|Saturday, April 12, 2003||
believed the war in Iraq would last about three days, at the most, one
week. I am not the only one who went wrong. We believed that Saddam
Hussein was not only a ruthless dictator who oppressed his own people
but also waged unprovoked wars against his neighbours, Iran and Kuwait.
The Iraqis hated him and would rise in rebellion when foreign liberators
fired the first shot. We thought the first to revolt would be Shias who
form the majority of the population and are predominant in the south
with the city of Basra as their stronghold. The Kurds in the north would
also exploit the situation and declare Kurdistan, an independent state
of their own. None of this turned out to be true. Instead of welcoming
US and British troops as liberators, the Iraqis regarded them as hostile
invaders bent on grabbing their oil wealth; their national pride was
wounded and they rallied round Saddam Hussein as defender of their
country, Arabs and their Islamic faith. It became a jehad (holy
war) against foreign infidels. The Shias refused to avail themselves of
the opportunity to overthrow Saddam who is a Sunni and put a Shiaite in
his place. Only Kurds who anyhow enjoyed autonomy joined the Americans
in the hope of carving a state of their own. What is even more
surprising is that many heads of Muslim nations, who at the outset of
the war severely criticised Saddam, became mute when Muslims all over
the world raised their voices against American and British forces in
Iraq. So the villain of yesteryear became a hero on par with Osama bin
Laden. It is a phenomenon beyond my comprehension. Can anyone explain
I am often asked why I donít write in my mother tongue or in other Indian languages. I can read and speak in Urdu and Hindi. I admit I am more at ease with English (which I regard as an Indian language) than with any other language. It also gives me a much wider readership at home and abroad as well as brings me more money. This would apply to all Indians writing in English. I came across a poem by Malayalam writer Kamala Das (now Kamala Sourayya) who writes primarily in her mother tongue but has also written a couple of books in English as well. She sums up the dilemma of Indo-Anglian writers very neatly:
"...I am Indian, very brown, born in
Malabar, I speak three languages, write in
Two, dream in one. Don't write in English, they said.
English is not your mother tongue. Why not leave
Me alone, critics, friends, visiting cousins,
Every one of you? Why not let me speak in
Any language I like? The language I speak
Becomes mine, its distortions, its queerness
All mine, mine alone. It is half English, half
Indian, funny perhaps, but it is honest,
It is as human as I am human, don't
You see? It voices my joys, my longings, my
Hopes, and it is useful to me as cawing
Is to crows or roaring to the lions, it
is human speech, the speech of the mind that is
Here and not there, a mind that sees and hears and is aware..."
Russians followed by their Polish neighbours are the world's hardest drinkers of hard liquor. Their national favourite over the ages has been vodka distilled from potatoes. In both countries the word is derived from voda or woda, meaning water. It is colourless, looks like water and they gulp it down neat without mixing it with soda or water. However, it is a spirit stronger than whisky or brandy. Consequently, you see more drunk people lying sprawled on the pavements of cities like Moscow and Warsaw than in any other city in the world. The incidence of cirrhosis of the liver in both countries is very high. At long last, they have come to realise that it is not good for their health. The consumption of vodka has begun to decline and the younger generation of Russians and Poles are settling for beer which has low alcoholic content. In most other countries, vodka has replaced gin (which also looks like water but is as potent as vodka), the base for making cocktails. It is rarely taken on the rocks in western countries or in India. I am sure decisions taken by some of our state governments to make beverages with low alcoholic contents like light ale, lager, cider and fruit drinks is sensible. Prohibition has proved a costly failure wherever and whenever it has been imposed. Controlled, sensible drinking short of getting drunk is good for a person's health and minimises governmental interference in people's private lives.
There are pesticides in bottled water
There is metal in vegetables and greens
How can I use ground water?
Washing of vegetables is beyond my means!
I asked KS, "What is the solution"?
He gave me advice, frank and fine.
"Eat roasted meat twice a day.
Instead of water, drink foreign wine!"
(Courtesy: G.C. Bhandari, Meerut)