Friday, 11 August 2017

Pakistan's Mother Teresa Dies

Dr Ruth Pfau, a German doctor popularly known as Pakistan's 'Mother Teresa', died on Thursday at a private hospital in Karachi. She was 87.

Dr. Pfau had dedicated her life to eradicate leprosy in Pakistan.

Dr. Pfau had originally been assigned to travel to India, but landed in Karachi for a brief stay due to some visa problems.

Guam's Governor backs Donald Trump's fiery rhetoric

The Governor of Guam, the US territory threatened with attack by North Korea, has backed Donald Trump's fiery rhetoric toward the nuclear-armed nation, saying that a President who whole-heartedly embraces forceful retaliation over attacks on US territory is "what I want".

Here are ten other reasons to avoid Guam.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Is Chloe Ayling Lying?


British glamour model Chloe Ayling claimed to have been abducted and held hostage for six days after being lured to Milan for a bogus photo shoot by a gang who intended to auction her as a sex slave.  20-year-old Chloe Ayling was only freed when her captors realised she had a baby son back home in London. Chloe claimed to have been injected with a drug and hidden in a bag in the boot of a car before later on, during her captivity, becoming aware she was being auctioned for sale on the Dark Web for £270,000.

After six days of captivity, Chloe was taken to the British consulate in Milan by one of her captors, Polish-born Lukasz Herba, 30, from Oldbury in the West Midlands. Herba was promptly arrested himself. Chloe claimed that neither Herba nor any other captor sexually assaulted her.

Now questions are being raised about the veracity of Chloe's claims since it appears that Herba took Chloe shopping during her abduction. Italian police have admitted that they are looking into the possibility that Chloe and Herba may have been collaborating, though they do not have clearcut proof.



Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Corrupt Zuma Survives

South African President Jacob Zuma survived a no-confidence vote in parliament yesterday. Everybody knows that Zuma is corrupt, yet he survives. He is even popular in SA. In that, he is very similar to a number of Indian politicians who are openly corrupt, yet popular. Corruption in developing countries is a form of feudalism. The corrupt politician milks off from the nation’s coffers to feed his own constituency. Many voters expect their political leaders to be corrupt and pass on some of the spoils. This will change only when the population becomes more educated and aware. India and SA, miles to go before we get there!

Who’s helping the Taliban?

The Taliban are fanatic Sunnis and one wouldn't expect Shia Iran to help them. There are reports that Iran is actually doing just that, but that's Breitbart news, which is not very credible.

 

What is credible is this CNN report that Russia is helping the Taliban, its erstwhile enemy!!


Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Book Review: No Strings Attached, by Sheila Kumar


Reading a Mills and Boon novel has been on my bucket list for the last twenty years or so, ever since I knew enough about books to be snooty about them. No, No Strings Attached has not been brought out by Mills and Boon, far from it, but hey, I can recognize the real McCoy when I run into it, especially because the author Sheila Kumar has dedicated her latest book to her M & B gang.

Keep your prejudices aside, I had strictly instructed myself before I waded in and was hit with two perfect human specimens. Half English Nina Sabharwal is everything a hetrosexual man would look for in a woman and Samar Pratap Singh is a case of Adonis meeting a young version of that chap from Bridges of Madison County, with a big dose of royalty thrown in. Yes, Samar Singh, aka Heartbreak Singh belongs to a royal family from Jaisalmer and is rolling in money and does not really have to work hard for a living (as a world famous photographer), but he does.

At times I did wonder why two perfect human specimens who are engulfed in love, desire and admiration for each other have to put themselves through so much trauma and grief, delusion and self-deprivation before they do the only sensible thing in the given circumstances, but hey, love does conquer all, but one should expect hurdles on the way. A lot of hurdles.

No Strings Attached is written in simple English, without too much frills, the sort which gets you to the meat of the story, very much akin to the way Samar and Nina strip each others’ clothes off and ….

I believe Sheila Kumar used to be a full-time journalist and No Strings Attached is set in the world of Indian journalism. If you are familiar with this world, you may recognize a few characters, but that shouldn’t distract you from enjoying this splendid romantic thriller, which is dying to be made into a classy movie, a Hollywood movie - the sensibilities are too sophisticated for Bollywood.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Book Review: Adi Sankara & Other Stories, by Susan Visvanathan


Three short stories by Susan Visvanathan. The first one a mango slice, the second a pineapple with a slice missing and the third a pine cone. The mango from which the mango slice comes must have been a big one, though the slice is not large, possibly not more than one-sixteenth of the mango, or even one-thirty second. The pineapple, on the other hand is rather small and even if the missing slice weren’t missing, it still wouldn’t have been much bigger than a large mango. The pine cone comes from a tall pine tree and one can only guess how tall the pine tree would be.

Adi Sankara’s philosophy is well known to all Indians, whilst his personal life is remarkably murky, despite the existence of around fourteen biographies. Visvanathan’s Adi Sankara is a quick glimpse into what must have been Sankara’s childhood in Kaladi. It whets one’s appetite and leaves the reader hungry. One feels Sankara’s hunger for food and his fear of the crocodile as keenly as his hunger for knowledge. It was an exciting time then in Kerala with Islam having made an entry, the Buddhists confident and everywhere and the Syrian Christians laid-back and as powerful as the caste Hindus. Adi Sankara’s travels take him all over the sub-continent, to Pataliputra, Nalanda and Magadh. Surely there’s so much more to Adi Sankara, but Visvanathan hides the rest of the mango.

I liked the second story, Beyond the Ferry, best of the three. Jehangir, a village in Kerala where many children are born deformed, thanks to Thalidomide poisoning. Abe, a poor boy who has no physical deformity, other than that inflicted by his poverty. Shazia, a girl whom Abe befriends, but cannot hope to marry. Sayir, a rich old merchant from Benaras who comes to Jehangir to marry poor Shazia, still barely a child. Suleman, Abe’s friend, who doesn’t known Shazia from Adam until he ends up working for Sayir and meets his Sayir’s wife, renamed Tazia. When the story ends, Abe has done well for himself – he is an engineer and is still looking for a wife. Tazia has been divorced by Sayir and returns to Jehangir with Suleman and Abe spots them. Visvanathan makes it clear that Abe is unlikely to marry Shazia, though she is recently divorced, because Abe wants to marry a girl who his mother would approve. They don’t care about dowry, Abe’s parents, they are only looking at the girl’s personality. Yet we know that Shazia will not wed Abe.

The pine cone is from a cold land, where the snow fell steadily, the sun hardly rose, the poplars rose in straight lines and the bleak greyness of the sky was hard to imagine. The western world is in the dark ages. Nevertheless, certain things were always the same even in those ancient times and faraway lands, in that Kings spent an inordinate amount of time fighting and plotting for lands and power, they married to create alliances and not for love and their families were usually neglected. Visvanathan’s writing is so exquisite that one can feel the physical hardship experienced by wandering royalty in those centuries before the industrial age, where the cruel weather made it so easy for a weak child to die, even when the child was a prince!

In an era where the best writing is considered to be that which can be read on mobile phones in sms format and delivers instant gratification, Visvanathan’s craft work is a thrown back to an era which is rapidly fading from our collective memories.