Monday, January 25, 2010
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Years ago while helping my younger brother with his English assignment, I stumbled upon a story by Eric Arthur Blair, popularly known as George Orwell. After learning that the interesting fable was part of a larger piece of work, I read Animal Farm, and became a lifetime devotee of Orwell. I loved his allegorical depiction of Russia under Stalin, a perfect example of a great revolution going wrong. Surprisingly, he was born in Motihari, my home district town, approximately 170 Kms north of Patna, the capital of the Indian state of Bihar.
Motihari is a typical small north Indian town, relatively poor and devoid of basic infrastructure if compared to similar towns of more developed states like Punjab or Haryana but vibrant nonetheless. For a westerner or a visitor from metros like Delhi or Mumbai, it is a chaotic, mud-infested town, but for local people, including me, it is a city full of life and raw energy. In the evening just stroll along the Gandhi Chowk or travel towards Meena Bazar and you will find the road bursting to the seams with people. Shops are thronged. People would queue up outside the famous Jamuna Hotel to partake Tash-Chewra, the deep fried mutton and flattened rice. The town is also significant from historical and cultural points of view. Besides being Orwell's birthplace, it is also associated with Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhiji's first experiment of Satyagrah, a philosophy and practice of non-violent resistance, in India was at Motihari, and is known as Champaran Satyagrah. Interestingly, Orwell was also an admirer of Gandhi. The world's tallest Stupa of Buddhism is in Kesaria, 40 Kms from Motihari..............