I took this picture of a monkey in Shimla, India, minutes after it had made off with a visitor’s packet of sweets that he was to offer at a temple. The ‘thief’ ensured he was at a safe distance but still visible and appeared to cock a snook at the worshipers with a ‘catch me if you can’ look. The ‘spoils’ of the loot are still visible on his face!
People the world over talk about religious freedom but how often have we seen it being implemented in letter and spirit?
Take the case of India, where particularly in the last year or so, there is increasing intolerance among the various religious groups in a supposedly secular nation. The majority dispensation is literally bulldozing its way around at the cost of the minorities.
In the United States, there is intolerance of another kind – Blacks against Whites – and vice-versa, not to mention the centuries old hatred that manifests itself with sickening regularity.
Russia, nations in Europe, the Far East, Latin America etc, there is talk of freedom but is there any?
Having been in Bahrain for close to two decades, I have always been awestruck with what I see here. Several Hindu temples, gurudwaras, a score or so churches, and even a synagogue all co-exist along with dozens of mosques in perfect harmony in an Islamic nation.
We see Bahrain’s rulers and senior ministers, bureaucrats and officials take part in Hindu and Sikh festivals and occasions; they visit temples, sit, pray and eat with the community and address gatherings. One does not feel ill at ease practicing one’s religion at any time.
The picture on the top of this page – showing one of Bahrain’s oldest mosques and the oldest church in one frame – perhaps signifies this like nothing else.
Countries like India and the US, among others, should learn from Bahrain. It’s not about being constitutionally secular; it’s about practicing it in spirit!
I have always been fascinated with Mumbai. Though I have not been to the metropolis very many times and have not stayed for more than three days at stretch, I salute the resilience of the city inhabitants and their ability to take so many hardships in their stride. These two pictures, of the Vile Parle station, show just some aspects of that resilience and hardship and how people just cope with them and take it in their stride. The two men waiting for a train to come, the lady sleeping it off after a laborious morning at work and the gentleman apparently making some last-minute plans before his next trip are but just a few glimpses of a city that never sleeps. And the fact that THESE were the people worst hit by terrorism of the worst kind 22 years ago when a series of bomb blasts ripped the city apart send a chill down my spine. It also pains me to see politicians still bickering about the rights and the wrongs and of how capital punishment brings ‘closure’ to the victim’s families. No one, unfortunately, thinks of the nation and all that matters to them is how they can score some points. And NO ONE thinks of these poor souls for whom the only question is – where will the next meal come from?
This newspaper and magazine shop, operating virtually out of a hole in the wall in Bahrain’s Muharraq area, is a favourite with Asian, particularly Indian, expatriates, who are able to buy, and browse, publications in many languages. Malayalam, Tamil, Gujarati and even Punjabi, are the most sought after and sellers make a neat packet selling these on hefty premiums. But, again, no price is too much for those who love to read!