Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Return of the Butterfly

....her mother’s new ‘phone wallah’, who replaced the guy who called her ‘Huzoor’ and ‘always did jhuk ke salam’, ‘barges into her sitting room....and ‘calls Mummy “Anti”.....It’s enough to make Mummy want to leave, till Butterfly reminds her: ‘with your passport you have only two choices....Afghanistan or else, Upstairs to Him’. One of Mohsin’s many masterstrokes....
......... 
Hilarious stuff about how South Asian elites think and talk, kind of like an extended article from the Onion....


It is a shame that for a long. long time we have not had a single, decent brown humorist. It is all high drama, betrayal, politics, ...and we are sick of it. Our best wishes to Moni Mohsin and we look forward to many such installments.
.....
Some of my favourite moments in The Return of the Butterfly—the third in Pakistani journalist Moni Mohsin’s immensely popular series chronicling the life and times of Butterfly, a malapropism-spouting Lahori socialite—remind me of the Four Yorkshiremen sketch in which four men, comfortably off, try to outdo each other’s accounts of humble beginnings. One says, “We lived in one room, all 26 of us, no furniture, half the floor was missing.” Another responds, “Eh, you were lucky to have a room! We used to have to live in the corridor!” 


The Dargah of Anuradhapura (no more)

....dargah built to honour Sikkandar Waliullah, a Muslim saint....dargah had found mention in literature for at least 400 years......green blankets of cloth covered Waliullah’s tomb; these are yanked off and burned....a couple of Qurans....one of them was thrown down a well....other was added to the bonfire.... 

In India (primarily Uttar Pradesh) riots are so frequent now that it is difficult to keep count. Earlier there was Muzaffarnagar, now Saharanpur is burning. It is not just Hindus against Muslims, it is Muslims vs. everyone else. As usual you have to read between the lines since Indian press reports are deliberately kept ambiguous.
....
Three persons were killed and 26 injured in communal clashes in Saharanpur on Saturday, prompting the district administration to impose curfew and issue shoot-at-sight orders. The Army has been put on alert.....Members of one community began construction at a vacant plot near Gurdwara Road in the Qutubsher police station area allegedly without the permission of the Saharanpur Development Authority. ...Members of the other community objected to this, saying the land, near a graveyard, belonged to them.
.....................

Neel Mukherjee for Man Booker

....Supratik attacks his mother about food. "Don't you agree we eat too much?"...."Everyone eats like this."....He attacks again: not the servants. Not the poor....
 .....the head servant, Madan, who is part of the family, but remains separated from them....."Boro-babu, the world does not change, you destroy yourself trying to change it...Why cause people who love you to go through such misery because of it?"..... 
..Supratik feels "a surge of cold fury that he is being given a lesson in political morality by the family's cook".... he lashes back....Madan himself begged the family to "let loose the police" on Madan's son, the leader of the striking workers....
 .................................
We know that the Bong bhadaralok class (genteel folks) are a mighty sentimental lot. Many of them were up-rooted from erstwhile East Bengal. Then in the 1960s-1970s Bengal experienced extreme violence first from the left and then on the left (the most intriguing part of that story was left-on-left violence). Finally a bunch of super-castes migrated to the West with its attendant identity loss problems etc.

The literary output seems focused on these extreme events and that is only to be expected. However after what seems to be a million stories and plays and movies, we find the scope to be limiting (and exhausting). Is it too much to ask the writer class to pick up a wider lens?


Tariq Ali condemns socialism

.....A unanimous Senate vote is rare, so what explains being more loyal to Israel.... An important factor is undoubtedly money.....Few British citizens are aware of the role their own country played in creating this mess.....It was not by accident, but by design that the British decided to create a new state..... 
 ..... 
Well in all fairness, Ali Sahab condemns not so much socialism but "techno-fascist" socialists like Bernie Sanders of Vermont who are "progressive on everything except Israel." 

It is clear that TA shares the same world-view as Imran Khan (note: TA is a devoted fan of IK), whereby the only reason that the Arab/Muslim empire of old has not recovered is due to malicious designs by a scheming West which dances to the tune of evil Zionists. Jews are so powerful that they are even able to manipulate Western elections in favor of Zionist politicans. 

Over the last few decades, Hindus and Muslims have been kicked out of their native lands in South Asia. The Muslim population has recovered in India (but is under threat), while Hindus are now extinct in Pakistan and under threat in Bangladesh. Now it is the turn of the Christians and Muslim sects in the MENA to be wiped out. Muslims are also being cleansed from Burma and are under threat in Sri Lanka. All of this is part of a grand Western-Zionist plot to destabilize Arabs/Muslims? Really???
.....
The US Senate votes unanimously to defend Israel including Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. I don’t think he did it for the money. He is a paid-up member of POEEI (‘Progressive on Everything Except Israel’ and pronounced pooee) the liberal segment of US society, which is not progressive on many things, including Israel.
...

"Discount Maids" on display

..."maid agencies", display women at work....domestic workers push each other around in wheelchairs, as though they're taking care of the elderly.....In another gallery, a woman cradles a baby doll and pretends to change its diapers.....Istiana, an Indonesian domestic worker in Singapore....."Those signs that say 'cheap price' and 'discount maid'. But these are people".... 
..................... 
It is quite a common practice in barbarian lands however you have to appreciate the grace and elan with which such activities are packaged in the free world. Complete with banners and posters..it is a worship of freedom, really. You are eligible to get a discount on human beings...because their humanity is not fully assured.

....
Also for those who would blame it on market forces gone wild, remember this. In Singapore you are not even allowed to spit on your own hands without prior govt permission (application in triplicate to the Ministry of Good Behavior). 

...............
Go to the Bukit Timah Shopping Centre, a 1970s mall in central Singapore, and you will find five levels of brightly lit rooms and galleries called "Homekeeper" and "Budget Maid". Inside these rooms, dozens of women sit in a listless, artificial silence. They nod respectfully as you enter, and some watch closely as you speak to staff. You might take one home with you - for two years, or longer.
...