever Diwali festival was celebrated at the U.S. Congress on Tuesday amidst chanting of Vedic mantras by a Hindu priest. Over two dozen influential lawmakers along with eminent Indian-Americans gathered at the Capitol Hill to lit the traditional “diyas”. The event — the first of its kind at the Capitol Hill — was organized by the two Co-Chairs of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, Congressmen Joe Crowley and Peter Roskam in recognition of increasing presence of the Indian-American community. The occasion was also used to highlight significance of India-US relationship.
“I have come here to say Happy Diwali,” said Nancy Pelosi, Leader of the Democratic Party in the House of Representatives. “United States owes a great debt of gratitude to India. Because our civil rights movement was built on the non-violent movement in India. Martin Luther King studied there, spoke there. We are blessed not only by that legacy, but also by the presence of so many Indo-Americans in our country,” Pelosi said.

Many schools, community groups, Hindu associations, Indian organizations and corporate businesses get involved in celebrating Diwali. Politicians, including governors and past presidents, previously made public announcements expressing their greetings and well wishes to Indians on Diwali. Some communities organize firework displays and states such as Utah have proclaimed Diwali as one of their state festivals. Indians, while living here in the U.S. and participating in public celebrations of the festival nearest to their location of residence, have their hearts in India and enjoy sharing with their loved ones, especially their children born and brought up here in the U.S., who have remained far removed from their roots in India, the nostalgic memories of how they celebrated the festival back home:

Diwali is also known as Deepavali, the literal meaning of which in Sanskrit is 'row of lamps'. The highlight of the function was filling little clay lamps called 'diyas', with oil, mainly mustered oil, and wick and lighting them in rows on the balconies all over the house. The tradition is still maintained by those who have the means, otherwise by and large, diyas are now replaced with candles or electric illuminations. Before the celebration begins, every nook and corner of the house is thoroughly cleaned and the house is white-washed or painted well in time for the festival. On the day of Diwali, the entrance is especially made colorful with lovely traditional motifs and Rangoli designs, and the front door decorated with flowers to welcome Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth and prosperity. Lamps are kept burning all through night or as long as possible as Lakshmi could come any time, even late at night. Lakshmi-Puja is perfomed in the evening when the tiny diyas are lighted and the 'thali' full of traditional as well as the choicest sweets is offered to the Goddess and thereafter to everyone around, family and friends.

Movies have also become a major part of the festivities, though may not be on the Diwali day due to pre-occupation with preparations for the Puja and other related funcions by the families. Still, movies in India have catered to the escapist masses much of its 100 years long existence. And what better place than the darkened cinema hall to bring alive those fantasies – and again what better time to share the sheer joy of movies other than on a festive occasion like Diwali. The festival of lights has traditionally been the best time to celebrate release of the biggest movies starring marquee actors.It was a guarantee that the movies would release to a packed audience because the festive mood would extend from people's homes into the movie theaters. Thus, while decades may have changed generations, the fact remains that Diwali and Bollywood have remained entwined together ever since Mehboob's Mother India was released on Diwali, or even earlier when Zohrabai's “Aayee Diwali Aayee Diwali” and Amirbai Karnataki's “Ghar Ghar Mein Diwali Hai” had become a rage. The industry has been quick to realize the potential of the all-pervading sense of happiness in the country and has traditionally vied to release its best movie during this period. Who can forget the late Yash Chopra's romantic movies that were a mandatory feature of the festival since the eighties. His son Aditya Chopra set a new benchmark for Diwali releases when he released Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge in 1995. The movie is said to be still running at Mumbai's Maratha Mandir theater and its record run is unprecedented anywhere in the world. More recently, Karan Johar's “Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham” has the most impressive Diwali sequence with the ultimate title song “Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham” by Lata Mangeshkar, followed by the “Shava Shava” song and dance number that truly fits the festive mood for Diwali. The best movies to release during Diwali are the traditional masala potboilers. For example this year's Krrish 3 is a perfect Diwali release because it's an established franchise film with a great cast.

May the Diwali illuminations brighten your homes and Lakshmi-Puja bring riches and prosperity in the house … Happy Diwali !