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Showing posts from October, 2008

Two interesting quotes

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By and far, the English are a pretty interesting lot though some tend to be the pompous variety and I can assure you there are still many of them around, prone to making grandiose statements or silly remarks. This little note is about two such comments from history, but with an attempt to understand the basis and perspectives behind them.

Churchill’s oft quoted sentence: It is alarming and nauseating to see Mr Gandhi, a seditious Middle Temple lawyer now posing as a fakir, well-known in the east, striding half-naked up the steps of the vice-regal palace….

This was stated on 23rd Feb 1931 by Churchill, at Winchester House Epping following the Labor government’s proposal of Dominion status to India. Now Churchill himself had spent many years in India as a war correspondent and was a staunch believer that the British withdrawal from India would weaken Britain as well as create huge turmoil in India due to all kinds of violence and bloodshed. He was proved somewhat right, but his rude utter…

Poor Ivar Kreuger

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My interest in Ivar perked up after I finished reading Ayn Rand’s famous play Night of January 16th. Like most other Rand books, it was inspiring and this one was based on Ivar Kreuger. I guess those who read some of my earlier blogs would have found me a big-time admirer of Ayn Rand and her powerful writing style & ideology. For me she presents a perfect example of what one can achieve if one wanted to. As a Russian √©migr√© who spoke not a word of English, she became a master of English writing, words, plots & sub plots, movie scripts & what not…But then, this is not about her, this is about Ivar Kreuger, the Swedish Match King.

Sweden has always been a fascination for me. A small country that virtually made its fortune, trading in the rest of the world, be it Japan, China, India, Germany or USA…they made their name & fame with Ingrid Bergman, Alfred Nobel, ABBA, Bjorn Borg (and the other tennis stars that followed like Wilander, Edberg, Bjorkman….) and companies like S…

Shelley, Nair and Lawrence

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An occasional reader with little time to peruse this further, but with some imagination would assume that this title is about a firm of lawyers (into which an Indian lawyer strayed or some such thing) for lawyers are wont to naming their companies thus, in what I would term a singularly unimaginative fashion. But this short article is not about a lawyer’s firm, but about two people and their relation to the Nair’s of Malabar.

The Malabar community, Nair’s in particular has been a subject of great curiosity from Roman times and a number of legends have been attributed to them in traveler’s tales. Many of them are far fetched and meant for the only purpose of evoking extreme reactions. Books have been written about them, notably by Fawcett and Forbes. Their customs and traditions until the turn of the century, especially the matrilineal and matriarchal lineage was the object of much study by the travelers, for it was a rare place where women were sometimes considered more important in th…

Roxane and the Rakhi

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If you look around the legends surrounding the tying of a “Rakhi’, you will chance upon mentions of Alexander (known to Indians as Iskandar or Sikandar), Porus his nemesis, friend and enemy (all in one!!!), and Alexander’s wife Roxane. Very interesting, I thought as my original plan was to study the real story behind the Elephant medallions. Now, why did I have to do that? Because I was reading the latest book by Steve Berry, titled ‘Venetian betrayal’, which actually takes you close to the secret within those elephant medallions…

So it is common knowledge that Alexander after a campaign sweeping across 10,000 miles and covering Europe, Egypt, Turkey, Afghanistan & Persia reached Multan near Jhelum to take on the local king Porus. A valiant fight took place between the two armies where Alexander’s soldiers got terrified by the elephant army of Porus. Now the story drifts to two versions, one which says Alexander lost and his soldiers mutinied to go back home to Macedonia and the se…

Mahatma Gandhi & William Shirer

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Gandiji is coming back to Indian conversation in many ways; it was through Gandhi the movie in 1982, ‘Gandhi Ko Nahin Mara’ in 2005, ‘Lage Raho Munnabhai’ in 2006, then it was through Gandhi My father that hit the screens some months ago. As the father of our nation, he will remain in our hearts and minds, no doubt about that.
Many years ago a team of HR managers from a famed car company came to our office to determine opinion & feelings of expatriate managers in a third country. We talked about this and that till one of them asked me ‘Tell me what you think was Gandhi’s greatest asset’. I was actually taken aback, and floundered for a few minutes before getting into things like humility, dedication, perseverance, concept of Satyagraha and so on. The questioner, an Italian, said at the end, I don’t think so; I think he was the greatest mass communicator, ever. This happened in 1996 and I guess he was right.
Remember the brilliant ‘Telecom Italia’ Gandhi ad, below from 2006?
And I won…