Feb 23, 2008

Day of Jodha in Bhopal

After much sweat, heat, anger and news reports we were finally able to stop any further insult to our ancestors. In Rajasthan, the insult never happened. It was in Delhi, as in the mughal period, the insult was hurled on the Rajput pride. Now, after a week of the insult, we have been able to stop the insults even in Madhya Pradesh. We are sure that this does not have anything to do with consolidation of Hindu vote bank in the crucial year of state elections. This is the right sentiment for a person who did something sinister - marrying his son's wife - uh we don't know, Hindu girl cannot be married to a Muslim boy, period. Moreover, we also strongly demand that the state government compensates us for the time, money wasted and mental strain that we underwent when we had to watch the movie first day to decide whether we should ask for a ban or not. Although the opening credits state that the narrative that follows is a "view of history" and not a legend, watch out for the "secularism" at display in the movie. The openness of Akbar gives space for the Hindu deities, and every villain is a devout Muslim. Jodhaa Akbar appeared to be story about contemporary India - like Akbar as a monogamous, uber-romantic ideal respectful of women in a way that confirms to 21st century norms.

Those of you who are still sulking and showing disrespect to our heritage, will enjoy this more than the movie.

[Disclaimer: No disrespect to any pre-historic/historic/non-historic character, living or dead]

Feb 21, 2008

Kaun nahi hai crorepati

bhopale dhoni There is much heartburn among Indians about the sudden downpour of money on the Indian Premier League (IPL). Among the cricketers the emotions range from disappointment to amazement. However compare $32 million per year for entertainment purposes to one thousand million per year for so called war on terrorism or better still one thousand million per week. I think this war is better then that.

Two Quotes And A Song

“As a child, in Pandharpur, and later, Indore, I was enchanted by the Ram Lila. My friend, Mankeshwar, and I were always acting it out. The Ramayana is such a rich, powerful story, as Dr Rajagopalachari says, its myth has become a reality. But I really began to study spiritual texts when I was 19. Because of what I had been through, because I lost my mother, because I was sent away, I used to have terrible nightmares when I was about 14 or 15. All of this stopped when I was 19. I had a guru called Mohammad Ishaq— I studied the holy texts with him for two years. I also read and discussed the Gita and Upanishads and Puranas with Mankeshwar, who had become an ascetic by then. After he left for the Himalayas, I carried on studying for years afterwards. All this made me completely calm. I have never had dreams or nightmares ever again. Later, in Hyderabad, in 1968, Dr Ram Manohar Lohia suggested I paint the Ramayana. I was completely broke, but I painted 150 canvases over eight years. I read both the Valmiki and Tulsidas Ramayana (the first is much more sensual) and invited priests from Benaras to clarify and discuss the nuances with me. When I was doing this, some conservative Muslims told me, why don’t you paint on Islamic themes? I said, does Islam have the same tolerance? If you get even the calligraphy wrong, they can tear down a screen. I’ve painted hundreds of Ganeshas in my lifetime — it is such a delightful form. I always paint a Ganesha before I begin on any large work. I also love the iconography of Shiva. The Nataraj — one of the most complex forms in the world — has evolved over thousands of years and, almost like an Einstein equation, it is the result of deep philosophical and mathematical calculations about the nature of the cosmos and physical reality.”
Maqbool Fida Hussain, Indian artist and painter, living in exile after being accused of “promoting enmity between different groups”
“Biharis should remember that if they abuse us our hands will rise. If they try it again we will hit them again. We will hit them everyday for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They can stay here but they should treat Marathi people with respect”
Raj Thackeray - Marathi Hindu nationalist
An old song - Azab Tori Duniya

Feb 18, 2008

State Of Denial

After the long and highly publicized attacks on celebrations on Valentines Day, the Bhopali has simply moved on. The young ones have shifted strategies on the Valentines Day to going for movies or limiting the interactions to cell phones. The Bajrang Dal had to resort to doing mock bhopale-valentine2008practices of their declared intentions on their own cadre! The Bajrang Dal would simply not accept their ideas are redundent in todays India. The best part of the report above is the last sentence “If they were married for four months, why did they meet in a park, under a tree on Valentine's Day?”. Why indeed would a married hindu couple meet at park while they have urgent things to accomplish? Not in the distant future somebody from the Hindu organizations would surely call for a complete ban on cell phones as they are promoting cultures not in accordance of India.
Recently the education minister of Madhya Pradesh, Laxman Singh Gaur, died in a road accident while traveling in his SUV from Indore to Bhopal. The road conditions for most part of this 185 KM stretch is not very encouraging with pretty high number of vehicles on the road at any time of the day. Most of the road is single lane track with very few places having a double lane track. The few stretches bhopale- ambi where the double lane has been laid, any traveler can feel the increased level of security. The project of double lining the entire stretch has been inherited from government to government with little progress being made on the ground. After the death of an active and working minister of state, one would have expected the road project to be taken up more seriously. However, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan has instructed his ministers to dump their swanky sedans in favour of the old matron Ambassador, as the car moves slowly and is more adapt to the dusty roads of India since 1957.

Feb 13, 2008

Valentines day - back to the future

"Everywhere you look, love is in the air. While people around the world celebrate Valentine's Day on Thursday, residents are banned by law from participating. Roses have disappeared from the flower stands, and simply wearing red could get you arrested."
You think they are talking about Bhopal here? You got it wrong - that is Saudi Arabia! The distance between Hindu militancy and Muslim fanaticism has shrunk in a shrinking global village.

Feb 12, 2008

Chalo ishq larayen sanam

Bhopale - Valentine day cards This valentine day, the young lovers from Bhopal have nothing to fear. After years of repression from Bajrang Dal activists - it is the time to forget all Dard-E-Disco. This year the yet unmarried generation next leader Rahul Gandhi, has taken up the cause of young Bhopalis. The Bajrang Dal activists have as usual threatened that the young Bhopalis found celebrating the Day “alien” to the cultural ethos that brings in “vulgarity” in society, will be given only two options in an objective type question paper with strict negative marking -
A) Get married
B) Tie a Rakhi.
Thank you, Rahul Gandhi, for offering us a third option
C) Call The Help Line.

So no worries, let's "ishq larayen sanam”.

Feb 3, 2008

Railways at Bhopal

bhopale railways 
Qudsia Begum started negotiating a railway through Bhopal and provided funds from her personal account as distinct from state funds for the construction of part of the railway. Sikandar Begum took the idea forward, and conceived the building of a railway line that linked Bhopal to with the national grid. Sikandar and Qudsia recognized the importance of a railway connection and spent private sums of money to help build the railway. This was a far-sighted move, strongly supported by the Resident, Sir Henry Daly that brought prosperity and importance to Bhopal as a railway junction that was virtually a cross-road between north and south, east and west. Sikander’s dream of opening a railway line in Bhopal was realized several years after her death and even Qudsia, the lean old dowager died two years before the first locomotive steamed into Bhopal on 18th November 1882, during the reign of Shahjehan.
The railway gave a special importance to Bhopal as an economic cross-road for India. The town was expanded and the railway station itself became a hub of activity with its engineers, maintenance crew, and station masters and lines men, many of them Indian Christians, forming a colony of expatriates and adding color and variety to Bhopal’s ethnic and cultural kaleidoscope. Successive Nawabs of Bhopal enjoyed the privileges of the railways. At the time of independence of India and subsequent merger of Bhopal states with India, Hamiduallah Khan was provided with an additional compensation of Rs. 5 lakhs per annum from Indian government for the railways. Today, though Bhopal has got another railways station by the name of Habibganj (check here) catering to the requirements of new Bhopal, Bhopal Station remains an important milestone of India.
(Photograph: Waiting for the first train - Bhopal railway station 18th November 1882)

Bhopal : A Prayer for Rain

Bhopal : A Prayer for Rain, a film on the Bhopal gas tragedy of 1984, was declared tax-free in Madhya Pradesh by chief minister Shivraj ...