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Old 01-19-2001, 05:00 AM   #1
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Ishkash! please read

hey ishkash,

Which part of India are you from? North/South? Which city? I've been mildly interested in your country for a long time. I've read Vikram Seth & RK Narayan books and--believe it or not--grew up on Hindi & Tamil movies (among other things)! I also share the same ambition as Madonna--that is, to visit India at least once in my life. So, can you tell me what to expect if I do? And funnily, every friend of mine who has been there had stomach upsets and diarrhoea.

Can you tell us more about your home town?


foray
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Old 01-19-2001, 07:39 AM   #2
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Hi! foray

Gr8 to know that you're very much interested in this amazing place, just give me a day and I'll prepare a basic y'know a FAQ kinda thing.

Oh BTW Madonna has already been to India and stayed in my birthtown of Varanasi which is in Northa and is the most ancient city in the world, right uo there with Rome.

I'm coming back very soon...just gimme a couple of days.




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Old 01-19-2001, 11:16 AM   #3
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just had the time after the class for this much so here is a lill' brief
*****************************

It’s quite hard to put down about a country that has its trace down to 5000 years and which are still evident in the contemporary way of living.
India as you must have known boast a population of more than 1 billion, so from mile to mile there’s a distinct change in the way of living. We have more than 50 thousand different types of clans most of them are Hindu, followed by Muslims, Sikhs and Christians plus many numerous religions. “Unity in Diversity” is quite and appropriate term.

So a country having such strong cultural roots with so many people is bound to have conflicts, and we proudly boast ours. There’s a conflict between the North and South, Hindu and Muslims, etc… etc. But with our progression we have learned how to act in a mature manner and most of the people have learned how to coexist, but then you’ll have some fools who’ll never get things into their head. Our rich heritage means we have a comprehensive culture and we have reasons to celebrate each of the 365 days, but with modern compulsions we tend to profusely come up with the big ones, like Holi in summers, and Dewali round bout the time of winters (Sept- Nov, depending on the Hindu calendar). Apart from Hindu festivals, we have Nat’l holidays on other major festivals like Eid for Muslims and X -mas.

I think I’ll not go into too much of a detail cause even the tip of the iceberg is like Mt. Everest. But in general people are very friendly and helpful. They have extremely fragile egos and take great pride in their cultural. This leads to two types of people, one like me progressive and thoughtful, open to ideas from the west while respecting our great tradition yet, who never backs to mark out its flaws. The other one’s are the orthodox who believe, the culture that can survive for thousands of years does not need help of western means, which is a total anti thesis of our philosophy.


As for my hometown: It’s a very ancient city called Varanasi. It’s the oldest living city in the world and has very rich heritage of music, arts and literature. It boasts many genius and thinkers of ancient and modern times. Its said that the city is so holy that ones you take a dip in holy Ganges all your sins would be washed away and you’ll get instant nirvana (by following some rules) and ultimately salvation for your soul from mortality. By leading a certain way of life you could elevate yourself from the common being to a great soul called “Mahatma” . That’s why we call Gandhi a “Mahatma” meaning a great soul. We call him Gandhiji, “ ji” is like sir or we affectionately call him “Bapu” meaning an affectionate father. I personally have a loads of respect for Gandhiji and I would recommend you one of his books “ My experiment with truth” its a ultimate one, believe me go and read this book and you’ll find yourself a better person, rather better human being. The other good books are “Gandhi by Louis Fisher”. Even if you’re not interested in Gandhiji you’ll get a very comprehensive picture about India and its social stratification. One other book that I want to recommend is “ The Discovery of India” by Jawahar Lal Nehru, our first Prime Minister. This book contains the formation of a great nation and it will take you on a journey.

After reading these two books I’m sure you’ll find a lots of answerers and you’ll get an unbiased picture of this country. Really this is an amazing country to learn about, we have so many things apart from just revolution and freedom fights.

So just turning back to Varanasi if you ever plan a visit , I don’t know if I have a capacity to say this, but ask me about what things to do and not to. If you end up in a genuine place then it would be an experience of a life time, if you end up in hands of quakes/frauds it will leave a very bad taste in your mouth. Since my relatives are in Varanasi and I’m being told that some of my kinsmen taught Madonna and Salman Rushdie (I’m being told, I’m not claiming anything, though my father has met Salman Rushdie) I can suggest you some really great places.

Apart from cultural Varanasi and Rishikesh one also must learn about Rajasthan, it’s a beautiful state. You’ll find how people celebrate living, even if they’re in desert.

foray, I hope this much helps, if it doesn’t then please ask for more, I really enjoyed writing for you, please feel free to ask anything, now its my duty to paint a correct picture.


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Old 01-19-2001, 02:29 PM   #4
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ishkash, Thank You very much. It's been very interesting and informative. My literature teacher once told me years ago that Indians express themselves very naturally or poetically because it's the nature of their language to do so. I don't know much Hindi or Tamil, though, despite watching all those movies! But I try to pick up the basic words every time I meet an Indian friend.

"me re nam foray"--not bad eh?

YES I have read Louis Fisher's book, which reminds me: where the heck did I bloody put it. Must have lent it to someone who never gave it back. What did you think of the movie Gandhi, that starred Ben Kingsley? Do you agree with the portrayal of India and the man himself?

So, you are from Varanasi! It must be simply grand to be living in such an ancient city. I must tell you that studying the history of Ancient India was the most interesting of all my history subjects in pre-University. The world's greatest thinkers came from India. So is Varanasi like Athens (not that I've been to Athens) in that (or so I hear) the environment there is very tourist-y?

Your father has met Mr Rushdie? What was he like?

You mentioned that there is unity in diversity in India. Well, I wonder how true is that, since India has a reputation of being very caste-biased. I suppose one's caste only matters in the villages, is that true? And speaking of the North-South tensions (rivalry, bias, whatever you call it)--why does it exist? Is it because most Northern Indians are brahmins, or simply because the Northerns are fairer?

Enough questions from me for now. Hey you have re-sparked my interest in India, I feel like reading up some more.


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Old 01-20-2001, 05:54 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by foray:

"me re nam foray"--not bad eh?


foray
Perfect!
First things first,
Yeah Gandhi was an excellent movie, Ben Kingsley was absolutely fantastic. In my formative years that movie played a crucial role. Earlier the Nat’l TV used to show it once every year, but now they’ve stopped it cause one political party was exploiting the sentiments of people from it, these are a few really bad things about this place. However it’s a little shame that someone from Britain has made a movie of such profound merit that we can’t and that too of our Father of the Nation * sic! *

As for North- South rivalry it’s a bit exaggerated, y’know , both the sides are poles apart and both take great pride in their culture, but its limited to this much only. There’s nothing like a north south fractions, it’s a mere academic term, that’s all. Even at the grass roots there is no strain between N&S. We live peacefully and no one bothers that much who’s who , my best bud is from south and we are more or less similar. So take this out of your mind. N&S are proud to be Indians there it should end. J


Now the bitter caste system. Yes! There’s tension and that too because it’s a direct path to political power. See some 5000+ years ago, when you’ll trace the very locus of our civilization you’ll find that people formed and excellent way to live and share. They decided to share work and groups were formed to carryout these works, they’re “ Brahmins” the teachers, “Kshatriyas” the fighters,, who’d protect the community; “Vaishya” the traders, people who’d carry out trade and commerce”; and lastly the “Shudras” who’d carry out the physical work like cleaning and repairs goods ect.
Now at that time it was perfect, but with the evolution of times Brahmins (to which I belong) took authority and laid some rules and made this stratification very stiff.. Since then it’s decided by birth, i.e. if a child is born in Brahmin family automatically he’d be elevated to high class for life, while for Shudra he’d be in the lowest class and just a level ahead of insects which are the lowest form of life. This is the basic idea, it’s more detailed like why? Where? When? But I think this should give you a fair idea. This system in its present form is very rigid, though it’s a bit more flexible in south India cause people over there in general are bit more liberal. Now Shudras which are in the low caste accuse the higher caste of exploitation for thousands of years. (I must tell you there are more one hundred thousand caste and sub caste so it’s very very complicated to understand). Now folks from low caste are seeking “revenge” through the means of political exploitation, people are partisan and put nepotism over Nat’l sentiments. So its fair to say socio-politically the country is in mess, that’s for sure. But don’t get worried it may sound extreme but we have been like this for years and it will never take an ugly form of hatred as we consider ourselves too mature for this.

As for my Varanasi roots, I must clear that I was born there and spent time till 12 years, but since I’ve moved on for better education. However I often make visits all my relatives are still there, so I’m in constant touch with the happenings over there. As for Salman Rushdie, my father met him by accident, he was in a very old book shop where Salman came looking for something and had a little chit chat, my father didn’t recognized who he was and he was also like very down to earth kinda guy. The shopkeeper there when asked him to sign his guest book the nest day, he signed his name and the rest you can imagine. When this happened I was in Varanasi and if I had known I would have definitely invited him over to our place and would have asked him loads about, yes U2.


Hey up till now its only me, what bout yourself, I don’t even know where you’re from , I mean I know you’re Asia and from somewhere in south Asia but like you’re guy/gal ? I know you want to be an artist but this is it. Oh and I’m always willing to answer anything.



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Old 01-21-2001, 05:58 AM   #6
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Hi ishkash thanks for your answers.

The caste system--wasn't that introduced by the Aryans (fair skinned folks) when they conquered the Dravidians (dark skins)? The fair people autmotically became recognised as superior; I was wondering if this is where the discrimination began. Anyway, the Aryan invasion isn't even accepted by some Indians, I suppose there isn't much evidence for it.

Dewali--is that your version of Deevali? Festival of Lights? In Malaysia (where I am right now), the Indians call it Deepavali since they are mostly Tamil-speaking. And Holi is like your version of April Fool's, have I got that correct?

Heyyy, I started this thread to learn about your country, not mine ; but since you asked, I'll be glad to tell you. Today I will start on the current political situation in Malaysia, if you're interested. You can always ask about other things like culture, religions and places of interest.

If you know where Thailand and Singapore is, Malaysia's right in-between. It's also a culture of unity in diversity: we live harmoniously among Malays (majority), Chinese (minority, but pretty influential as they affect trade) and Indians (minority). The Malays are the indigenous people, and they have their special indigenous rights. The Chinese have always accepted this because most care only about business and financial security (that's why they first came from Mainland China generations ago, anyway); hence they let the govt do whatever they want, as long as the Chinese are secured of trade. All Malays are born into Islam and most are very devout about it. They practise the Islamic law rather strictly, but it is not applicable to the non-Muslims.

For many years since Independence (1957), our people have lived in admirable harmony even though the Malays have had special rights, like

. the education system is more lenient towards Malays
. Malays are assured business opportunities because all government companies ought to have a fixed % of their race.

Lately, though, with the sacking of our Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim (have you heard of this? He was trialed for sodomy, a serious offense in Islam), our nation has "woken up" so to speak. Many, mostly Malays, believe that it was a govt conspiracy that got Anwar deposed since he was about to expose the govt of their corruption. Just like Indonesia, but not as bad because we don't have civil bloodshed or racial rivalry.

Now introducing another player into the game: the Opposition party, comprising mostly extreme Islamic leaders. Their reputation have made the non-Muslims come to fear them taking over govt, because who knows, they might impose their fanatical laws on us. However, now that the govt has been exposed to be incompetent and corrupt (it's been a long time coming), the Opposition seems to be the lesser of two evils. And even more recently, they are trying to shed their overzealous Islamic image.

So now the people are questioning the govt. This generation of Chinese & Indians no longer have nationalistic feelings towards China and India, because they're mostly born in Malaysia, so we all feel like we belong. During our last election, the corrupt govt employed scare tactics so as to tell the non-Muslims (who are still hesitant about opposing the govt, for fear of no financial security) how they would suffer if the Opposition ever took hold of the reins of power. Most non-Muslims fell for it.

It has been a year since the elections, and times are still a-changing. Support for the opposition is increasing. The Opposition is now not only made up of the Islamic Party, but includes a large Chinese dominated party as well.

There are more exciting things to come in Malaysian politics, as this present govt is getting stale and decrepit. It's even dangerous for someone to speak against the govt, actually it's dangerous if that someone is influential and a VIP. I don't know about lay people getting threats for saying unflattering things. But it's a possibility this will become a police state if our Prime Minister (Dr Mahathir) gets any more senile, and if the govt continues to perverse the law for their own purposes.

I think I got carried away in this post, maybe I shouldn't have brought up politics at all . Thanks for your prompt and informative replies, it's been so interesting and fun!


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Old 01-25-2001, 02:47 PM   #7
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Hey, I was unable to reply as I was coming late by 1pm, I've earned a lill' money in these days and I've got myself a very nice headphone that makes U2 even better.

Thanks, I'd have never known about Malaysia from this perspective.

I'm coming back with a longer post, after a good sleep tonigh.

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Old 01-26-2001, 02:19 PM   #8
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Test

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[This message has been edited by ishkash (edited 01-26-2001).]
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Old 01-26-2001, 02:48 PM   #9
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Please ignore I was just testing my new sign

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[This message has been edited by ishkash (edited 01-27-2001).]
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Old 01-26-2001, 09:56 PM   #10
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Hi, glad to know you're fine. How is your family in India?

What kinduva signature is that anyway?? It's just a buncha asterisks.

Take care, ok.

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Old 01-27-2001, 04:51 AM   #11
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Yup everyone is fine! Thanks for asking

Actually I made that heart in a suitcase with astrix but somehow its not coming up righ, I've tried many things but it aint working.

Oh one thing your knowledge about India is awesome.

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Old 01-27-2001, 06:27 AM   #12
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hi guys- India intrigues me- not only because of the cricket! I loved that film 'Gandhi' and this year I read 'Untouchable', by Mulk Raj Anand. An incredible story.
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Old 01-29-2001, 05:02 AM   #13
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Corruption I don’t know why is so prevalent in this part of the world, its sad to know that in Malaysia it’s a main political concern. Actually even in this time of disaster we are afraid to give the funds directly to the government as you may never know this money could end up in the hands of corrupt beaurocraites.
So what’s the music scene like in Malaysia, I think its safe to assume that pop music would be dominant on the charts and you must be having a very dense underground rock music scene, hard rock I should say and U2 must be in between. It’s like this here. People follow pop, for them it’s the thing, rock well here there are few who consider it as heavy music through which they express. For them rock means a bad thing, you have to be a bad boy to be rocker. I have numerous arguments with my friends trying to explain to them the virtues of U2. Unfortunately I’m not very successful. I think if some Int’l channel like [V] or MTV would start saying that U2 is the band then suddenly U2 would become the thing. Which is very good and bad. People here play to hype, Santana was suddenly a big thing, you’d be amazed to know that folks here only like the tunes, they don’t properly understands the lyrics, only the chorus or the hooks, which is ridiculous IMHO. So that’s my biggest problem, you criticize a thing that you don’t understand. Really it pisses me off. Here U2 is pop for rockers and rock for poppers L. Funny isn’t it? I hope things are better in south Asia esp. in Malaysia.



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Old 01-30-2001, 05:12 AM   #14
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Hey my friend! I have exciting things to tell you about the local music scene; I'm glad you asked about it. But I have to travel south to Singapore by train tonight, for important errands, and I'll be back in a few day's time. See ya!

regards, foray.
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Old 01-30-2001, 05:14 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by brettig:
hi guys- India intrigues me- not only because of the cricket! I loved that film 'Gandhi' and this year I read 'Untouchable', by Mulk Raj Anand. An incredible story.
Greetings brettig! I'm glad you decided to join in our conversation. Feel free to tell us about the book, or your home town. Thanks, cheerio!

foray

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