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Showing posts from June, 2011

DARJEELING'S DHIR DHAM - IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER

The contours of geography and history have been abruptly truncated by political intervention in many parts of the world. I remember the West and East German divide as a prime example of what politics can do to the same people - barricade them inside their own perceived security zones and change them to the extent they become like aliens from outer space to one another. In a short span of time even language, food habits and the way people of the west and east dressed changed. There are, of course, many examples all over the world: North and South Korea and the erstwhile North and South Vietnam come to mind easily.

Darjeeling is the famous Himalayan hill station created by the British to escape the unbearable heat of the Calcutta summer. Today Darjeeling is what we drink every morning thanks to the black tea the British planted there and which they imbued to the world. To me Darjeeling has always been a fascinating example of this political intervention in our own backyard. The Nepalese…

WHITE TIGER

No, this blog is not on Maharajah Jung Bahadur Rana of Nepal although there is a famous story of the white tiger bringing the demise of Jung Bahadur during his last shoot in 1877 A.D. This story is about white tigers. White tigers have about them mysticism linked to their rarity. There is some other-worldliness about them that captivates peoples' imagination.They appear frequently in myths and legends. There are also numerous books titled TheWhite Tiger, the recent one being Arvind Adiga's Booker Prize winning novel. An old classic on Nepalese history written by Diamond Shumsher Rana, Seto Bag, was later translated by Greta Rana into English titled Wake of the White Tiger. But in this story I am writing about the white tigers carrying the recessive genes subduing the rich golden pelt and making it alabaster white. They are not albinos. White tigers grow bigger than normal ones.



I begin with a hunt, a Shikar, my father organized for Ralph S. Scott, big game hunter and one of the…

ABSOLUTION FOR HIS BROTHER'S SINS

Kathmandu, 14th September, 1846 A.D.
The Kot Massacre was a defining moment in Nepal's history. It healed long festering sores in one giant act of cauterizing. It was a free for all: unrehearsed, un-umpired, unpredictable, just like sometimes we hope the televised WWE wrestling matches would be but are not. Ancient noble houses were swept away and royalty lost its luster. The cleansing was complete. The period of instability was over forever. The last man standing was Bir Narsingh Kunwar: brave, vainglorious, resolute. He would shape Nepal in his own image for the next one hundred years by taking the title of Jung Bahadur Rana, borrowed from the glorious tradition of Rajputana.
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Jagat Shumsher Rana was the second youngest brother of Jung summoned to the palace that fateful night by the heinous sound of the nagara bells that tolled the fury of the queen gone berserk. Her paramour Gagan Singh, the shadow behind the queen regent, detested and desp…