Sunday, June 11, 2006
attica-ruth magazine 1
Motto for these weblogs aka blogs:
"The 'I' is hateful." [Pascal, Pensées VII 434]
Stray thoughts while looking through newspapers for notes to make, cuttings to take:
~ "The Michelangelo exhibition at the British Museum in London is proving so popular that the museum is to stay open until midnight for the first time in its 247-year history."
Will a similar exhibition of works by any recent winner of the Turner prize be as popular in the 25th century?
~ "Most Russians want Putin to serve third term"
[Hmm. Difficult to avoid the hateful word.] I like Putin. Never met him, of course, but it's the opposite case to Martial's 'Non amo te, Sabidi'. However, the phrase "bloody Putin" unfailingly springs to mind whenever the name turns up. Why? After viewing a lengthy telecast of the Tehelka Tapes & hearing a drunken army officer on the take refer frequently to "bloody Putin" - or that's how it sounded - the phrase has stuck in more than one mind. It amuses. Just one of those things...
~ "Diary of a doctor makes war real"
Ah, that calls to mind on the one hand a poetic film, L'odeur de la papaye verte, & on the other, those years - so long ago - when one followed with outrage, sorrow & admiration the course of the heroic Vietnamese defence of their country against invaders.
~ "But then I started to hit some fabulous shots"
It is rather a long time since Peter the Great played tennis - especially winning tennis - and memory is no longer 100% reliable, but it does not record his claiming to have played 'fabulous shots'. He did say after the 1999 Wimbledon final, "It's probably the best I've played in many years" - which is not quite the same thing.
'The Wind Cannot Read' is the title of a film, & possibly of a book. Is it a quotation from a poem? If so, by whom?
The Dargah that Flew
When Mummy wrote ‘A Patriot for Me’, the biography of Vallabhbhai Patel – ‘Sardar’ – she included the story of the miraculously levitating dargah, because she had it from Sardar’s daughter, Maniben, & it was confirmed by such close associates of his as Tribhuvandas K Patel. But Orient Longman chickened out of publishing some half-dozen or so passages, including this narrative, from the script that they accepted. Now there’s only our say-so for the story. Maniben & dear old Tribhuvandas are dead, & so is Daddy; & as far as I know almost all the other old folk who might have confirmed the story are also playing harps up in the clouds. These would include the two old Parsi ladies whose apartments overlooked the dargah, & who were the only ladies’ hairdressers in Ahmedabad long long ago. Even later, until we left Ahmedabad in 1969, they continued to be our hairdressers. Odd to call them that when all they did was shorten our hair.
During Vallabhbhai Patel [not yet “Sardar”]’s term of office as President of the Ahmedabad Municipality (starting in 1924), it became clear that a famous & very holy man’s dargah at a bend on Tankaria Road, not far from Dilli Darwaza, was altogether too much of a nuisance for the rapidly expanding Manchester of India. [Alas! All the mills are gone, & half the city’s solid core/coeur with them.] The dashed thing was stuck plumb in the middle of the road & even tongas found it an obstacle, think how much more that new form of locomotion, the motor-car.
So what did the amazing Vallabhbhai do? Why, he organized a labour force sworn to secrecy & promised a handsome recompense for completing their task in the breathtakingly short period allowed – the duration of one shift at the mills, in the dead of night. The work was to be done perfectly; that was the conjoint primary condition.Come the night chosen, & half the task force dig up the dargah entire, undamaged, & shift it to the side of the road, where the other half have dug a foundation for it & all is ready to fix it in place. Between the two gangs, & always protected by a posse of policemen, the work is done to perfection. Before break of day, all tell-tale signs cleared, the special forces melt away.
Two batches of mill-hands now toddle along in turn, one going to work &, later, the other going home. Each finds the road unusually easy to traverse – hullo, where’s the sainted dargah? Why, there, shifted to the side of the road. Consternation; cries of “who hath done this thing?’; messengers racing off to fetch leaders of the community; & finally a delegation to Vallabhbhai. “Say you so?” asks our astute statesman with look of wonder & dawning awe. “Do you not see? The saint, that dear good man, mindful of the needs of his people has himself lifted the dargah with angelic assistance, & placed it where it gets in no one’s way. Praise to the Almighty, and praise be to his holy servant for the miracle they have wrought!”
Now what were those leaders, by no means bamboozled, to say? Should they gainsay him & so deny the credit for a miracle to their saint? Besides, such a miracle added to the glory of the dargah. So, not pleased at having to collude in an obvious fraud by a cunning heathen, but unable to do otherwise, & reluctantly admiring Patel’s near-magical solution to a very knotty problem, the leaders proclaimed a miracle & thereby accepted the fait accompli.
Decades passed, full of more exciting & momentous events. This one was gradually forgotten. And so a tiny gem of history is almost misplaced beyond recovery.
Ruth Heredia is the originator and holds the copyright to all material on this blog unless credited to some source. Please do not use it or pass it off as your own work. That is theft. If you wish to link it, quote it, or reprint in whole or in part, please be courteous enough to seek my permission.