XIX Course


Originally posted on 2 July 2011 :

In a museum in Srinagar, I saw a carriage used by Maharaja Hari Singh, the erstwhile ruler of Jammu & Kashmir. It was carved out of the finest wood and designed specially for use in the mountains. It has a hand operated brake which was applied while travelling downhill, to prevent the carriage from hitting into the legs of the horses. However, over the years, it has become old. It now looks rickety and forlorn, because no one is willing to ride in it.

Bill Gates founded the Microsoft. He is the uncrowned King of the world of Computers. Therefore, there is reason to believe that his computer would be at the cutting edge of technology. Yet, I am told he has to CHANGE the computer on his desk once every three years or so. Age takes its toll on his system as much as it does for the systems used by lesser mortals like myself. Have a look at a laptop.

This morning I looked at myself in the mirror. The face is wrinkled and even the eyebrows are gray. The body can no longer do things which it could easily do when I was young, and the brain is no longer sharp. Short term memory is so poor that I forget where I left my spectacles a few minutes ago.

Then I saw a picture which is still fresh in my mind: it was taken fifty odd years ago, with the rest of my course mates in the Academy, soon after we joined, in Jan 1958. In the year 1992, when we met for a course get together old Thomas observed, “O Lord! every one looks like his father here!!” Things have changed further. And now, we now look like our GRAND fathers!!

I think it is all in the fitness of things. I shall turn SEVENTY next week, and it is only logical that the passage of time should take its toll. I say to myself,

                                           If my face is wrinkled

                                           My soul is not rankled

                                           And I do not mind it…

                                           Because I am behind it!!

My favorite piece from the scripture is a shloka of Shaikh Farid, rendered by Jagjit and Chitra Singh, and I give the link below for your listening pleasure.

The Baani of Shaikh Farid

1. Buddha hoya sheikh Farid, Kamban laggi dayh Je so varya jeevna, Bheetan hosi khayh

2. Dekh Farida jo thea darhi hoi bhoor Aggu neda aaya, pichaa rahya door

3. Farida kothe mandap mariaa, ayt na laaye chit Mitti payii atolave koay na hosi mit

4. Farida bhanni gharhi savanni, tutti naagar lajj Azraeel farishta kai ghar nathi ajj Farida bhanni gharhi savanni, tutti naagar lajj Jo sajjan bhoye bhaar thay, say kio aave ajj

5. Kandi utay rukh-ra kichrak bannay dheer Farida kachay bhanday rakhiye kichar taai neer

6. Farida daryave kanne baggla betha kayl karay Kayl karainde hanj nu, achintay baaj paaye Baaj paye tis rab de kaylaañ visriyañ Jo mann chit na chayte san so gaale rub ki-aa

Lyrics contribution: Sohail Abid

English Translation

1. Shaykh Fareed has grown old, and hisbody has begun to tremble. Even if he could live for hundreds of years, his body will eventually turn todust.

2. See, Fareed, what has happened: your beard has become grey. That which is coming is near, and the past is left far behind.

3. Fareed, houses, mansions and balconies – do not attach your consciousness tothese. When these collapse into heaps of dust, none of them will be your friend.

4. Fareed, your beautiful body shall break apart, and the subtle thread of thebreath shall be snapped. In which house will the Messenger of Death be a guest today? Fareed, your beautiful body shall break apart, and the subtle thread of thebreath shall be snapped. Those friends who were a burden on the earth – how can they come today?

5. How long can the tree remain implanted on the river-bank? Fareed, how long can water be kept in a soft clay pot?

6. Fareed, the crane perches on the river bank, playing joyfully. While it is playing, a hawk suddenly pounces on it. When the Hawk of God attacks, playful sport is forgotten. God does what is not expected or even considered.

  1. Inderpal Sandhu says:

    My dear Surjit ji,

    Heartiest congratulations on your 70th Birth Day. May God give you long life with good health.
    Ghalib would have wished you, ” May you live 1000 years and every year have 50,000 days.”
    Age catches up with all of us. A tourist after along trip does not look the same.

    Erma Bombeck, an American writer wrote a funny book, titled, When you look like your passport photo,

    it’s is time to go home.”

    Lastly thanks for the master piece, Sheikh Farid’s shabad sung by Jagjit and Chitra Singh.

    With love and blessings,


    ps: In the picture of your course mates, I would guess you as # 2997 !

  2. Dev says:

    Brother Surjit,
    you sure have TALENT my dear!! What a well-knit piece – diversity integrated to such an interesting text and visual. 2997 is pretty close to 3004 and sowill it be for all times to come!

    Thank you alsofor Shaikh Farid Ji’s Baani (and the translation) – the eternal reality and truth indeed.

    Love and bestwishes,

  3. S S Malik says:

    thanks sir,

    to echo your feeling…

    kahaan rukne hain jaa ke yeh raaste, woh jo morr tha, usse bhool ja
    jo bhi mil gaya usse yaad rakh, jo nahin mila usse bhool ja

    main to gum tha tere he dyaan mien, teri chaah mein tere gumaan mien,
    hawa keh gayee aake kaan mien mere saath chal usse bhool ja

  4. Ram Gulrajani says:

    I have always enjoyed your nostalgic mail, lovely chapters of experience, non controversial and deep in wisdom. Thank you for keeping me in your circuit. Good to hear you turning 70 next week. This is to wish you many more happy and healthy years ahead with your near and dear ones.

    Coming August I step into 76. Grateful to God for still keeping me mobile and reasonably sane. Thanks to this new modern gadget that has made me discover school mates and even one of my teachers, now in Melbourne, who still remembers me and has visited me in India a couple of times. Thanks again to this gadget and phones that has helped me be in touch with all near and dear ones spread all over the globe and perhaps keeping my sanity.

    Baba Farid’s Shaloks in Gurbani have always been inspiring, more so when rendered by Jagjit and Chitra Singh. The actual words and their meaning in English are very helpful. Thank you once again.

  5. Virender Kapoor says:

    Sir This is very nice..

  6. Manjit Singh says:

    Wishing you A HAPPY BIRTHDAY and praying for long life good health and all the joys of life,Your affectionate brother but also admirer of your multifacetted personality

  7. J Thomas says:

    I almost look like my grandsons, except that the elder two are overweight and the youngest is only 1 1/2.

  8. Raj Kadyan says:

    Your mail always arouse nostalgia.

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