Sunday, April 5, 2015

From ‘Editor Unplugged. Media, Magnates, Netas & Me’ by Vinod Mehta

Malcolm Muggeridge ……. ‘Few men of action have been able to make a graceful exit at the appropriate time.’ ….Enoch Powell edict: ‘All political careers, unless they are cut off midstream …end in failure.’

It is common knowledge that investing in a media company yields very low, if any, returns. In fact, the corporate owner invests precisely because he longs to influence editorial policy. And for such influence he is prepared to risk a few million rupees.

Groucho Marx quipped, ‘Of course I have principles, and if you don’t like those, I have others.’

The precondition for a successful love search required, and I use [Bertrand] Russell’s worlds, ‘all passion to be quenched’

George Orwell: ‘Autobiography is only to be trusted when it reveals something disgraceful.’

In the introduction he was excessively eulogized. [Malcolm] Muggeridge began his speech saying, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, when people tell me who I am I can hardly wait to hear myself speak.’

In Bertolt Brecht’s acclaimed play Galileo, one of the characters makes an excellent point, ‘Unhappy is the land that needs a hero.’ …. F. Scott Fitzgerald: ‘Show me a hero,’ he said, ‘and I will write you a tragedy.’

We, the middle class, have concurrently created ‘pockets of California and sub-Saharan Africa’. ….Half of India’s population (600 million) defecates in public, 50 per cent of Indian children are stunted due to malnourishment, 50 per cent of women are anaemic…..

Whether it is fair to label the BJP as communal is debatable. What is not debatable is the fact that at the heart of the Sangh Parivar communal elements prosper. They become less or more vocal depending on how the Lotus is blooming.

From ‘Baba Amte. A Vision of New India’ by Hans Staffner S J

When asked whether he had drawn inspiration from any particular school of thought or leader Amte replied: “Yes, from several: Marx, Ruskin, Mao, Kropotkin, Tagore and Gandhi.”

The particular image under which Gandhiji chooses to worship God is Truth. In later years he does no longer say that God is Truth, but rather, that Truth is God. Gandhiji is not so much a theorist as a man of action. He prefers to define God in terms of a practical method of approaching Him rather than in terms of an abstract idea. We experience God by experiencing what is best in us. …..Gandhiji intends to state we can approach God by clinging to the Truth, by being true to what is best in us….being faithful to the voice within, to the voice of conscience, to the voice of God…clinging to the sanatana dharma….the law which is imprinted in man’s heart. Clinging to the sanatana dharma is not necessarily the same as clinging to the written dharma, the traditional law. The sanatana dharma is higher than all traditional or written law.
It is an ancient Indian insight that on account of human weakness errors may creep into the traditional law. From time to time people with deep spiritual insight will discover such errors and condemn them in the light of their insight into the sanatana dharma…..
….Though orthodox Hindus maintain that untouchability is prescribed by the Hindu dharma, and the law of Manu seems to bear them out, the reformers agree with Gandhiji, who following in the footsteps of Yudhishthira declares. “I decline to be bound by any interpretation of dharma, however learned it may be, if it is repugnant to reason and to moral sense,” and he declared untouchability to be an ineffaceable blot which Hinduism carries with it”, and insisted that it be abolished.

In his reply to the Templeton Foundation Baba Amte states: For me there is no better religion than the one that builds inside human beings a sense of dignity and self-esteem. I am glad this definition of religion seems acceptable. I am not religious, traditionally speaking, but I feel religion is that force which builds a stronger and more righteous human being.” 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

From ‘Travels with Epicurus. Meditations from a Greek Island on the Pleasures of Old Age’ by Daniel Klein

It is not the young man who should be considered fortunate but the old man who has lived well, because the young man in his prime wanders much by chance, vacillating in his beliefs, while the old man has docked in the harbor, having safeguarded his true happiness.
-          Epicurus

Not what we have, but what we enjoy, constitutes our abundance
-          Epicurus

The islanders say that on a man who has weathered challenging experiences, a finely seasoned face will emerge in old age. It is the face he has earned, and its raw beauty is in the fully lived life it expresses.

What Epicurus mainly had on his mind was the question of how to live the best possible life, especially considering that we only have one of them – Epicurus did not believe in an afterlife.

….Epicurus….aphorism…. “Nothing is enough for the man to whom enough is too little.”

Epicureans consider communal silence a hallmark of true friendship.

… [Epicurus] wrote, “Of all the things that wisdom provides to help one live one’s entire life in happiness, the greatest by far is the possession of friendship.”

…Epicurus believed that choosing with whom one eats dinner is far more significant than choosing what the menu should be. “Before you eat or drink anything, carefully consider with whom you eat or drink rather than what you eat or drink, because eating without a friend is the life of a lion or the wolf.”
By the joys of friendship, Epicurus meant a full range of human interactions ranging from intimate and often philosophical discussions with his dearest companions ….to impromptu exchanges with people, known and unknown, in the street. The education or social status of those with whom he conversed mattered not a whit; in fact the height of true friendship was to be accepted and loved for who one was, not what station in lie one had achieved. Loving and being loved affirmed one’s sense of self and conquered feelings of loneliness and alienation. It kept one sane.

Michel de Montaigne, the sixteenth-century French essayist….wrote, “And with Epicurus, I conceive that pleasures are to be avoided if greater pains be the consequence, and pains to be coveted that will terminate in greater pleasures.”

….Epicurus’s dying words to his friend Idomeneus: “On this blissful day, which is also the last of my life, I write this to you. My continual sufferings from strangury [bladder spasms] and dysentery are so great that nothing could increase them; but I set above them all the gladness of mind at the memory of our past conversations.”

In every real man a child is hidden who wants to play.
-          Friedrich Nietzsche

…the bedouin saying, “Beware of what you desire, for you shall always get it.” ….Oscar Wilde: “In this world there are only two tragedies. One is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it. The last is much the worst”

Memory is the mother of all wisdom
-          Aeschylus

Charles Dickens begins his masterwork David Copperfield, “Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.”

Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does.
-          Jean-Paul Sartre

….Friedrich Nietzsche…wrote, “When marrying, ask yourself this question: Do you believe that you will be able to converse well with this person into your old age? Everything else in marriage is transitory.”

Kierkegaard….wrote, “To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily. To not dare is to lose oneself.”

…Aristotle’s observation, “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”

The best remedy for anger is delay
-          Seneca

A little philosophy inclineth man’s mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth men’s minds to religion
-          Francis Bacon

Take more time, cover less ground

-          Thomas Merton

From ‘2014 The election that Changed India’ by Rajdeep Sardesai

In its original avatar as the Jana Sangh, the party had won just three seats and 3.1 per cent of the vote in the1952 elections. Now it had won 282 seats and 31 per cent of the national vote – astonishing figures when you consider that the BJP’s catchment area of winnable seats was less than 350 eats.

The BJP, bolstered by unflinching corporate support, easily outspent its rivals, but the more worrisome aspect is just the quantum of money that is now needed by every member of Parliament to win an election. Because, with every rupee donated, the IOUs need to be encashed post-election.
A candidate in Andhra Pradesh admitted to me that he needed ‘at least Rs 15 to 20 crore to just stay in the fight.’ …….

….1990 rath yatra ….Advani was the mascot, but the real stars were the Hindutva demagogues Sadhvi Rithambara and Uma Bharati. I shall never forget their speeches during the yatra, seeking Hindu mobilization and loaded with hate and invective against the minorities.

In early conversations, I never heard Modi speak of his caste background or his years in Vadnagar. He did speak, though, of his RSS mentors with great fondness. ‘Lakshman Inamdar… is a Maharashtrian like you, he guided me always….’

My verdict is that the Modi government was utterly incompetent because it was aware that the Godhra violence could set of a cycle of vengeance and yet did not do enough to stop it. In the places from where I reported in Ahmedabad, I just did not see enough of a police presence to act as a deterrent to the rioters. The violence only really began to ebb once the army stepped in….

What is probably true is that in February 2002, the real boss of Gujarat was not Modi but the VHP general secretary Praveen Togadia. If there was a ringmaster for the 2002 riots it was Togadia ….several ministers were beholden to him, and the street cadres were his loyalists. At the time, maybe even Modi feared him.
…..On the streets, the VHP’s foot soldiers were most visible and led the attacks against the minorities. In the Naroda Patiya massacre in Ahmedabad in which ninety-seven people were killed, the list of those arrested (and later convicted) included a roll call of prominent VHP members of the area …..

In a television interview after his surprise defeat in the 2004 general elections, Vajpayee admitted that not removing Modi at the time was a mistake.

….Modi used the Gaurav Yatra …. In every speech, he would refer to ‘Miyan’ Musharraf …..the message was really aimed at local Muslim groups…
The distinctly communal edge to the Gaurav Yatra surfaced in its most vitriolic form during a rally in Becharji on 9 September. This is where Modi referred to the riot relief camps as ‘baby-producing centres’ with him infamous one-liner, ‘Hum paanch, hamare pachhees’ …..The tone of Modi’s speeches was set by the fragility of communal relations and the climate of fear and hate that had been sparked off by the violence.

That verdict was delivered on 13 December 2002…. The BJP won an impressive 126 seats …That evening at the BJP headquarters, Modi agreed to do a ‘live’ interview with me. The mood amongst the cadres was not just jubilant but vengeful too. ….Surrounded by his supporters, Modi was an intimidating sight – steely eyes, a finger pointing at the camera, the face impassive. It was one of the most difficult interviews I have ever done.

Yes, Gujarat has also seen more successful prosecution, but many of these were achieved only because of the tireless work done by a Supreme Court-supervised Special Investigating Team (SIT) and indomitable activists like Setalvad, and not because of the Gujarat police. Honest police officers who testified against the government were hounded. Lawyers who appeared for the victims, like the late Mukul Sinha, were ostracized.

When Modi was re-elected Gujarat chief minister in 2002, he gave [Amit] Shah multiple portfolios, including the crucial home portfolio. The home ministry was critical because it gave Modi control over the police. In the backdrop of the riots and charges of conspiracy being made against the chief minister’s office, Modi needed someone in the home ministry who would be totally faithful to him, Modi trusted very few individuals – Shah was the one politician he felt a certain comfort factor with…..
It was during his tenure as home minister of Gujarat that [Amit] Shah courted controversy. Between 2003 and 2007, there were a series of encounter killings in Gujarat in which several young Muslims were killed. Shah claimed they were ‘terrorists’, some of whom wanted to kill the chief minister… Human rights activists argued that many of the encounters were ‘fake’….
In 2010, Shah was arrested by the CBI and accused of killing a criminal, Sohrabuddin Sheikh, his wife Kauser Bi and their associate Tulsiram Prajapati, in a staged encounter….Shah got bail three months after his arrest but was told he would have to leave Gujarat for fear that he would influence the investigation….

….did the political parties of UP, especially the BJP, stoke the communal fires to derive political beneit? That BJP leaders were present at a ‘maha’ panchayat where a call was made to avenge the killings and to demand justice for Jat bahu-betis is undeniable. That one of them, an MLA called Sangeet Som, put out a false video on Facebook showing an alleged lynching of Hindu boys is also true. At a Modi rally in Agra in November, the BJP leadership even felicitated its MLAs who had been charged with inciting violence. Two of its leaders named in the riot FIRs were given tickets, and one of them, Sanjeev Balyan, would eventually become a Union Minister.
….it is a fact that local Muslim leaders from the Congress, SP and BSP…were caught on tape delivering inflammatory speeches. …..the collective bankruptcy of a political class that was seeking votes over dead bodies.

Anna decided to go on another fast, this time calling for an FIR to be registered against fifteen UPA ministers. On day nine of the fast, he made a public appeal to Kejriwal to form a political party. Kejriwal, who had realized that the politics of fasts and dharnas was subject to diminishing returns, was excited at the prospect. Two days later, Anna backed out of the proposal, leading to complete confusion in the ranks. ‘We had made all the plans and then Anna ditched us,’ is how one Kejriwal aide described it.

….Gautambhai [Adani] had struck friendships with politicians from different parties. He kept a steady equation with Congress leaders in Gujarat and beyond ….Perhaps his closest friend in politics was NCP leader and UPA minister, Sharad Pawar. …The two would often dine at each other’s houses….

Generally, parties like the Congress and the BJP have a ‘graded’ system – ‘winnable’ candidates are provided a sum of around Rs 2 crore from the party funds, while the next category gets Rs 1 crore. The balance amount is expected to be raised by the candidates, with Rs 5 to 10 crore being the average cost for fighting an election (in states like Andhra and Maharashtra, it can go up to rs 15 and 20 crore, but it is less in north and east India; while urban seats are more expensive than rural ones).

Only a few business houses have set up official electoral trusts to give money by cheque. Most of the election money is generated through cash-rich businesses like real estate, liquor, stockbroking and mining.
At a rate of around Rs 8 to 10 crore per ‘winnable’ constituency plus other campaign expenses, the BJP had raised anywhere between Rs 4000 to 5000 crore – at least that’s my hunch…. The Congress was probably a few thousand crores behind in the race this time.

….NDTV is seen as occupying a politically left-liberal space….

Some of the most abusive Twitter activists seemed to be linked to either pro-BJP websites or even individual party members…..The campaign was much too organized for it not to have at least some level of endorsement from the leadership. The ‘HDL’, or Hindu Defence League, on Twitter was like a swarm of bees that would sting anyone who questioned their political beliefs. This wasnt healthy debate – it was vile abuse being spewed under the c

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

From ‘The Reluctant Tuscan. How I discovered my inner Italian’ by Phil Doran

…..Nancy….an interior designer ….. When she sees a house she wants to redo, she gets a look on her face like a fifteen-year-old boy on a topless beach…. she never met a room she didn’t think she could improve.

Our plane landed and taxied to a stop. We then had the pleasure of sitting on the hot tarmac for 45 minutes while the Alitalia ground crew figured out how to open our door.

Buon giorno, signora, Piacere,’ I said, using up ten per cent of my Italian vocabulary

…..a small two-storey affair that had fallen into such disrepair……. I studied the thick accretion of inky residue and pondered the dramas that had played out inside these four walls.
The births, the deaths, the quarrels, the passions. And that was just the goats.

Dino broke down and wept, sobbing through his nose with big theatrical gasps like a clown in a Verdi opera. I was constantly unnerved by the penchant Italian men have for spontaneously bursting into tears.

‘…I still cant figure out why every store and office in this country closes up for a four-hour lunch break in the middle of the afternoon. ………..Why two Italians’ll block traffic by sitting in their cars in the middle of the road having a conversation. Why their houses have three different-sized electrical sockets and yet whenever I go to plug something in it, it doesn’t it in any of them. Why every restaurant but McDonald’s cant be open for dinner before eight o’clock at night. Why its impossible to make an appointment with anybody, and when you finally get one, they’re always late. And finally, how come when you question an Italian about any of these things they look at you like you’re crazy?’

He welcomed us in and as he helped Nancy off with her coat, he asked her about her fungus. I thought this was a rather intimate line of questioning but I soon realized that he was referring to a disease that was attacking our olive trees up at the piccolo rustico.

…why the citizens of these two cities [Florence and Ravenna] despise each other, you have to go back to AD 1309, when Italy’s most renowned poet, Dante Alighieri, was exiled from Florence for political reasons. For years, he wandered Tuscany, venting his fury by writing the Inferno and peopling hell with all the Florentines who had done him wrong. He finally wound up in Ravenna, where he died and was buried. Centuries later, the Florentines realized their mistake and demanded the return of their favourite son’s remains. The Ravennese refused, and to this day there is bad blood.
I have a lot of problems with Italy. Its chaotic, confusing, and oftentimes incomprehensible. But I must confess that I find unabashed delight living in a society where people still get furioso over the bones of a poet who’s been dead for seven hundred years.

Unlike the French, who tend to sink into reverential silence when the food arrives, the act of eating merely increases the Italians need for volume and drama.

Italy leads the world in young men with funny beards.

‘How can he get away with this?’ I demanded.
Rudolfo shrugged. ‘We’re Italian. We live with a million laws and no rules.’

…..thats how things get done around here. They’ll do anything for the mamma.

…it would certainly be good to get back to Los Angeles, where everybody speaks the same language. Korean.

As soon as I stepped off the plane and into a terminal full of my countrymen, I began to notice seismic differences. Americans looked heavier, more serious, more racially mixed, and not nearly as happy as a random crowd of Italians.

… I just plunged on. ‘Prendere mangiamo ….uh, uh, suoi polli
She flashed me a look of horrified indignation, quickly huddled her brood together, and ushered them away with such alacrity, I knew I had said something wrong…. I… discovered  that instead of asking if she were taking her chickens out to eat, I had asked if I could eat her chickens.
And we wonder why nations have such a hard time hammering out peace treaties.

During the course of rebuilding our house, we got calls from our ingegnere, the geometra, the carpenter, and so on asking us to come to their office or workshop. Invariably, we’d discover that whatever they wanted to discuss could have been dealt with over the phone. But that’s not the Italian way. They need to see your face, look in your eyes and use their vast array of hand gestures. So dependent are they on hand gestures that an Italian with a missing finger is thought to have a speech impediment.

The bronze plaque that displayed the name of our bank also announced that this particular institution had been founded twenty years before Columbus sailed for the New World, and every time I walked in, I felt like there were still customers from the fifteenth century waiting for a teller. The bank had computers, but they seemed to be mostly used for sending e-mails and playing video games…..
….Italian lines, by the way are not straight, but round. They tend to coalesce into a loose mob, where everyone seems to be able to follow the threads of many simultaneous conversations at once while never losing track of who goes next.
The wait was endless, but Italians can endure anything as long as they can talk. And their preferred way is everybody at the same time and at a volume we usually reserve for telling somebody the building’s on fire. It got so deafening in there that the tellers had trouble understanding their clients.

A word about Italian chequebooks and that word is drab. Unlike America, where you can order your cheques in lots of twenty thousand and get them printed with everything from Sunset Over the Mojave to a field of Happy Faces, Italian cheques come in only one colour: a faded, plain institutional brown….In a country recognized for style and design, the very birthpace of the Ranaissance, this is an appalling lack of sprezzatura, or what the Italians themselves call ‘the art of living’.

A common feature of every government office in Italy is a constantly ringing phone that nobody ever bothers to answer.

I have no trouble lying to the Italians, because they’re a highly imaginative people who have an ethereal relationship with the truth. They are a nation of natural-born storytellers who love to wrap you up in their yarns. Interestingly, they tend to label such a narrative as una storia, which implies that what they are telling you can be true, made up or a combination of the two. Often these anecdotes are long and quite intricate, carefully crafted to elicit your sympathies, or, failing that, exhaust tyou so you’ll go away.

Italians drive with a ferocity usually connected to a blood sport – horns blasting, brakes screeching, gears grinding – and that’s just getting out of the driveway….

Things happen in Italy that happen no where else on earth. A magical friendliness is spread all over the place like pixie dust. Sure, the salesman in America who greets you when you walk into Circuit City is as affable as a sheepdog, but isn’t that well-practised camaraderie all part of their corporate policy? In Italy, especially in the small family-run shops, the don’t just go for friendly, they actually seek to engage you as a person.
And this can take so many forms, like the local shoemaker who examines your heels and tells you that you don’t need new ones yet. Just walk around on your old ones for quaranta giorni (forty days), and then come back. Or your favourite fruttivendolo who stops you from selecting the shiny red applies and steers you to the ugly brown pugs that wind up tasting more delicious than any apple you’ve ever eaten. When you tell him you want four, he puts five in your bag because four is an unlucky number in Italy, while thirteen is not.

There never was any discernible pattern to the work. Some days nobody showed up. Then suddenly the whole crew would be there with more heavy equipment than Hitler had when he invaded Poland.

…..I realized that I was becoming so Italian, I looked to celebrate at the slightest provocation

….I never cease to marvel at how Italian men will ogle a woman with a blatancy that would get you hauled into court on sexual harassment charges in America.

If I live here forever I’ll never get used to how Italians will come over to your house at any time of the day or night. In L.A. the last person to drop in on anybody unannounced was the Hillside Strangler….One of the more enduring axioms in literature is the idea that life in an American suburb is sterile and emotionally desolate.

For a country that seems to be organized along chaotic lines by a people with a deep-seated sense of anarchy in their souls, Italians dance in a highly structured way.

….in this heavily agricultural area, where the locals are fond of saying that if a man has a woman he’s happy for a day, if he has a cow he’s happy for a week, but if he has a garden he’s happy for a lifetime.

….Fabiola was canonized at a time when it was a lot harder for a woman, alluding to the existence of a glass ceiling even in the saint business.

Being the sons of Italian families, it never occurred to Rudolfo or Stefano to prepare their own meals, wash out a dish, or even pick up the clothes they seemed to drop wherever they were standing.

The two Italian words most firmly embedded in the English language are graffiti and paparazzi. Interestingly, both involve a public display. This tells us much about their national psyche, for the average Italian is motivated by two powerful forces: fare una bella figura (looking good to his friends and neighbours) and non fare una brutta figura (not looking bad to his friends and neighbours)

I think no country on earth benefits from the sunshine more than Italy. When its overcast and dreary, the grey seems to accentuate how everything is slightly threadbare and the villages have an almost shabby, Eastern European feel. But when the sun shines, the ordinary becomes remarkable and the remarkable becomes transcendent.

Italians like to come early and stay late, so a social gathering tends to become a marathonlike test of a hosts endurance.

The party lasted all evening and well into the night. Our neighbours could scarcely complain about the noise, since they were the ones making it. Italians may never sweep all the gold medals at the Olympics or establish a permanent colony on the moon, but when it comes to having a good time, no people on earth can touch them.

It would be difficult to imagine a land where one could eat so well from just the bounty of the nearby forests, fields and sea.

From ‘Hero on a Honda. Reflections on India’ by Anthony Richard Farmer

Given the potential for violence; driver to driver, driver to pedestrian or driver to animal, I saw no offensive gestures, no calling into question race, religion, gender or parentage, no shirt pulling, head-butting or punch-ups. In India….
I haven’t encountered any impatience with feral animals either, no matter how offensive or inconvenient their actions. Indeed, the norm is to show kindness and compassion, at worst indifference, towards animals in the street. Unwanted food waste is deposited in specific places for animal consumption…. I watch water, seeds and fruit placed on walls and on rooftops for birds, rodents and primates to consume. Non-violence and compassion contribute to the easy going nature of India. Kindness, inclusion, patience and respect are the hallmarks of Indian society.

…..the lake-side residence where Rudyard Kipling lived and began to write The Jungle Book…..The house is whimsical, set at the end of a large lake, surrounded by hills, filled with water lilies and litter in equal measure. It’s a small palace, so picturesque ……..its very unlikely that any lake in the Western World would be so full of rubbish, here piled up at the downwind end. It’s a disgrace but this is India and comparison is odious.

The once glistening streams and rocky rapids now flow like black smelly treacle, clogged with litter. Wedged uncomfortably between hotels with names like The Hillock, The Hillstone ……tribal families eke out a living but they’re unable to wash in the streams and have less and less land on which to grow a few crops. Their goats eye the lush hotel gardens while sifting through the garbage on the street for food. No-one takes much notice of the state government notices declaring Mount Abu a ‘plastic-free zone’.

India welcomed me and I felt immediately at home, inspired by color, landscapes, buildings, customs and the industry and warmth of its people. The India I encountered was playful and innocent……
No matter where I went, who I met, I never felt unsafe. I experienced no unpleasantness, no discrimination, no harsh words, no resentment. Everywhere, I encountered open-hearted welcomes, sunny smiles, genuine curiosity, delightful humor, and unconditioned inclusiveness. Indian people, from all walks of life and in all circumstances were kind, joyful and generous; Indian people made such an impression on me. I tried my best to engage India at street level……..No lofty observations from exclusive hotels. Always I found generosity of spirit, sometimes it was quite overwhelming and most often from those who had the least to give. That I didn’t speak their language made little difference.

So much of India has entered my soul and will remain there forever.

From ‘Kevin and I in India’ by Frank Kusy

The journey was once again very bumpy and dangerous. The only light relief came from the bus’s ticket collector, with his periodic cries of “We stop now! five minutes for tea and urine!”

Andrew shook his close-cropped head in puzzlement when I asked him his future plans. “You know something?”, he remarked. “I’ve been right round the South-East Asia circuit now – I’ve been to Sri Lanka, to Thailand, to Burma and every other damn place – and I’ve found all these places pretty much alike, and very easy to get grips with. But India! I’ve been here over a month already, and I’m still no nearer to understanding it than when I first arrived! I expect I’ll have to hang around until I do understand it ….”

….Nepali women ….were nearly all beautiful, and nearly all pregnant. They appeared a good deal more open and friendly than the women of India, and the relationship between the two sexes here in Nepal seemed altogether more close and natural.

The more I saw of India, the more I liked it. Wandering through the streets and observing the many herds of sacred cows, for instance, I could now view them as amiable, benevolent spirits rather than unnecessary public nuisances. ……..Now I could see some of their value. Not only did their endless patience and calm stoicism contribute some sense of order and tranquility to busy Indian streets, but they also managed to keep the accumulation of waste and rubbish on the road down by eating a remarkable amount of it.

Off the plane back in Heathrow ………I returned straight home and ate a simple meal of rice and yoghourt – the nearest thing to an Indian ‘thali’ I could find.
Then I ran a bath, my first in four months, and discovered on the scales that I was two whole stones lighter than when I had left England. Finally, I climbed into bed, faintly aware of the deafening silence in the streets outside, and slept for a whole day.
I woke up feeling like I had been wrung through a mangle backwards. Then, as consciousness returned, I found myself thinking of my next journey. Where would I be going? Why, back to India of course.
Most people do.