Showing posts from May, 2013

Panikkar and the torpedo

It was the tail end of the First World War. The war had been raging for four long years and involved some 70,000 military personnel, including close to 60,000 Europeans and sending some 9 million people to their untimely deaths. Starting with the crises in Austria and Serbia, it pulled in the Hungarians and the conflict soon spread with the Germans invading Belgium. Britain declared war on Germany soon after and The Germans were on their way to storming Paris. Russia moved in and trench war was raging to its final stages at the Western front.

One of the first things the Germans did during this period was also to take the battle to the seas. The supply lines for raw material and soldiers were laid through the big seas and anything that could slow the movement of merchant ships or halt it would be ever so important in the main battles and in slowing the Allies. It was with this in mind that the submarine corps was strengthened. The SM U-46 was one of the 329 submarines serving in the Im…

The Ghosts of Lakshmi Mansion

Pundit K Santhanam and Sadat Hasan Manto

Some weekends ago, the eagerly awaited Baisaki at Cary’s Koka Booth Amphitheater was affected by the rains. Last year’s was too, for we were eagerly waiting for Kailash Kher to sing, but again bad weather cancelled the show. But the Baisakhi raised a couple of memories, memories of a writer (a favorite of mine – I have a collection of his stories) who is considered to be the father of Urdu short story writing and another, a forgotten freedom fighter and the father of the Indian and Pakistan life insurance industry. As was destined, their fates crossed at Lahore, where one made a mansion and the other lived in it, but they never met. That mansion was the Lakshmi mansion of Lahore. The writer, was none other than Sadat Hasan Manto, who left Bombay with a heavy heart during the sad and violent days after the partition, and the other a lawyer who lived in Lahore before partition, who fought for India’s freedom and who went on to become the chairman o…