Aaj Pehli Tarikh Hai…

August 8, 2009

This post is on a song which we listened to when we were growing up. We would tune into Radio Ceylon’s music program at 7.30 in the morning just to listen to this song which was the first one played in the program. I am referring to the famous Kishore Kumar song called: “Pehli Taarikh Hai

I reproduce below the entire lyrics of the entire song, with some interjections and observations from me.

(the lyrics are from the blog atulsongaday.wordpress.com, many thanks for this)


Din hai suhana, aaj pehli tarikh hai
din hai suhaana aaj pehli tarikh hai

khush hai zamaana, aaj pehli tarikh hai

pehli tarikh aji, pehli tarikh hai

This ode to the first of the month refers to the day when most salaried persons are paid their monthly remuneration. Well most of them in Jamshedpur of those days. That was an era far removed from credit cards. No easy credit for anyone. With these pieces of plastic each day of the month feels the same as far as buying power is concerned. In fact I have a few of my friends who time their purchases to some date in the middle of the month so as to be able to enjoy the lengthiest credit! They never existed in my childhood. Period!

The era I am referring to is from long, long ago. Late 60’s and early 70’s. When the month’s salary mattered to all. That is when you would get (hard-earned) cash for the forthcoming month’s spending.

Pitaji, my father, who was a college lecturer got his salary on the first of the month. But, for some reason, the bulk of Jamshedpur’s population who worked for various factories in the town (Tisco, Telco, etc.) was paid between 4th to 8th of the month. The word for salary in Jamshedpur was “pagaar” which I understood much later was of Bombay origin courtesy the Tatas who ran most of the factories in Jamshedpur. There was a cousin of pagaar, the double pagaar. This denoted the annual puja bonus which all factory workers got. Which unleashed some stupendous buying power into the city. The fabric/garment sellers in Sakchi and Bishtupur, the shoe-sellers, Sree Leathers in Sakchi and the Bata showroom on Bishtupur Main Road and the appliance (= radio and two-in-one’s) sellers, they all reaped a harvest those days. So did the tailors who were besieged with requests for a quick turn-around on their customers’ orders.

biwi boli ghar zara jaldi se aana jaldi se aana

shaam ko piya ji hamein cinema dikhana
hamein cinema dikhana
karo na bahaana, haan bahaana bahaana
karo na bahaana, aaj pehli tareekh hai

khush hai zamaana, aaj pehli tarikh hai
pehli tarikh aji, pehli tarikh hai

Our family could not afford cinema together. Not for all eight of us, parents and six siblings. And anyway, cinema was the fount of moral turpitude; or so we were told. We were told that good children (“achhey bachchey”) saw movies only once in a year, and only stuff like “Shahid Bhagat Singh”, “Sampoorn Ramayan” and maybe “Teesri Kasam”. And that too only at the end of the final exams for the year. Once in a while my elder brother, who was pretty movie- savvy, cajoled my parents to see movies like “Anand” or “Namak Haraam”. Perhaps this depravation was the reason why I developed innovative ways to catch up on movies when I went to high school. I have written extensively about my film escapades in my earlier posts.

The only pehli taarikh indulgence of parents’ was the dosa at Bombay Sweet Mart, Bishtupur, after ordering the month’s groceries at “Ashok and Co.” I was co-opted by parents into this expedition to “escort” the groceries on their way home on the cycle-rikshaw, so I too was treated to a masala dosa. It is another matter that in one of these trips mai saw a restaurant bearer scratch his back with the bunch of forks he held in his fist. And BSM was banned promptly for our household after that!

kis ne pukara ruk gaya baabu, lala ji ki jaan aaj
aaya hai kaabu, aaya hai kaabu

o paisa zara laana, o paisa zara laana
laana, laana.

o paisa zara laana, aaj pehli tareekh hai
khush hai zamaana, aaj pehli tarikh hai
pehli tarikh aji, pehli tarikh hai

Thankfully we did not have any creditors as far as cash was concerned. The only creditor we had was the local grocer. The chap from whom we would purchase the month’s supply of attadaal and tel. Our, grocer,Lalaji, who changed from “Ashok and Co.” at Bishtupur to the neighbourhood Bhagwati (of “Rajesh General Stores”) at Kagalnagar market had some ready customers, e.g. our parents. Pitaji used to buy all provisions on a month’s credit. And promptly on the 1st he would pay the bill. Lalaji who would extend this credit would also take this opportunity to push brands and goods where he would earn the maximum profits. He would dust an aging pack of some hitherto unheard of masala powder, for example, and tell my mother how great it was and that he had used it himself. Never mind that he had never used it and that he was pushing the pack only for the hefty margin this would earn him. But all were happy with this arrangement, my parents for the line of credit they got and the Lalaji for the extra margin he earned.

banda bekaar hai, kismat ki maar hai
sab din ek hain, roz aitwaar hai.

mujhe na sunana, haan sunana sunana,

mujhe na sunana, aaj pehli tareekh hai,
khush hai zamaana, aaj pehli tarikh hai
pehli tarikh aji, pehli tarikh hai

There were many in our extended family who had gravitated to Jamshedpur from their villages in search of a job. Some had managed to find one courtesy Pitaji who had some contacts in Tisco. The others, who were not lucky, would curse their luck, the Tatas and sometimes even my Pitaji for not having wielded his magic wand to get them the coveted Tisco jobs. They would line-up at the local employment exchange for years and spend their time ruing their luck! For them each day was aitwaar– Sunday- day with nothing to do!

dar ke saamne, aaye mehmaan hain
bade hi sharif hain, puraane meharbaan hain

bade hi sharif hain, puraane meharbaan hain
are jeb ko bachaana, bachaana, bachaana.
jeb ko bachaana, aaj pehli tareekh hai

khush hai zamaana, aaj pehli tarikh hai
pehli tarikh aji, pehli tarikh hai.

dil beqaraar hai, soye nahi raat se

seth ji ko ghum hai ki, paiso chalo haath se
are lootega khazaana, khazaana, khazaana.
lootega khazaana, aaj pehli tareekh hai
khush hai zamaana, aaj pehli tarikh hai
pehli tarikh aji, pehli tarikh hai

The first of the month also brought forth favour-seekers, people who wanted small loans to tide over their financial crises. All well-meaning folks, but their monthly expenses had far out-stripped their incomes. There were others too who would borrow odd amounts of money only to repay it in parts, and often never at all.

aye cinema waalon aao, aao khel mazedaar hai
ho khel mazedaar hai, ji khel mazedaar hai

agha hai bhagwan hai, kishore kumar hai
nimmi geeta bali hai, ashok kumar hai
nargis raj kapoor hai, dilip kumar hai
geeton ka toofan hai, naach
ki bahaar hai
naach ki bahaar hai

paanch aane ka das aana
paanch aane ka das aana
paanch aane ka das aana

are waapas nahi jaana, jaana, jaana
waapas nahi jaana, aaj pheli tareekh hai

khush hai zamaana, aaj pehli tarikh hai
pehli tarikh aji, pehli tarikh hai

I have referred earlier to the austerity around the household regarding movies. And the closest we came to watching films was hearing songs on Radio Ceylon on our Murphy radio! Never would we have paid the usurious “paanch aane ka das aana” black-marketeers rates to see 1st day 1st show. To the contrary, I even got my classmate, whose family owned the poshest cinema hall, Natraj, in the city to give us complimentary passes to see a couple of movies there.

mil jul ke bachchon ne, baapu ko ghera
baapu ko ghera.
kehte hain saare ki, baapu hai mera
baapu hai mera.
khilone zara laana.
khilone zara laana, aaj pehli tareekh hai
khush hai zamaana
aaj pehli tarikh hai
pehli tarikh aji, pehli tarikh hai.

The bachchas would have a myriad request in the beginning of the month. A new notebook, a fresh eraser (Sandow, if we were lucky!), even a new pair of shoe-laces. All these had to be met at the earliest! And what about a close friend’s birthday party? Some fresh brown-paper to cover the books? A set of coupons to a school fete, or even a day-long outing with the Biology Club would mean a request for an extra allowance.

din hai suhaana, aaj pehli tarikh hai
khush hai zamaana, aaj pehli tarikh hai
pehli tarikh, aji pehli tarikh hai

PS 1: This song is the basis of a new chocolate ad. In our days of growing up, we did not know what a chocolate was. And if my parents knew what it was, they would have frowned on it, anyway.

PS 2: This song is a comedy song from the film Pehli Tarikh. The film was released in the year 1954 with direction  by Raja Nene. He was also the lead starcast of the film. Voice for this song is given by Kishore Kumar.

PS 3: This was not a comedy song for us kids when we were growing up. It was a part-and-parcel of life.