Tuesday, July 08, 2014

End of an Era


3 years my junior.
Then. And now. But I am not sure about tomorrow.

My younger brother.

We, a small family of four have always lived together.
Dad was transferred to so many places: when we were babies, when we were children and when we were adolescent.
While many fathers travelled to distant lands leaving behind their families to continue living in the cities so their children’s education ‘would not be disturbed’, our dad took us with him everywhere he went. We did not even know there was any other option.
We learnt Hindi, learnt Gujarati and changed schools half a dozen times.
But we lived together.
And we ate together.

Like all children we ate from our mother’s hands but unlike most children we also ate from our father’s hands.
For ever since we remember, it was always he, who, after every meal, carried out the duty of peeling fruit, cutting it and making unequal portions of it, the smaller ones for himself and mom and the bigger ones for me and bro.

At the turning point in my life, which came after 12th standard, my family relocated to Mysore and it was decided I would join a degree college in Mysore and forgo engineering since that would mean having to live in a hostel in Bangalore, away from family.
Togetherness took a priority over everything else. But I had hated him then.

My dad was extra protective and extra possessive of us.
He would lock up the TV for 3 months every year when it was exam time; he wouldn’t let us halt overnight at friends’ place, for God alone knew what we were up to; he wouldn’t let us watch ‘bad’ TV programs; if we didn’t return home by 7 after our evening play, we would be admonished. There was no pocket money system, for he saw more harm in it than good. I was not to ride a guy’s bike even if it meant waiting for an hour at the bus stop during lunch time.
We did complain about not having enough freedom; but today I wouldn’t say he should have brought us up differently, only he should have been more tactful.
But I had hated him then.

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Mom and dad belonged to a generation that believed that expressing love spoilt the child.
There were no hugs, no kisses.
I wish they had known that we were tiny and had no way to take a peek at their love behind a tall dam with strong floodgates.
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In many ways, my brother had a more sheltered upbringing than I.
Like the ‘younger brother’ in all homes.

He would sleep in my parents’ bed, in between my father and mother.
Until he was sixteen.
My dad would swathe him in blankets to make sure he was warm.

My father made sure I and him were in the same school everywhere we went.
His teachers would summon me whenever they had complaints about him. I would go home and report everything to my parents.
There was this fat nun, a mother, in brown or black habit that he was particularly afraid of, when in UKG. Whenever I had to get him to do something that I wanted, I would warn him that I was going to complain to ‘Dummi Mother’(fat mother) about him at school the next day, and he would become subdued at once.
Wicked me.

Both of us had a cupboard each. His cupboard, we called it ‘museum’ for it was filled with all kinds of curios – strings, a little matchbox, nuts, bolts, screws... Whenever he fought with me or angered me, I would walk to his cupboard, put my hand in, grab thin air, close my fist and tell him I had taken something from it. The next minute, he would be pleading before me.

He always struggled with math. For a few days, I appointed myself his tutor. I would be very patient in the beginning but when he made the same mistakes again and again, I would give him a few beatings. Sometimes he would cry.
Wicked wicked me.

Those were days when I was taller than him. And then he grew up. I stopped at 5, 5” and he went on to become a 6-footer.
Things changed.

But not quite. He was still the youngest in the family. And it was everybody’s business to ‘look after’ him.
After his difficult 12th standard, we would gather every evening in our hall to decide what he should take up next. He would sit among us quietly as we discussed and debated.
My father decided he should take up Dilploma.
And he did.
It was a wrong decision but my brother didn’t say so.
I did.

He learnt 2 wheeler driving without any of us knowing about it. After much cajoling, he was allowed to ride my father’s scooter but only up to the nursing home at the corner of the road 100, meters away, no further.

When my father bought his first 4 wheeler, my bro was strictly forbidden from driving it for he had not ‘grown up’ yet; but he was allowed to wash it whenever it got dirty, and this my brother did diligently.
So much so that my dad never got to wash it even once. It was my brother’s prerogative, an unwritten duty; washing the car, week after week, polishing it to a sheen, but no driving, to be sure.

When I relocated to Bangalore for my first job, I stayed with my cousin’s family for 10 days, bought ‘ad mags’, looked up PG listings, made a couple of calls, checked out a few places, chose one and finally when everything had been decided, informed my dad about it. He came with me during the shifting and left, convinced that it was a safe place.
After that I changed my PG 4 times to remain close to my office that kept moving to different locations. I was entirely on my own, checking out places, negotiating, packing, shifting...

My brother was 24 when he relocated to Bangalore for his new job. Man enough you would say.
But all of us ‘looked after’ his relocation.
I had found him accommodation in the same building where I lived. My dad brought him to Bangalore. We went to CMH road to buy him a bed. We visited a couple of shops choosing the right bed for him. We then went to Corporation circle to buy him his almirah. When it was delivered home we arranged everything in his room.
I remember that something had yet to be bought; my father was to go and my brother was to stay back to receive the Almirah delivery or something. When I offered to accompany my father, he said I had such little concern for my brother who was all alone in that new place and asked me to stay back with him.
When father finally returned to Mysore, leaving us both, he entrusted me with my bro’s responsibility and asked me to take care of him.
He would call me up from Mysore asking me to go up to his place and check if he was inside, if not, where was he, why hadn’t he returned home after work, and so on.
Was he attentive during his training classes, did he go to work on time, why was his mobile always engaged, were other regular concerns. We were both in the same office and I had to keep my father informed.

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While brother’s equation with mom and dad was one of acceptance, mine had turned to a love-hate thing.
Sometimes, I would cry after a fight with mom, pack my bags, return to Bangalore, thinking on the way, that somehow, this ‘taking for granted’ business should end, we were grown up, that I would cut off for the next 6 months, teach them...
The next day, the phone would ring; had I reached, what time, why had I not called, surely I was going to visiting them the weekend after the next one? Also, don’t diet, eat some rice... and two chapattis...

Every time I stood before the dam, the floodgates were shut tight, there would be just a trickle of water at times.
After I had turned away in disappointment, thirsty as ever, the gates would open – but alas, I was gone. ‘eat some rice, and two chapattis...’. Indeed.

But we were reaching the danger levels.
They had too much love bottled up, and I, too much thirst.
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Bro’s marriage too was the family’s decision. He was not yet prepared he said but before he could say anything else, every aunt and every uncle had called him up and persuaded him to say yes.

And so it was that he and his child bride, all of 23, 6 years his junior, set up their house to begin their married life.
But this too didn’t change everything. In fact, it changed things in a way you would not expect.
Now the family had not one, but two people to take care of!
Bro and child bride were trying to adjust to one another and there were teething problems.

There was no end to my dad’s worry.
Every few months my parents came to Bangalore to live with my brother for a few weeks to see how the two were getting along.

to take my sister in law’s side when my bro rebuked her
to take my brother’s side, occasionally, when he bewailed that no one was on his side
to teach her a few more recipes
to take her for evening walks
to take over the kitchen, so she could prepare for her bank exams
to keep her company until my bro returned from office, late in the evening
to persuade her to go with him to the futuristic movie she would not understand
to persuade him to join her in her evening prayers
to ask him to watch less of TV, talk to her instead
to remind him that he was now married
to ask him to give away the bike, it was not safe
to buy fruit, peel it, cut it and make unequal portions of it


The VISA came all of a sudden.
In the rush that followed – the packing and moving of furniture, opening of a bank account, selling the car, making ready all kinds of powders for him to carry, paying visits to all relatives,... there was no time to realize that bro was parting. From the family that had always lived together.
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Almost at the same time as the VISA, there had come to me, a poignant realization.
That we must be an incredibly close family. Not because we didn’t have a single serious difference, but because we had too many petty ones.
We were all tactless. Just like children. We were insensitive. Like children.
We were not aware of such a thing as personal space between us. Each one’s space belonged to all of us.
We took the liberty to ask each other any question about what they did, where they went and said to each other anything we felt like saying.

It was poignant because so many precious years had been lost in futile struggle in which every child in the family expected the other to behave like an adult. And made each other cry. And craved each other’s love.

No, I would not cut off...
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Now, it was bro who was leaving. With his child bride who had by now, grown up, though just a little.
During the last few hours, my parents, especially my dad, kind of made up for all the ‘looking after’ he would be deprived of for years to come.
They totally hijacked his luggage.
They packed into it, cooker and mixer wrapped in bed sheets, some provision, Sambhar powder, Chutneypudi, utensils, plates, tumblers, spoons,...
And when they finally handed it over to him, there was hardly any room for his clothes.

Dad would weigh each of his bags on the weighing machine.
Bro was forbidden from lifting up his luggage for he might sprain his back and that would be disaster.
He carried all the luggage to the taxi.
We reached the airport and brought the trolleys to the car.

I shall remember the picture of my dad hauling a suitcase on his head like a porter and hurrying a few steps, before dumping it on the trolley. It had wrenched my heart. Mom scolded him. ‘Too much...’, she said.
He said ‘He who can be slave can also be king’ and laughed it off.

Bro entered the airport and we stood huddled, waving and waving.
It was sinking in now. He was leaving.
And then we walked along the glass walls, as he walked to the check-in counter, not taking our eyes off him, waving now and then, hurrying along opaque walls, pausing at the next glass, eyes searching for him.
We missed him once, and called him up to ask which counter was he at, we could see 63 from where we stood.
Counter 82, he said. And we hurried.
We spotted him and after a final bout of waving, we turned.
He had left.

As we drove back in the taxi, in the dead of the night, all of us were awake, but no one spoke a word; two seats that had been occupied, just a few hours ago, were now empty. Though all of us were silent, the void of those two seats hummed and hummed.
My baby brother had flown out of his nest.
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I see my father cutting fruit, and I see him like never before.
For now have I realized that it is the tenderest thing in the world to have someone fall asleep in your lap or to have someone eat from your hands.
And the love that inspires you to pat someone to sleep or to feed someone is the tenderest of all love. My father’s.

As I see my father cutting fruit, I wake up after all these years, to the sea of love behind that tall dam.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Arnab, please...


Why call it a debate when in reality it is a monologue?

The 2 back to back debates anchored by Arnab Goswamy on Times now every day.

You are very talented Arnab, there is no doubt about it. You have done your homework, you are spontaneous, you don't let people get away with nonsense.
But you are too noisy.

The debates when you had Pakistani folks on your show, for instance.
I wanted to hear what they had to say. Even if it was offensive, outrageous, I would have liked to hear them. But you wouldn’t let them talk. The minute they opened their mouth, you started shouting at them.
One of them got up and left. I think he did the right thing.
The other kept trying to make themselves heard. But you were belligerent.

Why invite them to the show if you are not going to let them speak?

This is what you do. You have a viewpoint that is politically correct. You have a few people on the show that endorse the view. And it is these people you allow to speak. During the short breaks in your monologue, of course.

Do you know how it bores your audience?
Because your viewers already know what you have to say. It is the devil’s advocates that we are interested to hear.

Besides, defending the politically correct is not a big deal. Anyone can do it. You and those you allow to speak.
Being the devil’s advocate is the challenging part, the unpredictable part and therefore the interesting part of the debate.

And we are deprived of that, thanks to your menace.

The debate where the Sikhs were talking about the mob inside the golden temple and 'operation Bluestar'. I kept straining my ears to hear what they were saying. In vain.
“Is Bhindranwale a terrorist or not?” That was the question you were stuck with and bullied your guest to answer.
What if they don’t want to give yes/no answers?
Why does it have to be black and white? If things were black and white or binary indeed, why would anyone need a debate?

You kept saying ‘why should we probe into a matter 30 years old? Let's move on’
May be you were right in this case. I am not aware of the ‘Sikh’ issue in detail.
But that argument in itself is very much debatable. How much past is past enough? One week? one month? One year? Ten years?
Those crimes in UP against women – they are also 2 weeks old. Would you say, they are past, move on? No you wouldn’t. Because, justice has not been dispensed yet.
So is not justice the criterion and not the time period of the crime, when it comes to deciding whether one should pursue a case to it's closure?

These are the kind of exchanges that make a debate interesting. Asserting a politically correct point a hundred times till the show ends is ‘being pushy’.
We need to ask if the Congressmen who burnt 10000 Sikhs on the streets of Delhi have been punished. What did Rajiv Gandhi do about it? Even if a few of the perpetrators escaped law and hushed up the matter, the case must be reopened or at least, it wouldn’t be entirely wrong to argue so, isn't it?
If the Indian State won’t help, why shouldn’t anyone appeal to the UN? You may, in the end conclude, after weighing the pros and cons that the Sikhs are wrong.
But one makes a judgment after hearing both the arguments, to be fair. In your show, the jusdment is already made, and the accused doesn’t even get to speak.

And that debate about the Loose Cannons, the Yadavs’ stand on crimes in UP.

Let me first must admit I liked the way you caught Rita Bahuguna Joshi of Congress and told her that the Congress did not say a word against Mulayam’s ‘Boys will be boys’ statement, when they were together before the election, and now that the elections are over, they were distancing themselves from him, there being nothing for them to lose.

But then again...
There were 2 women on the show from Samajwadi Party. I was most curious to know how they would defend their leaders complacent/indifferent attitude towards women, being women themselves. But alas. Just seconds after they had finished their preamble, you drowned their voice with you cries of ‘I am ashamed of you”.

You know what? If you would just let them speak, they would lay bare the truth of their depravity before the whole nation, put their foot in mouth and that would do them much more injury than your insults.

To conclude,
Arnab, a debate is held so that people may express the many different viewpoints, not to affirm and reaffirm the one viewpoint that is already accepted by most.

Please let the devil’s advocates, the antagonists of the drama, speak. We want to hear what they have to say, how their minds work, how backward or corrupt they really are, how they justify themselves, what makes them the way they are, where lies the cause of their oblique mind? And hence what might be the most appropriate solution?

Or, do they have a point? Have they been labelled and judged unkindly?

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Ladhak & Kashmir 2010 - Day 3 - Nubra Valley - Hundar


2nd July 2010

My father chose to rest in the room.
I and my mother stepped out.

The Gompa, the hills, the stream, the bridge and hundreds of stupas.

I had during my last visit climbed up the narrow path to the top of one of the hills, guided by the lad at the guest house.
But not this time.
But then, how did I take the pictures of the hills? The poplars, the trees, the electric wires all seem beneath me.
My memory is blurred.

One thing is for sure. A lot of things in this world are charming simply because of their novelty to us.
That’s not really disillusionment. That’s the realization that one must go on travelling. And one must rest sufficiently so travel itself does not lose its novelty!






























Saturday, May 24, 2014

Indian Tamils Supporting LTTE Led Lankan Tamils


We have not yet forgotten how Jayalalitha troubled Vajpayee; how she threatened to withdraw support at the drop of a hat; compelling him to fulfil this demand and that.

We just heaved a sigh of relief that this time, Modi had a majority and this woman would be able to do nothing and just then...

She begins. On the very first day she is all set to cause trouble.

Not attending Modi’s swearing in ceremony? Really?
I hope Modi will not budge; I hope he will ignore her and set the right precedent.

Indian Tamils Supporting LTTE Led Sri Lankan Tamils is as bad as Indian Muslims supporting Pakistan or Taliban.

I have always thought Tamilians to be so very much like Extremist Muslims.
Fanatic and having a limited Identity.

They don’t speak Hindi...
Don’t speak English...
Watch only Sun TV...
Listen to Tamil music only – never heard of Rafi, Kishore, Lata...

They do nothing to endear themselves to other people whether inside or outside their State...

People here have to learn Tamil in order to converse with their maid servants who will simply not learn Kannada.

Having been in IT for 9 years now, I have gotten used to their talking in Tamil in cubicles, cafeteria, even training rooms. The only thing they don't do in tamil is programming. As yet.

These are people who post independence demanded that tamil be made the national language and not Hindi! And when Hindi was declared the national language, they smeared black paint on the Hindi signboards in their state.

Karunanidhi who represents a large section of them attempted once to remove Sanskrit from the temples of the State and have all rituals performed in tamil only. ‘Let the Gods who do not understand tamil leave the State’, he had said, a few days before he was dragged away like a dog in the middle of the night to be thrown into a prison.

Imagine opposing Sanskrit!

And they are obsessed with Rajnikanth... Yuck!
Comparing him with Amitabh Bachhan, trying to prove Rajni is more popular... how ridiculous is that! Comparing a versatile actor to a stuntman!
I was once surrounded by a bunch of them Tamils – I said I had never watched a Rajni movie and they wanted to revoke my citizenship, even take away my passport because I wasn’t Indian enough if I didn’t watch Rajni movies.
For the next few days that I was with them, they were carrying him like Vikram carrying ‘Betal’ on his back and thrusted him upon us, innocent unsuspecting people almost everyday.

They set that dacoit and butcher Veerappan upon us.

Over the Cauvery water dispute, they set the LTTE upon us – the LTTE threatened to blow up the KRS dam in Mysore if we didn’t release water to TN and for a few days, no one was allowed near the dam which had been until then open to all visitors all through the year.

Today, they are being a nuisance to Kerala objecting and preventing the reconstruction of the 116 year old Mullaperiyar dam on the Periyar river knowing that it is on the verge of a collapse, posing immense danger to millions of people living in the region.

Such a self centered people.

At one point in time, when Tamil population in Bangalore became a sizeable number, they went to the President of India demanding that Bangalore be declared a union territory and not part of Karnataka!
It was Vatal Nagaraj and other Kannada activists who protested severely and saved Bangalore.

These same people wanted to divide Sri Lanka and have a separate territory for themselves. Not at all different from extremist Muslims who wanted a separate Pakistan and not different from the extremist Muslims who want a separate Kashmir for themselves. Isn’t it?

Why, the LTTE killed a Prime Minister of India.

And Jayalalitha, Vaiko and other Tamils want India to distance itself from Srilanka for the sake of the 'sentiments' of these insensitive Tamilians who have never cared to get along even with their own fellow Indians?

Preposterous.

I hope and pray they will be ignored by Modi. And the rest of us Indians.

As they said on a news channel today,
'India's relation with Srilanka cannot be decided by Tamil Nadu, just as India's relation with Bangladesh cannot be decided by Mamta Banerjee, just as India's relation with Iran cannot be decided by Shia Muslims in UP; also India's relation with Israel cannot be decided by the Muslims of India...'

By the way, this is a Tam Brahm writing all this – but then, the Tam Brahms belong to a different league altogether (most of the generalizations about tamils don't apply to them), especially those of us who had the good fortune not to be born or brought up in that INSULAR state.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

And I Won!


I have never voted in my life. But this time, I wanted to. But I just missed getting my name onto the voters’ list. A friend told me that as per EC ruling I could go to the booth on the day of polling with all my documents plus a Form 6 and I would be allowed to vote.
So I did go. But wasn’t allowed to vote.
I was disappointed. But I had the consolation of doing plenty of campaigning for Modi on Facebook.
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Though victory has been in the air for a few months now, there were moments when I feared. Fear of booth capturing, of the rigging of the voting machines, fear of Kejriwal dividing votes, fear of Muslim terrorists targeting HIM and fear of an eventual coalition and tied hands and more...
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Just as the clock struck 12:00 and we had entered 16th, I wrote on my FB wall the below and went to bed.
‘After 1947, today is the most important day in the history of Indian politics. The outcome of today is going to cause as much joy or disappointment to the whole country as the outcome of that day could have caused...’
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The next morning, I would apply for sick leave and go to my brother’s home to join my family in watching the results live on TV. I didn’t have a TV at home – I preferred to devote the little time I had to my books and my writing work.
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It was 12 when I reached and the results were clear. BJP alone had 273+ at that time.
Arnab, Pradeep, Barkha, Pranoy – all of them were smiling and jumping and rushing through a gush of words in a high pitch which sounded the drumbeat in accompaniment to the rapture in my own heart.

I had won. The whole thing was so personal.
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I had reached just in time to see Modi touching his mother’s feet and have her smear the Tilak on his forehead. Surrounding them were a simple middle class family in a simple setting.

The thing which made it real and genuine most of all was this - her caressing hands had ruffled his hair; it remained like that for sometime, a moment of untidiness before the camera, before he smoothed it with his hand. And sat down to talk to mother...

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Power cut just when Sonia Gandhi was about to speak to the press.
The power cut must have been the intentional doing of the KEB which was still under a jealous Congress in the State. No jokes, they do that sometime.
When I finally saw that footage later, I was thinking, why is the idiot Rahul smiling? What is he so happy about?

However, for all that he is, we must thank Rahul Gandhi for that interview with Arnab Goswami – he removed the last shadow of doubt from the minds of those who might still have been thinking... that interview doubled the certainty of the outcome of this election. Thanks Moron.
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I wrote on my FB wall before going to bed

‘Long time ago, when I was a child, I learnt that on 15 Aug 1947, India won Freedom. But Today I know what it must have meant for the people and how they must have felt.... ...Prayers answered, Relief, Redemption, Hope, Tears, Laughter...Rising of a new Dawn. We are all set for the next 10 years. Yes, I said 10 years. At least.’
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The next morning.
What a Grand Convoy to Delhi!
What a welcome!
A machine to strew rose petals on his path all the way... Indeed?
Unprecedented celebrations...

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The Accenture ad. Lotuses blooming here too.
This is unbelievable.
Is there anyone who is not celebrating?



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Yes. The Mallus.
They are worrying over what seems to be their most important interest in life – Will Modi ban beer and beef? If he bans beer, what will they have beef with? And they assure each other, no matter what else is taken away from them, no one will be able to take away their beef...
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Very happy to see the Indian map coloured saffron. Those blue grey blotches especially in TN, West Bengal and Kerala don’t look pretty at all...
I can’t forget that incident in Kerala when communists objected to the lighting of a lamp in an inaugural function stating it was a Hindu ritual, irrelevant in a secular State.
Kerala gave us Adi Shankaracharya – the one who saved Hinduism; we would have been a Buddhist country if not for him, Hinduism would have been wiped out...
Kerala gave us Swathi Thirunal – who gave Carnatic Classical Music 300 plus beautiful compositions in his short life of 31 years.
And today they object to the lighting of a lamp!

We have achieved our goal of ‘Congress Mukt Bharat’.
Our next goal should be 'Communism Mukt Bharat'.

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The beauty of having religion and spirituality in politics. Beautiful rituals in Vishwanath temple.
Lights, colour, flowers, lamps, prayers and gratitude on the banks of Ganges...

Would Congress ever celebrate this way? They would have slaughtered cows and pigs for a party and emptied bottles of liquor...
Also, would they have the guts to enter a temple and risk Muslim displeasure? They would have gone to some Durgah though!

For the first time it feels an Indian has become the PM of India.

What a difference it makes to choose a political party rooted in tradition and religion...


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Nice joke by Modi on the banks of Ganga: People form coalition to come into power – now they are forming coalition to form Opposition!
What a victory! What retribution!
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Heads Rolling in all directions. Nitish Kumar biting the dust.
Modi could not have hoped for a better retaliation against all those Sickular Pseudosecular Wretches who labelled and demonised him.
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Times Now at Times square...
Having been to New York Times Square so many times, I can feel what it must have been like.
A larger than life television showing the victory of BJP to the cheering and roaring of a thousand Indians!
That picture of Vijay Rally in the US – hundreds of Sikhs on Bikes – good they haven’t forgotten 1984 – wish you long memory
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Some people are still living in denial.
All their shouting against Modi all these months on FB was wasted.
Now they are wasting away doing irrelevant math and coming up with numbers to prove that only 25.9% of the 810,000,000 people voted for Modi and therefore ‘India did not vote for him’.
SHUT THE FUCK UP.
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Suddenly the media seems to find him adorable after decades of relentlessly slandering and demonising him – such little self respect these fellows have – so fickle, so opportunistic
Good to see them losing their battle and genuflecting before him.
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The coining of ‘Namo’ itself was awesome. And now TsuNamo!
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Tension begins too.

Abu Fazal, of the banned SIMI, while being produced in a Bhopal court on Saturday, said, "Ab Modi ki baari hai (Now, it's Modi's turn)"
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Hilarious Jokes on FB

1) The picture of Kejriwal flying on his broomstick
Caption - Ab America ka election ladna hai – Wahan ka President Banoonga

2)Now it all make sense. Rahul was talking RTI all the way - Return To Italy

Huhaha!
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Yesterday evening, after 6 years of living without it, I bought a Television. My first one. Samsung. LED. 23 inches. This evening, the technician mounted it on the wall. Looks beautiful now, black and glistening. Tomorrow, it will come to life with light and colors.

I cannot miss Indian politics now on. Interesting times ahead.
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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Ladhak & Kashmir 2010 - Day 3 - Journey to Nubra


2nd July 2010

A first time traveller would fight against sleep through the 5 hour drive, keep their eyes wide open, try to look in all directions at the same time, in fact wish they had a hundred eyes.

Such is the landscape – mountains, water, greenery, desert, temples and needles of sand erected on the hills, endless plains, unusual colours, layers and more.

These were more breathtaking during my previous visit.

This time, the presence of dark clouds overhead took away from them that something...
Just like the clouds in our lives...

The driver became more and more unbearable; my parents tired too.

But the journey had to go on.

There was sunshine now and then, here and there, and it wasn’t too bad... there was some greenery too, which had not been there during my previous visit. More water in the valley too...that was the Shyok river, a major tributary of the Sindhu, weaving a pattern in the broad deep valley.

I am not sure if I was in the shoes of Alice Albinia when I had stood before the Sindhu. The author of ‘Empires of the Indus’ traversed the river backwards to its source – all the way from Karachi where the delta is, up to (Tibet occupied) China where the river begins.
And then she called her husband and wept, for there she saw that China had dammed the river a few hundred meters from her source and tapped her water almost to her last drop with a very tiny or no trickle escaping the dam and realized that the Sindhu she had travelled along for weeks was no Sindhu, just her tributaries – Shyok and Zanskar mainly.