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Showing posts from October, 2011

Bali High

As we arrived at Melbourne airport, I was impatient to hop on to the flight. “Hurry,” I told Lolo as I saw the long queue. He replied, “I can’t be bothered standing there, too many people.” Surprised, I insisted we join the queue before it got even longer. Then I heard a whisper, “Haven’t you figured out?” I looked up again at the signs. I jumped! We were flying business. My best surprise for the evening. Bali began on a good note. But much as our departure was kingly, our arrival at Denpasar airport had a comic interlude. There was no one waiting with the sign “Laurence & Indira”. As an Indian, my first thought was “ah duped by the travel agent” (well it happens so often there that you can’t be blamed for thinking otherwise!) So while I made Lolo take care of the luggage, I was giving the men in placards an eyeful of me when I heard a kind, faint voice say, ‘Go to the information counter’. When I did find the counter, an announcement was made and I saw our host dressed in trad

At 96, Melbourne's Indian Inspires All

He was nearly four when his grandfather took him to Jallianwalla Bagh in Amritsar, along with his uncle on April 13, 1919. It was Baisakhi, an important festival for Sikhs. What followed has been etched in history. The Jallianwalla Bagh massacre saw hundreds dead as the then English General Dyre ordered fire at an unarmed gathering of men, women and children. Today Bharpur Singh, 96, is probably the only, or one of a few survivors  whose active life in the community has inspired many. Singh’s memory of the massacre was jumping over the mud huts, at the back of the Bagh, along with his grandfather to save their lives. His uncle fractured his arm and eventually became disabled because of lack of access to medical facilities. “Because the Congress was using the occasion to address people, those who got injured could not go to the doctor for fear of being arrested, and the subsequent repression by the British” says Singh. His uncle remained a grim reminder to the massacre. On the 90th an

Meeting Shashi Tharoor

Hot is the word for the man. If I had time I would have plotted to snare this latest heart throb of mine but as with all things academic and political, I had very little time with a man whose gift for the gab and drop dead good looks suggests his bounty could be as high as any Hollywood star. Last week, the former United Nations big wig and now Member of Parliament from Kerala, Shashi Tharoor gave an oration on Indian Soft Power In a Globalising World at the Sidney Myers Bowl, University of Melbourne. It was the second annual oration of the Australia India Institute Conference. Last year, it was Kapil Sibal but he left little to talk home about. At a packed auditorium, Tharoor charmed the audience. It was a subject Tharoor said, had him ‘thinking over. He was speaking about India’s soft power. Concerned about the proliferation of those who speak of India as a future world leader or even as the next superpower, Tharoor said, “I am not yet sure we can call ourselves one when we are su