Sunday, June 05, 2005

A reunion to beat all reunions

I was supposed to have submitted a paper to my advisor last night, instead I went off for one of my dinner with Emil nights. I was supposed to attend someone's birthday celebrations in a nightclub, but got ditched by a bunch of persons in succession so decided turning up solo wasn't worth it.

We went off to Ambala Dhaba in Westwood, a fairly decent Indian restaurant in a city where even fairly decent is a rarity. There's a quirk in the menu though. The place sets itself as a dhaba and then has an extensive wine list, which seems fairly mediocre just by glancing through (and if a wine-illiterate like me can figure it out, well then no one should even look at the wine list in Ambala). My puzzled reaction would be - why? I associate dhabas at the most with country liquor, or that peculiarly Indian creation, Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) (smells and tastes just as nasty as it sounds). So of course the natural substitute would be beer and some sort of hard liquor - rum, vodka and whisky at the most. Well, they do have beer, but wine? Superfluous, and impresses no one.

It was another quiet night as Em and I discussed the impending visit of his brother and his nephew (and perhaps Em's father too) to the US. This is quite a momentous visit, the two brothers would be seeing each other after almost 25 years. They have been caught in the aftermath of the Islamic Revolution, since the elder two brothers went off to study in England in pre-Revolution times and decided not to return in post-Revolution Iran. One of main reasons was fear of being drafted in the long-drawn Iran-Iraq war, a fate Em was able to escape as he was too young to be enlisted. He did have to do his compulsory military service later, but those were more peaceful times.

So in England have the two elder brothers stayed ever since, their fraternal relations restricted to regular telephone conversations. Given that Em's elder brothers have not visited Iran in 25 years, it is amazing how thick the eldest brother's Persian accent is. And yet, England is his home now, where he lives with his English wife and children. It is not exile, and yet there is no reason to go back, which is sad enough. What revolutions and wars do to ordinary people. And me, growing up in my little South Asian corner of the world used to think that life was chaotic. Perspective is a good, sobering thing.

I hope more Indians read about the modern history of Iran, about the revolution, the war, about where fundamentalism and warmongering can ultimately lead a nation and its inhabitants. We Indians are much too oblivious, about others, about ourselves, about both the home and the world.


Blogger Vishnupriya said...

hey! i got the orkut invite. and, btw, i just tagged you. so you have to pass on the meme.

3:35 AM  
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