P InC Letter 2001

Note: towards the end I write about weblever.net. That site does not exist now. It stemmed from a project I did called Resource Bridge (project posted on this site).

Hi folks, I know this is a bit different from the dirty jokes I normally send out. To those of you with whom I have hardly corresponded - please accept my apologies for not having inquired about you more often. To those of you unfamiliar with my disturbing "year end letters" I do hope you find this disturbing - though the intent is definitely not just to shock you.

It is only the 5th such letter and the strain is telling. It is far easier to write about meaningless platitudes and events that are significant to one's family but to no one else. Far easier to write about where one holidayed, and how important one is, and oh, my, what a big house we bought, and how well the
kids are doing at such and such instrument or study program. In our case that would be bloody difficult. I did not travel much as I have committed to spend all my holiday time on the course I am doing ­ though N and the kids had their Holidays. I did not have any major achievements at work ­ but am pleased to
report that Nirmala is a deputy head of the much larger (since it merged) department. We definitely do not have money to buy a large house - though we can pay the taxes without going into debt. The kids continue to be about as good academically as their Dad was at that age ­ nothing to write home about,
matter of fact a subject to be avoided completely. But they are bloody good kids and I would not give them up for the world.

Started off the year by getting Fluffy. Fluffy as you know, if you have read Harry Potter, is a three-headed dog. This Fluffy is an absolute beauty and I cannot avoid a chance of riding her. Love that throbbing feeling between my legs and the noise she makes when I push her to the limit ­ and the stares I
get when I ride her in traffic. She is one heck of a motorcycle!

True story (Steven P is a witness). Was waiting to take the elevator up to the office one day when we met S. S saw the helmet, asked if I ride and I said "yes" and she asked what and I said an R1200 Cruiser. The lift door opens, we enter the lift, about 4 or 5 others join our little group and the lift door closes. S then pipes up and says "I would love to ride yours. My husband has one but it is small. Your's is so much bigger". You could hear a pin drop and see the women look discretely towards the region where my work access card was hanging from my belt. Thank you S. For once folks looked past my belly! Ah, the little pleasures of life ­ the things one clings (poor choice of word) on to.

Will not write about N¹s car. That would seem like boasting. Suffice it to say I kept a 14-year-old promise and got her a car (second hand one at that). Soon after we got N a car we got a new addition to the family. Got the little fellow from the SPCA. Took Jana to meet him and they seemed to get along
very well so adopted the guy and changed his name from Ah-dee to the more appropriate Kulla. Kulla is a cross-bred mutt who possibly has some terrier, some wire-haired daschund, some schnauzer and heck a lot of hormones but no cojones. I know that rhymed (unless you want to get all particular about pronunciation as a certain cousin of mine does) but poor Kulla. Kulla gives us hours of amusement and literally flings himself into things. The other thing he flings himself into ­ actually more on to ­ is Jana. The little guy has a go at Jana at every opportunity and has over the many months been thinking that his zone of satisfaction is somewhere about vertebra # 7 of Jana¹s spinal column. We have not told him that his efforts are, um, misdirected. We have also taken to calling him Fokker. Nirmala thinks that is the name of an old type of aircraft.

How the mind does work. That mention of the word aircraft brought to focus the anguish that I have had for long but that has been heightened this year.

It is true that I do not grieve for America. There are other countries far more deserving of this emotion. I do however grieve for the people who lost their lives in the Pentagon and the World Trade Center ­ and those poor souls in the planes who had to die a thousand deaths because of those misguided (no horrible pun intended) criminals. I also grieve for the poor Afghans and all people in dire straits who have had to face starvation and destruction and death. Do I know the answer? No. Is America correct? I do not know. Was there a better way? In spite of all I have heard and read I do not know. I do believe that geo-politics is a necessary evil and fervently hope that the world's most powerful countries do not let that power go to their head.

An unfortunate aspect of September 11 is that the Israeli's can now take a holier than thou attitude while stoking the flames of hatred; and the Pakistani's can get George Bush to do an about face and somehow argue that the terrorists are in Afghanistan or Palestine to bomb them to bits ­innocents and all ­ but if the terrorists are in Pakistan that India should use caution and wait for the U.S.A. to finish its war on terror. Will not the hypocrisy of the situation become clear? How much longer will people have their heads firmly in the sand? Is this a war against terror or a rebuff for having attacked America's manhood? On the other hand, is it realistic to expect America to stay true to its determination to stamp out all terror.

When Bush said that, he must have been thinking of the baseball world serie i.e. the America-is-the-world idea. Now he may start realizing that there can be terror without it ever having to affect an American. Take the open letter from the Pakistani terrorist group to Mr. Bush. It pretty much said "we will not kill any Americans". Oh really, that's all right then isn't it? Good thing Mr.Bush saw through that one. These situations are complex, and it is likel that America's ardor will cool in this war on terrorism ­ remember the terror in Africa (do you remember the words Hutu and Tutsi) that went ignored ­ but at
least they seem to have got the momentum going. May the countries of the world unite on this at least.

Another unfortunate aspect is the whole focus on Muslims vs. non-Muslims that Ayathollah Khomeini helped start. This turned the Palestinian cause into a Jew vs. Muslim struggle - which it is not. The Israelis and Arabs built this myth and Yassir Arafat furthered this perception by siding with Saddam Hussein in a moment of folly. Strange how the world turned against the man for supporting Saddam, but did not turn against America when it supported the man even though this man was using chemical weapons. The Al-Qaeda and Hamas managed to turn the Palestinian cause even more into a Muslim vs. Jew issue. Of course it was no such thing. It is simply a case of stolen land. Remember Saddam? He might very well have thought: I can, if they can. What was so different about Saddam keeping the territory he captured vs. Israel keeping the territory that it captured? At least he did not rush to build settlements and populate it with immigrants from all over the world. Am I a Saddam fan? No, I would no mind if he breathed his last. Do I hate all Jews and love all Muslims. ABSOLUTELYnot. Sure there are some Israeli's I detest and whom I believe are murderers. And yes, I think the Hamas have engaged in murder and brought grief to the very people they think they support. But that has nothing to do with Jews or Muslims. I know many fine Jews and Muslims and will hopefully continue to meet many more. Point is that this is not about generalizing but about specific actions by specific people. This is not about religion but about politics (which introduces the religion element to increase fervor). Once we realize that, we will be far more aware and as adults, capable of taking our destiny more into our own hands. Then, maybe with time, the wounds will heal and people will stop using religion as a weapon. Which God would ever want people to kill in his (or her) name? To me, semi-aetheist that I am, religion in any case is built upon people reading story books written by authors they do not know, and these authors writing about people they did not know. It is a fabrication of the human and not extra-terrestial mind. If only the brothers Grimm had lived about 2000 years ago - who knows, we may have prayed to Hansel and Grethel at a gingerbread alter. Would the world be a different place? I think not. We would have Hanselites and Grethelites and people killing each other over whether the gingerbread was made from wheat flour or maize. My knowledge about the Brothers Grimm and the ingredients of gingerbread
aside there is no blasphemy intended. The only intention is to point out my opinion that the baseness associated with religion is due to the machinations of the human mind.

This is where the Brothers of St. Gabriel who were my teachers and Principals in boarding school are so phenomenal. At the 25th re-union of passing out of high school we met all 3 school principals who had their tenure while we were in school. The way they hugged us and greeted us and wished us well was
truly amazing. These men in wishing us and our families always said God (meaning, for them, Jesus Christ) would help us but never once to my knowledge suggested that we start believing in Jesus Christ. Net result a true comfort that religions could co-exist. They could have brain washed us but focused
instead on raising kids to be good citizens. God¹s true work?

Take the story of the father of my engineering college mate. Forgotten his name but he was a Muslim and an ex-teacher of Arabic. He saw 14 of us boys ­his son had come across to speak to us on Id ­ and insisted we all join his family for lunch. Of the 14, 2 were Muslims and not practicing one¹s at that.
14 lads, starved for food finished every morsel of food that had been made for a family of 8. Then after the fine lunch, while his wife re-made lunch for the family, this man read out Arabic poetry to us. The poetry spoke of love and the magnificence of Allah, and of courage and of good virtues. There was
no brain washing of any kind and we 14 Jethro Tull and Led Zeppelin and Uriah Heep fans listened very carefully and were filled with the warmth of brotherhood. How could we not. We knew that teachers, never mind ex-teachers did not have much money. Yet this man had brought us into his house, given us his food and the food of his children, and spoke to us of heroes and lovers past. How could we not react but with the utmost respect and admiration?

This was the way that I was brought up. To know good in all religions. This is also why my heart is torn by all the strife that is created in the name of God. Ah, 2001. The promise that it held, the destruction and fear that it witnessed. May we all learn peace from the many wrongs that it saw.

"The war has started". These were the first words I spoke in 2002. I had been dreaming that India and Pakistan had begun the war and that an Indian missile had inflicted horrific damage. When Nirmala, lying beside me said "No, there is no war", I replied that we should get the CNN Channel on. Now, as I write these words it is an hour since I woke up. I have played with the kids, managed to annoy Nirmala, had a mug of coffee that was black as hell and strong enough to float a horseshoe (L¹Amour) ­ but I have not turned the telly on.

When you do ­ all that happens is that you are spell bound and watch intently and then trot off to the office or to a friend's house and there over a meal or cocktails discuss incidents in which real people are being put through incredible misery by very unreal people. The people discussing these events are keen to display their memory of every news item reported and rehash commentaries and editorials. It is not the war. Let the poor bastards die. But now at least we can be voyeurs at a very large sadism show. There is that detachment even though the primary message is one of passionate belief.

Absolute bollocks.

On the other hand I too, am guilty of the above. And like many other guilty people in such situations (the I-should-have-done-something guilt) I feel inadequate and believe that I have not done anything to change the course of history. Short of becoming a passionate, just, intelligent and courageous leader of the people (which seems a bit of a hurdle) there really is nothing much we, the real people, can do. Nothing immediate that is. Over the long term there are options. The way out of this mess is I believe, a bridging of the economic divide between the haves and the have-nots. This is one of the reasons why I want www.weblever.net to succeed. I truly hope that we find the right model to make it thrive. Please have a look at the site and let me know if you would like to pitch in. At this stage with ideas ­ not money.

Peace and goodwill to you.

In the hope that you will do your small part to making the world a better place ­ and that I will have the heart to do the same, your friend,