Sunday Walkabout

On our habit of random walking about on Sunday, and we find that sometimes we are taken to parts of the city which hold treasures for the traveller. Some such treasures were found on one such Sunday.

A short bus ride took us to East Coast Road, a part of the city which has much to walk about. This row of houses, which almost looks out of a fairy tale was the first thing we saw, just across the road from the bus stop, almost a rainbow.

IMG_3466A short walk from here takes you to the shopping part of the stretch of road, where, from a nearby church, the bells could be heard chiming, a sound magnifique! And there, one comes across this landmark of the city, known for the food there, as well as the facade.

IMG_3467The shops on this stretch of road present an old-world look, and charm of the past cannot be missed. Take a look at this pillar, for instance, which, in addition to announcing antiques, seems to be adding one to them, the tiles telling stories of a different era.

IMG_3460Or this corner store, which today houses a 7-11, but presents a picture of many days gone by.

IMG_3461A short walk from here, and one reaches another landmark, one of the popular hotels in Singapore. The shuttered windows, the architecture, the doors on level 2, all present a picture of another day.

IMG_3465The shops on this stretch of the road present a medley of colours, and while the contents of the shops, and the interiors have changed over the years, the impressions of the past are well-maintained here. No two shops here are painted the same colour.

IMG_3468A short walk down, one comes across this restaurant …

IMG_3470… and one wonders, how can anyone eat such cute things.

And this is where we got onto another bus, and while on the way to somewhere (we didnt really know where we would get off the bus), we decided it was time to head to our usual place, Little India. Along the walk we took in Little India, came this pub with an impressive name, and the equally impressive building, though we didnt venture inside.

IMG_3472And then, on to our little rendezvous with Mr. Guinness.


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Getting Around

Lao Tzu said: A good traveller has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.

With this description, we could be somewhat of good travellers, albeit weekend ones. You would have read in this post about our wanderings around Singapore, and would have seen how random buses taken from random bus stops more often than not, take one to Geylang. One wonders why, and the mind boggles. The route we got the other day, though, was quite a different one, and took us to different parts of the city.

Many a times, on bus rides, we have seen this mosque, thinking maybe someday we should get off the bus, and get off the bus, on a sunny Sunday afternoon is what we did. What brought our attention to the mosque was this wonderful quote pasted there, for all to read and comprehend.

And here is the mosque, in the backdrop of the blue sky on a sunny afternoon.

The next bus ride took us to Serangoon, where we walked around NEXX mall, and came across this somewhat crazy advertisement.

From Serangoon, we took a bus which took us to Ang Mo Kio, for something to drink at the hawker centre, where we saw this, the first letter of the Urdu alphabet.

Walking around, we reached the Pathlight School, which is dedicated to children with autism, and is celebrating the 10th birthday. This is being celebrated, in part, through these wonderful pictures, an inspiration to a wonderful cause.



And a few minutes later, we were treated by Nature to the beautiful sight, the clouds forming a beach to the sea of sunshine.


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Deciphering Nuclear

Over the last few days, as shelling between India and Pakistan has intensified and reduced over time, there are a number of statements coming about the Pakistani nuclear option. This news report is an example. Over the years, when there is conflict with India, Pakistan routinely bandies their nuclear status, in a sort of a veiled threat. Whether this is meant to be a threat or not is a matter of speculation, but the use of the adjective “nuclear powers” does suggest that. Maybe we should look deeply to understand how the intelligentia in Pakistan thinks, especially when it comes to their nuclear assets, vis a vis India.

Heres a panel discussion moderated by Moeed Pirzada, about Pakistan’s nuclear weapons:

The essence of the discussion is that the Pakistani view of nuclear weapons is as an offset for India’s superiority at conventional warfare. This is why Pakistan refuses to endorse the no-first-use policy which India embraces. In other words, while India pledges to not use nuclear weapons unless attacked with a nuclear weapon, Pakistan makes no such pledge. Pakistan would rather hit India with nuclear weapons even in the eventuality of a conventional war. And thus, Pakistan violates the cease-fire, and carried out unprovoked firing, and when India retaliates, raises the spectre of nuclear weapons.

In effect, while India believes that there is room for a limited war with Pakistan, Pakistan on the other hand, by playing the nuclear card, is trying to build the impression that there is no such space. When this is the thinking of the leadership and the intelligentsia, is it any surprise that the world is concerned?

Heres the military view of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons.

The other, human aspect of this nuclear bogey is succintly described by Hassan Nisar in this talk … a voice of sanity.

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Traveller & Tourist

What’s the difference between these two? To many of us, these two are synonymous, but are they really? These two folks don’t seem to think so. And surprisingly, for once, they seem to agree.

A tourist, according to these guys, is someone who goes visiting places with the purpose of “doing” those places. You can’t miss those types. These are folks who are posing in front of monuments or landmarks, and rushing from one destination to the next. They are on a right schedule, and would like to see or “do” as many of the important places to see in the shortest possible time. In other words, they have destinations in mind, and the idea is to cover as many of those as they can. Among your friends, you will find these as the folks who post selfies of pictures with family at famous places, and nowhere else. And if you have friends who only post pictures from foreign vacations and nowhere else, you have one of the tourists as your friend.

But these are things practically every everyone does. So what are travelers and how are they different from tourists? According to these folks, there are very few travelers today. So who are travelers? Travelers are those who don’t necessarily have a destination when they travel. Someone for whome the journey is as important as getting there. People who aren’t just “doing” places but are living them. These are people who like to experience the places they travel to, would like to feel the essence of the city they travel to, and believe every place has a charm and ethos uniquely it’s own, and while landmarks are a part of this charm, this ethos comes from the culture, which is manifested in the people. So travelers are to be found among the non-descript, not-so-famous places, places where they can meet people, listen to and tell stories, learn about the ethos of the place.

These are people who are to be seen traveling by bus or rickshaw, not by taxi. These are folks seen drinking tea or eating at roadside stalls, not at posh restaurants. Among your friends these are people who post pictures of “unknown” places, but pictures which are poignant, maybe touching, or humorous, basically those which touch you somewhere deep. These are people who will tell you stories.

In short, according to Laurel, if life were akin to a flowing river, then tourists are those walking along the banks, at times getting wet from the splashes of the river, while travelers are to be seen swimming in the river.

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1965 was the year when India and Pakistan fought the second war in the nations’ history. This war, like the one previous, was fought over the territory of Kashmir. This war was fought in August-September of 1965, though the Pakistani version is that the war started on 6th September, 1965, with the Indian invasion on Lahore. The truth is somewhat different.

So what was the truth? To find out the truth, we have to go a few months before the month of September to find out the events that led to the war.

The fighting began in the month of January, with Pakistan launching Operation Desert Hawk. The stated reason for the operation was the dispute over Rann of Kutch, but many speculate that the actual objective was to divert India to the west, away from the main theatre of the coming war, in Kashmir, given that India had just had a military defeat in the 1962 war. With this operation, Pakistan tried to take control over the Rann, and this ended shortly with a British-brokered cease-fire.

Moving to Kashmir, the hostilities began with what Pakistan refers to as Operation Grand Slam. The idea behind Operation Gibraltar (who thinks up these names anyway) was to infiltrate Pakistani regular soldiers into Kashmir in the guise of Muhajideen, based on the assumption that the people of Kashmir would welcome them, and together, they could foment a rebellion in Kashmir. This didnt happen, and the people of Kashmir informed the Indian Army, and this operation was a failure. India counter-attacked across the LoC, capturing important important features like the Haji Pir pass. This was followed by the Pakistani counter-attack, nick-named Operation Grand Slam. The idea behind Operation Grand Slam was to capture Akhnoor, cutting communications and supplies to Indian troops further north. The Pakistan Army met major success at this point, given numerical and technical superiority, and the element of surprise.

To relieve the pressure in Kashmir, India decided to take the battle to Pakistan in Punjab, at Lahore. Given that Pakistan had concertrated forces at the Sialkot sector for the offensive on Akhnoor, the area leading to Lahore was defenseless. Seeing the lack of any defensive positions, the Indian Army stopped their offensive for a few hours, fearing a trap, which gave the Pakistani Army the time to move forces from Sialkot to the defense of Lahore. At this point, India had taken the village of Barkee, and was within firing range of Lahore International Airport. However, lack of intelligence, and tactical mistakes let to the Indian Army having to withdraw, most importantly the lack of information of the 3 Jat having taken Jallo Mur to the west of Icchogil canal. Further south, while Pakistan took the strategic town of Munabao in Rajasthan, India took the town of Gadra.

A large role was played by the Pakistan Air Force, and the fact that Indian Air Force was largely concentrated in the eastern region, for defending against a possible Chinese attack. According to estimates, Pakistan depleted 17% of their fleet, while India suffered around 10% losses. All in all, none of the two countries were able to achieve air superiority.

Some of the fiercest fighting, though, happened in Punjab. The Indian offensive on Sialkot, with the elite 1st Armoured Division, the “pride of the India Army”, was crushed by a much smaller Pakistani force at the Battle of Chawinda. On the other hand, the 1st Armoured Division, Pakistan’s Pride, invaded and captured the town of Khem Karan, with the objective of taking Amritsar. However, this division was decimated at the Battle of Asal Uttar (which incidentally means Fitting Reply) by a much smaller Indian force. The area came to be known as Patton Nagar, after the large number of Patton tanks destroyed.

The sea battle, on the other hand, was an unequal battle, and Pakistan controlled the sea-lanes, and bombed Dwarka, with most Indian ships in dock for repair or refitting, and unable to take part in battle. This was a contributor to the expansion and modernisation of the Indian naval fleet.

All in all, the war reached a stalemate when the cease-fire, brokered by the Soviet Union came into effect, and the Tashkent Declaration was signed. Lal Bahadur Shastri died in Tashkent, hours after the signing of the declaration, and in Pakistan, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto started criticizing Gen. Ayub Khan for having lost the military victories on the negotiating table. Over time, this led to Gen. Ayub’s ouster, and the coming to power of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, and Gen. Yahya Khan.

Here are the two sides of the story, as told in programs from India and from Pakistan.

These stories diverge at times, based on the viewpoint you look at history from.

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Cricketing History

The stuff legends are made of … and this is definitely one of the defining moments of cricket. Sir Garfield sobers up the bowling, you think?

Thoughts about the World, Business, Knowledge, Spirituality ...

Now this video should be a mandatory part of any cricketer’s education … and if you either have dreams of having been a batsman, or aspirations to be one, then this is a must-watch.

All six of them effortless. Sheer poetry.

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The Ethos Of Lahore

These guys were talking about this video which is about Lahore. In this video, noted journalist Mubasher Lucman talks about Lahore.

Lahore is one of the oldest cities in South Asia, with a history which spans more than 4000 years, starting from its founding by Lord Rama’s elder son, Lav. Lord Rama’s younger son, Kush, founded the nearby city of Kasur.

Interestingly, one of the oldest dramas in the world, Abhijnan Shakuntalam, written by the great Kalidas, was first performed in this city of culture.

Lahore indeed has a venerable history, a city which has been the heart of culture and tradition, a city which represented the pinnacle of culture, music, poetry, literature. The city where the arts flowered and flourished, a city which names among her sons and daughters, some of the leading cultural and musical luminaries across history. And this culture, tradition, isnt about India or Pakistan, this is the tradition, the culture which is the shared heritage of two nations.

Today, however, this ethos of Lahore seems to be getting destroyed. Lahoriyas today dont look at Lahore as they used to. Lahore is no longer the heart of culture in the Indian subcontinent that it used to be, and Mubasher Lucman is asking where this ethos has gone, where those Lahoriyas have gone who brought Lahore to the heights it once had.

Not for nothing is it said that …

Jiney Lahore nahin vekkheya, o jammeya hi nahin!

Or, as the Lahoriyas say …

Lahore Lahore aey!

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