An Afghan, two Indian poets and a German

And their connections to Minute Rice and Harvard

What earthly connection can all these people have and how can one mix rice with poetry? Therein lies an interesting tale concerning an enterprising individual, a fiery orator, a German scholar and the Urdu poetry of Ghalib and Mir. I stumbled into this by chance when I was doing an in-depth study on a great personality named Syud Hossain, whom I will write about later. This however has to do with an Afghan émigré named Ataullah Ozai Durrani, his obsession with rice and poetry. Being from a rice farming family myself, the story intrigued me and well, it now finds a place for itself in my collection, delaying the story of Hossain for later publication.

The Durrani’s (remember Salim Durrani the sixer hitting cricketer – also a man from Kabul?)or Abdali’s are Pashtuns from the Kandahar area of Afghanistan. I will not write much about the dynasty or their history, but well, as the story goes, in 1926, when Kandahar was part of the British empire, in the NWFP, a young 30 year old, copper hued, bushy haired Pashtun gentleman named Ataullah K Ozai-Durrani landed up in America, after studies at Aligarh Muslim University and Europe, to continue his chemistry research and make a better living.

Now all of these stories go on to become legends – So let me first recite the popular legend - In 1941 Ataullah K. Ozai-Durrani, an Afghan by birth (1897), cousin of the king of Afghanistan, 5’ 8” and not more than 165 pounds, walked into the offices of the General Foods Corporation, set up a portable cooking stove and asked a few minutes of time to demonstrate his new variety of rice that could be cooked in a jiffy. Well he did that and that was how minute rice became popular in USA and General foods (Kraft) started marketing it and manufacturing it in a large scale. The US military bought the product for packing in K rations and many hundred recipes were published as part of a marketing blitz resulting in an increase of per capita consumption of rice in USA. Durrani got a patent for his par boiling process which is known today as the Ozai-Durrani process and he went on to become rich. That was the story of a tenacious young man and his American dream, but as you can imagine, this neither started here, nor ended there. Some of you may now stray on to other topics; some others would want to know the full story, so this is for the latter.

General foods were intrigued when Durrani demonstrated the reduction in cooking time, though they found that the consistency and quality was still not even. But they had just perfected minute Tapioca, so it was a good idea to replicate it with rice and the company retrofitted their Hoboken NY plant as a rice laboratory, to perfect the par boiling process. It was in 1942, post the Pearl Harbor debacle that the US army ordered GF’s rice for the war efforts, perhaps in line with their involvements in the Eastern and far Eastern rice eating war fronts. They took over the General foods plants at Battle Creek Michigan and Hoboken, to speed up the development process. Can you imagine that scientists were even counting the microscopic holes on par boiled rice to determine their dryness? It was all speeded up since the process was used to prepare K rations and the whole output combined with meat was tested on the US Air force personnel, with success, so much so that it was also used for rice pudding and 5in1 and 10in1 rations. In 1946, the product hit supermarkets, and the USA got to hear about Minute rice. Magazines had full page advertisements and each ad had a quick recipe in it. Minute Rice did well after all this heavy advertising, but nevertheless was not a runaway success. Some housewives reported interesting results cooking the rice with orange juice and tomato juice!! It was called minute rice since it was first produced at the Minute Tapioca plant.

The advertisements were very catchy – Let’s look at some punch lines - You merely add pre-cooked Minute Rice to boiling water and remove from heat, Minute Rice comes out snowy, fluffy, tender every time! And Minute Rice is foolproof — you can't prepare it any way but perfect. A Treat to Eat. . . a Cinch to Make. Fancy preparing an epicurean feast so fast! With this wonderful rice, you can fix a showpiece. These days, to make rice that's snowy, fluffy and tender, here's all you do, just add precooked Minute Rice to boiling water! Prepares itself, just bring to a boil. No need to worry, ma'am, with Minute Rice on the agenda! You can have supper on the table in a flash. Why worry about dinner, when you can fix a slam-bang meal in minutes, with handy pre-cooked Minute Rice. With Minute Rice in your pantry, you can serve a scrumptious supper in no time, Served as a vegetable, Minute Rice is quicker than potatoes, precooked to save work and guesswork.

Well, be informed that Minute rice from the packet still takes a few minutes to cook, not just a minute, but that again was a large improvement compared to the usual 30-40 minutes needed for raw rice, not including the preparation time of cleaning, washing etc. Todays precooked microwavable dishes take only a minute, but this was another era.

Nevertheless, how did Durrani get to where he got to? Durrani struggled to find his moorings in America after majoring in Petro-chemistry in Europe and working in Iran (?). Unable to find a job in this field, he got into the importing business, though not enjoying it. One night at a dinner party in his Larchmont, N. Y., home, Durrani served his guests a combination of chicken with presumably Basmati rice. One of the guests, Dr. Herbert A. Baker, soon to become the president of the American Can Company, suggested that the taste was so good that rice should be introduced to the larger masses and perhaps canned. Durrani decided then that Rice and not oil would become his research subject and devoted the next 10-14 years on it, but for that he needed money. Like many others, he soon drifted to Hollywood (1934) where he became a consultant for exotic Eastern movies such as ‘King of the Khyber rifles’. His royal links got him many a star connection and his dinners became popular in the tinsel town. By 1939 he had made enough money and moved to Arkansas, America’s rice country. In Stuttgart, Ark., he got the Arkansas Rice Growers’ Cooperative Association and HK Smith interested in his method. The Association provided him a small laboratory and the support to devote all his time to perfecting the process. Which is what the ‘furriner’ did, toiling for days, till he perfected his par boiling process, deciding finally that rice should be pre-cooked, dried and sold in boxes rather than cans. And thus he was finally back in NY in 1941, to demonstrate his process to General foods. As the story goes, ‘With an electric stove, one dish, one copper pan and some rice carried in a “39-cent bag bought in a drugstore” Durrani went to New York and visited the offices of General Foods, finally meeting Clarence Francis Chairman, Thomas Rector & Ray M Schmitz. He set up his materials on the desk of the company’s head research executive and gave a convincing demonstration. The inventor was given a retainer, a royalty agreement was worked out and a patent was obtained in Durrani’s name. But while he gave them the idea and patented the process, the mass production methodology was perfected by the people at General foods and marketed by Thomas J Lipton Inc.

As you can imagine, this story does not end with the success of Rice introduction to the US army or the Minute rice marketing by General foods for the US public. Durrani continued to live at Stuttgart Arkansas working on Rice forms and later while at Denver Colorado married an American, but his wife and daughter were soon separated from him, and Durrani meanwhile made a lot of money from his rice patents. Throughout his life, Durrani had one other passion, which was the poetry of Mir Taqui Mir and Mirza Ghalib.

At the age of 66, in 1964, Durrani died at the Swedish hospital at Englewood CO, after a battle with lung cancer. As Time magazine reported ‘ Ozai-Durrani's will, probated six weeks after his death at 66 in Denver, leaves more than half of his $1,000,000 estate to Harvard "or some such nonprofit institution" to translate the poets' works into English and underwrite biographies. Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib and Mir Taqui Mir are not exactly U.S. household words. But Minute Rice is, and it is the wish of its inventor, Afghan Immigrant Ataullah K Ozai-Durrani, that the two little-known 19th century Persian poets roll trippingly off American tongues. Ozai-Durrani's lawyers are being besieged by half a dozen non-profiteers anxious to investigate, but Harvard is ahead by a Yard’.
Durrani also left $300,000 to his estranged wife Louisa Ebbs Harrison and her daughter. His entire technical library and $30,000 were left to the Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge to prepare an encyclopedia text on Rice culture. The Ozai Durrani Chair of Indo-Pakistan Studies was created with his endowment, in Harvard in 1964.

According to Durrani’s will, the half million dollar endowment was to be instated in the name of one Syud Hossain, a longtime friend of Ozai-Durrani. NK Singh writing for the Tribune, in 2005 states- When a rich Afghani, Ataullah Khan Ozai Durrani, left a considerable fortune of half a million dollars to be devoted to the translation of Ghalib and Mir, not many in America knew who these great men were. The New York Times reporter who contacted the librarian at the Indian Consulate in New York was told that he should contact Pakistanis, who might know about them. The Professor of Iranian studies too directed them to contact Pakistanis. So appalling was the ignorance about the works of great poets in Urdu literature abroad!

Michael J Arlen, studying the bequest and writing in the New Yorker in 1964, compares men who have made heaps of gold & on their deathbeds can think of nothing better to do with it than swing it along to the New Dormitory Fund for Renwick College, or donate another gymnasium to St. Olaf's… take note here of the late Mr. Ozai-Durrani's handsome bequest, and feel the richer for it: richer in anticipation, by the poems of the two Persian poets, even though (there's no telling) they may be terrible poets.

Now let us get to the poets. I am not too fond of poetry though I am of books and music. Somehow, the intermediate version has still to catch hold of me, and if it will or not, I cannot venture to fathom how good it is. But I have heard quite much about these fabulous Urdu poets who wrote in Persian and Urdu during the Mughal times. Here, I will provide you only a brief introduction of these two revered poets, picking up information from the public media.

Muhammad Taqi Meer (1723-1810) a.k.a Taqi MeerMir was born in Agra, and lived much of his life in Mughal Delhi. However, after Ahmad Shah Abdali's sack of Delhi each year starting 1748, he moved to the court of Asaf-ud-Daulah in Lucknow. Mir lived at a time when Urdu language and poetry was at a formative stage - and Mir's instinctive aesthetic sense helped him strike a balance between the indigenous expression and new enrichment coming in from Persian imagery and idiom, to constitute the new elite language known as Rekhta or Hindui. Basing his language on his native Hindustani, he leavened it with a sprinkling of Persian diction and phraseology, and created a poetic language at once simple, natural and elegant, which was to guide generations of future poets.

Mirza Ghalib (1797-1869) started composing poetry at the age of 11. His first language was Urdu, but Persian and Turkish were also spoken at home. He received an education in Persian and Arabic at a young age. Ghalib is still very popular today, and his poetry is well known. Many singers from all over South Asia have sung many of his ghazals. Although Ghalib himself was far prouder of his poetic achievements in Persian, he is today more famous for his Urdu Ghazals. Ghalib was a very liberal mystic who believed that "the search for God within liberated the seeker from the narrowly Orthodox Islam, encouraging the devotee to look beyond the letter of the law to its narrow essence.

Interestingly, before the bequest to Harvard, Durrani had tried getting Aligarh Muslim University to start up a Syud Hossain endowment to work on the English translations of Mir & Ghalib. However it was a failure. Ralph Russell explains in his article ‘Urdu & I’ that Durrani, a friend of Zakir Hussain (VC AMU) entrusted the project to Ali Ahmed Surur a few years before his death. However it appears that the result was not satisfactory and Durrani even threatened to sue Surur.

So these were the poets who enamored the millionaire Durrani, who left half his fortune for their exposition in the USA. What did Harvard do? They had to find somebody worthy enough to do justice to the bequest. And they did, they persuaded the German linguist and scholar, today fondly remembered as Annemarie Apa (Sister Annemarie) to work in Harvard. The legendary Annemarie Schimmel had spent years in Ankara working on Jalaluddin Rumi’s poetry and had moved back to Germany when Harvard contacted her. According to the Harvard Gazette - In August of 1965, on her first visit to the US, attending the 11th Congress of the International Association for the History of Religions in Claremont, California, she was approached by Harvard's Wilfred Cantwell Smith, who told her that substantial funds had been given to Harvard by the inventor of Minute Rice, Mr. Ozai-Durrani, to have two major Urdu poets, Mir and Ghalib, translated into poetic English. Of course, the position would consist of more than just this translation project. Would she be interested in coming to Harvard? She declined, claiming that as a non-specialist in Urdu she was ill prepared to do the job. But Smith and others at Harvard pursued her doggedly and finally convinced her.

Annemarie says - It was the famous Minute-Rice Chair which a wealthy Indian Muslim, infatuated with the Urdu poetry of Mir (d.1810) and Ghalib (d.1869), had dreamt of in the hope that his favorite poets would be translated into English to enchant the West as much as Fitzgerald's renderings of Omar Khayyam's Rubaiyat had done more than a century ago. Annemarie goes on to explain that she finally moved to Harvard mainly because she had no hopes of furthering her career in Germany. In the spring of 1967 she started at Harvard as Lecturer on Indo-Muslim Culture, and in 1970 she was appointed full professor and helped author many a paper and book on the subjects that Durrani wanted covered. She travelled regularly to Pakistan and attained such legendary status in Pakistan that a major boulevard was named after her in Lahore. On January 26, 2003, Annemarie died leaving behind a treasure trove of publications on Islam and poetry.

And who is Syud Hossain? A person Indians must be thankful to, for he was the one who advanced India’s case for independence in America. I will get into further details and introduce him to you in my next essay, the story of a remarkable fellow, who endured a sad life, after losing in love, but still forged on, all his life, for the freedom of his nation – India.

And so, you now know the connection between Ozai Durrani, rice and Urdu poetry. But what still remains unclear is the extent of friendship between Ozai and the person Durrani wanted his endowment to be named after, Syud Hossain. That they met in USA is clear, but Syud lived in South California while Ozai lived in Arkansas. How did Syud become so dear to Ozai? Perhaps it was Syud who introduced the Rice Chemist to Urdu poetry of Mir and Ghalib and changed his material life; perhaps they knew each other at AMU. While we may never know the real reasons, we know that Syud was also fond of Ghalib and Mir and so the two men shared that passion for poetry, so much so that when Ozai tried to give the same endowment to Aligarh MU, he named it after Syud and then later after Syud’s death, when he offered it to Harvard, it was in the name of Syud, which is how it remains today.

Perhaps Durrani’s life was mirrored in Ghalib’s words where Ghalib describes his own marriage as a second imprisonment after one’s initial confinement which was life itself. The idea that life is one continuous painful struggle which can end only when life itself ends, is a recurring theme in Ghalib’s poetry, just as they say in Buddhist and yoga philosophy - Sarvam Dukham (all is suffering)………

His gravestone states – ‘Vision hath he who before the power of love he measures has seen the dance, within each stone of uncreated figures’

References

Advertising Agency and Advertising & Selling, Volume 42, Issues 7-12
The Reader's Digest, Volume 55 – Robert Mullen article
Better Than Homemade: Amazing Food That Changed the Way We Eat - Carolyn Wyman (Pages 15-17)
A life of learning - Annemarie Schimmel Charles Homer Haskins
Urdu & I – Ralph Russell
Harvard Gazette articles
Article 1
Article 2
Minute rice ads

Satirist Mark Russell should be given a prize for remarking– what is the only thing (US) congress can get done in 10 days – Answer – Minute rice!!

Comments

windwheel said…
Amazing! Half a million dollars was a huge sum back then- yet, Ghalib and Mir still don't have good translators. But it explains Annemarie Schimmel's interest in Ghalib which I previously found puzzling.
Maybe it also explains the large number of bad versions in America from the late Sixties onwards- everybody read the New Yorker in those days and so poets probably thought they'd get a huge check in the post for their efforts.
Interesting that Indian diplomats in the mid Sixties did not know of Ghalib & Mir. I suppose this was the time when Urdu was called a 'foreign language'. Nowadays, thankfully, Indians have reclaimed them. Our former Post Master General, Prof S.R. Faruqi is the foremost scholar and his disciple Prof.Frances Pritchett has amazing websites featuring their whole divan.
Amazing post- much appreciated.
Maddy said…
thanks windwheel..
you dont know the kind of people they have in some embassies or consulates. really poor quality.
I guess you know that when urdu was taught in the early days, it was written in roman alphabets, much like the turkish of today! I was surprised when I came across that snippet.
Maddy said…
thanks windhweel
some of the people they have in embassies & consulates are woefully inadeqaute.
but then again, when urdu was first taught formally by the british, they used the english alphabet, much like the turkish of today!!
windwheel said…
Your wonderful post has encouraged me to read the book on Ghalib by Annemarie Schimmel available on Prof. Fran Pritchett's web site. Honestly, if I was not your follower, I would not have taken notice of the paradox that but for Aligarh alumnus 'Minute Rice' Ozai Durrani's generosity, Schimmel would now be remembered very differently and much more negatively.
This was because she was a student of Prof. H.H.Schader- a typical 'Orientalist' scholar who never engaged with the living culture of the people he was studying. Schimmel, by contrast, did do so- but she was just a woman and, in any case, the Turks of the period were firmly 'Secularist'- banning dervish dances, the wearing of the 'fez' and insisting Turkish be written in Latin (la-deen- without Religion!) script!
The irony here is that the founder of Aligarh, was steeped in traditional Sunni Muslim Culture- incidentally, like Kidwai, Syed Hosain started his career as a Khilafist- but he considered Western education as a good supplement but no substitute for Islamic knowledge. Urdu, like any language can be written in Roman, and 'Army Hindustani' was so written, however the British always insisted that Vakils, patwaris etc (as well as their own ICS officers) learn proper Urdu scripts- including shikast, Nastaliq etc- because records were kept in that language (in relevant areas).
To be frank, British did more for preservation of Indic scripts and also Islamic scripts and literature than anyone else. During their 'Raj' India became the most important publisher of books in Arabic and Persian. Prior to Independence, India also produced Arabic and Persian language films.
Even Army officers- who only needed Roman 'Army Hindustani'- had to pass exams in relevant Indic languages, written in indigenous or Islamic scripts, in order to qualify for appointments to the Political Service.
It is noteworthy that champions of Urdu script and language in India, post- Independence, are Anglophile or British trained- whether Muslim or Hindu. Most Indian Muslims now read Urdu in Devanagri or other Indic scripts, while the Madrasas are de-emphasizing Persianate Urdu and using Arabic, even altering pronunciation in a manner the old 'Ashraf' elite considers bizarre.

The odd thing is that, AFTER INDEPENDENCE, Indian elites (and now all aspirants to 'middle class' status) started neglecting their vernacular as well as lingua franca type languages. Nehru and Aurobindo may have gone to school abroad but they spoke and were knowledgable about their own mother tongues. Indira was okay in Hindi. Sanjay and Rajiv were virtually illiterate. As for, Varun and Rahul- the question of using proper language does not even arise. Sab chalta hai. Twitter generation-no? As Robert Vadra put it, we are all Mango men (aam aadmi) in a Banana Republic.
Maddy said…
thanks windwhee,
i will reply in detail..
did u see this one? something i wrote years ago
http://maddy06.blogspot.com/2009/01/urdu-and-its-origins.html
Maddy said…
Windwheel..
The first time I took up the matter regarding the seriousness with which local languages were stressed by the British was when I wrote this
http://maddy06.blogspot.com/2011/08/bachelor-of-arts-madras-university-1870.html
Transliteration into Roman characters started around that time, and when it proved popular and acceptable with Turkish, the british were emboldened into trying out the same in India.

Interestingly transliteration became popular again today due to English publishing mediums and twitter/SMS etc where for example malayalam or tamil is typed in english and who knows - maybe someday it will end up like turkish.
windwheel said…
Thanks for the links. It is a fascinating subject. My impression is that Indians traditionally had the habit of using the same script for different languages. Most Khatris and Kayasths were still using Persian script rather than Devanagri or Gurumukhi even when they were claiming 'Hindi in Devanagri' as National language. Kerala has always been somewhat exceptional, because of high education, advanced literary culture, very able and inspiring teaching sub-castes- e.g. Ezhuthachan- intellectual prowess, including original research, in Maths and many other fields. Still, it seems, from reading your post, in Kerala, the Europeans made a contribution in maintaining the character and uniqueness of the cultured form of the Vernacular.
I wonder if the Missionaries, in translating the Bible, wanted to make sure they were using the hieratic script and language so as to gain prestige for their Scripture? I imagine that they would have done the donkey work in terms of setting up Publishing type and that the Raj built upon this. No doubt, Civil Servants and Education Dept. wallahs wanted to protect their own specialism so this increased the demand for linguistic separation.
Still, if they had just promoted Latin script, maybe it would have been better for the country? A young person would quickly be able to learn the distinctive language of neighboring States and then be able to read the poems and later on the books of that State. Apparently, an Urdu song for a recent film was written by a young fellow from South India. He was just supposed to compose a dummy version to fit the tune, till Gulzar Sahib had leisure to write something proper, but his own Urdu- learned from Internet- was good enough!
Personally speaking, I hope Latin alphabet wins because though one's curiosity about similar languages- e.g. Tamil and Telugu or Hindi and Bengali- increases as one grows older, especially when it comes to poetry or religious texts, at the same time it becomes very difficult to get used to a new script.
This is a very fascinating subject and hopefully you will write more on this. From the Tamil side, what surprised me was how ignorant different Sects were of each other's contribution even at beginning of Twentieth Century. It may be, the situation was better two hundred years previously but the fact remains that British supported Education program for Tamil was responsible for revival of knowledge of texts like Sillapadikaram previously confined to one or two Jain scholars.
I imagine Kerala to have been more liberal- but even there disruption may have occurred for Historical reasons.
windwheel said…
Thanks for the links- a truly fascinating story. I don't know about the Turkish angle but then I have no expert knowledge.
My understanding is that the British standardized and disseminated certain prestigious vernacular scripts because
1) Missionaries wanted to translate Bible into the 'hieratic' script and 'prestigious' language. There was intense competition between different Christian sects which led to rougher translations, in low prestige dialects or scripts, being displaced by more euphonious translations. In the process, Missionaries themselves became literary arbiters and their Publishing presses became centers of literary excellence and patronage.
2) British Civil Service, Education Dept, Courts etc. wished to reduce their dependence on 'dubash' translators & also on 'Court Pundits, Moulvis etc' so they also, independently, were doing their own research and setting up their own Presses. By 1860, they had enough 'Intellectual Capital' to dispense with the Court Pundit/Moulvi and thus began the reign of the 'Barristocrat' earning fabulous fees for disputing matters of Hindu or Muslim inheritance law. Still, it is noteworthy that all Vakeels had to pass the exam in reading the 'broken' (shikasta) vernacular script used for Court Records. The I.C.S officer had to pass similar exams to get promoted- thus he too had a vested interest in keeping scripts separate. Army officers wishing to join the Political Service also had to pass similar 'Munshi' exams.
3) The Indian Comprador middle class- which previously was eclectic in terms of Script choice (i.e. it used any script for any language) became 'purists' insisting that a different script meant a different language and moreover that 'borrowed words' were impure and should be rejected. For the Indians, jobs as school masters, clerks etc were at stake. Furthermore, linguistic issues were a way to stake a claim to be 'sons of soil' with superior rights.
4) The idea of Hindustani in Roman script as the National lingua franca was associated with I.N.S of Netaji and went against Gandhian rejection of Western Civilization. Nehru, who enjoyed Urdu poetry, would not, in any case, have been strong enough to fight off the Devanagri lobby. The joke is that people who did not know that script and who could not understand 'Akashvani Hindi' (i.e. 'shuddh' Sanskritized Hindi) nevertheless campaigned for it. In Punjab, Hindus put down Hindi, in Devanagri, as their mother tongue though what they spoke was Punjabi and/or Urdu. In fact the land records were still in Persian script, so the patwaris had to know that language.

I don't deny that preservation of local scripts and literatures was a good thing and, no doubt, the Jesuits and the Brits and Germans and so on, played a helpful role- but, for the ordinary Indian, having at least one 'Universal' script would be a big boon.
Maddy said…
Thanks a lot Windwheel..
I was reading your comments and thinking how it would be with Hindustani or let's say for practical purposes Hindi in a Roman script..well, the consequences are pretty far reaching, interesting to say the least. I had no clue at all that Bose supported such an idea!! As somebody interested in Ataturk, I used to wonder if Bose aspired to be one similar.. Hmmm interesting... Something to investigate further...Thanks again
windwheel said…
I have been reading with great enjoyment some of your older posts- just taking my time and looking up things because I am not a 'scholar'. Perhaps you will bring out an 'enhanced e-book' or something like that- which would be a big boon for the younger generation...or even the older generation! Grandparents in India can communicate with Grandchildren using these new 'tablet' or smartphone type devices- putting their 'video clip' bookmark saying 'this is the area our ancestors came from' or 'I heard this when I was a child'- since grand children love grandparents much more (at least, that was the case in the old South India) they will become interested in worthwhile topics- not hate-filled rubbish- and take pleasure showing their superiority to their own parents on such matters!
You should definitely publish your writing in any case. Your writing style is so engaging that anyone from any part of the world or any generation or background would get so much pleasure and instruction from it.
I congratulate you on this. Like Ataturk, you have a pragmatic approach and don't sow the seeds of hatred but try to uproot them. Thanks to you, I looked up the wiki article on him and found that he concluded lasting Peace with Greece, Iran etc. He was a 'ghazi' but not a war-monger.
I know Bose was refused permission by the Brits to see Ataturk. To be frank, I may be wrong about I.N.A 'Fauji Hindustani' in Roman script. My dad and other male relatives told me that when I was a youngster. They had great love for 'Netaji'. It so happened that my Dad's boss, when we posted in Iraq, was an I.N.A veteran- Ambassador Mahbub Ali. He had a son of the same age as myself and I recall him lavishing love on both of us equally. To be frank with you, some Pakistanis have this same ideology- but majority one meets are hypocrites and like to cheat Indians- including Muslims- because they feel they are superior in Islam, though completely ignorant and superstitious. The great Pakistani writer, Abdullah Hussein, who switched from Urdu to English, gives many examples of this.
Still, I am a Hindu and the arrogance of supposedly 'high caste' Hindus, though disguised with plentiful hypocrisy and fine words, is what really stinks to high heaven. Like the ignorant type of Pakistani, they think they are the true repositories of a common and equalizing Religion such that they are entitled to swindle and exploit 'lesser breeds'.
I say nothing against Namboodri or Palghat Iyers- but I have seen with my own eyes some people having this tendency. I am sorry, I will never consider them to be 'educated' or genuine Hindu.
BTW, have you ever heard of a Gobind Menon of Syndic Oil Agencies? He had an extraordinary theory about Nairs, Kalari and the foundations of Islam.
It is because I have seen the bad side of great intelligence and literary ability applied to deciphering the enigmas of History, it is for that reason that I praise you and request you publish your work. Everything you write has a particular 'rasa'- just as any food becomes more delicious when taken from grandmother's hands- so we can say there is a 'oil from the hand' in specific writers dealing with a topic which is health sustaining, not hate filled.
By publishing this comment of mine, you will make me look a fool. Do so or not as you like. Better a fool than a scoundrel who thrives on sowing seeds of dissension.
Maddy said…
Thanks Windhweel,
It is not that I do not want to, but have not been able to find anybody interested in publishing selected articles into a book, so far..Literary agents are on the look out for novels and not this type - Also I do not want to pay to publish. so the search goes on...to end some day soon I hope...

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