Monday, 21 February 2011

We Are Six

We were six brothers, i being the third one. My second bother, who was just elder to me, passed away in 1991. He was in his forties at the time of his departure.
Now, fate has claimed another brother, just next in age to me. He was in his fifties.
So two of my bothers, one, just elder to me, and the other just younger than me, are gone.
I feel like the child in William Wordsworth’s poem ‘We Are Seven’ which is reproduced below:
A simple child, dear brother Jim,
That lightly draws its breath,
And feels its life in every limb,
What should it know of death?

I met a little cottage girl,
She was eight years old, she said;
Her hair was thick with many a curl
That cluster'd round her head.

She had a rustic, woodland air,
And she was wildly clad;
Her eyes were fair, and very fair,
--Her beauty made me glad.

"Sisters and brothers, little maid,
How many may you be?"
"How many? seven in all," she said,
And wondering looked at me.

"And where are they, I pray you tell?"
She answered, "Seven are we,
And two of us at Conway dwell,
And two are gone to sea."

"Two of us in the church-yard lie,
My sister and my brother,
And in the church-yard cottage,
I dwell near them with my mother."

"You say that two at Conway dwell,
And two are gone to sea,
Yet you are seven; I pray you tell
Sweet Maid, how this may be?"

Then did the little Maid reply,
"Seven boys and girls are we;
Two of us in the church-yard lie,
Beneath the church-yard tree."

"You run about, my little maid,
Your limbs they are alive;
If two are in the church-yard laid,
Then ye are only five."

"Their graves are green, they may be seen,"
The little Maid replied,
"Twelve steps or more from my mother's door,
And they are side by side."

"My stockings there I often knit,
My 'kerchief there I hem;
And there upon the ground I sit--
I sit and sing to them."

"And often after sunset, Sir,
When it is light and fair,
I take my little porringer,
And eat my supper there."

"The first that died was little Jane;
In bed she moaning lay,
Till God released her of her pain,
And then she went away."

"So in the church-yard she was laid,
And all the summer dry,
Together round her grave we played,
My brother John and I."

"And when the ground was white with snow,
And I could run and slide,
My brother John was forced to go,
And he lies by her side."

"How many are you then," said I,
"If they two are in Heaven?"
The little Maiden did reply,
"O Master! we are seven."

"But they are dead; those two are dead!
Their spirits are in heaven!"
'Twas throwing words away; for still
The little Maid would have her will,
And said, "Nay, we are seven!"

Are we not six?

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Senior Citizen's Diet

It is said that the world is peopled by two kinds: those who eat to live and those who live to eat. The first category is supposed to be better. For them eating is only a means to a higher and nobler end, that is living a life worth living. For them the purpose of eating is to remain alive and getting adequate energy. It is left to each individual to put herself/himself in either of the two categories. However, a few people find it difficult to make the choice. They enjoy both living and eating. Some are very good in gastronomy, the art or science of eating. Out of this kind of persons, some definitely live a life worth living.

By these standards, senior citizens occupy quite a different space. Many of them, in the views of their ex-employers, have passed the productive part of their lives, having retired from their job or profession. However most of them have a feeling that there was no justification for their release from their jobs as they feel that they still have both the mental and physical stamina for doing what they were doing earlier.
Recently i visited my family physician who runs a specialty hospital in diabetes. After conducting an endless series of tests and after looking at the reports, he sent me to his dietician. The lady welcomed me with an ear-to-ear smile and after looking at the reports, she prepared for me a Daily Diet Chart, starting at 6.30 A M and ending at 10 P M. I was advised to take something every two to two and a half hours. It reminded me of my childhood when I used to feel hungry every one hour and my mother used to get tired of providing eatables at such intervals. But nowadays, i find it difficult to feel hungry! Coming back to the Diet Chart, it prescribed for each stage, a detailed a list of items which are either a must or prohibited. It went on to specify the quantity, ranging from 19 grams to 236 grams and specified the prescribed calories ranging from 37 to 1673! So, i will have to procure devices to measure the weight and calories with precision. 

When i went through the items/dishes permitted/prohibited, i felt that Dietician’s Golden Rule is: If anything tastes good, don’t eat it!

It is a tragedy that when a person is young and has the appetite, he does not have the money to buy what she/he craves for, and by the age he/she has the money, there is no appetite and there is the dietician’s command! And there is the unsympathetic and ever vigilant spouse with her/his watchful eyes, which one can ignore only at his/her own peril!

Somewhere i read that by 2050, medical science would have found a cure for things like diabetes, heart attacks, organ-failure and cancer, among others. All that one will have to do is pop a wonder pill!!! Scientists are also reported to be working on diet pills which will eliminate the guilt-trip of a senior citizen when she/he eyes butter chicken or that alluring sweet dish! So the future is bright and has the unlimited disease-free, fat-free, cholesterol-free promise. 

This is very good news but the bad news is that this not for those who have left more years behind them than they have ahead. 

The problem with the future is that it is never present. :(((((((((((((((


Calories don't count; they multiply!
2. If one eats beyond what is needed, it goes to waist!!!


Food is much more than fuel for the body. It is used to overcome feelings of loneliness, sadness, anxiety and frustration. It is indulged to satisfy craving, desire and greed. It is used to celebrate, congratulate and even to punish!

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Wonder in Six Yards - Sarees to 'Sarinis'

News reports say that Yamini Roy, the Bengali bride of Varun Gandhi will get married in a pink and gold brocade Banarasi saree which once belonged to her late grand mother-in-law Indira Gandhi. It was Indiraji’s gift to her younger daughter-in-law Maneka when the latter married the original Mrs. Gandhi’s second son Sanjay, who was groomed to be the Prime Minister after Indiraji, but which dream was snatched away by his untimely death in an aircraft crash.
The report adds that in the reception, Yamini will be clad in a 100-year-old orange and gold Banarasi saree which originally belonged to the late Kamala Nehru, wife of Jawaharlal Nehru. Kamala Nehru had died at a young age in 1936 and Indiraji inherited this saree. Apparently, she passed it on to Manekaji as a heirloom. Now the latest Mrs. Gandhi is going to be the proud owner of this invaluable treasure!
By the way, Indiraji and Maneka had fallen out with each other soon after Sanjay’s death; one of the reasons for this was that after Sanjay, Indiraji wanted her elder son Rajiv, then a serving pilot in Indian Airlines, to succeed her, whereas Maneka perhaps had nursed an ambition of inheriting the political legacy. As a result, Maneka had to leave the house. It is one of the unsolved ‘What ifs’ of history as to what would have been the political scenario in India now, had Sanjay Gandhi or Maneka, instead of Rajiv Gandhi, succeeded Indiraji. As fate would have it, Rajiv’s son Rahul and Sanjay’s son Varun find themselves in opposite camps of the political divide in India now, one being the heir apparent in the Congress Party and the other, out in the cold, in the Opposition BJP. The two branches of the Gandhi Clan, although occupying opposing ends of the political spectrum, are reportedly thawing in the social sphere.
Coming back to our six-yard wonder, the saree has been the traditional symbol of Indian womanhood. It adds to the grace and mystery of the Indian woman. From Sita to Draupadi in the epics to Aishwarya Rai Bachchan of today’s glamour world, the saree has been the beautifying wear favoured by Indian women through the ages. The ending scene of the film ‘Devdas’, with the long pallu of the bewitching saree trailing behind her, when Aishwarya rushes out hearing that Devdas was lying, worn, exhausted and sick, at her door, is a really memorable one. Decades ago, I had come across an advertisement saying, “A woman expresses herself in many ways; Vimal (a brand of sarees) is one of them.” Indeed when a lady chooses a particular saree to wear, she does it to express herself, to make a statement. It is said that a beautiful saree adds to the charm of a beautiful woman and and a beautiful woman adds to the attractiveness of the saree she drapes around herself. A pretty woman and an elegant saree complement each other. Sometimes it becomes difficult to say who/which of them enhances whose beauty!
A saree is a six-yard long dream, colourful, soft, delicate and radiant. It is an all-purpose versatile wear, home-wear, festival-wear, suitable for cycling, driving, diving, swimming and running- many times to catch a bus. Ladies’ bicycles are specially designed to suit them to ride it wearing a saree. It is a comfortable wear for walking dreamily on the sea-shore. Its uses are myriad – affectionately wiping off sweat from her child’s face, wiping a tear, a wet face, hands or a running nose, either her own or that of her child, picking up a hot utensil from the stove. It can be used as a protective umbrella, sun-shade, a full veil for the shy bride, a half-veil to enhance the charm of the face and as a substitute for a bag to put vegetables bought from a wandering vendor. In an old film, there is a memorable scene in which the bashful heroine alternately ties and unties a knot on her pallu, hiding herself behind the door and listening to what the elders were talking in the outer room deciding her marriage with her lover. When she senses that someone is coming, she flees inside like a doe. In the days of joint families, a bunch of keys firmly tied to the end of the pallu and dangling on the back, was the symbol of authority of the senior-most lady of the house (LOH). This matron used to hand over the keys to the eldest daughter-in-law when the former no longer felt herself to be physically fit. You think of a need, and the saree can be used to meet that need. It is the dress of the labourer as well as the ruler. Jhansi ki Rani Laxmibai fought the British, clad in a saree. It is the ultimate symbol of feminine grace, elegance and power.(Tragically, sometimes a woman uses her saree to hang herself.)
It can be woven in thousands of designs and colours, giving the weaver and the wearer alike, room for self-expression. For choosing a stitched garment, a lady has to look at the size but in case of sarees, she need not bother. One size fits all. Not only that. Of course on certain very special occasions, a nine-yard saree is required. If the wearer is thin, the saree can be worn to hide her thinness; if she is, to use the politically correct term, a little healthy, she can trust the saree to make her look relatively thin. And trust me, a saree makes a woman look taller than she would look in a stitched dress.The pretty Hindi film actor Vidya Balan always wears a saree. "It defines my womanhood.", she says.
Legend has it that in the Mahabharata, when Krishna sustained a minor injury in which his finger started bleeding, Draupadi lost no time in tearing off a strip from her elegant saree and tied it around his injured finger to stop the bleeding. This spontaneous act later paid her rich dividends. Duryodhan ordered Dushashan to disrobe Draupadi in the open court and she besought her five husbands and all the elders present there, to save her honour. None of them raised his head as they were duty-bound and helpless. In desperation, she appealed to Krishna. And lo and behold! A never-ending stream of a saree got wrapped around her and Dushashan had to give up exhausted, going on and on, trying to pull her saree off.
Coming down to earth, Rupa Ganguly played the role of Draupadi in B. R. Chopra’s TV serial Mahabharata. A very special, long, long saree was woven for her to wear in that scene and after the scene was shot, it took some time to decide what to do with the long, long saree!
In my school days, I had read a story about four friends, a carpenter, a Brahmin, a goldsmith and a weaver. They had to make a long and arduous journey, which involved passing through a jungle at night. At nightfall, they halted. It was agreed that during the night, three of them would sleep and the fourth would be on guard, by rotation. At first, the carpenter was on guard. To kill his boredom, he carved the figure of a young lady out of a piece of wood. When his turn ended, he woke up the goldsmith to be on guard. The goldsmith made some ornaments and put them on the figure. It was now the turn of the Brahmin to be on guard. Seeing the beautiful figure, he chanted some mantras and turned it into a human being. In the last part of the night, the weaver was on guard. Seeing the young girl, he wove a beautiful saree and draped it around her. 
Now it was morning. Seeing the beautiful girl, each one wanted to marry her. They could not decide who should marry her and went to the King for a decision. After listening to each of them and after consulting his court, the wise King delivered his judgment. Since the carpenter and the Brahmin had respectively created and given life to her, they were like her father; since the goldsmith had given her ornaments, he had performed the duty of a brother; since the weaver had protected her modesty, he was entitled to be her husband. So we have seen what a saree can do!
Foreigners who chose India as their karmabhumi have chosen saree as their preferred wear. Mother Teresa gave the white saree with blue border its brand-value. While painting an image of hers, M F Hussain did not feel the need to include a face in it. The blue-bordered white saree in the draped form says everything. Sonia Gandhi’s public wear is saree, although her sarees are not as elegant as were those of her mother-in-law Indira Gandhi. She gave up her Italian dressing and chose the saree, to make a political statement.
Now-a-days, college- and office-going girls prefer stitched garments over sarees for convenience and fashion. However, come festivals, marriages and other special occasions, and all of them go back to their roots and don sarees. In puja pandals, you will hardly find a girl in a stitched dress. Even girls who do not know how to drape a saree (It is really a skilled art!) go for it during pujas and marriages (their own and those of others). In many parts of India, a bride without a glittering saree is unimaginable! Many arranged marriages, and even some love-marriages, originate in chance meetings at puja pandals and at marriage-functions of common friends and relatives. When a marriage-proposal is finalized, it is often rounded off with a gift of shankhaa (red-colored lac bangles), sindoor (vermilion), and saree for the girl.
Over the years, women's workplace attire has evolved from salwar-kameez to ready-to-wear dress-suits, so much so that there is the risk of losing both the saree as well as salwar-kameez. Dupatta (or the lajja-vastra as it was originally conceived) is no longer used. However, to some, the saree contunues to be the ultimate power-dress for working women. Often, there is an unmistakable respect shown by the office-staff to a saree-clad woman.
The beauty of the saree goes beyond the fabric or print; it is in the various ways in which it can draped. It can be worn to provide a 'sati-savitri' look, a 'masterani' look or if she likes to get some 'oomph', she has only to carelessly throw the pallu over the shoulder . There are occasions when a lady would often let her pallu gently slide, to provide a subtle glimpse of her cleavage delicately and 'naturally' to make hearts throb - all of course, to in the best interests of winning more business for her firm.
One reason why a lady takes a lot of time to dress up, is that she loves to stand in front of her wardrobe and admire her collection of sarees before deciding which one to wear. She tries to remember when, on what occasion and from where she had purchased each saree. She tries to remember which saree she had worn the last time while visiting the person/s she was going to meet so that there should not be any repetition. One wise technology-savvy lady had even fed to her computer the names of all her friends and acquaintances and the saree she had worn while meeting them on each date! She used to keep this information always updated and consult the data while deciding on which saree to wear when visiting a particular person.
Women love sarees. They love to buy sarees. And they also love the process of buying sarees. So while men do not take much time to decide which shirt or dress to buy, women take ages to select a saree. They will see hundreds of sarees at tens of shops to decide. Always stretched for time, i am a victim of this. To purchase one saree, the wife examines over a hundred pieces at 5 or 10 shops before deciding to buy the first saree which she saw at the first shop!!! And sometimes, by the time we go back to the first shop, we find that the particular saree has already been sold off!
To assist women to see a large number of sarees before zeroing on their selected one, the shops employ a large number of salespersons. And just think of it! Shop-owners have opened their establishments with good business-calculations and not for charity; they take into account the expenses on the extra sales force while deciding the price-tags!
When i was at Hyderabad, we used to visit one particular area to buy sarees. That particular locality had several large saree-stores. To maintain peace at home, i used to reluctantly take her there whenever she had the fancy to buy a saree. To save myself from boredom and to utilize the precious time which otherwise would have been wasted, i used to carry a book or a few magazines to read when she would be indulging in her favourite pastime. I used to occupy a comfortable seat in the waiting area for customers and be engrossed in reading. Called when the payment–time would come, i would meekly perform the duty and return to my reading while she would stride away to the same shop or the nearby shop/s to purchase another one. While leaving the house, she would say that she would buy just one saree which she would say she badly needed, but would go on buying several ones for herself and for others, stretching to the limit, my patience and the capacity of my purse/credit card! :((((((((((( I am continuing the practice of carrying a book/magazine while escorting her to the saree mart.
In the West, it is believed that there is a correlation between fashion and business trends. Hemlines go up during boom times and come down with recession.This has been fairly consistent from the early 1960s, a time of terrific business growth when the first miniskirts, introduced by Mary Quant, set ramps on fire. Subsequent business cycles witnessed a parallel hemline cycle and made business forecasting in the West simple as well as easy on the eye! Just look the hemlines of skirts of ladies and you can fairly predict the upcoming business-trend!

Hemlines could provide a solution to the riddle of why business cycles in India are shallow and short-lived. George Taylor, the Business Economist of Wharton School of U S A after keen observation,deep study and analysis, propounded a theory in 1929, the year of the Great Depression in the West, that hemlines of women's skirts went up during economic booms and and their lengths increased during economic depressions. In good times, skirts grew shorter possibly because everyone wore silk stockings. But when times were bad, fewer women bought stockings ; hence skirts lengthened.  As the West went through the gut-wrenching financial crisis and the economic downturn in 2008, India shrugged it off with a minor fall and a quick recovery. Some say that the answer lies in the saree which does not have a variable hemline. Unlike the fickle skirt whose hemline fluctuates periodically setting off economic cycles, the saree's unvarying length (actually the width) brings a reassuring stability to India's economic growth figures!:))))))))))))

So eves of India, unite and go on buying sarees! No price is too high for buying happiness!!!


A newspaper report says that the French luxury brand Hermes is launching a limited edition of four to five sarees in India in October, 2011. Each saree will be priced at US $ 1,800 (Rs 81,000 plus taxes) with another $ 500 for a matching blouse. The price is a little less than its first edition. Hermes had introduced its first collection of silk mousseline sarees in October, 2000, in its London store.These were designed by Sunita Kumar, wife of the former Indian Tennis player Naresh Kumar. Each piece carried the price-tag of British Pound 1200 plus 250 Pounds for the blouse!!!

Are you interested, L O H ?


I read from The ET that since 2005, Kanchipuram silk sarees have been protected by Geographical Indication label which certifies their geographical origin and confirms adherence to some production standards. One of these standards is the mix of silver and gold in zari, the saree's decorative lace. So, without 57% of silver and 0.6% of gold in zari, a silk saree woven in Kanchipuram cannot be called a Kanchipuram!

That standard had virtually suffocated the weavers. As the prices of the precious metals have skyrocketed, to make 200 gms of zari now costs Rs. 15,000 in place of Rs. 6000 in 2010. The Govt. of Tamil Nadu in 2011 relaxed the condition to silver content of 40% and gold content to 0.5%.

The Geographical Indication norms ensure that a certain quality can be associated with a product made from specific geographical locations.


Modern youngsters who wear sarees only on special occasions like marriages or pujas, feel that a saree although elegant, is restrictive. It becomes arduous to ride a two-wheeler or to get on and off buses while wearing a saree. In contrast, jeans and trousers provide greater mobility. So, redesigned sarees which can be worn over trousers or jeans and pleated knee-length 'sarinis' are picking up on popularity. Off course, traditionalists are opposing transformation of this six yards of unstitched elegance into trendy mini-skirts or fancy beach-wear.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Spell-bound II

In the first installment of the list of creative spellings, i had furnished some examples of words (mis)spelt creatively. Here is another list of some more gems – amusing neologism - in the series. This is a new way of neology- introduction of new words!

As observed in the first list, small roadside eateries are veterans in this area. ‘Rice & Fish Carry’, ‘Bread & Hamlet Sand Wiches’, ‘Silly Chicken’, ‘Pride Rice’, ‘Fresh Muchrooms’, ‘Fresh Garbage & Carat from Ooty’, ‘Ice Scream’, ‘Col Drinks’, ‘Diary Products’, and ‘Chicken Thai Roast’ (chicken thigh roast), are some more bloomers in the series.

As seen earlier, messages painted on the rear of trucks are another source of such amusing mutilations. The very strange Family Planning message ‘We two, our won’ is one more example. The message on another lorry was 'Use Diaper At Night'! The signboard on a highway informs, ‘Petrol Bump Ahead’ -- there was actually a bump in the form of a speed breaker a few meters away! An Electricity Board’s transformer sports a prominent red alert, ‘DANCER’. The venue of meeting of a Lions Club has a signboard near the entrance saying ‘Loins Club’! Another signboard informs the reader about the presence of a ‘Shopping Maul’! The advertisement of a newly opened Marriage Hall informs ‘Cheating Capacity – 200 Persons’. A public convenience is labeled ‘TOLET’. Some days ago, I had seen that on a board painted with the words 'TO LET’, the letter ’I’ had been scratched by hand to make it ‘TOILET’!

A gym has a signboard saying ‘Atlas Buddy Building Gym’. A banner once wished ‘A Marry Christmas’ to its readers. A self-proclaimed English-Teaching Institute carries a sign ‘Learn English in 60 Hovers’. A sign at a traffic intersection reads : Obey traffic rools. !!!

Printer’s devil also contributes a lot to this. A newspaper, carrying news about honouring an Army General referred to him as, ‘Battle-scared General’. When the unintended but irate victim telephoned and blasted the Editor, a correction appeared in the paper the next day saying, ‘Bottle-scarred General’! Imagine the reaction of the General this time!!!

As i have said earlier, some of the messages on the rear of lorries make hilarious reading. But the message, 'Buri nazar wale, Tera muhan kala' has not forsaken politeness; 'wala' in the first part would have well-rhymed with 'kala' in the second part. Politeness has dictated the respectable 'wale'! Urdu language is known for its polite words. To ask someone to 'get out', it uses 'Tasrif le jayiye' (Take away your honour.)!

Another common message 'Mera Bharat Mahaan' on the rear of lorries is obviously meant to convey the owner's patriotism. Recently, I saw a modified, tongue-in-cheek, version of it. The message read, "Sau mein nabe beiman; phir bhi mera Bharat mahaan". :)))))) By the way, when motherland is like mother, why is it not, 'MERI Bharat Mahaan'?

I came across a new word ‘mango-man’ coined in India recently. The origin is 'Aam Aadmi’ in the series of advertisements titled ‘Aam Aadmi Ko Kya Mila?’ (What did the common man get?) released by the Congress Party prior to the General Elections of 2004. During the rule of National Democratic Alliance led by Bharatiya Janata Party from 1999 to 2004, the Economic Growth Rate was good but inflation was high (When is it not so?). The Growth Rate of Gross Domestic Product was high but prices of some items used by the common man was also high. BJP released a series of advertisements titled ‘India Shining’, highlighting its achievements. To counter this, Congress Party’s advertisements bore the title ‘Aam Aadmi Ko Kya Mila?’, highlighted the difficulties faced by the common man (‘aam aadmi’) during the NDA rule. The term has caught on and the Hindi term 'Aam Aadmi' has been literally translated to ‘Mango Man'!

We know the word ‘postpone’. Its opposite is ‘advance’, not ‘prepone’. ‘Pone’ is not an independent word to which ‘post’ or ‘pre’ can prefixed. ‘Postpone’ is a single word, not a compound word. However, nowadays, ‘prepone’ is used by many, to mean its opposite, so much so that even some dictionaries have reluctantly accepted it! Another word by common mistakes is 'normalcy' as the noun form of the adjective 'normal'. The correct word is 'normality' but purists like me apprehend that one day 'normalcy' will become the accepted word:((((

I find that the term 'one of the world's ' is used by many and even by respected newspapers in an incorrect way and in what is called in Grammar an ambiguous way. For example it is said, "India in one of the world's most populous countries." It implies that there many worlds and one wonders to ask, 'How many worlds are there?' The correct expression would be, "India is world's one of the most populous countries." Is it not better and does it not remove the ambiguity?

And now, a word about Hinglish, a hilarious combination of Hindi and English words. In this, the pride of place is occupied by what once Rajiv Gandhi said during his address at an election rally, “Hum jitenge yaa losenge….” etc. By the way, Rajiv Gandhi’s favourite reply, when anyone brought a problem to him was, “Hum dekhenge" (We will see). When the frequency of this reply increased, a listener sitting in one of the back seats once muttered in a low voice, “Humne dekha hai; hum dekh rahe hain; hum dekhte rahenge.


One person said to another, “I talked to her two hours after she died.” Observing the look of consternation in the eyes of the listener, the first person clarified, “I talked to her. Two hours after, she died.”


The title of an Odia movie made in 2012 is 'I D I O T '. The expansion of the term given below the title is: I Do Ishq Only Tumse. This strange mixture of English and Hindi words in the title of an Odia movie means in proper English is 'I Love Only You'. A theatre of the absurd?

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Chavanni Chhap

Come 1st July 2011, 25-paise coins will cease to be legal tender in India, says the official notification, issued by the Govt. of India under Sub-section 15A of the Coinage Act, 1906. That is to say, these coins cannot be used to settle any transaction. Try hard -- can you remember when you last gave a 25-paise coin to anyone to settle a transaction? 

I have kept as a memorabilia, an abandoned, TV-shaped piggy bank which I had given to my daughters, nearly four decades ago. While searching for something else I came across this box, which seemed to be a little heavy. I emptied it to make use of this idle cash. Some coins tumbled out noisily. The contents included a few old one-rupee coins, five 50-paise coins and a few 25-paise coins. I wanted to dispose these off and took them to the milk booth from where I buy milk packets. The vendor accepted the one-rupee coins and returned the others. After a lot of persuasion, he agreed to accept only four out of the five 50-paise coins but flatly refused to touch the 25-paise coins. He said that he would accept the 50-paise coins only as whole rupees and not as fractions because he would not be able to dispose of them. And 25-paise coins were a strict no-no as nobody else would accept them from him and he would be stuck with them. Even beggars nowadays do not accept anything below one rupee!
Inflation in India has forced 25-paise and 50-paise coins out of circulation much before being officially withdrawn. The inflation rate is over 10% in India while it is about 2-3% in the UK or US, which indicates price stability. That is why in the UK and the US, coins of small denominations are still in circulation. U S A does not have currency notes valued more than 100 dollars.

When India switched over to the Decimal System of money in 1957, coins with denominations of 1, 2, 3, 5, 10, 20, 25 and 50 paise were introduced. Before that, a rupee had 16 annas and an anna had 4 pices. Even coins of adhala (half a pice) and pahula (one third of a pice) were in circulation. I do not remember to have seen adhala or pahula, but I clearly remember having handled one-pice copper coins. They used to have holes into which we kids used to insert our little fingers!
If one can remember having seen or handled the old paisa (pice), adhala or pahula (pies), he/she is a real old-timer.
Coming to the post-decimal coins age, I have handled coins of denominations of 1, 2 and 3 paise. I remember that the first movie that I watched (in 1965) was Veer Hanuman for which I had paid Rs. 1.06! I had just finished my Pre-University Exam (equivalent to the current Plus Two exams). My elder brother gave me that money and asked me to go to Hind Cinema in Cuttack and watch the movie. During 1975-78, I was working at Etah, a District Headquarters town in UP. Once I was deputed to a place called Malawan about 20 KMs away, on the Grand Trunk Road. I was traveling up and down daily. The bus-fare was most probably Rs. 1.47 paise one way. While leaving the Bank in the evening daily, I used to take 1, 2 and 3-paise coins totalling Rs. 3, spend Rs. 2.94 for the to and fro journeys, and use the remaining 6 paise as part of other expenses!

The cost of producing coins up to 20 paise became more than their face-value and so these were gradually discontinued.

Talk of inflation takes me to the price of onions which has jumped from about Rs 12 to about Rs. 70-80. A lot of potatoes and onions were being grown at Etah. During harvest season, price of onions used be about 16 KGs a rupee (not Rs. 16 a KG!). I used to buy 8 KGs of onions for 50 paise!
Does all this sound like Grandma’s tales? It is a fact that prices have gone up multi-fold in the last years; but so have the income and standard of living. In 1972, I had joined a Govt. Class II Gazetted Officer’s post with a princely sum of Rs. 422 as my salary! And television was only in General Knowledge books!!

So will expressions like Chavanni Chhap Kanjus (penny-pinching miser) disappear along with 25-paise coins? No way. Terms like chavanni and athani are too deeply entrenched in the Indian psyche to disappear along with the original objects with which these were associated. Anna was discontinued in 1957 but expressions like Solah Anna (16 annas meaning ‘the whole’) continue. A truthful person is said to be telling '16 anna’ (whole) truth. Recently, I saw a new restaurant named 'Solah Anna Oriya Restaurant’ (Restaurant serving pure Oriya dishes).

Now there are no 1-rupee or 2-rupee notes. These were replaced by coins quite a few years ago. Some years ago, 5-rupee notes were replaced by coins and a couple of years back, 10-rupee coins were introduced.

What's next? A time when the minimum value of a transaction will be Rs. 100 does not seem to be very far away!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

ADDENDUM - Sept. 2011
Chavani goes; 1000 fills in
Inflation is eating away the value of money. The Govt. is phasing out or printing fewer low-denomination notes and printing more notes of higher denomination. 

In 2011-12, for the first time in India, an equal number of new notes of Rs. 1000 and Rs 500 will be printed. Due to inflation, Rs 500 note is losing its position of pre-eminence among currency notes printed by R B I.

Rs. 500 notes were introduced in 1987 and Rs. 1000 notes, in 2000. In 2011, R B I has ordered for printing 2000 million new Rs. 1000 notes. Last year, the number was 1000 million. While the order for Rs. 1000 notes has been doubled, that for Rs. 500 notes has been halved to 2000 million from 4000 million of last year.

The Rs. 100 note is still the most-printed one. Its print order this year is 6100 million against 4300 million of last year. Printing of Rs. 50 notes has been reduced to 1200 million from 2000 million of last year.
Currency notes of Rs. 1000 and Rs. 10000 were in circulation before independence but were demonetised in 1946 to curb black money. These notes were re-introduced in 1954 and were again demonetised for the same purpose in 1978. 

I remember this last occasion. I had joined my Bank in 1973 and in 1978, i was working at Etah (U P). We were asked to report details of the notes held by the Branch at that time. We were holding only one note of Rs. 1000 at that time. I do not remember what happened to that note.

Talking of printing currency notes it is interesting to know that it costs money to make -er- print money. Here is what the costs are:
Currency Note (Rs.) Printing Cost (Rs.) Production Cost as % of Face Value
5 0.48 9.6
10 0.75 7.5
20 0.95 4.75
50 1.23 2.46
100 1.44 1.44
500 2.64 0.53
1000 3.17 0.32

It is thus seen that technically speaking, printing one Rs. 1000 note costs least at Rs. 3.17 whereas printing the lowest denomination note of Rs. 5 costs the most at 48 paise a piece.
In India, notes of different denominations are of different sizes and colour-designs. Notes of higher denominations are of larger sizes. The sizes of our currency notes have been over time, been reduced to cut costs. In many countries like USA, notes of all denominations are of the same size and colour-design.
It is interesting to remember that earlier, the promise by the Governor of R B I printed on the notes read as 'I promise to pay the bearer on demand the sum of ..... rupees'. This promise is legally required as the currency notes only represent money and are not actual money. The central bank of a country (in our case, R B I) promises to pay actual money (?), whenever demanded. Later, may be when the sizes of the notes were reduced, the words 'on demand' were omitted. At that time, doubts were raised by some hair-splitting legal luminaries as to whether the amount would be paid by R B I immediately. Now such doubt has been forgotten as currency notes are treated as money!