Tuesday, March 29, 2005

A lil bit of Sam

I'm sharing some of my fantasies, fears and fancies that have shaped my consciousness ever since I was a kid. I've always been very fond of toons. I feel they hone our latent creativity and make us giggle as children. It is a secret, I still follow cartoons.

Tintin with a witty reporter's mind and his ever naughty Snowy prowling about in round circles in the old meadows of Marlinspike. God, the high I used to get as I turned pages under a blanket reading by an old emergency light - or my Dad's big torch -- on cold nights. I would be transported to fictional countries with Tintin and his terrier. We would chase conmen and ruffains together.

How I sent small packets of neat prayers up each time Tintin would be confronted with a hostile situation. I thought it is for real. The good must prevail. Tintin was good. So was Asterix in the Gaulish series. They are probably the most popular French comics in the world, and familiar to people of all ages in most European countries. I read nearly all the English translations. I feel blessed that I did. Much of what I think -- or do -- comes from the strength of character and the selflessness of the comic characters, I have known and treated as friends.

Then one of my worst fears have been the Vikings. Sounds a little strange. European in fear. I guess literature and books annihilate the latitutes as we know them. Vikings were for real. Only that I was afraid of them in the 21st century when these feared creatures existed a good 13 centuries back. They were Norse warriors who raided the coasts of Scandinavia, the British Isles, and other parts of Europe from the late 8th century to the 11th century. This period of European history (generally dated to AD 793 - AD 1066) is often called the Viking Age. The Vikings were fierce blokes and killed at random. They made cups from skulls and wore horned helmets. I would often wonder what Valhalla must be like. It is the name of the Viking heaven. It is Odin's home in heaven for the chosen, fallen Viking warriors.

My home was a long way from Europe. I spent my childhood in Kashmir -- the north of India while the pirates lived in the north of Europe. Somehow I thought they may come on broomsticks and smash my skull. Silly me. I still read the morning strip Hägar the Horrible. Hägar is an overweight Viking warrior who regularly goes off to invade England. The humor of the comic strip comes from his interactions with his longship crew (whose first mate, contrary to depictions of Vikings as big muscled warriors, is a short naïve fellow named Lucky Eddie) and his family (his wife Helga, his son Hamlet, his daughter Honi, his duck Kvack, and his dog Snert).

Sometimes, I think I am still a kid.
I can never let go off some stupid, silly but utterly sweet things in life!


Friday, March 04, 2005

American Adumbration

Check this out: On March 4 2005, American soldiers in Iraq opened fire on a car carrying an Italian journalist who had just been freed by kidnappers last night, injuring the woman and killing an Italian secret service agent who tried to protect her. (Guardian 5 March, 2005)

'The most dangerous thing in the world has never been WMD's, for me it is the American foreign policy'

Invading armies around the globe have been at best ruthless and indifferent to the local populace. The same holds true for the American troops currently toiling in the dusty Iraqi towns. From conscripts who are barely 22-somethings, young, inexperienced, weighed down by the burden of their sophisticated accoutrements and laser guns, away from their girls, you can perhaps expect this. The present lot in Iraq is overwhelmed by a sense of deep fatigue that seems to have set in and that is quietly taking its toll.

The Americans are , at the best of times , paranoid. Especially after the events of 9/11. This is true not only in the US but wherever there is an American facility in the world. Ditto for their Israeli counter parts, who have been sickly-suspicious of everything that surrounds their yarmulkes since times immemorial. No matter the only commercial entities protected in the Connaught place area of New Delhi are the American centre and American Express bank.

Now the point at issue. Why is it that whenever the Americans kill it becomes 'friendly fire' and when they torture in the Abu-Gharib's of the world it only shows the 'fringe rot' in their military ethics. What stops the fawning American media and an almost cheeky press in UK and other parts of the western world from reporting these brazen events in the same vein as it does to shame the Arabs and the madcap Russians. Or Cubans and Venezuelans for their collective contempt of democracy.

I am amazed to see that despite having the best of the stealth technology that mankind knows of American troops have repeatedly goofed up and killed innocent people. What explains this moribund irrationality. Flukes and flubs galore. The fact remains that American GI's, in much of their newly occupied territories, are steadily loosing their discipline and military decorum. This is an utter disregard of humanity because as the purveyors of the democratic wheel-barrow, US of A must first learn to value human lives!