Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Hitler’s Guest from Pune dies at 103

Yes that was what the papers said  ”Hitler’s guest from Pune dies at 103

That sounded interesting and I read through. It said that Mahadeo Kashinath Gokhale who took part in the 1936 Berlin Olympics was a special guest of Hitler for four months as Hitler was impressed by his barefoot running. Mahadeo was sponsored by Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad of Baroda.

I remember reading about the Maharaja and his generous nature. When Dr B R Ambedkar did not have the money to study further, it was this Maharaja who sponsored his education in Britain for this brilliant student from the backward classes of the society which was unthinkable back then.
So I read a little more about the Maharaja and came up with this:
 Maharaja Gaekwad signed a secret pact with Hitler to get his support for India's freedom.

It was known as the Baroda-Berlin Pact. Gaekwad's personal assistant Vishnu Nene was sent to Germany to arrange the meeting. "Gaekwad believed an enemy's enemy is a friend. So, he decided to join hands with Hitler," says Dr Damodar Nene, who has written a new biography of Gaekwad.

To ensure that the British don't suspect anything, Gaekwad took their permission to attend the Berlin Olympics. "His box was placed right under Hitler's during the opening ceremony," Nene says.
Gaekwad is believed to have promised Hitler the support of all Hindu princes in case of a war in Europe. "It was agreed that Hindu princes would back Hitler during the World War II and Hitler would support India in its freedom struggle. The pact was kept a well-guarded secret as the British would have considered it an act of treason," adds Nene.
So all this explained Hitler’s hospitality towards the (non Aryan) athlets !!
Coming back to our sportsman Mahadeo, he had many records to his credit.
He has cycled from Pune to Delhi and Mansarovar.
He has cast his vote for elections 35 times (from the age of 21 till 103)
He is one of the few people who was alive to have seen the freedom fighters Lokmanya Tilak and Mahatma Gandhi.
For teaching Marathi, Hindi and cross-country sport to the British governor between 1938 and 1941, he used to get 1 kg pedha and burfi as fees.

At 98, he used to consume 1.25 kg of shrikhand (yogurt cream dessert) and 90 jalebis (Indian sweet) if challenged at any wedding ceremony.
He visited Karachi to teach Balgandharva's songs to Jaddanbai (mother of late Bollywood actress Nargis), Begum Para and Husna Bano

He could play the Tabla and compose music.

As I read along I realized that I had met and photographed this multitalented man about 4 years ago, but I was not aware of his achievements then.

Here is one of the pictures that I clicked of Mahadeo after having a small talk with him. (he was a man of few words)
100 years and still going strong
Click on the above picture for more information.
So I met a man who met Adolf Hitler.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The market place

Love to go to the market. I remember the days when I used to go to the Byculla wholesale vegetable market with my dad. You can’t buy anything less than 5 kg in the mornings and in the evenings it was 2.5 kg minimum. (now that market has been shifted to Vashi in Navi Mumbai )

One can imagine how the markets were about a century ago. It must have been more of a barter. This is an old market scene at Shaniwar wada.

Down south if you go to the market you will get a view like this:

Now a days I go to the open market here in Pune (with my camera)
There is no saying what opportunities come up. Like I realized that dogs like to go to the market. I mean which dog won’t like it if it is going to be carried around.

Or if it is the mango season, it is nice to see raw mangoes being cut for pickle.

The sight of fresh Ginger and Garlic is something that cannot be missed:
Ginger and Garlic

Apart from buying fresh vegetables and fruits, it is interesting to observe the customers who haggle with the shop keepers. And there are some customers who have their fixed shopkeepers. Like we know one guy whom we call “Lord of the Rings”
Yes he is a vegetable seller and he has some items which is not kept by other shop keepers like Chena (Yam) Chembu (Colocasia/Taro) etc.
So when wifey hands me the list of things that I have to buy, she adds “and buy the chena from the Lord of the Rings”
In fact it was I who christened this guy as “The Lord of the Rings” because he was covered from head to toe with gold ornaments.
His domain
(click on the above picture to see the chunks of chain that he is wearing, along with his earing)
And all his fingers had rings. It was with great difficulty that I managed to click his photograph, because I had no idea how he would react to being clicked. So I pretended that I was clicking the tomatoes and took a long shot and later zoomed in and cropped the part showing his rings.
Lord of the rings
I have this habit of taking prints and giving them a copy of the print. It is worth it to see the smile on their face when they see themselves in print. Like this one that I took

and then in the next week I handed over a print to the lady who was in the forefront of the picture. She could not believe that she was the one in the print,

and she handed it over to her colleague who was all smiles on seeing the picture. Meanwhile our lady here was dying of embarrassment. May be she has never been clicked at her workplace.

Then there was this vegetable seller who said “why don’t you click me” So I did just that, which looked like this:

So I did some cleaning up of his stall to make his surrounding look respectable and came up with this:

Two weeks later I handed him that print and this is how he reacted.

Then he wanted me to click him with the picture in his hand !!

But I have yet to hand over the picture of the “Lord of the Rings” (like I said he is very burly and I am wary of his reaction)

By the way I Googled for marketplace and came up with my own picture which I clicked about 4 years ago.