I Painted It.

This is a painting called Guernica by Pablo Picasso about which a story has been doing the rounds in WhatsApp. I have tried to check the veracity of the story with no success. Wikipedia has this comment: “Picasso lived in Paris during the German occupation during World War II. A German officer allegedly asked him, upon seeing a photo of Guernica in Picasso’s apartment, “Did you do that?” Picasso responded, “No, you did.”

I reproduce the story as received in WhatsApp as, I find it quite impressive.

The coolest line in history

During the Nazi occupation of Paris, Pablo Picasso was taken to be “interrogated” by a special branch of Gestapo that had been set up to handle intellectuals and artists.

The officer who confronted Picasso, in spite of being a Gestapo thug, was almost polite, spoke good French and seemed even educated. A rarity.

The Nazi policeman gestured Picasso to sit in front of his desk, then he produced a photo of the now world famous “Guernica”, the large painting that depicts Picasso’s take on the Nazi bombing of the Spanish town of the same name during the Spanish Civil War.

With that facial expression that at the same time betrays tolerance toward a recognized genius and anger for a misdeed of the same genius, the Nazi pointed at the photo and said with a harsh voice:
“Picasso! Have you done this?”

The reply of Picasso was worthy of a Nobel Prize, a Pulizer and an Oscar…

Said he:
“No, you did it!.
I only painted it”

Unpleasant Encounters.

I came up with this topic for this week’s 2 on 1 Friday post as just last Friday, I was in a meeting where we discussed the law and order situation in many parts of India and discussed in length the phenomenon of “Encounter Deaths.”

Like in all such issues, there are two sides to the story and what is not mentioned in the news report is the gross understaffing of police forces throughout our nation and the long judicial processes that take for ever to punish criminals and even allowing some of them to commit further crimes by granting them bail. The public puts pressure on politicians to solve the problems created by these criminals and the encounter killings solve many of these issues. Human Rights organisations and the liberals however cast other aspersions like calling them caste/religious killings but, they do not seem to come up with solutions to the problems that I have mentioned at the start of this paragraph.

The discussion reminded me of my own encounters with the police, one, unpleasant and the others surprisingly very pleasant and result oriented. Since this post is about the unpleasant ones, let me restrict myself to that encounter.

It was late 1975 during our national emergency period that this happened. I was travelling from Kerala to Tamil Nadu in a company owned car that was being driven by a company employed driver. We had crossed over into Tamil Nadu when we were stopped by a police officer and a constable who asked us for documents and we produced whatever they asked for. While this was going on, the constable took the driver aside and asked for a bribe and the latter came across to me and conveyed the message. Since we were not doing anything illegal I refused to oblige and my nightmare started.

We were taken to the first police station inside Tamil Nadu and the inspector made an entry in the case book there with an offence which was non bailable. I insisted on contacting someone to get me a lawyer and was allowed to make a phone call from the police phone. Those were days without the modern cell phones and even that little consideration was made to appear as though a big favour was being extended to me. The officer noticing that the car was registered in Kerala and under the impression that I may not have contact inside Tamil Nadu was stumped when within an hour of my telephone call, the most famous lawyer from Coimbatore landed up at the police station to bail me out while the recipient of my phone call was able to contact the Director General of Tamil Nadu Police to instruct the police station to release me on bail despite the matter being an non bailable one. I heard the wireless instruction while still in the police station and the officer for the first time felt that he had perhaps taken on more than he could chew. In the meanwhile, my driver and I had spent six hours in the police lock up.

Having already registered an offence the officer had to go through the motions but we had to move higher court to force the police to register a case and prosecute as they were not prosecuting knowing that they would lose the case. I couldn’t however, keep the matter without resolution and forced the issue.

After four hearings including the one at the higher court to force prosecution, the Magistrate heard the case, heard the witnesses, inspected the documents and took five minutes to record a Not Guilty judgement and also passed strictures against the officer concerned. All this was possible, I suspect, because by the time that the final hearing came up, the emergency had been lifted and things were different.

For a while, my lawyer and I contemplated suing the officer for defamation and wrong confinement but, because I was already posted out of Kerala to Mumbai by then, and had already spent a small fortune on the matter, I decided not to pursue the matter any further.

There were however some very disappointed rival colleagues who were hoping that I would go to jail which would have affected my growth in the company.

I am sure that Shackman will have some equally interesting anecdote/s and I request you to go over to his blog to read what he has to say on the topic. Thank you.

A Remarkable Career.

My friend Rajinder posted this image on my WhatsApp page.


Below the image he had written in Hindi a statement translated into English – “This is how young boys grow up to become engineers.”

I couldn’t resist the temptation to post a response and posted this image.

At the bottom, I added in Hindi the message – “This is how young boys grow up to be Captains of ships.”

A little background. Rajinder and I go back to the eighties of the last century when we were both colleagues selling to gullible customers in our Himalayan Region. We made one memorable trip together there and I had met him during many other occasions at our offices. He decided that being a salesman was not what he wanted to do and so went to sea.  We lost track of each other all these years, but thanks to modern social media reestablished contact recently.


Rajinder eventually retired as a Merchant Marine Captain a few years ago. A remarkable achievement for a landlubber from the interiors of our vast country and particularly from the hills!

Rajinder reestablished contact with me on Face Book some time ago  and we have been in regular touch since then exchanging messages mostly on WhatsApp or over the telephone.  Apart from this interesting background, he is also a poet of Hindi verse and posts many couplets on Face Book.

Post retirement, he has settled down in Jaipur, a town that is 700 Kms from the nearest Port!  Like me, he too spends a lot of time in his garden and with his dog.

He has promised to make a trip to Pune to meet me personally and I eagerly look forward to it.

Freedom.


“Where the mind is without fear
and the head is held high, 
where knowledge is free.

Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls.

Where words come out from the depth of truth,
where tireless striving stretches its arms toward perfection.


Where the clear stream of reason has not lost it’s way
into the dreary desert sand of dead habit.

Where the mind is led forward by thee 
into ever widening thought and action.

In to that heaven of freedom, my father,
  LET MY COUNTRY AWAKE!”

Rabindranath Tagore.

Need I say any more?

I have suggested this topic for this week’s Friday 2 on 1 Blog Post where Shackman and I write on the same topic.  Please do go over to Shackman’s blog to read what he has to say on the topic.  Thank you.

Which Mythical Lost Treasure Do You Think Is Real? Why?


My fellow 2 on 1 blogger Shackman has suggested this intriguing topic for this Friday post. I bet that he will come up with some great myth but I have to simply share with my readers this article in the Forbes Magazine to say that I don’t think that it is real. I know that it is real.  It was not lost either.  It was just hidden away and faith kept it that way for centuries safe from marauding invaders and colonists.

From childhood, I had been hearing stories about the treasures in the temple and it has taken over seven decades for all that to be proved right.

There are any number of stories like this in indeed but, I doubt that anything can come close to this one for the sheer wealth kept away in vaults. You simply have to google for Indian lost treasures and you will see what I mean.

Another not quite lost treasure but a very interesting clip on one of India’s greatest kingdoms.  Not much known outside a small community of Sikhs and their admirers like me.

And, before you see the clip, please remember to go over to Shackman’s blog to see what he has to say on the topic.

Is Liberalism Dead?

Let me straight away confess that this topic for today’s 2 on 1 Friday posts by Shackman and me has been inspired by a remarkable book by Rudrangshu Mukherjee, “Twilight Falls On Liberalism”. It is a concise book which one can easily finish reading in one sitting if one is not distracted by domestic chores etc. In fact, as one starts reading it, one wishes that there will be no distractions.

RM looks at the issue of liberalism from the point of view of a historian and despite being in opposite ideological camps, I found his writing interesting though I don’t agree to some of the conclusions that he comes to about India. His choice of a message on the cover of the book – “Bigotry nurtured by a political ideology has made people, as it always does, blind and intolerant” clearly places him on the Liberal side! And, by inference, since I point that out, me, on the illiberal side.

The word “Liberal” means different things to different people but, in India is used mostly by people who have studied in the English Medium stream, still heavily under what we call Macaulayism. This self called elite, derisively called the Elite Liberal Intellectual Mafia (ELIMs) by lesser mortals, live mostly in cities and have no clue about the culture and value system of the vast majority of Indians who live in semi urban and rural areas of India. These vast majority march to completely different drum beats and the so called Liberals here do not understand that rhythm or value system. They exchange their views in the English media and condemn the populace who elects others perceived to be illiberals by their standards. So, if you were to read Indian newspapers in English, you will find words like majoritarianism, nationalism, patriotism, communalism, bigotry etc which mean different things to the English speaking minuscule minority and different and positive emotions for the vast majority of Indians.

John Stuart Mill put it well: “It is hardly possible to overrate the value … of placing human beings in contact with persons dissimilar to themselves, and with modes of thought and action unlike those with which they are familiar. Such communication has always been, and is peculiarly in the present age, one of the primary sources of progress.” The problem with the Liberals of today is that they think that all the others who do not think like themselves are illiberal and are not worth the bother.  The others on the other hand, are not even aware of the existence of the so called liberal thought and how it tries to become the deep state.

It is this dichotomy that Rudrangshu Mukherjee has sensed and used to juxtapose to a global trend and comes to the conclusion that Liberalism is in its twilight days. I agree entirely with him on his conclusion but, am disappointed that he has not suggested a liberal solution to what he considers to be the problem.  I wish that I  could but, accept that I cannot and just be happy that I understand why Liberalism is in its twilight years and leave it at that.

Please do go over to Shackman’s blog to see what he has to say on the same subject. I am willing to bet that he will be, for one of those rare occasions, on a very different wave length than mine.