As we drove from Mysore towards Halebidu we were still going by our travel brochure and referring to the place as Halebid.Sounds very anglicized,doesn’t it? The guide later told us that the local name Haalu beedu actually means -the destroyed city.

The drive was through lush green countryside and to a Gulf resident all that green was bounty enough.When the taxi came to a halt I wondered if we had reached.There was the usual clutter and run down chaos of a small Indian town.Trinket and picture postcard sellers swarmed momentarily but gave up quickly.Quite unlike the persistent (and annoying) hordes at tourist places in the North.
Where was the famed temple I wondered. I caught a glimpse of it from the side and it seemed like a stack of blackened stone.I felt a small sense of disappointemnt.Then the guide came along and took us inside the temple complex.The photo below captures what I saw then and was floored.That ‘stack’ of stone turned out to be an epic poem in stone. Have a look.


The most impressive, in the beginning, were the two Nandi Bulls that guard the two adjoining temples.I was stumped.So much evocative beauty in these two gentle giants.The carving itself is so fluid,so life like, down to the minutest detail of how a bull sort of slumps to a side when sitting in this posture. Unfortunately I was not able to click it from that side as it started raining.The carving of the bells,ropes and tassles around the Nandi’s neck are flawless and have escaped the damage inflicted on the rest of the temple.

This is a view of the main vestibule of the temple and it is awesome.I got goose bumps just standing there. I felt I could literally reach back in time and be one with all those who must have frequented it during its hey days and subsequently through the ages. Right in the middle, where a samll nandi is visible, is a circular dance floor that w as used for temple dances and it is like a mirror due to its age worn sheen.All around are the viewing stands for the audiences( lower right corner of the picture) that had steps of stone to climb on to.The edges have cavities carved out in the stone.These are the oil lamps that were lit at the time of the dance performances. What an awesome sight that must have been.I hope they organise some dance festivals there in future.The pillars of the entire temple are of varied designs…….all beautiful.There is something about age worn stone………..that warm sheen that enchants me everytime I am anywhere near it.

India’s ancient history,mythology,festivals…all are carved here with spellbinding effect.
Ganesha can be found in various moods here including the rare one of him in angry mood.According to the guide the trunk in that case is to the right side!

Almost all important dieties can be found in that part of the temple that is devoted to the spiritual part.The other half is devoted to worldly things like dancers,animals,trees etc.
 Brahma ji Ved japey,tere dwaarey amba………….could not help but sing the lines from Delhi 6 Bhajan.
The ‘trimoorti’- Brahma,Vishnu,Mahesh



The eternal lovers
 Shiva – Parvati

Krishna holds up Mount Govardhana
Lord Vishnu’s third avatar,Varaha, who appeared in the Satya Yuga 
The scenes of war from Mahabharta and Ramayana.This one is the ‘chakravyuh’ that Abhimanyu did not know how to exit.

Lord Ram slays Vaali. Vali had a boon that he would acquire half the powers of who ever confronted him in order to kill him. It was because of this Ram stood behind trees to kill Vaali.Look at the beautiful detail of the arrow piercing the trees…..800+ years and the picture is still so clear.

This picture is a bit out of focus but is the scene of Holika,the sister of the evil king,Hiranyakashipu, burning in the fire.Elsewhere,there are  beautiful scenes of people filling their ‘pichkaris'(water guns) from tubs of water to play the north Indian festival of Holi

Bhima slays elephants with his mace in the battle to capture Drupad,the King of Panchala.Their guru, Drona, had asked for the capture of Drupad as his tuition fees.Pandavas and Kauravas went together to this battle.

There are endless images in my collection. I went berserk with my camera but nothing can capture the feelings of awe and wonderment that one experiences when one stands in ancient places like this temple.The temple took many centuries to build and infact was never completed as the Hoysala kings were forced to move their kingdom due to the raids by armies of Malik Kafur.There are many portions of the temple that have incomplete carvings.It as though the workers had to move away from their labour of love and could never return again.

The temple was ransacked (for its wealth) by Kafur’s army sometime in early 14th century and thereafter fell into a state of neglect.
Since Hindus used to discontinue ‘pooja’ in temples once desecrated this temple fell prey not only to the initial muslim invaders but also to local vandals and the British (this is anecdotal but given the history of the stuff the British carried away,this could be entirely true) too are thought to have spirited away many of the sculptures that could be carted away. Below is my documentation of the plunder by various vandals.
The first place honor( in the hall of shame) goes to the Muslim armies who destroyed what they could, easily, at the lower levels.The free standing, delicate carvings at lower levels are all gone….smashed wilfully but the solid stone carvings are all there.These perhaps took too much effort to destroy.I can’t help but think that India must have been the Muslim invader’s ultimate nightmare. They were instructed by their Book/Prophet to hate idol worshipping and destroy idols.They then marched to India, to capture this bounteous land, only to encounter a veritable hot house of temples,idols and more idols. Ha!
The sculptures that have taken the most hit are actually the scene of “samudra manthan’. You can still see the ‘rope’ in the hands of the destroyed figures.

The next come the local bounty seekers,perhaps, egged on by the western world’s appetite for Indian antiques. The British could have been complicit in this trade.All around the temple are empty niches like this from which stupendously beautiful idols have been taken away.Mercifully, the nearby temple of Belur has all its idols intact and one can get an idea from there of what Halebid has lost.

Finally the modern day vandals who engrave their names on anything of antiquity that they visit. On the snout of Nandi which is like a polished mirror the name of one Khan. On the rump of the magnificient beast two lovers have added their graffiti.Thankfully, according to our guide,this ‘modern’ graffiti is some decades old and now the temple is more protected.I hope this is true.

This is already an epic post so I shall call a halt to image uploading and let you get on with sharing my wonderful journey through a small part of India’s glorious heritage
Rajendra Krishan

Lovers of old Hindi film music, everywhere, still swoon with sheer pleasure when they listen to gems like :

Chup chup khade ho zaroor koi baat hai (Badi-Behen)), 
Jaag dard-e ishq jag (Anarkali), 
Mann doley mera tan doley (Nagin), 
Ai dil mujhe bata de,tu kis pe aa gaya hai,(Bhai-Bhai), 
Main chali main chali dekho pyaar ki gali
( Padosan)


The common factor in these and hundreds of other songs of that era is that they all flowed from the pen of a lyricist who is now rarely remembered and about whom not much is known by the public.

 He was an equal amongst giants like Sahir Ludhianvi, Majrooh Sultanpuri, Shailendra, Qamar Jalalabadi and Shakeel Badayuni and penned such stirring lyrics as Suno suno ai duniya waalon, bapu ki yeh amar kahani. By the time his career ended he had penned many hundred lyrics for films, innumerable screenplays and dialogues for films like the ever popular film Padosan.
Given his accomplishments, it is strange that a net search for him turns up little information. Many articles mention wrongly that he was born in Shimla. I think its about time that the lovers of his songs knew some more about this man who could produce lyrics of immense pain and loss like, Chal ud ja re panchhi ki ab yeh des hua begaana and then turn around and pen a loony song like Ek chatur naar karke singar(Padosan).
 Rajinder Krishan was born Rajinder Krishan Duggal on June 6, 1919 to Parvati and Jagannath Duggal in Jalalpur Jattan of Gujarat district (now in Pakistan). He had three brothers Madholal, Banwari Lal and Hargobind and one sister,Gomti. His initial years and education were in this small town and it was here that he imbibed the best of Hindi and Urdu literature. He said that he was as indebted to the poetry of Urdu poets like Firaq Gorakhpuri and Ahsan Danish as he was to that of Hindi poets like Pant and Nirala.
 It was only in search of employment that he moved to Shimla somewhere in the late nineteen thirtees to live with his brother Madholal Duggal and his family. Being the eldest, Madholal, tried his best to get Rajnder to study some more and to try and get a reliable job. Rajinder Krishan though had his own ideas about what he wanted from life and did not pay much heed to his brother’s advice. A smart dresser and a lover of poetry, Rajinder was to be found most evenings in the Coffee House on The Mall Road, in Shimla, hobnobbing with others who shared his literary interests. He was a constant presence in all the poetry contests and gatherings that took place in Shimla.

 Needless to add that these interests of his led to many disagreements with Madholal and also resulted in Rajinder Krishan walking out of his brother’s house in anger and protest. He was to return later on his father’s cajoling and much to his eldest brother’s relief he eventually managed to get a (clerical) government job and got married to Sumitra. He then moved into 10 Nabha House next door to Madholal who lived in number 11. These houses still exist in the Shimla of today although the surrounding areas have changed. Incidentally the other neighbors included the villainous Madan Puri, Amrish Puri and their family.

Rajinder, however, was born to another destiny and the drudgery of the clerical job and his domestic responsibilities only sharpened his desire to break free. Sometime in1942, much against the wishes of his extended family, Rajinder Krishan left Shimla to try his luck in Bombay’s( now Mumbai) film industry. Leaving his wife and daughter, Pyari, with his brother and with about a hundred rupees in his pocket, Rajinder Krishan embarked on an uncertain future. Upset as his brother, Madholal, was about his decision to leave his secure government job he let him go and took on the responsibility of looking after his brother’s family, in addition to his own family. And this on his meager salary. His change of heart came about after he read one of the short stories that Rajinder Krishan had written and left for his brother to read.Madholal himself used to write in his spare time but after reading this story by Rajinder Krishan he understood the true genius of his younger brother and its is said that Madholal himself never took up the pen again to write!
What Rajinder Krishan faced over the next few years in far away Bombay was extreme financial distress and professional hardship. Try as he would he could not make a place for himself in the film world and at one point was reduced to selling socks and handkerchiefs that he would buy in wholesale and then peddle around the city. It was many years before he could get his family to Bombay to live with him.
During these early years of struggle he made some friends who were to prove to be his life long friends. One such man once came to ask Rajinder Krishan for some help. Madholal was on his maiden visit to his brother then and was aghast that Rajinder Krishan without hesitation handed over Rs. 10,000 to this man. When asked for the reason for such largesse Rajinder krishan told him that this man and his wife had supported him in his darkest days in Bombay and it was at their home he would knock to get a meal when he had no money to buy food.
It was with the Motila-Suraiyya starrer, Aaj Ki Raat that he finally got the fame that he deserved and the success he desired. This then set him on course to greater success and left a legacy of such songs as:
Chali chali re patang meri (Bhabhi)
Jadugar saiyyan( Nagin)
Baharein phir bhi aayengi (Lahore)
Bhooli hui yaadon mujhe itna na satao(Sanjog)
Woh bhooli dastaan jo phir yaad aa gayi(Sanjog)
Mere mehboob qayamat hogi ,aaj rusva( Blackmail)

A keen lover of horse racing he went on to make history of another sort when in the late sixties he won a tax free jackpot of approximately 49 lacs. However, in spite of his busy schedule and fame, he kept in touch with Madholal and his children whenever he got time to come to the north of the country. His other brothers had all moved to Bombay in years following Rajinder Krishan’s spectacular success in the film industry. Whenever he visited he rued the fact that the vegetables in Bombay never had the taste of the ones that grew in Punjab and took care to go back armed with such Punjabi favourites as fresh mooli(radish) and sarson ka saag. He enjoyed his life in Bombay where he was the toast of the film world but at heart he remained the simple man who had caught a train from Shimla to follow his destiny.
Note:I know all this as I am his great niece. Madholal was my maternal grandfather and my mother(Santosh) spent a large part of her childhood and teen years in Rajinder Krishan’s company. From my childhood I remember that whenever he visited he wanted my mother to make tandoori rotis and show his city bred children how the tandoor worked. He brought with him a whiff of the fantasy world of Bombay film industry and thanks to him my mother got to attend the premier of a few of his later films and see the film stars that attended the weddings of his children. I feel privileged to share these details from the life of Rajinder Krishan, the lyricist par excellence, with other lovers of Hindi songs.

For a detailed,though not exhaustive, list of songs written by Rajinder Krishan please visit:

A more comprehensive listing is available at:

The amazing thing about India is that there is history everywhere…in almost our backyards, so to speak.The frustrating thing about India is that most of the time nobody cares.For every Taj and every Red Fort there are ten that are utterly neglected,confined almost to the dustbin of history. The Maratha forts,the many temples across the country,the Kos Minars on the old Grand Trunk Road,the Mughal monuments in Punjab…the list is endless.
When we set out, for a 4 day trip of Gujarat, from our base camp at Ahemdabad we had no expectations of what we would find on the way.A quizzing of many Gujarati friends before embarking had brought forth puzzled glances and a shrug of the shoulder. ” Not much to see in Gujarat…but good shopping in Ahemdabad”, was the refrain.A quick internet search yielded some details about the pilgrim’s trail to Dwarka,Somnath and some Jain temples.Our travel itinerary mentioned briefly the towns we would be driving through….Junagadh,Porbandar,Rajkot….
Thus it was, with few expecations, that we arrived at the dusty, town of Junagadh.Before I say anything about this town that seems to exist only for its inhabitants read what wikipedia has to say about this town.

Junagadh (Hindi: जूनागढ़ /junāgaḍh/, Gujarati: જુનાગઢ) is a city and a municipal corporation, the headquarters of Junagadh district in the Indianstate of Gujarat. The city is located at the foot of the Girnar hills. Literally translated, Junagadh means “Old Fort”. It is also known as “Sorath”, the name of the earlier Princely State of Junagadh. 

An impressive fort, Uperkot, located on a plateau in the middle of town, was originally built during the Mauryan dynasty by Chandragupta in 319 BCE The fort remained in use until the 6th century, when it was covered over for 300 years, then rediscovered in 976 CE The fort was besieged 16 times over an 800-year period. One unsuccessful siege lasted twelve years.(wikipedia)


We could see the fort dominating the horizon from many places in the town but no way to the fort or to information about it seemed at hand.A small part is accessible to public but most of it is in ruins, according to our driver.The next big surprise was the building housing Ashoka’s rock edicts

An inscription with fourteen Edicts of Ashoka is found on a large boulder within 2 km of Uperkot Fort[2]. The inscriptions carry Brahmi script in Pali language and date back to 250 BCE On the same rock are inscriptions in Sanskrit added around 150 CE by Mahakshatrap Rudradaman I, the Saka (Scythian) ruler of Malwa, a member of the Western Kshatrapas dynasty[3]. Another insciption dates from about 450 CE and refers to Skandagupta, the last Gupta emperor.(wikipedia)


The rock with the edicts.

The rock is huge and the entire surface is covered with the edicts.Some attempts in the past have been made to give the tourist some pictures and translations of the edicts but neglect is the word that comes to mind on seeing the rotting,mouldy pictures and fading,scratched translations.Only the rock stands in ist majesty….timeless and amongst the many markers of the vast empire of Ashoka that stretched from present day Afghanistan,Pakistan to Gujarat,Bihar….
Then we went to the better known, but totally negelcted,Mahabat Maqbara of Junagadh.

Mohammad Bahadur Khanji I, who owed allegiance to the Sultan of Ahmedabad, founded the state of Junagadh by expelling the Mughal governor and declaring independence in 1748. Mohammad Bahadur Khanji I, who assumed the name “Zaid Khan” when he came to power in Junagadh, was the founder of the Babi dynasty. His descendants, the Babi Nawabs of Junagadh, conquered large territories in southern Saurashtra and ruled over the state for the next two centuries, first as tributaries of Baroda, and later under the suzerainty of the British. Nawabs of Babi dynasty( Wikipedia)



It is an astounding collection of a few buildings with the local Jama Masjid and the buiding that used to be the residence of the Junagadi Nawabs (before they fled to Pakistan at the time of the partition of the sub- continent)adjacent to it.Almost black now with the effects of the weather this monument stands forlornly on a dusty street of small shops.
Children play cricket on the premises,goats nuzzle around for whatever little vegetation is there and the fakirs and the homeless sit in the shade of the building.
This was an impromptu counselling session by this man who had been sitting quietly in the shade.He was consoling a woman who had come in crying and in great distress.


 The slender minarets with the staircases twirled around them are surprisingly sturdy still and gave us a vantage point for some aerial shots of the area.
The dome and the minarets of the local Jama Masjid are framed by the buildings on the maqbara premises.

 The facade is in a state of disrepair but still impressive in its details.The jumble of various architectural styles seems to work and small graves are scattered around the entire compound.Steps lead up to the building that is locked but the many broken ‘jaalis’ and panes allow the vistor to peep inside.
 Its only when you peep through the ‘jaalis’ that the full impact of the building manifests itself.Its like a scene frozen in time.Although the floor is littered with rubble and is dusty and neglected the building has enough of its past glory still showing through the dust to whisper stories of times gone by into your ears..Its like the Nawabs and their people are still there somewhere…

This is my favorite shot that captures the past spirit of the place while telling the sad story of its present day neglect.The light plays tricks and I imagine soft footfalls,the swish of fabric and the gentle murmurs of conversations.

The adjacent residence of the Nawabs of Junagadh has been, most unimaginatively, converted into the District Courts….a death warrant for any heritage building knowing the track record of the government in taking care of its offices! This building would be a wonderful candidate for turning into a heritage hotel….Neemrana guys are you listening?


 An interesting nugget from history: When the newly formed state of Pakistan and India were entangled in a tussle over the acceeding of Junagadh to Pakistan/India, the Nawab and his family fled to Pakistan taking due care to empty the treasury of absolutely everything before their departure.It was the then Dewan of Junagadh,Sir Shah Nawaz Bhutto,father of the more famous( and unfortunate) Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto who invited the Government of India to intervene by writing a letter to the Regional Commissioner of the state of Saurashtra.

Read the details here:

For eight centuries now this lovingly created masterpiece has stood here on the edge of a water body.Rulers have come and gone and everything around the temple has changed but it stands still in a quiet serenity.It would be cliched but entirely true to say that it has been a silent witness to the human drama going on around it for centuries.

Generations have stood in and around it now and looked up in awe and admiration (except the vandals I chronicled in my earlier post).Every little bit of the temple is encrusted with exquiste sculptures. I am making an effort to bring some of the best to all of you in this post.I do not know the stories behind some of these and am hoping all of you will chip in with the details and then I can add them on to the post(with credit given to source).

1) A dynamic relief carving of Siva’s jubilant dance of triumph after killing the elephant demon Gajasura. Having flayed the elephant, Shiva held its skin in his outstretched hands and danced a tempestuous dance. The exaggerated twist of his body dramatically conveys his frenzied movement.

(Source: C.Sri Vidya Rajgopalan’s explanation . From the internet)

There a quite a few sculptures of this ‘roop'( Gajasamhara) of Lord Shiva but this particular one is the least damaged,If you look at the top right side of the sculpture you can notice the astonishingly delicate detail in the way the thumbnail of Shiva is shown protruding through the elephant’s skin.!! Absolutely unbeliveble that this small artistic detail has come down to us from 800+ years. Wonder what the artist was thinking when he was executing this….did he ever imagine it would be so admired and commented upon centuries later?


This next sculpture sculpture depicts Vishnu in his incarnation as the Vamana the dwarf, also known as Trivikrama. Bali, the king of the demons, promised Vamana all the land that Vamana could cover in three strides. Vamana or Vishnu Trivikrama’s first step covered the entire earth.

The Halebid sculpture shows Vishnu Trivikrama taking his second step, which covered the entire heavens. Bali squats at the left lower corner of the sculpture. Trivikrama’s third step came down on top of Bali’s head. Vishnu Trivikrama then rewarded Bali by giving him the celestial kingdom of Sutala.(Courtesy: Gregory Fegel)

3) Ravan tries to shake out  Mount Kailasa to dislodge Shiva-Parvati from their abode. Another story goes that he ws trying to move the entire mountain as it stood in the way of his ‘aircraft’ (remember, the one in which he whisked away Sita after kidnapping her from her forest dwelling?) .Please feel fre to add on these explanations.

4) The ‘naked’ roop of Shiva ( Lord  Bhairav).This exquisite work stands in one of the niches.It is very graceful,almost feminie in the fluidity of its curves.

5) This scene from the outer walls of the Hoysaleswara temple never fail to evoke a chuckle from the visitors,thanks to the explanation given by the ASI trained tourist guides.He calls those arrows the Patriot missiles of yore!!


Just felt that I should share this.Human beings have always sought to understand how this universe was created.Many stories abound.Each religion takes its own myths and explanations as sacrosanct and the ONLY TRUTH.The way I see it…..the power or force that created all this is the same and our dividing ourselves into religious communities does not alter that fact.So let us celebrate our own explanations and stories but know that the OTHER too speaks of the same DAWN.

Song of Creation:


Then was not non-existent nor existent: there was no realm of air,
No sky beyond it.
What covered in, and where? And what gave shelter? Was water
There, unfathomed depth of water?

Death was not then, nor was there aught immortal: no sign
Was there, the day’s and night’s divider.
That one thing, breathless, breathed by its own nature: apart from it
Was nothing whatsoever.

Darkness there was: at first concealed in darkness, this All was
Indiscriminated chaos.
All that existed then was void and formless: by the great power of
Warmth was born that unit.

Thereafter rose desire in the beginning, Desire, the primal seed
And germ of spirit.
Sages who searched with their heart’s thought discovered the
Existent’s kinship in the non-existent.

Transversely was their severing line extended: what was above it then,
And what below it?
There were begetters, there were mighty forces, free action here
And energy up yonder.

Who verily knows and who can here declare it, whence it was born
And whence came this creation?
The gods are later than this world’s production. Who knows, then,
Whence it first came into being?

He, the first origin of this creation, whether he formed it all
Or did not form it,
Whose eye controls this world in highest heaven, he verily
Knows it, or perhaps he knows not.

Poem # 10.129


Read this article in Dubai’s newspaper Gulf News,yesterday. It was a refreshing change to read an article about India’s Muslims that went against the ‘herd opinion’ of Indian Muslims as a huge monolithic community that is uniformaly persecuted and denied every possible right in an ‘ over whelmingly’ (newspapers overseas love to define India thus) Hindu nation.The ‘crying ,moaning brigade’ is usually led by Kuldip Nayyar with endless articles quoting from the Sachar Report that has become a self- perpetuating,Hydra like entity. While the disadvantages of the community are for real,the discourse, in the media and elsewhere, usually glosses over the real reasons for this .Atleast this article dispels some of the myths and also hands back to the Muslim community its due role in uplifting its own lot. Hopefully this kind of an enabling discourse will be internalised by the Muslims here and thus diminish the exploitation of their condition by political parties and leaders of all hues.(simply61)

  • What do India’s Muslims want?
  • by Taberez Ahmed Neyazi

  • The 30th general session of the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind on Nov-ember 3 endorsed a fatwa of 2006 by the influential Darul Uloom seminary at Deoband that calls on Muslims not to sing Vande Mataram, the national song of India, as it is in violation of Islam’s faith in monotheism. Since the Jamiat’s session was attended by the Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram, it has become a cause of political controversy.

The right-wing opposition, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is accusing the ruling government of legitimising the stance of the Jamiat against singing the Vande Mataram. This raises many questions: Can Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind speak on behalf of the entire Indian Muslim community? Do Indian Muslims need to look beyond religious issues and think more in terms of constructive issues such as education and economic development?

Rather than issuing a fatwa against illiteracy and ignorance, Muslim organisations in India seem busy quibbling about matters that might not be of immediate interest to the majority of the Muslim community.

The Sachar Committee report released in 2006 is indicative of the deprivation of Muslims in comparison to other minorities in India. Though Muslims constitute 13.4 per cent of India’s population, their representation in government occupations is a mere 4.9 per cent, and in the civil services their share is as low as 3.2 per cent. Similarly, only 3.4 per cent of the Muslim population comprises graduates.

Is it because of the discriminatory policies of the Indian state towards the Muslim community? Or is it because of other social and political factors?

Instead of completely blaming the Indian state for the ills of Indian Muslims, there is a need to analyse other internal factors.

Ghetto mentality

One noteworthy issue is the prevalence of a ghetto mentality among the majority of Indian Muslims. Muslims in India have failed to take advantage of opportunities that have unfolded because of the internalisation of a self-depreciatory image of themselves. This image has largely been created by the Muslim political and religious elite in order to present themselves as the representatives of an otherwise internally divided community.

Thus, despite the objective conditions available to compete in the public services as equal citizens, India’s Muslims exert themselves mainly in business. They are largely self-employed, paying little attention to higher education. This has provided opportunities to so-called defenders of minority rights to provide a political undertone to the issue by playing up the card of a suppressed and oppressed minority. This hardly highlights the underlying problems responsible for the marginalisation of the community in India.

It can only be hoped that Indian Muslims free themselves of the divisive politics of their leaders and follow more constructive and goal-oriented politics. This hope does not seem unreasonable given the rise of a sizeable Muslim middle class and its growing power. Though there already existed middle classes among India’s Muslims before, this class has undergone significant changes in the past 50 years; it has moved from being a traditional landed elite to a class of salaried employees, intellectuals, businessmen and traders. Many of them might well share the feeling, imaginary or real, that they are excluded from the mainstream and are discriminated against. But they would not agree to resolve their grievances through violent means. The new middle classes are less religiously-oriented yet ideologically committed to reformist Islam. They are not swayed by emotional politics and religious zealots; instead they prefer to send their children to public schools or convents.

Contributing factors

These transformations in the Indian Muslim middle classes are taking place because of a number of reasons such as the rapid growth of the Indian economy, the rise of literacy, and the migration of Muslims to the Gulf states and other countries for jobs.

Historically, there always existed moderate and reformist Muslims, albeit with a muffled voice. However, only during the last ten years have these reformist elements come into the mainstream. They are determined that the discourse on Islam must no longer be hijacked by radicals or the so-called defenders of Islam. This is quite evident from the fact that the politics of fatwas is losing its significance. India’s Muslims are gradually becoming more individualist in orientation. Not surprisingly, contrary to the fatwa issued by the Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid to vote for the BJP in the general elections of 2004, Muslims rightly voted for other secular parties.

Thus, faced with grievances, they prefer to resolve them through democratic means rather than taking to arms. It is their faith in institutional and democratic means that has kept them away from reactionary politics even in the wake of the worst killings of Muslims in Gujarat in 2002.

Looking at all these positive developments, one can only hope that the recent controversy will die naturally with India’s Muslims choosing to engage with more important issues of literacy, economic and political development.

Taberez Ahmed Neyazi is a Researcher in the South Asian Studies Programme, National University of Singapore. He will join the East-West Centre, Honolulu as a visiting fellow from February 2010.

The original article is at this site:

These two news items caught my eye over the last 2 days. They defy all parameters of common sense,religious convention and human rights and yet such things are increasing in many impoverished and lawless countries.Extreme ideologies seem to thrive best amidst poverty,illetracy and religion often gets hijacked by fringe lunatics seeking space in the centre.As usual women seem to be the primary sufferers


Somali women flogged for wearing bras


  • Published: 00:00 October 17, 2009

Mogadishu () Somalia’s hardline militant group Al Shabab has publicly whipped women for wearing bras they say violate Islam by constituting a deception, north Mogadishu residents said on Friday.

The insurgent group amputated a foot and a hand each from two young men accused of robbery earlier this month. They have also banned movies, musical ringtones, dancing at wedding ceremonies and playing or watching soccer.

Residents said gunmen had been rounding up any woman seen with a firm bust and then had them publicly whipped by masked men. The women were then told to remove their bras and shake their breasts.

“Al Shabab forced us to wear their type of veil and now they order us to shake our breasts,” a resident, Halima, said.

“They first banned the former veil and introduced a hard fabric which stands stiffly on women’s chests. They are now saying that breasts should be firm naturally, or just flat.”

Officials of Al Shabab declined to comment.

Abdullah Hussain, a student in north Mogadishu, said his elder brother was thrown behind bars when he fought back a militant who humiliated their sister by asking her to remove her bra.

Men were not spared the ‘moral cleansing’. Any man caught without a beard has been publicly whipped.

“I was beaten and my hair was cut off with a pair of scissors in the street,” Hussain said.


AK 47 for contest winner

Kismayu:GDN 18th October

The 17 year old winner of a Quran recital and general knowledge competition organised by Al Shabaab rebels in Southern Somalia got an AK-47 gun,two hand grenades,a computer and an anti-tank mine as prizes.The runner up in the month long competition aimed at 10-25 year olds, a 22 year old, received an AK-47 and ammunition at the ceremony,where the rebels urged the parents to allow the children to learn how to handle weapons and fight. Somalia’s 18 year conflict pits Al Shabaab and Hizbul rebels against the UN-backed government of President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed.

Any trip to Mysore and its vicinity cannot be without developing a relationship with the mighty Kaveri,revered in the south on par with the Ganga maiyya of the northern India. For us who started the whole trip by landing at the Royal Orchid hotel situated inside the Brindavan gardens right behind the mighty wall of Krishnasagar Dam it was to be a total love affair with the sacred river.I post a photo blog of Kaveri in its various moods and of the lands that it nourishes with its bountiful waters (even now,inspite of the obstructions in its way via dams and the resultant TN/Karnataka water disputes).

The hotel Royal Orchid that provides awesome views of the Brindavan gardens.


This picture is taken from our hotel balcony.You can see the Brindavan gardens nestled at the foot of the mighty wall that holds back the restless (to flow on) Kaveri.

The water that the wall holds back.It being the monsoon season the dam was nearly full and seeing all that water it is hard to understand the wrangling between Tamilnadu and Karnataka over Kaveri water.

The water makes gentle lapping sounds on the side shown in the picture above but on the other side its is a different story.The mighty roar of the water is unbelievable and you can get an idea from this video:
We had climbed up from the hotel precincts on to the dam.Once up and busy taking pictures we were intrigued by the lack of tourists on the wall.The last time (1997) we were here it was a virtual mela on top.Then a friendly young man whizzing by on his motorbike stopped suddenly and told us to go down back to the hotel immediately as it was forbidden by security agencies to be on the dam.He and the few others who travel on it have special photo IDs that allows them to be there and that too only because their villages are in such a place that they need to use this road atop the dam to get to town and back.He also informed us that the whole area is monitored by CCTVs.Apparently about 8-10 years ago the late LTTE chief (Prabhakaran) had issued a threat against the dam and thereafter the public is not allowed. Hmm, needless to say we beat a hasty retreat and hoped like mad that no one would come looking for us after catching us on camera footage.Fingers crossed still.

The water then flows on and behind the wall to the left was the dining room of the hotel.We could see the water rushing past with an unbeliveble roar as we sat at our table.In fact the roar is a constant companion if you are staying in this hotel.It used to be the guest palace of the Maharaja of Mysore.
A view of the dam from the other side.

A shrine to the river .Sree Kaveri seems to be guarding the dam.The stairs on the two sides lead up to the top of the dam.In the evening a priest is at hand to help those who want to perform pooja here.

A statue of Sree Kaveri getting sprayed with the waters of Kaveri, inside Brindavan Gardens.

The waters nurture man and animal alike. Paddy sowing in full swing.

The Ranganathitu bird sanctuary is on the banks of the river Kaveri and because of  the many islets provides many species of migratory birds with ideal breeding grounds. It is a world within a world where the silence is broken only by the flap of birds’ wings and their calls.

Life on the banks of the river.
The intriguing round boats that are used to cross the river.I missed my ride due to lack of time.
Devotees visiting the Nimishambha temple throng to the river for a quick blessing of the sacred waters.
Another temple along the river.Notice the small idols including a ‘shivalinga’ on the rock and in the river waters.

I have posted the pictures of the river from a very small portion of its journey from source to mouth.How much more mesmerising it must be in many places along its journey,I can only wonder about.
EVER SINCE Pranab Mukherjee set the cat amongst the pigeons by asking ministers (Shashi Tharoor and SM Krishna) to move out of five star accomodations into state bhavans or other cheaper accomodations, the talk of cost cutting measures by and in the government has been at full throttle.

While a ‘large sized’ minister’ like Sharad Pawar refused straight away to travel by economy by pointing to his ample girth, SM Krishna told the media hounding him that he would continue to make similar arrangements ( five star) for his accomodation till the official residence has been renovated to his liking.

To try and stem all the talk about indifference in the government about tightening purse strings in times of economical downturn, Sonia Gandhi travelled to Mumbai by economy class. She earned flak for her efforts from Manohar Joshi of Shiv Sena who questioned the wisdom of such a move given the security arrangements that have to be made for VVIP’s when they decide to rub shoulders with the ‘aam aadmi’. He also raised the question of the inconvenience caused to fellow travellers due to stringent security arrangements made for the VVIPs.

Before Sonia could mull over the appropriateness of her travel, Rahul decided to travel like the rest of us, by train, to Ludhiana. The TV channels gave non stop coverage to this and many passengers on the same train were heard grumbling about the difficulties caused to them by Rahul’s decision to travel with them.The station seemed to be swarming with commandos and other security staff.

But before the train could even reach its destination has come the news of stones having been thrown at the (Shatabdi) train somewhere near Panipat. The stones thrown were of fairly large size and broke the windows of coach C 2,C 4 and C 7. Rahul was in C3 and escaped unhurt. Other passengers were not so fortunate and a few got hurt when the rocky missiles entered the coaches after shattering the thick window panes.

Given this incident, one wonders at the wisdon of ‘economy’ travel by VVIPs. It seems that such symbolic gestures increase the difficulties of ordinary people, give security forces sleepless nights and the expense is considerble. Now that the Gandhis have made their point, could they please go back to their special jets and convoys so the rest of us can get on with our travels. After all if the government is serious about cost cutting there are surely many other areas where gross financial mismanagement is rife.


As we drove from Mysore towards Halebidu we were still going by our travel brochure and referring to the place as Halebid.Sounds very anglicized,doesn’t it? The guide later told us that the local name Haalu beedu actually means -the destroyed city.

The drive was through lush green countryside and to a Gulf resident all that green was bounty enough.When the taxi came to a halt I wondered if we had reached.There was the usual clutter and run down chaos of a small Indian town.Trinket and picture postcard sellers swarmed momentarily but gave up quickly.Quite unlike the persistent (and annoying) hordes at tourist places in the North.
Where was the famed temple I wondered. I caught a glimpse of it from the side and it seemed like a stack of blackened stone.I felt a small sense of disappointemnt.Then the guide came along and took us inside the temple complex.The photo below captures what I saw then and was floored.That ‘stack’ of stone turned out to be an epic poem in stone. Have a look.


The most impressive, in the beginning, were the two Nandi Bulls that guard the two adjoining temples.I was stumped.So much evocative beauty in these two gentle giants.The carving itself is so fluid,so life like, down to the minutest detail of how a bull sort of slumps to a side when sitting in this posture. Unfortunately I was not able to click it from that side as it started raining.The carving of the bells,ropes and tassles around the Nandi’s neck are flawless and have escaped the damage inflicted on the rest of the temple.

This is a view of the main vestibule of the temple and it is awesome.I got goose bumps just standing there. I felt I could literally reach back in time and be one with all those who must have frequented it during its hey days and subsequently through the ages. Right in the middle, where a samll nandi is visible, is a circular dance floor that w as used for temple dances and it is like a mirror due to its age worn sheen.All around are the viewing stands for the audiences( lower right corner of the picture) that had steps of stone to climb on to.The edges have cavities carved out in the stone.These are the oil lamps that were lit at the time of the dance performances. What an awesome sight that must have been.I hope they organise some dance festivals there in future.The pillars of the entire temple are of varied designs…….all beautiful.There is something about age worn stone………..that warm sheen that enchants me everytime I am anywhere near it.

India’s ancient history,mythology,festivals…all are carved here with spellbinding effect.
Ganesha can be found in various moods here including the rare one of him in angry mood.According to the guide the trunk in that case is to the right side!

Almost all important dieties can be found in that part of the temple that is devoted to the spiritual part.The other half is devoted to worldly things like dancers,animals,trees etc.
The ‘trimoorti’- Brahma,Vishnu,Mahesh



The eternal lovers
 Shiva – Parvati

Krishna holds up Mount Govardhana
Lord Vishnu’s third avatar,Varaha, who appeared in the Satya Yuga 
The scenes of war from Mahabharta and Ramayana.This one shows the ‘chakravyuh’ that Abhimanyu did not know how to exit.

Lord Ram slays King Bali.Bali had a boon that he would acquire half the powers of who ever confronted him in order to kill him. It was because of this Ram stood behind trees to kill Bali.Look at the beautiful detail of the arrow piercing the trees…..800+ years and the picture is still so clear.

This picture is a bit out of focus but is the scene of Holika,the sister of the evil king,Hiranyakashipu, burning in the fire.Elsewhere,there are  beautiful scenes of people filling their ‘pichkaris'(water guns) from tubs of water to play the north Indian festival of Holi

Bhima slays elephants with his mace in the battle to capture Drupad,the King of Panchala.Their guru, Drona, had asked for the capture of Drupad as his tuition fees.Pandavas and Kauravas went together to this battle.

There are endless images in my collection. I went berserk with my camera but nothing can capture the feelings of awe and wonderment that one experiences when one stands in ancient places like this temple.The temple took many centuries to build and infact was never completed as the Hoysala kings were forced to move their kingdom due to the raids by armies of Malik Kafur.There are many portions of the temple that have incomplete carvings.It as though the workers had to move away from their labour of love and could never return again.

The temple was ransacked (for its wealth) by Kafur’s army sometime in early 14th century and thereafter fell into a state of neglect.
Since Hindus used to discontinue ‘pooja’ in temples once desecrated this temple fell prey not only to the initial muslim invaders but also to local vandals and the British (this is anecdotal but given the history of the stuff the British carried away,this could be entirely true) too are thought to have spirited away many of the sculptures that could be carted away. Below is my documentation of the plunder by various vandals.
The first place honor( in the hall of shame) goes to the Muslim armies who destroyed what they could, easily, at the lower levels.The free standing, delicate carvings at lower levels are all gone….smashed wilfully but the solid stone carvings are all there.These perhaps took too much effort to destroy.I can’t help but think that India must have been the Muslim invader’s ultimate nightmare. They were instructed by their Book/Prophet to hate idol worshipping and destroy idols.They then marched to India, to capture this bounteous land, only to encounter a veritable hot house of temples,idols and more idols. Ha!
The sculptures that have taken the most hit are actually the scene of “samudra manthan’. You can still see the ‘rope’ in the hands of the destroyed figures.

The next come the local bounty seekers,perhaps, egged on by the western world’s appetite for Indian antiques. The British could have been complicit in this trade.All around the temple are empty niches like this from which stupendously beautiful idols have been taken away.Mercifully, the nearby temple of Belur has all its idols intact and one can get an idea from there of what Halebid has lost.

Finally the modern day vandals who engrave their names on anything of antiquity that they visit. On the snout of Nandi which is like a polished mirror the name of one Khan. On the rump of the magnificient beast two lovers have added their graffiti.Thankfully, according to our guide,this ‘modern’ graffiti is some decades old and now the temple is more protected.I hope this is true.

This is already an epic post so I shall call a halt to image uploading and let you get on with sharing my wonderful journey through a small part of India’s glorious heritage

Those of you who are from Chennai would probably recognise the girl in the picture below. Those who do not, need to take a look and read the post below.You are looking at the Asian U-14 chess champion.She earlier became the national champion in the U-13 category in 2008.Meet J.Saranya



Photo source: Internet

This extremely serene 14 year old is seen in the pic sitting outside a temple selling plastic and clay items with her mother. Her family was abandoned by her father about 5 years ago and nothing is known about his whereabouts.Saranya,her sister and mother eke out a meagre existence from setting up this pavement stall.

There is nothing new about poverty in our country but what caught my eye was that on the day this picture and story was published in the paper there was also a picture on top right corner of the same page of a cricketer stuffing Yuvraj’Singh’s mouth with sweets.There was something about the stark contrast between the visage of the over valued,over cheered,over paid and over the top attitude -wala Indian cricketer and the absolute serenity and dignity of the almost uncelebrated chess champ

Life has thrown no privileges her way but she seems unruffled by the inequities of the world.She goes to school,plays chess and helps her mom the rest of the time.Some local good samaritans have been helping the family but its a crying shame that in a nation where the media gloatingly reports that Dhoni made 10 million dollars last year,it is left to Saranya’s school mates to arrange for the cost of her playing trips to other cities and overseas.

Read her full story here:

The little black dress (LBD) might be the rage with the Page 3 community and might be gaining popularity amongst those who follow the trends of Page 3 people, the magazines showing us designer homes might be stressing on a minimalist approach to design and encouraging monochromatic hues but outside of the privileged India ( in Bharat) it is a color fest 365 days a year. Have a look at these (random) pictures clicked during this summer in Delhi ,NCR and Garh Mukteshwar. Color rules (and thank God for that).

1)  Decorative ware at Delhi’s Sarojini Nagar market. 

2) Ethnic bags

3) Seasonal fruit at the Sarojini Nagar market

4) A puppet seller’s wares at Sarojini Nagar market.

5) The Toll Gate at Gurgaon,NCR (National Capital region).

Garh Mukteshwar

1)  Traditional toys at a street market in Garh Mukteshwar.


2) Vishnu reclines.This is not the entrance to a temple but to an eating joint !!!

3) All that a worshipper of Ganga maiyya needs for the rituals.

4) More toys

5) Road side divinity

6) Luxury coach ferrying the many devotees.

7) Advertising the local cuisine

This summer, though it has been hard and long resulting in a great loss, it has also been filled with small moments of relief. This relief, when it came, came in the company of my young niece and nephews. Caught up in one’s own grief and loss it is easy to lose perspective, to forget the larger picture and to get trapped in the here and now,forgetting the cyclical nature of life.The old depart: the young are on the threshold of the adventure called life.

When the duties and formalities of us adults had been done (with ample support and help from the younger generation) there remained a huge silence and vacumn.It was on one such forlorn morning that my niece broached the topic of going for shopping. She has just finished school and is on the threshold of the magical world of college life,hostel life and a life away from the familiar. Keen to get the shopping  for her new life done she sought us adults out to accompany her.

So off we went, three adults and one teen to Delhi’s well known Sarojini Nagar market…..It was the hottest day of the summer and the tar was literally melting off the roads when we finally reached the market place. The normally laid back girl who seeks the comfort of the air conditioner the whole day  seemed to suddenly metamorphize into a heat loving, bargain seeking hunter…hunter of the best bargain on tops,dresses,jootis, bags and other assorted accessories.

We traipsed behind her the whole morning convinced that one of us three adults would surely collapse from the heat. We sought shade in by lanes and under shop awnings, we looked for any little ledge or step to throw ourselves down on and rub our aching feet but the teen showed no sign of being done for the day.This is a photo blog of our ardous trekking in the wake of a girl on a mission.


Every slipper/sandal in this shop is for Rs. 100. When we asked the shopkeeper how long would each last, pat came the reply, “100 days madam.” Full marks for a prompt and extempore marketing spiel.

I have seen many mannequins in many different places but never before have I seen limb less torsos, so elaborately dressed, hung on a closed shop shutter. You can get any of these embroidered Salwar Kameez sets for anywhere between Rs. 300-650 approx.

  If saree is more your style you can pick from these road side stalls or move up the value chain and buy a whole wedding trousseu from some shops in the inner quadrangle of the market. For guys there are T-shirts(in the back ground).All are cheap copies of reputed brands.

 One can buy any of these ‘designer ‘ bags for Rs.200.There are Pradas,Guccis,Versaces and unnamed beauties here in all sorts of materials and colors.

It is in the side lanes and cul-de sacs like this one that the best and most sought after bargains are to be found.Known as the ‘export surplus’ market it is here that the college girls and the well-heeled women from the posher areas of delhi come in search of the trendy and the in- vogue western attire. Long before the malls arrived with the phoren brands these markets were already supplying the latest European trends to desi buy
ers at mouth watering rates.It is equally popular with the expats.It is not unusal to see cars with diplomatic number plates parked in this market.The westerners usually beat even us Indians at haggling down the price of everything.
As a rule never pay anything more than Rs.125 for a top, a dress, skirt or bermuda shorts and never more than Rs.200 for a bag. This rule ofcourse is for the footpath bazaar not the shops.They have their own rates and margins.In these lanes you can find blouses from Zara,Topshop,River Island,Marks and Spencer etc and T-shirts from Puma for Rs.100-125. I got two Zara Basics tops for a grand sum of Rs. 200 !!

Talking of the footpath bazaar…….it is illegal actually but that doesn’t deter the hundreds of hawkers here. The NDMC (New Delhi Municipal Corporation) raiding van provides the daily dose of adrelin and excitement here.Much before they enter the market the buzz spreads and all the hawkers rush at break neck speed to clear the roads and lanes.They have an ‘understanding’ ( a peculiarly Delhi phrase) with the shop wallahs who allow them to bundle their wares into the shops.
But still on every round the corporation guys do manage to catch a few hapless and less connected hawkers who then have to bundle their wares into large plastic sacks and get on to the NDMC van.I suspect after a bribe has been negotiated the same hawkers return to carry on business as usual.The entire market knows the routine,route and raid timngs of the NDMC so it is all a bit of a joke: a well orchestrated play in which each member knows the part he has to play (bribe taker,bribe giver – the tormentor and the tormented) and all is done with a surprising lack of rancour.


Five minutes after the NDMC van exits a lane it is business as usual and the wide lane of minutes ago begins to look like this!

We were allowed some refreshments (after much pleading) at around 2.00 P.M by the supercharged, young shopper with us and an hour later we read the riot act to her and threatened to leave without her.She frantically ran around for that ‘green ‘Kolhapuri’ that would go just right with a dress she had picked earlier. In the end the three ageing escorts won the argument and we all bundled into an oven hot car for the long ride back.

P.S: The joy with which my niece cat walked for us in all her new purchases more than made up for the scorching heat and the many miles walked.
 If you visit Delhi do visit this market.
Caution: It is super crowded on weekends.

Whenever there is a war, an insurgency, a civil war or of any other disruptive event in any country we see and hear about it in the media. We shake our heads at the brutality of it all and sometimes turn our faces away from the pictures of suffering. We are momentarily disturbed but then get on with our lives.

Over the last decade or so,since America started its war on terrorism, new words have entered the war vocabulary……..collateral damage, IDP’s (internally displaced people). This too has played a part in desensitising us to the full horror of what happens to ordinary people and their lives during a war or a conflict situation. Atleast the word ‘refugee‘ painted a mental pictue of a person in need of shelter, food and security but the new one (IDP) dehumanises the whole thing by reducing a whole population in turmoil to these three alphabets I,D,P……

What used to be casualty figures (meaning the number of people who had lost life and limb in a war) are now clubbed under the fanciful term ‘collateral damage’. Almost sounds like some loss made in a financial market or in a trade…….

Over the last month seeing the pictures of fleeing humanity in Sri Lanka and in Pakistan’s Swat region I have wondered  at the stories of these people.They flash past our screens and our attentions for brief seconds but what is the full extent of the sufferings of these people ? I wonder more about the women amongst dispalced people. How do they manage? How do they protect and care for their children under brutal circumstances? What happens to their simple and impoverished lives when even their bread winners are snatched from them?

Then yesterday I happened to read one account of some of these ‘ IDP’s’ on a Pakistani blogzine.I am cross posting it below.

This is an account of the suffering of the women of Swat in their own words.These are women from a very backward and conservative area and their already precarious existence has been further jeopardised by the happenings in that region.

Click on the link below for the full story: 

All pictures are from the internet.

Disclaimer: Whatever I write below is not meant to condone the attacks on Indian students.The effort is to present the whole picture and not the narrow breast beating of our national channels.

It is the season for bashing it seems.While some hoodlums are up to targeted bashing of Indian students in Australia (mainly Melbourne) we in India are up in arms as a nation to bash an entire nation and its population as racist. Our media, that has trouble finding reporters to send to some not-so-remote parts of the country to report on the problems of these regions, seem to have no trouble sending shrill voiced,excited and half-baked young reporters to far away Australia to prowl the streets and send back reports that confirm our ‘worst fears’ : Australia is a racist country.

It all has a sense of deja vu……remember when Bhajji and Symonds had that monkey/maa -ki spat and we rose as one to beat our collective breast and shout RACIST……we got that mercurial sardar off the hook by some fancy testimonies of ‘senior’ players and flexing the BCCI financial muscles only to have him slapping Sreesanth a few months later. Now these ‘seasonal’ birds are at it again….walking the streets of Australia sending back lop sided reports without any regard for the long term effect they will have on the Indo-Aussie ties.

 Like migratory birds they are there for the short haul and once their channels and newspapers have something new and equally sensational to report on they will pack up their microphones and depart the Aussie shores. But what about the people of Indian origin who have lived there for decades, who will continue to live there after this storm has passed and who for the most parts like the lives they have made for themselves in Australian cities?

And what about the thousands of Indian students (at last count about 90,000) who will be continuing to stay back in Australia to complete their degrees? 

 And what about the injustice done to million of Australians who are not racist but have been painted as such?

The media is making a grave mistake and doing a disservice to everyone by whipping up this ‘racism’ hysteria. 

In all my years of living in Australia I never felt that the nation was racist. What it probably has are some people who are without a doubt racist. 

And those who are blatantly racist are racist probably because of :

1) their own narrow and xenophobic tendencies and 
2) because they know very little about India and Indians
3) what they do know about Indians comes from the Indians who are there (so maybe the Indians there are not being very good ambassadors for the country).

The vast majority of Australian population is warm,welcoming and accepting of the huge deluge of immigrants that has been arriving on its shores for almost 2 decades now.They are keen to put behind them the days of ‘whites only’ policies and move in tune with the changing global trends and attitudes.

Aussies are the biggest champions of the underdog and the under privileged.They hate the ‘tall poppy syndrome’ (some being more advantaged and prominent than the others) and go to great lengths to be the ordinary ‘bloke’ next door, the ‘mate’ who will chugg a stubbie with you and be there for you when needed.

In my initial days in the country I was over whelmed by the number of Aussies who helped me in ways big and small.(If they sometimes seemed patronising it was because they did not know the difference between a well-off, well educated migrant and those seeking asylum from disadvantaged, war torn countries.) 

They explained things at work, helped me find books at the local library, explained to me the labrynthine Australian tax system and helped me find my first job. When I turned up at the interview looking very tense and stressed( I had lost way while driving to it and had was late) the interviewer held my hand, smiled warmly and told me to relax as, according to her, my CV was enough of an interview. She did not have to do that but she did.

During this same period I met a large number of fellow Indians who have made huge economic strides in their new country and who by and large live peacefully and happily in Australia. But I also met a large number of those who remain caught in their ‘us Vs. them’ mindset. In their large, double storied houses (dubbed Mc Mansions by the media) they gather routinely for chai and samosas and for ‘Indian dinners’ wherefor  the entire evening they try and outdo one another in detailing how Australia is not all that great, how Aussies do not accept them, how they are discriminated against, how the ‘white‘ culture pollutes and alienates their children  and how ‘great’ their motherland India is. In their curry aided weepy, sentimentality they forget to mention the eagerness with which they had sought migration to Australia, the haste with which they had discarded Indian nationality for the Aussie one and how when they go to India for vacations they can hardly find anything good or right about the country.Ghettos are dangerous things but mental ghettos are even worse.

If Aussies are upset (as New Zealanders earlier were) about the rapid demographic changes in their country it is also because of the arrivals failing to integrate fully with the locals.And this applies to all immigrants.In the suburb where I worked the large number of Afghan and other Muslim immigrants had forced the local KFC to turn Halal and keep no pork products, the nativity scene celebrations could no longer be held in schools during Christmas season lest they offend the Muslim sensibilties.Mince pies, those most iconic of Aussie treats, were not to be served during school fairs etc (pork/non-halal issues. Electoral considerations make the local politicians  also bow to these demands (in some case the demand is assumed and not actually made).

In the local play grounds the Aussie boys play Footy on the weekends and the people from the sub continent play cricket to loud music from Bollywood films. The Indians ( and others ) also by and large fail to embrace the concept of volunteering in the community. Voluntary work in the community is the virtual backbone of the Aussie way of life and by focussing only on what they can get from Australia the  sub -continent immigrants fail to address the issue of what they can do for the communities they arrive into. This often leads to white Aussies leaving suburbs to move to newer or suburbs further away and the old suburbs gradually turn into ‘Asians only’ areas. This happens with the Chinese/Vietnamese/ Indian and various other communities.

Then there is the vast student population from India.Where are these large numbers coming from? In areas like Chandigarh there are virtual assembly line businesses specialising in sending the Punjabi youth to Australia. None of these students have any intention of coming back.Most intend to settle Down Under. Australia is the new ‘Kanaada’ for the Punjabi.With the Canadian immigration now taking close to 5 years to get through they have set their sights on Australia as the country to migrate to.Australian migration rules are more stringent then the Canadian ones and hence the use of the education route to achieve the immigration dream.

They enrol in small TAFE (tertiray educaion system) courses in hair dressing, nursing care and similar with an eye on filling the vacancies in these areas and making Australia their new home. Nothing objectionable in all this except that they arrive in Aussie cities from small towns and cities of India with little or no idea about the culture and value systems of the new country. For them all ‘goras’ are the same and they carry the baggage of these stereotypes with them. I have personally heard  some of these students talking in English (and Indian languages) about how ‘loose’  white women  are, how little the ‘white’ parents care for their children, how easy it is to trick the benefit system of Australia to claim more dollars………………..

Why am I writing all this in an article supposed to discuss the attacks on Indian students? I am sharing this so that people understand how bizarre and one sided is the picture being painted by our jingoistic media. I am sharing all this so that we pause to look inwards towards our own idiosyncracies and inflexibilties while clamouring for action against the perpetrators of the current attacks. Those guys need to be caught and punished but we too need to soul search a bit about how we treat the ‘other.’

Australia on its part  needs to crack down on the violence agaisnt overseas students and it also needs to take a long hard look at its immigration policy and its mega efforts to sell Aussie education all over the globe. It spins money ofcourse but by ignoring the concerns of the Australian population and without making a good case for its policies they are going to invite further problems on their head. Australia maybe a large continent but it has a small population of just 21 million and although they need the immigrants to keep their economy chugging along they also need to look far into the future and anticipate how their society may have to change with the arrival of more and more immigrants. Easy education dollars,  earned now by roping in students via education fairs held world wide, may be attractive and tempting but may prove too expensive in the long run.

The time to act is now.For both countries. Both countries need to sensitise their young people about the other’s cultures and way of life. The media could still redeem itself by focussing on this rather than calling a whole country racist and beaming interviews of students who say they want to leave Australia. Take my word for it.Most won’t

It never ceases to amaze me how as a nation we are so ready  to hang our jingoistic nationalism on to the peg of one arrogant and ill mannered cricketeer but show no desire whatsoever to actually change in ways that would do India proud.

Jug Suraiya on the issue:

What do you do when you lose many seats in elections that you expected to win? You do some rethink and evalaute your poll strategies,right? Wrong,….., wrong,that is if you are a Mayawati.

If you are the Behenji of the Dalits, their only source of hope and succor, then you go on a virtual rampage…….after all protection of the rights of the downtrodden is no small matter.

In the first few hours after the less than happy poll result you sulk and blame the Muslims first.Even though you do couch your words in a little bit of nicety by saying,’hamare Muslim bhaiyon ne haamara saath nahin diya’ but you still sound as if you would love nothing better than to wring the collective Muslim neck.

Then you in one sweep transfer/move/fire the PSU heads, who were your party cronies and had been awarded these posts as political rewards………(Mughal khatam ho gaye,angrez chaley gaye but hamari baksheesh aur jagirdaari ki riwayat abhi kayam hai.)

Then next you scowl on TV and try and put on a brave face (even if it comes across as more angry than brave) and read out numbers to show how actually your vote share has increased even if you did not win too many seats. You try and not talk about the ‘discovering India Rahul Baba’ because as it turned out he seems to have actually been rewarded by U.P folks for his efforts to reconnect with them.Guess the Dalits in whose homes he ate/slept found more empathy in him than in your pink silks and blings that were supposed to light the aspirational fire in them.

As the days pass by and the UPA in Delhi does not really do an excited somersault at your offer of ‘unconditional’ support you look inwards again and find newer people to blame.This time you pick upon IAS officers(District Magistrates and a Comissioner too) to blame.You transfer 13 of them at one go, mostly from constituencies where your party lost seats. What else is this intelligent, creamy layer of the babudom for if not to campaign for you,arm twist locals (voters and donors) on your behalf and ensure your victory…..?

Does all this upset me? Not at all. I am actually looking forward to Maya Madam digging a bit more of a garve for the ultimate demise of BSP in the next assembly elections. I no longer live in dread of having her as our blingy,shiny Prime Minister. I do not have to cringe at her parochial and almost inane commentary on foreign affairs (that is when she talks of anything other than her famous engineering skills). The Brahmins are already drifting away towards the Congress and the BJP, the Muslims are also looking at other options, the people she is axeing indiscriminately are going to be another future resentment pool and the Dalits too will ultimately see through her statue building ways…..

Yes, her rise to power was dramatic and yes she could have been a constructive role model for the less empowered. But that could only have happened had she chosen to do something other than award posts and threaten and transfer those who did not seem to be working 100% to ensure her win.

Yes, she could have given India her Obamaesque moment but it was not to be….she rode to power on the vote of the dispossessed and then herself became possessed of the ‘junoon’ to amass wealth, property, jewellery, build memorial parks with aethetically disturbing statues…….she could have been( and may still be if she changes her game plan) the Dalit Queen  and the first Dalit PM but right now she is looking more like a tantrumy matron than a mature politician.

P.S: I fear that next the Madam might wreak vengeance on the hapless Dalits who let Rahul Baba eat and sleep under their roofs.Its all their fault for supping with the Delhi bloke who is still discovering India at the age of 39. After all she is the one who is supposed to do social engineering by getting the Brahmins and the Dalits to meet in common forums (where they still eat seperately, I am told). How dare these mere Dalits (her vote banks) do engineering on their own. Hrrmpf ,Grrrr

I knew it was too good to be true………..all this media drivel about a huge mandate and  ‘neeli pagdi waale ‘sardar ji having a free hand now in building his government and enforcing his policies………… The Left was junked, no doubt, but in our land we do not have a shortage of those who can play the spoiler.

What has happened after the polls makes the pre-poll dramatics of various UPA and NDA allies look like child’s play……

Those who celebrated DMK’s substantial win in TN can now sit and watch the cunning master at work. His wish list of how many cabinet/ministerial berths he wants for DMK is a virtual roll call of his entire(squabbling) family and clan

He wants a tainted guy like A.Raja and a non-performer T.R.Baalu in. the cabinet…..Baalu’s (non) performance on infrastructure issues last time, he was given that ministry, is legendary and MMS is insisting on having clean and capable people inducted into key ministries…….The Muthuvel Karunanidhi clan falls short on both counts. 

But never mind…….corruption and criminal charges have never been an impediment to a political career in the land of the Ganga and the Cauvery……….and what is wrong with Karuna (sunglasses and all) insisting that all key (read money making) portfolios be given to members of his extended family and friends? He is just being a responsible ‘Karta’ of a undivided (hee hee) Hindu family….he is the patriarch and if he wants one crony to have the chance of getting paid huge sums of money, by telecom bizkings for grant of desired licenses, then he is just fulfilling his responsibilties and duties as a patriarch.The ‘karta’ (as defined in Hindu Law) is supposed to look out after the financial safety and prosperity of the family,na.

And what is wrong in Baalu getting another chance at making money off infrastructural contracts? Last time around ,maybe ( he was inexperienced,na), he asked for too high a cut and the contractors baulked and the national highway development came to a halt.He has learnt from his mistakes and will ask for (I am guessing) reasonable amounts and thus our country will get connected by a highway grid at a super fast speed.Fair deal, na? 

Then there is the other issue of a cabinet berth for his son Azhagiri, daughter Kanimozhi, nephew Dayanidhi Maran……what is wrong with Daddy dearest wanting all kids on same level of privilege? There will be less fights if they all have their own ministries to milk, na?

My sources tell me that Sonia ji is keen to indulge Muthuvelu Karuna but sardar ji and some close to him are not budging….I wonder why……..

Or maybe Karuna’s role as ‘karta’ of the Hindu undivided family is not cutting mustard with sardar ji because he figured out that Karuna is not a Hindu in the first place…….. The prime ministerial snoops went to work and dug up these facts:

1) Karuna is a self-proclaimed athiest
2) He can not be a Hindu because he insulted Lord Ram in most derisive and derogatory terms over the Ram-sethu project.
3) He has married three times and we all know that Hindu men are not allowed to marry more than once unless they divorce the first wife……….two of these wives can be seen sitting dutifully on either end of his bed when he went on that world’s shortest fast (between breakfast and lunch)

karuna fasting

Armed with this proof MMS has not (yet) caved in to all of Karuna’s demands. A miffed Karuna was last seen being wheeled out at breakneck speed in a rickety wheelchair from the New Delhi portals of power towards the Delhi airport. (He keeps his motorised spiffy wheelchair and hydarulic van for use on Chennai’s ‘ultra smooth’ roads).

Keep a watch on this space for more political shenangians……….I heard that Farooq Abdullah has also made a fast journey towards the Delhi airport. He has the more pressing issue of watching the remianing IPL matches in South Africa,na.

The majesty and grandeur of India’s timeless festivals has to be seen to be believed.I got these pictures in an email and I just have to share these with everyone. With gratitude and thanks to the site responsible for these pictures. I hope to be there amongst the crowds one day.

The majestic elephants

The majestic elephants

The traditional drummers

The traditional drummers

The faithful gather

The faithful gather

The temple elephants come out to a rapturous welcome

The temple elephants come out to a rapturous welcome

The tourist join the faithful for a unique experience

The tourist join the faithful for a unique experience

The elephants in all their finery surrounded by the crowds

The elephants in all their finery surrounded by the crowds


The much awaited results of the mammoth Indian elections are coming in as I write this and, regardless of what the final tally is, the writing is on the wall for BJP. The Lotus has wilted and it will take a very long time for it to revive (if ever).

Congress supportes celebrate lead
Congress supporters celebrate

The wily and wise Indian voter has not only snubbed BJP’s brand of politics but also realised that not voting for BJP was not enough….voting the other big national party (Congress) in with a good margin was essential for the nation to move forward.

So why did the Lotus wilt? First and foremost, I think people have  not really rejected its pro-Hindu stand but its anti-‘others’ plank. The grievances of the majority community may be many and valid but it seems the voter has brought to a halt any attempt to address those by victimising the minorities. The sooner the BJP understands that pro-Hindu should not automatically translate into anti-minorities, the better it will be for its survival and recovery.

Second,the BJP went into this election bereft of any charismatic leader with a national appeal and with no real election plank.They periodically brought out the tired  ‘mandir’ issue but it failed to fire anyone imagination. The religion of the majority comunity is too plural, too varied across regions and all attempts to make Ayodhya into the Hindu ‘Mecca’ had died a natural death a long time ago.Then again Ram though venerated in all parts of the country in various ways, can not be made into Hinduism’s answer to Allah or God of the monotheistic religions.We are what we are and the Punjabi is as happy to trek to Vaishnodevi shrine for his pilgrimage, the south Indian to Madurai,Rameshawarm or Sabrimalai,the Gujarati to Somnath temple as the Maharashtrian is to go to his Siddhivinayak temple. Ofcourse we cross visit all these sacred places but I do not think an average Hindu feels the need to have a centralised ‘Vatican’ for our religion.

So, minus the temple issue the BJP’s rath screeched to a halt. Which way the BJP goes now will be crucial for Indian politics and its people going ahead.The media at the moment is predicting that BJP will go more communal and more strident in its Hindutva stand in order to stir up the communal pot and try and polarise the population along religious lines.

I HOPE NOT.India needs a national party that can be a credible alternative to the Congress but BJP can never be that unless it brings itself in slowly towards the centre from its extreme right stand.Its think tank that has ‘tanked’so badly in its startegies this time around needs to do some hard thinking and realise that no matter what the drawing room and corner shop conversations maybe,when it comes to choosing a government the people are wary of voting in anyone who can potentialy de-stabilise the country, increase its communal rifts and threaten its economic development.

Its not for nothing that the Hindu is stereotyped as THE BANIA ….. our economic viabilty and prosperity are our   Holy Cows and we will do all to preserve it.So, if BJP wants to ever emerge from the ICU, that  this election has sent them to, it must realise the power of the inclusive development mantra.That is what Congress was able to project.

The biggest gift the electorate has given to the country, and ultimately to itself, is that they have given enough numbers to the UPA so that it does not have to seek the support of the Left parties.Minus such debilitating partners the ‘Singh who will be King’ again can go ahead with his economic policies and hopefully provide more inclusive development to all of India’s citizens.


1)Karunaanidhi “Fasting” !!


karuna fasting
karuna fasting

First time in world history fasting of only 4 hours and that too with an AC,…….
Fasting starts after breakfast and ends before lunch.   ! ! ! ! !( Those two beauties on either end of his bed are his two ‘devoted’ wives…..and I thought polygamy was illegal in India for Hindus)

2) Strange Bedfellows
The man who was the Chief Minister of U.P at the time the Babri Masjid was demolished by a mob of  “Ram Sevaks’ is now the NBF (new best friend) of the self -appointed friend and champion of U.P muslims !!! This election ( like those before) has been full of unbelievable claims and counter claims, marriages of convenience and pure deals of mutual advantage to the politicos (and of utter disadvantage to the country and the electorate) but even in this atmosphere, Mulayam’s claim of Kalyan helping him to woo the Muslim voters is hard to digest. How the wily Indian voter will vote will be known on the 16th but until then we will have to swallow Mulayam’s line that yesterday’s communalist is today’s selfless secularist………I wonder what is happening to yesterday’s secularist……..LOL
3) Maa ka ladla
This maa ka laadla, Pappu Yadav, has been barred from contesting elections because he has murder charges against him…..but no worries.Bharat mein to ‘phamily’ hi sab kuch hoti hai na……so his ‘mommy dearest’ is contesting instead…….seat maa ki hogi but peeche power Pappu Bhaiyya ki…………woh pehle Laloo yadav also did the same na……….seat mein Rabri Devi and seat ke peeche Laloo Bhai…….so iska precedent hai.
If this is not bizarre enough then take this……..according to the papers filed for the elections,Pappu’s mommy is only 7 years older to him……ROFL………These are the ‘netas’of Hindustan who are setting examples of everything, from lying,falsifying,corruption,cheating to using family members as front for carrying on their netagiri.
Yeh neeche picture mummy ji ki hai.
AGE NO BAR: Shanti Priya, an Independent contesting from the Purnea parliamentary seat, is just 49 years old……just seven years older than the son,Pappu.

AGE NO BAR: Shanti Priya, an  Independent contesting from the Purnea parliamentary seat, is just 49 years old.

Mummy ho to aisi.

Indian elections are usually a time for worrying….we worry about the possible violence,the further increase in rifts along regional,religious and caste lines and we worry about the paucity of credible candidates and viable ideolgies to vote for.

But this mammoth exercise of electoral rights also brings out its own brand of humor and I share something that came to me in an email.


Subject:  Political  Parties and their Symbols

Q: Why is the  Samajwadi  Party’s symbol ‘Cycle’?
A: Because after a ban on  English and use of computers, that’s all we’ll be able to  afford
Q: Why is the Congress  party’s symbol ‘Hand’?
A: To remind Indians that our  fate is forever in the hand of one family
Q: Why  is  BJP Symbol ‘Lotus’?
A: Lotus is the symbol of Sarawasti  and learning. BJP will educate us through the wisdom of Varun Gandhi and  Pravin Togadia.
Q: Why is Mayawati’s  symbol ‘Elephant’?
A: It’s a self portrait.
Q: Why  is  Jayalalitha’s symbol ‘Two leaves’?
A: Because that’s  what remained after Amma ate up all the fruit
Q: Why  is  DMK’s symbol ‘Sun’?
A: So that Karunanidhi can justify  wearing shades indoors
Q: Why is Lalu’s symbol  ‘Laltain’?
A: Because there’s no electricity in Bihar
Q:  Why is CPM’s symbol  ‘Hammer and Sickle’?
A: Because that’s what you will be using if they  come to power
Q: Why is Sharad Pawar’s  symbol ‘Clock’?
A: Because his time never seems to come
Q:  Why is Shiv  Sena’s symbol ‘Bow and Arrow’?
A: I can tell you, but  then I’ll have to shoot you


1) The security gets in place.This chopper circled over the track virtually the whole time.



2) The spectators (mostly the royal family and their guests) appear on the balcony of the VIP tower.


3) The grid girls ( Gulf Air airhostesses) are in place.Mind you she is standing there in 45+ temperatures.

4) There is frantic activity in the team ‘pits’.


5) The crowd awaits the action.

6) The roll out begins.


7) The equipment gets in place.

8) The cars get in place.I over zoomed so this picture is not very clear.The yellow car is Alonso’s and the red one behind it is Massa’s unmistakable Ferrari.

9) Then all leave and it’s just the race drivers and their mean machines. Incredibly there is complete silence in these few moments before the deafening roar of all the cars revving up at once blasts the ears (inspite of the ear plugs). A test spin is taken and then the final positions are taken on the grid.

10) Jarno Truli takes the coveted pole position. He finished 3rd in this race.

11) Jenson Button ,who came in the winner of this race.
12) As the race starts we watch a few laps and then decide to take a quick tour of the circuit and come back for the last 20 laps. Entertainers were still going great guns.

13) Some Hindi here!!

14) The local cops were doing good PR by parking these two cars for the public to come and see,sit in and talk to the cops.A big hit with the kids.

15) And then it was all over.We watched many exciting overtakes by the drivers,especially at the corners (all this on a big screen) and then the chequered flag was up and Jenson Button had the third win of the season in his pocket. This picture of the three winning cars parked under the winner’s podium was taken by my daughter who had been volunteering as a ‘runner’ in this building for all the three days.

16) She was in a better position to take this shot of the Ferrari and Force India cars (and all the others).They all line up under the winner’s podium after the race. Take a look at the tyres.Not many laps ago these were brand new tyres.


17) The drivers get out of their cars.This is Sebastien Bourdais of Scuderia Toro Rosso team.

18) Jenson Button beams the winner’s smile as H.R.H, Deputy King of Bahrain, Shaikh Salman Bin Hamad Al Khalifa looks on.

19) Celebration time

20) The cars are rolled back towards the garages.Onwards to the next Grand Prix…

P.S.: A perk of  her volunteering for three days of the race as a ‘runner'(they are theones who run between garages and team offices getting results and other paper work signed)  was that she got a shot at getting the autographs of the drivers.She hit the jackpot as at one go (on Day Two) she managed to get her ‘runner’s bib’ signed by Hamilton and Massa.Alonso signed her cap for her. She was wearing the bib at the time so Hamilton had to hold her shoulder while signing.Well,needless to say that this shoulder is going to be ‘sacred’ for a long time to come.




Like the last 5 years, this time too, the Formula One fever gripped Bahrain.Without a doubt it is the biggest event on Bahrain’s calendar.I attended the last two days (the first one when the pole position is decided and the GP 2 race takes place and then on the day of the grand finale.)

All of you who follow the event would already know that Jenson Button won the race and Sebastien Vettel and Jarno Truli took the other two positions.So, I will spare you the details of the race and just post a photo blog from around the circuit to give an idea of the atmosphere that prevails.Here goes.

                          (1) I went up to the top floor and got this view of the entrance side of the circuit.


(2) The way to the corporate boxes from where ‘your’s truly’ watched the race.

(3) On entering the box I realised that I really had the pole position as far as views were concerned.I snapped a zillion pictures in no time.You are looking at the garages of the team.From here the cars come straight on to the starting grid. 



(4) The team’s technical staff works frantically to get everything into top gear.

(5) The cars are tested  for brakes and other things by the drivers.They speed up and brake repeatedly making enough noise to cause global deafness. Then the techies get to work again to fine tune the cars.This was on the day the pole position is decided.

(6) Some came well prepared to take on the unbelievable noise levels…..

(7) Others made do the old fashioned way!

(8) Care was taken to ensure the nutritional side of the race did not get neglected,

(9) The glamour quotient was well maintained . 

(10) Regional flavor was in full force too.

(10) Youngsters made a full picnic out of the day by lounging around in 40+ temperatures.
The track temperature was recorded at a whopping 51 degrees.

(11) The entertainers kept everyone’s spirits up even as the mercury climbed upwards.

(12) The team merchandise sold like hot cakes. This year too there was nothing from Force India team.

(13) I think this blog must already be testing your patience so take a cue from this guy and take a break.See you tomorrow with the real race action from the track.

Disclaimer: There is no old horse in this story.And there aren’t any tricks involved either. I chose the title simply because it was the ‘catchiest’ phrase I could think of!


This particular saga has its genesis in my total and 24×7 embrace of the magical world of the web.I started as a hesitant computer user way back in 1998 and for years remained a mere net surfer and email sender. Chatting with friends and family on yahoo messenger remained my ‘peak, computer related’ achievement. I was happy with what I had achieved and appreciated the world of internet because thanks to it I could now google just about anything and satiate my nearly insatiable appetite for new information.
Then in 2005 and explosion of sorts happened when I stopped working and was looking for things to do during my free time. I discovered the share market and online trading and that one choice led me to an ever increasing portfolio of computer-skills. Soon after, I discovered blogging and there has been no looking back since.I had so many hours of pure joy because of that small laptop nestled in my lap that I could no longer understand how people lived without the net and why so many made no effort to discover this whole new virtual world that is out there.

Scouting around for potential converts, to the world of web, I zeroed on my mom-in- law (MIL).Every visit she made to Bahrain was peppered with my haranguing her to take a shot at the computer. Each attempt to lure her into the ‘dotcom duniya’ was met with a nervous laugh from her and I could not make any headway. Later on, I roped in my daughter to convince her granny but no amount of wonderous tales about the net could lure the ‘old horse’.

Then we (mom and daughter) decided to lay a trap for MIL by magically drawing out any and every recipe that MIL has ever desired. There was some success. Being a committed foodie who lives in the world of food 24×7 (if she is not cooking food then she is buying food, reading about food, discussing food) this seemed the most obvious bait to use………..




We challenged her to think of the vaguest dish she could think of and we would google the recipe and have it ready for her in seconds. The fish nibbled at the bait and for a few days she sat with us and made us google stuff. She, how ever, refused to touch the PC, switch it on or press any key. A few days later she totally stumped us with a query. She wanted to know if I could get out as many recipes out of my laptop as I had been getting from the bigger desktop !!! I understood then how alien the world of the internet was to the thought processes of a generation that had grown up and reached senior citizen status without ever using a computer. My spirits flagged and so did her interest and our first attempts at hooking a convert died a premature death.

 Years passed with us cajoling her and she resisting the lure of the magic box.She stuck to reading and the idiot box as her sources of ‘time pass’.

Then this year I happened to meet a dear blogger friend. This blogger, a charming lady much younger than my MIL, happens to have beautiful white hair.I am so glad that she has not succumbed to the lures of  the hair dye bottle!! When we met at a dinner party we chatted almost exclusively to each other.I monopolised every minute of her time and during that conversation I mentioned to her how unresponsive MIL was to the idea of learning some degree of computer usage. She very sweetly (bless her) offered to talk to MIL if and when she were to meet her.

As it so hapened we were to meet for dinner again soon and my blogger friend got a chance to sell the ‘computer spiel’ to MIL. I have no idea what she said as I was busy serving food  to the dinner guests! The evening ended with my MIL chatting animatedly with ‘the computer savy lady with white hair.’

The blogger friend was right. The white hair broke the ‘age barrier’. MIL probably felt a ‘peer bond’ with her because the very next day she ventured towards the desk on which  I had placed a laptop many weeks ago. 

It had sat there for weeks…..its slick and compact, grey body unable to get more than a passing glance from MIL. This morning though she went to the desk and tentatively lifted the lid. Then she looked at me with a glance that seemed to say,”come on,what are you waiting for? Let us get started.”

What has followed since has been nothing short of a miracle. In 20 odd days that she had left of her trip she has gone from learning to switch on the laptop to surfing the net, sending emails (with attachments, mind you), cutting, pasting and saving the stuff she likes during her web surfs and even having her own blog

. It has been nothing short of miraculous considering that she is from a generation when a ‘mouse’ was still a rodent, a ‘cursor’ was someone who cursed others, ‘attachments’ were the bonds that you formed with your loved ones and ‘windows’ were those things in the wall that you surreptiously opened to spy on your neighbours.

With almost a stubborn determination she has tackled this, hitherto mysterious, world of the internet  and has achieved remarkable success. Fearing that she would forget the steps she took copious notes in a diary. Passwords, tips, email IDs and site addresses, all were dutifully copied in it. When I was not around she quickly leafed through the pages and sorted out the problem on hand.
Sensing a new convert on my hands, I also upped the ante and became almost Hitler like in my approach. I would daily set small ‘tests’ for her. If one day she had to send an email with a photo attachment all by herself, the next day she would have to google search a particular topic, find relevant information, copy and send it to me as an email. She grumbled about my militant approach to anyone who would listen and tried to sneak off to watch her weepy, soapy, Hindi serials at the first opportunity. But I was not letting go. She complained of tired eyes and stiff hands. I painted tempting pictures of unlimited access to the world of hobbies, medical ‘gyaan’ and gossipy news. Thus we carried on, arguing back and forth, till the day she started her own blog and made a short post. I maybe wrong but we might just be the first DIL- MIL blogging duo

I told the other DIL( dotter-in -law) how I had finally managed to divert MIL from thinking (24×7) about cooking and discussing food by giving her a whole new world to explore.But before she and I could celebrate our possible freedom from being harangued about food all the time MIL threw a googly at us by carpet bombing us with new recipes, information on world cuisines and all sort of food related mumbo jumbo……….via email.

The next time I took her out shopping she quickly noted the spellings of some Lebanese food ingredient in the grocery section and on reaching home googled ‘mughrabia’ to find out what it is used for, how it is cooked and a recipe to follow.

 No one in the family is safe anymore. No longer is she the diminutive, old lady who nodded to any high sounding fundas people threw at her. To my BIL ( bro in law) who had  once questioned the wisdom of eating tomatoes went an email containing detailed information about the nutritional benefits of same. To his wife went a missive detailing the benefits of eating the humble ‘baingan'(eggplant).I was sent many recipes for making tomato ketchup in an effort to get me to use the huge amounts of tomatoes coming from my vegetable patch……..the grandchildren were luckier though……the football fanatic got a ‘cut and paste’ picture of Rooney and the other one a picture of flowers. MIL’s friends got links to sites related to their respective hobbies.

I am afraid I might have unleashed a monster ‘ tech granny’ on to the unsuspecting world and all will now have to run for cover!! 



                 There is my student with her diary and all.


It is time to hit the road again……….in this case the King’s Highway.Now I know that Jordan is a monarchy but this particular road has nothing to do with the present day King or his predecessors from the Hashemite dynasty. We used this road from the time we were heading for Mount Nebo till Petra. This highway is the world’s oldest continuously used communication route (as per the tourism brochure that I have)! Abraham, a common patriarch of Jews, Christians and the Muslims who passed through northern,central and southern Jordan would certainly have used this route on hs journey from Mesopotamia to Canaan.

   In the Bible ,The King’s Highway is first mentioned by name in Genesis 20:17, when Moses led the Exodus through southern Jordan.He asked the King of Edom if his people could “go along the King’s Highway” during their journey to Canaan but his request was denied.Infact there is another earlier mention of this ancient road in Genesis 14;5-8 in relation to the four kings from the north who attacked Soddom and Gomorrah and took Lot’s(Abraham’s nephew) wife hostage (but were chased away by Abraham). Today this road is a smooth, tarred road but travelling it one can still imagine in the mind how it must have been in the times of Abraham and Moses.

1) A lone black mountain in a land of brown makes for a spectacular sight.

2) The sight of water in such dry and brown landscape feels almost like a mirage.

3) The sign for Petra comes into sight.



4) But before we head that way Abid takes a short detour to show us another Crusader Castle.It is not as popular on the tourist trail as Kerak but is no less magnificient a sight. This is the 12th century Shobak Castle



We arrive at our hotel to find that here too there is a slice of history.There is a spring here where Moses is said to have struck a rock to get water for his people.This is a slightly contested piece of history as that spring is supposed to be in Sinai. The way I look at it, Moses led his people through such harsh terrain for such a long time that he must havehad to perform the miracle many times during the journey.This must be one of those  many springs known as Ain Musa in Arabic.


While one member of the family tried taking a sip of the blessed spring……. 

I preferred to have the “blessed chai” .The local tea stall wala routinely fills his kettle from here!! 
Musa wali chai 
The spring flows out of this little room and goes past the local shops and homes. I love this shot.Where else will you get to see waters of an ancient spring, associated with Moses, right next to Cola and Fanta  and mineral water bottles?  

This is it for now folks but tomorrow is going to be a very long day at the Nebatean city of Petra.See you there.


If Mount Nebo was a spiritual place, a place of pilgrimage from antiquity, Kerak Castle and its surrounding areas take us to the ‘battle zone’. These were important areas in the Crusader route since Jerusalem is not that far from here. The Crusades in simplistic terms are defined as the action by Christians (travelling from far away Europe) to liberate the Holy Lands (specifically Jerusalem) from the Muslims who controlled it at that point in time. The Arabs/Muslims also identify defense of their lands and their faith as the motives behind these conflicts.

In real terms the Crusades were more complex but the above can still serve as a broad framework for the conflicts that took place from about  1095A.D to 1272 A.D.The Christian cities fell to Muslims one after the other and that brought to an end the Christian rule in the Levant. The Catholics have their version of the Crusades and why they were carried out and the Arabs and Muslims another. The truth as usual, I suspect, lies somewhere between these two perspectives. It is obvious though that the reasons were a mix of social,political and religious agendas and land grab a key theme of these bloody and brutal wars fought such a long time ago.

The castle looms large over the landscape and Kerak town nestles almost within its folds. Even to this day Kerak is a largely Christian town and its inhabitants trace their roots to early Byzantine empires. We get to dine first in a resturant which actually is in the castle.You finish your meal and exit the restuarant and are on to the castle territory. There it is:the restuarnt at the top and the castle with guns and all !

When you get to the castle you have the same panoramic view that the Crusaders beheld when they were here(ofcourse they were probably on the look out for Saladin and his forces and not admiring the view).

 Kerak castle was the place from where the Crusaders were able to repulse the sieges by Saladin and his forces in 1183 and 1184 before finally capitulating in the siege of 1189. This castle will not win any prizes for beauty but it is an awesome example of the miltary architecture of the Crusaders.It survived many ‘owners’ but was extensively damaged/destroyed by Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt in 1840. Have a look at the pictures below to get an idea of its scale and detailed planning that helped it withstand so many sieges.

The, long hallways, the bakery with smoke blackened ceiling, The catapult stone, the grinding stones (chakki), the kitchen sink, and the kitchen make one feel that time has stood still inside the castle and that its old inhabitants have just left in the middle of everyday routines.









Some more views of the castle and we were( reluctantly) ready to take the King’s Highway again to move onwards towards our next destination, the Rose city of Petra.



Signing off for now. Join me again on the King’s Highway.

That fact that the riots in Gujarat  happened  is undeniable and this is a fact that India has to live with on its conscience just as it has to live with the fact of the burning of the train at Godhra, the ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Pandits from Kashmir, the demolition of Babri masjid in Ayodhya, the killing of Sikhs in Delhi  and many many other incidents of communal nature that have occured on its soil.

The Gujarat riots were horrific enough but more damaging than the riots are the myths and exaggerations that were spun around it.Some so called social activists (like Teesta Setalvad and her husband Javed) have now been exposed for the vested mileage that they tried to gain out of what was essentially a human tragedy.

Thanks to the very ‘secular’ and ‘unbiased’ nature of our media,especially the television channels, reports such as these are buried under more ‘relevant’stories of the majority community trying to brutalise the minorities.It is this one way reporting and reportings with agenda that is increasingly making the majority community angry and strident in its responses to the ‘secular’ brigade.

Teesta and her husband Javed are supposedly running an organisation that fights communalism!! If this is how they combat communalism then even God can’t save India.The only ray of hope in all this is our judiciary that has not only exposed this farce by Teesta but also ticked off those who tried to give Narendra Modi’s administration a clean chit and a new image by using the exposure of the NGOs that fabricated some stories about the riots.Now only if our politicians and the media could address issues in such a manner without giving everything a communal slant.

I post below a story from Times of India:

   NGOs, Teesta spiced up Gujarat riot incidents: SIT

14 Apr 2009, 1213 hrs IST, Dhananjay Mahapatra, TNN
NEW DELHI: The Special Investigation Team responsible for the arrests of those accused in Gujarat riots has severely censured NGOs and social

activist Teesta Setalvad who campaigned for the riot victims.

In a significant development, the SIT led by former CBI director R K Raghavan told the Supreme Court on Monday that the celebrated rights activist cooked up macabre tales of wanton killings.

Many incidents of killings and violence were cooked up, false charges were levelled against then police chief P C Pandey and false witnesses were tutored to give evidence about imaginary incidents, the SIT said in a report submitted before a Bench comprising Justices Arijit Pasayat, P Sathasivam and Aftab Alam.

The SIT said it had been alleged in the Gulbarg Society case that Pandey, instead of taking measures to protect people facing the wrath of rioteers, was helping the mob. The truth was that he was helping with hospitalisation of riot victims and making arrangements for police bandobast, Gujarat counsel, senior advocate Mukul Rohtagi, said quoting from the SIT report.

Rohtagi also said that 22 witnesses, who had submitted identical affidavits before various courts relating to riot incidents, were questioned by the SIT which found that they had been tutored and handed over the affidavits by Setalvad and that they had not actually witnessed the riot incidents.

The SIT also found no truth in the following incidents widely publicised by the NGOs:

* A pregnant Muslim woman Kausar Banu was gangraped by a mob, who then gouged out the foetus with sharp weapons

* Dumping of dead bodies into a well by rioteers at Naroda Patiya

* Police botching up investigation into the killing of British nationals, who were on a visit to Gujarat and unfortunately got caught in the riots

Rohtagi said: “On a reading of the report, it is clear that horrendous allegations made by the NGOs were false. Stereotyped affidavits were supplied by a social activist and the allegations made in them were found untrue.”

Obviously happy with the fresh findings of the SIT which was responsible for the recent arrests of former Gujarat minister Maya Kodanani and VHP leader Jaideep Patel, Rohtagi tried to spruce up the image of the Modi administration, which was castigated in the Best Bakery case by the apex court as “modern day Neros”. He was swiftly told by the Bench that but for the SIT, many more accused, who are freshly added, would not have been brought to book.

The Bench said there was no room for allegations and counter-allegations at this late stage. “In riot cases, the more the delay, there is likelihood of falsity creeping in. So, there should be a designated court to fast track the trials. Riot cases should be given priority because feelings run high having a cascading effect,” it said and asked for suggestions from the Gujarat government, Centre, NGOs and amicus curiae Harish Salve, who said the time had come for the apex court to lift the stay on trials into several post-Godhra riot cases.

While additional solicitor general Gopal Subramaniam agreed with the court that public prosecutors should be selected in consultation with Raghavan, counsel Indira Jaising said there should be a complete regime for protection of witnesses as the same government, which was accused of engineering the riots, was in power now.

Salve said that he would consult Raghavan and let the court know about a witness protection system for post-Godhra riot cases. The court asked the parties to submit their suggestions within a week.


Leaving the spiritual ambience of Mount Nebo we head towards the small town of Madaba some ten minutes away. This small town and its surrounding areas are repeatedly mentioned in Old Testament as Medeba.It features in the narratives related to Moses and the exodus,David’s war against the Moabites,Isiah’s oracle against the Moab and the rebellion of the King of Moab (Mesha) against Israel.Phew, endless history here!

We stop first at a workshop showcasing the art of mosaic making.Most of the artists/craftspersons here are disbaled (hard of hearing or mute). The large shop attached to the workshop is a virtual treasure trove.

We are spellbound by the exquisite detailing,especially in the portraits.The stone used is all from around Jordan and the shades in the mosaic work are exactly the same as those in the ancient mosaics (like the one I showed in the earlier post). I have so many pictures from around the place that it is hard to choose just one(but if I don’t you will still be getting Postcards from Jordan till the end of the year!) But the one below is my favorite for its sheer chutzpah and I have to share it . A modern use for a very ancient art.

We reluctantly leave the place empty handed( expensive stuff) and head towards the Orthodox Church of St. George in Madaba that houses the most famous ancient mosaic.This little church is mesmerising in its explosion of colors,its artworks and the devotion of those praying inside.The mosaic here is actually a map of the Christian Holy Lands from the 6th century A.D

The 6th century A.D Mosaic map of Christian Holy Lands


Soon its time to leave the church and head for the famous Crusader castle of Kerak. We simply do not have enough time to go see the Madaba Archeological park that houses some of the finest pieces of early Christian art,especially mosaics. 

As we wind our way towards the famous castle (shooting of the film ‘The Kingdom of Heaven’ was done around here) we pass Biblical pastoral scenes again. Sheep grazing on this hills, bedouin tent camps along the hillsides…..scenes straight out of the past. We come then to the spectacular Wadi Mujib (Valley Mujib) and spend a good 15 minutes soaking in the sheer rugged beauty of these hills,the valley and the dam below.

It is hard to tear ourselves away from the scene but we have some more distance to go before we arrive at the Crusader castle. I juggle between using my binoculars and taking pictures. There is just so much to take in.Ancient ruins from Roman (or even earlier) eras come into view quite often as we pass through small villages. Finally our car curves around a bend and there in its full glory is Kerak Catle.It is a huge one and the present day town is nestled within it.You see the castle walls punctuated by new houses and then the old walls continue.The people live within the ramparts of the castle just as they do in Jaisalmer fort,I believe.

I was planning to write about Kerak Castle in this post itself but I think it is too interesting a place and I have too many spectacular photos for me to share here.So, the next postcard shall come your way from Kerak Castle.Brush up on  the Crusader-Muslim conflicts in the meantime.

We got up the next morning and I could just feel it in my bones that this would be a wonderful holiday.The sky was blue and I looked out of the room window at a city that is a quaint mix of many styles.Though much of Amman consists of apartments,here there is a touch of the Mediterranean style in the red tiled roofs and the olive trees that people plant everywhere,even on the roadside. Throw in an odd Roman style column, a Corianthian pillar or a Hellenistic portico and you have Jordan’s entire history and culture on view in the city’s architecture.

Abid arrives dot on time and we join him as soon we have had a go at the breakfast buffet.I buy a map of Amman and a book about Jordan’s ancient sites from the hotel lobby and we set off for a long day of sightseeing.The moment we are in the car,Abid presents us an excellent map of Jordan and a booklet giving historical details of the sights we are about to visit.

The clouds begin to close in as we drive out of the city towards the first destination, Mount Nebo. Mount Nebo, Abid tells us, was the last station in Moses’ historic flight from Egypt to the Holy Land. He and his people are thought to have camped  in a lush valley northeast of Mount Nebo.Forgive me if I get some of my Biblical information and facts askew but such is the magic of this ancient place that you believe everything that you are told.Most of is true anyway.

“And Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo,to the top of Pisgah (Arabic name Syagah) which is opposite of Jericho”. (Deuteronomy 34:1)

Before going up Mount Nebo, a brief history of Jordan would be in place though.This is an ancient land with many layers of history. Along with the period of the Old Testament, the Greeks,the Romans and many others have been here.  Christianity arrived here early followed by Islam. The present day country is an Arab country that is nearly 90% Muslim and is named The Hashemite Kingdon of Jordan.The following paragraph from Wikipedia gives the these details of who has been here before the Arabs:

“During its history, Jordan has seen numerous civilizations, including such ancient eastern civilizations as the Sumerian, Akkadian, Babylonian, Assyrian, Mesopotamian, and Persian empires. Jordan was for a time part of Pharaonic Egypt, and spawned the native Nabatean civilization who left rich archaeological remains at Petra. Cultures from the west also left their mark, such as the Macedonian, Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman Turkish empires. Since the seventh century the area has been under Muslim and Arab cultures, with the exception of a brief period under British rule.”

This picture is from the internet.I did not have a helicopter to be able to take such a fine shot !! The road on the side leads straight down to Dead Sea.

We drive through breathtaking country side and wind our way up to Mount Nebo.It is drier now and the hills are brown as far as the eye can see.We come to this memorial that was erected to commemorate Pope John Paul II’s millenium visit to this site in 2000 A.D.

We climb upto the promontory and from here we can see the Dead Sea, the Jordan River Valley, Jericho, and the distant hills of Jerusalem. It is from here that Moses viewed the Holy Land of Canaan that he would never enter.He died somewhere in this region and the site of his burial has never been located but this place was a place of pilgrimage for early Christians from Jerusalem and a church was built here in the 4th century A.D. to commemorate the end of Moses’ life.

I am not a Christian but I get goose pimples when I stand at the place where Pope John Paul had stood in 2000 A.D. to survey the same scene that Moses saw more than 3000 years ago. The houses that I can see on the horizon are Israeli settlements.Other than those this landscape is still much the same as it was in Moses’ time.
The present day church was closed for renovation work but we toured the rest of the surrounding area, taking in the views and visiting the small museum.

                                        Remnants of times gone by are all around the hillside.

                                                Some historical details about this ancient site.

                            A portion of one of the many beautiful mosaics preserved here on Mount Nebo.

                                                      The area closed off for excavation and restoration work.

Those interested in learning more about this lovely site and in seeing pictures of the church interiors can click on the link below.

The plane landed at Queen Alia International airport and I got my first glimpse of Jordan. At first glance it looked not too different from Bahrain except that it was a lot greener. We quickly got through the immigration formalities and were met by a young man, Ahmed, (from the travel agency) at the baggage carousel. He apologised for being late and not being there to assist with immigration facilities. Since we had sailed through the formalities we ‘forgave’ easily! He led us out of the airport and we were met with a blast of cold air.Although it is spring time for Jordan, some days can be excessivley cold and blustery. We were glad that A L (Abid) our chauffer and guide for the trip arrived within minutes with the car.

 As the car moves towards Amman city the word  ‘Biblcal’ comes to my mind.There is something about the hills outside the window that makes me thing of all those stories from the Bible that we  read in the catholic school I went to. I had not had the time to research much on Jordan,except the weather and the hotels, before I left for my holiday but the coming days would reveal why the word Bibilcal came to my mind on seeing the bare hills and the olive groves on the outskirts of the city.

The hotel was alright, not the 4 Star that the travel agent said it was and we went walking soon afterwards to have a look at the neighbourhood.We were in the area of Shamsesani of Amman and the uphill,downhill terrain ensured that we did not go too far and settled for eating in an unpretentious local eatery that went by the name Aqel Resturant. We were unsure of the fare we would get but once the Arabic mezza (starters) arrived all doubts were dispelled as we tucked into absolutely the best Hommous we have ever had along with mutabal,cucumber and mint ‘raita’ with other assorted stuff. Then it was back to the hotel and we tucked in for an early night because our real travels were to start the next day.

Twenty four hours is a long time they say in politics. It seems it is even longer in the life of a nation. This morning (23rd, March 2009) a British news channel was busy showing a special program covering the situation in Pakistan’s Swat valley. The scenic valley has been in the news for months now for its detiorating security situation and the capitulation of the Pakistani government to the militants there. It is, however, being presented as an accord to implement Sharia law and not a caving in to the diktat of the Taliban.
When interviewed by the TV journalist, President Zardari made a complete denial of the reports of Pakistani territories being in the control of militants. The channel then panned to the town of Mingora in the Swat valley. If the ticker below the screen shots were to not indicate that this is a Pakistani town the average viewer could have been forgiven for assuming these to be shots of war scarred Afghanistan.
Bombed out buildings, schools razed to ground, bullet ridden walls and only weapon carrying men everywhere. Every street showed the same scenes of rugged, bearded men, most with black turbans. No where were any women to be spotted, not even burqa clad ones.
If this was not scary and confusing enough there are jeep loads of heavily armed men in turbans (that are not black) also move through the streets. These we are informed, by the TV journalist, are local militias who have taken up arms to fight the Taliban. Where are the security personnel, one wonders, in this melee of armed men? They are there but reduced mostly to traffic duties and manning dangerous check posts where suicide bombers are known to have blown themselves up. The morale is predictably low amongst the policemen. They have paid a heavy price in this ‘dirty war’ in which they have many enemies but hardly any friends.

There are scenes of public floggings and other forms of Sharia based punishments in the program….all meted out by bearded and/or masked gunmen. The reasons for the Taliban running over vast areas of Pakistani territory might be any but the fact that they are firmly entrenched in the area is undeniable and yet the country’s President continues to deny this. Maybe caught up in his vindictive wars with the Sharif brothers and the judiciary he has no time to deal with the Kalashnikov armed, bearded ‘army’ moving steadily towards Islamabad just 250kms to the south of Swat Valley.

 While the ruling elite looks to be in disarray the public plays guessing games as to who is in control: PM Gilani, President Zardari, the army? There seems no such confusion amongst those who are playing for the final prize: the control of the Pakistani state. When the Lal Masjid was attacked some months ago by security personnel from the special intelligence gathering unit, it was warned by the militants that retribution would come and true to their word they attacked the head quarters of the unit this evening (23rd,March 2009,Pakistan’s 69th National Day)). In another display of their ability to choose targets and attack at will the militants sent a suicide bomber on foot to blow him self up. The attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team was another brazen display of the militant’s encroachment into even the major cities of Pakistan.

While the Pakistani English media carries some reports of the troubles in the country, in the blogosphere educated Pakistanis complain vociferously about the world hounding them and always presenting a uni -dimensional image of their country. They partially blame the USA, sometimes Saudi Arabia and mostly India for carrying out a campaign of disinformation about their country. These members of civil society are right, of course, in claiming that Pakistan is not just about these bearded bandits. Pakistan is a land diverse in its ethnic composition and its art, fashion, literature, media, music and Sufism inspired traditions are second to none.

  But the fact remains that these heavily armed militias are slowly enforcing their writ in an ever expanding area and if the country’s power wielders can not soon come to a consensus about how to deal with the terror outfits and their terror infrastructure then these bearded men, with AK 47’s  and swords in hand, might just become the only abiding image of our neighboring country.
P.S: Even as I write Pakistan’s respected human right’s activist,Tahira Abdullah, has gone on air to paint a horrifying picture of what is happening in Swat,the situation of women there and the lies that Zardari continues to peddle while upto70%( Tahira’s figures) of that region is in taliban control.


I am working overtime to keep up with the peccadilloes of the netas of Bharat Mahan. I had barely had time to cover the straight relationships of this class when a blogger friend  told me that Laloo and Ram Vilas Paswan had just come out of the closet and were spotted holding hands publicly. Needless to say that Madam senior is miffed. Sonia ji had never doubted Laloo’s orientation (or maybe Laloo swings both ways).
And if the picture below is anything to go by these two are doing more than just holding hands. Ah, the first flush of a new love.Sigh!!
The CPI, CPM marriage though has just been saved by some serious relationship counseling(read: spousal abuse). The CPI has agreed to not wrestle the alliance to death over which candidate to field from the Ponani seat in Kerala. Many accusations flew back and forth and ultimately CPM’s less than subtle threat to ditch the wife (CPI) and go it alone,got the compromise hammered out. Bahut bartan khadka between Bengal and Kerala.
“Marry in haste repent at leisure” is a saying that is beginning to haunt Mulayam Singh Yadav. For reasons best known to him (love has no logic) he embraced Kalyan Singh even before the ink on Kalyan-BJP divorce deed had dried. Now caught between his old lovers (the Muslims) and his new love, he is beginning to rue his decision.Kalyan has done all the right things: looked suitably bridal, apologized to the former wives but this is one shaadi that seems destined to bring Mulayam a lot of pain going ahead.

The Muslim leaders are also in a bit of tizzy as Mulayam’s betrayal of their love has forced them to look for new partners.Some have ofcourse been courted by Mayawati’s BSP but some are still on the political version of basically it has not yet been the triple whammy of ‘Talaq,Talaq,Talaq’ yet.

Pss,psst……breaking news…..The much miffed and sulking Arun Jaitely has reportedly gone to meet the hulking Rajnath Singh to iron out thier near irreconciliable differences.The news is still trickling out but it seems Arun’s main demand remains…….end the torrid affair with the man with a dubious  past…..Sudhanshu Mittal. Rajnath Singh it seems will ahve to choose between his old and the new loves.Tough one,I must say.

Rajnath Singh and Arun Jaitley

BJP president Rajnath Singh while talking with Arun Jaitley in Delhi. (AFP)

This last one is a bit tricky one to report on……..its the case of an octagenarian politicians being given support by a Brhamcharini…….I think there is nothing but platonic love here so don’t lick your lips in anticipation(gosh what kind of imaginations do you all have?). The lady herself is using scary words like fulfilling ‘her Rashtra Dharma’ to explain her change of heart.

Uma Bharati finding herself in a political doldrum and facing a resource crunch ahead of the elections has decided to support L.K Advani in these elections. She is not merging her party with the BJP (just yet) but the first overtures are in place…………ho sakta hai rishta ban hi jaye. After all if the picture above is anything to go by they were ‘together’ once before too. 

Wink, wink,nudge ,nudge.  Karat has also (hesitantly and shyly) said this morning that his party might bed again with the Congress.Apparently,although the parting of ways had been very public and very bruising,….the quality of the earlier dalliance was so (s)exciting that they might jump right back together for some more of the ‘S ‘word………secularism bhai. (seriously all you people need to stop having such a one track mind)

Madam ji can now seek to lessen the pain of Laloo’s betrayal in the more urbane (though less funny) arms( uff, Comrade -in -arms, bhai log)  of the CPM man.

P.S: I am calling it a day now.Chapter closed on these less than kosher deeds of our leaders but nothing is cast in stone………..politics they say is the art of making the impossible, possible. So…………who knows when I might need to do a Shobha De again.

Who’s that in the bed and with whom?

Usually to get my fill of the dirt on other people’s personal lives, their relationships, sex-capades and associated stuff like break ups and divorces, I turn to Page 3 of our national newspapers (that of late have begun to look like that ‘rang biranga’ Rs. 1 wala paper selling at traffic signals.) Then when the urge gets more salacious there is the good old Shobha Di (errr, De). She can pep up any sagging morale/libido/curiosity (take your pick).

But the dirt that I am going to dish out and unleash upon you poor readers comes straight from the pages of a respected financial daily that gets delivered to my home one day late ( but which tastes great just like a left over roti…..baasi roti in Punjabi).

Elections are around the corner and I expected the revved up activity in and around the ministerial bungalows, party head quarters and in every nook and cranny of the country where an air- conditioned SUV or a helicopter can take the politicians (sorry those are the minimum conditions that have to be met if you want to see a neta in your gaon, kalony or mohalla). But what I am going to write about is happening mostly in the bedrooms……….bedrooms of the political type, I mean. This is going to be a long post but blame that on the promiscuous politicos………why kill the messenger?( If you do,then you won’t get part 2 of this post).

Let me start with the Maratha supremo Shared Power. For long the north has been accused of not giving due recognition to the Maratha lands so I am going to course correct and go to Maharashtra. Our Power man here has suddenly had such a staggering amount of suitors at his door that he has ditched his (enforced) monogamy with Congress/UPA and is on the verge of jumping into bed with BJP and the Sena. He however is not as yet ready to leave the cozy environs of the Congress/UPA bed totally because frankly who wants to be left without a mate?

Politics is a strange monster and today’s swayamvar’s belle could turn out to be tomorrow’s wall flower………so there is our strong man with a leg (pardon the raunchy language) in each bed. He will ultimately canoodle with the one who promises to argue the case for a Maratha candidate (I wonder who he could be rooting for) for the PM’s post.

Politics is a weird game and Sharad P has gone to the extent of saying that he has no problems/issues with Bal Thackeray…it is only his ideology that is unpalatable. Excuse me! Isn’t politics about ideology rather than about your NBFs ( New Best Friend ,for the uninitiated)? We don’t care how ‘wonderful a human being’ the ageing saffron tiger is……..
Next let’s go to the Third Front formation . This ménage- a –trois (actually a lot more than that…….a near harem, if you ask me) has surfaced again and again around election time. They create enough head aches for the two main parties and then when results are out they get down to their main business of horse trading. This time too there are the usual suspects; the left parties, the Gowda brigade, Naidu (IT) uncle and other assorted regional satraps. The one playing hard to get is Naveen Patnaik of Orissa who has just concluded an acrimonious divorce with the BJP and is now looking for the next suitable marital bed. The Left has done more than make eyes at him and heavy flirting is on but Naveen is not giving away anything, not even a blush. I don’t think this front itself knows who is sleeping with whom.
Mayawati behen, of the heera moti and pink salwar kameez fame, is the one with 80+ seats (UP’s share in Lok sabha) to bargain with and is not playing ball with anyone until they ‘crown’ her as the Prime Ministerial candidate. So there are no bedroom capers here. I am sorry to disappoint but she remains staunchly single(for the moment ,that is).

There is of course the little matter of the bouquets that the handsome Karat has been sending Ms. Mayawati. No, he is not gifting her red roses. He has gifted away a whole government bungalow to Madam. The story is that Madam coveted this one bungalow on Gurudwara Rakab Ganj road because it was next to her Party’s headquarters. Well this one was with a CPM member from Tamil Nadu and Karat is reported to have nudged the Tamil gentleman out of the house and Madam threw a big dinner party in her new house for all her obliging friends. Don’t ask for more details…….yeh ghar ki baat hai.
The last one on this post is Rajnath Singh.The RSS noise about Brahmcharya seems to have got to him in a very big way and he is on the war path (with his own party). He has single handedly thrown out a lot of old and potential allies out of the BJP bed and if BJP’s tally goes down this election we will all know who the garrulous saas was who threw all the bahus out of the house.

The latest reports suggest that Arun Jaitely did not approve of this Brahamcharya binge (we will go it alone route) just before the polls and has been consequently absent from all major meetings. Well Rajnath may gain the moral high ground of celibacy by going the ‘no relationships’ way but the BJP sure is on slippery ground with nary a spouse in sight to lend a hand in these troubled times.

P.S: There are more amorous capers to report from other corners of the land of Kamasutra.Let me know, after reading this post, if you want more of this ‘political porn’ (never thought I would peddle porn one day).

A bullet hole is seen on a window of a bus, which was carrying the Sri Lankan cricket team, parked outside the Gaddafi stadium  in Lahore. -Reuters 

Just two weeks ago I had read an article by Brian M. Downin, ‘Losing the game: Pakistan on the brink’. It had listed all the travails of this nation, self-inflicted or otherwise, and the picture the author had painted was grim to say the least. At that time I had wondered if this was not over pessimism. After all a lot of countries go through periods of turmoil but very few crumble under the weight of their problems.
Now, after this morning’s attacks on the Sri Lankan cricket team, that had braved the odds to agree to play in the country where no one else wanted to play, I am not too sure. It is indeed beginning to look as though Pakistan might actually go under if the current state of affairs continues unchecked. With this attack in the heart of Lahore, on a visiting sports team, there is a stark change in terminology. All over the world the experts and ordinary people alike are now not debating whether Pakistan is on the brink but are talking instead of the ‘the end game’.
So where exactly does our nuclear armed neighbor stand at this point in their 61 year history? There are articulate arguers are on both side of the debate. While the impulse to talk of Pakistan as a nation going down the drain is stronger at the moment there are those too who are trying to talk of this Lahore incident as just one unfortunate incident. They draw comparisons with the train attacks in Madrid, the Mumbai attacks, the blasts that have occurred in Turkey, Egypt and many other countries in the recent years. People did not give up on these nations and did not stop visiting them. This argument is simplistic in the extreme as this is not one isolated incident for Pakistan.
 Apart from the attacks like the Marriot hotel blasts and the notorious Taliban grip on Swat valley (and all the misery it entails for the population there) Pakistan has been suffering from almost a never ending series of attacks. There have been suicide bombings, indiscriminate firing, and grenade attacks on funerals, schools, high courts and market places. The difference is that the world does not take notice when 8-10 Pakistanis get killed but when outsiders or high profile people and places get attacked then the incidents get world wide coverage.
 It is precisely for this reason that this time the terrorists have chosen to attack the Sri Lankan team whose very visit, in adverse circumstances, was supposed to make the point that Pakistan was not the wild, west and people could and should visit it. Now by attacking that very team the terrorists have upturned that notion and declared loud and clear that they can and will attack, at will, wherever whichever target they choose to. They have got the world’s attention alright!
Where Pakistan goes from here is hard to predict. The usual list of LeT, Taliban, Al- Qaeda, ISI, the army and ‘foreign hands’ has been aired by all but who is to say who on that list is the ring leader and who are its willing followers? Who is the horse and who the charioteer? Does the army drive the Islamic militants or is it now the other way round. And what is the position and status of the young civilian government in the conundrum that now passes for a Pakistani state?
Pakistan indeed now stands at the proverbial fork in the road. Which way it chooses to go will determine whether it survives or goes under. One road is the old one of denial, obfuscation and duplicity that Pakistan has tread for almost its entire existence. The other one is the unfamiliar one of acknowledging that the menace that has spread through out the country is largely of its own making and it must denounce and fight it not to win accolades from the rest of the world but simply to ensure that Pakistan has some chance at a better future.
While for the foreseeable future Pakistan will be a sort of international pariah, especially where sports of any sort are concerned, in the longer run it can win its way back into the community of world nations by setting its house in order. The rest of the world can play a constructive role in this by not raising the chorus of ‘we told you so’ and by finding ways to support those within Pakistan who seek to liberate their nation from the menace of terrorism.

P.S: While the Pakistani government through various spokespeople has started parroting the line about a ‘foriegn hand’ the media has come out and declared this a case of home grown terrorism.Many ordinary people are also saying this in the Pakistani blogosphere.

Editorial from Dawn (Pakistani English Daily) :

From a Blog:

By now everyone would have heard about the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket players in Lahore,Pakistan.The team bus came under attack from militants as they arrived for Day 3 for the second test match against Pakistan.The details are just coming in and the numbers of injured players varies from 3 to 8(depending on which channel you listen to).The TV images bear an uncanny similarity to the attack carried out in 2001 on the Parliament in India and in Mumbai in 2008.Backpack carrying men with guns in hands just converged on to the scene and fired.5 policemen have been reported killed.

Lanka cricketers wounded in Lahore attack

That this has happened in Pakistan,a cricket crazy country, is not surprising.The Taliban type forces that are hell beant to creating chaos in the entire country ,with possibly the final aim of taking control of this nuclear armed country, have been working to a clear cut plan. They want to spread as much terror as possible using the simple method of these back pack carrying foot soldiers.For this they need to not just create actual mayhem but spread as much fear as possible.What better way to isolate Pakistan further and create fear then to attack cricketeers in a cricket loving nation? Now which country will ever think of sending their players to the country? In one simple- to- mount attack the terrorists have achieved their goal.

It would be pertinent in this scenario to ask our English speaking,bleeding- heart, liberal media, about the wisdom of their gospel that India should do all it takes to maintain contacts with Pakistani people and civil society via cultural exchanges and especially through cricket. When in the wake of the Mumbai attacks of November 2008 the Indian governement had said that the Indian players would not be sent to Pakistan for a series,this section of media in every chat show and cricket program had questioned that decision and rued the fact that we as a nation were bowing to terrorists by failing to send our players across.

What do they have to say in their own defense now? If the Sri Lankan team ( that has no political or military conflict with Pakistan) could be so audaciously attacked imagine what could have happened to the Indian players. At that point the Pakistan government was in full denial mode about Pakistanis having carried out the Mumbai attacks and the tension between the two countries was very high and very palpable. It is time that this section of media and media persons and the so called intellectuals of the nation stop confusing between the Pakistani state, the Pakistani “non-state players”, and the civil society.

When India refused to play there it was not meant to imply that we expected ordinary Pakistanis, members of the civil society, to come out toting guns to kill our players.On the contrary these people, most probably, would have welcomed the Indians with traditional hospitality………. but when was the last time that the civil society in Pakistan has actually got to call the shots and set the tone of the national events? The undeniable fact is that their country is in a state of chaos with they themselves not very sure about who has the reins of the nation in hand.

The sad and stark truth is that until such a time that political stabilty returns to Pakistan(if it does at all) and the tide of terrorism (religion dictated or otherwise) is reversed it will remain an unpredictable country, travel to which will remain a risk fraught activity. NOW CAN OUR ENGLISH MEDIA GET THIS SIMPLE FACT??


I haven’t photographically tracked the progress of the garden in the last few weeks but when I did this morning it was a total joy to see the profusion of the blooms.Have a look and have a good day and an even better weekend.
1) The carnations are now coming into bloom and I look forward to capturing on camera more such beauties in the coming days


2) This year I planted cherry colored nasturtiums giving the usual orange ones a pass.The results have been spectacular.

3) The snap dragons are really going great and have filled up this long bed at the front of the house.



Australia(especially the southeastern state of Victoria) was ravaged recently by bushfires that resulted in the tragic loss of 201 lives.Many are still in hospitals with very serious burns.This is the worst incident in Australia’s history of bushfires.The dates 6th and 7th Feb 2009 will probably go down in the country’s history as the darkest.

But Aussies have this truly remarkable attitude to life that makes them get up and get back on their feet in the shortest possible time.Ask a Aussie who is visibly ill,
“How are you mate?”
99.9 % of the time what you will hear is not a litany of his/her troubles but this:
“No worries mate.”

I am posting this picture that a friend sent from Melbourne.It has been taken at a winery in the wine making region of Yarra Valley.It is a beautiful area( as is most of Australia) and the hot air balloon rides over the picturesque valley are very popular.Well ths picture was taken at a wedding that took place recently against the backdrop of the still burning fires.

Wedding at Yarra Valley

Wedding at Yarra Valley

This photo has not been taken by me.I just felt this was worth sharing with everyone because for me this truly captures the Aussie spirit.My thanks to the original photographer who captured this image.

This is a kitten that just a few months ago was a helpless, little, furless thing that its mommy deposited under the bougainvillea creeper. I have lots of low growing plants planted around the base and it makes for a perfect hiding spot for the kittens and mommy cat and also provides total protection from the wind, the heat and the cold. Last time the mommy cat had a litter the two kittens got themselves stuck in the bougainvillea’s thorny branches and mewled pitifully the whole day in the heat. When I tried to rescue them the mommy cat appeared out of nowhere and hissed the living daylights out of me.
1) When I tried to get it to pose, it ignored me royally. Moving closer would have meant it sauntering away and another lost photo opportunity so I resorted to making bird sounds(or what I think were bird sounds.
2) The bird sounds did not impress the little fella and it just continued snoozing in the sun.All it would grant me was a front profile.

3) When I would not give up with my annoying ‘bird noises’ one eye opened and I got this look.It says it all.It does

think of me as a major ‘human’ annoyance which it tolerates only because of the occasional treats it gets from me.


P.s: Going by its size this one is going to be one big cat.Just like its daddy

I backed off and called the local SPCA (society for preventing cruelty to animals). They sent a young Sri Lankan employee who brought them down but then insisted on taking them to the shelter. No amount of pleading the mommy cat’s case would make him relent so off he went with the two kittens to the shelter and I was left with a mommy cat that mewled pitifully for a whole week before it gave up on its babies. The guilt of somehow being responsible for that fiasco made me watch out protectively over the present litter of three, out of which two survived and one got lost when it was a cute little fur ball.

So this is the one that has survived and has now been left alone by the mommy cat. She no longer plays with him/her, nor hangs around protectively. So this fella has taken to hanging around my garden, chasing birds (probably making a meal out of a few) and knocking down my carnations by jumping all over then during its bird chases.As you can make out from the pictures this one has a mind of its own and is quite a character.

This came to me in an email and I think for sheer ingenuity and  entrepreneurial  spirit it is matchless.Have a look.

My apologies to the original photographer for using this picture without consent but it is too good not to share it.I have no idea who you are but you do have a brilliant eye for capturing the idiosyncracies of the nation.



Lately,I have not found myself inspired to write about anything .Writer’s block? Maybe. But there is no photographer’s block on the horizon so here is a tour around my personal paradise. Come along.



This flower fascinated me for a whole month last season……unfortunately I had no seeds to plant it again this year. A dust storm was about to hit the day this picture was taken and hence the brownish hue of the pic.

This is where the bountiful vegetables come from.In the left lower corner is the compost bin where all kitchen and garden waste is composted.Just showing off my GREEN credentials.

The paperwala arrives with my copy of the local daily and a day old copy of The Economic Times.

This is how serene the compund looks,bathed in the winter sun.Don’t even ask how it is in summers with temperatures at 48 degrees+.

The gardener gets busy watering. He has been nurturing this place for last 30 years, I am told.

This is the oasis his efforts create within the walls of the compound.Look  over the wall to see how it would be without constant improving of soil and watering.

The barbecue that is usually used as my gardening work bench to raise seedlings and carry out the re-potting of plants. What else can a vegetarian do with a barbecue?

The mid morning sun brings out the many hues of green that are there.

 OK, that’s it folks.See you again soon. Take care.


The Prime Minister Manmohan Singh goes under the knife ( only the surgeon’s) early tomorrow and my best wishes and prayers are with him and his family.May he come through this health glitch without a hitch and be back at his ‘hot seat’ as soon as possible.

He is the man in charge (Sorry Sonia Madam! Allow me to give him this credit this one time atleast ). He is the nation’s Prime Minister and it is a nation of over a billion people.His is a powerful position and his health is of importance for all of us,especially in this post 26/11 scenario. I doubt if anyone is unaware that our soft-spoken,fuzzy bearded,blue turbaned Chief is already in AIIMS in New Delhi in order to get a bypass surgery done. The media has made sure that we all know about this development and I understand the need to do this. BUT……….. now from early tomorrow morning prepare for the overkill and brace yourself for the massive circus that will take place outside the AIIMS hospital and its repetitive media feed to us for hours and hours.Enthusiastic reporters must be licking their chops in anticipation of this story and must already be setting their alarm clocks as I write this, so they can be up early to take their bleary eyed positions outside the hospital.

 My sympathies are with all those hapless, ordinary patients and their caretakers who will arrive from towns far and near to get good quality,affordable treatment at AIIMS only to find themselves in the midst of a media twister. Some might get pushed around and out of the way as the army of reporters well armed with its microphones and cameras jostles to catch any ‘medical’ person they can to get UPDATES on the venerable Sardraji’s condition.Hey, it’s all in the interest of our ‘national security’.If they can catch a family member of the PM that would be an added bonus.

It doesn’t matter if they themselves get a ‘coronary’ in the process as long as they get the latest on how far the operation has progressed.Is The PM still conscious? Has the anasthesia got him ? How far has the surgeon’s scalpel travelled? What did sardar ji did or did not eat before the operation? How is his wife feeling? How is his daughter feeling? How ís his dog (if he has one) feeling? How is the surgeon feeling? How is the ward boy feeling? How are the nurses coping? Heck,even how is the sweeper feeling?

The scramble to pounce on anyone who is emerging from the ward (whether connected or not to thePM’s office) will be serious and can and will turn ugly. The pulse rate,the first words the first meal( defintely not sarson ka saag and makki ki roti) and maybe the first …………also will be reported to us.

It is ‘fame’ time for all doctors of any repute.They will be summoned by various channels to explain coronary disease and the Bypass surgery to us.While the good channles will get Dr.Naresh Trehan ( ex Escorts,present Apollo cardiac surgeon) the others will have to make do with the lesser known ones.

Across the border the militants must be having a coronary episode of their own in their excitement at PM being incapacitated temporarily(they can add it to their publicity and jihad recruiting pamphlets that they gave the sardar ji this coronary episode ). Given that Pranab Mukherjee would be standing in for the PM must be an added bonus for them.The bhadralok from Bengal has been tickling their funny bones with all his “posturing and threats’ to Pakistan and now there is bound to be more fun to look forward to.

 With the PM groggy with general anesthesia and Pranab Da holding the reins of the foriegn ministry,the finance ministry, and his dhoti things are going to be really strange around the power corridors of New Delhi.Outside the AIIMS it will be a virtual mayhem.

School bachchas will have lot of fun cutting and pasting and making Get Well cards for the PM. The older ones might be roped in for a candle light vigil for the PM’s health and long life.The sarkari karamcharis could maybe take a day off to go to various temples/churches/gurudwaras and mosques to pray for the PM.The traffic signal wala paper seller will have a bonanza screaming ‘Pradhan mantri hue be-hosh’ and selling extra copies with that misleading line.


When all the effort of months of planting and nurturing bears fruit it is a sight straight from the Heavens.
I know,I know,I just posted a post yesterday but nature waits for no one so I do not have the luxury of being well spaced between my posts.



1) I spent hours today to get the Salvia right. The fact that it is a naroow spike was ‘spiking’ all my amateur efforts at clicking it well.I finally got it.I am happy that I have got the exact mix of blue and purple color.In most pictures it was showing up as only blue and that is not how the actual flowers are. Can you see a white blurry blob in the background ( at the top end of the picture)? Well,that is the Carnation of the next picture!


2) I thought of getting the fat ant off but he/she seems to be having such a party,I decided against interfering with his/her fun!


3) The orange Calendula looked prettier than the yellow one I clicked yesterday so it also deserved to be in this post.


4) The Snapdragons are also tricky(for me atleast) to click but I think these picture does capture the blushing beauties reasonably well.


5) The pink ones are gorgeous too with that little dusting of yellow freckles in the centre.
6) Verbenas don’t seem to like the cold, blustery winds(shamaals) of Bahrain but I still persist with my efforts to grow them.They remind me of my Dad. He always used to grow them at the front  of the flower beds.Mine are in a pot though.


7) This one looks so much like the Salvia in the first picture but is actually  not like it at all.It comes in a tight little bunch instead of a tall spike.


8) No post can ever be complete without my buddies, Petunias.They are not fussy at all. As long as there is plenty of sun they fire on all cylinders: in rich soil and poor soil, in sheltered corners and out in the face of the 35 knots ‘shamaals’.
This post is already too long but I just have to add some pics from the productive end of the garden,the vegetable patch.


1) The purple beans are out in a strong show and I love their sweetness. The crunch-o-meter is high too. I got the seeds from Australia and have been religiously collecting more at the end of each season to keep my stock going.


2) The tomatoes are making life miserable with their abundance. I have gifted so many to anyone who will take them and I am still snowed under !!


3) The family favorite, eggplant (brinjal) is looking to compete with the tomatoes in abundance. 
Bhartha anyone?
Ok that it’s folks. The show is over.Will return (whether you want me to or not) with aerial views of the garden from where all these pictures come to you.




It seems to be the season of flippant remarks and drawing ill-thought out conclusions. First David Miliband,UK’s Foriegn Secretary, arrived on our shores all pumped up with adrenalin(one supposes) at his visit to two countries that hold part of the troubled spot, Kashmir.

Looking youthful and very telegenic he perched elegantly on the edge of a high stool in the NDTV studios and poker faced made those infamous statements about Kashmir and how it provides a stage for jihadists to raise their jihad call from. In one fell swoop he gave the notorious Lashkar-e-Taiba’s anti India stance a legitimacy that even the Pak administration had not openly given.Oh how our liberal/Left media must have loved this school boyish looking Brit when he drew a direct link between the unsettled dispute of Kashmir and the Mumbai attacks!!

Suzanna Arundhati Roy must have hyper-ventilated with excitement at his line of reasoning.After all she has been drawing the same facetious and dangerous links between the riots in Godhra and the terror attacks in India, in various articles in Indian magazines.She is the darling of the Pakistani media and Pakistani bloggers revere her for the blame that she puts squarely on the Indian state for every terror attack that is perpetrated on Indian soil. She is an amazing writer.Years of terror all over the world,Muslim as well as non- Muslim, by the jihadist who answer to the call a pan-islamic ideology of a return to ‘pure Islam’ and a world wide caliphate has not made her draw a link between Islam and terror.She only has to look at the poor Muslims of India and to ‘know’ and state with authority that it is their condition that is inspiring radicalisation amongst them.She never questions why this connection(if it exists at all) should justify Pakistani nationals attacking Indian cities. Yet one Malegaon bomb blast case with its saffron suspect list ( and they could be guilty-I am not gong into denial mode here) and she joins the chorus of “Hindu Terror’.But enough of Suzanna Arundhati Roy.Let us get back to that ‘boy’ from Britain.

Looking younger than your years should not automatically translate to being less mature than expected of your age. Miliband had the audacity to sit amongst an Indian crowd in the post Mumbai-attack climate and state that Pakistani state/ISI/army had no hand in the well planned and well executed attacks of Mumbai(this when the investigations are in the early stages and no clear picture has emerged).He should be thankful that India has imbibed the spirit of democracy and freedom of speech enough to politely listen to him and not take him to task there and then. He not only felt the need to de-link the Pakistani establishment from the attack but also ‘restate’ that position while joining the dots randomly to link the very same attacks to the Kashmiri question.

 But let us cut Miliband some slack.He is still a bit green behind the ears in diplomacy,especially foreign diplomacy.He probably jumped the gun because he imagines he has a very real chance to make a bid for the post of the Prime Minister of UK. Gordie dear is uninspiring and has been running low on popularity and ideas.As he fumbles and stumbles along the Tories seem to be gaining ground and the only real chance that the Labour Party has of retaining power is to counter the youthful Tory leader with someone even younger looking and with the same penchant as Tony Blair for making school- boy-debate-team type of speeches in inspiring sounding but hollow words.He has also been going hammer and tongs at Bush,trying to distance labour and himself from the 8 year long disaster of he Bush presidency.He is ambitious and realises that aligning himself favorably with the Obama team will stand him in good stead when he makes his run for the Premier’s post.Politicains everywhere plan and staretgise their gains while making statements.That is as true of a Miliand as it is for a Laloo Yadav or Mulayam Singh.

The Indian government ofcourse woke up from its slumber and made its objections to Miliband’s remarks(made at multiple venues) only after the media and common citizen’s made an issue about them.

The latest(but by no means the last) to join this camp of half baked politicians with little or no knowledge of either history or geography of the conflict spots they love to talk about is Susan Rice,US ambassador designate to the UN. While trying to make an eloquent speech about the hot spots (read dangerous conflict zones) of the world that the Obama administartion is inheriting she clubbed the Balkans,Liberia,East -Timor and Golan heights with Kashmir! Excuse me. She has in the past also referred to the Kashmir as a recruting ground for the Al-Qaeda along with other conflict zones like Iraq and Chechanya.What similarities she sees between Chechanya,Iraq and kasmir only Ms. Rice knows. She like our very own Suzanna Arundhati Roy clubs the huge Indian Muslim population with the Muslims in  other countries and thus tarrs them with the same brush………the brush of terrorism and indiscriminate violence towards achieveing some medieval form of a Muslim caliphate.

This is the biggest insult to the Indian Muslims who by and large for the last 61 years have lived as law abiding Indian nationals,sharing the same democratic freedoms as other communities and suffering under the same yoke of poverty and under development as his Hindu,Sikh or Christian brethren.Only a miniscule number of young men have answered the call for jihad against India and when they have done it is usually at the behest of Pakistan.Forget about the Kashmiri youth,even Sikh youths were lured by the guns,drugs and easy money that Pakistan provided during the Punjab insurgency.

As 2009 moves ahead at speed,bouyed by the swearing in of Obama, in a few hours from now, as USA’s 44th President let us resolve to solve our problems ( and we have many)ourselves, while remaining vigilant against those who are wont to thrust fallacious theories about us and our nation on to the world stage.Let the blunders by Rice and Miliband serve as a reminder to our government  that signing a nuclear deal with USA does not automatically make it and its allies our NEW BEST FRIENDS.

In my previous post I had posted a picture of a mound peering through the morning fog and said there was a story to tell there.Well this is the story about the mound and the hundreds of others that can be still found in Bahrain. Often when one lives with history one tends to take it for granted.What if I tell you that this mound dates back to an era some 3000BC? That would make you take notice alright.

This is what the mound and its cousins(not in the picture) look like in the morning sun.Now ,what look like just some non descript heaps of sand were much higher and majestic till a decade ago.‘Development’ took over history  here in Bahrain too just as it does in other places.I post the history behind the mounds below.It has been taken from an internet site on Bahrain.

“History of Bahrain goes back to over five thousand years. Considered to be one of the many venues of Sightseeing in Bahrain, Dilmun Burial Mounds in Bahrain is the place where the ancient people of Dilmun civilization are resting in peace.

Dilmun Burial Mounds in Bahrain is one of the rare archaeological burial grounds that date back to the Dilmun era. Dilmun was an old civilization that flourished on the islands of Bahrain during the Bronze Age at around 3000 BC. The heydays of the civilization started as Bahrain was along the ancient sea trade route which linked this civilization with that of Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley Civilization. The civilization gradually phased off but their burial ground in Bahrain still bears testimony to this once mighty civilization.

Dilmun Burial Mounds in Bahrain was unearthed by a Danish team when in course of their excavation work they stumbled upon some tumuli. The tumuli contained items that proved the existence of this civilization around two thousand years before the Christ. Every tumulus housed a central stone chamber surrounded by a low ring wall with earth and gravel piled on them. The size of tumuli varies with smaller ones containing single chamber. Larger ones contained more chambers. Though there was only a person buried in each tumulus, some however contained more than one person.

The bodies found at Dilmun Burial Mounds in Bahrain represent both sexes. The bodies did not have many ornaments upon them. Neither the chambers were stacked with huge riches as were found in most Egyptian tombs. The bodies also proved the life expectancy of the then people were around 40 years. Notwithstanding that, it goes without saying that sightseeing in Bahrain is incomplete without a visit to Dilmun Burial Mounds in Bahrain.”(

I have lived next to these remnants of an ancient civilisation for some 14 years now.There are only 3 depressed looking mounds left now.There used to be some open ones (possibly opened by archeologists) also right behind the house and all those visiting us in Bahrain were taken on impromptu tours of these.I remember my mum noticing that the open ones had such a neat arrangement of graves that it looked as though a whole family might have been buried there next to each other and also that the stones, used to demarcate the grave spaces, inside the mound had fossils of little sea shells encrusted into them. We all then put on our (amateur archeologist)thinking caps and wonderd where the stones came from.

That was back then.Now there are large villas built over those open ones and it is only a matter of time before these ones disappear too.

All sorts of rubbish is dumped on and around the remaining mounds.You can see the construction rubble lying to the side in the picture. Cars and trucks drive all around and sometimes over them also.On summer evenings youngsters, on their noisy quad bikes, use them to do their stunts and get the thrill from racing up and down the mounds.They may not look like much in the picture but these particular ones are actually quite high.

Bahrain has one(barely) protected site of mounds  at A ‘ali where they are to be found one after another.Some particularly huge ones can be be found in Hamad Town. Initially there were great hopes that these, signposts of a past era, would be protected seriously but since then things have gone awry.The reasons are given below( from the wikipaedia entry on the burial mounds)

Attempts to protect the burial mounds have run into opposition by religious fundamentalists who consider them unIslamic and have called for them to be concreted over for housing. During a parliamentary debate on 17 July 2005, the leader of the salafist  Asalah party, Sheikh Adel Mowdah, said “Housing for the living is better than the graves for the dead. We must have pride in our Islamic roots and not some ancient civilisation from another place and time, which has only given us a jar here and a bone there .” 

When the religious leaders have such parochial views then what can one expect from the public. I took this picture a few days ago when a young local lad proudly parked his car atop one of the mounds and casually sauntered off to a nearby cafe. He is secure in his conviction that the ancient history, that he tramples upon, is not Islamic and therefore not his. A bit like the thinking behind the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas,in my view!

It would not surprise me if all that remains of this past is soon confined to the excellent recreations of the mounds in the Bahrain National  Museum.

Weeks have passed since the horrific attacks on Mumbai’s heart and soul. From the very moment that I first caught the ‘breaking news’ on television, on the night of 26th November, things seem to have been both frozen in time and also ironically in fast forward mode.

As a nation we were forced to do everything simultaneously; grieve the lost ones, worry and pray for those trapped inside the hotels, tend to the injured, conduct the last rites of those that fell to the terrorists bullets, keep a vigil in front of the attacked hotels and Nariman house and all this while the nation’s best were still engaged in a bloody struggle with the terrorists holed up, inside the hotels, with the hostages.

So much happened over those three agonizing day and nights and so many heart searing images flashed on the television screens, the internet and the newspaper that it seemed the only way to cope was to keep the grief and the shock on hold and concentrate on getting through the tragic days. This seemed as true for Mumbaikars as it was for those of us who watched the horror on television. Ordinary people pitched in to help in any way they could to help the security personnel and the media people.Those far away blogged, held vigils, prayed and to show their solidarity with their stricken brethren in Mumbai.

Some of us far away knew a person or persons who were directly caught up in the Mumbai horror and therefore were intent on catching every little bit of information we could find. Even if we didn’t, we just prayed for everyone from the families of the fallen police personnel to the injured of the Chhatrapti Shivaji stadium and the trapped hostages of the Taj and the Oberoi. We prayed for the Jewish people at Nariman House and we prayed for the safety of our NSG commandos.

Then after almost 70 hours, of a trauma broadcast live to us, there was an almost eerie silence as the nation counted its dead and the lucky survivors rejoined their loved ones. The next two weeks went by in a blur of protests, candle light vigils, emotional placards, TV debates and soul searching by everyone. Now the wheels of diplomacy, military options and politics are churning overtime as our nation’s leaders try and decide how best to get the message across to Pakistan that they maybe okay with the Talibanisation of their society but such an option is not for the pluralistic ethos of India and that we will do whatever it takes to turn back the tide of this religion- based fanaticism that Pakistan has, perhaps,been nurturing in the hope of using against India.

As an ordinary individual ,who was a witness to this national crisis (even though via the television), I am done for the moment with it all. There is weariness to the soul and those images that seared my heart and mind for 70 long hours are now clamoring to be understood and their significance internalized and understood.

 But which image do I pick? There is this vast montage of horrifying images that plays continuously in my brain. What do I pick out of the lot? The flames and smoke spewing out of the Taj dome, the blood spattered floor of the Shivaji terminus, the people tripping and falling on the road outside as they tried to take cover from the bullets, the taxis blown to smithereens, the ghoulish image of Kasab caught on CCTV in which he seems to be grinning as he rains death on innocent people, the inconsolable mother of police cop Salaskar at his funeral, the quiet dignity of Karkare’s wife, The forlorn young widow with an injured three month baby (Sheetal) in the hospital, the agonized faces of relatives as they waited for news of their loved ones held hostage inside ? What do I pick out of this and try to understand?

As I struggle with this montage three images keep jumping out at me again and again. These are pictures that eachone of my fellow citizens is sure to have seen. First is the image of a policeman holding an old man’s hand and leading him to safety across the blood and baggage strewn floor of the Shivaji stadium. The man is old and walks with a stoop. In the shot we just see his back but that one picture captures both the good and the ugly of this incident and our nation. We in this nation largely respect and look after our old people and this act of the cop leading a frail old man to safety captures that aspect of our ‘Indianness’ as nothing else could. That the floor is blood spattered, tells the story of our country’s troubles at many levels.

The second image comes with a heart rending wail. It is the image of the Israeli child, Baby Moshe, in the arms of his Indian nanny Sandra at the funeral of his parents both of whom were tortured and brutally killed by the terrorists at the Nariman House. As his grandfather begins to say the Jewish prayers, Moshe breaks into a plaintive cry, “Ima, Ima”( ‘mummy’ in his language). The gathered crowd goes silent and not a dry eye remains. They collectively grapple to understand the turn of events that has dealt Moshe with the cruelest of all blows, the loss of both his parents at the tender age of 18 months. He is soothed only when his nanny hugs him even tighter and covers him with comforting kisses. Here again the evil of this world is juxtaposed against the total devotion and unconditional love of Moshe’s nanny. Love  prevails and heals, even if slowly.

Last I come to the ‘green chili pickle’ woman. Many months ago I had watched a short cookery program on an Indian channel. It was just a short clip between programs but what caught my attention was the joie-de-vive of the cook as she demonstrated how to make a green chili pickle. This was no ordinary cook making an ordinary pickle in modest quantities. This was a vivacious woman with large kohl rimmed eyes who was mixing all sorts of fiery ingredients in the largest kadai I have ever seen on a cookery show. She laughed and joked in a self- deprecating manner with the hostess of the program and her love, for all things edible, shone in her eyes. Although I did not know it then, this was Sabina Sehgal Saikia the Times of India food critic who paid the ultimate price on the 6th floor of the Taj Hotel.

 Over the next two days as the media reported about her family’s frantic search of hospitals and morgues to trace her I came across her picture and knew she was the ‘green chili pickle’ woman. She was one amongst the hundreds caught up in the dreadful events but my mind chose to focus on her image as I prayed for all of them. I kept praying that she would come out of this alive and return to give me one more recipe in her inimitable style. Somehow I felt that if I kept it simple and prayed hard enough all would turn out well. It was not to be so for Sabina and her anxious husband, brother and children were left to face the dreaded reality of her joyous life snuffed out. Sabina is gone now but from the tributes given to her by those who knew her one comes to know of a woman who loved life in all its hues and who spread cheer wherever she went. For me the smile of the ‘green chili pickle woman’ lives on through the pickle I made last week from her recipe. The spice brings tears to my eyes and the taste makes me smile through those tears. That is also how life is,isn’t it?

I post Sabina’s recipe here to share and spread the joy that Sabina epitomised.

Chef: Sabina Sehgal Saikia


1 kg green chillies – chopped

1 cup salt

1/2 kg mustard oil

1 tbsp red chilli powder

1 tbsp turmeric powder

 200 gm ginger – finely ground

 250 gm garlic – finely ground

100 gm cumin seeds – roasted and ground

200 gm large mustard seeds – roasted and ground

1 cup sugar 200 gm imli (tamarind)

3 cups of white vinegar


Marinate the chillies in salt for at least two hours.

Soak the imli in the vinegar for at least two hours and extract the pulp.

In a large vessel heat the mustard oil and add red chilli powder and turmeric powder.

Add the ginger and garlic and mix well.

Continue stirring for some time.

Mix in the cumin powder and mustard powder.

Pour the imli-vinegar pulp and mix well.

Add sugar and cook on low heat for some time.

Now add the chillies and cook for 10-15 minutes on low heat till the oil seperates.



Just yesterday I had posted colorful,happy pictures of the blooms in my garden and had intended for that to be my last post while I travelled for a week and hopefully gathered more joyous,life affirming scenes on my camera.

Well,that was in the morning yesterday.By evening, things in India had taken an (by now very familiar) unfortunate turn. A very well planned,well funded and well supported from within the country, attack was unleashed on the city of Mumbai last evening. At the moment, of my pounding on the keyboard in frustration, the operation to flush out the terrorists holed up in various locations (mainly 5 star hotels) in the city is going on.

Three senior security personnel have been killed so far. One of these three was Hemant Karkare of the (by now controversial) Malegaon bomb blasts probe by the ATS. The latest count of dead stands at over107 (although the figures vary between different news agencies) and about 400 injured. Even for a city like Mumbai,long a target of the terrorists, this attack has been a shocker.The citizens of the city are speechless in shock and horror at the apparent ease with which batches of terrorists have breached the security of the country and the hotels.

From what has been unfiolding on our television screens for last 35 hours( now) it is clear that extensive preparations had gone into this attack and it could not have been carried out without local assistance.I doubt anyone in India can walk right into a Taj or an Oberoi hotel with grenades and AK 47’s ! The last time I went my small handbag was searched and I was made to pass through a metal detector.

Many hostages,including a group of Israeli guests are being held by the terrorists in one hotel and the scene is no better at other locations.So, what happened?

So far the news is of terrorists having been brought by ship (most likely from Pakistan) into Indian waters and then being brought to the city in batches by speed boats/dinghies. Some who were shot dead by the police at one location had some material including a CD with them that has led to this initial release of information.Given the sensitivity of the communal situation in India, the media is being careful of over- mentioning the Islamic angle(Al -Qaeda,Lashkar-e-Toiba) to this attack.I have no issue with this because the last thing we need in our country now is the communities declaring war on each other.But I also wonder what happened to that need for carefulness in the last month when Hemant Karakare led ATS was busy leaking selective,misleading and often down right false( Samjhuta Express blast) bits of news to the media and whipping up a frenzy of media speculation around the newly coined term,’Hindu terrorism’?

As the nation mourns (atleast some us still do) the fallen security personnel (total number 14) I can not help wondering if Mr. Karkare wouldn’t have been wiser to have investigated the ‘jehadi  terrorism’ with the same zeal that he was showing for the Malegaon blast. 

I am not denying (like some of our politicians) that some Hindu elements could be involved in those blasts but why was that one blast so important for the investigators when a series of other blasts that have tormented the nation for years, languish,investigated half -heartedly at best? How long will our ruling government, led by the Congress go on playing this dangerous game of being soft on the overwhelming threat of Islamic terrorism unleashed on our country from beyond our borders? Isn’t there any constructive way of wooing the Muslim voters in these pre- election months? Why is the Indian muslim being encouraged to get tarred by the same shameful stain of terrorism by being soft on terrorism and thus making the Hindus more vocal (and maybe more pro-active) about fighting this threat of radical Islam? Even if their is an underworld and mercenary angle to all this,as the media is mentioning,may I ask who shelters these dons? Many of them are in Pakistan and the remaining are the guests of Dubai!!

So far the Hindus who are a majority ( and this is a fact of India) have been very restrained but increasingly the shriller groups in it are gaining space at the centre of Hindu politics.Is this what is the intent? Make the Hindus angry enough to resort to the same methods of retaliation as the aggressor; make the Muslims feel vulnerable by bringing them in the line of criticism for their ‘silent’ endorsement of terrorism and thus pit the two communities against each other?

As I write this, an Indian  plumber, with his Muslim, Pakistani assistant are doing some repair work in my house. They are aware of what is happening in Mumbai at the moment as they continue to work together…. but in silence this time ….what is missing  is the easy banter in Punjabi that they, usually, indulge in while working. What can these two ordinary men say to each other at this time?

Its the same across the length and breadth of our nation, isn’t it? The average Hindu, living and working with his average Muslim fellow countrymen, as they go about the daily business of trying to eke out a living….but in a wary,uneasy silence?

Who and what will break the silence is the million rupee question now? Will our politicians jump in to reap a bloody political harvest or will some moral men and women amongst them  stand up and take a stand against terrorism ( without making it sound like  an anti -muslim  or anti Hindu stand) and put to the nation an agenda that involves the concept of ‘a secure India for all Indians’.

Or will this go the way of the Parliament attack (where the government won’t execute the main accused) or the Batla encounter way where the death of a police man was attributed to his fellow policemen? Wil the lack of bullet proof jackets (in some cases) again be used by opportunistic and downright evil politicians, as a proof that these fallen heroes were not really killed fighting anti national forces? How many vice chancellors and human rights groups  will now stand up( who were conspicous, by their silence, in the case of the army colonel Purohit and Sadhvi Pragya) and make a hue and cry for legal and monetary assistance for those that might be caught alive in the ongoing operations? 

Only time will tell but somehow there is not much optimism in my heart that any lessons will be learnt from this ghastly episode.

Went out this morning (honest to God that was my only intent) to have my morning cup of tea……but then had a look at the flowers and went trigger happy. So,here is this morning’s ‘flowery’ update. As I said, let me know
when to stop.

This one is entirely self -sown, from last years seeds that have somehow survived the summer intact in the soil, and  now gives a spectacular show each morning.

It has slowly woven its way up into the bougainvilla and makes for what I call the ‘Kanjeevaram saree combo’

This one seems lit from within.Just love that glow.

Fixing that trellis was a good idea afterall. Now the bougainvilla stoops to conquer and the Morning Glory rises upwards in its glory.

Caught this Hibiscus before it could fold up after a day’s work. Pooja anyone?

The humble pumpkin flower is also not a wimp in the looks stakes.

Today hooliganism in the public sphere of our nation hit a new low when some activists of ABVP,the student wing of BJP, barged into a seminar being held by some students of Delhi university.

The seminar was being held to discuss the police encounter at Batla House some weeks ago.One of the guest speaker was Prof.Geelani (who had been implicated in the Parliament attack case but has been subsequently,found not guilty by the highest court of the land.)

To show their opposition to the idea of  a police encounter( to catch terrorists) being up for discussion, some activists barged into the venue of the seminar and disrupted the proceedings. This ,however was not the end of it all.One protestor then marched up to where Pof. Geelani was sitting and spat in his face.This was caught by the camera of a TV channel covering the seminar and has subsequently been shown on television.The face of the this particularly low brow activist can be seen clearly on TV. I wonder if any action will be taken against this young man who can be easily identified and can not even plead “not-guilty”as he has been filmed in his ugly act.

While I condemn this man,let me admit that I am one of those who has been upset by the way the politics of vote banks and political opportunism has been played around the Batla encounter. In the whole game of accusations and counter accusation,truth has been a casualty and all of us will forever wonder what really happened that morning and how and why a police raid to apprehend terrorists involved in the Delhi bomb blasts ended up being called a false encounter,why a Prof. of Mushirul Hassan’s standing risked being labelled a communalist by offering university help to the student’s involved in the incident and why a police cop’s death, in the line of duty, became a political football for every opportunistic politician.

Where I differ from this young man is that I do not believe in this kind of ‘dadagiri’ and disrespectful and crass method of registering my protest. This was a seminar and the ABVP guys and girls should have sat through the seminar,listened intently and then picked holes in the theories presented using their intellect and reasoning prowess. Going up to a man who is a teacher and older than them and spitting in his face goes against my “Hindutva”.It goes against the principle of respect and reverence for Gurus and for those elder to us.These things are part and parcel of my Hinduism and Bhartiya sanskriti and are not up for negotiation. Disagreement and differences in points of views are accepted in my land but not via such naked shows of vulgarity and impropriety.

If in the name of Hindutva, instead of Ram Rajya, BJP and its student’s wing plan to give to us a total destruction of our ancient ways of dissent through discourse then I would like to opt out of the whole Hindutva caboodle.Yes, I do get upset at the politics of vote banks and the opportunism of our politicians like Karunanidhi who openly denigrate the Hindu religion and its visible symbols, it makes my blood boil when rather than defending the nation’s border and preventing infiltration by Bangladeshis, Ram Vilas Paswan says we should give citizenship to all illegal Bangladeshis, I am upset when secularism is selectively applied in this country but none of this gives me(or anyone else) the right to walk up to any other citizen( especially one who is engaged in a discourse) and spit in his/her face.

There is an ancient saying that you ultimately become like the one you hate most…..well the ABVP, RSS, VHP and other such activists better take heed. They hated the moral policing done by taliban type Muslims and have now been reduced to policing things like Valentine’s Day and  the dancing at the all night Dandiya pandals; they hated the fatwa espousing mullahs but now do not shy at pronouncing dire outcomes for those who do not agree with their ideology;they accused Islam’s followers of a totalitarian approach in cases of differences  of opinion  and have now taken to spitting in the face of someone who probably had a differing opinion (on Batla encounter)to theirs;they accused Christians of forcible conversions but to oppose those ended up resorting to exactly the same thing in some parts of Orissa…………they’d better take care as they are well on their way to being cast in the image of the one they love to hate the most !!

This is another email forward that I just had to share.God,I love these guys(and gals) who take the trouble to write all this stuff down.Thank you to whoever wrote this blaster down.

Here’s how the Indian TV news channel NDTV 24×7 reported about Jack and Jill. [All names (except those of Jack and Jill), are fictitious].

Prashant – TV Anchor

Two persons have been injured in a freak climbing accident. Jack and his companion Jill had gone up a hill to fetch a pail of water when Jack fell down and broke his crown. Jill came tumbling after. Live from the hill, our reporter, Amrita Shah, takes up the story.

Amrita Shah

Thank you Prashant. Well, as you say, two persons – Jack and Jill – had gone up a hill to fetch a pail of water. Suddenly, Jack fell down and broke his crown and Jill came tumbling after. Prashant.


Thank you Amrita. What do we know about the hill?


Not too much. Jack was going up the hill to fetch a pail of water when he fell down and broke his crown. Jill came tumbling after.

[Headline appears at the foot of the TV screen: “hill breaks crown of pail-boy Jack”]


What news of Jack and Jill?


Prashant, it seems that Jack had gone up the hill to fetch a pail of water. We know nothing about the pail, or how heavy it was but it seems that Jack fell down and broke his crown and Jill came tumbling after. I have here with me, an eyewitness to the accident, Mr Shahid Trivedi. Mr Shahid, tell us what you saw

Shahid Trivedi

Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water. Jack fell down and broke his crown and Jill came tumbling after.

[Headline appears at the foot of the TV screen: “Boy and girl tumble down hill. Water spilled”] type=”text/javascript”>


Jack and Jill. What do we know about them? Are they brother and sister? Are they married? Just what were they doing on the hill together?

Shahid Trivedi

Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail a water.


And what happened next?

Shahid Trivedi

Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail a water.


And what happened next?

Shahid Trivedi

Jack fell down and broke his crown


Go on.

Shahid Trivedi

And Jill came tumbling after.


Prashant, there you have it. Two people innocently going about their business to fetch a pail of water when one of them falls down, breaks his crown, and the other comes tumbling after. Back to you in the studio Prashant.

[Headline appears at the foot of the TV screen: “Water errand ends in tragedy”]


I have with me in the studio now, Professor Chandrashekar Belagare from the Indian Institute of Applied Hill Sciences. Professor: a hill; Jack; Jill; a pail of water. A tragedy waiting to happen?


Well that depends on the hill, the two persons, the object they were carrying and the conditions underfoot. Let us look at the evidence so far.

Jack and Jill

Went up the hill

To fetch a pail of water.

Jack fell down

And broke his crown

And Jill came tumbling after.

Clearly, one would suspect that if Jack’s fall was severe enough to break his crown then the surface of the hill must have been slippery or unstable. But I think we’re overlooking something quite fundamental here. Who was carrying the pail? Jack fell down and broke his crown and – this is the key – Jill came tumbling after. If Jack and Jill had been carrying the pail together, would they not have fallen at the same time? The fact that Jill came tumbling after suggests that Jack lost his footing first and perhaps knocked Jill over as he slipped.


Professor thank you very much. So there we have it, two persons – Jack and Jill – went up the hill to fetch a pail of water. Jack fell down and broke his crown and Jill came tumbling after. Later in the programme, Osama bin Laden was said to have been captured in Afghanistan, President Obama says ‘rent-boy menage-a-trois’ was “just a brief lapse of judgement”, and Pakistan is reported to have launched nuclear warheads against key Indian cities. But next up, join us after the break for a studio discussion about hills, boys and girls and whether water-fetching, hill climbing trips should be properly supervised. We’ll be right back….. don’t go away.