Lone Survivor.

lone-survivor

My friend Abhaya often watches movies via satellite TV and when he sees something that he believes will appeal to me, will ask me to see it too. Lone Survivor is one such movie that he had asked me to see a while ago but I could not find the time to see it on a DVD though I got one immediately after his advice.

Let me straight away say that I enjoyed watching it. It is a very unusual film for various reasons and I shall list the reasons below.

It is based on a true story.

It is an action movie where the action overrides bringing out acting skills.  The four main players are under utilised.  Their characters are not allowed to be developed as in a normal film.

Overall direction, camerawork and editing is supreme.

The central message, the hospitality code of the Afghan, or at least that is what I thought it was, has little to say for it in the overall scheme of things.

If you are comfortable with such a presentation, a movie worth spending a couple of hours on at home.

Ethnicity.

I do not know if this ad ran or not during the Super Bowl. It was sent to me by an American of Indian origin who knows my own angst about being called a Hindu.

Like the American Indian, or more aptly the Native American, there is no word Hindu in our scriptures and there is no one size fits all for the so called Hindus.

I have written about it earlier and you may find it quite amusing to re-read it. This post is to talk about the other aspects of being Indian in India.

Like the Navajo would not like to be called a Redskin, I would not like to be called a Madrasi though genetically I am from the South of India, but was born in Western India. And South India itself is divided linguistically into Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, with Malayalam, Tamil, Kannada and Telugu being the local languages respectively.  Since during the British times all these states were part of the Madras province, North Indians insist on calling the whole jing bang lot as Madrasis.  This kind of profiling repeats itself in the rest of the country and it leads to the following problem.

When I am overseas, I introduce myself as an Indian. If I meet an Indian overseas, the first thing he will want to know is which part of India I come from so that he can slot me into the stereotype that he has about people from that part. So, for him I become a Tamilian from Maharashtra and that stumps him as he does not have a ready stereotype to typecast me, and my English stumps him further as the accent is not something that he can identify as being from any one part of the country.

What I would like to impress about India or for that matter, Hindus,  is that you simply cannot stereotype it or its people. I am sure we can’t for all countries with varied cultures within either.

For those who are interested in knowing something about India viewed from an Englishman’s point of view, and who has written extensively about us, here is a video that is worth spending about half an hour on.

Throughout the world there is strife of some kind or the other based on either ethnicity of sectarianism or religion.

In our neighbourhood, in Pakistan, you will find Sindhis, Punjabis, Mohajirs, Baluchis and the Pashtuns defending each individual turf when it comes to ethnic identity but when they now go overseas, claim that they are Muslims from India!  Bangladesh is up in arms between fundamentalists and the so called secularists.

In another neighbouring country, ethnic identity is about to erupt and cause more trouble to an already very troubled country.

So, where does it leave us?  Is Lennon relevant any more?

Wisdom From Afghanistan.


There was a student who had been studying for many years at a madrassa. He had memorized the Koran and learned all the lessons his teacher taught. One day he went to his teacher and said, “I am ready to leave and go be a mullah.”

His teacher said, “I think you should stay here for a few more years.”

“Why?” asked the student. “Is there some additional degree or higher certificate that I will get?”

“No,” said the teacher, “all you will get is wisdom.”

“But I’m ready to be a mullah now,” said the student. And he left the madrassa and wandered from village to village looking for a mosque where he could be the prayer-leader.

Finally the student came to a village where a corrupt old mullah was using the mosque as a stall for his cow. The student was outraged. He gathered the villagers together and told them, “I have studied at a madrassa. I have memorized the Koran. It is a great sacrilege for your mullah to use the mosque as a stall for his cow.”

The villagers beat him up.

The student limped back to the madrassa and told his teacher what had happened. The teacher said, “Follow me.” They went back to the village where the mullah was using the mosque as a stall.

The teacher gathered the villagers together and told them, “I see you have a beautiful cow being kept in your mosque. It must be a very blessed animal. And I hear the cow belongs to your mullah. He must be a very holy man. In fact, I think that this cow is so blessed and your mullah is so holy that if you were to take one hair from the cow’s hide and one hair from the mullah’s beard and rub them together, you would be assured of paradise.”

The villagers ran into the mosque and began plucking hairs from the cow’s hide. The cow started to buck and kick and it bolted from the mosque and disappeared. Then the villagers ran to the mullah’s house and began plucking hairs from the corrupt old mullah’s beard. And they tugged and they yanked so hard at the mullah’s beard that he had a heart attack and died.

“You see,” said the teacher to the student, “no cow in the mosque and a need for a new mullah—that is wisdom.”

Pakistan And The Taliban

Here are two news articles which show something that has been obvious to Indians for long and only now being brought to the knowledge of the general public of the West whose tax money has been spent on Pakistan for many decades.

The conclusion that I come to after reading both is that the establishment in Pakistan, or at least a very influential part of it, is fully aware of and supports the Taliban for its own strategic reasons. This has of course meant that India has been at the receiving end of terrorism but more importantly for my readers from the West, their soldiers in AfPak theater are losing their lives due to the shenanigans of a force supported and encouraged by elements within the Pakistani establishment.

The first one is from an eminent Pakistani columnist Irfan Hussein.

The next one is by Dexter Filkins of the New York Times.

What Have I been doing?

Recently, I have not been blogging as much as I normally do. This has been due to the turmoil that all of us went through post November 26, with telephone calls, emails, group mails, social network alerts and comments on posts etc. This activity has certainly tapered off but has not completely disappeared.

I was also preoccupied with the planning for the arrival of my father to live with us, his arrival and settling him in comfortably. After his arrival, some alterations to the bathroom to suit his convenience had to be arranged for and finally, all was completed to his satisfaction yesterday. His personal effects that have been trucked, is expected to arrive tomorrow and that will take a couple of days to unpack and arrange.

Next week therefore, promises to be busy with the unpacking to start with, my weekly class, and a planned for visit to fit my father with a hearing aid too. So, I may not be able to post much next week too. I am just about managing to keep up with reading my regular bookmarked blogs and commenting on them.

In all this, the horror of the recent terrorist attack has never been far away from my consciousness. There are so many mails and analysis in newspapers, magazines etc that one is not allowed to forget. The paradox of the captured terrorist singing like a canary, seeking forgiveness from India, all those affected and pleading to be sent back to Pakistan is an amazing development. This baby faced monster expects India to do all this? What drama!

If proof was needed that these animals do not have the same normal feelings that we other human beings have, can be summed up by the news item in the BBC. I reproduce it here to illustrate and also give a link for those interested to read the full article. The report is following the visit to Pakistan and Afghanistan by Mr. Gordon Brown, Prime Minister of Britain. Do read on.

“The prime minister’s visit to Afghanistan came a day after four Royal Marines were killed in two separate bomb attacks.

Mr Brown spoke of his “disgust and horror” at the willingness of the Taleban to use a 13-year-old child to deliver a bomb in a wheelbarrow to a Marine patrol, killing three men and the boy.” (Emphasis mine)