Book Review – Home Fire.

I do not normally review books that I read but, when I read something extraordinary, I do. Kamila Shamsie‘s Home Fire comes under this category. I came across this book by accident and bought it at the recommendation of another avid reader friend and I am glad that I did.

The story as accepted by the author is based on the play Antigone and the characters in the book are all named with names similar to those of the play.

The story is about two families of British citizens of Pakistani origin who get trapped in problems of the modern world of terrorism.

Character portrayal is simply brilliant and the conflicting emotions of being Muslim, modern and British with roots in Pakistan are brought out vividly. The background is all too familiar for people who are abreast of what is happening in Britain vis a vis its Muslim population and I for one could not put the book down once I started reading it.

A very unusual treatment of a very troubling situation skilfully articulated by the author, I recommend it to my readers who are readers too.

It is available on both hard copy and kindle formats and I read it on my kindle. At some future date, I intend reading it again. I also intend reading all other books by the author.

Let It Be.

“Faith is a place of mystery, where we find the courage to believe in what we cannot see and the strength to let go of our fear of uncertainty.” Brene Brown in The Gifts Of Imperfection.

All the religions of the world have a closing word or phrase or invocation after a prayer or a hymn or a discourse.  Amen, Ameen, Aymeen in the Abrahamic religions and Thathaasthu and Sadhu Sadhu Sadhu, or Shanti, Shanti, Shanti in the case of Buddhists and Hindus respectively.

Those endings are what I had in mind when I suggested this topic for this week’s Loose Bloggers Consortium where five of us currently write a post with the same topic every Friday.

The four other bloggers who write regularly are, in alphabetical order;  Ashok,  gaelikaa,  Maxi,  and Shackman.  Do drop in on their blogs and see what their take is on this week’s topic. Since some of them may post late, do give some allowance for that too! Ashok too is having prohlems with his blog being down and may or not participate this week.

I use Thathaasthu often.  Thathaasthu directly means “Let it be.”  This is to agree with someone, usually after a blessing or a statement of import. Just this morning I sent a mail to some friends, some of who are among the readers here, reading as follows.

The Taliban in Karachi

There has already been a lot of turf wars between the Mohajirs and the Pashtuns in Karachi and this news item gives me more cause for alarm due to the sheer numbers involved. 

And a much earlier piece.

Sind is already a volatile place and the Mohajirs who do not speak Sindhi are not exactly popular.  Westward, the Balochis do not like either the Mohajirs or the Pashtuns.  And all of them dislike the army which is predominantly Punjabi.

Things are getting from bad to worse in Pakistan with the government / army constantly under attack from the Taliban and local nitwits like the LeT and its offshoots besides the very large presence of Al Quida there.  The drug cartels are all jockeying for position and that too will be a problem on this side of the border with Punjab already a major drug problem state. The Mohajirs have roots on this side of the border.  I have been predicting that we will have a massive refugee problem sooner or later and the climate in India will simply be devastating to the refugees and their relatives on this side of the border. American withdrawal will speed up the process.   What a world we live in!

I got a cryptic response from a friend within five minutes of sending that mail. “Thathaasthu”.

In this case, he agrees that the nightmarish scenario presented by me is inevitable and so says, don’t fret, let it be.  It will all work out!  He has faith and wants me to keep faith too!

What do you think about that cryptic message?  Do you agree?  Will you let it be?

My Nightmare.

I have written about this before and my readers are sure to be aware of the problems that face India’s so far hostile neighbour Pakistan, without my having to elaborate.

The latest in a series of written material about Pakistan, is this book which has been reviewed in The Telegraph. I do not have to read the book to understand what the author has to say, but do have something to say about a scenario that no one has so far covered.

Pakistan has a substantial population spread all over but predominantly concentrated around Karachi, which speaks Urdu. These are called the Mohajirs, or the people who relocated from India at the time of India’s partition and/or their descendants. These are people with relatives still living in India and have many interconnections with India through marriage. These are people who are already facing problems with Sindhi and Punjabi domination and Karachi epitomises that problem with very high incidences of murders and sectarian strife.

If Pakistan collapses, as predicted by many “experts”, I do not have the slightest doubt that India will be faced with a refugee problem comparable to what it faced prior to the formation of Bangladesh.

The scene in India now however is vastly different now, with a very militant Hindu right wing which is unlikely to be accommodating of a new influx of Pakistani Muslims into India and both the refugees and Indian Muslims will face the brunt of such antagonism, the magnitude of which will be difficult to handle.

It is in India’s interest that Pakistan survives successfully as a state and I hope that our leadership, so obsessed with minority appeasement will take this possible scenario in their reckoning before it becomes too late.

Dominion And Stewardship.

Welcome to the Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium where twelve of us write on the same topic. Today’s topic has been chosen by our esrstwhile LBC blogger Magpie who has retired. The ten other bloggers who write regularly are, in alphabetical order, Delirious, gaelikaa, Grannymar, Maria SF, ocdwriter, Padmum, Paul, Rohit, The Old Fossil and Will. Do drop in on their blogs and see what their take is on this week’s topic. Since some of them may post late, do give some allowance for that too!

Dominion: n.
1. Control or the exercise of control; sovereignty:
2. A territory or sphere of influence or control; a realm.
3. often Dominion Abbr. Dom. One of the self-governing nations within the British Commonwealth.

Stewardship: n.
Managing another’s property, finances, or other affairs. (In the context of this topic, managing a colonial possession.)

I wonder if Magpie quite had this in his mind, knowing that an Indian wag will take pot shots at that topic.

India was offered Dominion status by the British, but chose to go the Independent Republic route, while retaining a connection with Britain through the Commeonwealth.

Being an Anglophile, I used to believe that, that choice was a mistake and that India should not have become independent, particularly when, what the old Colonist Churchill’s prediction; “Power will go to rascals, rogues, freebooters; All leaders will be of low caliber & men of straw; They’ll have sweet tongues & silly hearts; They will fight amongst themselves for power & the two countries will be lost in political squabbles; A day would come when even air & water will be taxed.” came true.

I am not so sure now as I see Britain experiencing exactly the same predicament, that Churchill predicted for India and Pakistan. I wonder what that old warhorse will be feeling wherever he is.

What goes around, comes around?


Global warming and Climate change are two terms interchangeably used and or used to establish a cause effect relationship. I am not very well versed in this phenomenon but something that has been happening this year makes me want to learn more about it, and rather than interrupt what I am in the process of learning now, I shall save it for the immediate post surgery period in October.

In Maharashtra in India where I live, the rains traditionally should have left with the Visarjan festival which was on the 11th inst. As I write this, it is raining cats and dogs and the photograph on top and the one below are of the rain’s intensity in my small garden today. Our press reports that the monsoon has not withdrawn as usual, and is expected to continue till the end of September.

My regular reader, known to other readers as Cheerful Monk, has had forest fire followed by flash floods which caused much damage to her property. The Eastern Sea Board of the USA was lashed with hurricanes and the UK and Ireland have been lashed with high winds and rain the last two days. Texas is still experiencing bush fires due to drought conditions. In all these places, I have friends who have been affected one way or the other.

In Pakistan and North and North Eastern parts of India floods have been playing havoc and causing loss of lives and crops/property. Pakistan particularly has been experiencing much damage for the second year running.

My personal experience the last three years has been very erratic behaviour of the seasons in India and particularly where I live.

I believe that something needs to be done but as with most important matters regarding our earth and its inhabitants, politics plays an important part and I have decided to let events unfold and merely be a spectator. I suppose that I can afford to take that stance as unlike Cheerful Monk, I haven’t lost anything. Yet.

Endangered Species.

My class mate and friend Narasimha’s son in law Jyotirmoy Dey was murdered in broad day light yesterday. He was a journalist and a fearless reporter of crime and criminals in Mumbai. It is speculated that he paid the price for exposing a gang operating offshore oil robbery for sale onshore at low prices.

While I share Narasimha’s and his family’s grief at this time of shock, my mind goes to Pakistan where too a journalist was tortured and murdered, speculated to be, by the ISI. Enough has been written about that young brave soul, but what is more shocking to me is this story by Umar Cheema, another brave Pakistani journalist.

Suspicion points to criminal gangs in Mumbai and to the ISI in Pakistan. In the former, political nexus is never far away. Both countries have earned great distinctions.

Journalists seem to have become an endangered species in the sub continent.