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Mezze is widely served in the Greek and Middle eastern world. An assortment of little dishes and tasters which accompany a nice ouzo or a glass of wine. So when you read mezze moments you will have tasty snippets of life as I live it, India for four years and now Brisbane Australia, all served up with some Greek fervour and passion.

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Sunday, 15 August 2010

Happy Independence Day India 2010

I have just returned from the Presidential Palace where the President and the Prime Minster were holding a reception to celebrate Indian Independence.
The Palace is majestic in every way, its drive way, its grand entrance, its marble staircases and finally the Grand Hall where the ceiling is covered with the most exquisite art work.
I was admiring a beautiful painting of a pale and sensuous Mughal princess when the bugle player started bugling and soon after under this seductive painting stood the diminutive figure of Pratibha Patel the current president of India. She exuded none of the sensuality but she does n't need to perhaps as SHE is the President so eyes away from art and firmly onto the politicians now , the speaker of the house, another woman, the Prime Minister and Sonia Gandhi among others, all sitting in a semi circle like kiddies in a classroom waiting for story time.  
The Prime Minister who is not known for his party spirit, was in a particularly chatty mood and worked the crowd of diplomats and cabinet ministers. I congratulated him on the Independence of India and shook his hand. His bushy white eyebrows and quiet demeanour seemed positively perky this evening. 
The President's Personal Body guard was all over the Palace. The most statuesque six foot figures, with handsome faces in their formal livery, white coats and gloves, gold and black turbans and black boots to their knees each brandishing a silver sword of considerable length. It was hard not to stop and stare.
An India of tradition and splendour, little of which is seen by the man on the street. For them today marks a day of leisure and for the children a time to fly their kites.
I captured a few of the stalls selling them in the run up to Independence Day today.
One little boy in the middle of the biggest two lane highway on a little traffic island was trying to fly his kite. Thats the spirit I thought !
In the paper today a huge announcement that must have cost a lot of money from the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerement saying :

"We salute our freedom fighters and builders of modern India and reaffirm our commitment to empower the underprivileged to realise their aspirations."

Builders of modern India hmmmm, I wonder how her aspirations are being met ?

And finally a headline that made me laugh: 

"Buy a house, get a cow free in Rajkot !!"

India has spirit and panache and tries but has a long way to go.


  1. You lived in Kenya. What place would you say looks poorer? Is the poverty you saw in Kenya the same as the poverty you saw in India?

  2. In my view India seems poorer. I know there are huge slums in Kenya as well -Kibera is just one- but somehow I felt Kenyans had more going for them and managed to eke out a better more humane existence, whether they were town dwellers or in the country. Here I think the huge absence of infrastructure and lack of sanitation makes for a miserable time for so many of India's poor. However you cannot generalise, the situation in the south is so different and there you dont see much begging or misery as here în Delhi.Its all relative of course and I have been away from Africa for a long time but hope that if anything the situation has become better and not worse and that the new constitutional reforms will go some way to ensuring governance is for all not just for the few. Thanks for reading and commenting. M

  3. I see. Thanks for your answer. It is quite interesting given everything I've been reading regarding India's growing economic might.

    Although one may argue that Kenya is not as industrialized as India. We don't have large factories spewing out toxic fumes, etc.etc. It's a largely agricultural economy & because tourism is a huge foreign exchange earner, the government does pay attention to the countries environment.

    Why don't they use pit latrines in India? This is what is used in many 3rd world countries that don't have proper plumbing facilities.

    The new constitutional reforms were enacted to get rid of Moi's manipulation of the electoral map. They were really enacted to diffuse and neuter his tribe's power base. They won't be much of a difference economically, except that in terms of violence, the security forces will not let what happened in 07 occur again. So, there will be peace, at least.

  4. Peace is always a blessing. I have no idea why they dont use pit latrines here and why they dont actually use some of the ingeneous methods we have heard of human waste being turned into manure that a particular Indian has been advocating for years. I believe 16 million people if not more defecate in the open every day. Surely 63 years after independence you would have expected this to have been a priority of government and not the CWG. No Kenya ia not as industrialized but that perhaps is a hidden additional blessing for the country. MM

  5. 16 million defecating in the open?! How is that not a public health disaster?

    In Kenya, defecating in the open would be viewed as a form of public nudity, which is obviously looked down upon or they'd think you were mentally unstable if you did that. So, every village and every slum has a pit latrine. Although Kibera is known for it's use of "flying toilets" i.e. people defecating in plastic bags and then tossing the bags away.

    I don't know about turning human waste into manure? Isn't human waste highly toxic? It's not like cow manure.

  6. Yes the numbers make an impact dont they and yes in my view it is a public health disaster which accounts for a lot of disease found here.
    I must say the flying toilets made me laugh because that is not what I had in mind. One of my lasting memories of going on safari in Kenya were the pit latrines, dug at a moments notice with breathtaking views of the rift valley etc.As for Professor Sulabh he assures me it can be done. perhaps I will try and blog in more detail about him. MM

  7. Loved the Independence Day celebrations you described at Rastrapathi Bhavan. Know the 'President' from her days as a politician in the Indira camp and have even followed her career as a reporter in Indian Express. Marina, as somebody who comes from a "freedom fighter family" (lost two uncles in the Dandi Salt March), my Dad's father was 'outcast' because he invited Dalits in and dined with them in his great Brahmin home in Mangalore and then driven out... to Mumbai where i was born udner a staircase; my Dada's only elder sister Prema-Akka, was a child widow (she lost her husband at 15 and never re-married) was known as a "living monument" because she picketed a boy's school and then stood at the top of her class in the 1930s, Mom was the first girl in her class to wear a swimsuit and scandalised everybody in central Bombay in 1942. Someday we must talk some more about this odd animal called 'India' which you see as a Nation and I see as the world's oldest continiously living civilisation...and she lives and breathes still..
    that, my dear, is the surprise!. I hate August 15 because it was a messy child-birth with too much blood spilt from a so-called non-violent civilisation, accompanied by the largest movement of people on earth..

  8. You and your family were clearly ahead of your time and there can be no dispute that the child birth was messy and the mother and child nearly died ...but as you say therein lies the surprise they survived and are resilient if not coherent or egalitarian. Must talk about that soon.
    Thanks for taking the time to read,Love m

  9. clearly M, we hang out in different circles! jim would LOVE your access!!

    xoxo t

  10. Called having a diplomat husband. Always thought it was a bit of a curse but it has its marginal rewards Love m


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