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Showing posts from January, 2017

The beautiful wife of Abdul Wasi

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The assassination attempt on Akbar which followed and her purported European connections
I had initially planned to spend time studying the so called European connections of the mystery wife of Akbar, the famous and powerful Maryam uz Zamani, the purported mother of Salim Khan more famously known as Jahangir. Fresh from a trip to Fathepur Sikhri, I assumed that things would become clear as to whether she had Hindu or Muslim origins or if she was of Portuguese or Armenian extract as some historians had alluded. After a study which proved tiresome and inconclusive, I decided to allow all that information swirling in my head to settle down for a while and get back to it later. Instead I decided to dwell a bit on another wife that Akbar had acquired a little later.  There was a lot of intrigue in this story, sufficient for me to jot it all down, and for you to peruse.
Akbar married his first cousin Ruqaiya, in 1552 (there were a couple of other marriages earlier). Even though he married t…

The Nanda Devi Episode

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CIA’s Operation HAT in the Himalayas
I love cloak and dagger stories, and since the days of Ian Fleming’s 007’s books, I have devoured many a tale on espionage with the same eagerness I started with. I first came across this story while reading the Mallory camera incident some years ago. Naturally this was a great story to peruse and one that I simply had to retell. These days we have less of human involvement in espionage but the stories are no less mysterious and keep the nerves tingling.
This story involves the Americans, Chinese and Indians. Pakistan too figures on the periphery. The backdrop is the cold war era of the late 50’s-early 60’s tinted with the fear of a communist surge from behind the iron curtain. The need of the hour was actionable intelligence from behind the curtains, especially those related to USSR and China’d development of nuclear bombs and missiles. With that intention, the first high altitude (>70,000’) U2 spy plane forays to photograph activity and sites, …