The Hoonko Story

Narrated by Arup - Admin Uploaded on 13-08-2017

These are various recollections of different stories heard from Pop, Lalu Kaka, Jaidev and my own hazy recollections from the time I was about 5 or 6 years old.

Dadu, as I remember, used to stay in this small room off the kitchen area in the Patna house. My remembrance of that room is essentially limited to the large easy chair that used to be there, bang in the middle of the room, and the smell of the tobacco he used to smoke in his hoonko. I remember Dadu sitting on the chair and pulling on his hoonko and the smell and the sound of the water bubbling.

The hoonko in question was with me for quite a long time – it had a rounded brass base and a wooden stem which was not in great shape when Pop got it from Patna on one of his trips. We did a bit of sanding and polishing on the stem and it then looked as if it would work. Never loth to give any smoking implement a try, I got something called “gudaku” in Bombay which was tobacco mixed with jaggery and sundry other ingredients (I didn’t have the guts to ask what though…). Some “tikkies” were also procured. With no experience in laying the tobacco, I generally stuffed the chillum with tobacco, put the tikkies over a fire and put them on top and pulled – what I got was a lung full of coal smoke, so that was that...

Which brings me to the “hoonko shajano” which I believe is an art in itself and the major exponents were Pop, Lalu Kaka, and in later years Jaidev. Pop, I believe got himself a trip to Delhi and other northern parts of the country as he was the best at this and Dadu took him along so that he could have a properly shajano hoonko – this made all the rest a band of jealous adversaries who zealously took to practising hoonko shajano…

When Jaidev came to Bombay, I did get him to shajao the hoonko once in a while and we had many a pull on it...

The other story that I have heard is that when Dadu was not at home, Jethu Papa, Pop,and Foga Jetha would have fights to see who would sit on Dadu’s Chair with the hoonko and pretend to be him – I believe Jethu Papa usually won. Lalu kaka says he also would take every opportunity to go and sit on that chair whenever Dadu was not there.

Sadly the hoonko, that I had, travelled with me for many years but was then lost in one of my many moves...