Sunday, August 9, 2009

India after Gandhi

India after Gandhi is a book trying to put together the history of India post-independence. An incredible book about an incredible nation. The history and the staggering numbers amaze you, shock you, disgust you, anger you, move you and make you believe. Different perspectives are offered and descriptions are vivid.

Some really amazing parts -
India was never expected to make it through as one united nation. One such opinion pre-independence was presented by Sir John Strachey - a member of Governor General's council.

Scotland is more like Spain than Bengal is like Punjab...
..there is not, and never was an India, or even any country of India possessing, according to any European ideas, any sort of unity, physical, political, social or religious.
There was no Indian nation or country in the past; nor would there be one in the future. Strachey thought it "conceivable that national sympathies may arise in particular Indian countries but
that they should ever extend to India generally, that men of Punjab, Bengal, the North-western Provinces, and Madras should ever feel that they belong to one Indian nation, is impossible.

Well, fuck you Sir John Strachey.

After 1947, there have been many Western writers prophesying the doom of India as a united nation.
Rober Dahl - That India "could sustain democratic institution seems, on the face of it, highly improbable.
British journalist Don Taylor in 1969 after 2 decades of unity and Independence -
they key question remains: can India remain in one piece - or will it fragemnt?... when one looks at this vast country and its 524 million people, the 15 major languages in use, the conflicting religions, the many races, it seems incredible that one nation could ever emerge.
It is difficult to even encompass this country in the mind- the great Himalaya, the wide Indo-Gangetic plain burnt by the sun and savaged by the fierce monsoon rains, the green flooded delta of the east, the great cities like Calcutta, Bombay and Madras. It does not, often seem like one country. And yet there is a resilience about India which seems an assurance of survival. There is something which can only be described as an Indian spirit.

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Rational Fool: A Bit of Porn for the Gods

Interesting satire The Rational Fool: A Bit of Porn for the Gods

Mumbai Darshan

The European hangover refused to go away. Back in Mumbai after backpacking through Europe, I realized that I haven't really seen Mumbai as a tourist. After a couple of days at IIT and sorting out electives crap, I look for a way to tour Mumbai. I was sure that there must be a tour agency that takes you sightseeing around Mumbai and began looking for one.

On the advice of my dear friend - Shobhit Singhal - I decide to take a Mumbai Darshan tour by Neeta Bus agency that run probably the most popular Mumbai Darshan tours in the city.

I thought that I will not find any other person to join me on this crazy idea, but then you never know. Another person back from his trysts in Maple country (Avinash Prabhu) was interested enough and together we booked our tickets and decided to set on this exciting and daring adventure that would chill the bones of any other mortal. :P

Armed with food supplies and rain gear, we climbed in the bus at Dadar. There was a guide in the bus who immediately, as soon as we sat down, announced that we had to pay Rs.210 additional to the Rs.150 tour fee. This money was to buy entry tickets to all the places that they were going to show us around. That came as a little surprise to us. We had thought everything was included. :P
I must confess that most of the places that he took us to hadn't been seen by me in my 3 years here as a student.

We were taken to (my expert comments in brackets)
Meenakshi Temple (nothing special)
Houses of Lata Mangeshkar, Jackie Shroff, Vinod Khanna and Amitabh Bacchan (who doesn't want to see that)
Nehru Science Center and Planetarium (Science center is for kids and tourists like us and Planetarium was a nice place to sleep)
4-D motion picture at Atria Mall (The chair moves in only one direction and there is only cold air when you are expecting a hot one - not worth it)
Tarapore Aquarium center (In an unbelievable state of decay. Didn't think that a famous thing right in the middle of marine drive would be so crappy)
Marine Drive, Hanging gardens, Gateway and Juhu beach need no description.
The Gateway has been closed post 26/11 and is now under heavy security. It's just not the same anymore.

Of course there were some gems that can only be found on the hoardings and boards in India that kept us entertained.

Apparently, according to the super shopkeeper, there are some Indian vegetables and some English vegetables. Interesting!

Me and Avinash after coming out of the Planetarium

A board near Tarapore Aquarium. Need I comment?

You can see the bullet holes in The Taj here. Brings back the days of the attacks.

Probably the best picture of Mumbai we took all day.

Don't know if it can be made out, but this is an ad for IIPM featuring Shahrukh Khan saying that it is the No.1 management institute in the whole world!!

Now, I wouldn't really recommend this tour to anyone except for a different experience. By the end of the day, we were sweaty, dirty and in desperate need of a bath.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Do check this out

Check out this blog for awesome quotes by renowned people.
My personal favorite until now is this one.