Posted in Socio-Cultural

Malaysia Open House.

Not everything is fine everywhere every time. We can only roughly speak of the average expected scene. Standard deviations characterize every homogenous sample. Statistics is all about this small but strategic variance.

Our time in Malaysia saw us celebrating Diwali in this south east Asian nation: 1997-2001. Exactly two decades before.

Malaysia is a potpourri of cultures. So much diplomacy is involved in maintaining the delicate balance naturally. Three mutually exclusive ethnic groups with nothing in common except for humanity. How do you keep going

There are injustices inherent in the fabric of any society and Malaysia is no exception, but that is made up for with the industriousness of the population. Malaysian citizens make conscious efforts to overcome the differences in the interests of their nation.

Malays, the bhumiputras (going by ironically the sanskrit name) are the sons of the soil who have reservation in universities to government positions. They are licensees for businesses without whose shareholding stake, you cannot run a profitable venture. You can of course keep your malay partner dormant opting to merely transferring a ‘cut’ which is kind of regular practice there. This is how things operate in this country. Indians and Chinese were brought to this tropical nation to work the rubber plantations and palm and tea estates, by the British.

In 1969, Malaysia saw civil war and blood ran like a river in KL, they say. With that our friends told us that they swore never to repeat the bloody saga again. For the motherland’s sake the malaysians decided to go for peace and harmony.

Malaysians interwove new national customs and traditions into their social calendar rug to keep themselves warm and snug in friendship and cordiality. One such invented local and original custom was hosting ‘Open house.’ Not limited to a particular community, all the three ethnic groups of Malaysia viz., Malays, Chinese and Indians would have open house for their major community festival. It meant, the Malays threw open their houses to the public for Eid (called Hari Raya in Malay), chinese for the Chinese new year and the Indians for Deepavali. An open house meant, any stranger could walk in to the host’s place and he/she would be toasted to a feast. Malaysians would have a lavish spread of their native cuisines as also continental to suit every palette. Mostly the open houses began as brunch and extended well into late evenings. In kumpungs or hamlets, the crowd turning out wouldn’t be excessive. You could expect a number. In cities it was always a challenge for the hosts. The chinese and malay open houses were popular for their meat and seafood fare. The Indian homes were famous for namkeens and mithais, our traditional laddoos, jelebis, murukkus etc., apart from the curry masala.

In 1998, we were invited to one such a Diwali open house by an affluent chettiar family in KL. Their extended family were in Bangsar, Wangsa Maju and Klang. As I could not still bring myself to host big parties, I was exempted from having an open house in our place. But the three families did give me a date and once came home together to my utter daze! That was the first time I had to cook for over twenty guests at a time single handedly! Anyway, our chettiar friends’ open house used to be very popular. Queues would form in front of their gates in those days and aunty and uncle would routinely send boys and girls to fetch more groceries and provisions to keep the kitchen fires burning as the crowds would show no signs of relenting! It is only in last five years or so, we have lost touch with these good friends.

Open houses had malays and chinese eating at Indian homes for Diwali, malays and indians eating at the chinese for chinese new year and indians and chinese eating at malays’ for Hari raya (Eid). That somehow always moved me. It was one time the malaysians put aside their differences and got together as one family. That kind of bonhomie, even if forced, was practised with good intentions. It got put paid with years. Despite increasing differences and widening gulf, open houses united malaysians three times an year beyond all doubts and uncertainties.

Never did I see a single fire cracker light up the malaysian skies – their economy was better than ours way back. I am not sure about current scene. Diwalis in Malaysia are more memorable to me for totally different reasons. Malaysian Indian (Tamil) women are very efficient. They would cook up a feast in no time. For Diwali they would start a week earlier and do dozen tins of murukkus and tins of cookies and pastries. The last would be the Indian sweets and other savouries. Diwali day would see cooking grand festival specials. Hospitality thy other name is Malaysia. If you are a non vegetarian, then the sky could be your limit! As a vegetarian I had a tough time in Malaysia, I agree, but Indian homes and restaurants had vegetarian cuisine keeping in mind our veggie sensitivities. Food dissolves many a wall of separation. Food mellows men.

There is also the culture of street food for supper in Malaysia. It is usually by 6 to 8 pm in the evenings -a good time for working staff to together and relax and relieve tensions. This is one time and one place where you can see the dignity of labour preserved: there is no class or community divide in the hour after work, a big takeaway for all of us from all ranks of life.

The Malaysia of 2021 is not the same as the one we left in 2001 say friends. My heart feels heavy hearing this. I hope the open house custom continues to flourish in their green plateaus. Malaysia was the envy of many world nations for preserving communal harmony in those days. Let not that magic go wrong.

In Terengganu my Malay muslim friend (woman) drove me once to a Hindu temple. She did not sit in the car. She came in with me and had a darshan of the deity! Every time she drove to her kumpong near Penang, she would come back with ‘kuihs’ – the steamed sweet dumplings for vegetarian me. So would my hubby’s chinese colleagues who also remembered me when they came across something vegetarian. I received tins and tins of cookies and pastries for chinese new year and hari raya.

The malays were muslims, the indians mostly hindus and the chinese mostly christian. Three totally different ethnic factions with equally different belief systems fused into single entity called Malaysia. Race and tongue hardly mattered in this hearty union. Malays and chinese pierced ‘vel’ in their tongues and body for the Hindu god Muruga in Batu Caves carrying ‘kavadi.’ Diwali and Thai Poosam are national holidays in this islamic nation. Tamil is one of the national languages and also one of the three mediums of instructions. Malay friends used to tell us they were extremely proud of their Hindu ancestry. They do retain many Hindu customs even now. For instance they light the diyas like us hindus for Eid! They have not completely got ridden of their Hindu roots and unlike our Indian muslims, have no problem admitting to their Hindu heritage.

The spirit of festivals lies in sharing and caring, not keeping everything to ourselves. There can be no fun in hurting nature. I have done that in the past. I wouldn’t want to repeat it now. It is ok to revise our stands with age.

Very much critical of the conversion mafia, I spare no words when it comes to condemning terror either. Love for your motherland is love for nature and wildlife, to me.

Visiting places as tourist or guest is different. Living in various and contrasting places is an experience. This gives one a chance to learn and unlearn and relearn things in life. We become aware of our own merits and shortcomings. We also discover others’ pluses and minuses. We discover there is peace and harmony in unity. The universal goodness finally finds a place in your heart. Nothing can stop me from imbibing the best from other cultures. I have tambram friends here whose kids fast for ramzan on their parents’ advice. To that extent we grow spiritually and emotionally when we live in hostile territory (by hostile i mean here a third country than ours). When in comfort zone, we have no reason to consider uncomfortable reality. We forget that millions and millions of Hindus are gainfully employed in middle east. Ask any Indian citizen including orthodox Hindu, he/she will vouch for the safety and security we have come to appreciate in our second home in this part of the world.

This Diwali let us light up our hearts with broadmindedness. I don’t have to feel the same way I felt five years back or even five days back. I can reevaluate my options and review the past. I can make changes. I don’t erase past records because, they are a proof of how I mature into an individual. Self contradiction is natural. My blog is a reflection of my changing moods and revised thoughts.

Posted in Political

India’s Past-Present Relationship With Turkey & Malaysia

Late Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee became the first Indian prime minister in a long time to officially visit Afghanistan in his tenure. We Indians have a mental block against islamic nations. Against Afghanistan, this is even more pronounced because India’s worst invaders Mohammed of Ghori and also of Ghazni descended from here. So also the Moguls.

1018: Mahmud Ghazni’s invasion of Mathura

Indian history text books scripted by the previous Congress governments lavish praise on Ghori and Ghazni for repeatedly attacking the Hindu India and razing our temples, looting them and massacring native Hindus. Most of us therefore grew up in this confused state of mind: should we thank the islamists for their barbaric treatment of our ancestors and culture? for the Hindu genocide they committed? for desecrating our ancient temples and destroying our universities? Were the Turkish-Persian-Mongol-Afghans the celebrated heroes of India, and were we the Hindus victims or the cowardly vanquished? It comes as a relief that the present BJP government is for restoring the lost or severely damaged Hindu pride and glory by underscoring essential facts.

During his visit to Afghanistan, Atal ji reportedly asked for a tour of Ghazni. After all, every Hindu grows up with imprinted images of Somnath temple as well as others in our mind that were done to dust by the Afghans. India was the richest nation on earth in those times. The Ghori-Ghazni of Afghanistan led over a dozen war missions to establish a caliphate in India, that went in futile until they succeeded in their last attempt when it came to defeating the Hindu king. It is never recorded in Indian history text books that the Hindu kings pardoned the bloodthirsty islamic invaders everytime they failed and were thrown back defeated. When their last battalion succeeded, the Hindu king ended up getting butchered mercilessly, with his kingdom ransacked by the marauders. This is how Islam made its way into India.

It seems, in Afghanistan, none grew up singing the praises of Ghori or Ghazni. Or hearing bed time stories on the two. None knew of them as we Hindus remembered them centuries after until today. None celebrated both the Mohammads. Whatever was looted from India was long since gone. Consumed. Digested. Or passed over to the Turkish Sultanate. Atal ji was shown very poor impoverished village with no trace of civilization that happened to be Ghazni that was bombed out both by the Soviets and the Taliban. Heroes back in India (!), the invaders were apparently nobody back home. Strange are the ways of history. Today’s Afghanistan is a far cry from what they were originally. Even then over millennia before, these nomadic and/or desert cults thrived on stolen and ill-gotten wealth. It is curious that their holy book had nothing to say on that. The already cultured and civilized Hindu India was no match to these barbarians from another world.

It goes on to show, past is relevant but we live in the present. It is the present that is of more significance.

I was recently touring Turkey. Traditionally an adversary to India. Turkey shares the history of Indian invasion via Ghazni who had his roots in Turkey. India cannot get over with most of her historic invaders –  mostly islamic nations. India has made peace with Britain. India has maintained healthy ties with Arab nations. But the ties with Arab nations are mostly for mutual benefits of trade and politics as it befits this 21st century. There is no love lost for islamic nations otherwise, as far as India is concerned.

Turkey is not in India’s good books for the reason, it is a natural and traditional ally to Pakistan, our adversary even if we are to leave our painful past behind. Very recently Turkey and China voted against India in the UN, on Removal of Article 370 on Jammu & Kashmir by the Indian State (the only two out of fifteen but that came as no surprise). One more nation Malaysia voiced anti-statements on India over the same.

So how did India deal with these adversaries.

Palm oil contract to Malaysia was annulled summarily. India is a major and bulk buyer of Malaysian Palm oil. The order was routed to Indonesia, its rival. Malaysia responded with downing palm oil prices. The competitive pricing is to the benefit of Indian importers who may go in for Malaysian palm oil now at discounted rates. However, future imports are still a big question. PM Mahathir Mohammad of Malaysia is learning a hard lesson on international politics. In today’s world politics, friendship translates to trade benefits and economy. Nothing comes free. For the man who illegally sent his political enemy Anwar Ibrahim behind bars for a number of years on false trumped up charges of sodomy, a criminal offence as per Islam (Malaysia’s state religion) (I resided in Malaysia when this happened), India taught an unforgettable lesson. More to come.

https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2019/10/533638/malaysia-scrambling-manage-india-palm-oil-boycott-call

https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/foreign-trade/indian-edible-oil-industry-has-issued-advisory-to-avoid-import-of-palm-oil-from-malaysia/articleshow/71688826.cms

https://www.indiatoday.in/business/story/india-palm-oil-buy-malaysia-kuala-lumpur-discounts-indonesia-1618975-2019-11-14

Turkey was shortlisted for a naval contract worth 2.3 billion US$ which was immediately cancelled by Indian govt after Turkey voted against India in the UN.

https://www.khaleejtimes.com/international/india/after-erdogans-kashmir-comments-modi-cancels-turkey-visit

Turkey To Lose A Whopping $2.3 Billion Deal From India After Erdogan Rants Over Kashmir

China: India deals at various levels with China.

https://www.business-standard.com/article/companies/reliance-jio-bharti-airtel-shun-chinese-companies-for-5g-trials-119091301516_1.html

So my Turkey holiday proved to be a complete surprise to me. We booked the tour before the Kashmir voting in the UN. Otherwise, we would have foregone Turkey.

Pakistanis call Turkey their second home, so I was a bit apprehensive. The only uncomfortable factor for me came from the Pakistani tourists flooding Turkey, the one place on earth where they manage to get a visa.

Otherwise, despite our hostile relationship , Turkey is a popular destination for Indian tourists.

Most importantly, I was greeted everywhere in the Eurasian nation with a ‘namaste’ – which means they reckoned at first sight where I came from.

I expected worst from Ergodan’s Turkey. What I encountered was a total converse scene. Most Turks I spoke to confessed that they were muslim by religion, but European by values and culture. None of them sounded religious or fanatical as most of us in India presume. Almost all of them were not happy with Ergodan. They feared further islamization of their country and were worried for their future.

As the world is aware, Turkey has been keen on joining European Union not without a reason. Turks are the last you can call ‘muslims.’ They are the most liberal, most westernized and it is amazing that we have such a misconception about Turkey in India as well as in the west.

The Turks mince no words when it comes to clarifying that Islam is only their religious identity that came with their birth. But there is a lot, lot to them over that. They seem to want to identify more with their European profile over Arab-Islamic.

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of modern Turkey, sought to return the basilicas from the Christian Byzantine era taken over by the islamic Ottoman to their original owners: the Turkish christians. The Hagia Sofia at the heart of Istanbul is a standing tribute to the remarkable feat. The original and underlying Catholic engravings and artwork have been painstakingly uncovered and restored by the Turkish and American archaeologists although the structure now serves as a museum.

My mind automatically shifted to Babri Masjid and Ram Janam Bhoomi and various other islamic structures, all raised by the brutal islamic invaders on razed and desecrated ancient Hindu temples in India. I don’t think Ataturk got assassinated for unveiling the islamic takeover of the christian monuments. However such a move might unleash a flurry of anti-national sentiments both from media and opposition in India. How many terror attacks did we have to suffer for reclaiming the birth place of our Lord Ram desecrated by the bisexual Babur, even as Indian government was doling out funds to our bhais for their pilgrimage to Mecca. Who footed the bill. Mostly Hindu taxpayers.

The wisest and brilliant political maneuvre ever by Ataturk was, switching from Arabic script to Roman script for the Turkish language. With that single masterstroke, Ataturk seemingly cut off a major umbilical cord connection of Turkey with the Arab world. Today, Turkey shares nothing with Arabian world except Islam. Even otherwise, Turkish language adopted Arabic script in the past but was a full fledged language by itself. The change to Roman script signaled the de-communalization of the newly born Republic of Turkey.

Whoever I interacted with in the streets of the Mediterranean city (local muslims) categorically denied favouring Ergodan’s stand on islamization of Turkey. Ergodan won the last elections by a very slim margin. I guess, we need not have to fear as much of Turkey turning out to be the next caliphate over UK. UK could turn out to be Europe’s first caliphate – provided oil lasts for another 40-50 years in Middle East. The spread and hold of islam largely rests on the oil wells of Middle East in my humble opinion.

I also found the turks very friendly and businesslike. Obviously they have moved on. There was no overt pride in the Blue Mosque or at the Sultan’s palaces and wealth. Everything is mentioned as matter-of-factly, keeping in mind the present has nothing to do with the past and that the past is NOT sustaining the present whatsoever. Which is why the present Turkey is both historic and contemporary. A fine and delightful blend. I liked their highways (no patchwork) (as good as any european nation), alleys, bazars, highrises, architecture everything. A very organized country with everything streamlined to near perfect.  Way too cosmopolitan and extremely professional in all walks of life. This kind of discipline I would attribute to their progress. These parameters determine how well we do really as a nation. Five days and one stop may not be the measuring yardstick, but that gives me a great insight into what is Turkey about. I have an aversion to Ottoman that comes with my Hindu bearings, otherwise I would have liked Turkey even better. I have read of the Ottaman brutality and barbarity that I could not banish from my mind. When I looked at the Sultans’ magnificent throne and wealth, it immediately dawned on me that nothing in there was earned – but every single treasure was stolen. Ill-gotten. Acquired by wrong means. Blood-tainted.

It is very important not to get stuck in the past. Turkish shop owners and restauranteers took one look at me and got me my vegetarian food, playing Bollywood music in the background.

In a minibus full of tourists we were two lone Indians (me and hubby). Most were Pakistani and a couple of them Arab and European/American. The Turks paid no attention to Pakis even if they were supposedly friendly nations. India means business. Probably the Turks know this from experience. Straightaway they zeroed in on us greeting us with ‘namaste.’ Many of them referred to India as ‘Hindustan.’ I was surprised when a turk told me, ‘even if you do not believe in islam, please cover your head in the mosque as the decorum requires.’ I did. Rules are rules. I covered my head for a few minutes not because of respect for their faith but because I believe in obeying rules. I liked the fact that he understood and accepted that i need not have to have respect or love for their faith. This kind of maturity is rare and especially rare in an islamic majority country.

Ever since my Turkey tour, this is what weighs in my mind. Where is the so-called enmity with Turkey. Even if Turkey is infested with Pakis, we Indians command a good and better respect there as I saw with my own eyes. We win the attention without having to work hard about it. Ergodans will come and go. They are not important. Indian government should work to improve ties with Turkey. India has managed to wedge a deep cleft  in relations between the Arab block and Pakistan. We can do the same with Turkey. World economy is going through a bad phase. India can capitalize on that.

As for Turkey, I wondered what made them favour Pakistan over India. In my  opinion, whether it is Saudi or Turkey, these nations need a manfriday who can be at their beck and call should there arise an unholy occasion for unlimited cheap and expendable manpower at the battle field or to work as menial labour for a pittance. Pakistan loyalty to Turkey and Saudi Arabia and even China is unquestioning. Pakistan is subservient to these three nations, that are like a master to Pakistan. Pakistan is their lowly servant. India is not. India will never be. All these three nations have critical political issues that can threaten their peace anytime. Even their very security and existence. Pakistan will be required to step in at least in the case of Turkey and Saudi to fight their wars. Turkey has thus ‘cultivated’ Pakistan like a coached parrot.

India need not have to be concerned about the Pakistan angle of Turkey. Chinese Premier Xi opted to visit Chennai in India and relax not Pakistan. Of course he was an unwelcome guest imposed on us! We are equals – India and China. India is not indebted to China. Whether Turkey or Saudi or China. they hold India in respect. In fact, I had friends sulking what our PM Modi sold out to China at Mahabalipuram. We do not feel easy about India-China ties. As feared, many duties levied by India on Chinese imports have been lifted. India is watching Modiji !

https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/foreign-trade/india-may-cut-duties-on-80-of-chinese-imports-under-rcep/articleshow/71344526.cms?from=mdr

I wonder whether an average Turk is aware of Turkey voting in UN against India and in favour of Pakistan. Looking at the animosity they have for Ergodan, I don’t think the Turkish public may support their government’s political agenda. Or as it is for them, politics and religion do not mix, which is good.

Turkey in the past has no doubt groomed warmongers and rogues like Pervez Musharraf but he is an old and useless hag now. Each dawn is a new day bringing us fresh hope. Nothing is unchangeable.

Interesting to note that Turkey is stopping issuance of year long or half year long resident or tourist visas, opting for month long visit/tour visas from near future, that can have direct impact on Pakis moving to Turkey for residence. I gathered that it was to prevent ‘misuse’ by ‘certain nations.’ No prizes for guessing who.

India can deal with Turkey diplomatically and try to change or redefine our existing equations. Past is best confined to the past. India has to masterplan and nudge Pakistan out of Turkey’s ambit and/or vice versa. It is not really an issue, but if it has to be done, let us work in the direction.

India has successfully isolated Pakistan around the world. Only one or two more stumbling blocks in our way. We can do it. I am sure, the cancellation of naval contracts for Turkey may be sounding alarm bells in their capital already.

As for Malaysia, an average Malaysian loves and respects India. Mahathir Mohammad has this against India because his grandfather is Indian by origin. So he feels this constant urge to prove to the Malays that he is not India-favouring. He supposedly did all his astrological consultations in Kerala until at least the turn of the millennium.  The poll dates in Malaysia reportedly used to be fixed in Kerala! His alleged India visits were kept a secret. Of course that was in the past. Mahathir Mohammad is over 90 now, senile and unfit to govern. India should not take him seriously at all. The stories we hear from Malaysia are very troubling. I love Malaysia because I have lived there for four years. I knew even then, I was witnessing the start of the decay of the Asian tiger. The greed of the Malays had started driving the nation to dogs.

If Malaysia has had to bring Mahathir Mohammad back from retirement after decades, it goes on to show how much the once charming south east Asian nation has deteriorated socially, politically and economically in present times. It means, Malaysia has failed to produce a single competent leader. Malaysia is falling apart. It breaks my heart to learn of the current Malaysia ruination from our friends there.

Whether it is Malaysia or Turkey, what I opine is that (whether anyone is listening or not 😀 ), the public are not with their leadership. The masses do not reflect their government’s stand. Their leaders have taken a decision on India without the consent of their citizens that can have repercussions on their economy that they are not comfortable with. Their relationship with India can be strained because of these thoughtless leaders. Leadership defines a nation. With Modi, I find that India has won a huge respect and following in the global stage. India has to weigh in these factors when it comes to dealing with both these nations.

Turkey comes across as a neutral nation mostly. Not at all anti-american or anti-Indian. In fact pro-western, pro-European. Amazing and eye-opener at least for me. Same for Malaysia. As for Malaysia, I don’t have to rely on a third party evidence. I just know Malaysia as well as i know my own India.

I am not a politician or diplomat or anything – just a humble housewife. These are my views as to why India must engage Turkey and Malaysia constructively, irrespective of our past mutual relationships. Open fresh dialogues and other communication channels. Explore new avenues.

Bangladeshis have taken over Malaysia. Malay women are getting impregnated by these Bengalis and producing scores of half-castes in the streets of KL and other cities. Malaysia is filling up with this filth. Just ask anyone. I am sorry for this horrible language. These are the exact words of a Malaysian friend who is very concerned that I wanted to repeat here to reflect how serious the plague is. Most shops and restaurants in KL are now owned by these Bangladeshi migrant workers who have managed to bag a Malay woman (not a difficult job at all) or even the reverse could be true.f

Mahathir Mohammad is instead criticizing India than dealing with this shame and allowing a cancer like Zakir Naik to spread his poison in the country. For the modern Malaysia that he helped build in the 1970s , Mahathir Moahammed is digging the grave now. It is least of India’s concerns. If Malaysia decides to partner a rogue and terror nation like Pakistan, it is to their own detriment. It shows their calibre. Malaysia is by no means the self-sufficient and smart Turkey and cannot afford this misadventure. Given the (in)famous Malay IQ. There goes a joke in Malaysia as to why Mahathir Mohammad is so successful. It is because of his paternal Indian gene.

Any nation that encourages Pakistan will be considered a serious adversary by Indian government. May be with some nations like Turkey and China and Malaysia, India comes out with open condemnation. In the case of others, what is deemed fit will be up in the agenda for a future date.