The USA Overtakes India In Unpopularity!

Congratulations USA. You have just overtaken us Indians as the most unpopular nation on earth. I quote from The New York times – “Polling in Pakistan shows that a majority of Pakistanis blame America for the country’s internal violence. India comes in second place, and al-Qaeda and the militancy comes in third place. Any time that you are outpolling India as the bad guy in Pakistan, you’re in deep, deep trouble.”

This is by Bruce O. Riedel, an expert on South Asia, who has worked for the CIA, Pentagon, and The National Security Council. I strongly urge my readers to read the full interview.

Along with it comes another very interesting news item from a completely different source, high up within the Pakistani establishment. This is about the Pakistani resolve to flush out the Taliban from the Swat valley. I do not wish to elaborate and leave my readers to judge for themselves the seriousness of the problem from this news article.

The possibility of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal falling into the hands of the Taliban and by extension, Al Queida has been a worrying thought for the West for quite some time. It does worry me too, but other, possibly more influential brains are perhaps already worrying over that possibility. Heavens help us all, if they are not.

My concern in writing this post is to highlight a factor that has not received the attention that it deserves. In fact, no important leader has thought through the possibility that if Pakistan and Afghanistan, do come under the control of the Taliban, and I give it a fifty-fifty probability, both the USA and India will have a major problem. That will be the fleeing refugees from Pakistan. How the Indian state and the USA will react, is anybody’s guess. Indians will react very violently. I have no doubts whatsoever on that score.

I am not an alarmist. There is a significant, educated minority in Pakistan which will not accept the rule of the Taliban and they will seek refuge firstly in the USA and other Western countries and secondly in India. I dread that possibility for what can happen to the latter and consequently to Indian Muslims with familial ties in Pakistan, and as a fall out, many other uninvolved Indian Muslims. It will not all be one sided and Hindus of India will also be affected and we may well see another blood bath comparable to what happened at the time of partition in 1947. Here is a pictorial depiction.

I urge my readers to do whatever it is that they can do to influence policy, towards the elimination of the Taliban, Al Quida, Lashkar e Toiba etal. If we do not do so, the cost in human lives will be greater than anything that the world has ever seen before.

Human Rights? Terrorists Are Animals.

We have a peculiar problem with the lone terrorist who was caught alive during the November 26, 2008 Mumbai carnage. No lawyer is willing to provide legal assistance to him and the so and so has asked for help from Pakistan. Some Indian right wing organizations have threatened lawyers who are willing to provide legal aid to him with dire consequences if they did.

On a public interest litigation, the matter has gone up to our Supreme Court and one judge has called terrorists animals and that Human Rights organizations should not intercede on their behalf but Animal Rights organizations should. Please take some time and read this.

I take serious objection to this observation by the learned Judge. I made the mistake once of calling terrorists animals, and my very dear friend Prasad corrected me and I completely endorse his view that terrorists are not animals. Animals do not attack, maim or kill for reasons other than for their own food or in self/progeny protection. To call terrorists animals is to degrade animals.

It is however interesting to see how the Indian press, legal profession and activists are reacting to this drama. More than interesting is to see how Pakistan has been handling this matter, one day disowning the terrorist, another day accepting him, another day suggesting that he is actually dead and the FBI, and other investigating agencies from across the world who saw him and interrogated him actually saw an Indian imposter and so on and so forth.

In between, to add some spice to the stew, along comes Mr. David Milliband, the current Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of the UK, who almost succeeded in derailing Indo-British relations with his equating the Mumabai carnage to the problem in Kashmir. The Lashkar e Toiba, immediately said that it will cease all its terror activities if Kashmir would be made independent! Read about this entire comedy here.

Then comes along the new President of the USA extending a completely different approach to the Muslim world than his predecessor, which in turn generates great heat and or appreciation from the American press.

I think that what should be treated with the utmost seriousness is becoming a joke.

I bleed.


The computer on which I do all my work sits on one corner of our drawing cum dining room. This room opens out to a bed room currently occupied by my father. When he exits the room, he cannot fail to see the corner where the computer is located and who is using it.

Sometimes, when some major work is needed to be done, our son Ranjan, uses this computer when his laptop is inadequate for the purpose.

I have been noticing that whenever Ranjan uses the computer, and if my father happens to come out of his room, he will directly go to that corner, stand behind the chair and place his hands on Ranjan’s shoulders from behind and make some innocuous conversation for a few minutes with him and go about doing whatever he set out to do in the first place. This is nice to see as my father is not very demonstrative and it is touching to see this happen time and again. This happened again this morning and I started musing about the relationship between them.

Ranjan is the first grandchild for my parenets. 37 years ago when Ranjan was a baby, my father on his way back from work would make a detour and stop by my apartment and pick up Ranjan and take him away to his home a couple of kilometers away. I would get a telephone call to this effect at my office and would then organize an evening out for me and Urmeela downtown. Later, on our way back home, we would stop by at my parents’ place to pick up Ranjan. We would inevitably see Ranjan fast asleep on my father’s chest, while the latter would be lying down prone on a divan. My father too would be half asleep but would be patting Ranjan on his back and murmuring some nursery rhyme or the other like Ba ba blacksheep, have you any wool or Jack and Jill went down the hill. We would hate to disturb the peaceful sight but we would and with much reluctance, my father would part with Ranjan.

Almost four decades later, the bonding between them is still very strong and both of them indulge each other quite shamelessly. Although he does not make a song and dance about it, I am sure that my father is very happy that Ranjan is living with us. He is happiest when he could sit down for a meal with Ranjan, which is rare.

We have a saw in India in almost all our languages that says that the interest is far more appealing than the capital, meaning that the grandchild is far more appealing than the children. If proof was needed for this, you simply have to see the two of them together. We recently had our nephew Simon come over from the UK and spend some time with us. The same thing could be seen and I understand from my siblings that with all the grandchildren he is a softy. We used to call our father Tiger, when we were small, and leave it to your imagination to understand why!

One of my brothers and my sister are both grandparents, and the way they go on about their grandchildren can drive others nuts. I am yet to experience this emotion but I am assured by these two, that I am likely to be more mushy than they.

Since this topic is about grandparents, I dug up something that came to me in a forwarded mail a long time ago. Grandparents seen from the eyes of grandchildren and reproduce it below. I hope that you enjoy it.

(Taken from papers written by a class of 8-year-olds)

Grandparents are a lady and a man who have no little children of their own. They like other people’s.

A grandfather is a man, & a grandmother is a lady!

Grandparents don’t have to do anything except be there when we come to see them. They are so old they shouldn’t play hard or run. It is good if they drive us to the shops and give us money. When they take us for walks, they slow down past things like pretty leaves and caterpillars. They show us and talk to us about the colors of the flowers and also why we shouldn’t step on ‘cracks.’ They don’t say, ‘Hurry up.’

Usually grandmothers are fat but not too fat to tie your shoes.

They wear glasses and funny underwear. They can take their teeth and gums out.

Grandparents don’t have to be smart. They have to answer questions like ‘Why isn’t God married?’ and ‘How come dogs chase cats?’ When they read to us, they don’t skip. They don’t mind if we ask for the same story over again.

Everybody should try to have a grandmother, especially if you don’t have television because they are the only grownups who like to spend time with us. They know we should have snack time before bed time, and they say prayers with us and kiss us even when we’ve acted bad.



It’s funny when they bend over; you hear gas leaks, and they blame their dog.

How about some nice mushy comments from all those grandparents out there?

Tender Loving Elder Care.

My blogworld friend Linda interviewed me for her blog on care giving and has put up a post in her blog. She believes that many of my regular readers will enjoy reading the interview and has requested me to direct my readers to her blog.

Linda is a wonderful person and her blog posts are worth reading, even if one is not a caregiver. Every Wednesday, she posts a weekly humorous post which she has decided not to, this week as she believes that her regular Wednesday post readers would rather read the interview with me! Not that she suggests that the interview is comedy, but that is the way she is. Ever inspiring.

You can visit her blog by just clicking here.

How Long Do You Wish To Live?

My niece from Delhi rang me up this morning for some information and after that was done, asked about her grand father’s well being. When I gave her the update, she said something rather appealing. She said that she prayed that she will be as healthy as he is when she grows older. Mind you, she has a long way still to go to be even considered middle aged but with two boisterous young kids, she is already thinking about these matters.

That conversation started me off on reflecting on my family’s longevity and quite where it will take all of us younger generation oldies!

My father’s elder sister who was older than he by three years, passed away last year at the age of 94. She was one Matriarch for her patch of green with all her children kow-towing to her imperial diktats. She was the most hospitable person during my not so affluent days and there were many occasions when I used to drop in unannounced at her place for a meal. She was a wonderful cook and generous to a fault.

My father still has a younger sister four years younger at 88 who is a retired physician. Her husband too is a retired physician, six years older than her at 94, which makes him older than my father.

My father’s other siblings, a sister and three brothers, have all passed away after long fruitful lives. On my maternal side, I have no older generation uncles and aunts but they too, with one exception, lived long fruitful lives.

In our generation, I have innumerable older cousins and some younger ones too. From all indications, it would appear that all of us would also live long fruitful (?) lives.

Which brings me to the big question. What age should one look forward to, as a reasonably good long life? I believe that as long as one can live without depending on others for daily living, and without suffering one can pass away, irrespective of the number of years that one has lived, it would be adequate.

On a lighter vein, this evening, my father was catching up with the news from the South of India from the newspapers from there that are mailed to him. These take a few days from the date of publication to reach us. I just asked him if he had finished reading them as I wished to take out the crossword puzzles. He said that I could have all of them as, he was interested in only reading the obit columns! Keeping track of people from his generation, who kick the bucket! I wonder what goes on in his mind!

Any insights to share?

Learned Vs Learnt.

Microsoft being what it is, has this annoying habit of underlining what it considers to bve incorrect word/s. In my previous post, it has underlined “learnt” and expects me to change it to “learned”. Unlike Bill Gates, I learnt, there it goes underlining it again, my English from the English. So, I undertook some research and found this charming piece of information on the net.

The *prescriptive* answer is:
“learned” should used in phrases such as “a learned professor”, in which case it is pronounced with two syllables.
“learnt” should be used in phrases like “I learnt a valuable lesson today”.

The *descriptive* answer in British English is:
“learned” is used in phrases such as “a learned professor”, in which case it is pronounced with two syllables.
Either “learnt” or “learned” are used interchangably in phrases like “I learnt a valuable lesson today”.

The *descriptive* answer in American English is:
There is no such word as “learnt”. Use “learned” always.

So, there!!

What say Bunc, Conrad and Teeni? (Strictly in alphabetical order!) I wonder how the Canadians and Australians react to it too. What say Jim and Marianna?