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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Wagah

Manto’s Toba Tek Singh is probably one of the most extraordinary pieces of satire ever written. Ripping into the utter mindlessness that was Partition, the story questions the very concept of sanity in a land where, it could be said, with very little exaggeration, everyone had gone mad. If you haven’t already, you can read the short story here in the original Urdu or a Devanagri transliteration or (only if you have to) an English translation. You can also listen to a reading of the story on YouTube [part I, part II]

After reading the story though, should you want to live the satire, and get a first-hand glimpse of the madness that powered Manto’s genius, all you have to do is get on a train and make your way to Amritsar. At a short distance from the city is the only land border crossing between two nations representing a fifth of the world’s population: Wagah. Of course, being a border crossing between two nuclear states is hard work and it’s unfair to expect it to work for long hours. In deference to this sentiment, every evening at five-thirty, the crossing is closed.

And what a closing it is.

The gates themselves are fairly unimpressive: made of iron and about as big as what you’d get outside any school. What’s to watch though us how they are shut. Watched over by avuncular portraits of Gandhi and Jinnah on either side, soldiers theatrically goose-step up and down the tarmac multiple times, stopping every 5 steps or so to stomp the ground after swinging their legs through an impossibly wide angle. If this reminds you of roosters in heat I suspect that was exactly what was intended. To leave no doubts as to the whole foul theme, both sides have massive rooster-style combs crowning their hats which quiver impressively as and when a soldier brings down his boot from shoulder height to stomp the ground.

Watched on by a crowd on either side of the border, all of this is preceded by an impromptu dance/bhangra performance (only on the Indian side though; the Pakistanis take their border crossings seriously) and the marching was interspersed with patriotic slogan shouting and cheering led by a man on a mic wearing, for some reason, a white track suit. The day I’d gone, the Indian side was impossibly crowded and we so comprehensively outshouted the Pakistanis that I couldn’t even hear their slogans. In contrast to the overflowing Indian stands, the Pakistanis barely filled up theirs; a reflection of the ratios in population between the twins or a general indicator of the lack of enthusiasm of the Pakistanis in Pakistan maybe.

Leading up to the Indian side of the gate was an amateurishly built monument to the Punjabis killed during 1947 which everyone roundly ignores or at best uses as a temporary bench to sit on after all that bhangra. With so many people visiting the place, a soft drinks stall there does brisk business (and suffers from an infuriating lack of change). There’s also a BSF souvenir shop which sells stuffed toys and Monte Carlo woollens at a whopping 40% discount (I liked a sweater but they didn’t have my size)—exactly the sort of stuff you’d like to buy at border crossings.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Naql ke Liye Aql

By now, most of you must of heard of Aliaa Elmahdy after she posted nude pictures of herself on the Internet as an "expression" of her "being".

While I have nothing intellgient to add on the actual act, what I found really funny about this was NDTV's ridiculous piece on the episode. While giving context to this case and trying to explain just how conservative Egypt is, the NDTV news reader, with more than a hint of righteous surprise in her voice says that Egypt is a country where "even kissing in public is frowned upon".

Madamji, pliss to note, your programme is being broadcast in India, a country where, surprise!, "even kissing in public is frowned upon".

By all means, flick from western broadcasts but a little bit of common sense helps even while copying.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Drink of Champions

The current state of my kitchen—which has no stove—is largely not as much of bother as one might expect. Lunch I eat at office; dinner I order from outside. For breakfast, I have with me, from my last trip to Cal, a number of disks of a desiccated Bandel Cheese—a delicious smoked cheese which is possibly the Anglo-Indian community’s best kept secret. An overnight soak in some water and, paired with bread, it’s quite a nice, hassle-free breakfast.

However, one thing that I do sorely miss though is my morning chai.

I am, it must be said, a bit of a chai addict. Forced to chose one beverage, over all else, chai’d win hands down. It’s a bit of no-brainer really: I’m not a Coke-guzzler; you know the sort who has a can to ‘wash down’ his meal. And coffee, well, it would come in second but a very distant second to chai. I mean there’s coffee all around us today but in my crucial formative years, coffee for me was a somewhat rare drink. In fact, the very thought of any hot beverage other than chai being drunk was so odd for my family that coffee was only to be used to prepare cold coffee (which I quite like, by the way). Till today, on trips to those coffee shop thingys, I don’t quite know what to order and always end up eating a sandwich or a muffin just so that I don’t look stupid while all the cool kids sip on their lattes or what not.

Now, you might say, why don’t I order the tea. The coffee shop thingys have tea.

That would be a stupid thing to say.

Tea, ladies and gentleman, is on no account to be confused with chai. Tea is a gay drink made by inexplicably adding milk to tea liquor in a cup. Chai is made by affording no differential treatment to the milk and boiling it along with the liquor. The difference, people, is phenomenal. Chai is a strong, red-blooded man’s drink which possibly has more caffeine than coffee. Tea is, well, just stupid—a wussy little drink with roughly the same amount of character as a doorknob. Why have less caffeine when you can have more? Why simmer the tea when you can boil the shit of out? I mean, I can understand from where the coffee drinkers are coming from. I don’t particularly like it myself, but I can respect anyone who does. But why in the word would you have tea once you’ve had chai? To me, really, it doesn’t make the slightest bit of sense.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Ambush Marketing

Monday, May 9, 2011

Sayonara

Google might be God but sometimes, just sometimes, it does fuck things up.

So, I was pretty jobless the other day and was going through some Joy Division stuff of YouTube. This is how Wikipedia introduces them, btw:

"Joy Division rapidly evolved from their initial punk rock influences to develop a sound and style that pioneered the post-punk movement of the late 1970s. According to music critic Jon Savage, the band "were not punk but were directly inspired by its energy"

All was good, till I saw the YouTube suggestions on their song, Transmission. Here's a screenshot:

Click to enlarge (stroking doesn't work everywhere)

That's right, of all the millions of songs on YouTube, it thinks that the song that most resembles Joy Division's Transmission is Sayonara Sayonara from the 1966 Bollywood blockbuster, Love in Tokyo.

Suddenly, the world ending next year doesn't seem too bad an idea.

P.S: Just remembered this killer joke about Asha Parekh (who's the female lead in Love in Tokyo): What did Asha say when she prayed to god? "Bhagwan, mei tumhare paas badi ass leke ayi hoon". Hahahaha!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Heh. Literally!

This is, literally, one of the coolest concepts for a blog I have come across. “Literally” is an English language grammar blog tracking abuse of the word “literally”. Sadly, it hasn’t been updated in a year and a half but even so, what an idea, sir ji.

Here's the blog: Literally

Johnson, over at the Economist, has a nice little post up on this which explains why you shouldn't get all that angry the next time a friend exclaims, "it was literally raining cats and dogs" or some such thing.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Hunger Fast: A Few Thoughts and Some History

As Hazare and the exhilaration over his fast-unto-death slowly becomes entangled in the giant, sticky web that is the Indian political system—the Congress has already rejected demands to videograph the proceedings of the Joint Committee—it’s worthwhile to recall a hunger strike which occurred more than 50 years ago. Potti Sreeramulu was a Telegu-speaking Congressman who had worked with Gandhi in before independence. In 1952, Potti started a fast-unto-death for the creation of an Andhra State and for Madras city to be made the state’s capital. Potti's fast-unto-death, though, was a bit more comprehensive than Hazare’s—not only did he fast but, after 82 days, he died as well. His death was followed by massive violence in the Andhra region, led by the Communists who, till recently, were challenging the very right of the newly independent Indian state to exist (shades of this can still be seen in the Telengana movement, by the way). Unnerved by this violence, Nehru, who till recently was very reluctant to allow the formation of linguistic states, gave in and allowed the creation of an Andhra state. Potti’s other demand, that Madras be included in Andhra Pradesh, though, was rejected.

Ramachandra Guha nicely summarises this fascinating episode in this article.

Couple of interesting points though.

Firstly, as Five Rupees points out, is the sheer novelty of hunger strikes being used a political weapon—literally, nowhere in the world would you see this happening. The closest equivalents I can think of are the self-immolations that have occurred during the Vietnam War. Fasting as penance to achieve a goal is common enough in the Hindu religion (and other Dharmic religions) so it’s an easy trope to understand for most, if not all, Indians. Additionally, and crucially, Gandhi, since 1919 or so, brilliantly used the idiom of religion in politics with awesome effect. It was he who introduced the tool of a fast as a political tool, which is why probably India is the only country in the world where people would fast to enact a law or create a new province. In other countries, they’d work through the system—fight elections, convince dictators—or uses standard coercive methods like strikes or even outright violence. So colossally did Gandhi stride the Indian political landscape during his lifetime that till today anything ostensibly mirroring what he did or stood for carries a lot of political capital. Hazare is of course aware of this and like almost every other player on the Indian political landscape (even, ironically, Modi), tries to appropriate Gandhi’s legacy for himself: I saw a TV interview of Hazare over the weekend and a bronze bust of Gandhi was placed strategically in the background, almost in Munnabhai fashion.

Of course, sometimes the difference between a hunger fast and coercive methods such as riots isn’t set in black and white. Going back to Potti, the actual fast did little to change the Government of India’s stance towards the matter. 12 days before Potti’s death (and six weeks into the fast) Nehru wrote to Rajagopalachari: "Some kind of fast is going on for the Andhra Province and I get frantic telegrams. I am totally unmoved by this and I propose to ignore it completely". On Potti's death, however, the Andhra region simply erupted into a frenzy of violence. Within a few days of this chaos, miraculously, Nehru had changed his mind and had accepted the creation of an Andhra state in principal. In this case, at least, the Government responded, as Time puts it, “perhaps as much to the violence as to Sriramulu's nonviolence”.

Even Gandhi’s most famous hunger strike, which culminated in the signing of the Poona Pact, it could be argued, was a success only because Ambedkar feared a devastating backlash against the Dalits if and when the Mahatma died. The Poona Pact was only agreed to by Ambedkar when Gandhi was critically ill.

In Hazare’s case however, chances of violence were slim which would make it very interesting if, eventually, Hazare has his way and the actual law that he wants is ratified by Parliament.

Update: Forgot to mention Irom Sharmila's case (which is appropriately ironic because so has everyone else, I guess). Her fast, unbacked by threats of violence or the vocal English-language media, has been rather ineffective. This, when, arguably, her cause is far more urgent.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Man Sick of Corruption Forced to Bribe Doctor to Get Treatment

EAST CHAMPARAN, BIHAR: Social activist, Ravi Kumar of East Champaran, Bihar was forced to bribe the local government doctor in order to receive treatment after he was taken violently ill as a result of a 4-day hunger strike against corruption.

Sources tell the Times of Bullshit that Kumar, 43, had embarked on the fast in order to do his bounden duty towards his nation and eradicate the one scourge that was holding it back--corruption. Consequently, he chose the village square as his spot and began his fast-unto-death in full view of everyone, which, as his brother helpfully informed us, was so that "everybody could see he was not cheating".

Things went well for the first three days as Kumar embarked on his crusade against graft. His health seemed fine as well although by the end of the third day he was getting increasingly insistent on the point that people address him as Mahatma or at least Bapu. Having called him Pappu all throughout his life, the village people found this a bit difficult to stomach. However, by mid day on the fourth day an amicable compromise had been struck and it was decided that the honorific ji, as in Kumarji, would be added to his name.

However, only a couple of hours later disaster struck as debilitating stomach cramps hit Kumariji. This was followed by him throwing up blood. Alarmed, his supporters rushed him to the nearest government dispensary which was some way away in the next village. There, he had to pay 4 times the normal amount of Rs 20 to get treated by a doctor who attended to Kumarji while also simultaneously using his little finger to try and dig out ear boogers with considerable vigour. In the dispensary, Kumarji refused to comment on his next anti-corruption move.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Hunger Fasts and Sluggish Democracy

Hazare’s fast, it must be said, has generated some very lively debate about the pros and cons of extra-constitutional methods that politics in our country often takes. Quite a few people argue that the system is broken beyond repair and the only solution would be one that comes from outside the system itself. Some on the other hand raise questions about the direction this movement is taking, and justifiably so. This sort of direct action, while purportedly peaceful, often has some pretty ugly fall-outs which we’ve seen ever since Gandhi pioneered this form of politics in our country (and I hope to write more on the history of extra-constitutional methods in later posts).


A common complaint from the anti-Hazare camp though is that this method of process undermines representative democracy by giving powers to a person on the ludicrous basis of the his or her capacity to live on, or eventually die, without food. Here’s how Pratap Bhanu Mehta starts of his editorial in the Indian Express:


“Sometimes a sense of unbridled virtue can also subvert democracy. The agitation by civil society activists over the Jan Lokpal Bill is a reminder of this uncomfortable truth. There is a great deal of justified consternation over corruption. The obduracy of the political leadership is testing the patience of citizens. But the movement behind the Jan Lokpal Bill is crossing the lines of reasonableness. It is premised on an institutional imagination that is at best na├»ve; at worst subversive of representative democracy.”


Prima facie, the point is a cogent one. But the point assumes one given condition: that India is a representative democracy.


What is a representative democracy? Simply put, it’s one in which elected representatives represent the people, because direct democracy, i.e. actually involving the people directly in government is not feasible. It is,therefore, assumed that these elected represtatives will act as the voice of the people. Well and good, so far.


However, in India, our elected representatives cannot act as the voice of the people who voted them to power because of a nifty little provision called the Anti-Defection Law which effectively forces a representative to vote as per his party high command’s wishes.


So, for example, if we have a constituency which has a number of factories of X industry and at the moment Parliament is debating a bill which would slap heavy taxes on that industry, logically the constituency’s MP should do everything in his power to defeat the bill and naturally vote against it. That would be representative democracy in action. The MP acts as the voice of his constituency. But in India that is not how it happens. If it so happens that his party wants the bill to be passed, this MP, elected to represent his constituency, will have to actually stab his constituency in the back or risk disqualification.


In such a case one wonders how much sense it would actually make to call India a representative democracy. Maybe we'd need to invent a new term?

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A related post: A Very Costly Bill

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Diss

I’m usually not the nimblest of people when it comes to keeping up with slang but there is one word, apparently originating from Black rap, that I really like: diss. The word is rather usefull in a number of situations and, conveniently, conveys a shade of meaning that is a bit different from its mother word, disrespectful. Its rise, incidently, has been precipitous. I don’t remember it even existing, at least in an Indian context, five or so years back; today everyone’s using it. In fact it even made it to the Guardian today, in an article by Pankaj Mishra no less:

“….even dissing their murderous Hindu nationalism as opportunistic, a mere “talking point”

Good stuff.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

English? #Fail

For all our chest-beating about how important English has been to our economic rise, a recent survey ranks India 29th out off 44 countries in fluency of speaking English. To put that in perspective, China, a country against whom our trump card is supposed to be our knowledge of English, ranks just a place below us at 30.In fact, the Chinese people of Taiwan beat us by ranking four places ahead of us.

The Johnson blog at the Economist blames the elitism inherent in India’s approach towards English:

“Finally, one surprising result is that China and India are next to each other (29th and 30th of 44) in the rankings, despite India’s reputation as more Anglophone. Mr Hult says that the Chinese have made a broad push for English (they're "practically obsessed with it”). But efforts like this take time to marinade through entire economies, and so may have avoided notice by outsiders. India, by contrast, has long had well-known Anglophone elites, but this is a narrow slice of the population in a country considerably poorer and less educated than China. English has helped India out-compete China in services, while China has excelled in manufacturing. But if China keeps up the push for English, the subcontinental neighbour's advantage may not last.”

If language/linguistics interests you, the blog is highly recommended, by the way.

And since Gandhi’s methods and thoughts seem to be the flavour of the season—so influential has been Hazare’s fast that even Pappu Yadav, the Bihar strongman and convicted murderer, has gone on a bhook hartal against corruption—here’s an excerpt from a speech given by the Mahatma in 1916:

“I am hoping that this University (he was speaking at the Benares Hindu University) will see to it that the youths who come to it will receive their instruction through the medium of their vernaculars. Our languages the reflection of ourselves, and if you tell me that our languages are too poor to express the best thought, then say that the sooner we are wiped out of existence the better for us. Is there a man who dreams that English can ever become the national language of India? Why this handicap on the nation? Just consider for one moment what an equal race our lads have to run with every English lad.

I had the privilege of a close conversation with some Poona professors. They assured me that every Indian youth, because he reached his knowledge through the English language, lost at least six precious years of life. Multiply that by the numbers of students turned out by our schools and colleges, and find out for yourselves how many thousand years have been lost to the nation.”

Friday, March 25, 2011

Chokers

I'm usually a nice sort of boy but I felt this piece of Internet vandalism was sorely needed. Here's a snapshot of the Wikipedia article on Choker, updated post the World Cup's third quarter final match:


Heh.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Punjabi Link of the Day

Quite a few of you must have heard the Coke Studio song Jugni. Not my favourite Coke Studio song (I might be biased though--I don't know any Punjabi and I tend not to like songs I can't understand) but if Google is any indicator, it's the show's most popular song. But just what is the symbolism of Jugni and why it's such a popular trope in Punjabi music (it's made quite a few Bollywood appearances as well) is explained by this fascinating post on Kafila.

In 1906, the 50th anniversary of Queen Victoria’s reign, a Jubilee flame was taken across the British Empire to celebrate her rule. The flame, carried in a large gold container, was taken to the every district headquarters. As the flame arrived, the district government was supposed to greet it with pomp and ceremony. When the flame reached Punjab, there was nascent freedom struggle anger against the Empire brewing. Bishna and Manda followed the flame from district to district, performing their own poetry and folk music parallel to the pomp of the colonial government. Their versions contained references to Jugni, the rebellious woman. Bishna and Manda had misheard the word ‘Jubilee’ for Jugni and started writing verses that channelled the anger of the region against the British as symbolised by the Jubilee flame. As they travelled behind the flame, their popularity grew; people from all around came to attend their performances. Jugni became a metaphor for the growing unrest against the British.


Monday, March 14, 2011

British Humour

Bernardo Hees, Burger King’s CEO, has apparently described the UK’s women and food as “terrible”.


The Independent, while reporting this, slipped in a snarky little come-back. The last line of their report, out of the blue, has this to say:


A Burger King Double Whopper with cheese contains 950 calories, half of a woman's recommended daily calorie intake.


As if to say, “we might be ugly but it’s because of you”.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Wrong End of the Stick

The wise people at the Times of India published this amazing little one-liner as part of their Friday dine-out section:


Lent is of course a Christian tradition commemorated through abstinence and self-denial. Practically, most of it takes the form of giving up certain foods, meat being the most common, from what I've seen. In other words, using an all-you-can-eat food orgy to "mark the festival of Lent" is fairly unorthodox.

All that aside, however, Bernardo's is a nice place. I used to go there quite a bit to get my fill of fish (not many places where you get good fish in Delhi).

Also, why is there a question mark in the title?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Web Board Comment of the Day

In case you ever want to boost your estimation of just how smart you are, just head over to Rediff’s comment section. Rediff’s message boards are of course well known as a centre of excellence in dumbfuckness. But, of late, I’ve noticed that the Times of India boards have come up beautifully and are giving Rediff some stiff competition (ToI would win by a mile if the articles could be bought into the fray as well, but that wouldn’t be fair, I guess).

Here’s an excellent comment by Mister Paul (yes, ‘mister’; the man has my respect) with regard to an article on a rape incident.


The first thing, of course, is the remarkably organised manner in which he discusses dismemberment. With five points listed out as possible alternatives to Plan A (public hanging), he might as well have been talking about where to have the monthly office lunch. That said, you have to give to him; he is thorough. 12 years in jail in comparison is a bloody picnic. And while most of it is logical—not having your eyes, ears, tongue and penis would be somewhat uncomfortable—the thumb suggestion, it must be said, left me a bit disappointed. Knowing Mister Paul, I would have expected him to plumb for the chopping of the hands from the elbows down or at least the wrists. But then even the best do slip up once in a while and it’s still overall a most excellent comment.

By the way, Khushwant Singh supports castration for rapists. Jokes apart, I think it’s an extremely fair punishment.

P.S: Is ‘Rediff’ pronounced ‘read-if’ or ‘red-if’?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Sangh and the Tiranga: a Love-Hate Relationship?

While the BJP’s tamasha of trying to forcefully hoist the tricolour at Lal Chowk turned out to be a bit of a damp squib, what is really ironic is the new found love that the Sangh’s political arm has found for the tiranga considering the sneering condescension that its ilk has had for the Indian Flag historically. Having never come to terms with the modern concept of India where the state strives to be secular, the Sangh, in a fit of juvenile rage had (and still does) at many points during its history directed its ire at the State’s most prominent symbol, the Flag.

Ramachandra Guha writes in The Hindu:

“Their allegiances (the RSS’) were sectarian rather than national — indeed, they chose to elevate their own bhagwa dhwaj above the tiranga jhanda. Shortly after Mahatma Gandhi's assassination, there were widespread reports of RSS activists trampling upon the tricolour. This greatly upset the Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. In a speech on February 24, 1948, Nehru spoke sorrowfully of how "at some places, members of the RSS dishonoured the National Flag. They know well that by disgracing the flag they are proving themselves as traitors ... "

Savarkar, the brightest star in the Sangh’s somewhat fanciful firmament of history, would himself have been rather bemused, even angry, by all this brouhaha over trying to plant, of all things, the Indian Flag at Lal Chowk. Reacting to the approval of the flag by India’s Constituent Assembly on July, 1947, Savarkar had reacted with this statement:

"It can never be recognised as the National Flag of Hindusthan ... the authoritative flag of Hindusthan our Motherland and Holyland, ... can be no other than the Bhagava (saffron flag)... . to deliver expressly the message of the very Being of our Race... . It mirrors the whole panorama of our Hindu History. ... Hindudom at any rate can loyally salute no other Flag but this Pan-Hindu Dhwaja, this Bhagava Flag as its national Standard."

Not be be left behind, Golwalkar, the Sangh’s ideologue-in-chief had no love lost for the tiranga either. Here’s what he had to say on the flag in his book, Bunch of Thoughts:

‘‘Our leaders have set up a new flag for our country. Why did they do so? It is just a case of drifting and imitating. Ours is an ancient and great nation with a glorious past. Then, had we no flag of our own? Had we no national emblem all these thousands of years? Undoubtedly we had. Then why this utter void, this utter vacuum in our minds?’’

Interestingly, as far as I know, till this day, the RSS headquarters does not hoist the Indian Flag. Maybe after Hubli and Lal Chowk, it's time to get them raths ready for a trip to Nagpur?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Republic or Independence Day?

At the recently concluded Jaipur Literature Festival (an absolutely amazing event by the way), M.J. Akbar, while talking about his new book, Tinderbox: The Past and Future of Pakistan, claimed that India’s independence day was not really on the 15th of August; it actually fell on what is known as Republic Day. Meant more to jolt than to edify, the statement is true in a very narrow, technical sort of way. What India became on the 15th of August, 1947 was an “independent dominion” which sort of placed India in the same status as Australia or Canada—independent in every practical way but retaining the umbilical link with Britain via “His Majesty's Representative”, the Governor-General (as a result of the close links Mountbatten had with Nehru, he was chosen to be independent India's first Governor-General). With the adoption of the Constitution, India severed that link and opted to become a republic. Interestingly, in 1999, Australia held a referendum to decide whether Australia should become a republic with a President appointed by Parliament. The results of the referendum were negative and the Queen is still Australia’s head of state.

However, given how sacrosanct the 15th of August is in India’s nationalistic iconography, what is a bit incongruous is that for almost twenty years prior to freedom, the Congress had treated Dominion status as a sort of consolation prize that was hardly worth the effort. Starting from the Congress’ famous Purna Swaraj resolution in 1930 (Republic Day is celebrated on the 26th of January to commemorate this resolution which was passed on the same date in Lahore), complete independence from Britain was the only prize that the Congress stated it would accept. In 1930, when Gandhi requested Nehru to wait for two years before demanding complete independence, Nehru (with support from Bose) shot him down saying that he would not be able to even wait for two minutes. In a little more than a year Gandhi was also a full convert to the cause of Purna Swaraj (he had advocated “Swaraj” earlier as well but had never defined it very well) claiming in an interview to a journalist that “we will deny our existence if we do not press for it”.

However, politics being the art of the possible, the exigencies of 1946-47 pretty much made sure that the Congress (as well as the Muslim League) accepted whatever it got.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Absolute Master Speech, Sirji

This is a speech by Obama at the Tucson memorial commemorating the shooting which killed six people as well as severely wounding a US member of Congress. A speech that moved me--filling me with a heavy hearted, almost patriotic reverence for the hero who stopped the gunman from reloading as well as making me smile sadly as Obama recounted the dreams of 9 year old Christina-Taylor Gree who wanted to be the first woman to play on the Major League (Baseball?). This, in spite of the fact that I have no emotional investment in the Tucson Shooting whatsoever--I didn't even know how to pronounce 'Tucson' before this incident. Which just goes to show how good an orator this man is. Listen to the speech.