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Showing posts from March, 2023

Yet another cat story

Bobs Zachariah is one of my favourite writers in Malayalam. The latest issue of Mathrubhumi (Malayalam weekly) carries one of his short stories titled Karunan Cat . Since I have three cats of my own and two of my neighbour’s that seem determined to eat only with my ones, any writing about cats draws my immediate attention. When Zachariah writes, the attention becomes ever more engrossing.   The story is set in Delhi of 1977. Karunan, the cat-protagonist, is living in an upper middle class household in Defence Colony. His great ancestor was a Persian cat that was gifted by the last Mughal emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar, to one of his beautiful concubines. After Shah was exiled, the concubine slept with many British VIPs and the Persian cat had many local mates. In spite of the miscegenation of his ancestors, Karunan had all the charms of the Persian ancestor and hence was loved by the upper-class Delhiites who fed him the purest cow milk. But Ramakrishnan and Nalini are going to div

Judiciary as Government’s Handmaid

Image from Mathrubhumi (Malayalam weekly) 2 April 2023 The media in India became the central government’s lapdog long ago, with a few exceptions. Democracy bleeds when that happens. And democracy dies when the judiciary becomes the government’s handmaid. It is impossible for the citizens to get justice when the judiciary becomes a tool in the hands of the government. Anyone can be arrested for any reason. As it happened, for example, with the Kannada actor Chetan Kumar a few days back. He was arrested for tweeting that “ Hindutva is built on LIES .” He mentioned a few lies too, like: 1992 : Babri Masjid is ‘birthplace of Rama’ —> a lie . A few days after his arrest and remand to judicial custody, Rahul Gandhi was arrested for saying rather facetiously that too many Modis are thieves. Truth is a crime now. Humour is a crime too. A lot of our parliamentarians are hardcore criminals . There are murderers and rapists among them. There are swindlers and kidnappers. They continue t

Waiting for your bus

Illustration borrowed from Deshabhimani weekly [Malayalam] The bus stopped in front of me The driver thought I was a waiting passenger The conductor shouted the bus’s destination to call my attention apparently.   Do I have to go anywhere anymore? Isn’t my country taking people to their destinations? Isn’t it my duty as a patriot to do nothing but wait for my bus that will come by and by?

Malayattoor Pilgrimage

Pilgrims on the way Thomas, one of the disciples of Jesus, is believed to have come personally to India to propagate his master’s religion. An early 3 rd -century text titled Acts of Thomas narrates the story of Jesus sending Thomas, a carpenter by profession, to India. Thomas was supposed to help build the palace of Gondophares, founder of the Indo-Parthian kingdom and ruler from 19 to 46 CE. One of the traders from Gondophares’s kingdom brought Thomas with him to India. According to the text, King Gondophares gave a huge sum of money to Thomas for constructing the palace. Instead of constructing the palace, Thomas distributed the money among the poor people. Infuriated, the King imprisoned Thomas. Soon the King’s brother died. This brother made an apparition to the King and revealed to him that Thomas had constructed a palace for the King in heaven. Pleased with that, the King released Thomas from prison. The King and his subjects all accepted the religion of Thomas. The authent

Waste-generating Species

This is the river which bathed my childhood. It flows down my village and my house is just a few metres above its lush green basin, my ancestral home where I grew up as well as my present residence. Back then, in summer season, this river would shrink into a rivulet throwing up golden sandy banks on both sides with interspersed granite rocks. In monsoon, it would become a monstrous swirl of riled water carrying all sorts of things from coconuts to tree trunks. Its width then would expand into the farms on both sides. We would stand at a distance and admire its might. As the monsoon receded, the river would shrink making itself the best playfield for us. We swam in her clear waters and fished in her creeks and bends. The river continues to live half a century later in spite of the ‘progress and development’ that my village underwent. Unlike many other rivers which have become open sewers, this one continues to carry fairly clear water. Some villagers still take bath in it and wash c

A2Z – A Prelude

The A2Z Challenge of The Blogchatter is an incentive to write systematically every day of the month. I have completed the challenge successfully three times and each exercise ended in the release of a book. All these books are available absolutely free. Let me give the links. Humpty Dumpty’s 10 Hats – 2022 – a collection of ten short stories. ““You have a clever way of talking about the trivial yet burning issues of the day.” Sonia Dogra’s review said. Life: 24 Essays – 2021 – “To read this book without any depth of attention would be to do it a disservice – but it also means that one must find oneself wanting to respond. There builds a desire to be in conversation with the writer.” Yamini MacLean Great Books for Great Thoughts – 2020 – “I’m warning you that this book, Great Books for Great Thoughts , has the potential to change your life if read seriously.” Ravish Mani All the above books [available only in electronic form] were well-received and I am grateful. That is p


Kamala Das [From Wikipedia] Lady, what did you gain by giving up Krishna And embracing the Prophet’s amorphous Allah? Did your heart throb better With your head veiled with the hijab? The heart works better without the head! But yours didn’t. Your head was as good as your heart.   You learnt the hard way That you (nor I, nor anyone) Can’t run away from yourself By changing the god. You betrayed your most beloved god, The playful Krishna, In favour of a “rigid husband.”   And you remained unhappy Till the end of your life.   Happiness is not given by any god! Let it be Krishna or Kristu or Allah, Let it be any god from any culture – Have you ever come across a happy god anywhere? – Happiness cannot be given by gods. Happiness is in your heart: Or else you won’t ever have it.   PS. I’m going to teach a poem of Kamala Das tomorrow. These lines were a result of my reflection on the poet. Kamala Das became Kamala Suraiyya at the age of

Seven Maids and a Prodigy

Madhav and family were on their usual weekend short trip when Ramya mentioned what their son’s math teacher had said during the PTA meeting of that day. ‘Rohan is a prodigy.’ ‘After all, he’s my son,’ Madhav said proudly as he looked at his son’s reflection in the rear-view mirror of the car. He was a computer software engineer while Ramya was only a bank clerk. Since Ramya had no doubt about her part in Rohan’s birth, she did not consider it necessary to stake a claim to it. Madhav decided to assess his eleven-year-old son’s prodigy. But he could not remember any mathematical puzzle. He never had the habit of reading anything. Even as a student, he had not read anything other than course books. Computer wizards don’t need to read Shakespeare, he used to say with some pride. The only riddle that came to his mind was one from a short play that was part of his English course at college. It was about some Chinese king and the seven slaves of a noble man. * He didn’t remember the st

Benjamin the donkey

Benjamin is an old donkey in George Orwell’s classic fable, Animal Farm . Life has made him a cynic. He doesn’t believe anything good will happen to the ordinary folk because he has learnt through experience that “life will go on as it always has gone on – that is, badly.” He has seen many changes of leadership on the farm. He has seen revolutions. He has seen enough, in other words, to know that the changes mean nothing for the ordinary creatures. The benefits all go to some select few whatever changes happen, in spite of all great promises, in spite of all nice-sounding slogans. The conflagration that broke out on the Brahmapuram dump-yard in Kochi has been in news for the last ten days in Kerala. Those who have watched the evening ‘news hour debates’ on TV channels will remember Orwell’s Benjamin again and again. Politicians belonging to the ruling party come and go supporting the government’s inaction and irresponsibility by shifting the blame for the fire and the accumulated w

The Anglo-Indians: Book Review

Title: The Anglo-Indians: A Portrait of a Community Author: Barry O’Brien Publisher: Aleph, 2022 Pages: 538 If you want to read a pleasant and light-hearted history of the Anglo-Indians, search no further. Barry O’Brien brings you just that. It is exactly what the subtitle says: A portrait of a community rather than an academic history, though the author reminds us occasionally in the book that he did quite a bit of research before writing the book. Who is an Anglo-Indian? According to the Constitution of India [Article 366(2)], “An Anglo-Indian means a person whose father or any other of whose male progenitors in the male line is or was of European descent but who is domiciled within the territories of India and is or was born within such territory of parents habitually resident therein and not established there for temporary purposes only.” In less mystifying words, an Anglo-Indian: ·       has a European forefather ·       is a citizen of India who lives permanently

Is liberal Muslim an oxymoron?

When I saw the cover story of the Frontline magazine dated 10 March 2023, my impulsive response was a snigger. The magazine sought to feature liberal Muslims. “Is there such a species as liberal Muslims?” That was my spontaneous thought. No sooner had that thought arisen in my mind than it was suppressed by a self-rebuke. “Has the present right wing propaganda made you a bigot too?” My consciousness rebuked me. That was a moment of epiphany for me. A revelation that my thinking had been distorted by the country’s leading discourse which is about the irredeemable bigotry of Muslims. In the very first article, Hilal Ahmed, a professor in a Delhi institution of higher learning, defines a liberal Muslim as an individual who adheres to certain liberal egalitarian values without giving up her cultural and/or religious identity as a Muslim. A liberal, in general , is an individual who is not dogmatic in her religious, social and political views, in the definition of historian Irfan Habi

Hospitals and Health

  From Wikiart When I decided to take a few days’ break from blogging at the end of Feb, I didn’t think the days were going to be as terrible as they turned out to be. I was feeling tired and decided to give my body a little rest. But instead of taking the much-deserved rest, my body started whining and twining. Soon the body ache was drowned by the thumping of a dozen sledgehammers in the head. When I couldn’t bear it any longer, I asked Maggie to accompany me to hospital. She checked the time: one am. It was not quite the appropriate time to disturb people in the neighbourhood for driving us to hospital. “I can drive,” I said. Maggie decided to trust me. She knows that I can be terribly stubborn sometimes. The road was absolutely empty and it took hardly ten minutes to reach the hospital. The security allowed me to park our car in the doctors’ parking area when I told him I was the patient. I liked the security guy for being so understanding. Like me, he too thought that I would requ