When you emigrate, you end up the last person to touch a lot of your family history. Somewhere along the line, we’ll forget my mom’s maiden name. We’ll forget what her actual name was before she changed it when she moved. We’ll lose language and the way to make a candle from ghee and a cotton ball. I can’t pull all of this information out of her, and I can’t carry all of it after she’s gone, and I panic when I think about how impossible it feels to one day not need her. But at least I can try to cook.
Kashmir, where over 50 civilian protesters have been killed in recent days and where the Indian government has imposed a physical curfew in places to prevent more protests, has also been subjected to a total "e-curfew": both mobile and broadband internet have been shut down by the Indian government, the former for over a month now (link, link, link). [more inside]
The Los Angeles Times in 1943 further declared that “Only an old-school Southerner who thinks Appomattox was a shocking bad show could go for Pakistan.” The Longest August: The Unflinching Rivalry Between India And Pakistan, the latest book by long-time Middle East observer Dilip Hiro, is a grim assessment of the current state of relations.
Hindu ki bas eik khasusiat: Baghl mein churi, moen par Ram Ram. My Urdu, at the time, was idiomatically sub-par. I had recently moved from Doha, Qatar, to General Zia ul Haq’s Lahore and his 9th grade Social Sciences textbook was nearly incomprehensible. The teacher read the line with a sneer. I intuited from his body language, and from the twitter that ran through the class, that this was a derisive remark, but I couldn’t quite follow: If someone had just been stabbed in the side with a knife wouldn’t he be crying to the gods in pain? What’s the shame here? I went home and asked my mother. She explained the idiom: Baghl mein churi does not mean a knife in the side but a knife concealed in the armpit of a garment. Moen pay Ram Ram is not a gesture towards pious invocation (like my grandmother’s recitation of Ya Rahman Ya Rahim)—it is meant to stand as insincere. The Hindu has only one characteristic: He conceals a knife, ready to strike, even as his lips intone Ram. I remember wanting to see or speak to a Hindu, to corroborate or defy this assessment, but Lahore in the mid-1980s held only bare traces—a place name, the legends of a boarded-up building, a strange spiral shape buried in the horizon—of its Hindu past. The city of Madho Lal or Chandarbhan had disappeared even from memories. Our teacher was a history enthusiast and he quickly warmed up to my hesitant question: Sir, why are Hindus never to be trusted?Also in Urdu [PDF]. Manan Ahmed writes at Chapati Mystery [more inside]
Welcome to Haider, a Bollywood version of Hamlet set for a controversial, much anticipated release this autumn. Vishal Bhardwaj's latest Shakespearian adaptation turns the Prince of Denmark into a philosophy student from Kashmir, the former Himalayan princedom, who returns home from university after hearing that his doctor father has disappeared and his mother is in a new relationship. View the trailer here - captions available. [more inside]
"Hundreds of Kashmiri militants who left home as young men two decades ago have begun to return, middle-aged and disillusioned. What happens to them now?"
Inshallah Kashmir: Living Terror is Oscar-nominated director Ashvin Kumar's brand new documentary, which is banned in India, that provides the perspectives of people that rarely receive positive mainstream media attention. [more inside]
What to do about Pakistan? The Economist urges the west to focus on the Kashmir issue in order to help stabilize the region. Christopher Hitches urges the US to stand more firmly behind India.
Fascinated by the Orient An exhibition of the letters, photographs and maps bequeathed to the Hungarian Academy of Sciences by the great explorer, archaeologist, geographer and Sanskritist Sir Marc Aurel Stein. Journeyer in the footsteps of Alexander, explorer of Central Asia and West China, surveyor of the antiquities of India and Iran; after a long life of journeying through and studying central Asia, Aurel Stein found his final rest in Kabul. He is also remembered for rediscovering the oldest dated printed book still in existence, a copy of the Diamond Sutra in the caves at Mogao. That the latter and many thousands of other manuscripts collected by Stein now reside in the British Library is of course, like his other 'treasure hunting', not without controversy.
Has the US promised Kashmir to Pakistan? During his recent visit, Colin Powell named Pakistan a US ally. This move has people in India concerned about what the US is willing to give Pakistan to fight Al-Qaeda. [The site has pop-ups. Sorry.]
It seems that Pakistan is back in business "Officials from three Pakistani militant groups said in interviews this week that the government of Pakistan has allowed Islamic guerrillas to resume small-scale infiltrations into Indian-controlled Kashmir. " (NYTimes - regd' required)
In 1999, India and Pakistan were closer to nuclear war than was commonly known, according to Clinton's former chief adviser on South Asia. On Monday, the Defense Department's policy chief said that "there is a risk of war" that is "very large." On Tuesday, militants attacked an army camp in Indian Kashmir and killed 30 people, including 11 women and 10 children. All this makes me very nervous. Is it just me? And adding a touch of the bizarre, India is officially researching arcane, 2300 year-old military technology that it believes will give its military a greater advantage.