Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Holi

"Do you celebrate Holi?" a colleague asked me yesterday.
"Yes - of course !" I told him. 'Maybe not celbrating Holi is the ''in'' thing -hence this question' I thought to myself.

And today, when Holi celebrations are over, I pause to reflect on how we celebrated the festival yet again - this year - today.

We celebrate Holi, by first connecting with the elders in the family. In our case, our Mother. Reaching out to her, mentally as well as physically. And on this auspicious occasion more than anytime else, seeking her blessings.

We congregate at Ma's place. All of us, brother, cousins, their families. And suddenly fill up her lonely world and life with a lot of liveliness. The entire space within the four walls of her house is filled with the sound of fun, frolic laughter and joy. The same house which was once ours. Where we lived and which once used to reverberate with people, voices, life...The house which for all times stands quiet, suddenly becomes a home. The same as is used to be, when we were part of it....

We 'reconnect' with cousins after a long time. Share what's happening in each other's lives. Remember the good old days gone by. When we were small and played together. And then experienced life each of us in a unique way as we grew up... Then coming back to the present. Making fresh resolves and promises for the future - to stay in touch and keep meeting.

And then sprinkling colors. Actually the colors are merely symbolic. But certainly a beautiful way of showering a lot of love and affection on each other. And the abundant love and affection exchanged between adults siblings and cousins, is at once 'visible' on each others' faces in the most beautiful, vibrant and colorful manner. What a lovely way of just coming together and wishing each other well !

This for me is Holi. Every year. And yes it is a big 'celebration' And I wouldn't want to celebrate Holi any other way.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Thanks - Mr. Mallya

Mr. Mallya,

We did not expect that help would come from you, of all the people. At a time, when the last memorabilia, things belonging to 'Gandhi' the 'Father of our Nation' were being auctioned by someone in some other part of the World.

Not one Indian amongst the one billion of us paused to think that these items shouldn't have left India in the first place. Not one of the thousands of the staunch followers of Gandhi or the practitioners of Gandhism raised their voice in protest at the most blatant form of insult meted out to Gandhi.

And when the issue came to light, the Indian Government, led by insensitive 'Netas' devoted full time, not to the principles that Gandhi preached and exemplified, but only to furthering their own ends, and caught in bureaucracy and red tape, just sat and watched.

The World also watched - some surprised at the attitude of our Country. And some were even amused. For they knew that 'this happens only in India'

And then you - Mr. Mallya, you took the initiative. To redeem India's prestige,lots of it lost in the eyes of the Global community. To do, what the Government of India should have chosen to do in the first place, and not allowed anyone else....

But watch out Mr. Mallya. The 'Netas' and the 'Babus' aren't ashamed of themselves.
Rather, they are waiting to get to you. They will now dig out and flash 'The Antiques and Art Treasures Act 1972' And they will tell you about Tariff Item 9705.
Which essentially means that when Gandhi's personal items, things which should have been restored to their rightful place by the State years ago, are imported by you, a common citizen, you will have to get a license from the Director General Foreign Trade. And you will have to pay customs duty for import of these items.

But you do know that - don't you? You took a similar step to bring back the sword of Tipu Sultan. Remember the bureaucratic hurdles you faced then?

But remember Mr. Mallya. It's great you've brought back "Bapu's personal items, which should be preserved as a part of the National Heritage. Please do not now make the mistake of handing them over to the Government. Give them to 'Sabarmati Ashram' for all we care, or to some other Institution - there are many who have pledged to propagate the principles of Gandhi.

Or keep them in your own home. After all, they now belong to you. You paid a price to buy them.

Remember, they will be preserved and will remain secure anywhere, but not with the Government of this Country.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Terror attack in Lahore - The shape of things to come?

The killing of five policemen and two others at Liberty round about in Lahore blows the lid off the security arrangements in the city, especially at a time when the Sri Lankan team was visiting the city. Yes,

Policemen fought valiantly and somehow succeeded in keeping the Sri Lankan team largely out of the harm’s way. Nevertheless it is a security lapse and a huge intelligence failure.

As soon as the incident happened, critics in Pakistan and elsewhere sprung into action blaming it on their usual suspects. While some said categorically that it is the RAW paying us in the same coin others blamed it on the jihadis from our Western borders. Probably a more intelligent interpretation, is that of Governor Salman Taseer who believes it is the very people who carried out attacks in Mumbai last year. Are we facing a common enemy?

People in Pakistan are shocked and scared. Like many incidents of terrorism in the past we don’t know if the perpetrators of this incident will ever be identified and brought to book.

Only a few years ago, terror attacks were largely confined to the remote tribal areas. Then the terrorists started moving towards the settled areas of NWFP; then later to Islamabad where they struck the army headquarters. And then there was no looking back for them.


This mishap, far from being an isolated terrorist incident has much more widespread ramifications. That the entire Country is a 'lawless' State is amply clear. That Pakistan is slowly but surely falling into the hands of the Tali ban, what with a spineless political and administrative set up, torn between the Clergy and the Military, is food for thought.

What happened to Afghanistan might be the shape of things to come in this Country too. And there is no reason to reject the thought that if Pakistan gets Talibanised, will India, its closest be the next victim?

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Terror strikes cricket...

Today, cricket lovers, particularly Indian cricket fans sat and watched with a sense of renewed confidence, the Indian team redeem quickly their prestige glory temporarily lost when they lost the '20-20' series against hosts New Zealand. Redemption coming through a good batting innings in the first ODI at Napier, leaving the hosts to chase a very ambitous, if not an impossible target to achieve to secure victory.
But early in the morning, this feeling of euphoria was soon replaced by a sense of deep shock, when news came in of the cruel terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team currently touring Pakistan, in Lahore. Six players were injured but are thankfully safe.
The unthinkable and the unprecedented has happened. Never before were sportsmen targeted in such a henious manner as this. Questions and concerns that were raised about safety of players who toured Pakistan, have now probably been comprehensively answered. And no Country will be keen on sending their teams to play in this Nation, which is now slowly but surely coming completely within the grip of terrorism and 'Talibanisation'
The fear of touring India, is perceived to be no less, especially after the 26/11 attacks and bloodshed in 5 star hotels which brought into focus the stark realization that anyone irrespective of caste, class or status can be a victim.
Today's attack on the Sri Lankan team is without doubt a setback to the common citizen of Pakistan, and to the cricket fan.
For, the possibility of any foreign team coming to Pakistan to play, can at best be seen as 'remote'
The same can probably be said for the entire South Asia region, India included.