No, this has no romantic connotation, like the Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan starrer Sleepless in Seattle did. And neither am I being kept up by a particularly boisterous party I am attending or one that is happening nearby. I just can’t sleep. And I don’t know why.
Sunday is my weekly off now. And I don’t know why I am lucky or unlucky. A little bit of background here: every newsperson has a weekly day-off which can be any day of the week. and that can mean that he or she may well have to work on a Sunday! Sounds unfair? But then, would you like to wake up on a Monday morning without a newspaper? Start a week without your daily dose of sports or Sudoku?
But this isn’t about my weekly off either! It’s about how I can’t sleep, and am trying to ramble off the time. Who knows? I might end up writing something meaningful instead!
Took a break there, and checked my Facebook account. And found out in the process that tomorrow, September 27, is the birthday of Shaheed Bhagat Singh. and that got me thinking. About all those people and all those facts about this great county that its people have forgotten while attending the rat race to become a superpower or a world economy.
The first name that comes to mind is Pingalli Venkaiyyah, although I am now unsure over the spelling of his name. I am sure that if a 100 Indians are picked at random and asked what this gentleman’s contribution to the country is, only one would be able to identify the designer of the first ever national flag of India!
Ask the same number who Bhanu Athaiya is, and maybe two to five of them would tell you that she was the first Indian to win an Oscar. She won it jointly for best costume for Gandhi, Richard Attenborough’s biopic on the Mahatma. And less than one out of hundred Indians would know that the gentleman who played Gandhi in that film was born in India, and is actually an Indian! Yes, SIR Ben Kingsley’s real name is Krishna Bhanji!
Then again, other than Bengalis and fans of art house cinema, few others would know the name of Satyajit Ray, the second man to win the Oscar for India! He won it for lifetime achievement, having inspired people like Akira Kurosawa! He accepted it on his deathbed, and joked to the worldwide audience, "I had no idea it was so heavy!"
I also wonder how many people would recognise the name of one Amar Gopal Bose, whose theory of noise cancellation and research which showed how the audience at a concert hear the best sound because it reflects off the walls brought him worldwide accolades! Many of them, incidentally, would know of Bose sound systems, and how expensive they are!
And being a patriot and a quizzer to boot, I try to keep an eye on history too, but not too much. It wasn’t my favourite subject in school. And yet, somehow, I seem to remember the fact that the witty Birbal was a poet too, and a tome of his poetry, written under the pen name of Brahma, is preserved at the Bharatpur museum! Besides, I stopped drinking Old Monk rum the day I learnt that the company that manufactures it was founded by the father of the infamous General dyer, who was responsible for the brutal genocide at Jalianwalabagh. My patriotism may be misplaced here, but to me, it’s still patriotism!
Many people, even those from South India too, do not seem to remember one Maruthanayagam Pillai aka Muhammed Yusuf Khan. A revolutionary and a contemporary of Tipu Sultan, he had to be assassinated by the British because he was apparently becoming too much of a threat against their supremacy! I don’t know whether this is ’ironical’ or not, but when Kamal Hassan tried to make a biopic of him in the closing years of the second milennia (late 1990s, that is), the effort was apparently stifled by a certain section of society who had suffered at the hands of this revolutionary!
A myriad more, and they are all running through my brain. (They will get pretty tired soon, what with all the running!) But I think it’s time to put this topic to sleep for now. I just wish that there was someone right here, right now with me to put me to sleep. Meanwhile, take care of yourselves, folks, and if possible, visit my quiz blog, where I post a question every day.
Bye for now!