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   Recently, I received a shawl from my colleagues... (March 29, 1990)

Recently, I received a shawl from my colleagues at the Mumbai Marathi Patrakar Sangh. A nice thick brown shawl and a coconut. Mr. Gadkari, of the Loksatta, also received a shawl and a coconut on the same occasion. His shawl also was brown in colour, but of a much lighter shade. I do not think there is any significance in the colour.

I call this shawl. And my big problem is that I do not know what to do with it. I hate keeping things I do not need, that maked a persona hoarder, and that is the worst thing a man can do.

If I was living in Delhi, I could have used it during the winter, wearing it around me. They wear those kind of costumes in Delhi. Or, at least, it was the done thing, it may be a little now.

I have got two other shawls, given to me on other occasions. One I got from the Syedna Burhanuddin, the high priest of the Bohri community. It was the finest shawl I have seen, not that I have seen amnyshawls. But I could feel the richiness of the texture. I guess a good shawl is one which keeps you warm without feeling warm and uncomfortable on the skin.

I had gone to the Syedna to get his version of the protests against his by some of the rebel members of the rebel members of the community of which he is the shepherd. In reporting, you have to be fair and giver all sides.

The Syedna, I must say, does not at all look like a religious fundamentalist autocrat that some people say he is. In fact, he looks gentle and saintly. And he hardly talked during the interview, except to urge to drink the elaichi flavoured coffee and the dry-fruits that were placed in front of me. Most of the talking was done by his brother, who seemed a lot more of this world and was a respected Arabic scholar. I say "was", because he died shortly after that meeting.

I call this my Muslim shawl. I presented it to a friend in England, who could make better use of it. I told her I had specially bought it for her from Kashmir.

My third shawl is what I call my Sikh shawl. Acually, it is not a shawl, it is between a shawl and a scarf, and a lovely piece of craftsmanship, no doubt. I was presented it when, with a press party, had visisted the gurwara at Nanded. The collector of Nanded had accompained us and the Sikh priests honoured us and presented us with the shawls.

On my return to Bombay, I presented it to a poor old Sikh who was working as a watchman at a bank ans with whom I was sightly acquainted.

However, my problem now is what to do with the shawl presented to me by the Mumbai Marathi Patrakar Sangh, my Hindu shwal. Perhaps, I will keep it. After all, keeping one shawl does not make you a hoarder.

 
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