Saturday, February 27, 2016

Lord Ganesh: The Elephant God Enriches our Lives

Understanding Lord Ganesh, the Most lovable Hindu God

Ganesh the Protector

The trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva form the bedrock of Hindu religious thought. These are the exalted deities, but there are some less exalted deities or gods that have also a great effect on Hindu philosophy. One of these deities is Lord Ganesh popularly referred to as the Elephant god. As he is a second tier god his place in most temples is as a door keeper. This has a special significance as it means that the Lord Ganesh being a guard of a temple is thus closer to human mind and aspirations. Ganesh was the son of lord Shiva and his consort Parvati.
Lord Ganesh is the most loved of all the gods and there is not a village in India which does not have this deity in some form in a temple or place of worship. He is referred to as the elephant deity as he supports the trunk of an elephant as his nose. Elephant gods are popular all over the world and people in china, Japan, Thailand, Brazil and Mexico also worship a form of an elephant god.
Lord Ganesh is a lovable god and as such he is the first god that is worshipped. Praying to Ganesh is supposed to bring good fortune and a man rises up further in life. Ganesh represents the Mooldhara chakra, which is the first energy center in the world and represents the earth. That is the reason that learned sages recommend that seeking the blessings of the elephant god before starting a new venture or proceeding on some voyage or important work. He has the power to remove obstacles as he is flanked by his two consorts Siddhi and Buddhi.
Ganesh is represented with a trunk of an elephant. This is perhaps not without significance as the elephant is known to be extremely sensitive to sound waves even below 20 Hertz. This allows elephants to ward of dangers like earthquakes and storms.
Another aspect of Ganesh is that he represents the intellect and thought. He is a fast thinker. Legend tells us that Ganesh entered into a competition with his brother Muruga and they decided to run a race around the earth. Muruga started of with a dash to run around the globe, but Ganesh did something very intelligent. He just circled his parents Shiva and Parvati and that sufficed as he won all the wisdom from them.
Ganesh was advised by his father Shiva to sacrifice the most powerful sacrifice to achieve total benefits. He also told Ganesh that as he Shiva was the most powerful person and it was not easy to sacrifice him, he could as a substitute sacrifice a coconut.Thus when you circle a coconut around your head and break it, it absorbs the lower vibrations and breaking of the coconut symbolizes a renewal of your life.
Ganesh Chaturthi is an annual festival and celebrated with great gaiety all over India. A little known fact is that the Hindu calendar is cyclic in nature.Thus every 60 years Ganesh is supposed to appear in a different form. As per Hindu philosophy the Ganesh who will now appear in future will be a Ganeshwho will be a Ganesh without a trunk or as we say a Naramukha Ganesh: a human headed Ganesh.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Charles Bronson: The Real He Man Star * 66

The Tough Man from Hollywood

When I was in school, I remember playing truant and bunking school to go over to the Rex cinema in Mumbai (now defunct) to see a movie with Charles Bronson as the hero. If I remember correctly it was Guns for San Sebastian in which he costarred with Anthony Quinn, another great star. Seeing Bronson in the role of a tough man, made him my hero and I saw almost all his movies, even those that were released a decade earlier in re-runs like The Magnificent Seven and the Great Escape.
The Macho Star

Charles Bronson certainly had a following in India, where his movies were well received. It’s a pity though, that he never visited India. Charles Bronson was a Hollywood actor in the classical mode. His career spanned a period when Hollywood was at its zenith. He certainly brought to life a tough and macho image. He was the original he man star.
One series of films that won him popular acclaim were the Death Wish series. The last of which he acted in 1995.He stopped acting after this movie as ill health over took him. He was also a victim of Alzheimer’s disease. In all five Death Wish movies, were churned out and they brought to the fore a man as tough as nails: he was a real American hero.
Bronson at the Top
Bronson’s place in the sun was at its apogee during the seventies and eighties. As he turned in some excellent performance in a number of films like Death Wish(1974), Once upon a time in the West (1969) Break Out (1975) and many more. In fact during this period, he was one of the highest paid stars of Hollywood.
Bronson died in 2003 at the age of 82. But he left behind a legacy that will be hard to match, particularly in the genre of western and tough mans roles.
Last Word
To back up his tough man image, Bronson also supported a muscular body. Perhaps, his years as a coal miner helped form his physique after his father died when he was only 10. One other aspect of Bronson’s life was his family, which took preponderance over anything else. Married to Jill Ireland for 22 years till her death in 1990, he had a special affection for her and starred in 14 movies with her in the lead.
Charles Bronson will be remembered as a star that brought justice to roles that demanded a hero with a tough macho image. He lived up to that image.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Travels in UAE: Nature Park at Bani Yas Island 57

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Abu Dhabi is a place of wonders.Only 7 decades back it was just a little more than a fishing village, but the discovery of oil changed all that and within 5 decades the UAE is among the richest places on this planet. This entire area was a colony of the British who left in 1970 and the 9 Emeritus states joined together to form the United Arab Emeritus.
The rulers are pragmatic and have developed the UAE into a real wonder. At many places the desert has been transformed into a green belt. I had earlier written about the green belt at al Alain in the heart of the Arabian desert. I was told that there is a lovely wild life park on an island just 9 km offshore from the capital Abu Dhabi. I decided to visit the place about a fortnight back. The island is a beauty and abuts the Arabian Sea, whose crystal blue waters add a wonder all around.
The island is named Sir Bani Yas and is a sj how piece for tourists. Earlier it was a sandy island , but the first ruler after independence decided to transform it into a national wild life park. experts from the west and surprisingly from India also helped  out. It is a pleasure to roam around the park and see the wild animals in their natural habitat( though artificially created). millions of trees were planted and at places the soil brought in from Punjab.
The park has protected species of gazelle,deer,giraffes, oryx and sea turtles. There are no  lions and tigers but the smaller cats like the Sudan Cheetah and striped hyena are available. It mainly has a string of docile animals who breed at this park which is almost 80 sq km in can drive through the park and see the animals as they play around. I was wonderstuck that a sandy desert has been transformed beyond measure into a green area. If one were to visit the island a stay of a minmum of 2 days is a must. There is also a lovely 64 room resort and a tourist can while away the evenings in the cool pool.
The island has historical significance and there is a Christian church that dates from the 7th century. This is renovated and opened to the public. I enjoyed my stay and took some photos which are added to this post.
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Both photos are taken by me

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Mohammed Ali Jinnah's Roots can be Traced to Hindu Ancestor in Gujarat

The Hindu Origin of MA Jinnah: Founder of Pakistan


Muhammad Ali Jinnah (December 25, 1876 – September 11, 1948) is a well-known political figure of the sub-continent. He considered himself as the leader of all Indian Muslims and never recognized Gandhi more than a Hindu leader. Jinnah was not the rabid communalist that he became later and started his career as a secularist. He was a prominent figure of the Congress party much before Gandhi came back from South Africa.
Unfortunately for Jinnah, the entry of Gandhi into the Congress party resulted in him being marginalized. He was a ambitious man and realized that he had no place in the Congress party. He thus joined the Muslim league. Jinnah realized that the only way he could move forward was to become the leader of Indian Muslims. This led to his transformation as secularist to a communalist. He began to champion the Muslim cause and in 1942 accepted the concept of Iqbal for a separate homeland for the Muslims. With Gandhi having usurped his role as and position as the great leader of the sub-continent. Jinnah realised that the only way he could survive against Gandhi was by becoming the leader of the Muslims..

Gandhi and Jinnah
Gandhi and Jinnah

Hindu roots of Jinnah

The Hindu roots of Jinnah are a fact of life. His grandfather had taken up the profession of a fish trader out of dire necessity as no other profession was open or available for him. The profession of a fish trader did not go down well with his community. His community was the Lohana and they were all vegetarians They did not like that a member of their own community should trade in fish..
The community asked him to give up his profession and a clash became inevitable. The Lohana’s ostracized him from the community. Premji continued with his fish trade and became rich. Once he had the money he gave up trading in fish and petitioned that he be taken back into the community fold. Unfortunately for Premji the elders of the Lohana community refused to accept him back. This was something Premji had not bargained for and he decided to rebel against his community and part ways with them completely. In this way he expected to get his back to them

Conversion to Islam

The rejection of Premji into the fold of the community hurt him badly. He decided the best way to have his own ego satisfied was to visit the Madrasa's, Muslim schools. His son ( Jinnah's father) named Punjalal Thakur was so enraged that he went a step forward and converted to Islam. He also converted his sons to Islam and gave them Muslim names. However he continued to use his old surname Zino or Jinno . In all aspects he became a believing and practicing Muslim.
Punjalal Thakur's eldest son was Mohammed Ali . He was born a Hindu but as his father converted too Islam he also embraced the Muslim faith. Considering the background of Jinnah, it is difficult to imagine that a man who was born a Hindu became so rabid a communal man and engineered anti Hindu riots in the Punjab. It does not gel with the mans character.
Bangladesh currency, earlier East Pakistan
Bangladesh currency, earlier East Pakistan

The psychology of Jinnah

One fact that is the absolute truth is that India was a Hindu Rashtra before the advent of the Muslims. After the arrival of the Muslims about 35% of the population converted to Islam, some by inducement and some by the sword. A few lower castes also converted to Islam. All the Hindu who converted became fanatical Muslims. Jinnah was also part of this ilk and he became a rabid communalist. His call for “direct action" in 1946 saw a great massacre of Hindus and Sikhs take place in areas of Muslim majority.
Personally Jinnah was a secularist, but when he appealed to masses he became a rabid communalist. He was also fond of meat and whiskey. This was a peculiar trait that came to the fore. He became Governor General and realised his dream, but it was a short lived dream as he himself died within 6 months of independence and his two nation theory crashed inside two and half decades of his death.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Failure of the Luftwaffe in the Battle of Stalingrad

 In late winter of 1943 the German army under General Von Paulos was bottled in Stalingrad and was surrounded by the Russian army. At that time the top German general Staff officers led by Field Marshal Von Man stein suggested that the army of Von Paulos be allowed to break out and join forces with his army group. Hitler was against this and gave a decision that the German army would fight to the last man at Stalingrad.
 He was supported in this by Reich Marshal Goering the chief of the German Air Force (Luftwaffe) who announced grandly that the German army bottled up in the Stalingrad salient would be supplied by air. For this he banked on an air bridge being created by the only 4 engine plane of the German air force the Focke Wulf 200. 
The Focke Wulf 200 also known as the Condor was designed by Dr. Kurt Tank for the German air line Lufthansa.
It was put to military use by Goering. The plane however had limitations in operation in extreme cold climate and when put to use for the Stalingrad air lift was a colossal failure.
The air bridge promised by Goering never took off and only a handful of Condors could land with supplies in the extreme cold and sub zero temperatures. In addition they suffered a tremendous attrition rate at the hands of the Russian air force. Thus the Luftwaffe failed to keep the German army supplied in the Stalingrad salient and was one of the primary causes for the surrender of the German force in Stalingrad.

 Goering must take the full blame for this sorry performance of the German Air Force. The FW 200 has gone down in history as a plane which had  little to no  impact in the war

The Swansong of the Battleship: Last Hurrah in the Vietnam War

The second world war is generally thought to be the demise of the battleship . A battleship is a large warship with a tonnage of over 30,000. Thus most of the battleships weighed over 40 thousand tonnes with the heaviest being the Yamato, which displaced over 64,000 tonnes.

The role of the battleship during the Second World War was extremely limited, with the pride of operations in the naval battles going to the aircraft carrier. Thus at the end of the war most of the battleships were scrapped. The US navy however did not scrap their capital ships, but kept a few in moth balls, ready for use if the situation so warranted. After the Tonkin gulf incident, the US started a bombardment of North Vietnam.

 This was the time that the Navy decided to use the battleship again. Accordingly the USS Missouri, which was in moth balls was got ready. The ship was serviced and fitted with all electronic gadgetry including ECM. The ship sailed for the North Vietnam coast. The USS Missouri had 16 inch guns with a range of about 30 miles. The battleship was ordered to move to the Vietnam coast. Its instructions were clear. It was to bombard the North Vietnam coast with its guns. It was to target the Vietnamese naval installations and other targets of military value.

 One big aim was to demoralize the Vietnamese, but this did not happen. The long range guns of the battleship went into action, but after a few weeks the ship was withdrawn. In retrospect the battleships use was again limited an produced no decisive result. After a few weeks the ship was recalled and it sailed back to the USA.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Drinking Beer is Fun ** 83

Recently my Parsi girl friend decided to spend an afternoon with me. We thought it best to while away the time by drinking beer. Beer in India is the perfect anti dote to the heat, more so in the months of Jun and July, when the mercury is soaring.  Thus drinking beer on a hot afternoon during these hot months is the best thing that can happen .All said and done beer is a great refresher and a perfect accompaniment to good company.

 Beer can be consumed in many ways. You can take it straight from the can or bottle .But then there are people who want a little, bit of refinement. For them beer can be downed with lemonade.  It’s called the ‘shandy’ and very popular. You can also experiment your glass of beer with Ginger ale or tonic and some may even try a cola.

There are so many combinations. All you need is imagination. You can have a beer with a shot of whiskey or southern comfort. The cocktails get exotic with a combination of beer 60ml vodka and sugar syrup laced with lemon and ice cubes. This is the famed 'skip and go naked' drink and you and your companion will love it, at least mine did. Add a shot of gin and you will be like a tiger.

 Sip the beer slowly and let the froth settle. Get some good snacks along with it and you are on your way to a wonderful afternoon. If you have good company, that much the better. It will be a wonderful afternoon.

Gina Lollobrigida: Great Actress from Italy of the 20th Century

lollobrigida.jpgGina Lollobrigida has a special niche for herself in Italian –Hollywood cinema. During her prime in the fifties and sixties she was a rage and had carved a special niche for herself. Her charm and sex appeal exuded from her and she was a veritable heart throb for millions of her followers.
Gina was born in 1927 and that would make her 84 years old now. Her active period in the show world was till 1996 when she retired and started devoting her time to American Italian heritage. Gina Lollobrigida despite being Italian and knowing very little English was a success on the Hollywood stage. She starred in many epic films.
Gina’s most telling and sexy scene is the Pagan dance in the film Solomon and Sheba where she starred with Yul Brynner. The Pagan dance brought out the sex appeal of Gina which transcended all boundaries of language and religion. Dressed in skimpy attire Gina does the Pagan dance with aplomb, that would shame many an eastern actress from Bollywood or Tamil films. More over none of the eastern actresses could carry of such a scene in the skimpy dress she wore.
Gina acted in many more films from Hollywood and in all of them she proved herself a versatile actress. Among her other films were Hunchback of Notre Dame with Anthony Quinn, Beat the Devil with Humphrey Bogart, Never so few with Frank Sinatra, Trapeze with Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis among others.
In 1955 Lollobrigida appeared in The World's Most Beautiful Woman, for which she received the first David di Donatello for Best Actress award. Her film Come September in 1961 was a great hit all over the world where she co-starred with Rock Hudson.
During the period of the seventies and nineties, her career slowed down and finally retired from acting. She then became a activist of NIAF( National Italian American Foundation). She received a life time award   from this foundation in 2008. The foundation looks after the heritage if Italian Americans.
Gina married only once and divorced in 1971. She has one child (a son). Gina Lollobrigida is remembered for her sex appeal and histrionics on the screen. Even now almost 5 decades later Gina is remembered as a Hollywood and Italian actress par excellence. Her films like Solomon and Sheba in re-runs and on the net are still a tremendous draw. I for one have seen her re-runs and am convinced she was the most beautiful screen actress to light the scre

Life in the United Arab Emeritus: A Success story of the Middle East

The United Arab Emeritus is a nation on the edge of the Arabian Desert and abuts the Arabian Sea. It is a union of 9 Sheikhdoms with Abu Dhabi being the biggest and Dubai the most developed.  All the 9 states are developed though the degree of development and prosperity is may vary.
The UAE is comparatively an oasis of peace and the norm of arson and violence so endemic to other Middle East nations like Egypt, Syria and Iraq is absent here.  In the ultimate analysis the UAE has charted a different path and is also relatively more secular than the other Middle East nations. It also gives equal opportunity to all its residents.

In great measure this secular approach is the result of pragmatic and realistic policies followed by the rulers led by Sheikh Maktoum of Dubai and Sheikh Zayed of Abu Dhabi. The approach can be seen in the largest Sikh gurudwara (temple) in the Middle East at Jebel Ali in Dubai. There are also many functional churches in Abu Dhabi.

The UAE and Dubai in particular has developed as a financial center and tourist paradise.  Millions of visitors come to UAE for a holiday and Dubai is the second busies airport in the world after New York. There is a vast expatriate population that constitutes almost 80% of the population of UAE, with people from India and Pakistan making up the bulk. In fact the entire country is run by workers from the sub –continent. With such a large expatriate work force the chance of  an agitation like the ones witnessed in other Middle East nations during the famous ’Arab Spring’ are totally absent here and probably will never take place. Thus the UAE has a  stable political environment and organizations like the IS( Islamic State) are unable to find any roots at this place.

There is also a property boom on and many well-heeled Englishmen and Indians are buying homes in UAE. This ownership of property is allowed by the rulers who have adopted a pragmatic approach. In addition Dubai s developed as a world financial center. Millions of tourists visit UAE, making Dubai the second busiest airport in the world after New York. It follows a tax free regime and foreign businesses have flocked to UAE. The bigger gain is in tourism and there is nothing to match dubai with sand safaris and camel rides and belly dancers.

The UAE is an oasis in a troubled Middle East and one wonders why other Muslim nations cannot take a leaf from the book of the UAE.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Richard Burton: Mind of a Famous Star * 66

A Review of Richard Burton's Diaries: an Explosive Personal Account

The Richard Burton Diaries reveal Burton as a very intelligent man. Readers will be particularly interested in his account of his relationship with Elizabeth Taylor. The diaries make interesting reading. Perhaps at times Burton must have been aware that whatever he wrote would be read by people all over the world for posterity after his death. Would that have colored some of what he wrote?

Richard Burton was an English actor from Wales. He was born in 1925 at Pontrhydyfen. Despite his English origin Burton won accolades in Hollywood, where he was nominated seven times for an Oscar. Out of these, six times were for ‘Best Actor’. Only Peter O Toole was nominated more times than Burton, but sadly Burton never won an Oscar.  This is more a reflection on the Oscar award than on Burton.
Burton acted in some legendary roles that are remembered. Films like My Cousin Rachel, Becket, The Robe, Who is Afraid of Virginia Wolf and dozens of other movies show cased Burton as an actor par excellence.. He is also remembered for a tumultuous love affair and three marriages with the famous Hollywood star Elizabeth Taylor.
 How Burton Wrote his Diaries
Burton was in the habit of writing his diary throughout his life. After his death in 1984 the diaries were published. Burton’s diaries can make depressing reading as some pages have just one word ‘Booze’ written. This show the actors drift to melancholy and alcoholism. This was a lifelong struggle for Burton who just c couldn't control his alcoholism and ultimately drank himself to death.

Reading the diaries however show the man to have been insecure, despite all the fame and riches he had. The diaries have been published in their original sequence and readers can link up with the various events in Burton’s life. The diaries cover a period of almost 44 years from 1939 to 1983. Burton started writing the diaries as a young teen. He meticulously recorded entries for over four decades. A reading of the diaries will bring out the mesmerizing roles he played on stage and screen. Burton was also a great stage actor, no way less than as a star on celluloid.A reader of the diaries will wonder how a man who on the face of it had everything including the most beautiful woman in the world as a love and wife could drift into depression and alcoholism. The diaries also cover the period when he was Hollywood’s highest paid actor. Readers may try and get some insight into the mind of Burton who made dazzling purchases of diamonds as well as several homes in different places.

Burtons Diaries

Burton wrote the diaries in his own hand. It’s fascinating to read Burton as he brushed shoulders with some of the greats in show business like Olivia de Havilland, John Gielgud, Claire Bloom, Laurence Olivier, John Huston, Dylan Thomas, and Edward Albee.
 The Richard Burton Diaries reveal Burton as a very intelligent man. Readers will be particularly interested in his account of his relationship with Elizabeth Taylor. The diaries make interesting reading. Perhaps at times Burton must have been aware that whatever he wrote would be read by people all over the world for posterity after his death. Would that have colored some of what he wrote?
Despite this Burton’s diaries are a treasure house of interesting literature. They reveal the mind of the man who can be rated as England’s greatest actor. He was a titan among other mortals and has left behind an image of a great human being.

A Review of "The Perfumed Garden" and its Erotic Tales

Tales of 'The Perfumed Garden': Arabic Erotica

The Perfumed Garden is a book that emphasizes the sexual nature of the Human mind. The book written by Sheikh Nefzawi gives good sexual advice and at the same time illustrates the Sheikhs ideas through a series of tales that are interspersed throughout the book. The tales are erotic and one is hard put to explain how so licentious a book has come from a Muslim area.

The Perfumed Garden is a book that goes against the mainstream thought of modern Islam as practiced in countries like Saudi Arabia. The book is the antithesis of the Wahabbi concept in Islam which is puritan and rigid. The Wahabbi concept enforces a code of conduct that denies women their basic rights. The Perfumed Garden strikes at the roots of this concept by emphasizing the sexual nature of the Human mind. The book written by Sheikh Nefzawi gives relevant sexual advice and at the same time illustrates the Sheikhs ideas through a series of tales that are interspersed throughout the book.  The tales are erotic and one is hard put to explain how so licentious a book has come from an area that is home to an extremely rigid and iconoclast religion that denies the sexual nature of a human relationship.

The Sheikh's Imagination

Whatever hard line Muslims might say the Perfumed garden is a book that is erotic in the extreme. The purpose of these stories which can be read independently of the other chapters of the Perfumed Garden is to stimulate the reader and open a world of sexual pleasure.

The Tales in the Perfumed Garden. 

The Sheikh was a man with a great and imaginative mind. His description of the sex act is the work of a genius. The Sheikh writes  that  during a sexual act when the organ disappears into the vulva, the testicles are frightened . The vulva who has devoured  the brother announces that it will ensure that their brother is killed. The testicles are even more frightened, but after a lapse of time when their brother emerges out they find him very weak, yet he is happy and his brothers the testicles are surprised.

The Perfumed Garden is replete with a number of erotic tales. Some of the tales will be more than a match for modern erotic fiction recognized as great literature like Night in a Moorish Harem and Venus in India.
One the tales concerns the Jester Bauloul. This man loved the beautiful princess Hamdouna and he forever was making plans to seduce the princess.  As per the Sheikh the Jester was successful and the game of sexual love was furthered by a Robe which Bauloul owned and the Princess desired. Balaoul readily consented to part with the robe and as a recompense seduced the lovely Hamdouna. The Sheikh recounts how the Jester was able to copulate with the princess not once but 3 times and each time he was a man of greater vigor and the princess was eminently satisfied. The moral of the story is that a man must satisfy his beloved to get to her inner feelings of love.

The Sheikh relates another story of a beautiful woman named Fadehat. Such was her beauty that a neighbor Joida fell in love with her and made a one point plan to possess the lovely Fadehat. The Sheikh goes on to say that fortune favors the brave and the lover decided on a direct course of action. He approached the lovely Fadehat and showed himself to the lady. The sight appeared like a gift from the Gods and the lady was so smitten by the visual that the lover could have Fadehat 27 times. The Sheikh relates as a moral that a direct approach with suitable performance is more than likely to win the love of a woman than writing endless poems and verses.

The Sheikh in another story also relates how a woman who claimed to be a prophetess forgot all about being a prophet after she had partaken of the elixir of life. There is also a tale of a man pockmarked and hideous yet was loved by a beautiful and lovely woman. This was due to his immense power and sexual stamina.
The Sheikh makes a worthy point which is very much relevant even today. He brings out the stark fact that a man’s prowess in bed is the ultimate peak on the path of winning the love of a woman. This is accepted now and for the Sheik to have stated it in a puritan atmosphere deserves our adulation.

 We can also spare a thought for the translator Sir Richard Burton who brought the book from obscurity to the limelight at the fag end of the 19th century

George B Shaw: Greatest Dramatist? His Writings

Evaluating George Bernard Shaw As a Dramatist, Second Only to Shakespeare

George Bernard Shah is recognized as the greatest dramatist after Shakespeare. Some even rate him above the bard from Avon. GB Shah was a writer who revolutionized English prose. He was in a way a dreamer and that filtered into his writings. He believed that the world is beautiful and it is the folly of man that it is not a paradise. This was the reason he took up relevant social- political issues and brought them out in his plays.

George Bernard Shah is recognized as the greatest dramatist after Shakespeare. Some even rate him above the bard from Avon. GB Shah was a writer who revolutnized English prose. He was in a way a dreamer and that filtered into his writings.  He believed that the world is beautiful and it is the folly of man that it is not a paradise. This was the reason he took up relevant social- political issues and brought them out in his plays.

An excellent example is the play “Mrs. Warrens Profession” In this play he discussed the oldest profession in the world, prostitution. Slums so much a part of British London during his time was beautifully represented in “Widower’s House”, Think of a subject and GB Shah tackled it with aplomb. He portrayed the medical profession in “Doctor’s Dilemma” and the scourge of war in “Arms and the man. His portrayal of love, marriage and adultery is skillfully represented in “Candida”.

Thus one can visualize GB Shaw as a dramatist who had a sensitive mind. His i portrayal of social issues that concern the common man is something that puts him in my view above all play.  But GB was not just a man who represented socio-economic problems only, as his writings concerned the innermost feelings and ethos of human life. He wrote about what man is and how he reacts in a situation, this is the beauty of GB Shaw’s writings.

Shaw brings out a deeper conflict, a conflict of the mind. This is more terrible than an actual conflict. Shaw was a mental man and he envisaged a victory on the mental plane with logic and discussion. Thus one can see that the plays of Shaw have a different genre and he in fact is step higher than most play writers. There are critics of the plays of Shaw. They feel his plays lack ‘conflict’ and as this is the soul of a play, they are apt to put him lower in the scale of English writers. Fortunately such critics are very few, but one has to rebut them.

 The characters created by GB are real life characters. His plays are like debates as in ‘Arms and the Man’; a conflict is fought by both sides. But one will agree that though there are allusions to conflict the actual war is not represented.  But in all his plays there is an undercurrent of conflict and that is the beauty of Shaw’s plays.
 Shaw used his characters to portray his innermost feelings. He is like a debater who discusses both sides of an issue. Thus in ’Arms and the Man’ Shaw brings out two opposite view points through his characters Sergius and Bluntschli. A look at one of his plays brings out the debate as one of the characters in ‘Candida’ says   “Man can climb to the highest summits but he cannot dwell for long”, while another character says “It is false: there can he dwell forever.

Shaw thus represented the dual side of a problem.  One can without second thoughts say that here is a writer who is as great as Shakespeare In a way Shaw unlike Shakespeare was of a more modern age and he was a propagandist. But he did not just pen propaganda and that is the reason he wrote fairly lengthy prefaces to his plays. These prefaces are important and help us to understand GB Shaw the man.  He was in a way a maverick, but a genius. His refusal to accept the Nobel prize was part of his make up.
 In sum GB Shaw is one of the greatest writers of the English language and reading him decades after his death, one can realize that apart from writing impeccable English he was a revolutionary and a debater on a higher plane, an intellectual plane.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Passing out Parade and a First Dance. * 66

 The  Air Force is a fine place and one of the services that has an aura and glamour of its own. Despite a PG in Nuclear Physics I joined the Air Force and trained hard to pass the course and become a Pilot Officer. That was the first rank in the hierarchy at that time( Now this rank is abolished). The culmination of a rigorous period of training was a dinner  dance after the passing out parade. I remember the passing out parade as nostalgic moment in my life as we passed out from cadetship to become officers to the band playing "Auld Lang Syne", a latin tune. For long the forces retained the Anglo marching tunes like "Colonel Bogey" and it was only much later that a few Indian tunes were incorporated, but the western tunes still hold sway. 
The passing out parade( I shall write about it later) is followed up with a dinner dance for the cadets ( now officers), their relations and and guests. Also invited are some girl guests who we had come to know during the times we were allowed to book out in mufti. The final training and dance was at Coimbatore.
I recollect that the first dance I attended was as a cadet. We  were all very apprehensive as none of us had ever been at a formal dance.  We confessed our fears to our Flight Commander a chap named Aminuddin Ahmed. He had a big laugh and told us not to worry  as you have the Air Force crest on your pocket and that itself is an invitation.We were not allowed to book out of camp without our blue blazer with the Air Force crest on its pocket and the cadet tie as well.
The flight commander was right as at the dance we had no problems looking for partners and most girls preferred to know us. I became close to an Anglo-Indian girl and it was a start of a wonderful time. I invited her for the passing out parade ( POP) as well as the dinner dance. I can say my mother was aghast and didn't like it one bit, but she came and we danced the fox trot to soulful music of Louis Armstrong. It was also the first time I tasted whiskey. This dance remains a memorable time to remember .
After the dance I dropped her home on a borrowed bike ( my flight commanders) and we promised to meet each other for ever. But before that we  drove miles and miles towards Siruvani the dense jungles around Coimbatore. I dropped her home in the early hours of the morning. But our affair, if I can call it that did not flower as she later migrated to Australia.  I have an old photo of the dance with me in Mess dress along with  Mrs Victor Srihari,  who was the wife of Commander in Chief at that time.  Well times and events take place and I do believe in what the Lord Krishna says " Not a leaf moves without my will"

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Best Place for a Holiday: Abu Dhabi Zoo at Al Ain

Till the sixties of the last century Abu Dhabi was a barren piece of land on the edge of the great Arabian Desert. The discovery of oil changed all that and now Abu Dhabi is one of the countries in the world with the highest per capita income. This oil boom had other effects also and resulted in greening part of the desert. This was done by importing soil from Pakistan, Punjab and planting hardy trees and bushes.
One of the areas greened is Al Alain a small city about 150 away from the capital Abu Dhabi. Visiting this place will make a visitor feel he has come to another part of the world. The Abu Dhabi national zoo is also located here. It is housed in a sprawling green belt and home to some of the best animals from Africa and other places.
The zoo charges an entrance fee of 100 Dirhams( $ 25) per person. Inside the zoo one can hire an electric car to move around and this will cost you another $ 25, but many prefer to walk around and have a look at the animals on foot. The zoo is planned as per international standards and the wild animals kept in enclosures as close to their natural habitat as possible. 
African animals like the Giraffe, Zebra, African lion, Rhinoceros and African elephant dominate the zoo. One can feed the Giraffes in a special enclosure and for this a feed of carrots and radish is available for 10 Dirhams. The birds section has vast enclosures with buzzards, eagles and other hardy species.  The African crocodile is also on display. The pride of the zoo is the white tiger from India. There are a pair of them and none the worse for the heat that can see temperatures touch 50 degrees centigrade in summer.
However it's a matter of regret that animals from India with the exception of the white tiger are not on display. The zoo does not have the Asiatic lion, Indian one-horned rhino and the famous Bengal tiger. Perhaps the zoo will add these animals in the near future. I made an entry in the suggestion book about this and I received an email from the zoo director that this lacuna will be rectified.
Visiting the zoo is a pleasure and one needs an entire day to do justice to this place. There are some nice eateries also and one can have  snacks like hamburgers and cold drinks with tea or coffee.  The zoo can be reached by state bus from Abu Dhabi or a taxi. I however drove in my own car and relished the drive,which is along a lovely speedway. I will recommend a visit to the Abu Dhabi zoo for all who plan a holiday in the United Arab Emeritus.

Halting the Japanese Tide: Failure of Subhas B0se

The Indian National Army  was made up off captured Indian POWs. These prisoners were given the option of freedom and joining the INA. Bose himself addressed many POW camps and appealed to the POWs to side with the Japanese and join the INA. Unfortunately, not many POWs joined the INA. A reading of the autobiography of Lt General  Harbaksh Singh is quite revealing. He was taken a POW by the Imperial army as a Captain in Burma. He was promised a promotion and freedom, in case he joined the INA. Harbaksh refused to join the INA, though one of his colleagues Captain Mohan Singh joined the INA and was made a General. Harbaksh goes on to  add that not many POWs joined the INA.
What was the strength of the INA? This point is glossed over by most persons who trumpet about the activities of the INA. The fact is that the INA was never more than 40,000. This is just about 2 divisions and in contrast to the British Indian Army, where Indians numbered 2.5 million can be considered minuscule.
Obviously you cannot win a war with just 40,000 soldiers. Hence the bulk of the fighting in Burma was done by the Imperial army which captured Rangoon and pushed the British Indian army to the gates of India.
In 1944, the Japanese army surrounded Kohima and also converged on Imphal. The British were aware that in case these two cities fell to the Imperial army, the gates of India would be opened. They were vary of the effect of Subhas Bose, who carried on a relentless propaganda  asking the Indian soldiers with the British Indian army to desert their posts and join the Japanese. In fact, the Japanese also relied on Bose to convince the Indian soldiers of the 8th Army to switch sides.
Here is the dichotomy and the failure of Bose. Field Marshal Viscount Lord William Slim the commander of the 8th army had specially selected Sikhs, Jats, Rajput, Gurkhas and Punjabi Muslims  for the battle against the Japanese. He was confident that there would be no  defections and he was proved right. Not a single Indian soldier switched sides and all fought for the crown and king. I am sure this must have exasperated Bose, whose dream came crumbling down.
The Indian soldiers of the British Indian army entrenched themselves and faced the Japanese.  There was bitter hand to hand fighting, but the Indian front line held firm. They were surrounded by the Imperial army and had to be supplied by air by the RAF and the RIAF. This battle is no less important than the Battle of Stalingrad, yet Western historians  give greater glory to  Stalingrad. One reason could be that they did not want to publicize the glory of the Indian army which held the Imperial army at bay for many months. 
Despite all the propaganda broadcasts and leaflets thrown on the Indian troops by Bose and Japanese, to join the INA failed. The Indian soldiers remained loyal to their English officers. This was the most brutal part of the war and the Japanese used to easy victories in China and Indo-China were thwarted. The Japanese Commander in Chief was surprised and soon the Japanese soldiers began to lose heart. The 8th army was further beefed up. By end 1944 they broke the Japanese siege. The Japanese were pushed back and the Sikh and Jat troops broke the back of the Japanese army. 
From all accounts this was a great setback to Bose. It was clear that his appeals did not cut ice with Indian soldiers. Historians must analyze as to why the India soldiers did not defect and remained loyal to the English.  This  is a fact of history for which I have no answer. 
The Japanese failed at the gates of India. Perhaps their easy victories earlier were a flash in the pan. They could not could not break the resolve of the British Indian troops. The Japanese were  pushed back and began a headlong retreat.  The British Indian army captured Mandalay and Rangoon. At its peak the British Indian army had 2.5 million Indian men under arms. The officer cadre  was almost 95% pure English. In contrast Bose could just about gather 40,000 men. This is another fact that needs to be evaluated. Why could  not Bose attract more Indians to his cause.?
History is unforgiving, but facts cannot be kept  under wraps and have an uncanny knack of appearing at the wrong time. The facts of the INA are out. In my view it was a brave outfit, but too small a force to effect a result. Even if the Japanese had won at Kohima and Imphal, Bose would have remained a small time player. This  is not a reflection on the caliber of Bose , but on the character of the Indians. .
Subhas Bose was a very brave man, but the  Indian psyche  let him own. But he did have an effect and in the sum total the British got worried that if 40,000 men could join Bose, more may revolt against them later.The Royal Inian Navy  mutiny of 1946, by 20000 sailors put the seal on their assessment that their days were over. This was  admitted by Clement Attlee in his interview after he retired.
Bose was a great man, but at the crucial point during World War II he was let down by Indians themselves.  The Indian nation missed a great opportunity  of throwing out the English at that time.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Good Eating Joint in Abu dhabi: Lal Qila Restaurant

Lal Qila Restaurant in Abu Dhabi is a Great Place to Dine

Abu Dhabi is a place that has wonderful eating joints and restaurants. The entire city is a gourmet’s paradise and more particularly in case you are fond of Pakistani or North West Indian food than nothing beats Abu Dhabi. One of the finest places to dine is the Lal Qila located in the heart of the capital city. I understand the eating joint is owned by a Pakistani from Lahore and excellent looking Muslim girls in traditional Indian and Pakistani dresses serve and attend to you. There is also a poet from Lahore who recites some beautiful Urdu couplets and regales the customers.
The restaurant serves only buffet meals and has one of the most lavish spreads one can think of. The fare on display to taste and savor consists of over a 100 dishes covering Indian, Pakistani and Chinese food. It’s one of the most elaborate spreads i have come across anywhere in the world. The food is exceptional and one can spend a fair amount of time eating and listening to the Urdu couplets. The only drawback is that beer and alcohol are not served. Frankly one doesn't mind this as the foo is so sumptuous that beer can take a back seat
The meal can set you back by 100 dirhams per head, but overall is a wonderful place to dine on the best food available in Abu Dhabi.