Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Remembering Mikhail Sholokovs'" And quiet Flows the Don"

A Monumental Novel

Mikhail Sholokhov is Russian writer who wrote his epic “And Quiet Flows the Don”. It’s a lovely book that won a Nobel Prize for the author in 1965. Sholokhov was an unabashed communist and supporter of Stalin. This is something that was not liked by Western authorities and for long Sholokhov was denigrated as a writer of “no consequence”. Unfortunately, there were many academicians who were convinced that Sholokhov was a great writer and this led to him being awarded the Nobel Prize for literature. It was a richly deserved prize.
The Novel

Mikhail Sholokhov’s novel runs into 5 volumes and is a monumental work, which needs some time to read. I read this novel over a period of almost a month, but I liked it and realized that Sholokhov is a great writer. His theme is simple. The novel recounts the lives of two protagonists who see Russia through a period of wars, civil war and the Tsarist and communist rule. There is violence and war and love all around. But in this turmoil, the river Don flows quietly and eternally into the sea.
 I understand it took him almost 14 years to write. After reading this novel one is apt to get nostalgic of communist rule under Stalin. Despite the propaganda by the West I am convinced Stalin was one of the greatest figures of the 20th century.
Last word. 
Sholokhov was born in 1905 in what is known as the land of the Cossacks. He died in 1984 and did not live to see the disintegration of Russia. Sholokhov also wrote Virgin Soil Upturned, which earned the Lenin Prize, took 28 years to complete. He also wrote Seeds of Tomorrow (1932) and Harvest on the Don (1960).
Sholokhov has a permanent place in Russian and world literature. He earned his respect among western writers as well, but he was a strong supporter of the communist regime and accompanied Nikita Khrushchev on his visit to USA in 1959. This contrasts with the anti-communist approach of Boris Pasternak who also won the Nobel Prize, but merely because he wrote against Communism.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

The Sahara Desert, a few miles outside of Ouargla, Algeria

The Sahara Desert is the world hottest desert and covers an area of thousands of square miles and the average temperature is 109 degrees. Its pretty hot but readers will be surprised to know that 100,000people live in this vast hot desert.There is a thriving oil industry and also a university.

The desert sands have their own beauty and when the sun sets it's breathtakingly beautiful. There is also the Great Arabian desert now green on its edge by Dubai.The Sahara, however, takes the cake as the most beautiful desert.

The peace is now disturbed with militancy, but hopefully, it will pass and the desert will regain its tranquility and timeless peace.
The camel remains the mainstay here a veritable "Ship of the desert"

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Richard Burton was a Famous Visitor to Mecca

A documented visit of the British writer adventurer Sir Richard Francis Burton in 1853 to Mecca looks more like a fairy tale. Burton had spent considerable time in India and had mastered Arabic. In India, he was part of the British Indian army and was a Lieutenant Colonel of the 36th regiment. He is also celebrated as the translator of the Kama Sutra, the Arabian Nights and the Perfumed Garden.

 Burton decided to visit Mecca knowing fully well the dangers involved in visiting Mecca and the holy Kaaba. He disguised himself as an Afghan and traveled to Medina. Burton records that the caravan mostly traveled at night as the day temperature touched 120 degrees.

 Burton entered Mecca twice. The first time he just visited the city, but he came back a week later and entered the quadrangle which is home to the Kaaba.  He was not detected and later he recounted his travels in a book that became a best seller. By no means was he the only non-Muslims who visited Mecca. There are records of 25 European visitors who visited Mecca from 1503-1931, but Burton is the more famous.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Indian Army Brigadier Court Martialed For Extra Marital Affair

A case has been reported by the Times of India that a General Court Martial assembled at HQs  33 Corps close to Siliguri in North Bengal to try a Brigadier who was alleged to have stolen the affections of a junior officer, a Lt Col's wife, who was part of his regiment. The Brigadier was commanding an important formation on the India -China border and thankfully he has been removed from command.

The name of the Brigadier is withheld from Media but it's not important, as what is important is that acts of moral turpitude have no place in a fighting force.The case was brought out by the wife of the Brigadier who had got a whiff of the romance and sent a letter to the Army Chief General Rawat. After due inquiry aGCM assembled and the Brigadier had no choice but to plead guilty This saved him and he was given loss of seniority of 10 years as well as a "severe reprimand".
Sex is a driving force and flows from attraction but one has to balance between the two. It will surprise readers that Indian women officers are involved in many "affairs' and one of them Flight Lieutenant Anjali Gupta committed suicide.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Micheal Fallon British Defense Minister Resigns on Sexual ImproprietyCharges

Defense Secretary Michael Fallon tendered his resignation after allegations of sexual misconduct became public. Britain is rocked by allegations of sexual impropriety after Weinstein’s escapades were publicized.
Sir Michael Fallon’s resignation was immediately accepted by the prime minister. Fallon had just dealt with a major scandal on board the nuclear submarine HMS Vigilant and had authorized the dismissal of nine seamen, for throwing drug parties while on a visit to the US.
He had also approved the removal from command of two senior officers on grounds of violating a “no touch” rule with a female crew, on board a naval vessel. To his credit, Fallon admitted that he may have fallen below the required level of conduct in public life. He accepted that he had set a poor example for the men and women in the armed forces, reported CNN.


The allegations against the Defense Secretary surfaced when information became public that he had repeatedly touched a journalist’s knee during a dinner. The concerned journalist Hartley-Brewer had alluded to the incident which took place in 2002 without naming the DS, according to the BBC.
The prime minister has not approve of the behavior of Michael Fallon towards Julia Hartley-Brewer in 2002, but she has said that as the case was in the past there was no need for an investigation. Well men will be men.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Danish Inventor perhaps Murders and Dismembers body of Journalist

Ever since the EU abolished the death penalty for all crimes, gruesome crimes are continuing. Perhaps there is some correlation between the two. Some famous men do feel there is a link. A gruesome crime has now surfaced. Swedish inventor Peter Madsen took on board freelance journalist named Kim Wall aged 30. The journalist was doing a story on the inventor when she was invited by Madsen, to accompany him in a submarine invented by him.
The lady disappeared after she boarded the submarine on 10 August and was not traceable after that. Kim Wall was an adventurous lady, who had had earlier reported from Sri Lanka and North Korea.
Madsen was arrested by the police and he kept changing his story.
Finally, he has admitted to having dismembered her body.Madsen has been arrested on a charge of manslaughter and will appear in court on 15 November. He had stated that Ms. Wall died when a heavy metal hatch fell on her head. The police have recovered the head and it has no injury.The public prosecutor claims he has evidence and will be able to prove the killing, as two people were on board the submarine and one disappeared. It looked a perfect crime, but it does not pay and the police did a good job

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Echoes of Charlettsoville: One Hundred years back 13 Black Soldiers were Summarily Hanged

In 1917, the US entered the First World War. In the same year, a platoon of black soldiers was sent to Texas for military duty. The white supremacists, seeing black soldiers strutting about carrying rifles and guns were incensed. The soldiers were also angry at the blatant racial discrimination. One of the soldiers who was witness to the beating of a black woman intervened and was beaten-up and arrested. Another soldier who went to the police station to intercede was assaulted. The incensed black soldiers, collected and went to the police station. A gun battle led to 16 whites being shot dead.

The incident was treated as a mutiny and 63 blacks were court martialed. After a trial lasting 22 days, where the laws of evidence were studiously ignored and 63 defendants were represented by just one lawyer, 13 were sentenced to be hanged. There was no appeal or review and all 13 were summarily executed. The incident showed the hostility between blacks and white supremacists. The hangings were carried out en masse and all the 13 were brought in trucks to hastily erected scaffolds and summarily executed. No appeal, no clemency, no laws of evidence and no proper defense. The incident shook America but has anything changed?

The fact is there are too many blacks who will fight for their rights and the old days of white supremacy are over. The punishments and hangings without due process of law has echoes in the Charlottesville incident and show that the racial divide still exists though a hundred years have elapsed.