Friday, March 30, 2007

"Dilli mein Bujhe Gee Jeet Kee Pyaas" - Pepsi billboard advert(Part 3 of India, Solo on a shoestring)

Pulling into to ‘Dilli’ was a homecoming of sorts. It was a return to the comfort zone of familiarity. I felt a wav of joy overcome me as I marched out of eth bus station and confidently cut an auto driver to size about the rate he was demanding to take me to Bara Khamba road where a friend, Ashish was expecting me. The mad rush of Delhi, and swarms of people were overwhelming but the most striking feature was the relatively clean air. In the days to follow I would zip up and down Delhi in autos but never did I get the dirty feeling that used to get while moving around in Lahore. We seriously need to bring in the buses and auto’s which run on gas at large metropolises in Pakistan.

Ashish did way too much for me. He put me up in the nice Hotel Marina located bang at Indira chowk. I was strategically placed to go anywhere in Delhi and being at Connought Place made getting around a lot easier. Ashish was great person who I got introduced through a teacher of mine when I went to Amritsar in October 2004. His mother was Kashmiri and his father hailed from DG Khan. He was most interested when I told him about DG khan and the tribal belt, which I had visited in February 2004. He also showed me the luxurious side of Delhi by taking Khurrum, Faiza and myself out to dinner at the Pan-Asian in Marriot. Delhi was a true homecoming of sorts for a few reasons and one significant reason was Ashish and his huge heart.

Later that night I was delighted to meet up with an old friend of mine, Ankush, from my days in Moscow. He had gotten married since we last met and brought his wife-Shiva along to pick me up from the Marina. They took me to their house showing me the various sights and sounds of South Delhi, which was largely settled after partition by migrants from Pakistan. I went over to Ankush’s where we caught up on old times and I was taken to dinner to a rather upscale place in some posh market area of South extension. Ankush and Shiva didn’t have to but they went out of their way to make me feel welcome in Delhi. And all this while I was thinking over and over again how Delhi was a homecoming and how people like Ashish, Shiva and Ankush made it worthwhile being there. Over the course of the next few days I kept on running into more and more amazing people.

I went back to the Marina to chill and indulge myself that night after roughing it out for the past week.

The weather was beautiful with cold northern winds in the first five days of my trip but it all ended in heat, more heat and some more heat, not that it deterred me or Khurram and Faiza. Our enthusiasm knew no bounds and despite being up for half the night we would still swear to be up at nine the next morning. I kept my end of the bargain up on the first day but as soon as I figured the fake-enthusiasts out I started going to the Dharmarajans to tie up with them by 11 and eventually by 12. Despite getting late starts we would still make the best of it and see quite a bit.

The best part about going from the Marina in CP all the way close to the Qutub Minar where the Dharmarajans had their wonderful place was the South Indian breakfast. We feasted ourselves on the Iddli, Sambar, Dossa, the chutnee’s and the gravies every single day. And there were the Dharmarajan Grandparents ofcourse. They were so sweet and caring and took precise care of our tastes. Delhi ‘eating’ was so out of this world and the Dharmarajan’s accounted for half of it. People in Lahore tend to think that they know all about eating and food but they don’t come close to Delhi. Delhi is an institution when it comes feeding!

So Khurrum, Faiza and I would grad an Auto from the Dharmarajan’s and we would like to think we were veteran travelers of India after our escapades in Rajasthan and UP so we took great pleasure in driving the hard bargain. I think that Khurum took an exceptional liking to haggling with every shopkeeper that Faiza decided to make apurchase from. I think shopping for the ‘Hussein-Mushtaq’ couple meant that Faiza got to do the choosing and Khurrum got to do all the haggling.

Delhi is a jumble of memories and what follows is not necessarily in the order that it happened. For instance what follows immediately is an account of my third or fourth day in Delhi........

The second day I spent in Delhi was a Sunday and it was the Pakistan India final. It was not the most festive of days, especially when the Indian batting order collapsed. I think as long a Dravid was around there was hope but once he departed, the moods kind of plummeted. It was interesting to note how the general mood on the street was affected so badly. Delhi emitted an aura of sadness. I was watching the game at Ankush’s and left halfway in the Indian batting to fetch my camera from the Marina. On the way back I started chatting up the auto driver about the cricket game.

“Jab sey Bajpayee jee gayey hain, kuch bhee sahee nahin ho raha india mein”

“But Vajpayee jee was ousted from office in an election. The Congress won its way into power fair and square. (I never thought I would see the day when a Pakistani would be rooting for the Congress!)

“Magar Vajpayee jee ki kiya baat thee. Jab sey Kangres ayee hai, tab sey kuch bhee nahin ho raha. Koi cheej nahin chalti. Sab kuch mehanga ho gaya hai. Sab kuch kharaab para hai”

“Magar akhir Indians ney Manmohan jee ko vote diya tau voh power mein aye?”

“Magar BJP kee aur baat thee. India bohat mahan tha tab… Jab see Manmohan aya hai…us ko tau baat nahin karna aati! Humein uss kee awaz nahin aati!!”

I think it was going to be futile holing political discussion with the die-hard BJP supporter

“Kiya baat thee vajpayee jee kee…kiya baat theee…”

I thought the auto was going to melt with in the heat and the added pressure of nostalgia for the BJP days.

After making it back to Ankush’s in East Kailash, Shiva got worked up about going out and showing me Delhi. Oh cool I thought, Delhi exploring time!

After an hour of driving I found myself staring at tall steel and glass structures, and shopping malls and more shopping malls and a couple more shopping malls. I asked Shiva where we were, and she proudly replied Gurgaon! An hour later Shiva was shooting daggers at a shopkeeper for quoting a price of around ten thousand rupees for a shirt. The Indian upper and middle classes are definitely in full swing at Gurgaon.

Later on I took Ankush and Shiva to the Turquoise Cottage where Khurrum and Faiza were meeting up with another friend of theirs called Swamia. It was brilliant seeing them again and we immediately started swapping stories and adventures of Agra and Jaipur. Apparently Khurrum was now the self-declared kind of bargain shopping. After Khurrum and Faiza finished eating and Swamia left, Ankush offered to take us for a drive to New Delhi or otherwise referred to as Lutyens Delhi. We piled into Ankuhs’s swanky Chevrolet and zoomed down Aurobindo Marg towards New Delhi.

India gate looked imposing at night and the 'Raj Path' was impressive. Actually the 'Raj Path' was ‘Massive’. Its only after gazing at the structure that one gets a fair idea of how huge India is. Another word that comes to mind is ‘Regal’. After the walk to Raj Path Ankush complained about hunger and took a decision on taking his esteemed guests to ‘The Oberoi’.

“What’s that?”

My ignorant self asked him.

“Just wait and see….”

The Oberoi is class, more class and some more class. It has got to be the classiest hotel in Delhi. Khurrum described it aptly to Ankush.

“Well, if the idea was to impress us then let me say that you have succeeded”

Ankush beamed. I think there was a bottle of wine on the list for close to a hundred thousand rupees. Well then….it is THE Oberoi after all. I got dropped off at the Marina on the way home and snuggled in bed shortly after that.

The next day I discovered that Khurrum was a sucker for ruins. We went to check out Tughlaqabad at the farthest outpost of Delhi. The ruins of Mohammed Tughlaq’s city were quite enchanting and excavation work was still underway. The underground market was almost haunting and it was bizarre experience to be walking around the ruins, which were the way they were because of the curse of Nizam-ud-din Aulia. We then ended up in one of Delhi’s famed public transport environmentally friendly buses. This was Khurrum’s fantastic idea, which resulted in us coming very close to suffering sunstroke. It had to be close to forty degrees on that day and the ride lasted for a good hour and half. We got off at a Delhi metro station with a McDonald’s outside when the ride refused to end even after more than an hour of traveling. I was immediately reminded of Yuko and ‘Macudonarudo’…better resist the big temptation. It didn’t seem right to be having McDonald’s in Delhi, with so much wonderful local cuisine to go around so I gorged myself on the chilled water, which was for FREE while the couple indulged themselves.

We then hopped on to a cycle rickshaw, which was to take us to the Red fort in Shahjahanabad, right in the heart of Old Delhi. The fort was well maintained and was nice. I didn’t enjoy the fort as much as I should have because of two reasons. One was the heat and the second was my swanky digital camera crapping out on me. It just started misbehaving and then just died on me. Hence I could take no more photographs of the Indian Odyssey, which was a real bummer. The café in the red fort was also very serene. It was done up very nicely and we had aloo paratha with yogurt. After letting the sun climb a little lower in the sky, we made our way out of the red fort and while passing through the bazaar I noticed some guy getting violently slapped by another man. I think it was a couple of shopkeepers fighting over some tourist related issue. The commercialism in India gets to be overbearing at times.

The cycle rickshaws we hired next were to take us to pay our respects at Gandhi Jee’s Samadh (Samadh-where he was cremated). I started making faces at Khurrum and Faiza as my driver overtook them. A while later they overtook me and looked real smug about it, which was not acceptable. I think the afternoon sun beating down on my head had something to do with it. I told the river to park to the side and let me in the drivers seat. As soon as I settled in I started peddling like there was no tomorrow. I peddled and peddled but they still beat me to it by ten seconds! If that Sardar Jee hadn’t opened the door to his vehicle then I wouldn’t have braked. Hmmm. I demanded that the driver pay me the agreed fare, since I peddled four fifths of the way. He was highly amused and offered to pay but I decided the joke had gone far enough.

Gandhi’s Samadh was tranquil place where a flame is always kept burning. There was music blaring from speakers, which I am sure, was there to add to the ambience but the serenity of the place was being diluted. However it was an experience to walk around the compound of the man who moved hundreds of millions of people. The three of us took a quiet walk around the compound soaking in the aura of the place.

Khurrum then suggested that since we had done Tughlaqabad in the earlier part of the day, now it was time to do Sher Shah Suri’s Purana Qila. We caught an Auto and stopped right in front of his Mosque, which only gave glimpses of its past grandeur. We climbed to the top of it to try and see where the entrance to the Old fort may be. We walked around here and there but failed to find it. The sun was setting now and the cell phone had registered calls from Ankush, Ashish and Swamia who I had met last night at the TC.

Ankush gave me some long awaited news. An old friend of mine had landed in Delhi. It was Amr and he was already a legend in Delhi. A total basket case, Amr defied the law of gravity. Ever since we had been in India bumming around, he had traveled from Bombay all the way to Chandigarh and into Delhi. He pulled this feat off in the time span of no more than 24 hours. Lunacy knows no bounds and since my days in Moscow Amr had only grown more and more into it. It was great seeing that genuine smile and getting a feel for his open heartedness after so long. To my pleasure Amr had carried on from exactly where he let off in Moscow. He knew how to get people in every bar in Delhi and he also knew how to make the booze flow like water.

I can’t remember which evening this is but after a blistering hot day I insisted that we visit Humayun’s tomb. Khurrum was going on and on about snooping around for more ruins but Faiza and I prevailed. By then I had my geographic bearings put right so I guided the Auto driver to the tomb just off Lodhi road. Quite pleased with myself we barged into Humayun’s tomb on a free day and for once we didn’t have to lie to get tickets at local rates. I think that Humayun as an emperor was the most inept and possibly represented the pits of Mughal rule in India but he certainly has the best tomb out of all the Mughal. The structure is classical Mughal and is the obvious precursor to the Taj. I looked hard at the tomb and I could have sworn that I could envision the Taj in it. The red sandstone structure uses marble sparingly and embodies simplicity and subtlety. It is not an overpoweringly grand structure but is spectacular nonetheless. It was the first Mughal emperor’s tomb to be built in India and my take on it is that it is the first significant transportation of Central Asian and Persian architecture into India.

Later that evening we went to this place called Dilli Haat to take advantage of the free entry for Pakistani’s offer. A guy stopped us at the gate but Khurrum loudly proclaimed his nationality and barged right in. On the inside it was a quiet place with loads of handicrafts for sale. We decided to make a beeline for the food parlor. Each state had a stall dedicated to its cuisine in Dilli Haat and it was a lip-smacking proposition to be trying out some exotic cuisine. As I weaved my way through the various handicraft stalls from all over India I noticed a few youngsters bargaining with a salesman. They seemed very Pakistani to me. Something about their demeanor gave them off as Lahoris and something about the females’ demeanor gave them off as Grammarians…


I thought I heard my name behind me but I shrugged it off.

“Oh my gosh, what are you doing here!”

I flipped around to see a friend of mine from college, Amina Ijaz’s pleasantly surprised face beam at me. It was wonderful seeing a familiar face at that point. We immediately squatted on a bench and started swapping stories of the match; the lucky girl had actually been here. She had had taste of crowd trouble, which was not at all well appreciated. Then we caught up on stories form here and there and I yakked on about my ‘travails’. She said she was expecting a couple of friends to arrive in a day or two so we should get together to do something fun. I acquiesced and we exchanged numbers to catch up later. Her little sister butted in the middle of our conversation.

"Hey amina, what time you want to move from here!"

"Acha naa, hang on let me get Rizwan’s phone number and then we will go”

“Oh, so you know this guy?”

“Of course I do! It’s Rizwan, from college!”

“Oh…I thought you were chatting up some random Indian guy”

That was an interesting observation that the little brat made but what I wanted to know was whether that was an insult or not? And if it was, whom was it directed towards? I actually got to know Amina better in India than I ever did at college. She is a nice girl and we had some good times over the next few days in Delhi. The Delhi experience actually received a boost because of her and her friends, Sana and Saira. They became more popularly known in Delhi as “Devi’s”, courtesy Amr, which was actually very nice of him, especially since they were repeatedly referring to him as their “Suga’ Daddy”.

“We lost at Lahore last year but still the Indian fans did the bhangra at the Mall in Lahore till midnight after the final, and we couldn’t even do the cheers openly in the stadium!” she wailed.

“So which cheers were these, Pakistan Zindabad and the likes?”

“Well those too but there was this particular cheer where one person would stand up and yell ‘Nara-e-Sui’ and everyone else would yell in chorus ‘Oieeee’”.

After we parted, Khurrum/ Faiza and I also decided to call it a night. I got into in Auto and asked to be taken to the Marina. By this time I was an expert on how to get from Aurobindo Marg to CP.

Amr had alighted upon Delhi and that very evening Ankush and Shiva invited me and my friends i.e. Khurrum and Faiza along with the Devi’s to dinner. Shiva had arranged for a wonderful home cooked vegetarian meal preceded by a few swipes at Ankush’ prized bar. Khurrum, Amr and I went about doing justice to that immediately. As soon as the mood upgraded itself to a higher level Amr went back to his old ways and started making preposterous suggestions i.e. taking a trip to Bombay and back by road in 48 hours. To make matters worse, Khurrum was actually tempted but rationality prevailed and Faiza brought an abrupt ending to such connivance.

After dinner and a rather silly debate between Ankush and Khurrum about whose country was better, Amr decided for all of us that the way to go was Lizard’s Lounge where he had a rather special relationship with the owner. So we made our way over to south Delhi’s most happening nightclub on that specific evening and crashed the Lizards Lounge at 11 in the night. Amr took over the bar and turned the taps on and made stuff flow like water. At 3 am and an eternity of fun and dancing later Amr and I went to drop the Devi’s off. We found out the day after, that the girls’ coming home that late was not on with Amina’s guardians and they immediately imposed a curfew. Amr and I duly returned to Lizards Lounge to discover that Ankush, Shiva, Khurrum and Faiza had also pushed off by then. We stuck around watching Delhi’ Assamese community party on, which had taken over the lounge by then, for another hour or so when we pushed off as well. Amr took me to his place and I crashed there.

The next morning I checked out of the Marina and moved in with Amr, which was right next door to the Dharmarajan’s. This meant that scrumptious south Indian breakfasts were just around the corner.

Over the next coupe of days we hung out with Swamia who was a very nice friendly girl. She took us to Fab India where we spent an afternoon dressing up and purchased loads of kurta’s. Swamia was this really cool girl who Khurrum knew from his past visit to India couple of years back. She had actually bothered staying in touch and invited the three of us to dinner at her house on the IIT campus where her dad was faculty. We went over in the evening for dinner and Swamia’s Dad treated us to some vintage Gujarat wine. There was a bit of sediment at the end of the bottle which I choked on but apart from that I am now officially a fan of the Riviera brand. After a few glasses Swamia’s dad wanted to know whether I had started my autobiography to his daughter or not. I replied in the negative and it was decided that we would eat now.

Earlier in the day Khurrum, Faiza and I started our day from CP and after exchanging valuable dollars we made a move to New Delhi’s prime shopping street, the Janpath. It was there where my favorite eating-place was located, the fantastic Sarvana Bhavan. I recommend this place for anyone who is a sucker for south Indian food and I am absolutely nuts about it. I would have every meal that was possible at the Sarvana Bhavan and we were gorging ourselves out of palm leaves that the restaurant serves its food in, when Amina turned up from nowhere. After lunch we went to loiter about Janpath and Khurrum got downright serious about bargaining since Faiza had already gotten serious about shopping. Meanwhile, Amina and I amused ourselves by chatting up on all the girls who I found ‘hot’ and ‘attractive’ and why I found them so.

The next day was my last day in Delhi and I tied up with the Devi’s about going Sari shopping in Karol Bagh. Amina had forgiven me for my behavior a day earlier and mouths dropped open at the limits I was capable of crossing as the story was repeated to Saira and Sana. I bought 2 while Sana and Amina who weren’t supposed to buy any bought more than me. Women. Quite pleased with the deal I was getting I looked at the receipt but I thought something was amiss. Every night I heard stories about Khurrum’s legendary bargaining skills and here I was getting a good deal and not really bargaining. I decided to pick a fight with the salesperson and demanded that he sell me a 1200-rupee sari for 300. I thought a proposition as preposterous as this should bring the house down. It did. The sales people started laughing at me and the ladies began to pretend they didn’t know me. I politely took leave, paid for the Sari’s and walked out of the store. We stuffed ourselves in an auto and made our way to south Delhi and finally ate at Haldi Ram’s where we also bumped into Khurrum and Faiza. It seemed like all the things on our list that were left were being done on the last day.

The most significant and symbolic thing to do on the last day was to visit Hazrat Nizam-ud-din’s Dargah. It was located close to Humayun’s tomb but Ankush didn’t know the way so I was very pleased to be giving him directions on how to get to the Dargah from east of Kailash. I now considered myself a Delhi veteran. The Dargah was less crowded than Ajmer Sharif and the conmen weren’t crowding the place, which was a relief. It was Eid Milad and a substandard qawwali was in progress so I took the time to walk around and paid my respects to Hazrat Amir Khusrau Dehlvi. We had been sitting there for almost an hour when Sana pointed to Hazrat Nizam-ud-din’s tomb and raised a question.

“Who is buried there?”

Khurrum turned to face her and asked her whether she was serious about not knowing where we were after all we had been going on and on about Hazrat Nizam-ud-din for several days now. Amina and Saira piped in that even they didn’t know who he was so Khurrum took it upon himself to educate the Devi’s about the significance of Hazart Nizam, the Sufi saint who would stand up to Kings and was subservient to absolutely no one.

Later in the evening I packed at Amr’s house and got my gear ready to go. We started our final evening off by chilling at possibly the most up scaled lounge in Delhi called, Shalom, and courtesy Amr of course. After footing skyscraping bills we moved on to our favorite Lizards Lounge and then it was curfew time for the Devi’s. Goodbyes were said and Amina and I vowed to meet on the other side of the border. Being with the Devi’s was a load of fun and some really fond memories of Delhi are associated with them.

Amr and I went back to Lizards lounge where Vincy, Amr’s boss/friend had turned up along with a female friend of theirs. The three of them decided to take me to this other joint in south extension, which was shut by the time, we got there. “Never mind” Amr said and sped straight to another club called ‘Oxygen’. Vincy, the female, Amr and I entered the club and went straight to the bar. I was too bushed by that time to do anything so I just stood by the bar checking the crowd out. There was something out of the ordinary here but I just couldn’t place it. I placed it precisely as soon as an oversized old Scandinavian made his way over to me, smiling from ear to ear.

"Halo! "

"Hi" I reponded tersely.

"You aa aaving some fun?"

“Yeah, I am alright."

"You want to aave some fun wid me baad boy?" and he blew me a kiss.

Amr had led me to a gay haunt. I desperately shot looks around the club looking for escape routes instead I saw Amr, Vincy and their female friend doubling over in laughter. I jumped out of range of the Scandinavian who was still beckoning me to come on to the dance floor and get ‘Jiggy’ with him. So now I know what girls mean when they say they ran into some ‘sleazy’ guy.

It was close to four in the morning and Amr displayed no signs of moving from Oxygen anytime before 9 am but the only catch was, my bus would leave at 6 and I had to report at Ambedkar Terminal an hour before. In his characteristic ‘Amr’ fashion he procrastinated till the last possible minute and then drove like a maniac to his house where I grabbed my bag. We sped over next door to the Dharmarajan’s where Khurrum and Faiza had gone nuts trying to locate me and were about to leave for the terminal.

"And where the hell have you been?"

“I …I…”

“Okay.. okay, no sweat are you packed and ready to go?”

“Yeah I am all set.”

“Okay load up in the van and let’s get going… And before I forget ...thanks for not turning up at the movie!”

Oh crap, I just remembered that I was supposed to join khurrum and Faiza at Cineplex in Saket for Mumbai Express. I apologized and they said it was okay. Amr then took us to a roadside temple where we prayed for a safe return journey and we bid Farwell to the lunatic of Delhi.

Post Note

I slept most of the way on the bus waking up at the scheduled stops. As the bus sped through the Punjabi heartland I thought this should be on the cards next, maybe a soul searching sort of a trip in Gurdaspur district, Patiala, Ludhiana and Jullundhar.

I also thought of all that had happened and what would be the most poignant thing about the trip. Too many things came to mind and it was tough to single out one thing, which was vintage material. I guess it’s the people who I met. It was wonderful meeting my old friends, especially Amr the lunatic after several years but the kind of people who made this trip really worth it were the new ones. The Tonga drivers in Ajmer who cussed Pakistan out, Dilshaad Qureshi the encyclopedia, Sattar Bhai in Jaipur, the folks on the bus to Pushkar and Ajmer and the likes. I liked talking to these people and trying to sketch the face of India.

Put together complexes, contradictions, confusions, beauty, ugliness, banality and profundity... and then you have India. I look forward to going back some day and this time it has to be southward bound. The food is just…

UP!: Agra and Fatehpur Sikri (Part 2 of India: Solo on a shoestring)

I arrived at the Hotel Kamal at 11 in the night and the owner was impatiently waiting for me to turn up. He looked at me up and down and asked for my documents. They were all in place and he issued me room. I dumped off my gear and came out again where h was fretting about photocopies. I told him to chill and that I would get copies done first thing in the morning but he went paranoid. I told him that my passport was non-reporting and it wasn’t going to be an issue and I hadn’t turned in my documents to the hotel in Jaipur until 24hours after my arrival. That is when he went on about me being the first Pakistani to stay at any hotel in the Taj Ganj area and that everyone was going to be talking about it and he didn’t know how to deal with Pakistani’s and how terrorism in India was rampant etc. How I wouldn’t be allowed to stay there but over the phone I sounded like a foreigner and besides it was too late in the night to turn me away. I thanked him for his kindness and asked if I could get a bite to eat while he was till in a magnanimous mood.

I sat down in the restaurant to eat and he joined me and asked me where my family was originally from. I told him Gurdaspur in present day Indian Punjab. He told me that his family was from Gujranwala. He then asked me how come my last name was Bajwa. I told him that was because I was a Bajwa. To settle his curiousity I explained how there were Muslim Bajwa’s and Sikh Bajwa’s and that a few generations ago my ancestor were also Sikhs. He then assumed that my family had been forced to convert to Islam after moving to Pakistan.

The next morning India opened the batting at the fourth match in Kanpur and got off to a disastrous start. I tried not to smile but the manager of the hotel didn’t shoot me daggers so I said that Pakistan seemed to be playing well after a disastrous first two matches in the series. He nodded in acquiescence and I took leave for the day. I proceeded to the central bus stand where it was reputed that bus leaves for Fatehpur very thirty minutes. Everyone was glued to the TV set in the wafting area and all the buses were grounded. I patiently waited for a bus to get ready to move and I boarded. Inside the bus everyone had a radio glued to an ear. The bus was jam packed with people and radios. The bus cheered every run that Kaif and Dravid took. I too joined in the cheering and thought it best not reveal my Pakistani identity. Everyone in India seemed to obsess about cricket in those days. I could have picked anyone off the street and asked them the score and they would have known it, updated to the last ball bowled.

I reached Fatehpur when it was blistering hot. I went up a dirt path and reached the bottom of the steps to Buland Darwaza. The gate was of gigantic proportions and it took a minute to have the size of the Darwaza sink in. Meanwhile I was being followed by this little kid who couldn’t have been more than 13 years of age who was trying to coax me into hiring him as a guide for 30 rupees. I looked at him and asked him his name.

“Dilsaad Qureshi”

What an odd Muslim name I thought. It was only when h introduced the mausoleum of Sheikh Saleem Chishti as “Saleem Chissti” that I realized his name was Dilshad. Dilshad began his tour by asking me which language I would prefer, Hindi or “Engliss”. I said I wouldn’t mind some Urdu. He smiled and asked me where I was from, to which I asked him to commence his tour and start guessing in the meanwhile as to where I came from.

Dilshad Qureshi had a plethora of knowledge for 30 odd rupees. He knew the number of steps from the base to the wooden door of Buland Darwaza, he knew a corner at the Jamia Mosque where he offered to beat the wall and procure the sound of a Dhol but I advised against it since the Jumma prayers were about to take place. Dilshad Qureshi knew who the graves belonged to and explained the intricacies of the architectural patterns adopted by Akbar the great when he built this marvelous town. He knew where to look at the walls of Salem Chisti’s mausoleum in order to get the effectof looking through a glass. The tomb had walls with intricate see through paterns carved in marble. Dilshad Qureshi would pipe in every now and then with a guess concerning my whereabouts. Cities in Gujarat and Maharashthra were high on his list.

“Aap ka naam kiya hai?”

“Mera naam Rizwan hai”

“Rijwan…yeh tau muslim naam hai, aap Mumbai sey ayey ho?”

“aap bojho kahan say aya hoon?”

“Ab nahin maloom. Aap bataa do”

“Acha…mein Lahore sey aya hoon”

“Lahooore….Pakistan sey?”


“Aap Pakistan say ayey ho?”

“Haan mein Pakistani hoon”


And I saw the familiar sight of pupils widening. I don’t know when he managed to, because he was guiding me the whole time, but somewhere along the tour he let out my little secret to his friends and they started following me around calling out ‘Pakistani’ every now and then. It wasn’t too bad because they were genuinely intrigued and as long as they were not feeling me to make sure I was made of flesh as others were in Rajasthan, I was satisfied with the treatment I was receiving.

I was intrigued by the number of women who still flock to Saleem Chisti’s praying for children. Dilshad mentioned how women tie little colorful threads around each hole in the walls surrounding the tomb and when their wish comes true to thy come back to undo it. I heard the azaan for the Jumma prayer and I thought about joining. Maybe if I run through Sikri and then on my way out I can pray.

So I left by the way of Shahi Darwaza where I bid Dilshad farewell and paid him fifty rupees. I got in Sikri on an Indian ticket yet again! And opened my lonely planet guidebook to start the tour. The palace was amazing to say the least but a very subtle amazing. Nothing gaudy, nothing ‘in your face’ but a fantastic fusion of Christian, Islamic and Hindu motifs and architectural features was taking place all around. The palace appeared to be somewhere in a warped time, far away from this world. I don’t think anyone could have comprehended the idea of fusion that Akbar was trying to mould.

I took my time walking around the palace. I enjoyed its otherworldliness and somehow it reminded me of the Alhambra in Grenada and I couldn’t help but think that Akbar may have brought over artisans from North West Africa and Muslim Spain.

The heat was very overbearing and I though that I would join the Jumma prayer and then get on the bus for Agra. As I wound my way back to Fatehpur I saw that Jumma was over. I performed the wuzu and proceeded to the Masjid. I think it was the first time in three years that I prayed.

As soon as I finished I made my way over a group of men who were all very seriously huddled around a radio. I asked them what the score was and one man stated that his brother shahid afridi was batting on 97. I couldn’t help at that point but beam with joy, which aroused suspicion. I was asked where I was from and I proclaimed my nationality. They asked me to sit and commented on the match. We had a small chat and then with victory for Pakistan imminent, I decided it was time to take leave.

As I walked back Dilshad caught up with me and insisted that I give him a Pakistani coin. I had none but I gave him a five-rupee note, which brought a beaming smile to his face.

I boarded the bus for Agra and braved the painfully hot afternoon as the bus pulled into Agra an hour later. It was still a couple of hours to go before sunset and I though I would go and see the Taj for free from across the Yamuna. I hired a Auto and asked to be taken to the famed Radhaswami temple which was under construction for half a century and was expected to remain under construction for another century. The structure was eventually going to be as large as the Taj. There was an inscription ion eth wall in Urdu, which turned out to be poem explaining, what the Radhswami’s were all about. I took the time out to read it and later walked around the complex. Still under construction, nonetheless it had an aura of grandeur about it. My auto driver was a friendly Bengali and we had good bits and pieces of conversation throughout the three that we spent together, although neither of us bothered asking each others names. He was a great guy who charged me a decent rate and would take the time out to point out the famous landmarks of Agra as soon as he found out that I was a Pakistani. He took me to the tomb of Itmad-ud-Daula who had four claims to fame. The first one was that his tomb was the first structure to be built in Marble in south Asia, the second claim to fame was that he was Jahangir’s father in law, the third claim to fame was that his daughter, designed his tomb herself. His fourth and final claim to fame was that Jahangir’s tomb in Lahore was a mirror image of his father in law’s. The marble looked quite spectacular in the late afternoon sun, and I hurried out to go to Mehtab Bagh, which would give me across the river views of the Taj in the setting sun.

The auto sped through the roads of Agra which is a very polluted town and Khurrum was every bit right about it being a swollen version of Gujranwala.

I reached Mehtab Bagh with an hour to go before sunset and went absolutely berserk trying to take pictures of the marvelous Taj. The Taj…. well it’s the Taj…and they weren’t kidding when they said it was a wonder of the world. It took on a million subtle hues in eth setting sun changing color every minute, especially in the last few minutes before sundown. I tried and tried to capture the Taj in my camera but it just doesn’t work. Reflections of the Taj in water were exceptionally breathtaking.

I left feeling most elated and didn't mind Agra one bit any longer. Agra was blessed with the Taj, and all was good with that.

I reached home to find the nasty manager in the melancholiest of moods. It turned out that Shahid Afridi had whipped up a century in 45 balls or so to take Pakistani to a romping victory to take a lead in the series. After washing up and having dinner at the rooftop of the hotel, which boasted a clear view of the Taj, I went down to Internet café to check up on people back home. Sent a few mails here and there and called home and spoke to a close friend, Bilal.

The plan was to finish off a couple of kingfishers-which I was getting quite sick of by then, read a little and then crash to wake up in time for sunrise at the Taj. I got delayed at the rooftop finishing off the kingfishers by a nice Irish couple that worked in Australia as Chartered accountants. They were quite bored with their profession and after having made some money they took off to travel through India. Sounded like a great plan to me. I had a good conversation with them and eavesdropped on two guys talking about how they had spent a month in Pushkar doing nothing but drinking special lassi. Hmmm. Seemed like a fun enough vacation for them!

I woke up at the crack of dawn and walked to the Taj and it was equally remarkable. I walked right up to the Taj and touched it. Hardly anyone had come at that early hour and I decided to make the mot of it before the hordes of tourists invaded its marble floors. Having let the Taj finally sink in I had a couple of pictures of myself taken as proof of my having been there. I headed out of the gate as hordes of tourists, mostly middle-aged couples poured in the compound hand in hand. There was one group being led by a rather effeminate Indian tour guide ho insisted that all couples hold each others hands and those who didn’t have a partner, hold his hands. The group erupted in appreciative laughter and I bid Adieu to the wonder that was the Taj.

I went back to the hotel, got some breakfast and boarded the only AC bus to leave for Delhi in the day at nine in the morning. I felt happy to be getting back to Delhi and didn’t really think of Agra much on the ride back although I thought fondly of Fatehpur-Sikri, Dilshad Qureshi and his knowledge of encyclopedic proportions, of the Taj, of my auto driver and last but not the least: the nasty staff at Hotel Kamal who did do their best to make me feel a little uncomfortable.

Rajasthan : Jaipur, Pushkar and Ajmer (Part 1 of India: Solo on a shoestring)

Jaipur was dusty town glowing pink and orange in the late afternoon sun and I was already looking forward to exploring it. I got my lonely planet guide to India out of my bag and caught an auto to the Hotel Pearl Palace where I had made a reservation. The Pearl Palace was the third hotel that I had called, the previous two had refused me a room on pretext of my Pakistani nationality. I was greeted as I walked into the backpacker joint;

“Sorry sir we don’t accommodate Indians”

“I am not an Indian and besides I have a reservation”

“Oh ok, but where are you from?... Bangladesh?”

“No, Pakistan, can I see the room please?”

“Oh, but I don’t think I can give you a room”

I lost it at that point and demanded reason for not being given a room. He made a few phone calls here and there and checked my documents and agreed to give me room. He then took me upstairs to cubicle with no windows. I asked for a better room. He lost it there:

“People like you don’t deserve to stay here. I have no rooms for you! Leave!”

Feeling very out of sorts I asked the auto driver to take me back to the bus stand where I had seen a Rajasthan State tourism corporation office. I walked in the office and asked if there were any accommodation options available. The polite man in charge acquiesced and asked me where I was from. I said, Pakistan.

“Oh welcome, welcome to India sir, how do you like it so far”

“Not very much, it seems that not many people want to give a Pakistani a room for the night”

“Oh no sir you must be mistaken because….”

“Save it please and if you can help me out in getting a room please let me know”

He set me up with a young man who ran a guesthouse and he offered me a room for a hundred and fifty a night. The only catch was that there was hole in the wall where there was supposed to be an air conditioner and swarms of mosquitoes were pouring through.

“Can,t you do something about it?”

“No sahab, you see the room is only for 150 rupees”

Getting eaten alive by mosquitoes wasn’t a plausible prospect so I picked up the guide and went through the list of hotels. The young man was nice enough to make a few phone calls here and there and arranged for a room in a place, which was off the beaten track. The owner of the 'Karni Niwas' apparently refused to pay commission to the hotel-auto rickshaw driver mafia of Jaipur and hence got good reviews from the guide and others. My auto driver tried to divert me on to other hotels along the way but consistent threats resulted in arrival at Karni Niwas. The rooms were basic and the manager, popularly referred to, as Bubloo was very nice. I chatted that night with a couple of American and German backpackers and proceeded to dine at an eatery on the Mirza Ismail Road, which happens to be the high street of Jaipur.

Food was generally cheap, and even at upscale joints it was reasonably priced except for the chapatti’s. They were horrendously priced, costing up to fifteen rupees in some places.

Bubloo put forth a proposition for the next day. He knew an auto driver, Sattar Bhai, who would show m all of Jaipur in 12 hours for 250 rupees. I thought it was a good deal and agreed. Another kingfisher accompanied me to bed.

Goddamned Pearl Palace was the last thought in my head.

Sattar Bhai turned up at nine sharp in his jet-black deluxe diesel Auto. I could tell by the leather seat covers and the spick and span condition of the vehicle how much pride Sattar Bhai took in his machine. Sattar Bhai took me everywhere. We started at Albert Hall, went to the city palace, Hawa Mahal, Hazrat Ziauddin, Jantar Mantar, had lunch at the famous LMB Hotel, and then went outside Jaipur to Jal Mahal, the Amber Fort, Tiger Fort and Jaigarh Fort. The monuments were extremely well maintained and major renovation work was going on the forts. The Hawa Mahal had recently been completed. Perhaps the best place to visit in Jaipur is where the Cenotaphs of the Maharaja’s of Jaipur are located. It is on the outskirts of the city and is quite a peaceful place. Each maharaja had his own constructed and a couple of them are decorated with extremely intricate patterns. The only negative aspect of the place was the two noisy American ladies who were making a racket with their local guide. I lay there for quite a while just soaking the aura of the place in. I never expected place of the dead to inspire so much peace and tranquility.

The day had been long, hot and it even had its share of celebrity fun as Amir Khan turned up at Tiger Fort to record a song for his upcoming flick. I tried my best to get close to him like star struck fan but his security wouldn’t allow it. I found him to be quite a short person with a monkey-like persona.

Sattar bhai and I had bits and pieces of comments about India and Pakistan. I really didn’t understand where Sattar was coming from until the part when he started bragging about how ‘everything’ was made in India.

“Haan Sattar bhai, it is true but its not fair to compare a smaller country like Pakistan to India. Plus India has such a huge infrastructure so they can manufacture almost anything”

“Haan jee, India is so large, Akhir Pakistan tau India kee Jooti key baraber hai”

I paid Sattar Bhai as he dropped me off and bid him farewell. I think that Inzimam scoring the winning runs in Ahmedabad may have had a little to do with Sattar Bhai’s mood swing.

The next morning I told Bubloo that I was going to explore Jaipur city on my own and didn’t want Sattar Bhai called up again. I caught a cycle rickshaw to a private tour operator and got on the bus for Ajmer And Pushkar. My visa didn’t allow me to go to these towns but I thought, how many times in my life am I going to get the chance to go to Ajmer?

I passed myself off as Raj from Delhi who was traveling around the country, pulling off a Shahrukh Khan from Swades. The bus was small and there couldn’t have been more than fifteen people on it. There was nice family from Tamil Nadu across the aisle. There was a boy who offered me a couple of fries from his share. The conductor was a real smart aleck but also fun to talk to. I was happy and felt quit comfortable although I still followed my policy of not disclosing my nationality unless I absolutely had to.

The bus went to Pushkar first which is a holy Hindu town with hundreds of temples dotted around a lake. A numbr of phony Hindu Brahmin run a racket by roping people in for pooja but not many fell for it except yours truly. I also had wanted to do a pooja so I thought, why not. After the pooja and visiting the landmark Brahma temple I felt like eating so I consulted the guide for options. No eggs or meat were sold in the town so I settled for a veggie sandwich at the highly recommended Moon Dance café. I also ordered a special lassi to wash the sandwich down with. I only had thirty minutes before the bus left so I finished my meal and asked for the bill.

“By the way what’s so special about the special lassi. It tastes like plain banana shake to me”

“Oh no sir… we have very special lassi. You wait one hour and then you see…. he rolled his eyes towards the heavns”

I think I was going to have difficulty in finding the bus to Ajmer if I didn’t get there in time.

I pretty much ran to the bus, and sat down. Nothing much had happened by then and I knew exactly hat was going on. A Japanese tourist seated herself next to me. After half an hour of driving in silence I suddenly thought of how amazing Rajasthan was. The desert landscape, the barrenness and the wonderful; town of Pushkar with the fake Brahmins and the temples and the ghats, and the…and fifteen minutes later I found myself speaking in pidgin Japanese with Yuko , the Japanese girl. I lived in Japan as a kid and after all these years I racked my brains for vocabulary and where memory failed me I threw in Russian vocabulary. I finally realized that the special lassi had kicked in full effect when I noticed the puzzled look on her face, which showed how thoroughly, confused by the Russo-Japanese she was.

“I am riving in Pushkaa for one month and I eat no meat. Can you berieve it? I eat no meat!”

“Wow, really ? no meat?”

“Hai! Absorutery no meat. Zat is why I go to Jaipoo and zen I go straight to macudonarudo”

“You go straight to where in Jaipur?”


“Say what?”

“Macudonarudo! Macudonarudo! I want Macudonarudo!”

It was only much later that night when memories from my childhood in Japan flooded my brain and I remembered all those commercials on TV. The Japanese usually experience great difficulty in pronouncing McDonalds, which is what poor Yuko was trying to explain to me.

The bus approached Ajmer and I felt this strange feeling overpower me. There was something very spiritual about that town and something very powerful about the lassi. I was seeing more colors than usual and felt really happy. I got off the bus and boarded a tonga which was to take me to Dargah bazaar gate. The walk from the gate to the dargah itself was a kilometer long but it felt as if I crossed ocean of time. I felt time melting all around me like Dali painting. I saw the multitudes of faces melt all around me. The narrow bazaar seemed like an endless wormhole with no end. I knew nothing about where I was going to end up but all I knew was that I had to see the tomb of Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti.

After dealing with the Muslim conmen outside the Dargah gates I finally made it to the tomb of the Saint of all saints. There were all sorts of people, all religions and al breeds to be found. In front of the main door of the tomb itself there was Qawalli session in progress. The qawwals were exhorting the Saint and singing that only he who is summoned by Khwaja makes the journey to Ajmer…my legs gave away and I collapsed on the floor. The chants of the Qawwals were having a powerful effect on me and my heart swelled up to the size of a football. I prayed for my family and for humanity. I prayed that there be no poor in the world and that there be no injustice. I prayed that if my life was worth ending the suffering of another soul, it be taken from me.

On my way out I felt very satisfied. It was definitely the highest point of the trip and visiting the holiest site for Muslims in South Asia turned out to be every bit the awe-inspiring experience that I thought it would be. As I sat on my tonga, waiting for other passengers to get on board so we could all head back towards the bus for Jaipur, a Muslim girl passed by. There was another tonga parked behind my tonga and that driver hooted at the girl. She turned around and asked him if he wanted to be clobbered by her shoe, and then she walked off. My tonga driver thought it was the opportune time to become the preserver of all morality and took on the mantle of being her elder brother and taunted the other tonga driver. He responded with minor curses i.e. Salley, abbay chull, teri behan hai kiya? etc etc. nothing too provocative until my tonga driver brought in an exaltation which referred to his sister and how incestuous the brother-sister duo were. From here on my tonga driver’s mother got dragged in the picture and before long there were two mothers and numerous sisters being thrown around all over the place. Each female getting done and undone by various ‘beings’. Then someone invited a dog on the other’s sister and I thought that had this been Lahore, the brawl would have been manifested in physical fight by now. But this was not to be and then in retaliation a donkey was also introduced into the picture to screw mothers and sisters. I thought they had reached the ultimate point of no return and a brawl was going to break out and instead something else was said to take the mudslinging match to its pinnacle.

“Abay saley Pakistani!”

“Kiya bola bey maderchod? Meray ko Pakistani bola?”

“Haan bey gandoo, saley mere ko tu Pakistan ka dikhta hai”

“Acha, tau mein Pakistan ka dikhta hoon? Abbey maderchod, jab teri maan ko Pakistani charhey the na, tb jaa key tu paida huwa tha!”


And it actually turned into a minor fistfight before bystanders broke it up. Well they didn’t know I was a Pakistani so I can’t be angry but that really was the pits. Half an hour ago I thought I was making one of the more poignant pilgrimages of my life and here I was reduced and broken down in rubble of curses and misunderstanding.

On our way back to the bus this rather short man approached me and commented on my fluent Hindi and how was it that after being in America for so long I spoke such fluent Hindi. I looked at Yuko and thought about my fluent Japanese earlier. I responded by saying that I was not American. The bus conductor keenly listened in to our conversation, after all it was him who went around saying that I was definitely not from India despite speaking fluent Hindi and the passengers in the bus came to the conclusion that I was an American. And just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, I was declared an American citizen. I couldn’t let this go on and plus the lassi proceeded to give me confidence in myself and I proudly proclaimed my self to being a Pakistani. The short man’s pupils widened and he gently felt up my arm and declared that I was just like an Indian.

We were about to board the bus but people came off the bus and wanted pictures taken with me. I thought it was sweet of them but when the bus finally got going and was stopped at a police checkpoint close to Jaipur my heart, which was the size of a football at the mausoleum, shrunk to the size of a grape. My throat went parched dry and I felt the onset of a panic attack. In a bid to look even more desi appear normal in front of the cops and less American I started scratching my genitals and as soon as the cop looked at me I cleared my throat and duly dispatched a ball of mucus to the floor. He walked off.

I reached Jaipur after his momentous pilgrimage where I visited the 'Saint of all saints', got conned by Barhmins in Pushkar, flew halfway to heaven-compliments of Moon Dance café, met some really nice human beings like the people on the bus-especially the nice family from Tamil Nadu. I also experienced the nasty side of Muslim India and their spite for Pakistan. I guess its really tough being an Indian Muslim and it certainly didn’t appear to me as all that easy. I also discovered that after 12 years I could still make myself understood in Japanese and that my Russian is not all that bad. At the same time the biggest mystery of the day is how and why would the bus conductor go around spreading nasty rumors and calling me American????

Later at Karni Niwas I showered and changed and lay in bed chilling for a while thinking of the paradox that was India. I understood the paradox that Forster and Jhabwala were referring to back in A-levels. I flipped through the lonely planet and strolled out towards Mirza Ismail Road to dine. A nice chilled beer before dinner seemed like a great prospect before hitting the sack. As I walked along the road, saving money by not taking a cycle rickshaw A motorcycle pulled up alongside me.

“Hi!..... do I know you from somewhere?”

“No.... I don’t think so” and I politely shook his extended hand, thinking that this may be someone from the bus.

“I think I have seen you somewhere before…what do you do and where are you from?”

“I …am from Delhi and I am an engineer. The name is Raj…and what may I ask you do because I seriously can’t place you”

“My name is Shiv, and I m from around here. I like to make friendships. You also like to make friendships?”

“Oh…no I don’t, I think you got the wrong guy” and I hurriedly walked off

“Hey you!” he called out after me. I turned around

“You have a very good height, you sure you want no friendship?”

I flagged an auto and asked to be taken to the other end of Mirza Ismail Road.

The next morning I traced Khurrum and Faiza who were staying at an upscale hotel close to Sindhi camp. It was great to swap the dos and don’ts and catch up on stories. We rejoiced over the cool of Inzi who strode to a stylish victory in Ahmedabad. Khurrum just went on and on about Fatehpur and the two of them looked at each other when they referred to the Taj. Sweet. I was really looking forward to Fatehpur Sikri and took leave from the Khurrum and Faiza as soon as the CID guys turned up to take them for registration. I had an afternoon bus to catch for Agra, which was referred to as a larger Gujranwala by Khurrum.

The bus ride from Jaipur to Agra was economy class and it wasn’t too much fun especially since there was massive traffic block right outside the city. I had desperately tried to get a booking at the backpacker district in Taj Ganj but had been refused by 4 places because of my nationality. The fifth place, Hotel Kamal had agreed ONLY if my documents were in place. So I was quite anxious.

India: Solo on a Shoestring - memoirs from a trip in April 2005 (The premble followed by part 1,2 and 3)

It begins

It came out of the blue really, which meant that there was a dearth of traveling companions. Throw in the potential company of a married couple going along to take a romantic holiday; I knew that I would be alone for at least half the trip. Not a bad prospect given the fact that Germany went spectacular in late August 2004. I was looking forward to April the 9th when we would push off from Lahore on the Lahore-Delhi bus service. It was quite an experience but I shall refrain from writing about it since a lot has already been said about the bizarre nature of the bus ride.

After a tiring day of dealing with customs officials on the Pakistani side of the border (the Indians were actually professional!) and pulling through the tiresome routine of border crossing at Wagah we hit the Ambedkar bus terminal at sundown on Saturday, April 9th. Conventional wisdom from previous expeditions had led my traveling companion and I to remain awake all night, partying, waiting for the early hour of departure.

I had the butterflies. Its not very common for Pakistani’s to go backpacking in India. There are a lot of exchanges and delegations happening but a pure backpacker trip is not all that common in India. For that matter, Pakistani backpackers are extremely uncommon anywhere in the world!

First impressions

Delhi was huge and populous and the bus network was environmentally friendly. Delhi was clean.

My traveling companions and I decided to book our return seats immediately for a day exactly fifteen days away. We then proceeded to our host’s on Sri Aurobindo Marg, opposite IIT campus. After getting the initial introductions out of the way e decided to shower, change and hit the bar. We were lucky to find on just around the corner although the name gave it off as a pansy hangout. Going down the steps we found the place to have loud music, loads of teenagers and expensive alcohol. The turquoise cottage, as the joint was called was abandoned after a kingfisher was downed and we made beelines for the beds.

Most of Sunday was spent catching up on sleep. Later in the afternoon we went to Darya Ganj for registration and to check out the footpath book bazaar, which had a lot in common with the one in Anarkali in Lahore except that this one was never-ending. We picked our way for two kilometers through various hawker stalls eventually making our way in front of Jamia Majid. Khurrum complained about food and now that we had converted a lot of dollars he led us in a restaurant and proceeded to order mutton and chicken. I must say it looked absolutely delicious but Faiza and I stuck to our guns about maintaining a vegetarian diet for the duration of our stay.

Jamia Masjid had a festive air about it with a large number of local tourists and a flock of pigeons. It was almost sundown when we left the largest mosque in India and made our way to Chandni chowk. I expected to find a hustling and bustling old city market place but instead I found a landa bazaar look alike. Slightly disappointed with the legendary Chandni Chowk we caught cycle rickshaws to the old Delhi train station to make train bookings for our respective trips, which were to begin the next day. No such bookings could be made from here and we ended up going to the Hazrat Nizamuddin railway Station where the lines were painfully long and the reserved counter for tourists and freedom fighters was closed. Conventional wisdom once again pushed u to rely on the bus network.

We woke up the next morning to a traditional south Indian breakfast and it turned out that our hosts, the Dharmarajans were extremely sophisticated folk and took great pride in their south Indian origins. It was fine with us because the south Indian cuisine is one of the most vivid experiences to be brought back to Pakistan.

I left most of my stuff behind and packed the essentials. In the way I got dropped off at Bikner house in New Delhi, from where all buses for various locations in Rajasthan departed. I got a seat in a second tier bus called the silver line for Jaipur. I looked at the Gold line buses enviously but the weather had not yet crapped out on me and I guessed I could survive without the AC. Plus the budget would be thrown off balance with first class travel.

The bus ride was pretty uneventful except for the noisy men sitting in front of me who were discussing the various options the youth of India had of making it big in the call-center boom that was taking place. By early evening I had reached 'Sindhi Camp' (the central bus station) situated in the heart of Jaipur.

Monday, December 11, 2006


As time approaches to visit the paki motherland i feel increasingly excited. its good to go home after a while. heck, its good to go home all the time.

its been a year and i missed the place so i realy can't wait to get on that plane.

I think the highlight will be the ABCD and BBCD sorts who are heading back from christmas holidays at this time of the year. last year i transited through istanbul, turkey and it was an educational experience to say the least. All my co-passengers were ABCD's and BBCD's (families and the whole jing-bang-lot) and a few students. everyone was subject to pretty intensive pre-boarding security checks and people pretty much put up with it. a few grumbling noises eminating from here and there but over-all they all put up quite well with it. i guess since 9/11 we have gotten used to it by now.....

so the flight takes off and these overseas pakistani's are all on the plane, and enjoying whatever turkish airways has to offer. food was decent compared to most airline food....well it was excellent compared to western airline food.

a few hours later, the motherland approaches and people get off at karachi. all well and good so far except that folks start to get a tad bit impatient. i was just plain happy to come home as i am each time i get back to pakistan....and each time i am also pleasantly culture shocked. all in good spirit though.

so people start to head towards the passport control and everyone is now impatient to the bone, making clicking sounds with their tongues, looking totally 'avazaar' with life and basically shit-fitting. A few of the ABCD/BBCD's have got connections at the airport and they are definitely not standing in line so they all get VIP treatment and just cut the entire friggin line and march up with their kids et al and waltz through to baggage claim. this is followed by another family and yet another..other families get agitated when they see this and start to holler, bitch complain yadda yadda yadda and so on and so forth. anyhow its not a pleasant experience and the motherland is referred to with flowery expletives left right and center for the fucked up state that she is in and hence for the fucked up state of ABCD/BBCD sorts at the airport on this fine night. just great isn't it.

what really bothers me is the future generations of the ABCD/BBCD sorts who are waltzing through passport control. the kiddies. their first impressions about the motherland are all about' badmaashi' and watching their daddies use their customs official contacts to show how much better they are compared to the riff-raff that they can basically do whatever they want. what really pisses me off is that if these ABCD/BBCD sorts can behave themselves in Istanbul, Dubai, NA, UK etc etc . why the hell cant they hang on in pakistan for a while? agreed, pakistan is terribly corrupt and many would argue its a shithole but i still don't see that as an excuse for the way they behave. if the illiterate average pakistani man headed home from the mideast after years of backbreaking work can stand in line there at passport control then what's wrong with these so called professional-educated-british-paki-american's?

i agree, that there are way too many systemic problems in the motherland but witnessing this is quite disturbing and only contributes further to problem. a bit of compassion could actually help here.

Things Don't Fall Apart All The Time

For the 2 or 3 of you who actually come around to this blog you may be aware of the riotous adventures of Mr.C. You may remember that Mr.C suffered from a couple of disaster's in his recent sex life. Anyhow, his sex life has taken a turn for the better so i thought i would add that anecdote here just to make sure that anyone who may think of our west african warrior as a disappointment, will stand corrected.

Mr.C went over to some bar in the recently reconstructed wannabe-posh part of town (berlin) late last week. he was accompanied by a few trusted colleagues and they were catching a soccer game on tv and drinking away when he realized that he needed his jacket to check for loose change. he couldn't find his fine black leather jacket so he went a little ballistic in the pub. mysteriously the jacket reappeared on the coat rack of the pub after a 10 minute interval.

a couple days later when Mr. C's hand finally ventured to that part of the jacket where he usually doesn't venture he discovered....guess what?....(drum roll)

a love note

he got called a 'good looking black guy' who seemed like he had a 'lot to offer' and the works. anyhow, the delight could not escape Mr.C's noble west african features and alas his dream of operationalising a relationship with a member of the opposite almost stood fulfilled. this was a most welcome change in the winds. after failing in love, he was looking for something like this and now destiny/fate has been delightfully kind.

so Mr.C , rock on, be safe and have a blast.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


The silence of Zizkov is nothing like the silence found in the suburbs of Lahore on fog ridden winter nights but its everything like the silence of Friedrichshain in east Berlin. It remains dead calm amongst the blocks and the cars parked in between but all it takes is to open the door to any tavern and a world of life beckons from within. There is warmth, soothing light and the openness of all of Prague to be found there. Moments melt away into hours as people smile, laugh, smoke, converse, shout, talk and exchange moments with each other. It was an extended weekend due to national holiday and since Czechs take to the countryside at every instance they can find, Sunday evening turned out to be the time when they all gravitated back to bohemian Zizkov. All the tables in the tavern were packed by people who had not yet gone home to drop off their luggage and instead had headed straight for the taverns to exchange stories about the adventures that had been had over the past few days. Jonsa and I ended up in such a tavern and got lost in Zizkov that night.

Going to Praha, as the Czechs refer to it, has been a romantic affair in waiting for a long time but this union was fulfilled only over the past few days. Arriving into Praha in a group of four we only stopped in Jonsa’s working class neighbourhood of Kommunardu for a few minutes to dump the bags. Entrusted in Jonsa’s hands who being a local promised to introduce both sides of Praha, that which the tourists got to see and that which the residents got to see. It was late when we arrived but hunger held out and we landed in the heart of the old town searching for a place to dine. The first impressions of Praha’s old market square were fairytale. The magical aura of the cathedral bears a great resemblance to a fairy tale castle. The square was all we could take that night and we decided to not explore the city until the wee hours and get some sleep instead.

In the morning, Jonsa and his girlfriend took us back to the old market square so we could see it in the light of day. The city was never bombed in the two world wars therefore almost all of the old buildings remain intact especially those from Praha’s golden era under the fourteenth century holy roman emperor Charles IV who made Praha’s his seat of government. It was only decent to pay our respects to the glory of tourist ridden old Praha so we did the rounds of the castle perched on elevation overlooking the city with its thousand spires pointing into the sky, did the rounds of its various courtyards, peeped in the gothic cathedral which honestly is the same as the Koln Dom, the one in Strasbourg, in Heidelberg and numerous others seen in pictures. Nonetheless each one has its own charm and so did this one. Jonsa’s girlfriend, Jana professed her Jewishness and disavowed the place as one of charm. The couple then left us to go spend time on their own so Joachim, Verena and I wound our way down from the castle to the hustle and bustle of the main street down below to satisfy Verena’s craving for ice cream. What should have taken a few moments ended up in a walk past ice cream shops which lasted for over an hour and included a bench stop at a park overlooking the Valtava river which snakes right through Praha. Soaking in the visuals of the day which included the cobblestone streets of the city, the Karl Most (Charles bridge, which incidentally has stood solidly over the Valtava for 700 years now), the various steeples and churches (we climbed one such a steeple) and bumming around with the throngs of tourists had borne down hard. Arriving at Jonsa’s apartment Verena snuggled into her sleeping bag for a brief siesta. I decided to make myself useful and did the dishes. By the time I got done Joachim too had snuggled into bed and it was not even seven in the evening on a Saturday night. Abandoned by the dozers I too slipped into my sleeping bag and got some shut-eye until a phone call woke me up. Verena emerged from her brief siesta and hour and a half later, still tired. Joachim was inspired by me doing the dishes and went on to make him-self useful around the house. He took all of Jonsa’s laundry out of the washing machine and delicately spread it out to dry. Verena and I harassed him about Jonsa’s underwear. Joachim, being Joachim turned red in the face and coolly denied any links to homosexuality, yet again. Jonsa’s arrival a short while later brought the prospect of visiting Zizkov. We had to get on one of Praha’s quaint charming trams and then into the subway which was very reminiscent of the Moscow metro although not as beautiful. However I wish to be a tram driver some day since they can drive as fast as they possibly can.

Acropolis was the name of the place where Jonsa and Jana introduced us to 3 other locals, 2 men and one other woman, Camilla. This attractive-tall-Slavic-blonde-woman had two claims to fame. One was that she was the sister of the equally attractive but shorter Jana and the second was that she was a Lieutenant on the Praha police force. Joachim happened to be strategically placed right next to her so he proceeded to flirt. Although one shouldn’t really call that flirting since Joachim is the straightforward epitomy of German efficiency and directness. I proceeded to admire her from across the table and think of what she would look like when fully clad in police gear while Verena proclaimed that Jana was a notch above her more illustrious sister.Afterwards Joachim, Verena and I walked down the street eventually catching a taxi to the city center to watch young American, British and German tourists who happened to be predominantly men hunt around town for Praha’s legendary night life. We thought of entering a couple of clubs but prospects of charged American-British-German hormones was a put off, instead we chose a tavern and stayed there until we were ready to collapse and eventually went home. Verena and Joachim had classes on Monday so they caught trains home to Berlin whereas I stayed behind an extra night.

What happens to be stated in the first paragraph happened at this point. May I also add that Jonsa and I also met a friend of his, Helena who joined us on our tavern crawl. Being a long time resident of Zizkov she knew the places to visit. The Bohemian spirit of the neighbourhood cuts right through the streets although they remain deserted. If there is one place that I want to live in Praha, it is Zizkov. And apart from the working class flavour of Kommunardu where we stayed in Jonsa’s apartment it is the spirit of Zizkov that I miss most about Praha.

Praha is every bit fantastic that people say it is. It is the 4th or the 5th most visited city of Europe but beyond the throngs of tourists there is much that Praha offers to the traveller. The hustle and bustle of its soviet subway system, the quirkiness of its ancient racing tram network, its old town charm untouched by devastation and war that swept much of Europe last century, the resilience of its thought and sturdy Czech populace, its fantastic transition from the communist system to a liberal system and most of all its intellectual and bohemian flavour cuts right through the city. It is the city of Kafka, Hrabal, Kundera, Capek, Neruda and countless other thinkers. Prague is small in geographic proportions but large enough for someone to loose them self in.

Monday, September 25, 2006

being Muslim in India Today:Some reflections by Yoginder Sikand

Communal prejudices, already deeply-rooted in the minds of most Indians, have been further reinforced owing to a series of events and developments in recent years, both at home and abroad. These prejudices are almost universal in India, and the state has never seriously sought to counter them except by pious proclamations of 'Hindu-Muslim Unity', 'Respect for All Religions' and so on. Being thus left largely unchallenged, these prejudices, actively promoted by various right-wing, conservative and traditionalist religious groups, have succeeded in preventing the emergence of a truly secular society.

Anti-Muslim prejudice and what is now called 'Islamophobia' are not a new phenomena, but these have received a tremendous boost in recent years. The attacks of 9/11, the blasts in Benaras, Delhi and Mumbai and the continuing conflict in Kashmir have further fuelled the flames of hatred and prejudice against Muslims among many Hindus, so much so that the claim that Islam preaches terrorism, hatred for other religions and their adherents, misogyny, disloyalty to states where Muslims are not a majority or the ruling community and so on, actively propagated by Hindutva forces, has become an integral part of the social 'common sense' of a vast number of non-Muslim Indians. This has been facilitated by ever-expanding media networks, few of which are controlled by Muslims, and many of which have clear Hindutva affiliations. The US-led 'war on terror' is only further exacerbating this, with Hindutva forces and large sections of the Hindu-owned Indian media lending support to what many Muslims see is an all-out war directed against Islam and Muslims in general.

The recent series of violent attacks have been used to tar all Muslims with the same brush, as essentially terrorists or potential terrorists. In the case of some of these attacks the actual perpetrators remain unknown but they are somehow automatically assumed by the non-Muslim media to have been the handiwork of Muslims. In the case of certain violent attacks where certain Muslims were indeed responsible, the underlying causes for growing resentment among Muslims, a host of economic and political factors, are ignored, and Islam itself comes to be projected as the underlying reason. Thus, for instance, supposing the recent Mumbai blasts were indeed the handiwork of a group of Muslims (a claim made by the media but not as yet fully ascertained), the fact that the slaughter some three thousand innocent Muslims in Gujarat in a state-organised pogrom might have something to dowith the anger that motivated the perpetrators has been totally ignored. Rather, most newspapers claim, it is simply the expression of an uncontrollable and blind rage, of irrepressible intolerance and hatred of non-Muslims that, they argue, Islam allegedly preaches. No such attribution to Hinduism was made, of course, when Hindu mobs embarked on that bloody slaughter of Muslims in Gujarat or in the case of innumerable cases of such violence prior to the Gujarat genocide, in which the principal victims were Muslims. Likewise, the killings of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, Afghans, Koreans, Vietnamese and so on by American forces has never been attributed by the media to Christianity. One wonders why Muslims must be singled out as an exception in this regard. What of the rich contributions of Muslims to the country's composite culture? In large measure, this is now given mere lip-sympathy to, being 'mummified' and confined to museums and mushairas, and presented as a sort of exotic add-on to what is presented as 'Indian culture', which is defined in essentially Brahminical Hindu terms. But if Hindutva leaders were to have their way, even this ritual recognition would cease, and the cultural contributions of the Indian Muslims would either be destroyed or else appropriated and presented as actually 'Hindu', in the same way as, for instance, the Dravidian gods, Buddha, Kabir and Nanak later came to be heralded as 'Hindu' in order to negate their challenge to the Brahminical system. A classic case of Hindutva denial of the Muslim contribution to India's culture relates to the Taj Mahal, with Hindutva ideologues now insisting that it was actually 'Tejo Mahalya', a supposedly Rajput Hindu palace, and that Delhi's famed Mughal Red Fort was, in fact, the Hindu 'Lal Kot'.

The most effective means to dissolve communal prejudices is through close personal interaction between people of different communities, in the course of which people begin to discover their common humanity, transcending narrow religious barriers. Although such interaction does take place between many Hindus and Muslims, in some communally-mixed workplaces and schools, scope for this is contracting. Muslims are being forced, through compulsion, fear, the need for security, poverty and mounting anti-Muslim prejudice, to move into their own neglected and squalid ghettos, obviously much to the satisfaction of communal forces, both Hindu and Muslim, who thrive on such geographical, in addition to religious, separation.Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have a vital role to play in bringing together people of different communities to work on issues of common concern, such as economic and educational development and empowerment, and in the process, promoting inter-community interaction and countering communal stereotypes. One would have thought that in the face of growing anti-Muslim feelings in the country NGOs would have taken up this issue with the seriousness that it deserves. This, however, has not happened on a significant scale, for several reasons. In north India especially, Muslims have few such organizations and most of them work for Muslims alone. Further, most Muslim NGOs are religious charities devoted to Islamic education. This is both a result as well as a cause of the influence of the ulama, who, given the miniscule Muslim middle class, are able to present themselves as authoritative spokesmen of the entire Muslim community. And, given the insular sort of training that they receive, the ulama and the NGOs that they run are not best equipped to promote better relations with others. On the other hand, relatively few non-Muslim NGOs work with Muslims as a community, Muslims typically not being seen by these groups as a marginalized group in the same way as as Dalits or Adiviasis are, although the living conditions of most Muslims are almost as pathetic as theirs. The work of many of the few non-Muslim NGOs that are engaged with Muslims as a community is often limited simply to promoting communal harmony, ignoring, unconsciously or otherwise, the crucial issue of Muslim economic and educational empowerment, the lack of which is responsible, in part, for sustaining the authority of conservative religious groups among sections of the Muslim community, which, in turn, further strengthens negative stereotypes about Muslims.

The implications for mounting anti-Muslim sentiments for India as a whole, and not just for Muslims alone, are frightening, to say the least. Conservative 'upper' caste Hindu forces are actively fanning these prejudices among marginalized 'lower' castes so as to use them as foot-soldiers in organized anti-Muslim pogroms. Consequently, these marginalized castes are being subtly co-opted, their attention being turned from their real oppressors onto the imaginary and carefully constructed 'menacing other' in the form of Muslims. The dangerous consequences that this has for the struggles of Dalit, Adivasis and Other Backward Castes for their rights and empowerment are enormous. As the 'Muslim question' comes to dominate media discourses, the continued oppression of the 'low' castes, the social and economic mounting inequalities in the country, the ruling classes' nexus with imperialist forces and so on, are all being deliberately displaced from public consciousness. And as anti-Muslim hatred is being so actively fanned at the same time as India is being sold to Western multinational corporations, Hindutva forces, who never tire of proclaiming themselves as super-patriots, appear least concerned about the prospects of civil war and continuous bloodshed that their actions are designed to promote.

That said, the general Muslim response to mounting Islamophobia has met with little success. Muslims are now forced on the defensive and somehow feel forced to prove their patriotism. Islam does not preach terrorism, Muslim leaders now tirelessly argue, but since Muslim organizations have few links with the non-Muslim media, and because large sections of this media have no interest in countering negative stereotypes about Muslims, these claims generally fall on deaf ears. The Urdu media, where these voices are mainly articulated, is read almost entirely by Muslims alone, and so non-Muslims are left unaware of Muslims seeking to clear Muslims of charges of 'terrorism'. Muslim organisations lack a proper media policy, being run almost entirely by conservative ulama, whose knowledge of the complexities of the real world, including the media, is limited, to say the least. The ulama's insistence that Muslims, by definition, cannot be terrorists because the Quran lays down that to take the life of an innocent is like slaying the whole of humanity has few non-Muslim takers, for non-Muslims have plenty of groups to point to, in South Asia and elsewhere, who define themselves as 'Islamic' and who seek to justify their actions in the name of Islam. Middle class Muslims, who might have played the role of countering anti-Islamic media discourses more effectively because of their different cultural capital, are, by and large, silent, content with their quest for material comfort, having little or no organic links with the community at large.

For the general masses of the Muslims, mostly of 'low' caste background, mired in desperate poverty and illiteracy, the mounting wave of Islamophobia, occasioned, in part, by the actions of self-styled champions of Islam, has meant even less hope for their myriad social and economic problems to be addressed. The media insists that Muslims themselves are responsible for their plight and that the main cause of their 'backwardness' is not, as the case really is, the macro-structures of heavily unequal distribution of and access to resources and assets, further skewed by economic 'liberalisation' and 'globalisation'. Instead, it is argued, the fundamental causes of Muslim 'backwardness' are what are labeled as 'medieval madrasas' 'obscurantist mullahs' and radical Islamists. Hence, it is asserted, Muslim 'backwardness' does not require active state intervention, but, instead, can be 'cured' only if the ulama and their madrasas are 'reformed' and if Muslims take on the Islamists. In this way, both the cause of and the solution to Muslim 'backwardness' are sought by the media to be firmly located internally, within the Muslim community, as if state policies, international factors and anti-Muslim discrimination have nothing to do with this. This argument, tagged on to the growing indifference to the marginalisation of the Muslim masses promoted by mounting anti-Muslim propaganda in India and in the West, has made it increasingly difficult for Indian Muslims to press their claims on the state for economic, educational and political empowerment.

To add to this is the fact that as anti-Muslim feelings grow, conservative Muslim religious forces, too, receive a shot in the arm as a reaction, presenting themselves as saviours of Islam and representatives of all Muslims. And so the vicious circle of competing brands of religious conservatism and fundamentalism feeding on each other gets continually reinforced.


* The author works with the Centre for Jawaharlal Nehru Studies, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. He moderates an online discussion group called "South Asian Leftists Dialoguing With Religion" (

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Things Keep Falling Apart - follow up to the post 'Things Fall Apart'

Well the update is that the damsel exploded infront of Mr.C and accused him of deliberately trying to shoo her away. Mr.C was obviosuly very shocked by this accusation and indeed offended. But he followed my advice and was just 'nice' to her. He put himself at her feet and sought forgiveness. Seeing Mr. C in this position the damsel went into overkill mode and gave him no respite.

Several hours and milliards of insults later Mr. C finally gave away. He suggested that he bear the cost of the damsels flight back to england since she was so unhappy at being with him. So they proceeded to try and reschedule her flight from 2 days later to the next immediate possible availability..... upon finding a seat the damsel did a u-turn and backtracked. She then proceeded to accuse Mr. C of trying to really get rid of her and that he hadn't really let up on what transpired the night before.

Upon hearing this comment Mr.C's darkest fears about the damsel being an extremely unstable and irrational human being came true. Mr. C put a lid on all verbal exchange and led the damsel in a beeline to the bed. There he proceeded to allow verbal speech to be drowned out and other modes of communication to take preference. This situation lasted for the whole of sunday night, monday, monday night and till 7 on tuesday evening.

After dropping her off at the Tegel Mr. C came over for a post mortem and cried his heart out. He had tried and failed in love but had squeezed as much as possible out before she left. I told him that he had been a bastard upon which he was most offended. Anyhow so ends another love saga.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Things Fall Apart - a West African love saga


Mr. C: A dear friend from the African continent who is deadly against the French. French colonialism seems to have left a lasting imprint on him. Although his first language was French in addition to a tribal language he NEVER speaks in French. I mean NEVER. His english accent has strong and distinct french + tribal remnants, making him illegible to the untrained ear. Even after a year is unable to pronounce my name correctly and I am ‘Ishwa’ to him. He is a tall, chiseled and beautiful specimen of the west African kind and luckily he was not born 200 years ago, for surely he would have ended up on a farm somewhere in the American South being molested by the plantation owners wife and daughters.

The Damsel: is a bad tempered and generally bitchy young lady. She is from the same place as Mr. C and was his love interest untill the filing of this blog. She is an impatient woman who is constantly whining and suffers moodswings like a pendulum. having said that, the only reason why Mr.C tolerated her and others may is because she has a reputation that precedes her. apparently she is a whirlwind when the candle is snuffed out.

The Polizei: Their job as custodian of the law is to uphold and maintain public law and order


Well anyway, with much fanfare Mr. C (he shall be referred to as Mr.C here forth) prepared to receive his love interest who was to visit him last weekend from England. Mr.C made sure he got all prior assignments out of the way so that a weekend of intense romantic passion would not be disturbed for anything. So Mr.C disappeared from public life for a few days prior to his concierge’s landing. I met him a couple of days before her arrival and he was in good spirits. I inquired whether sexual adventurism was the sole purpose of the next few days. To which Mr.C immediately went thoughtful and responded with a resolute ‘no’. The trip was to make certain whether she was the right one since Mr.C wanted desperately to live the American dream with a wife, children, car, house and the works. So the trip was to be a very important one.


Mr.C emerged on Saturday evening en-route to THE PARTY. A high-end club had been booked for a very important party and it was to be a night to remember. Mr.C and his companion arrived very well dressed and arm in arm. Upon arrival Mr.C introduced the lady as his companion for the evening and launched for the bar. After a while I noticed the damsel sitting alone by herself and Mr.C swinging with a glass of wine. I may as well add at this point that Mr.C can absolutely not hold his alcohol. According to his own self, the last time he consumed alcohol in his African homeland, many many years ago he found himself sprawled on the bar floor in the morning with his pockets and effects picked clean and no recollection of how he ended up there. So I was a little alarmed to see him in that position with the damsel keeping the sofa warm in the meanwhile. 3 hours, several glasses of wine, and 4 women later I vaguely remember Mr. C staggers out of the club with the damsel in one arm. It was roughly 1 a.m.

It was 9 in the morning on the following morning when I was roused rudely from deep slumber. I had stayed out till 4 and had barely made it home before collapsing at 5 am. I staggered to the door to open it and see Mr. C in the flesh, who invited himself in proclaiming to be a ‘dead man walking’. Apparently on the way home, Mr. C had proceeded to puke his guts out on to his pants and shirt upon which his damsel apparently very embarrassed at being with him had simply moved away from his presence and into another rail carriage. Mr. C then exited at some random train station where he was supposed to make a change without a second thought to the damsel, who was in town for the very first time and did not speak a word of the language. Mr. C, at that point clearly astray proceeded to stagger around the rail station searching for his connection when he was picked up by the police for public indecency and thrown into a lockup for the next 6 hours. He was unable to recall which station it was that he exited at. Early next morning the police let him go after giving him a dressing down for meandering about the rail station in an unruly manner posing a menace to the public order and decorum. They then gave him a jail bird outfit and pushed him along his way. The damsel had simply disappeared and Mr. C was fretting his guts out about how she was a stranger in a strange country and kept repeating how he was a ‘dead man walking’.

Mr. C fretted and fretted about how this was a disaster and how the police were racist and they prolly ran identity checks on him. And how he had to piss really badly and they wouldn't let him out of the lockup. He maintained decorum in the cell and did not pee at all. He then proceeded to explain how he felt about the damsel and how this was a test of the strength of the relationship and she had failed miserably. If she could not stand beside him in his hour or lecherous, debauch, drunken, puke infested stupor then how could he trust her to stick around him for the rest of his life? I immediately nodded in agreement. my hangover was not helping at all but I still wanted to be a good friend and listened. Since I have purchased a new bike I seem to have become a good listener.

The only problem was that where was the damsel after all. soon enough his phone began to ring and some guy informed Mr. C that his damsel was safe and sound with him and she had called him in great distress last night, when she discovered that she did not know anyone on that train and now he wanted our address cause he wanted to bring her 'home'. After putting the phone down Mr. C proceeded with expletives liking her to one in the prostitution business. She was not supposed to know anyone else in Berlin and she had a spent a 'whole night' with a man when she was apparently empotionally very unstable...and vulnerable ...hence there had to be something fishy. or else why would she walk away from him, abandoning him in the train the way she did? if she really was a stranger in the city.

I advised extreme caution when she arrived but cannot verify it. Mr.C has not remerged from his quarters in 3 days since the damsel's flight back to mancy is not be untill 3 additional days.

LESSONS LEARNT, the hard way:

Mr.C cannot hold his booze therefore he should not drink
The Damsel is not a stranger in Berlin
She will not be the mother of Mr. C's children

Friday, July 21, 2006

Disturbing and Disgusting

well the reprise for soldier kidnappings has been all out war. As lebanon gets bombed back to the 70's and Hizbullah rockets up to political domination in Lebanon , i do not understand what the west is up to? if the situation is to be understood in geo-political terms then so far Israel is suffering and so far Iran and Syria have pretty much come out on top. Lebanon is suffering most. actually Lets not even talk about lebanon because the presidents's recation to a question in the press conference sums it up. he cried.

Israel has really hurt stability in the mid-east and cast serious doubts over the already bullshit peace process. Israel had better prepare to deal with a hizbullah government in power in the future because after the dust settles , if it does settle without dragging the rest of us in, then the winners will be Hizbullah. they will have a entire country with no infrastructure and hence they will be the sole service providers. this is exactly how the israeli's assited the Hamas many months ago when they bombed the PLA structure in west bank and gaza. what the hell do the zionists want? to live in perpetual terror and conflict? is this their idea of a promised land?

The US is fantastic though. they take the cake. unashamedly suportive of israel, the US, GB and Germany have really taken the cake this time around. Hizbullah isn't just any terrorist organisation that they want to deal with. this is their confrontatoin , mind you, THE confrontation they were seeking for with Iran and Syria. They even accused Iranian officials of being present at the north korean missile launches. ridiculous moves like that only show cowboy Jack's trigger happiness. and the tacit support that arab-sunni countries are providing to them is another dimension. afraid of Iran's rising regional power status and path to nuclear armament they are silent. the arab league is toothlessly silent as Israel unleashes against its neighbors like a rabid dog.

This conflict is going absolutely nowhere. there will be no winners. its a sick geo-political game that western 'alllies' are playing through their satrapy in the middle east-zionist israel- and they will achieve everything but victory. If the conflict does not spill into Syria, then the victors will be Hizbullah.

And none of these so called global powers have said a meaningful word about the hundreds of dead civilians in lebanon and palestinian territories