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Sunday, March 26, 2006

timeless: ratnagiri upon badin

today i feel like painting a picture
that in my mind i've drawn already
have yet to set up the easel
draw the outline, open the tubes
yet i know what i'll call it when finished
that image of Truth, Beauty, Peace
will call it timeless
it'll be the smile on the face of a child
i came across in ratnagiri
a child who could've felt just as at home
in the streets of badin
in rags, slightly disheveled
playing in the streets
with a tonka truck - three wheels missing
his smile said hope is alive and well
and no amount of injustice and disparity
will kill it

even his smiling eyes will effervesce

fluttering curtains / pardah jo hila

fluttering curtains
leaves on still branches
picture perfect clouds
tranquil lotus staring back

pollution, checking sun rays
sky to earth check posts aplenty
rendering landscape, moonscape

moon looking askance
children muffled, muted

then the curtain fluttered
stroked by your smile

life whirled, again

pardah jo hila
shaakhaiN saakit, baadal rukay hu'aye
kanwal tak-taki bandhay dekhay humaiN

fiza may mo'allaq gar'd o ghubaar
shoo'aaON ko youN rokay
kay zameeeN per din maiN chandni
phail ja'aye her soo'

aur chand oos nay bhee rukh moR lya
bachchay bhee sakhtay maiN, khamosh

parday maiN phir hui hal chal
tum aaeeN aur zindagi muskuraee

C.A.R.E. -- the continuing saga

beside a table laden with hors d'oeuvre
fruits and cocktails in the dimly lit hall
this waspish old lady bemused loudly
about the sufferings of the multitudes
in the bushes 'oh those doleful eyes,
bloated bellies, bent countenance'

looking directly at me then she whispered
in my wrong ear 'i send them twenty dollars
every month through C.A.R.E.'
________________so uncaringly


Caveat: am not knocking the good work done by CARE --just highlighting the faux guilt ridden expressions of pseudo support by some - t

maximum security

through barriers and gates
remotely operated doors and
countless security checks
we come to a 8x6 cell
steel door with a slot for food
and one at eye-level

inside a cot, a stainless steel sink
a lidless toilet
this is the temporal abode
of the likes of dennis rader
and paul bernardo
in splendid security
and utter isolation
they will vegetate

on the outside, for some
the space maybe more confining
and perhaps less regulated


IV Mahajirzadeh:The Great Hand Car Wash

I Mahajirzadeh: Mushtaque Ahmed Yusufi - An Introduction
II Mahajirzadeh:Manjhli and BaRi
IIIMahajirzadeh:Choti and the Siami Begum

We started this qissa with childhood memories and a shiny sleek car. That was his black Pontiac. Not only the neighbours, but many others in the city were jealous of his Ponti. I am sure we have known other Mahajirzadahs. If you know some stories please regale us with them. Somebody has attributed this to Mahajirzadeh; human relationships are transitory and can look after themselves, but one has to invest in un-human relationships.

Hand car wash was perfected to a tee by Mahajirzadah. Every Sunday morning he would stand in his balcony like a symphony conductor. The Ponti was silently rolled out of the garage into the driveway and parked beside a row of neatly arranged buckets full of water. Yes, the enmity between water and tap flourished even in those good old days. At the end of the bucket row, Haji Uncle's old family servant Bachchu Chacha's many children would form a column in order of height. Bachchu Chacha, wearing black rubber Bata slippers, the one with two eye shaped holes in the front, heels worn out of existence, stood out at the end of this column like an exclamation mark.

Mahajirzadeh would not speak during this ghus'l, ritual bath. Instead he would signal with his eyebrows. His commands would be interpreted by Bachchu Chacha, the sergeant major, and relayed by him to the troops. With communication lines thus established the youngest four were commanded to soap and wash the tires. The eldest two would soap the car from front to back and then wash it away with clean water. At the very end, the children would go back and stand in a column. Bachchu Chacha would slap the chamois on the bonnet and start shining it. When this ceremony was over, Mahajirzadah would come downstairs, and without glancing at the shiny clean car file past the children giving each a chawanni --a quarter. Almost like any middle order government beaureucrat entering his office without acknowledging half raised arms or bodies of clerks, chaprasis and tea boys salaaming him.

The Ponti is still there, in pristine shape. Now it has joined the rank of rare collectibles and is worth many times more than its original value. The children, alas, are grown, worn out and aged as the children of the poor are so prone to do. One or two are dead too.

next: V Mahajirzadeh:Laws of Ventilation and Other Quotes

III Mahajirzadeh:Choti and the Siami Begum

I Mahajirzadeh: Mushtaque Ahmed Yusufi - An Introduction
II Mahajirzadeh:Manjhli and BaRi

To this day we are perplexed.

In the mysterious ways of this world, which we could not decipher then, or now, Choti said yes to Mahajirzadeh. Even then we had enough sense to know that the wicket was quite unpredictable and unfavourable for any sustained play.

Fast forward a few years and Choti joined the erstwhile two. Haji Uncle's once robust heart could not bear the triple tragedies. It succumbed.

We were then in the no man's land between innocence and know-it-all youth. Mahajirzadeh must be in late thirties. But these incidental departures must have aged him years. He appeared old and forlorn. Old and forlorn but not infirm.

If you visit the PECHS graveyard you will find the five graves, marked for posterity Amma Huzoor, Abba Huzoor, BaRi, Manjhli and Choti in one straight line. In the haphazard spread of the graveyard these symmetrical concrete graves with white marble headstones display an eerie spine chilling logic.

Entombing Haji Uncle's nuclear family, Mahajirzadeh embarked on yet another marriage. Ignoring the city, the province, indeed the whole country, he married a thirty four year old Thai of mixed racial origins.

Through the grapevine we heard that among other things and acts, this Siamese lady was a great cook too, especially Thai and Chinese meals. On Biryani, Korma, Tikka etc. her outlook was quite utilitarian---better quality and quantity can be ordered from the specialty restaurants in the city.

For children, or issues as they were referred to locally, he believed in zero population growth. His contempt for hisab kitab --- household finances and budgeting --- was traditional and hereditary. There was almost a religious edge to it. That perhaps accounted for him not counting his buried spouses in the zero population formula.

In the beginning, the Siami Begum was very quite and soft spoken. Also, how were we to know then that in Thailand they did not speak Urdu. But once she learned Urdu, she put to shame those of us whom others blamed for having it as a mother tongue. She acquired a versatility that was unique. She was able to communicate colloquially with folks from any income or age group. In anger and irritation, she was a sight: beholden and be heard.

We do not know about Mahajirzadeh, but when she used to take the servants to task the pollution in the room would overwhelm the pollution in the air.

Siami Begum was diminutive. We have a saying --- gid'dha'tun fit'na'tun --- shorter is terrible or risque. We acquired a new insight when we tasted those small green Thai chilies. But that was much later in life.

Mahajirzadeh was very young when one became two, three really. In his contemporaries he was unique, in that he never once claimed to have seen, heard or met any leader, great or small, present or departed, shaheed or ghazi that had made any contribution towards independence or national affairs.

He had no known source of income. Before you rush to any judgment, please bear in mind the times. Afghanistan and drug invasion of Pakistan was still years away. His inheritance must have been sufficient He never worked a day in his life.

next: IV Mahajirzadeh:The Great Hand Car Wash

II Mahajirzadeh:Manjhli and Bari

The smell of vapours that arise from the parched roads as water is sprinkled in the late afternoon; the smell of spilled kerosene; the unexpectedly cool cloudy days in mid summer; the dimpled smile of one particular teacher; a blonde bombshell shopping in the local bazaar; the whiff of certain perfume or body fragrance; the passing of a shiny sleek car -- these memories are ensconced and permanently etched on our mind.

Mention of a shiny sleek car never fails to remind us of Mahajirzadeh Asadullah Khan.

Haji Sahib--Haji Uncle was our neighbour. He had three daughters: then aged fifteen, sixteen and seventeen. From a distance they looked like triple threats. Once closer, one could distinguish individual characteristics. At that time for reasons that including shyness, age and naivete we avoided that closeness.

Somehow Mahajirzadeh got friendly with Manjhli. We overheard others speculate about it in the street forums, often inconclusively. Events led to their predestined conclusion, as they were wont to do in the Karachi of those days. But not before he had adopted the pseudonym of Karachvi.

To set the record straight, we had never heard him recite poetry, write poetry or write anything else for that matter. Soon after, he became Manjhli's Ajji. And not too long before he moved in Haji Uncle's house along with his sleek black Pontiac.

Do you also find that our childhood memories are either foggy or selective?

Bachchu Cahacha was the description defying family servant of Haji Uncle. Neither tall nor short. His height and demeanor auto-adjusted to the situation. There was a permanent bent in the shoulder region. The slight hunchback that people in his station in life seem to acquire as a result of some cosmic DNA programming. He must have had a wife. We never saw her. But we did stumble upon the results of his dalliance. His many children in various stages of undress were a familiar sight in the neighbourhood. More on them in the hand car wash segment.

One day we heard Bachchu Chacha tell us that Manjhli had left to meet her Maker. I did not know what it meant then, nor do I remember the funeral. Or maybe we were playing cricket that day. Around that time I do remember seeing BaRi with him when they went out in the evening for the PIDC paan.

I did not like BaRi very much. Every time I played cricket in the street, usually when the big boys had monopolized the cricket ground nearby, I ended up by breaking one of their window panes. No matter what stroke I played, the ball would somehow take a bee line for their glass windows. BaRi would run to Haji Uncle. And then Dad would.....But believe me, her early exit from this temporal abode was not hastened either by the remedial actions of my Dad nor the sigh that escaped from the depth of my heart as a consequence.

Dil se jo baat nikalti hai asaar rakhti hai
par nahiN taqat-e-parwaaz mag'r rakhti hai.

next: III Mahajirzadeh:Choti and the Siami Begum

I Mahajirzadeh: Mushtaque Ahmed Yusufi - An Introduction

We are the music makers,
And we are the makers of dreams
...We are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever it seems

Mushtaque Ahmed Yusufi quoting Arthur O'Shaugnessy's soulful verse well explains the role of an artist in society

He has written four books:
Chiragh Talay (1961)
Khakam e b'dhan (1969)
Zarguzasht (1976)
and Aab e Gum(1990).

The first two books won the Adamjee Prize, while the last one got the Hijra Award as well as Pakistan Academy of Letters' Award.

Here are his words on humor culled from Pehla Patthar/Chiragh Talay and Dast-e-Zulaikha/Khakim Badhan. Translation and re-arrangement is entirely mine and is not literal.


I know this much that I am blessed. I can laugh at myself and at my miseries and afflictions whenever I want to. And if I can share this trait with you I will consider myself a lucky person. I have never claimed that laughter can turn gray hair into black. But I also know this that with laughter the gray hair do not appear as bad.

Freedom of Laughter is, in my opinion a greater freedom than Freedom of Speech. It is my firm belief that if a nation can laugh freely (at itself) it can never be enslaved.

I am aware that this 'light' of humor can neither lit a fire nor cremate a body.

Humor is the fire that is felt unseen.

Some consider humor should be used as a Reform Tool. If humor could do it, why would we need explosives?

Sense of humor is the real sixth sense.

Those who are blessed with it can easily overcome any obstacle.

In religion, alcohol and humor everything is easily soluble; all the more in Urdu literature

When the intensity of pain that results in 'satire' reaches a crescendo, it spreads throughout the body, invigorating every blood cells and every vein begins to cascade with 'humor'. This process is the feverish outcome of the fierce fire raging in the blood transforming it into humor. Wood burns into coal; coal burns into ashes. But if the temperature of the inherent fire in the coal is greater than the temperature of the outer fire than the coal turns into a diamond.

But humor has its own sets of priorities and unique demands. It should be free of angst, bitterness and disillusionment. Or else the boomerang (of humor) will turn around and claim the humorist as its firsts victim.

For a humorist it is forbidden to advise, warn or quarrel. He builds a Wall of Laughter between himself and the bitter facts of life around him.

[and now some working definitions culled from the word bible]


---A literary work in which human vice or folly is attacked through irony, derision, or wit.
---A composition, generally poetical, holding up vice or folly to reprobation; a keen or severe exposure of what in public or private morals deserves rebuke;
---Keenness and severity of remark; caustic exposure to reprobation; trenchant wit; sarcasm.
---Witty language used to convey insults or scorn.


---That quality of the imagination which gives to ideas an incongruous or fantastic turn, and tends to excite laughter or mirth by ludicrous images or representations; a playful fancy;.
---a message whose ingenuity or verbal skill or incongruity has the power to evoke laughter
---the trait of appreciating (and being able to express) the humorous
---less caustic and devoid of sarcasm
---driving the same point home evoking laughter rather than uneasy pain or sarcasm.

After this introduction to Mushtaq Ahmed Yusufi I will be serializing Mahajirzadeh Asadullah Khan: my tribute in English to his unique writing style. The we used is a first person singular much like the royal we. Urdu writers from a certain region frequently used hum (we) instead of maiN (me or I.)

next:II Mahajirzadeh:Manjhli and BaRi

triggering memories* at a wayside station

the polluted fog rendered
an eerie magical halo
as i ambled off to stretch
and find a hot cup of tea

even the chaiwallah
was catching a wink, tired
of waving flies off all day

no gesture, fragrance, book
nothing tangible triggered
that memory of your smile
i longed
for your embrace

*Rose Petals are Romantic...

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Good work kiddo

from the daily times

If these walls could talk, they would say the WSF begins today

Staff Report

KARACHI: The walls were annoyingly coarse, the sun was mercilessly hot, and there were too few hands to fill them up. As the final countdown to the World Social Forum (WSF) 2006 began, a group of young men and women painstakingly created graffiti and murals on a long series of bare walls at one of the sprawling grounds of the KMC Sports Complex-the venue for the event that starts today.

The murals and graffiti included a multiplicity of slogans and symbols characteristic of WSF themes-democracy, peace, equality and love. Most of all, they advocated dissent-dissent from all that is unjust in the world: imperialism, dictatorship, and wars fought in the name of terror. Asma Shabab and Madiha Waris, graduates of IBA, Fatima Zehra and Quratulain Siddiqui, graduates of the University of Karachi, Saad Jamal, a student of Sir Syed University and Shahjahan Bhutto, an Indus Valley design student comprised the team that added vivid colours to the bare Kashmir Road for two days.

They have been working under the scorching sun, trying to fill empty walls with hope. Pedestrians and traffic often stopped by as the public, excited and curious about the young group covered in paint, asked questions about the forum also. A smiling father brought his two little girls to apply a few strokes too, which they did with great excitement.

The group also painted a welcoming statement for the participants of WSF 2006 on a bright red background. Some of these students have been working at the WSF for the past six weeks. Getting mounds of work done before the mega event in limited time and with funds, plus trying to start a buzz around the city in order to generate the kind of enthusiasm and fervour that an event like WSF deserves, hasn’t been easy.

On Holocaust: Anti-Semite or Anti-Human?

hol.o.caust n.
1. Great destruction resulting in the extensive loss of life, especially by fire.
[Middle English, burnt offering, from Old French holocauste, from Latin holocaustum, from Greek holokauston, from neuter of holokaustos, burnt whole : holo-, holo- + kaustos, burnt (from kaiein, to burn).]

I just finished reading an involved, wonderfully mesmerizing review of Lajos Koltai's Fateless: Death and the Children by Alan Dale.

Something I read there caught my eye and lingered in my mind long after I finished reading that review. He wrote: The Holocaust, a crime of historic proportions, is simply greater than any heroic ordeal out of conventional romance--it calls for a new approach to character and narrative.

Forget entire human history: even our recent history is replete with what we call crimes against peace, humanity and genocide.

Consider these:

Roma (Gypsy) Holocaust Deaths: Determining the percentage or number of Roma (Gypsies) who died in the Holocaust (called the Porrajmos, "paw-RYE-mos" in Romani, a word which means "the Devouring") is not easy. The latest (1997) figure from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Research Institute in Washington puts the number of Romani lives lost by 1945 at "between a half and one and a half million."

Armenian Genocide: The official Ottoman statistics compiled for the period between 1915 to 1917-18 were of 800,000 (Armenians) killed, which suggests that possibly over a million perished. This figure originates from Djemal's bureau’s compilation statistics. The results have been published in the official Ottoman gazette.

A report provided that as soon as February 1916, 1.5 million Armenians were destroyed. A report in May 27, 1916, by Foreign Office Intelligence Director Erzberger provided the same figure, as did an October 4, 1916 report by the German Interim Ambassador to Turkey, Radowitz, again with 1.5 million as the estimate of Armenian's having perished. It seems that the generally cited 1.5 million figure had originated from those German sources. What might be considered by many one of the most balanced German account is those of the German major Endres, who served in the Turkish army, and who has estimated the number of Armenians having lost their lives during the war to be 1.2 million.

Tartar Cleansing:"We have never denied the Armenian crime of genocide inflicted upon 2.5 million Muslim people between 1914 and 1920." Agop Zahoryan, 'Voices of Agonies', p. 91.

Massacre in Cambodia: Estimates of the number of people who perished under the Khmer Rouge vary tremendously, even within the present Cambodian government. A figure of three million deaths between 1975 and 1979 was given by the Vietnamese-sponsored Phnom Penh regime, the People's Republic of Kampuchea (PRK). Father Ponchaud suggested 2.3 million; the Yale Cambodian Genocide Project estimated 1.7 million; Amnesty International estimated 1.4 million; and the United States Department of State, 1.2 million. Khieu Samphan and Pol Pot cited figures of 1 million and 800,000, respectively

Tragedy in Chechnia: Today, 12 years later, is there anyone who mourns the more than 30% of the total Chechen population who perished in the last two wars? Who cares today about the hundreds of thousands of Chechen refugees who fled wherever they could from the Chechen killing-field, only to find themselves in unbearably miserable conditions, with no hope of being treated as decent human beings?

The Rwandan Genocide: The slaughter of an estimated 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus, mostly carried out by two extremist Hutu militia groups, the Interahamwe and the Impuzamugambi, during a period of 100 days from April 6th through mid-July 1994.

Slaughter in Yugoslavia: Each nation (Bosniaks, Serbs, and Croats) reported many casualties in the three-sided conflict, in which the Bosniaks reported the highest number of deaths and casualties. However, the only case officially ruled by the U.N. Hague tribunal as genocide was the Srebrenica massacre of 1995. At the end of the war approximately 102,000 people had been killed according to the ICTY and more than 2 million people fled their homes (including over 1 million to neighboring nations and the west)

There is more

  • Over twenty million Russian deaths in WWII.
  • The thousands who died and millions who were displaced during the great divide in the sub continent - the partition of the subcontinent into India and Pakistan.
  • Hundreds of thousands dead in the troubled region of Kashmir at the hand of terrorists and Government Forces of India and Pakistan.

These are part and parcel of our heritage – correction our human heritage and conscience. But when the word holocaust is mentioned what image crosses your mind? Which of the holocausts mentioned above comes to your mind?

Let me admit I am probably like the majority of folks here. This word reminds me of the Jewish holocaust more than the other horrible travesties.

How did that happen? Was it all of those movies? Books? Constant references in the media? Who is triggering this guilt in me? By maintaining our silence on all the holocausts perpetrated by us on some of us are we not culpable?

I am not an anti-Semite. But I certainly could be anti-Human if I remained silent any longer and not point out our fallacy.

Also on Desicritcs
And Blogcritics

Friday, March 17, 2006

on two solitude-emerging and receding

my comments on Suj's Life in Bangalore: Garbage Crisis

on two solitude-emerging and receding

Saj: maybe onto something! personal cleanliness vs. civic cleanliness

digression: TO generate over 1.5 million tonnes of waste...our landfill sites are full...currently waste is shipped to a landfill site in michigan...everyday tens of trucks ply on 401 hauling the trash away...after recent elections there ( in michigan) there are rumblings that TO should look elsewhere for landfill

vaughan a satellite town has embarked on a high tech solution...burning all waste and generating power was not a cost effective solution till now...but local councillors claim with rising oil prices this method will be an environmentally cleaner option as well as economically feasible...end digression

as a periodic visitor to india i notice each subsequent visitor indian towns get progressively more crowded, polluted and dirty...(i live here in TO and i may not see the changes around me while a periodic visitor to TO would probably notice more changes)...the streets are the same...just more people, cars etc...the pace of investment in infrastructure lags behind the pace of increase in population – with all that manifests

remember this is my overview of not commenting on a specific town or neighbourhood that may have coped better...

another digression: and this is utterly puzzling for both of us as we criss-crossed the country and got invited into the homes of perfect strangers...from cab and auto drivers modest shacks to the plushest of houses and apartments...

we found ordinary indians to be the very particular about personal hygiene and their immediate surroundings were spotless...the kitchens or can eat off the floor...and mind you this compliments comes from M who is hitlerian when it comes to cleanliness in home...


the puzzling part was this...while the homes are spotless and they pay so much attention to its cleanliness what happens when it comes to corporate or civic senses?...why do they just dump their garbage so callously...often throwing garbage over their compound/house walls onto public property?

and i would not even venture on the other basic amenity – toilet

--india a tale of two solitude!

yaatra: a smile yaatra down the lane

rugged peaks, impervious, distant, distinct, detached
ambuscading, camouflaging, playing hide and seek with
lazily floating clouds, covering, baring, making faces
determined pilgrimage to the attic for a carton
a blue pullover, left elbow torn, sleeves frayed
pages torn from a notebook, amorous thoughts
once passion soaked, laughing, tingling, quivering
a yellowing newspaper cutting conveying inapt urgency
a rusted key chain with sepia dark photo barely discernible
conveying flashes of mirth, laughter, joy, sigh and tear
stale memories, faded laughter, earnest discourses
trembling anticipation, warm embraces, carefree sleep
now indiscriminately floating across mind's screen
like the images on the giant screen in a smoky lounge
full of fans - loud, raucous, cheering, heckling, shouting
memories foggy, indistinct, passing vaguely, vainly
memories' play over, objects ensconced back in the carton
escorted gingerly, furtively to the waste bin
on its way to the land-fill...dust to dust...inna-lilla...
peace, chain, a'munn, sukh, shaanti
elusive, a smile etched on soul's skin
that cannot be placed in the waste-bin
nor erased, returned, expunged, obliterated
smile indestructible, alive nor dead, afflicting

rape: losing face and self-respect

the issues are physical and
political occupation
of inclusion and exclusion
compulsion and penetration

if men are ever shorn of their
dignity, see how red they turn
in righteous indignation

sending sms barrages
of momentary agitation
are self-defeating delusions
until another rape, violation

wonder if the solution
lies in that man's castration


thanks for Sakshi's Date Rape for inspiring this poem

color me water

spring around, moon shiny
time for fun, revelry
let's thank krishna, radha
you, and some bhang too

holi hay holi hay
ghumoN ko bhulaiN
khushiaN manaiN

forget red, yellow
blue or green hues
colour me water
on this holi day
to blend with clay

Thursday, March 16, 2006

On the Necessity Of An Adversary - US And The Muslims

Mirror of Truth
the sages found and fought over
now the mirror of Truth lies
shattered, each piece valued, possessed
for the truth it deflected


If living memory is the period from the end of the WW II to the present, then the world experienced and survived in a bi-polar world. The U.S. and U.S.S.R. at either end, and other countries allied with one or the other.

There was an attempt to make it tri-polar world led by Nehru, Sukarno, Zhou Enlai, Tito and Nasser to float a Non Aligned Movement but it fizzled out. The vision was briefly re-launched on September 3, 1979, in Havana. Since then it has met eight times but is reduced to photo-ops and the passing of bombastic resolutions.

For the moment, we live in a uni-polar world. The U.S. is the new god, prophet, and church rolled into one. This of course cannot last forever, but we have to live through these times. However, there is an interesting paradox.

The U.S. psyche operates on the presence of an adversary. Without an adversary, the key players of today are at sea. After the fall of U.S.S.R., the think-tanks recognized this and tried to manufacture an adversary.

Their initial attempts to fill the void with Muslims failed. The intellectual arguments did not cut it with the average Joe and Jane. They proved more insightful and intelligent and were not easily persuaded to buy into the case. They knew Muslims spread over scores of countries and continents were as diverse as Christians, Jews, or followers of any other faith.

The shoe drops: 9/11!

That changed things in a hurry. The think-tankers with a push from the neconzix succeeded in manufacturing an enemy. Al Qaeda was born and branded in a miraculously short period of time. Overnight it became synonymous with Muslim terrorism.

What took Coke, Pepsi, and McDonalds decades to achieve was done almost overnight. Voila! We have an adversary now. Haliburton and other multi-nationals rubbed their hands in glee.

This sudden elevation of and focus on the beleaguered Muslims delighted the hard liners in the world wide Muslim clergy and saddened the Silent Majority of Muslims--the ones we dub and chastise as Moderate Muslims today.

(FYI: I am neither, having been dubbed immoderate by Desicritic's Publisher Aaman Lamba.)

Islamophobia? I am not in favor of throwing this term around. How can any rational person lump over 1.2 billion diverse Muslims world wide together so naively? Try Jewphobia, Hinduphobia, Christophobia for a fit and see for yourself how ridiculous they appear.

I consider 9/11 a wake-up call for the Silent Majority of Muslims. The moderate Muslims have no choice but to stand up and be counted. They have to overcome their natural proclivity to be silent spectators. There is no room left for that. For if they continue to maintain their traditionally low profile, the void will be filled by the volatile and outspoken hard liners.

Islam and the majority of Muslims would suffer. The Silent Majority has to wrestle their turf away from the hard-line clergy. It will be a long and uphill task. They have no choice! Do we help or hinder?

Monday, March 13, 2006

close quarters by cathryn essinger

CLOSE QUARTERS by cathryn essinger

loved the last two verses...very tightly written...and layered...

sleeveless muslim...

if i write:

sleeveless muslim
sleeveless hindu
sleeveless sikh
sleeveless christian
sleeveless jew


s/l muslim
s/l hindu
s/l sikh
s/l christian
s/l jew

would you understand i am writing about a person who does not wear his religion on his sleeves?

Non Verbal Communication 102

There is a time when NVC is abandoned for a few years. Usually begins in the second trimester and lasts till that child is of school going age. This period is loud, raucous and rather verbal.

If you are a laid back or forgetful person it is time to take refresher NVC 101.

In 202 we will illustrate further nuances and twists not covered in 101.

* smiling eyes, clutched fingers on the lap means she has heard this story/joke 300 times
* smiling eyes with pinkie tapping on knee means avoid showing keen interest in their stories: show respect and boredom so they realize it is time for them to leave
* eyes quickly darting to the clock on the mantle and back to you(away from the guests' scrutiny) - don't insist that they stay a little longer
* eyes arctic cold – you don't get it? I don't get it. (There is a joke in there for married couples.)
* ignoring her full cup means the marital barometric pressure is dropping fast and expect a downpour soon as the guests leave

There is another gesture - palms held together - namaste fashion with utter humility - saying sorry. Five words that save a lot of heart burn.

Let us not quibble over the fine print. It does not matter who is right. Just learn to say sorry first and live to fight another time.

Digression begins: I say sorry frequently...if you are the male in the relationship you will understand how we are so genetically indisposed to gestures that continuously land us in murky waters. Caution: don't over do it. I have learned that M my partner in crime feels I am short circuiting a perfect fight for her by rendering a sorry so quickly. And this Machiavellian act of good faith causes more turbulence. End digression.

(Damn!...Am yawning!...Happens every time I read, write, think or see a many of you are yawning now?...never found an adequate explanation for this.)

Now she is giving me that look, excuse me have to scramble...really I must...arey aap ka kya ja'aye ga...besides this who-r-u look is rather ominous. Even a hai bhagwaan look fails to effectively counter it. NVC 103 will have to wait till the weather improves.

Non-Verbal Communication 101

When you share the same roof with someone over a period of time you become an expert in the Art of Non-Verbal Communication.

These self taught students of NVC have already completed the pre-requisite How To Avoid Missiles 101: The Art of Ducking Without Quacking where they have learned how to instinctively avoid missiles like bailans (rolling pins), handy pots, pans, cups, mugs and objects d'art.

Reading the trajectory of hurled household objects, calculating its speed, ETA and the force of impact and taking effective counter measures is learned quickly in this self-taught survival course – with or without a wedding certificate.

Over the decades, it seems we have done a doctorate in NVC. ( The we used in the previous sentence is both a first person singular and a collective we.) You don't believe me? theek hay!

An expected or unannounced visitor will be plied with their choice of beverage...with snacks or finger food appropriately warmed...placed in front of them and later removed back to the kitchen...dishes washed...dried...other stuff brought played...good conversation...laced with levity...and if it slips in taste...instantly checked...if it drifts off into murky updated information on their in-laws or enemies or is killed off in mid-air...all this is done usually without any verbal communication from my Gestapo Commandant...but don't sympathize with me is not all one way...sigh! where was I?

Yes NVC 101 -

* slight twitch of the brows - you are monopolizing conversation
* a tap of one finger - ask them for tea
* multi finger tap - ask them for tea and snacks
* eyes bitingly smiling - they are monopolizing
* eyes unfocussed - do something to make them leave
* eyes focused - why are you not listening
* eyes rolling - this is unending
* mouth pursed - shaamat aanay wali hay

Veteran partners learn to read these signals. Or they of them pays. No prizes for correct guesses or . More on this shortly.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Kofi Annan and the United Nations' Reforms

The problem of power is how to achieve its responsible use rather than its irresponsible and indulgent use - of how to get men of power to live for the public rather than off the public. Robert F. Kennedy (1925 - 1968)'I Remember, I Believe,' The Pursuit of Justice, 1964

In the 16 years since the Cold War ended, we have taken on more than twice as many new peacekeeping missions than in the previous 44 years. Spending on peacekeeping has quadrupled. Secretary General Kofi Annan Investing in the United Nations: For a Stronger Organization Worldwide


Kofi Annan like George Bush is a man. Both are in the waning years of their mandate. And like man in high office both want to leave behind a legacy.

On March 7, 2006 Secretary General Kofi Annan spoke of 'radical overhaul of the United Nation's Secretariat.' He was following up on last year's Millenium Summit. He spoke of focussing on six major areas:

I: People
II: Leadership
III: Information and Communication Technology
IV: Delivering Services
V: Budget and Finance
VI: Governance

He lamented the United Nation's budget increase in peacekeeping and field operations. They rose from 50% of US $4.5 billion from 10 years ago to a whopping 70% of US $10 billion budget today.

His recommendations:

* Convert the temporary peace keeping forces into an elite force of 2500 mobile core of Rapid Reaction Team
* Relocate IT, medical, payroll, translation and document productions departments out of the US
* Reorganize and streamline internal departments
* Trim the staff -- a one-time buyout of about 1000 extra staff
* Consolidate Management Reports from over 30 to under 6
* Streamline Purchasing - eliminate wastage and fraud

His plans and recommendations will have to be approved by the 191 member organization before being implemented.


Going through the 43 page report his glaring omissions stood out. He failed to streamline the contributions from member countries, address raising financing issues and the reforming of the Security Council.

The UN operations are hampered by its dependence on financial support from member countries. And when big players like US withheld their contributions in what appears to be blatant arm twisting, the world suffers. As of September 2005 the US arrears to the UN exceeded $1.246 billion.

U.S. arrears to the UN currently total over $1.3 billion. Of this, $612 million is payable under Helms-Biden. The remaining $700 million result from various legislative and policy withholdings; of course, there are no current plans to pay these amounts.CLICK.

If the UN is to become a more effective world body there is a dire need to reform the Security Council and to streamline contributions from member countries and raise independent financing for a Rapid Reaction Team that can land in any trouble spot within 18-20 hours.

Security Council Reforms

The other 190 member countries of the world have to get their act together and convince a reluctant uni-power to play along. To be effective as a moral, political and viable powerhouse the UN Security Council needs to be revamped to deal with the geo political realities of this century. Right now it is stuck in the ground realities of 1946.

To make the UN responsive, powerful and active the SC (Security Council) should be modified and reformed. The US, Russia and China should retain their permanent seats. France and UK should be replaced. Five or six more countries should be added from amongst Germany, India, Egypt, South Africa, Brazil, Mexico etc. to reflect all the continents and the new geo-political alignment.

Financing of RRT - Rapid Reaction Team

Governments rich or poor import oil and drivers buy gasoline. The UN should impose a mandatory one cent per liter consumption tax to be collected by the individual countries or by the oil suppliers and remitted to the UN directly to finance this RRT.

It is important that this RRT be seen as an important and independent peacekeeping arm of the UN.

According to estimates there are 800 million cars on the road world wide. A lowerd estimate of the yearly gasoline consumption would be about 360 liters per vehicle. Calculating at a low average world price of US 50 cents a liter, taxed at one cent per liter would yield $1.44 billion to the UN coffers.

These are conservative estimates. Local government, military and commercial gasoline consumption is not figured in this calculation. If they are also included then this total would go up. Then the rate can be reduced to a cent or less per liter consumed. Or the additional amount can be directed to a trust fund for natural calamities.

Today the world needs more than ever a powerful and effective world body. Or it will go the way of League of Nations.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

tiger striped aunties

since when beauty
needs accoutrements

they say here
take it to the extreme
as witnessed
on au-naturel negril beaches
but am a moderate
in many ways


in college, or was it school
memory is blunt as in not sharp
had followed her
this graceful braided gazelle
fluid, poetic, innocent
smiling eyes
and an arrhythmic
and her laughter
it wasn't a giggle
(giggles i detest
in men more than young women)


she was with a
short, overweight aunty
nursing a
perpetually pregnant posture
in a black and yellow
tiger striped shalwar kameez

her aunti-ji
must be a factor
as i ducked into a book shop

Monday, March 06, 2006

India Does Not Need Oscars

Why India does not win Oscars, asks Aditya Kuber

Kahaan say shru karaiN?

Let me begin with the negatives. Not winning the Oscars is not about story, writing, acting, photography or production values of a given film. What passes for the art/alternative cinema in India has produced gems that can stand with the best anywhere in the world.

I did use art/alternative advisedly. Please forgive me if i am not so gung-ho on mainstream crash-crutch-crush masala stuff. (Future father in law crashes into hero, banged up hero in hospital on crutches, ends up with a crush on the daughter.)

If Hollywood were a patient and I a doctor I would have prescribed treatment for a severe case of narcissism. The Academy is the ultimate in narcissism: the doggie-bone of best foreign film Oscar aside!

The Oscars are the epitome of blatant back rubs. It is a North American game. You rub mine I'll..... And please, no scratches, am married! (This is just a figure of speech M);)

As the Indians and others learn the rope they will stand a better chance. Best Movie Oscar winner Crash Crash producers sent out 160,000 copies of it to garner votes. Other incentives to lure are not mentioned. (Of course the product has to have merit too.)

Now a bit less seriously: why should we worry about it for more than ten seconds? Bollywood does not need Oscar recognition. In a few decades it will be Oscar that will need Bollywood.

And now a bit more seriously. It appears as if some members of the AMPSA (Academy of Motion Picture Sciences and Arts) were stricken with guilt when they made the decision to award Satyajit Ray a lifetime achievement Oscar on his death bed. It is best not to speculate why he was not awarded an Oscar earlier.

I rue the moment Satyajit Ray agreed to accept the lifetime achievement Oscar (1992) from his death bed in Calcutta/Kolkota. Maybe his treatment and drugs rendered him incapable of better judgement. His family or handlers should have counseled him. It was a sad display of capitulation by what many consider an Indian Film legend, icon and genius.

He ought to have displayed a greater sense of self respect.