Letter From New York 04 04 15 A Delhi afternoon, thinking and writing…

It is early in the day for me to be writing but a hole just opened in my schedule so I decided to make use of it and write my blog for the day. My friend Raja was to have come and picked me up and we were to have gone to his wife’s shop. Unfortunately, he was at a shoot late into the night and then up early again working so he cancelled for the afternoon.

It is a greyish day in Delhi and on the cool side as it rained all night while I slept.

My day started with a late breakfast with Kiran Karnik, who was GM of Discovery India when I was here in the 1990’s. He is a small, thin man, very gentle and razor sharp. He is currently doing many things. One of them is being on the Board of the Reserve Bank of India as well as being President of the India Habitat Center, where I am staying.

Service in the restaurant this morning was impeccable, he said smiling.

Sanjay was at the breakfast, too. We were nostalgic for the days when we were launching Discovery India, laughing at some of our adventures. Talk then moved to politics, both here and in the States. Both Sanjay and Kiran are concerned that parts of the fabric of Indian society are becoming worn in the rush toward modernization. Within twenty-five years India will be one of the world’s top four economies and that change will be wrenching, just as it has been in China.

Prime Minister Modi seems to be enormously popular and is, from all accounts, charismatic. “Conventional wisdom” is that he should be Prime Minister and have all his ministers from the Congress Party, his opponents, because they have experience in government. The BJP, which is Modi’s party, has not governed all that often in India and hasn’t had a lot of national experience.

Some large announcement is coming shortly about interest rates though Kiran gave no hint as to what it will be. He did say they [the Reserve Bank] were closely watching the situation in Yemen for what affect it might have on oil prices along with the “rain issue.” This last season was exceptionally rainy, having a negative effect on food production. Every little thing becomes a factor that needs weighing.

It was interesting to hear Kiran’s perspective on the Yemeni situation. He pointed out that this is the first time in memory that Saudi Arabia has used its military in this way. Thinking about, I had to agree.

They intervened in Bahrain but that was minor compared to this.

We all agreed that the world situation is remarkable and deeply fraught. The Kenyan massacre of Christians at Garissa only underscores the situation.

Pope Francis spoke out about it at Holy Friday services in Rome. Christians are being killed for their beliefs in Africa and in the Middle East. Shabab is promising more Kenyan attacks.

In the Middle East, Tikrit has been freed from IS though the once bustling city, hometown of Saddam Hussein, now lies in ruins. The Iraqi Prime Minister, Haider al-Abidi, has ordered looters arrested.

As we pass through the Easter weekend, which culminates on Sunday with the celebration of Christ’s resurrection, the world is parsing all the reports on the Iranian Nuclear Deal, attempting to see if there are true threads of hope or mere obfuscation.

Pakistan is walking a tightrope between Iran, with which it shares a border, and Saudi Arabia, which has been a staunch Pakistani ally. Saudi Arabia wants Pakistan’s help in Yemen and Iran is doing its best to make sure that doesn’t happen. So far Pakistan has managed to stay upright on the tightrope but it is going to take some deft diplomacy to continue that if the Yemeni situation continues.

Easter, when I was young, was always a time for new clothes and long hours in our Catholic church. Some of it I remember fondly. Some of it not so much. One year it was unseasonably warm and Visitation Church grew so hot students at Good Friday services were fainting by the dozen.

Those seemed like simpler times. Perhaps that is nostalgia. “The Go-Between” is a novel by L.P. Hartley, adapted for the screen by Harold Pinter. Both book and film begin with the haunting line, “The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.”

I do not think I would want to go back to the days of my youth. There were too many things that were wrong there but sometimes I am nostalgic for the simplicity that seemed to live there.

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One Response to “Letter From New York 04 04 15 A Delhi afternoon, thinking and writing…”

  1. Ted Fitzgerald Says:

    As I am holed up in a cheap motel in Georgia, waiting for parts for my broken car over Easter, it’s interesting to get another view of Easter.
    As a kid it seemed like 4 Sunday’s run together, with nothing being open, excessive church on Sunday and visits to relatives in other streets, all in our Sunday best.hair combed, pressed shorts and those big black shoes that were too big but we would one day grow into. And it usually rained. So the release of dashing out to play with friends in the street was negated and the horse racing TV or the board games became our world for many afternoons.
    Love that line from the go between about the past being a different place where they do things differently. Harold Pinter was a prominent figure from my home town of Hull, who along with Philp Larkin, was feted as a great literary figure in our dowdy northern city.
    Interesting reflection on the Yemeni situation. It seems like a constant tightrope act, even from before the Aden crisis, in which my family fought, through to today with Tekrit. There is no simple answer, just a series of temporary solutions and agreements that hold until another power flexes.
    “But what rough beast , it’s hour come round at last, slouches towards Bethlehem to be born.” T.S. Elliot.

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