Search This Blog

Friday, August 24, 2007

An Acceptance Speech

My blog has received an award and, obviously, I am greatly pleased to accept it.

If there were to be a real awards-function and I were to make an acceptance speech, I suppose it would have gone somewhat like this:

" of all, I would like to thank the Almighty...Then, I would like to thank my parents and teachers, who helped me learn to read and write the English language...

I would like to thank the so-called leaders of the Hindu and Muslim communities of pre-partition India, who, for the sake of building their personal fiefdoms, helped drive a wedge between the people of these two communities that ultimately led to partition of the country into two inpependent states i.e. India and Pakistan...I would, obviously, also have to thank the gullible people who followed these leaders and hated each other not only as much as their leaders wanted them to, but far beyond that...If they had not killed each other in such large numbers at the time of partition, it would have been so difficult to maintain the bitterness between the two countries for so many years that followed...I would like to thank the politicians on both sides, who realised that they could deflect peoples' attention away from their own failings, by attributing a lot of what was wrong with their respective countries, to 'the foreign hand'...Of course, they were also very ably assisted in their endeavours by the respective intelligence agencies that helped them foment trouble in each others' countries...In fact, such agencies are doing this, very effectively, even today, I believe, be it in Kashmir or in Balochistan...Again, I have to say "Thanks!" to the people on either side who, dutifully, continue to hate those on the other side of the border...I absolutely must thank those who enabled me to visit the Pakistani part of Punjab as a member of a Sikh Jathha, in April 2006, and see for myself how similar the Punjabis there are to my own self and other Punjabis from the Indian part of Punjab...If all these people had not done all that they have done in the past 70-80 years, I might never have started writing a blog at all!

A big "Thank you!" to Blogger.Com for providing me with a blogging-platform...They have not been able to solve the problems I have been having with the recently introduced 'Auto Save' feature and blank rows get inserted automatically between paragraphs, in addition to the one such row that I insert between any two paragraphs...This happens every time I return to work on a half-finished draft blog-post that I had saved (or rather 'Auto Save' had saved for me) the previous time I had signed in...but, anyway...

Last, but not the least, I would like to thank the jury for having found my blog to be worthy of the honour!"

Monday, August 13, 2007

Southwards bound: Delhi to Goa

It was the afternoon of the 13th of July and we had to catch a train in a few hours. So, we called for a taxi to drop us at the railway station.

As on most such trips, the luggage appeared to be more than absolutely necessary and my brother and I resigned ourselves to the fact that we would have to, well, lug it around throughout the trip. We loaded as much of it as possible into the rear of the hatch-back that was sent for us. I put one of the couple of bags that were left on to my lap and my brother placed the other at his feet, as we set off.

It was a hot and humid day and it did not help at all that the taxi-driver turned out to be friendlier and more talkative than I would have liked him to be. My mother did not seem to mind though and she and my brother chatted with the driver, even as my father and I mostly kept to ourselves throughout the drive that lasted almost an hour.

The 2780 down Goa Express departed on schedule at 1500 hours, from the Hazrat Nizamuddin railway station and after securing the luggage under the berths with a couple of iron chains, we settled down for a journey that was expected to last for at least 41 hours.

Besides the batteries of my brother's and my cellphone having run out much before we reached Goa, there were a few more memorable events that occurred on the way.

Near the Raja Ki Mandi station at Agra, we were met by a very repulsive sight. Several men were defecating in the open, near the railway tracks. Now, I had encountered something similar on earlier occasions, while travelling on local trains in the National Capital Region, but what I saw next left me incapable of reacting in any way, for a long time. At the edge of a paved surface along the tracks, squatted a slim, dark, young woman, with her shapely rear-end exposed to public view, as she answered the call of nature. I suppose she represented some perverse form of women's liberation, somewhat similar to the formation of street-gangs by female criminals in the Western countries.

Then, one of the soldiers, all of whom were, apparently, on leave and off to their hometowns, offered to bribe the T. T. E. (Travelling Ticket Examiner) to convert his 'waiting list' ticket into a regular one and to allot him a berth against that. However, since the soldier's ticket had been issued against a 'travel warrant', the T. T. E. was too scared to accept the bribe! So, the soldier could not secure a berth for himself. He tried to spread a sheet on the coach's floor, between my mother's and father's berths, but my mother would not allow him to do that either, since she was afraid that he might cause her to trip and fall, if she were to get up to visit the toilet at night. I think that the soldier should have boarded a general category compartment rather than a reserved one, since that is what all passengers with 'waiting list' tickets are supposed to do, unless their berths are confirmed before boarding the train. Amused as I was at the predicament of the corrupt T. T. E., I felt sad to observe the soldier's dishonesty and also the way Indian Railways treats the men who put their lives on the line for the country's safety and security.

Towards the end of the journey, my parents befriended a gentleman who turned out to be a Kashmiri businessman. He told us that he spends a few months each year at Goa. For the rest of the year, when there are not too many tourists there, he goes back home to Srinagar. He has a shop at Goa that sells Kashmiri carpets and handicraft products. I leave it to the readers to draw their own conclusions about how this reflects upon the situation in Kashmir.

Last, but not the least, some of the scenery that went by the train window was rather nice. The photograph posted above was taken somewhere in Maharashtra, as far as I can remember, and shows a rock formation that might just as well have been shaped by man, as by nature.