Chowkidar, a short story by Ahmed Asif

Dr Asif wrote this a couple of years ago and it was published earlier in http://www.viewpointonline.net/. OK, the family was never that cheerful and happy and most of the house was pretty much a hovel even in the good old days, but hey, its a story…

Our story is heartbreaking, but worth listening to, if you have time, sir. You see us in rags, fearful of rats, and disheveled living in this dungeon, the dingy basement of our own house, and you may think that we were always like this. But that’s not the case, sir. Ours used to be a house, bright and airy, with sprawling lawns, old trees, exotic plants, and vines climbing over the marble pillars of our front porch that overlooked a fountain and a pond filled with colorful fish. At midday when the sun was high, a rainbow appeared on the sheath of mist by the fountain.
The house had many sections, each lived-in by a distinct family having a unique trait, yet the living was harmonious and filled with laughter: Children running about playing hide and seek among the evergreens; birds chirping in the foliage of the fruit laden trees, and peacocks dancing with their plumes open, like bouquets placed over a carpet of green, the pasture–crisscrossed by a bubbly stream, carrying water pure and sweet; and on the horizon towered a mountain chain, their snowy peaks glimmered like gold in the rays of the setting sun.

An old banyan tree stood at the entrance of the house, and from its branches hung, like a woman’s curls, twirly threads–their tips touching the ground; and it was around its trunk where all the family members used to get together from time to time. We used to have guests from all over the world; and some would like our place so much, they would choose to stay and become permanent residents of our home. The food was plenty, the fields were fertile, and we thought things would go on forever in the same way. But as you know, sir: Nothing remains the same.
Some dispute arose among the family members: nothing so great which couldn’t have been solved if we’d all wanted to–after all we’d lived together for centuries. Needless to say, the family quarrel got out of hand; and lets not get into details, sir, for they are messy details, really messy. To cut it short: The house was divided. We got to keep the east and the west flank of the house, and our cousins got the center with the banyan tree in the middle. We were not used to this kind of fragmented existence, but we knew there was no chance of ever going back to live like one unified family again. We felt insecure in our new living arrangement, and so we hired a Chowkidar.
This nice looking fellow with resolute eyes, a rifle on his shoulder, and a smile under his stiff mustache–for us was hard to tell if it was a genuine or a fake one–reassured us about our security, and we gave him a generous sized quarter, one in each flank of the house, to lodge. We fed him the best of foods, clothed him in an expensive uniform, and gave him the top salary. But sir, there was something about him which always made us uncomfortable and doubtful about his intentions. We began to feel that he may not do much to protect us in the time of need. We were right, sir: He got fat and lazy, and many a times we found him snoring at night when he should have been up keeping a watch. In the end, it’s all our mistake, sir. We let the matter go unnoticed for a long time. Of course, in due time we found out that the chowkidar had been planning to control all the affairs of the house right from the beginning, from the very time we hired him. It was too late by then.
To keep his grip on the house, he started inventing all kinds of stories. For example, he threatened us by telling us how the neighbors, the ones with the banyan tree, had been planning to attack us and take over our house. Sir, in reality, the neighbors had been busy dealing with their own problems. They had no interest in taking over our crumbling building, which over time needed some serious maintenance work. One day, during the monsoon, the east flank was flooded after a heavy downpour, and the chowkidar, instead of saving our family members, actually killed the ones trying to swim to safety. We were all told to shut up and mind our own business, sir. Scared to death, we knew at the time that things would only get worse.
It was then that a realization hit us: We had lost our say in matters pertaining to the upkeep of our house. The Chowkidar meanwhile devised all kinds of schemes to make sure he’d continue to keep us hostage to his way of looking at things: to see our existence as an ongoing fight against the neighbors; and he convinced us to see this fight as a Jihad.
In the absence of any alternative, many of the hostage owners, that is us, sir, got brainwashed over time. We forgot our identity; and now sir, we live in this dark and damp basement of our own house, infested with cockroaches, rats, ticks, dust mites and molds of all kinds. Our chowkidar has confiscated all the rooms of the house in the upper stories. They are beautiful rooms, sir, with large windows that open into the surrounding lawns, with views of snowy peaks and lush valleys.
You will agree, sir, thinking requires plenty of fresh air and oxygen; and due to lack of both, we the owners have stopped thinking a long time ago. To tell you the truth, sir, most of us now just simply believe whatever comes out of the lips of the chowkidar. The sad part is, sir, that we fully well know that the air we live and breath has been deteriorating for a long time. Many of us feel the pressure on our chests; we feel suffocated, choked. When we complain about this to our master, the chowkidar, telling him that our lives have been getting more and more difficult with each passing day, we are told: “You people are destined for a very big role in this world; and this has been divinely ordained and foretold; your reward is in the next world.”
When we tell him that before we fulfill that divine role, we need simple stuff, such as clean water, electricity, basic repairs, oil in the creaky door-hinges, pest control and an inlet for fresh air, he tells us: “The house–which is now his, for we, the real owners, live within its basement–is a Fortress.”
Lounging on a luxurious sofa, which once belonged to our great grandfather, and smoking a pipe which smells of expensive, imported tobacco, he says: “Get up, fight and be prepared to give your life for the noble cause of defending your house. He says: “Great people die for glory; they make the ultimate sacrifice; they don’t care if they are annihilated for a noble cause—Let us protect this Fortress.” And then taking a puff and blowing all the smoke on our faces he narrows his eyes, twirls his mustache and says: “You complain of bad air, lack of clean water and fresh food and electricity, and pests roaming all around–these are all part of a Test–a divine Test!”
Sir, for how long this test will last?


Just for a change of pace, here is what our Japanese friends are in to these days…

Indian Navy hit by stiff waves

First the submarine (Sindhurakhshak) exploded killing 18 sailors. Next another sub (Sindhuratna) caught fire and two more sailors were lost. Admiral DK Joshi assumed moral responsibility and resigned. Now the ripples have extended to appointment of the new admiral as well.

Vice Admiral
Shekhar Sinha has resigned as Robin Dhowan has been promoted ahead of him. Such
events fall in the rarest of rare category-
General AS Vaidya became Army chief in 1983 ahead
of  Lieutenant
general SK Sinha, and Air Chief Marshal SK Mehra became IAF chief by
superseding Air Marshal MM Singh


The
government, on Monday, approved the “voluntary retirement” of Vice
Admiral Shekhar Sinha, who had put in his papers after Admiral Robin
Dhowan superseded him to become Navy chief last week, even as the Army
commanders’ conference kicked off amid uncertainty over its own line of
succession.

The Navy is now headed for a reshuffle in its top brass, with the two
crucial posts of vice-chief and WNC (Western Naval Command) chief becoming vacant. The force’s
line of succession, of course, has also gone for a complete toss, with
present National Defence College commandant Vice Admiral Sunil Lamba now
slated to succeed Admiral Dhowan as the Navy chief in May 2016.

The defence ministry felt that Vice Admiral Sinha had to take his share
of the blame for the recent string of warship mishaps under the WNC.

This came after Admiral D K Joshi owned “moral responsibility”for the
accidents and quit as the Navy chief on February 26 — a resignation
which was accepted by the MoD with unseemly haste.

But the
MOD’s junking of the seniority principle has sparked some concern in
military circles because successive governments have almost always stuck
to it in appointing service chiefs. The chain of seniority in Indian
military is considered virtually sacrosanct, with supersession being
exceptionally rare.

……
Link:  http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/dhowan-takes-over-as-navy-chief-superseded-sinha-resigns/
…….
regards

Happy days for (Iranian) Bahais!!!

Message of peace: Baha’u’llah, the 19th-century founder of the Baha’i faith-
“Consort with all religions with amity and concord, that they may inhale
from you the sweet fragrance of God,” reads the inscription. “Beware
lest amidst men the flame of foolish ignorance overpowers you.” 

Messenger of peace: Did an Ayatollah actually call for peaceful co-existence with the Bahais in Iran? We are a bit confused about the indirect messaging (Bahai World News Service mentions the Church of England leaders praising Ayatollah Abdol-Hamid Masoumi-Tehrani for his courage).

If true, this can be a small but significant step towards the launching of a powerful (non-violent) revolution in the Middle East and North Africa. Peaceful co-existence can also be a good principle for the South Asians to follow.

News from Iran has given me tremendous hope and optimism for peace
between Iranians, regardless of faith and ethnicity. Ayatollah
Abdol-Hamid Masoumi-Tehrani, a prominent imam and scholar, has taken a stand for coexistence
with the country’s Baha’i minority.
He has reminded us that Islam is a
religion of peace that recognises diversity of every kind as part of
God’s design for his creation. And it all came in the form of a gift –
one which I am proud to endorse.

For many, Iran is synonymous with persecution and oppression.
Iran’s authorities routinely target ethnic and religious minorities,
human rights activists, journalists and intellectuals. And the case of
the Baha’is is emblematic of these broader violations.

The Baha’is
are Iran’s largest religious minority with 300,000 followers. For
decades they have been arbitrarily detained, denied education and
livelihood, harassed, vilified in the media, and executed. Hundreds were
killed after the 1979 revolution. More than 130 Baha’is are currently
in prison on false charges. Seven former leaders are serving 20-year jail terms,
just for tending to the basic needs of their community. Baha’is have no
legal protection as a minority because their faith is not recognised
under the constitution.

Such a violent backdrop makes Ayatollah Masoumi-Tehrani’s gift all
the more remarkable. A trained calligrapher and painter, the ayatollah
has produced a large illuminated work of art featuring passages from the
writings of Baha’u’llah, the 19th-century founder of the Baha’i faith. 

Although
I believe Islam is the religion chosen by God, I cannot reject such
words.

The ayatollah offered his gift as a “symbolic action to
serve as a reminder of the importance of valuing human beings, of
peaceful coexistence, of cooperation and mutual support, and avoidance
of hatred, enmity and blind religious prejudice”. He has a long history
of supporting peaceful coexistence between Muslims, Christians and Jews,
including with illuminated calligraphic versions of the Qur’an, the
Torah, the psalms, the New Testament, and the Book of Ezra.

Ayatollah
Masoumi-Tehrani has been repeatedly jailed for his efforts. Speaking
directly to the Baha’is of Iran, he said, in giving his gift, that it is
“an expression of sympathy and care from me and on behalf of all my
open-minded fellow citizens”, to a community that has “suffered in
manifold ways” the consequences of “blind religious prejudice”.

……..
Link: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/apr/21/ayatollahs-stand-bahai-gives-hope-iran
…….
regards

“Amriki jasoosi (American spy)” must die

Issori, North Waziristan (for detailed map of disturbed territories see below). A breathtakingly beautiful land being polluted by actions of ugly foreigners (and foolish locals).

 

Death comes via drones or bullets: “We have been caught between the earth and the skies,” says Sadat, who
has rented a house for his grandparents in Bannu and struggles to set up
a transport business there. “The Americans kill us by firing from the
skies and men with ugly faces (militants) have made our lives miserable
on the ground.”

Aam aadmi at the mercy of ruthless beasts:  Young Taliban militants pulled him out of his
shop and dragged him across the road. “Amriki jasoosi, Ameriki Jasoosi
(American spy, American spy),” Sadat remembers the militants shouting as
they dragged his friend. “Two of them held his arms and the other two
his legs, and tied explosives around the whole body while my friend was
screaming.” The tribesmen, including Deen Wali’s family members,
gathered around but nobody dared to stop the Taliban militants.
“The
militants walked backwards, moving away from Deen Wali, and pushed the
remote button. The explosives detonated, shredding him. His flesh and
body parts flew everywhere.” The militants left the scene in a convoy of
vehicles leaving behind the clouds of dust, despair and helplessness.

.
The temperature of hell is this warm: The tribesmen relate that every Waziristani keeps anti-depressant
tablets in their pockets. Sadat takes his grandmother Bi Jan for
psychiatric treatment every week.


 

The local clerics, whose influence has steadily grown over the years,
played on the religious sentiments of the tribesmen, calling on them to
host these “mujahideen” out of a sense of brotherhood. Others, who were
less idealistic, were lured with money. So the tribesmen welcomed these
war-battered and defeated warriors and offered them shelter, believing
that they would soon disappear back into the war-torn land of
Afghanistan. But the hordes kept coming, first a trickle, then a flood.

Everyday
there was a fresh convoy of militants of different castes, creeds and
colour. Low key and ‘quiet’, tall and athletic, Al Qaeda militants of
Morrocan, Egyptian, Algerian and Sudanese origin. The round-faced,
flat-nosed and ruthless Uzbeks; the fair-skinned Chechens. The short
Uighur Chinese with their thin scraggly beards. Muslim converts from
America, Germany and France known collectively as the ‘Gora Taliban’.
Thousands of local jihadis joined their ranks, distinct because of their
appearance and inability to speak Pushto, these were the long-haired
and short-tempered Punjabi Taliban. 

The temporary shelters the
militants sought soon turned into entrenched sanctuaries as they allied
with local commanders Hafiz Gul Bahadur and Siraj Uddin Haqqani. After
forming the Tehrik-i- Taliban, thousands of fighters turned this tribal
belt into the world’s most dangerous labyrinth, threatening peace inside
Pakistan with suicide attacks and in Afghanistan by fighting US and
Nato forces. 

“It’s an international war
which has engulfed us,” says North Waziristan’s influential tribal
elder, Malik Shad Ameen Wazir. “The volcano is in Afghanistan but it
erupts in our tribal areas.”

……
Link: http://www.dawn.com/news/1100938/the-walking-wounded-of-waziristan-the-lost-tribes-search-for-spring
……
regards

1984 (no justice, only insults)

We have now counted more than a hundred articles (national, international) as to why Narendra Modi should not come to power (and we mostly agree with those justifications).

However the extent to which the liberal crowd will avert their gaze to prevent an immodest look at the injustices committed against Sikhs in 1984 is something truly shameful. Has a single person even suffered one day in prison for his crimes? Why have the top people (and they are well known) gone scot-free? How is this dereliction of duty possible in a modern nation where the wheels of justice, even if slow, must turn eventually in favor of the victims? It is already 30 years past, how long must the victims endure the slings and arrows of outrageous (mis)fortune?

Now we have insults adding to injury- clean chits being issued on behalf of monsters by unworthy people. The hand of the liberals are getting stained by virtue of their acts of omission. Speak now or forever remain silent!!!

Akali Dal today staged a protest outside Congress
headquarters here against its Amritsar Lok Sabha candidate Amarinder
Singh’s alleged remarks on the anti-Sikh riots of 1984.


Scores of Akali activists reached the Congress office at 24, Akbar Road,
holding placards and raised anti-Congress slogans and clashed with
police, which had erected barricades to stop them.


As the protesters refused to budge, police resorted to use of water cannon to disperse them.



 
In his recent remarks to a private channel Singh had said that he
believed Congress leader Jagdish Tytler played no role in fuelling the
violence in 1984 that left hundreds of Sikhs dead.


 

The protesters were detained and taken to a nearby police station.
……
Link: http://news.outlookindia.com/items.aspx?artid=838023
……
regards

Will “jamai-babu” go to jail?

Usually politicians are a friendly lot cutting across party lines. On public platforms they may huff and puff (and even come to blows) they mostly get along very well. Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s admiration for Indira Gandhi was legendary (Indira is India and India is Indira). In turn the communists had great respect for Vajpayee, especially as the left and right joined hands for a brief while during the genocide of Bangladeshi Hindus during partition II.

However if a Modi govt comes such traditions may be a thing of the past. Modi has faced the wrath of the entire Congress machinery for a decade, because they predicted (correctly) that this was one danger-man that can scuttle the chances of the “natural ruling party.” So how will the response be in turn?

Our suspicion is they will not unleash the sword against Sonia (bahu) and the prince or even the princess. Indians are in their way touchy about these things and people still remain fond of Indira and her brood.

But the son-in-law is a different kettle of fish. He is a (non-royal) outsider and is a soft target. We suspect that people will not mind as much, especially the millions who have had to walk through airport security and observe that while all the VIPs who are allowed to pass unmolested are titled (Prime Minister etc.), there is only one (untitled) man specifically mentioned by name: Robert Vadra.
……
Notwithstanding
BJP’s assertion that there will be no witch-hunt if it comes to power,
Uma Bharati has said that Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra will be
in jail if NDA comes to power.


Bharati also alleged that Vadra had made money by breaking all the norms.

“Just because he is the son-in-law of Sonia Gandhi, all the Congress
ruled state governments are afraid of him. Union ministers were also
under pressure from him. He has made money by breaking all the norms,”
she charged here on Sunday night.

“Although my party gets annoyed with me, when the power will be in my hand, I will send ‘jamaibabu’ to jail,” Bharati said.

Modi has said recently that there will be no witch-hunt if the BJP comes to power.

“The main focus of the BJP-led government will be to fulfil promises it
has made to people and it will work with a positive attitude. It will
not be vindictive towards anyone. I have paid the price for the past 12
years due to others’ vindictiveness,” Modi had said.

…….
Link: http://www.delhidailynews.com/news/Uma-Bharti-repeats–Will-send-Vadra-to-jail-if-I-get-power-1398075218/
……
regards

Alia Bhatt shines in 2 States

The critics were luke-warm but our friends who saw the movie (across age group) liked it very much. This is also great news since newbie director Abhishek Varman has succeeded in his first attempt, OTOH Arjun Kapoor and Alia Bhatt will prolong the stranglehold of dynasties in Bollywood (we still wish them well).

……
In
spite of the IPL fever, this film has been declared the biggest hit of
2014 so far. Trade Analyst Taran Adarsh tweeted about the film’s
success,”#2States all set to cross $ 1 million mark in USA-Canada in
opng wknd itself.
BIGGEST OPENER of 2014 there. Excellent!”




Writer
Chetan Bhagat who was in an ecstatic mood also took to Twitter to post,
“Kudos @abhivarman and his entire team | 2 States Emerges Biggest Hit
Of 2014. 2 States opening wknd ~Rs40cr, similar to 3 Idiots opening
wknd! Only this time, with debut director, upcoming actors! Miracles do
happen.” 



The
film raked in around Rs.12 crore on its opening day in the country (India).
According to sources, the first day collection for the entertainer,
directed by first-timer Abhishek Varman, is Rs. 12.42 cr net.

The movie was released in nearly 2,400 screens
worldwide. In India, “2 States” released in over 2,000 screens and
internationally, it released in close to 350 screens in 30 countries.
 

……Alia Bhatt too could not hide her excitement post the film’s release,
considering her last film Highway did not fare too well at the Box
Office. She tweeted, ” Thank you all for all the love !!!!!! Soo
overwhelmed with the response to #2states !!! We do this for you and
just you .. Thank you #1love…….

……
Review (no spoiler): Pretty Tam Brahm ‘ponnu’ plus ‘hatta katta’ Punjabi munda equals to
match made in heaven? If you go by ’2 States’, yes, but getting to it is
long and arduous. The film sets out to be a solid, emotionally
satisfying rom com, and goes well for a bit but then turns into a
too-stretched-out ‘jhagda’ between the two sets of North-South parents.
And the romance gets short shrift. 


It’s the meet–the-parents aspect of the plot, based on Chetan
Bhagat’s autobiographical novel of the same name, that becomes too much:
just why are parents in this day and age so fiercely opposed to the
union of ‘chicken’ and ‘sambhar’? Mr Malhotra (Ronit Roy) drinks and is
obnoxious. Mrs Malhotra (Amrita Singh) feels that Ananya has
‘phansaaoed’ their ‘gora chitta ladka’. The truth is that Ananya is more
‘gori’ and ‘chitti’ than their sonny boy, and holds down an equally
well-paying job. So what’s the problem?


When the going is good, both Kapoor and Bhatt, she more than he, rise above the film’s flaws. He has a few good moments. But Alia Bhatt is a surprise.
She leaves behind her earlier films, and gets into her character: she
may not be an authentic ‘Southie’ in terms of body language, but she is
all girl, easy and fresh and natural.

It’s nice to see Bollywood attempting to create a contemporary young
couple. I liked the way they proceed without fuss into that most modern
of compacts — of attraction that leads to conjugation, minus coyness
.


Get the outdated folks out of the way, make it crisper, and show us what Krish and Ananya did next. I’m waiting.
……
Link (review):  http://indianexpress.com/article/entertainment/movie-review/2-states-movie-review-alia-bhatt-is-easy-fresh-and-natural/2/
…….
regards

The Trojan Horse rolls into Birmingham

It all started with an anonymous letter. These days it is actually safer to put pen to paper since no electronic trail can be established and all the fancy govt spyware is for nowt.

The letter claims– boys and girls were
segregated in classrooms and assemblies, sex education was banned, and
non-Muslim staff were bullied. In one case it was alleged that the
teachings of a firebrand al Qaida-linked Muslim preacher were praised to
pupils.

This could be a massive hoax or it could be a careful plan by the Wahabbists to replace moderate leadership with militants in schools in Birmingham, Bradford and other locations. The Education Secretary Michael Gove is so worried that he has deputed a special Tzar to investigate the allegations. This has the appearance of an internal power struggle. The Salafists are late-comers to the party but they want all of the cake.
……..
Twenty-five schools in Birmingham
are now under investigation following 200 complaints received by the
council in relation to allegations of Islamist “takeovers”, according to
the leader of the city council


Sir Albert Bore detailed the
investigations as he announced the appointment of a new chief adviser to
deal exclusively with the fallout from Operation Trojan Horse
– a dossier claiming to reveal a plot to “overthrow” teachers and
governors in secular state schools in the city and run them on strict
Islamic principles.

Birmingham MP Khalid Mahmood said 20 headteachers in his Perry Barr constituency alone – “virtually all Muslim heads” – had raised concerns about potential plots.

Despite fears the Trojan Horse document was a hoax,
Mahmood said he’d been made aware of similar allegations over the past
12 years and that he was confident there had been concerted attempts to
take over Birmingham schools by Islamic fundamentalists from the Wahabi
or Salafi sect.

Allegations have also emerged involving schools
outside Birmingham, including the Laisterdyke Business and Enterprise
College in Bradford.
It emerged on Monday that Laisterdyke’s entire
governing body has been sacked by Bradford council amid concerns over
poor performance and a “dysfunctional” relationship between governors,
including two city councillors, and management.

Kershaw will co-ordinate with the
existing Trojan Horse operational group, which is made up of officers
from Birmingham city council, West Midlands police, the National
Association of Headteachers (NAHT) and the school inspection authority
Ofsted.

At the weekend, it emerged that
the education secretary, Michael Gove, had personally sent Ofsted in to
inspect 15 Birmingham schools in recent weeks, after the allegations
first broke.



Concerns over how some of the city’s 430 schools were
being run first emerged when an anonymous letter known as Operation
Trojan Horse was leaked to councils and teaching unions,
claiming that a
small but radical group of Muslims were pursuing their own agenda in
the classrooms, with non-compliant headteachers and governors forced
out.

The document, which is unsigned and undated, claimed to have
caused “a great amount of organised disruption” in the city, crediting
the plan with forcing a change of leadership at four schools.

Since
the letter came to light, anonymous whistle-blowers, including former
staff, have come forward, making claims that boys and girls were
segregated in classrooms and assemblies, sex education was banned, and
non-Muslim staff were bullied. In one case it was alleged that the
teachings of a firebrand al Qaida-linked Muslim preacher were praised to
pupils.

Mohammed Shafiq, Chief Executive of the Ramadhan
Foundation urged calm while allowing authorities to continue their
investigations. “The allegations of alleged extremist takeover of
schools in Birmingham are very serious however there is a wider concern
that this is a witch-hunt against the Muslim community.”
he said.

….
Link: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/apr/19/birmingham-schools-pupils-multicultural-britain
…..
regards

Killed by ice, saved by ice

Filed under the truth is stranger than fiction category: the only men who escaped the (ice) cannon balls of the avalanche were under protection of a big wall of ice.

This is symptomatic of larger problems which need resolution through long-term planning and action. While Himalayas earn a lot of foreign exchange for Nepal, the high volume of thrill seekers – even so far as to creating a traffic jam at 29000 feet –  does not do any good to either man or mountain. The relentless pressure to ease access – there is actually a mad plan to attach ladders on mountains to make climbing easier (see below) – may lead to larger disasters. And now 13 Sherpas are dead due to avalanche (and they will not be the last to be killed).

Photos: Exploring Mount Everest


Another Sherpa guide has died in Friday’s Mount Everest avalanche,
bringing the death toll to 13, a Nepalese government official said
Saturday.

It is the single
deadliest accident on Mount Everest, officials said. Three others are
missing, said Madhu Sudan Burlakoti of Nepal’s Tourism Ministry, and at
least half a dozen are injured.



A group of about 50
people, mostly Nepali Sherpas, were hit by the avalanche at more than
20,000 feet, said Tilak Ram Pandey of the ministry’s mountaineering
department.



The avalanche took place just above base camp in the Khumbu Ice Fall.



Climbers and guides had
been setting the ropes for the route, acclimating and preparing the
camps along the route when the avalanche hit Friday, said Gordon Janow
with Alpine Ascents International in Seattle.

“A big piece of ice
suddenly came off the mountain. I did not think I would survive. I am
very happy to have survived,” said Wangdi, who has reached the
mountain’s summit three times before.



He and an assistant, who were attached to a safety rope, hid behind a piece of ice as the avalanche came tumbling down, he said.



“We could do that
because we were in the front,” he said. “Up to 12 of those behind us
survived, but the ones after them died. Those who had already crossed
ahead when the ice came off also survived.


……..
It was the final obstacle, the 40 feet of technical climbing up a
near vertical rock face that pushed Sir Edmund Hillary to the limit.
Once climbed, the way to the summit of Mount Everest lay open.

Now,
almost exactly 60 years after the New Zealander and his rope-mate,
Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, stood on the highest point in the planet, a new
plan has been mooted to install a ladder on the famous Hillary Step, as
the crucial pitch at nearly 29,000ft has been known since it was first
ascended. The aim is to ease congestion.

“We are now discussing
putting a ladder on the Hillary Step but it is obviously controversial,”
said Dawa Steven Sherpa, who runs commercial expeditions on Everest and
is a senior member of the Expedition Operators Association in Nepal.

This
year, 520 climbers have reached the summit of Everest. On 19 May,
around 150 climbed the last 3,000ft of the peak from Camp IV within
hours of each other, causing lengthy delays as mountaineers queued to
descend or ascend harder sections.

“Most of the traffic jams are
at the Hillary Step because only one person can go up or down. If you
have people waiting two, three or even four hours that means lots of
exposure [to risk]. To make the climbing easier, that would be wrong.
But this is a safety feature,” said Sherpa, who co-ordinates the work to
prepare the traditional route up the mountain for clients who pay
between $45,000 and $75,000.

The plan has received some support from the world’s mountaineering authorities.
Frits
Vrijlandt, the president of the International Mountaineering and
Climbing Federation (UIAA), said the ladder could be a solution to the
increasing numbers of climbers on the mountain.

…….
Link (1): http://www.cnn.com/2014/04/19/world/asia/nepal-everest-avalanche/
Link (2): http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/may/27/mount-everest-ladder-hillary-step
…….
regards

Boko Haram “not unreasonable”

Nigeria may be winning on the economic front (rated #1 in Africa ahead of SAfrica) but it is surely losing the hearts and minds of its own citizens. (Step 1) The Boko Haram terrorists recently kidnapped 129 girls from a boarding school (presumably imparting western education which BH hates). (Step 2) The govt is unable to do anything about it except make a piss poor announcement that most girls have escaped. (Step 3) Some 14 lucky girls do manage to escape, 115 more are still trapped in the forest. (Step 4) The terrified, poor (in all sense of the term) parents are now scouring the forests and have contracted the services of a vigilante group.

If all this does not suggest end of times, what does? Where is the outrage?? Apparently according to the (white) liberals (of the Guardian) the outrage should be directed at the Nigerian state for not having spread the (oil) wealth around (which is fine in our opinion), however, equally they suggest that Boko Harams’ approach “makes sense” and the goal of enforcing Sharia is “not an unreasonable position.”

It is beyond us to work out a therapy for this specific condition (liberalitis) but we humbly suggest that Simon Allison talks to the dad who is on record saying that he is willing to die so that his daughter may live. It may help focus the mind.


The attack on the school was also particularly symbolic. The name
Boko Haram loosely translates as ‘Western education is forbidden’, and
the group encourages parents to send their children to Islamic schools
instead.
The attack on the school in Borno is a punishment and a warning
to those who disobey.  

This approach makes sense, in a strange, twisted
way:
it is at schools that children are inculcated with the theoretical
values of the state – in Nigeria’s case, a commitment to secular,
liberal democracy – and it is these values against which Boko Haram
fights, wanting to replace them with a strict commitment to Islamic
Sharia law.

This is not an unreasonable position. The Nigerian state has, by and
large, failed its population.
It may be awash in oil wealth, but none of
that trickles down into the population which has yet to see much in the
way of material benefits from an independent Nigeria.
Who wouldn’t be
looking for an alternative?

…..
The parents of some of
the girls abducted from a school in north-east Nigeria have headed into
the forest in a desperate search for their daughters.


More than 100 schoolgirls were taken by suspected Islamist
militants on Monday night. The military said on Wednesday that most of
the girls had escaped.


However, local officials and parents said more than 100 were still missing.


It is thought Islamist militant group Boko Haram took the girls to forested areas near the Cameroonian border.



The attack on the school in Chibok, a remote part of Borno
state, happened late on Monday. Gunmen reportedly stormed the school and
ordered the students onto lorries.


On Thursday, Asabe Kwambura, principal of the school where the girls
were abducted, told journalists that the report from the military was
“not true” and that only 14 of the 129 kidnapped girls had escaped.

Parents of the girls have told the BBC that more than 100
girls are still missing. The girls are believed to be being held in the
Sambisa forest in north-east Nigeria.


A group of parents have raised
money to buy fuel and water, and have headed into the forest with a
local vigilante group to search for the girls.
It is an extremely dangerous mission, the BBC’s Will Ross in
Lagos reports. The well-armed Boko Haram fighters have killed hundreds
of civilians this year, slitting the throats of many of their victims,
he says.


One father told the BBC he was willing to die in the forest in the attempt to free his daughter.
…..
Link (1): http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/apr/17/boko-haram-will-keep-killing-and-nigerias-leaders-are-powerless
Link (2): http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-27069675
……
regards