Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Profound, Prolific and Funny. (Part-III)

Author's Note: To read the 1st part of this post, click HERE.

The 2nd part can be read HERE.

Through this post... I intend to bring to you a few nuggets of information... some known, some unknown and some little known. But interesting nevertheless.

Former External Affairs Minister K. Natwar Singh's book "Yours Sincerely", a selection of correspondence between him and eminent public personalities - among them Indira Gandhi, P.N. Haksar, H.Y. Sharda Prasad, Vijayalakshmi Pandit, Rajiv Gandhi, E.M. Forster, Nadine Gordimer and Mulk Raj Anand... released earlier this month. The book does not include any correspondence with Sonia Gandhi... but many letters, written by people long gone, remain relevant even today.

In December 1971, Mrs. Gandhi wrote: "It is not important what the Chinese think or what they want. What is important is what they do. So far they have kept to the expected line." Nearly four decades later, her advice would still make sense. But we need to be on our guard... constantly, and not take the famous slogan "Hindi-Chini Bhai Bhai" too seriously. Even though we have now graduated to "Hindi-Chini Buy Buy" *wink*

Some of the correspondence reveals Mrs Gandhi's softer, affectionate side. In January 1970, after Natwar suffered a slipped disc while bending to give his son a teddy, she wrote to him, "Do you remember when the same thing happened to KPS Menon? He had to stand in a very artistic Ajanta pose for quite some time. Now you know the pleasures of fatherhood."

When Natwar's daughter was born, she wrote, "You certainly have done better planning than many of us. My heart has always yearned for a daughter, so I can imagine your joy in Jagat's having a baby sister."

Here is a very popular joke involving Pervez Musharraf and Atal Behari Vajpayee.

Pervez Musharraf comes to Delhi for a meeting with Vajpayee. After dinner, Vajpayee says to Musharraf: "Well, I don't know what you think of the members of your Cabinet, but mine are all bright and brilliant."
- "How do you know?" asks Musharraf.
- "Oh well, it's simple", says Atal. "They all have to take special tests before they can be a minister. Wait a second". He calls Advani over and says to him, "Tell me Advaniji, who is the child of your father and of your mother who is not your brother and is not your sister?"
- "Ah, that's simple", says Advani, "it is me!"
- "Well done Advaniji", says Vajpayee and Musharraf is very impressed.
He returns to Islamabad and wonders about the intelligence of the members of his Cabinet. He calls in his favourite member of Cabinet and asks: "Tell me, who is the child of your father and of your mother who is not your brother and is not your sister?"
The Cabinet member thinks and thinks but doesn't get the answer. "Can I think about it a bit further? May I let you know tomorrow?"
- "Of course", says Musharraf, "you've got 24 hours."
He goes away, thinks as hard as he can, calls in his Cabinet Secretary, Chief Secretaries and Joint Secretaries, but no-one knows the answer. Twenty hours later, the member of Musharraf's Cabinet is very worried... still no answer and only 4 hours to go. Eventually he says: "I'll ask Benazir, she's clever, she'll know the answer."
He calls Benazir. "Benazir Sahiba", he says, "tell me who is the child of your father and of your mother who is not your brother and is not your sister?"
- "Very simple", says Benazir, "it's me!"
- "Of course" says the Cabinet member and rings Musharraf. "Sir", says he, "I've got the answer. It's Benazir Bhutto".
- "No, you idiot", says Musharraf, "it's Advani".

During the BJP years, Benazir forged a link with the Advani family with equal facility and friendship. Infact, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L.K. Advani and the slain two-time former prime minister of Pakistan... Benazir Bhutto shared a very special bond - that of Sindh, the land of their birth. Once while she was at his place... during one of her visits to India, his daughter Pratibha narrated the above joke to her. The only change was that Musharraf was replaced by Nawaz Sharif.

Nawaz (another two-time former PM of Pakistan) was famously known as 'all brawn and no brains'. He was also reputed to have an attention span of 30 seconds... which should explain the Kargil War. i.e., Nawaz denying knowing anything about it and Musharraf insisting that he had briefed him. Even though towards the end of the 'war' the former had made an urgent dash to the land of the 'cowboys' to find a face-saving solution, ostensibly at the latter's insistence. His love for good food especially nihari and paya is quite legendary too.

According to Advani (as narrated in his autobiography "My Country My Life") Benazir just laughed and asked Pratibha for a print-out. She took the print of the joke back to Pakistan with her. Incidentally, Nawaz (a Punjabi from Kashmiri stock) was built up by the intelligence agencies and the army (under Gen. Zia) to counter Benazir in Punjab. His better half - Begum Kulsoom Nawaz Sharif - is a decendant of the legendary wrestler, Gama pehelwan. Gen. Zia's father was a humble Maulvi in a mosque and his family had migrated to the 'land of the pure' from India after independence. While the family of Musharraf (who was born near Delhi) too migrated across the border after the partition. Good riddance to bad rubbish... what???

Here is a joke about the late General Zia-ul-Haq who ruled Pakistan for nearly 12 years before dying in an air crash. Infact, his rule was the most despotic and the darkest ever chapter in that country... and there has been ripple effects elsewhere in the region and beyond. The spread of the drug culture, Kalashnikov culture, proliferation of political Madrassas, a destructive 'islamisation' of that nation, discriminatory laws, sowing the seeds of religious strife and the Taliban... et al. Zia had deposed the then prime minister Z.A. Bhutto in a coup d'état in 1977. In 1979 Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Benazir's father and the first elected prime minister of Pakistan was executed (hanged to death) under a smokescreen that history now characterizes as a 'judicial murder'. One of the judges had even accused Bhutto Sr. of being a 'closet Hindu'. Now for the joke...

General Zia driving round Islamabad came across long queues of Pakistanis outside several embassies wanting visas and entry permits to go abroad.
He got out of his car and joined a line to find out why so many people were wanting to leave the country.
No sooner did the people see their President with them... they left the queue to return to their homes.
President Zia asked them why they were doing so.
They replied: "If you are leaving Pakistan there is no need for us to go."

The then regime (of Gen. Zia) had reportedly stripped (and photographed) Zulfikar's body to see if he was circumcised. Apparently, the Pakistan army had always treated Bhutto Sr. with disdain because his mother (Benazir's grandmother) Khursheed Begum was a Hindu from Gujarat who had converted to Islam. That should explain the reluctance of her family, party and supporters to subject her mortal remains to an autopsy under the Musharraf regime. What I find strange was the sudden insistence of the media - both domestic and international - on an autopsy. Indeed the way the media tried to play up the 'autopsy issue' (the denial of permission by her immediate family, that is) and played down the fact that the crime scene (where she was assassinated) was washed within minutes of her assassination... was extraordinary to say the least. Even the vehicle in which she was traveling was washed clean... thus destroying vital clues and evidence. Sudden collective amnesia on the part of the media, analysts, experts, et al means... Tarang, Tarang (that is the suspense music playing in the background, my friend). Even stranger was the attempt by the Scotland Yard to put the seal of authenticity on the Musharraf team's 'investigations and findings' into the murder. But then the cowboys and their cronies will have to shield Musharraf... else future recruitment of would-be Rommels and Guderians... will get affected. In the American scheme of things... he still has a role to play. Most certainly. They prefer someone who is a creature they can control... rather than someone who has strong support among the masses.

The father of Musharraf aka the erstwhile proud supermodel of the very exclusive 'Bushshirt'... was dismissed from service (due to financial misconduct) by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. Syed Musharrafuddin (Musharraf Sr.) was a lower grade employee of the Pakistan foreign service. Why the media and others insist on calling him a 'diplomat'... I have no idea. Benazir (during her tenure as PM) had interviewed Musharraf for some position and was quite disappointed by his analytical skills. Infact, she had very little respect for his 'analytical skills' and had termed him 'deceitful'. Musharraf... after wearing several hats (Chief of Army Staff + CEO + President + much else) had once boasted that he could put her in jail on a goat theft case. Can we imagine such a thing in India... ??? A rhetorical question... right? And Thank God for that!

The hand of the 'cowboys' and their cronies behind events in Asia especially South Asia is very evident. And their media... rather the western media/reports/polls, etc... are tools that are used for a certain purpose. Who can forget the stories regarding WMDs in Iraq of all places? The way it was orchaestrated, the purpose and the 'mission accomplished'. Afghanistan? Offlate, if you follow events in Iran as well as in the 'land of the pure'... the pattern is evident. It is called the 'colour revolution'.

The 'struggle cum movement' by the 'Men-In-Black' in the 'land of the pure' is highly suspicious. It was very well orchestrated, since they had to redeem the 'image' of the men-in-black in the eyes of the public and the world. And they succeeded. The black coats are the best bet... to achieve a certain desired result, since they provide the essential 'legal cover' too.

Weren't the 'Men-in-Black' involved in the agitation/movement... way back in 1977... ?? Of course back then... they were joined by others too (including the colourful beards' lobby). We know what the end result was. And wasn't the hand of the Jimmy Carter administration found... behind those 'spontaneous and popular' agitations... ??? Mind you... Mr. Carter was later honoured with the Nobel Peace prize, ostensibly for his matchless services rendered towards peace and charity. Last week, the same Jimmy Carter - one of America's most 'morally upright' presidents - was forced to apologise to Israel... because he realised that his grandson's senatorial ambitions would otherwise be thwarted by the politically-powerful pro-Israeli lobby. So much for 'democracy'.

Aren't the cowboys and their cronies trying to do the same in Iran now... ?? Not through the 'Men-in-Black' of course. That would give the game away!

Ummm... as they say, "Old wine in new bottle".

Until recently, I was yet to understand... how could lakhs of people who did not do a day's work, for 2 whole years... manage to maintain their home and hearth really well. Plus all the other expenses incurred while trying to set the world record, for the maximum distance covered on foot... ??? Then I read... that the Bar associations in the land of the 'cowboys' plus elsewhere had foot the bill. Plus someone with a love for nihari and paya. Plus angels and other mortals. So, the puzzle was finally solved *big grin*

Lets see how the events in South Asia shape up in the days to come. Coincidently, Obama is yet another Nobel laureate... the proud owner of the coveted Nobel Peace prize. Conferred on him by the august panel... immediately after he occupied the most expensive piece of real estate in the US of A.

In India, we are no stranger to bouts of name-changing spree. There are these little, obscure places whose names, rooted in some local tradition or legend, get changed when someone goes on the name-changing binge. Let me narrate a tale that most of you may not be familiar with... but it is interesting all the same.

There is this little place on the Karakoram Highway, about 6 miles short of Abbottabad. It is precisely where the road starts to climb into the mountains. Truck drivers usually stop here to top up the radiators with cold water from a nearby stream to ready their vehicles for the climb ahead. The place had a curious name, 'Khota Qabar', meaning, donkey's grave. Google gives the following information about this place: "Latitude 34.09; longitude 73.17; elevation 3,251 feet."

On their way to Balakot to fight the Sikhs, Syed Ahmed and Shah Ismail, who had come all the way from Breli, India, to wage jihad and liberate the area from Sikh control, had camped where Abbottabad is today. This was in 1831. They had brought a small army of mujahideen with them and some joined them locally. (Incidentally, this is the first time one comes across the word 'jihad' and 'mujahideen' in this part of the subcontinent). The Sikhs, in order to choke the mujahideen's supply lines, posted troops on the hills overlooking the road that led through the gorge.

The mujahideen, sensing the risk of sending supply convoys through the gorge cleverly hired the services of a donkey without a handler... to do the job. Yes, just one donkey. Even though the donkey has, for some odd reasons, become a metaphor for stupidity in our part of the world, it is not stupid at all. In fact, it has an excellent memory and uses it very intelligently. One of the unique traits of a donkey is that once he carries a load to a destination, he memorizes the route and does not need a handler to be able to go back to the same place. Just a light kick in the back sends him trudging quietly to his destination. So unknown to the Sikhs, this dutiful donkey trudged back and forth, night after night, carrying supplies from down below to the mujahideen's camp. It wasn't long before though that the Sikhs found out who the mysterious courier was and shot the donkey dead one night. (Obviously PETA and a famous bahu had not yet made their presence felt).

The mujahideen mourned the loss of the donkey and buried him in a grave rather than letting him rot in the open, as often they do. The place came to be called 'Khota Qabar' thereafter. The battle of Balakot ended in disaster for the mujahideen, but that is a different story. The grave of the donkey may not have survived but the name did. Ever since, people of the surrounding areas, old and young, know the place by that name. Ask any taxi, bus or truck driver and he will know where 'Khota Qabar' is. But recently, a road sign quietly sprouted at the precise spot announcing a new name for the place - 'Muslimabad'...! There was no one to defend the poor, dutiful donkey. However, the people of the area still know the place by its old name. And so does Professor Google!

Next time if you have the urge to call someone a 'donkey'... you know what to do. No?? Okie, I'll tell you. Bite your tongue...

Before I end, here is another joke on Gen. Zia...

Once Pak dictator Gen. Zia was speeding through Germany with his chauffeur at the wheel... on his way to an important ceremony. Driving down a country road, the chauffeur (who was distracted, looking out the window at the countryside) failed to see a pig walk out onto the road, and hit it with the car. Stopping the car, he jumped out, and Zia climbed out as well... to see what was going on. The chauffeur, very distressed by what he had done asked Zia what they should do. Zia told him (rather impatiently) that they were in a hurry and they should move the pig to the side of the road and go to the ceremony and worry about it later.

All the way to the ceremony... the chauffeur, who was a fairly good-hearted person despite his employer, was worried about the family who owned the pig and wondered how they'd react on discovering the dead pig. So when they arrived (at their destination) he asked Zia whether he should drive back to the farm and let the owners know what had happened.

Zia agreed... before hurrying to the podium, and the chauffeur hurried back down the road. Four hours later, he was seen stumbling down the road, his arms laden with gifts. Zia in a rage demanded to know what had happened to him, and the chauffeur explained, "I did what I thought was right. I went to the farm near the dead pig. When I knocked on the door and gave them the news, they gave me these gifts, fed me the best food I'd ever tasted and then sent me on my way."

Zia seemed confused by this and asked his chauffeur, "Well... what exactly did you tell them"? To which the chauffeur replied, "I can't understand it either. All I did was tell them, 'I'm Zia's chauffeur, and I killed the pig.'"

Here's wishing you all a Merry Christmas (belated) and a very Happy, Prosperous and Wonderful New Year (in advance)!!!

Note: Some info gathered, courtesy Wikipedia.


A Tuareg tribesman prays at twilight in Libya. Kinda depicts 'the sands of time'. Pic courtesy: National Geographic.


  1. Loooooong post :-)
    Where did you find all those tidbits?
    Loved this line of yours '"Hindi-Chini Buy Buy'

  2. Good one...thanks for sharing a smile........

  3. There you go again! Splendid post. Very funny and at the same time, informative. Loved the ABV and Mushraff joke. :D

  4. another one of your's ever enlightening posts ... loved it :)

    BTW, i have my very own laptop now, which i shall take to BITS this time ... and so will devote a lot of time to blogging again ... to start off, i've tagged you in my last post ... do respond!

  5. Very impressive.The post is really funny but serious too.
    If Indira Gandhi was a live,may be,this country would have been in a different shape altogether.
    I wish she was living.

  6. Hey Roshmi

    You wrote in my blog..........

    ""And who do you think provide those sophisticated toys for big boys?""

    Hahahaha...."toys for big boys"....nice expression.......i know what u mean by that......but its all speculation......BUT nothing can be ruled out.........

    Good to see you are thinking alternatively.....and not blindly following the mainstream view


  7. wow! u have good information about Pakistan politics too! HAPPY NEW YEAR!

  8. Hey Roshmi!! Impressive post! Just wanted to know, how much time (in hours) do you take in writing a post?? :)
    Happy New Year! :)

  9. Another Post peppered with humour and jokes... laughed a lot ...

  10. LOL! Nice post..:)
    Loved the last joke about the pig..
    Happy New Year!
    Hope you come up with many more funny and informative posts!

  11. :-) your post made me wonder if we can laugh at ourselves then we have truly evolved, if not,there is no point in laughing at someone else's stupidity.Isn't it?

  12. hi happy new yr... didnt really read d complete post.. got alil 2 long :P :P will complete sm odr tym... thot wud wish u a gr8 yr ahd wid more posts n more f wotall u want in life 2 ... cya

  13. @ Karthik: Thanks Karthik! Glad you liked it :)

  14. @ BK Chowla: Maybe...

    This subcontinent has lost many a good/great leader(s)... to assorted 'terrorists'. Maybe they refused to toe some line or take some dictation from across the seven seas... who knows??

  15. @ Reema :)

    You too have a fabulous year ahead!

  16. @ Dhiman: Thanks! Glad to know it made you laugh :)

  17. @ Preeti: Thanks! Happy New Year to you as well...

  18. @ Sobhit: Wish you a very happy and fabulous year ahead!