Tuesday, August 22, 2017

WE'RE NIGGERS ALL, MAN

Years ago, I spent an evening with the American comedian/activist Dick Gregory. He died a few years back. WHat he said then is still so pertinent to America today. Tragically!
 
WE’RE NIGGERS ALL, MAN.

The thin cop is looking worried. He keeps adjusting his glasses as he hovers behind Dick Gregory’sbroad back at the post Frost on Friday studio party. A plump Zapata-moustached producer hovers behind the cop. Dick stops talking to find out what is happening. ‘Evening sir, local police. I’m afraid you’ll have to leave by the back as we’ve had word some blokes are coming to have a rumble with you.’ The producer relaxes as Dick nods, unsmiling, and says he’ll leave. David ambles over, anaemic with make-up, to arrange for the next show.  ‘You were lovely Dick, really lovely. Now tomorrow...’ Ten minutes later, the cops have multiplied to three and all are nervous.

David disappears and Dick wishes goodbye to Malcolm X and an entourage of flowing robed black men.  You go down with him to the waiting car, flanked by cops, feeling very much like a train robber or a presidential candidate. A cop opens the door and says ‘Sorry sir but...’ Dick pats him and says “ Yeah man. You’re just doin’ your jobs.’ His wife sits beside him.

Dick Gregory has changed since you last saw him. Two years back he was an American comic, dressed in an expensive suit spieling prussic acid satire for the late show.  Two years! He’s done some suffering. A couple of spells in goal, a couple of fasts, a couple of “whuppings” by cops. Now he’s dressed in very casual clothes and has a beard. He’s grown too, and you watched it happening. From comic to semi-statesman for Black America. He has...dignity in him and he’s more relaxed, as though he knows what he wants and where he’s going. ‘You do a load of thinking in goal man. A load of it...’

The driver wants to know if violence is the only answer.  ‘Violence is no asnwer man but it’s the only way you got when you’ve examined every legal and moral ground on the subject,’ Dick says, ‘and get no where.’  He’s a non-violent man so you want to know what he’s going to tell the ghetto. ‘I’ll tell him my way of life and let him choose. But if the cat decided to get a gun...’ he looks out of the window. The driver’s been waiting to ask him about Tariq Ali, the British leftist. ‘Yeah. I dig him. He’d leading a revolution in this country and what they don’t understand is that they think they’re dealing ith a bunch of hoolgans. It’s the same back home.’

Either Chicago or the driver makes him slump deeper into his seat. He tells his wife he’s tired and gets back to Chicago. ‘It didn’t surprise me. The syndicate has killed over 1,000 people there.  In 1896, 2,000 draft resisters were gunned down in...’ He asks his wife, she shakes her head. ‘’...somewhere of Michigan Avenue. And you’re asking me to be surprised by Chicago. One cat told me it was becoming a poh-lice state. He’s wrong. It is a poh-lice state and it only proved a beautiful point to every black cat in Amrica. That him and the young white cat better get together fast. And the white cat knows it now.’

There’s a crowd waiting for his midnight show at the Arts Laboroatory.  They sit him atop a piano and listen.  He philosophises on America and answers questions.  There’s less bitterness and just an.... immense sadness.  His humour is gentler now and there’s no talk of hte.  He’s a change from the passionate rhetoric of Jimmy Baldwin and the hysteria of Sammy Davis.  It’s a calm man talking to a crowd of young people... a few black.... and a lot of white.  The tragedy is that they are the young and already understand.  The only elder is a sun-tanned sporty type who wants to know why there are no great black swimmers.

“You can’t blame the cops for what happened in Chicago.  They were just doing their job ... protecting the system.  They’re like my mom.  She’d whup me if I didn’t behave myself.  She was tryin’ to keep me in the system.  And the cop is the keeper of the hosue and he’s doing his best.  Sure he gets scared.  The administration offers him $20,000 if he dies ....”   He shrugs.  His chain-smoked, two-hour monologue is given in a total silence.  He’s done a lot of reading in gaol too for historical facts shore his philosophy.   “When Rap (Brown) says get a gun .... he’s not being original.  What do you think Paul Revere said when he saw the British coming?  America needs a nigger.  We’ve only made the scene lately.  Before that the Southern red–neck had the Jew for his nigger and even then you had to tell the dumb bastard what a Jew was.  Now he’s got me ... and you can see me comin’ from three blocks away.  There are other niggers in America.  You found them in Chicago.  The hippies and the yippies ... and the cops.  We’re niggers all, man.  The hippies and yippies are trying to break out of the system and work their way down, we’re trying to break in and work up.  And when we meet ... American will die.  It will die in eighteen months.  I don’t give my country more time than that.  She’s reached the point of no return.  Britan stole enough wisdom from all them countries she colonised and may ... may save herself.  But America is too dumb and too stupid.”

He stops talking, and the room is quiet.  The questions, American and British accented, only want to know how to be saved.   “You young are the only ones’s who can save the world.  Either the Government deals with you ... or you with the Government.   Yours is a moral revolution, not a political one.”  When questioned he mentions his write-in presidential efforts.  “All I will do is try to tie a tourniquet.”  You spot his wife at the other end sitting with the impassivity of a Masai warrior’s woman watching the lion hunt and the inevitable end.  The black men in the audience ask no questions and sit silent as if ... as if they already know the answers and need no more telling.   You leave at 3.30 with a non hippy-yippy white American. He’d never liked Gregory before.   Now he’s enthusiastic.  He’s going to write him in and get his friends to do the same. “Wouldn’t it be great,” you naively say.   “If he became President with all the hippy, yippy and black votes?  He laughs. “Man, if they thought he had a one per cent chance of making it they’d wipe him out as they did the others.  They’d get him in thirty seconds even if it meant dropping an H-bomb on him.”  You bow to a 21-year old infected with the frightening fatalism of America.  “In fact,” he adds, “Gregory is already a dead man.  It’s only time now.“

 

WE'RE ALL NIGGERS, MAN

I spent an evening with the comedian/activist years ago when I was writing for The Guardian newspaper. Gregory died three days back. What he said then is so pertinent, tragically, to America today. Nothing changes!

WE’RE NIGGER ALL, MAN.

The thin cop is looking worried. He keeps adjusting his glasses as he hovers behind Dick Gregory’sbroad back at the post Frost on Friday studio party. A plump Zapata-moustached producer hovers behind the cop. Dick stops talking to find out what is happening. ‘Evening sir, local police. I’m afraid you’ll have to leave by the back as we’ve had word some blokes are coming to have a rumble with you.’ The producer relaxes as Dick nods, unsmiling, and says he’ll leave. David ambles over, anaemic with make-up, to arrange for the next show.  ‘You were lovely Dick, really lovely. Now tomorrow...’ Ten minutes later, the cops have multiplied to three and all are nervous.

David disappears and Dick wishes goodbye to Malcolm X and an entourage of flowing robed black men.  You go down with him to the waiting car, flanked by cops, feeling very much like a train robber or a presidential candidate. A cop opens the door and says ‘Sorry sir but...’ Dick pats him and says “ Yeah man. You’re just doin’ your jobs.’ His wife sits beside him.

Dick Gregory has changed since you last saw him. Two years back he was an American comic, dressed in an expensive suit spieling prussic acid satire for the late show.  Two years! He’s done some suffering. A couple of spells in goal, a couple of fasts, a couple of “whuppings” by cops. Now he’s dressed in very casual clothes and has a beard. He’s grown too, and you watched it happening. From comic to semi-statesman for Black America. He has...dignity in him and he’s more relaxed, as though he knows what he wants and where he’s going. ‘You do a load of thinking in goal man. A load of it...’

The driver wants to know if violence is the only answer.  ‘Violence is no asnwer man but it’s the only way you got when you’ve examined every legal and moral ground on the subject,’ Dick says, ‘and get no where.’  He’s a non-violent man so you want to know what he’s going to tell the ghetto. ‘I’ll tell him my way of life and let him choose. But if the cat decided to get a gun...’ he looks out of the window. The driver’s been waiting to ask him about Tariq Ali, the British leftist. ‘Yeah. I dig him. He’d leading a revolution in this country and what they don’t understand is that they think they’re dealing ith a bunch of hoolgans. It’s the same back home.’

Either Chicago or the driver makes him slump deeper into his seat. He tells his wife he’s tired and gets back to Chicago. ‘It didn’t surprise me. The syndicate has killed over 1,000 people there.  In 1896, 2,000 draft resisters were gunned down in...’ He asks his wife, she shakes her head. ‘’...somewhere of Michigan Avenue. And you’re asking me to be surprised by Chicago. One cat told me it was becoming a poh-lice state. He’s wrong. It is a poh-lice state and it only proved a beautiful point to every black cat in Amrica. That him and the young white cat better get together fast. And the white cat knows it now.’

There’s a crowd waiting for his midnight show at the Arts Laboroatory.  They sit him atop a piano and listen.  He philosophises on America and answers questions.  There’s less bitterness and just an.... immense sadness.  His humour is gentler now and there’s no talk of hte.  He’s a change from the passionate rhetoric of Jimmy Baldwin and the hysteria of Sammy Davis.  It’s a calm man talking to a crowd of young people... a few black.... and a lot of white.  The tragedy is that they are the young and already understand.  The only elder is a sun-tanned sporty type who wants to know why there are no great black swimmers.

“You can’t blame the cops for what happened in Chicago.  They were just doing their job ... protecting the system.  They’re like my mom.  She’d whup me if I didn’t behave myself.  She was tryin’ to keep me in the system.  And the cop is the keeper of the hosue and he’s doing his best.  Sure he gets scared.  The administration offers him $20,000 if he dies ....”   He shrugs.  His chain-smoked, two-hour monologue is given in a total silence.  He’s done a lot of reading in gaol too for historical facts shore his philosophy.   “When Rap (Brown) says get a gun .... he’s not being original.  What do you think Paul Revere said when he saw the British coming?  America needs a nigger.  We’ve only made the scene lately.  Before that the Southern red–neck had the Jew for his nigger and even then you had to tell the dumb bastard what a Jew was.  Now he’s got me ... and you can see me comin’ from three blocks away.  There are other niggers in America.  You found them in Chicago.  The hippies and the yippies ... and the cops.  We’re niggers all, man.  The hippies and yippies are trying to break out of the system and work their way down, we’re trying to break in and work up.  And when we meet ... American will die.  It will die in eighteen months.  I don’t give my country more time than that.  She’s reached the point of no return.  Britan stole enough wisdom from all them countries she colonised and may ... may save herself.  But America is too dumb and too stupid.”

He stops talking, and the room is quiet.  The questions, American and British accented, only want to know how to be saved.   “You young are the only ones’s who can save the world.  Either the Government deals with you ... or you with the Government.   Yours is a moral revolution, not a political one.”  When questioned he mentions his write-in presidential efforts.  “All I will do is try to tie a tourniquet.”  You spot his wife at the other end sitting with the impassivity of a Masai warrior’s woman watching the lion hunt and the inevitable end.  The black men in the audience ask no questions and sit silent as if ... as if they already know the answers and need no more telling.   You leave at 3.30 with a non hippy-yippy white American. He’d never liked Gregory before.   Now he’s enthusiastic.  He’s going to write him in and get his friends to do the same. “Wouldn’t it be great,” you naively say.   “If he became President with all the hippy, yippy and black votes?  He laughs. “Man, if they thought he had a one per cent chance of making it they’d wipe him out as they did the others.  They’d get him in thirty seconds even if it meant dropping an H-bomb on him.”  You bow to a 21-year old infected with the frightening fatalism of America.  “In fact,” he adds, “Gregory is already a dead man.  It’s only time now.“

 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

CAMELOT AMERICA


CAMELOT AMERICA by Timeri N. Murari.

Once upon a time America was a sunny country. By ‘sunny’ I mean its disposition towards the world. The reason I remember that sunny America is because a friend and I talked about those days. We’re both of that age when we were drawn to America – not to make money but because it seemed a magical place- and it does not seem that long ago. We both come from older civilisations, tired ones even then, and America then was a cool, seductive breeze blowing through our minds and hearts. Of course I saw America from a great distance too and I will try to remember what I saw that so drew me to that innocent country. America had the values of justice, goodness, ethics, morality, freedom, even happiness, that all men have cherished and searched for. No one had any ill-will towards America, with the exception of the USSR.

            It was a heroic country. There is little doubt that without America throwing its might in with the allies in WWII, the world would now be a different place. It wasn’t really America’s war, being fought in distant Europe, and it was safe behind the formidable barriers of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Of course I wasn’t there but my father was and he spoke affectionately of the American soldiers he had met on the battlefields. And of course when the war was over, we saw the Hollywood films with heroic Americans – John Wayne, Audie Murphy, Robert Mitchum, Errol Flynn- battling the enemy. Though I was later told that Hollywood did exaggerate when Errol Flynn won the Burmese front single-handedly and British soldiers duly protested. But that was to be expected, and we knew it was just a movie. Death in those movies wasn’t bloody and real, except for ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ but that was from WWI and the more realistic German view of the carnage. The American heroes were clean cut, always clean shaven, uniforms immaculate, they may have smoked, but they were always courteous and polite, even to the enemy, and treated their Prisoners of War strictly according to the Geneva Convention.

            Europe had been ravaged by the war, and America once more showed her generosity and kindness. The Marshall Plan helped re-built the destroyed cities. America pumped in $13 billions – on the conditions that the European nations acted as a single economic unit and that all the necessary material be bought from America on American ships- and by 1953 Europe was back on its feet.  Long before WWII, Mohandas Gandhi had been campaigning for Indian Independence and America had always supported his campaign.  America wanted an end to colonialism and the suppression in the colonised nations, as it did genuinely believe in both freedom and democracy.

            These were events of the past before I even became aware of this country. I suppose my introduction to America and its value came first through the magazines that entered my house. There was the Saturday Evening Post, a glossy, cheerful magazine about the American way of life. Often as not the covers were the paintings of an artist called Norman Rockwell. He painted a happy America – kids playing baseball or basketball, a cop with a kid in a soda parlour, a boy in a doctor’s surgery, a family in prayer over a thanksgiving dinner. His subjects were white as far I remember, and their world seemed seductive and serene. No other racial colours intruded, and because of that I wasn’t aware others existed in that America.  Life magazine was equally glossy with a vision not only of America but the world and it had a stark black and white reality that was powerful and moving. At times it revealed a darker side of the nation.

            American movies captivated not only me but the whole world – ‘Made in Hollywood’ was the end credit. In Madras we sat in darkened theatres – Roxy, Minerva, Midland, Elphinstone- and watched America unfold before our eyes. Cartoons, Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny, Tom & Jerry, slapstick comedies Laurel & Hardy, Bud Abbot and Lou Costello, the great Marx Brothers movies and gentle comedies like ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ with James Stewart, ‘High Society’ with Cary Grant, the most urbane sophisticated star. And if you were male those Hollywood Westerns – ‘Shane’, ‘High Noon’ and even the run-of-the-mill Cowboys and Indians- mesmerized us. No other nation could make Westerns like a John Ford.  And who can forget the sensual innocence of Marilyn Monroe. But it wasn’t all sunny in American movies. There was the dark underbelly of injustice on the screen. Henry Fonda in ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ (made before I was born but I caught it somewhere as it took a slow boat to India), ‘I was a Member of the Chain Gang’, and film noir gangster films ‘The Big Sleep’, ‘Double Indemnity’ to name a few that came to the city. And even such Westerns as ‘The Searchers’ were dark. The cult film of that time was ‘East Rider’ with its tragic finale. These films were in a different universe to the Saturday Evening Post and yet they still revealed the American heart that such films could be made. America wasn’t all apple pie.

            There was the music too reaching us across the radio – Sinatra, Crosby, Damone, Page- and the exciting jazz of Armstrong, Ellington, Basie, MJQ, Davis. The best novelists were American – Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Wolfe, O’Hara- writers to be emulated.

            When I finally arrived in America in the 60s, it was as I’d expected it to be. It was the age of the baby boomers, those 70 million teenagers conceived after WWII. They were changing America from its staid conservative past with their eager revolutionary idea on art, education, life styles and in politics.  What better definition of the age of innocence than the Barbie doll which was created in the 60s and swept America, and the world.  I decided to drive across this nation and took a car out of Detroit heading towards Seattle. It was a Pontiac Bonneville, powder blue convertible the size of a small ship with fins like a shark and it drank gas like an alcoholic booze. Pontiac is now as extinct as the dinosaur but it raced like a silken dream. America reeled out like her movies and magazines, the landscapes were so familiar, the music on the radio still evocative. The air was electric and heady with the wide open space and the freedom from time and identity.

I passed through small towns where ‘A Wonderful Life’ could have been shot and saw the buttes and plains of John Ford’s westerns. Wherever I stopped – to sleep or eat- I was met with both curiosity and kindness. There was a mood of calm and boundless optimism in the society. The Americans I met later in the suburbs and invited into their homes were boundlessly hospitable, contented, and if I can say so from this distance, happy with their lot.

The population was then around 177 million and the average salary around $4700 per annum. And of course they were the affluent society that Kenneth Galbraith wrote about. There wasn’t any greed and the measuring rod for wealth were the Rockefellers, (immortalised by Cole Porter in a song) worth a few hundred million dollars back then but it sounded astronomical. Only the American budget ran into a few billions. The people were quietly religious and respected other religions.  Billy Graham was the most popular preacher but he never breathed out brimstone or invectives.

It was the days when the Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan show, the first time seen live ever in America, and the ratings went through the roof. The Beatles even elbowed out Elvis Presley and other white singers like Paul Anka, Neil Sedaka and Jerry Lee Lewis. It would seem the true creators of the blues and rock would never be acknowledge but Motown Records introduced Aretha Franklin, Jimi Hendrix, the Supremes and other black artists who, for the first time, rocketed up the music charts. The drug culture changed the music again and America invented psychedelic rock and new bands like The Grateful Dead and the Jefferson Aeroplane pumped out high decibel music. And of course there was that legendary Woodstock a three-day festival that drew 400,000 young people to sing, dance, smoke pot and zonk out on acid. No, I never got to Woodstock. I had meant to but I was on the other side of the continent. This was counter culture age of the hippies who had originated in San Francisco and spread across the country. Long hair and beads and chanting mantra became popular and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi giggled his way to a fortune. I never followed him though I wrote about those charlatans.  In sports a young light middleweight boxer, Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) won a gold in the 1960 Olympics and came to dominate the sport through the 60s and 70s and was the most famous man on the planet.

Eisenhower had finished his term in office and America had elected JFK. He was young, he had a sense of wit and purpose to make America a more just country with his plans for desegregation. He and his administration – ‘the best and the brightest’- were admired in America and around the world. All seemed right both in America and the World with his coming. Though we all lived under a nuclear nightmare than nearly came too real in the Cuban missile crisis.  One of my all time favourite novels ‘Catch-22’ and ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’, one satirising WWII and the other American society were published during this time. While on television ‘M*A*S*H’, a satire on the Korean War, was a hit series.  It was also the time of the Civil Rights movement and the black people invisible in those Norman Rockwell paintings were pushing their way onto the canvas. I was on the steps of my university hall when I heard of his assassination. And despite the mourning, America hadn’t yet lost its verve. But gradually, the Vietnam War, that original quagmire, began to take its toll on the American spirit. And changed the world’s perception of this marvellous country.  A protesting student in Kent State University was shot dead. The My Lai massacre and the napalming of children soured my perception of America. The war had it’s terrible toll – over 58,000 American, many of them conscripted through the draft, 230,000 South Vietnamese and between 1.5 to 3 million north Vietnamese died in that war. The countryside was devastated through Agent Orange and other chemicals. The American government was starting to flex its military might around the world, even invading tiny Grenada when a few American students were roughed up. In Chile, the CIA assassinated the legitimately elected president, Allende and replaced him with the monstrous Pinochet.

The moral compass that had guided America began to swing away. The first Gulf War may have been justifiable but the sanctions that followed on Iraq killed thousands of children. The Secretary of State under President Clinton, Madeline Albright, callously called that ‘collateral damage’. I suppose that was mild in comparison of what followed. America squandered all the world’s compassion after 9/1 with its reckless might. The reason for second invasion of Iraq was built on a quicksand of lies and deceptions of the American people as the War on Terror. Today, America is Kafka country – illegal detentions, torture, renditions, secret prisons, wire tapping, spying on its citizens, the Supreme Court perverted, rigged presidential elections. Any cheap dictator would be proud to exercise such powers. And America found one – Donald Trump.

My friend and I remembered that once upon a time America dreamt of Camelot.

(www.timerimurari.com)

Friday, May 5, 2017

Joy Of Reading

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Do Walls Work?


DO WALLS WORK?

 Do walls work? I wonder.

They are necessary to support the roof of a house. However, do Walls work to divide countries,  cities and people?

            The new convert to building Walls is President Trump. His wall will be 1900 miles long and at a guestimated cost of around 25 billion dollars. His press Secretary, Spicer, recently showed the press a new version of this great wall.

Before President Trump’s wall, Israel started building its wall. Israel is building a wall through Bethlehem, and across their land, to keep certain Palestinians out. The Israelis are evicting the Palestinians from their homes and sacred places to accommodate the Wall. I do not know how high or how long this Wall will be. Walls, like these, have a tendency to grow both in height and in length. Walls, like medieval fortresses, cut both ways. This Wall will also keep the Israelis in.

Bethlehem is the birthplace of Christ; read whatever symbolism you want into this Wall. It is ironic that the Israelis have taken a leaf out of the German (East) belief in the Wall Theory to control the movements of people. The infamous Berlin Wall, was started at midnight on August 13, 1961 and by the time it was completed, the Wall was four meters high and 166 kms long. The East Germans too forced their people out of their homes and bricked up the doors and windows. So, homes became a part of the Wall. The German theory was that the Wall kept West Berliners out. It also, ostensibly, kept East Germans and East Berliners in. That Wall never worked, despite border patrols and guard dogs and searchlights. Many East Germans defied the Wall, and many died crossing over it. Many survived the crossing too. It came down in 1989; razed by the citizens of Berlin and not governments. They took ordinary hammers to the Wall, and shattered it.

            No doubt, the Israelis will refine their Wall too, as will President Trump’s. No doubt, it will grow too. There will be barbed wire, Wall patrols, guard dogs and searchlights. Many Palestinians will die crossing that Wall. And Mexican’s the American wall. These will be the terrorist and immigrants the Walls are built to contain. In that blood soaked land, it is hard to define who the terrorists are, as many innocents die too.

            The most famous Wall was the Great Wall of China. It can be seen from the moon and every modern day tourist is photographed standing on the Wall. It was not meant to become a tourist attraction. Nor was the Berlin Wall. However, these strange things happen to Walls of this nature. The Chinese emperor Shih-Huang-Ti of the Qin dynasty began building the Great Wall in 221. B.C and completed his portion of it by 204. B.C. When he died, it was 1900 kms long. Later emperors extended his grand effort to protect China and lengthened the Wall to 2400 kms. The average height of the Great Wall is 7.6 meters and the width around 9 meters. The theory behind this Wall was to keep out the nomadic tribes that were raiding China. Obviously, the Wall did not work as, a few centuries later, the Mongols swept over and around it to invade China, to establish an empire.

            I am sure there had been many Walls before the Great Wall, though not so magnificently conceived and executed. And there have been many Walls since.

Walls do not have to be built of brick and mortar. Walls can be invisible, though clearly defined in a peoples mind. The original Walls, before authorities thought of physical Walls, divided people into their social classes. There were the Aristocrats, the Priests and the Peasants, to keep it simple, separated by such inviolate Walls throughout the history of man and well into the 20th century. In many European cities, there were Walled-in areas where the Jews had to live. These were the ghettoes.  In the last century, Revolts and Revolutions demolished these Walls, especially in Europe. The French demolished their social Wall in a Revolution that took place a century earlier. The people themselves razed those Walls and, though Europe is not exactly classless, the divisions are blurred, and not so harshly defined. Churchill called the Soviet Russian Wall the Iron Curtain. Iron was no stronger than brick and mortar. In the 1980s, Glasnost drew aside that curtain.  Even as a Wall, more a no-man’s land, still divides South from North Korea. In India, mental Walls remain firmly in place and well defined, either through caste or through religion.

            Our newest nation on the planet was also quick to build its Walls. America’s first Walls, as the European settlers spread out across the land, constantly moving west, were the Reservations. The American Indian (Native American) in their time were the terrorists. The Apache, Sioux, Mohican, Comanche and other tribes, fighting a losing battle against the superior numbers and superior firepower of the invaders, conducted guerilla strikes against the settlers. They killed with bows and arrows and spears and, later, guns. They did not possess bombs. Once they were subdued (read defeated and demoralized), they were penned within the Wall. The Wall (Reservation) was supposedly meant to protect them but the Reservations were only prisons to contain and be rid of them, finally.

The other famous American Wall in the south was Segregation. Black people (African Americans ) knew exactly where the Wall stood between them and the white folk.  It was a fluid Wall that ran through restaurants and buses, schools and churches. A Wall does not have to be solid; it is instilled in the minds of the suppressed. It is also a weapon of terror, especially when it is invisible and in the mind. When do you know you have crossed it? A look, a word spoken out of place, could be your end. The Americans fought a civil war partly because of that Wall. It fell finally only in the 1960s and 70s. The South African Apartheid Wall, that saw the condemnation of that country for decades, equally suddenly collapsed.

            So, how long, both in length and in time, will the American and Israeli Walls exist? There is no doubt they will grow longer. It is the nature of these Walls.  It will encircle the Palestinians, even as the American Wall excludes Mexicans. Every Wall comes with its own baggage that cannot be contained by it. The Wall never grants the wishes for which it was built. A Wall does not bring peace of mind, security or serenity to the people who build the Wall. A Wall only becomes a challenge for the people it is meant to contain or exclude. They will devise ways and means over and around it, even as the Mongols breached the Great Wall of China.

            Every Wall reveals only that man has exhausted his imagination, and compassion, to deal with a people whom he desires to reject from his vision of the Promised Land. We have not progressed far since 221 B.C.  The Bethlehem Wall, like all Walls, is only a monument to failure. One day, the toot of a trumpet could bring it tumbling down. Like that Wall in Jericho.

           

           

           

joy of reading

Saturday, April 29, 2017

FAIR & LOVELY


FAIR AND LOVELY

 My hair stylist, once known as a lowly barber, was not watching his scissors, snipping away my locks. Instead, he was studying my face with one of those commercial looks I have learnt to recognize. I waited for the pitch – head massage, body massage, face massage, hair dye. Usually, it’s the hair dye that will turn my hair, not black, but a muddy orange.

Finally, he announced for all in the salon to hear: ‘You are dark, sir. I have a good whitener, 100 percent you will become very fair.’ My aunt, now long gone, always made a similar remark, without the ‘good whitener’. After a long winter in New York, where the sun barely shone and the cold cut one’s face, my aunt’s first remark when I visited her was ‘you’ve gone dark’.

            I saw what my hair stylist saw. A brown face. It was the same brown I had been born with, and had never bothered about. It was part of my package like legs, arms, a head, a pair of eyes and black hair, thinning fast, on my head. I’ve had my hair cut all over the world, and the hair stylists have never remarked on my colour. At least, not to my face. He cut my hair, I paid and walked out.  Maybe he commented to a colleague later ‘that fellow had a brown face’.

Driving home, I stopped for a red light, a rare occurrence in the city, causing chaos behind me. Cars with red lights never do.  A scooter pulled up beside me, driven by a woman, She wore a long sleeved, winter jacket, zipped up, and grubby white gloves. She wore a helmet too, which was remarkable enough. It was 40 degrees in the city but the sun would never dare stain her delicate skin.

            During the IPL tournament there was a commercial of a man running along the beach, having a shower (half naked muscled torso which made me tuck in my tummy) and then rubbing some stuff on his face. I thought it was an after shave. But when he brandished a dip stick showing the varying degrees of lightness, I realized it was a commercial for a skin whitener.

            Of course, we have known for a long time that we Indian are the most racially conscious people on this planet. The Australians are amateurs compared to our discerning eyes which can pick the slightest variations in brown.  We’re obsessed with colour – the matrimonial columns in our newspapers are filled with ‘fair’ complexioned brides and grooms searching for the perfect colour match. The Indians we see now in our countless commercials are no longer even a lighter shade of brown. They are as white as any Anglo-Saxon could ever get. They are so white on my screen that my eyes hurt. Europeans are actually pink, not the ghostly white of our commercial models.  Thankfully, they still have black hair but, if the whitener sellers could pull it off, they would be blondes or redheads, selling us scooters, cell phones and soaps.

            What brought us to this? History? In the earliest days the divide would have been Aryan/ Dravidian. The colour contrast between the nomads of central Asia and the indigenous natives of the sub-continent. This colour colonialism had to have continued through the many invasions – the Afghans, the Mughals and, finally, the whiter than white, though they did turn puce in our Indian sun, the British. Subconsciously, we equate superiority with colour. White is better than brown, brown better than black. And as the internet and television invades our lives, we’re constantly bombarded with images of the white superiority. Those who leach and bleach their skin, all those super white models in our television commercials, are embarrassed at their own colour. They yearn for the white that will equate them with the European. While the Europeans spend billions of dollars on sun tan lotions, sun beds and lying on hot beaches, so as to look brown as Indians.

            The human race is never happy with that it’s got, naturally.

Friday, April 28, 2017


ENTER QUEEN LEAR , written by me,starred Jenny Runacre in the production which ran for 3 weeks at the Drayton Arms Theatre, London, from September 13th to October 2nd 2016.
An ageing, glamorous film star falls in love with a younger man, a refugee. Now, past her cast-by-date, she accepts to play Lear as a woman just to act again. Throughout rehearsals, she is confronted by the men in her life – two ex-husbands, two sons and the younger lover. Her only real constant is her relationship with her long time female dresser.
Jenny Runacre said: “I do really think it is a fascinating play, with so many levels in it. It is not very often that an actress is given a role that has so much meat in it.”

If you want to listen to the play, I adapted it for the radio and you can hear it by clicking on the link below.
 




 
 
 
 

Monday, April 3, 2017

Doctrate on my writing

There is now a doctorate published on my writings. A bright young man from a university in Pune, now has a Ph.D after reading my novels and non-fiction works. You can check this out on this web link:

Saturday, January 21, 2017

THE AXXISS TRILOGY

THE AXXISS TRILOGY. (Scholastic)
Murari leaves his readers with almost a Sudoku, which until solved, the reader cannot put the books down. Thus, shifting the power to the reader, Murari manages like an astute dramatist to pull his reader into his plot, involving him, engaging him or her, till he has found the answer. He must now join the famous six teenagers searching the meaning of those numbers, put singly, or in a combination, or whatever. - GOODREADS