Saturday, May 27, 2017

What is OBOR?


China’s One Belt One Road initiative is neither new, nor about A road. Essentially it proposes to resurrect the ancient land and sea Silk Routes from China to the West, with modern infrastructure in roads, rails, ports, power plants etc. China will play $115 billion Santa Claus to 60 odd countries strung across Asia, Europe, Africa and Australia.
It scored early by co-opting earlier projects like the Europe-China rail and CPEC into OBOR … since there is no definitive project list anyway.  
The aim of OBOR?   Anything from using up China’s   mythical cash hordes; to resurrecting centuries-old domination over South East Asia, later Africa and now Europe and Australia too; to establish its hegemony over more than half the world with cheap loans, after its moves over the South China Sea.
The territory is familiar to India, History’s hoary Trading Nation. International trading routes cannot ignore India, straddling the Indian Ocean, with Zanzibar, Nairobi in the West and Gujarat and Kerala in the East; further east Kolkata, keyed into OBOR as South China’s access to Mynamar, Bangladesh etc to bypass the Malacca Straits, if ever blocked. 
Why would it be blocked??

India’s relations, cultural and trade, with East Africa, Far East and Myanmar are hoary.  First Hinduism, then Buddhism went East in peace. Witness Balinese Hinduism, Ramayan influenced dances, the Borobudur temple in Java, a colossal heritage Angkor Wat temple.
China’s came too, with dark spots of hegemony and overrule; worst being China-supported Red regimes that overran Indo China, split Vietnam and resulted in horrendous brutality by local regimes, the Reds and Americans.
To them and Europe, China’s OBOR avatar offers ports, rails, roads and other infrastructural goodies, funded by China and its financial sector. 
The question is: What is the catch?
Meanwhile, India rests on her past, Non Aligned laurels and pennies: a petroleum hub at Trincomalee, a maritime hub at Andaman; China sells intercontinental railways, we sell railway database. The gas pipeline and highway linking Iran to us, via Afghanistan, offering access to Central Asia malingers over Bogeyman Corruption/Delays.  Projects with multi nodal links (ship-rail-road) to Europe, via Turkey, Gulf, Central Asia, Russia sank into mire.
In the run up to the grand OBOR festival, we ‘discovered’ that CPEC cut through what we fondly call Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, disputed territory that is the pet cottage industry of various central ministries under successive governments. 
What were our diplomats doing since 2013, after which Xi Ping was entertained at Ahmedabad and PM Modi in China?   Talking about Arabs and Chinese being ‘unnatural allies’, or the dams being built along our border with China?
Let’s face facts: POK is the nub of Central Asian land routes that kept those areas bound to India since Time Immemorial.      Sindhis serviced Central Asian trade financially, amongst others; their hundis respected across Eurasia. At Partition, when Pakistan got Sindh, Hindu traders fled. While they rebuilt global connections, we forgot about them.
Now India whistles in the dark alone, “They’ll have to come to me to complete their circle”.  Who’s coming along?



The guys who wrote the Ved Purans must have been a real misogynist lot.
Hey, wait a minute; didn't the Brahmins do all the transcription, centuries after their actual creation and oral tradition?
Hmmm Brahmins?        It figures.
Some say, after release of the soul in cremation, it goes to Pitralok. 
This enables a forefather to move to his next birth. No instant rebirth?
Anyways, so grandson releases grandfather, and so on.

Now what about the women?
Does grandma also need a grandson or a grand beti will do?
Does it have to be her son’s son or Beti‘s son will do?  Is there any mention?
After all in our times when one son is common,
What happens to Daadima,  Naanima and  Mausima? 
Everyone does not have a son. Some people don't have kids at all.
Agar bete ki Beti hai, toh?
Agar Beti ka beta hai toh?
 What about his paternal grandfather then? If no grandkids, toh?
 And if only one grandchild releases grandpa, what about grandma?
Or are the women to remain floating souls around this world only?

If so, how will the guys vows of "janam janam ka Saath" survive for the prescribed saat janams?

Saturday, May 13, 2017

SILVER DREAMS

A New Beginning is always difficult; so much goes against the grain, the tradition, Indian custom.
Actually, not so much --- haven’t men been marrying as soon as one wife dies?  Often enough even while she lives?            
Widow remarriage is not big deal in most parts of the world.  But, in India?  
BIG DEAL.   
Building bridges between two lonely people, tearing down of walls of bias against women, creating a new society that recognized a new humanity ---- all these are topics people love to comment on but hesitate to delve into, even in the form of a Book.
Silver Dreams from Notion Press is one such book – that builds a vibrant, racy narrative to counter the old Sita concepts, now an Indian history staple.     Rana and Kinnary are both Senior Citizens.  Yet there is a potent zest for life, desire tamped down by circumstance and a need for the cuddles and caresses that replace passion after that while that translates into date nights.
Moving at a thriller pace through Bottecelli moments and emotional tsunamis, discussions on masturbation, the intricacies of German labor and the indenture system that replaced slavery --- to the need for ‘reaching out’, healthy Memory Banks, the need for ‘closure’ after a death in the family, mutual needs, the significance of the “jeete rahiye” blessing and why a maang tikka is worn with sindhoor.
They come across as well grounded individuals who could become the Emblem for various generations.  Reviews of the book, especially from men wandering unknowingly into romantic territories, have expressed astonishment at what they discovered of female desires and thought processes in the book… perhaps an education in itself.

The book sets something of a record:  first Romance of the Elderly in Indian English fiction.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

WAS THERE AN ARYAN INVASION?


How many studied the “India’s Aryan Invasion” in school? Possibly everyone? 
Recent research indicates that was just an imperialist theory; a successful attempt at cultural imperialism, to prove the superiority of Occidental culture and to give the British an unholy cover for their presence in India at all -- that they were merely repeating what had been done in the hoary past.  
It offered Occidental culture a false antiquity beyond ancient Vedic culture, and served to split India into a northern Aryan and a southern Dravidian culture that still festers.  In short, an instrument for subjugation that negates the facts that Dravidian culture was an early offshoot of the Vedic, through Agastya, and that there were migrations from India, across the Asian landmass into Europe up to Germany: “The Return of the Aryans” by Dr. Bhagwandas Gidwani.
Led by Max Mueller and other Christian scholars steeped in Biblical chronology, an arbitrary date of 1500 B C was chosen post The Great Flood, so that Vedic culture would be ‘learning’? from the ancestors of the Occident, rather than the other way round.  It also served to shroud all the ancient Vedas, Upanishads, epics etc. as “myths” to allow questioning their validity.
A dark vs light skinned struggle was super imposed, as children of the sun and of the moon.  No one asked why this Sun-Moon concept was not applied to Persian and Eygptian scriptures.
In his counter argument, scholar David Frawley draws attention to the faulty mathematics and other contrary facts.
Vedic culture was created by primitive Central Asian nomads with horse drawn chariots and iron weapons that destroyed the Indus Valley Culture (IVC).    
But horses, weapons and chariots existed in the IVC too; they were a hoary tradition from pre-Vedic times. An Indus seal shows a spoked wheel, as used in chariots. In fact, chariots, endemic in the plains, would be cumbersome in the Central Asian passes. 
The question arises:  would nomads use chariots at all? The concept of nomads is those who are on the move, crossing mountains and deserts.    For an “Aryan invasion”?   Totally unsuitable.
Chariots were the vehicles of ancient urban cultures of flat rolling lands, such as North India’s plains provide galore.   The IVC was largely a city culture of planned urban conglomerations … that would mean room for chariots as well, presumably.   The Rig Veda mentions cities too; so did the histories of Egypt and Mesopotamia, long before the Occident refined into civilization.
Recent investigations indicate that the IVC was not decimated by enemies; rather, causes such as climate change or floods.  Ditto, the end of Krishna’s famed Dwarka, now Bet Dwarka that reveal elaboration between IVC and the India the Greeks saw later. Those dates would expose an unbroken urban culture going back to the beginning of the IVC.

Kudos to Dr. Gidwani’s 1990s affirmation of the pre-historic antiquity of civilization in India, that answered questions left unanswered by the classic history taught in schools.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

SILVER DREAMS  is my fourth book, published late 2016 which holds a unique record:
that of being the first Senior Romance in recent Indian English literature.  Set at a number of locales described in the book,  for a romance, it also sets another unique record.
Usually it is women who are partial to romances.  But in this case,  it is male readers who have sent me the more graphic reviews of the book.  Does that go to show that the new metro Man has come into his own and can  relish and understand something written by a woman for women?

One Sample:

Golden Dreams
Madhu Menon

By the time I reached the end of Kusum Choppra’s “Silver Dreams”, I felt certain she could do a sequel titled “Golden Dreams”, in a silver, golden, platinum series.
Three successful books, Kusum’s fourth one comes with immeasurable courage, pleasantries, realities and messages for not just the silver lined ones, but for all those reading for pleasure and intellectual stimulation.  In very few words, Silver Dreams is a 2nd innings love story, between a sixty plus, beautiful lady and a seventy plus, handsome man.
But that description would be diminishing the writer’s creation of a mosaic of meticulous characterizations, emotions, understandings, adjustments and lovemaking. Yes, love making, as a much better an option to unnecessary family fights, hierarchy issues, the author suggests.
 Old age syndromes imminent at fifty plus, I almost believed romance was over for my 45+ wife and me. But rejuvenation set in by the end of Silver Dreams. Why not 2nd innings with your own partner? That’s what Silver Dreams is all about. If you are sixty or seventy+, you’ll love this book; I recommend reading it.
If you are nowhere there, maybe in your thirties, this book will offer space and courage to plan for a second innings. You need not find a new partner, just step away from a disturbing past and stop worrying about an unknown future; what you have is today, make it a meaningful, lovable one.
As a reader turning to romantic fiction after recent trysts with books of the calibre of  Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis, Book of Mirdad by Mikhail Naimy and Ishmael by Daniel Quinn, I initially found it tough swimming through whirlpools of relationships, connections and two families with extended family members. But gradually the wonderful relationships, in laws and outlaws coming together grew on me despite the taking in of all extended family members --- alien to a Me, totally ignorant of any relations beyond my wife’s and my siblings, their respective families and our own child.
Intriguingly, Silver Dreams has no obvious protagonist, carrying the burden of the story.  Exception: this all knowing, motivating, punishing and loving lady, Kinnary. It is, in fact the story of her struggle to recreate her own world, that comes with much persistence, pain and sacrifice.  Alongside is her Rana with genetic gifts of voice and a handsome appearance, who helps her create that world, submitting willingly, yet steering away the evils, with his love.
I found Rana’s love amazing; was it obsession with this newfound beauty, compensation for his lost time or taking the full advantage of the time left to him?  His commitment to his Kinnary, despite roller coasting health issues, at the peak of every pleasant event, underlines his firm commitment, unshaken by any storms. Thus, Rana could well be every lady’s Ultimate Male Lover.
Kinnary emerges as an empowered lady, with a failed past with a typical aggressive MCP. Or did that earlier pain, struggle and loss of self-esteem later empower her, making her over cautious to Rana’s advances?
Rebels abound, but the story is that of a couple embracing love in the evening of life; a story of positivity, possibilities. Among the rebels is a stepson who remains aloof throughout to deliver a shocker close to the climax. And just when you expect an imminent tragic end, the author walks her old couple through a garden full of flowers and fragrance. 
Let me warn readers, this is an Indian story, immersed in North Indian ethos, customs, perspective and traditions. If you are not North Indian, you will be guided through the concepts with translation in bracketed italics, as the story flows through marriage ceremonies, home coming rituals and other customs.   The old Hindi songs are also characters that flow with the story.
A female author’s writings are meant to be feminine, but so what? Don’t all readers need to know the feminine side of writing? Kusum Choppra gives you wonderful insights to femininity with explicit, intimate, soulful and physical indulgence. Despite explicit exposure of physical exploration, the author remains a spirited feminist. Yet she dignifies family value systems with a smile when Kinnary accepts the sindhoor from her Rana on one ceremonial occasion.

Available at amazon.in