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   I do not quite know if I have seen the Cauvery... (February 8, 1991)

I do not quite know if I have seen the Cauvery. I am vague about rivers in the south of Inida; it is a gap in my knowledge that I have to fill soon. In Madras, the nearest I have seen to a river is what they call the Buckingham Canal. Dry most of the year round, and infested with mosquitoes. But in Madras there is also the Bay of Bengal, lapping on the Marina, a most wonderous slight.

And in Karnataka, there is the Krishnarajasagar, which is neither sea nor river, fish nor fowl. That is in Mysore, a maharaja's pleasure garden, fully illuminiated on Dassera days and for film shootings. In Banglore, there is a government exporium called Cauvery, the best government emporium in the country, both in name and contests.

I am also always confused between the Krishna and the Godavari. Where does one end and the other begin, or are they both entirely separate rivers? Is it the Krishna that rises in Old Mahabaleshwar, from the gau mukh, and is it the Krishna that has flooded the green valley underneath Panchgani and turned it into a dam? And, at Nasik, is it Krishna or Godavari? And those large ladoos at Tambekeshwar (I hope I have got the name right), are they blessed by Krishna or Godavari?

But I do know that in Andhra Pradesh it is the Godavari that feeds the rice-bowl of the country. I have waded in its delta through some of the worst floods, so I should remember.

With the river of the north, I am more familiar. The Jamuna that lazily meanders past the rear of the Raj in Agra. It makes a picturesque water basin, the Taj Mahal, the Agra Fort, the Jumma Masjid, the railway bridge leading out of the Agra Fort station.

What I have not understood is this Boat Club in Delhi, which is frequently referded to in newspaper reports as the venue of political rallies. In all my visits to the capital I have never come across a single river or lake or boat or club.

Further north, the five rivers of the Punjab have now, of course, been considerably reduced in number, which Sunil Dutt has pointed out as a matter of fact and which oversensitive politicians have objected ot. It we can find more film stars with Mr. Dutt's qualities, I think we should have more film stars in parliament.

And there is the Ganga, its tributaries, each a river in itself, the Alaknanda, the Bhgyarathi, the Mandakini. Jawaharlal Nehru wrote his last will and testament on the Ganges and he bequeathed it to the nation. And there are petty politicians today who are fighting over rivers.

 
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