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   It is said that before you see the world... (July 5, 1991)

It is said that before you see the world, you must see your own country. Which is quite true.

I have seen a lot of India, but there is more that I have not seen that I have seen. For instance, I have been to Kashmir, though only once, and that only to Srinagar, plus a day-trip to Pahalgam, but I have not been to Gulmarg and Kilenmarg, and to Occupied Kashmir, which is also a part of India and so falls within the cortex of seeing my own country.

I also feel that instead of being defensive about Kashmir, which we have been all these years, we should demand the restoration of Occuiped Kashmir and send men from our side in to get it. That would be paying the Pakistan government back in its won coin. Perhaps, the BJP would consider it when it comes into power five years hense.

But, to continue… I have been to Sikkim, where fast streams flow with silver fishes and entire mountainsides are carpeted with wild orchids and and whose mineral waters distil the finest whisky outside Scotland, but I have not been to Ladakh. And I do not think I can made it there any more; the spirit may be willing, and is silling, but my lungs will not allow it.

I have been to Punjab, watched wheat growing in green fields with red tractor, prayed at the Golden Temple. Well, not prayed, but absorbed its piety, since, if you are genuinely a praying man, you can pray to only one God - your own. But I have never been to Haryana, and the only reason I know of its existence is because of Mr. Devi Lal and family.

But I have travelled extensively in UP from Badri-Kedar to Varanasi, and Mainital to Lucknow and Kanpur, though I have never trekked across the Pindari glacier or spent, a night among Jim Corbett's maneaters.

And I have been up and down Madhya Pradesh, on the main trunk road through Indore and Dewas and Shajapur and Shivpuri and Gwalior an dthe dacoit territories of the Chambal, but I have never stepped into Bhopal or visitd those areas where the tribal dancers come from to dance at Republic Day parade.

I have been to Bihar when it was not a problem state, to Bodh Gaya and Gaya, to Patna, across the broad and majestic Ganga in small boat (because there was no bridge then and I could not afford a bigger boat) to Muzzafarput and Raxaul, and out of the country. But I have not been to Assam or any of the North-Eastern states.

And I have been to Bengal, to Calcutta and Darjeeling and Kalimpong, but not to the Sundarbans, and not to the 24 Paraganas, whatever they are. And Orissa has been a distance land to me, a state I would love to visit, but I may never visit.

I have done better with the South, though here also there are large gaps; Cochin and Trivandrum, but not backwaters in between, and Palakkad, but not the Malabar Coast. And, in Karnataka Banglore and Mysore, but not the Coorg Hills, or Madras, Kanchipuram, Tiruchirapalli, Madurai, down to Tiruchendur, but not the Blue Nilgiri hills.

And, even in Maharastra, I have been to Sholapur but not to Kolhapur, and Satara, yes, but not Karad, and Aurangabad but not Nagpur.

Perhaps, the reason why I have seen so much of the world but so little of India is: the world is so small, India is so large.

 
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