12 June 2008

The Hundredth Post: To Dona Nobis Pacem

Prometheus has the honor of having participated in the first ever Dona Nobis Pacem instituted by Queen Mimi. And though he didn’t (couldn’t) participate in its first rerun, he is proud to participate even if belatedly in this edition of DNP. And Prometheus dedicates this, his hundredth post, to Dona Nobis Pacem.

If you don’t already know Queen Mimi and her DNP revolution, you might want to crawl back into your nuclear-proof bunker and wait for the radio to tell you if it’s safe to venture out. Oh alright! DNP is Queen Mimi’s royal snub for all the ‘guts and glory’ boys and their wehrmacht.

Prometheus has no solution to end war. But he has a burning desire for peace. If one caveman bonking another on the head with a club can grow into Polaris missiles that can wipe out the earth before you could say ‘Dubya’, then Prometheus hopes that Queen Mimi’s DNP that started off with a few bloggers signing some JPEG image can surely grow into a movement so large that the wehrmacht grinds down to a halt and the warheads will all rust in peace.

India, homeland of Prometheus, and Pakistan the neighbor, have been at veiled war for decades. Prometheus will not discuss politics and warfare here. He leaves you with a song. A Sufi song by Bullay Shah. Yes, Sufism originated in what is modern day Pakistan and Bullay Shah was from Bahawalpur. This beautiful song, called Bandeya (addressing a man or mankind) rendered beautifully by Khawar Jawad and Faiza Mujahid tells the tale of Bullay Shah and his guru, who was of a caste deemed lower by those of Bullay Shah’s community.

The lyrics and translation from Saraiki to English, thanks to assorted webpages spawned since the song appeared in a Pakistani movie:

Bullay Noun Samjhawan Ayaan
Bhenaan Tay Bherjaayaan (Bullay’s sisters and sisters-in-law came to advise him)
Man Lay Bullaya Sada Kaina
Chad Day Pala Araiyaan (“Listen to us and stop associating with that man of the Araain community”)
Aal Nabi Ulad Nabi Noun
Tu Kyoun Leeka Layaan (“Why do you insult our tribe the descendants of the Prophet Mohammed”)
Jera Saanoun Syed Saday
Dozakh Milay Sazaiyaan (Bullay replies: Those that call me a Syed (the tribe of the descendants of the Prophet) will be punished in Hell) (Indicating that he’d rather denounce his tribe than denounce the peer, his guru)

Bandeya ho, Bandeya

Araain Saain Sabi Thaain (People of Araain and Saain clans are everywhere)
Rab Deeyaan Bay Perwaayaan (God doesn’t care (about placing them together in this world))
Soniya Paray Hatayaan tay
Khoojiyaan Nay Gal Layaan (Those that are beautiful (in heart and soul) do not find such differences (in castes), only ugly people do)

Jay Tu Looray Baagh Baharaan
Chakar Ho Ja Araiyaan (If you desire paradise in the afterlife, become a servant of the Araiyan) (Indicating ‘serve the poor and downtrodden, if you seek heaven’)
Bullay Shah De Zaat Ke Puchni
Shakar Ho ya Razayaan (Ask not what caste Bullay Shah comes from)

Bandeya ho, Bandeya

Food for thought?

Happy belated DNP day, Mims.

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08 June 2008

Communism Inc. A study in Irony

Ernesto was a doctor. One day he took off on his motorbike and travelled across South America. The journey gave him his 'Buddha' moment. Like the truth dawned upon Prince Gautam, transforming him into the Buddha, Ernesto's realization that 'government' is a cuss word transformed him into Che. Che Guevara, Guerrillero Heroico. Fidel Castro's main man, Che was killed in a CIA sponsored attack in 1967, much before this latest incarnation of Prometheus.

Some say he was a tyrant and some call him the Butcher of La Cabana. Some like Jean Paul Sartre called him 'not only an intellectual, but the most complete man of our age'. Nelson Mandela called him a champion of freedom. Che was a voracious reader, reading the works of greats as diverse as Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, H.G. Wells, Jawaharlal Nehru, Jean Paul Sartre, Franz Kafka, Nietzsche, Aristotle, Budhha, Jack London, Freud, Kipling and Keats. Che lived for the Revolucion. So much that when he was about to be executed and asked whether he was thinking about his immortality, he replied that he was thinking of the immortality of the revolution and that his executioner would but kill a man, not his thought.

What is Prometheus' connection with Che? Prometheus is even less communist than Dubya. So what gives?

Prometheus saw a cool dude on the street today. Dude (pronounced d-oo-d) was armed with an iPhone, an iPod, Oakly eyewear, RBK shoes, the US flag in a bandana form. And Che on his tee shirt. That most famous photograph of Che, taken by Alberto Korda and titled Guerrillero Heroico. That star on the beret, that intense look, the intelligence in the eyes, that resolve on the face.

And Prometheus was again reminded of the greatest monument to Irony. The man who called capitalism 'a contest among wolves', being used by capitalists to shift everything 'from t-shirts to coffee mugs and even bikinis'.

Prometheus' brush with governments has not made him militant. But the left-leaning ideology of India and its failures does make him tend to veer away from socialism. In one of his travels across India, Prometheus met a semi-militant revivalist. Though Prometheus disagreed with some this man's ideas, he remembers something that was till then never so succinctly stated. "The Bureaucracy was installed by the Colonial rulers to serve their interest and to oppress the natives. The Hand that Rules has changed from White to Brown, but the Machine was made for the purpose of oppression and oppress it still does. Changing the hand cannot change the function of the machine." The other monument to Irony. The Socialist, Secular Republic of the people, by the people and for the people.