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When Mario Miranda created the man-in-the-bulb

Rupa publishers have done India a great service by bringing out eleven volumes of Encyclopaedia of Hinduism. It has taken over five years to accomplish the task.

columns Updated: Dec 24, 2011 23:35 IST
Khushwant Singh
Khushwant Singh
Hindustan Times

Hinduism Encyclopaedia

Rupa publishers have done India a great service by bringing out eleven volumes of Encyclopaedia of Hinduism. It has taken over five years to accomplish the task.

I am not knowledgeable enough to pass a judgment on the quality of this work. But I have some experience of writing for encyclopaedias: all the entries on the Sikhs — their religion and history — in The Enclopaedia Brittanica are written by me. Whenever they publish a new edition, they ask me to bring my entries up-to-date giving me the exact number of words I can use. It is a most exacting task.

Last Salute to a dear Friend

Hearing the news of the death of cartoonist Mario Miranda on Sunday, 11th December, was like someone slinging a dagger in my heart. For over eight years we spent our days working in adjoining rooms on the 3rd floor of The Times of India building in Bombay.

After watching my interests he designed my man-in-the-bulb logo.

I was shown scribbling on a sheet of paper with a pile of books on one side and a bottle of whisky on the other. Ever since, whenever my articles appear, editors use the bulb logo designed by Mario Miranda over forty years ago. Believe it or not, on many occasions I have received letters simply addressed to: Man-in-the-bulb, New Delhi!

When I first got to know Mario, he was married to Habiba Hydari, a very beautiful girl from an aristocratic Muslim family. She was an airhostess with British Airways and could smuggle in her quota of duty free liquor and canapes served to first class passengers on board. Their cocktail parties were enjoyable.

Comparisons with RK Laxman were inevitable. Everyone agreed that there was no cartoonist in the world to match Laxman. He agreed with the assessment and exuded an aura of self-esteem. Mario, on the other hand, had very little self-esteem and exuded an aura of modesty.

Laxman’s cartoons made political social statements. Mario simply depicted Bombay’s upper class or the common folk of his native Goa. His cartoons depicted farmers clad in nothing more than langotis (loin cloth) and their women folk in bars sipping local Feni. He also made cartoons of fisher folk, fish markets, cathedrals and the Goan country-side. Both contributed handsomely to the spectacular increase in the circulation of The Illustrated Weekly of India.

Once I called on him in his ancestral home in village Leotolim in Goa. It was an old Portuguese mansion with a large unkempt garden with lots of pigs running around. They were scavengers living on human excreta. The house was in a dilapidated condition, as Mario rarely lived in it. It was only after he retired, he made it his home. It is there that he died peacefully in his sleep. It was a well-deserved painless departure from the world to which he had given so much.

Time will tell
Another sunset darkening the skyline,
another year fades into haze of memory.
Again a balance sheet will be drawn;
A road map sketched to enter the unknown.
But will it be a firm resolve or a mere
Graft-crafted scams, hate-driven terror
cast on the landscape shadows of the dark.
Mafias of assorted breeds rule the roost.
Mafias of assorted breeds rule the roost.
Law and justice dare to tread in their den.
You question the system, inquisition arrives.
Yet something incredible is happening:
the mighty detained in custody, dejected,
losing protocol, staying with criminals;
deflated, pleading to be enlarged on bail;
or humbled, left alone to introspect.
Winds of change blowing across the
canvas, protest from the masses rises in tidal waves, searching the grey sky for a new horizon.

(Courtesy: AK Das)

Wife Seekers
An old guy was in a supermarket the other day, pushing his shopping trolley around, when he collided with a young guy also pushing a trolley. He said to the young guy: “Sorry about that. I’m looking for my wife and I guess I wasn’t paying attention to where I was going.”
Young Guy: “That’s OK. It’s just a
coincidence. I’m looking for my wife, too. I can’t find her and I’m getting a little desperate.
Old Guy: “Well, maybe we can help each other. What does your wife look like?”
Young Guy: “Well, she is 24 years old, tall, with long blonde hair, green eyes, long legs, and she’s wearing tight white shorts, a halter top and no bra. What does your wife look like?”
“Doesn’t matter, Let’s look for yours,” replied the old guy.
Most old men are helpful like that...

(Contributed by Vipin Buckshey, Delhi)

First Published: Dec 24, 2011 23:32 IST