Sunday, November 25, 2007

A king among kings

Now that we are on the subject of heroes, there is one who has fascinated me for a long time and that one happens to be none other than Salahudin Ayyubi (also known as Saladin), a man of Kurdish origins who rose to prominence during the 12th century A.D.

Although he only lived to be 53 years old, (some sources state 55) he managed incredible military achievements in his brief life time

Salahudin is famous for uniting the Muslims and capturing Jerusalem from the crusaders. His military accomplishments are undoubtedly great but that is not the reason behind my keen admiration for the man.

Salahudin was a gallant Warrior, clever General and mighty King all in one, but than, history is full of extraordinary feats of all three kinds. What makes salahudin special was the unique code of honour he lived by and the innumerable acts of courtesy he displayed throughout his lifetime.

When dealing with enemy on a battle field it is often convenient to ignore or simply choose not to remember rules of civility, yet salahudin maintained a decency of character even in the frenzy of war. Whether it was sending his personal physicians to treat the ailing king Richard or offering horses from his own stables when the King’s steed died.

I have always believed that no one can be completely evil and no one a saint. We are all human and humans can never be perfect. Looking at things from an impartial view, even I have to accept the fact that salahudin, like every one else must have had his shortcomings. So it all comes down to balancing the good in a person against the evil in him. It is often not the action itself rather the consequences of actions that determine good form evil .salahudin’s antics may have been unconventional but they served a higher purpose and delivered a strong message. Principles and Ethical values can not be compromised simply because the world is falling apart around you. In salahudin’s case, I think there can be no doubt as to which side out weighed the other.

I would also like to quote here something I once read in National Geographic Magazine. It was in fact a remark by a reader. He stated (as much as I can remember) that
“We must learn not to judge ancient morality and codes of conduct by looking at them through 21st century eyepieces” Who knows a perfect gentle man today may be viewed as uncivil and his perfectly acceptable actions declared as intolerable in times to come.

That is why I admire salahudin. His goodness transcended the boundaries of time. In an era when barbarianism and butchery were the accepted norms, salahudin behaved with such dignity that even we, the 21st century dwellers, can not but help admire.

Friday, November 9, 2007

And the sword broke

A couple of days ago some one advised me that if I wanted my blog to be read by more people I should write about something interesting like Hollywood Stars.
I was initially offended by the advice. After my initial indignation with the suggestion wore off, I realized that my adviser was correct
Correct in analyzing that people have become obsessed with celebrities and get attracted to sites that provide news about them or discuss them
But this does’nt means that I am going to do the same. I would still rather write about something that pleases me more than anyone else.
Incidentally, I wrote something on Shelfari while creating my Urdu books group a few days ago. I thought I would copy some of it here as well.
So here it is
I realized a while ago that all our heroes and cult figures happen to be Westerners and not from our part of the world. Not that I have anything against admiring non Eastern personalities who deserve to be admired. My only concern is that most of these personalities happen to be celluloid Hollywood figures. We need real life inspirations, preferably from our own history to motivate us.
To accomplish this I went out and bought two Naseem Hijazi novels namely “ Moazzam Ali” and “Aur Talwaar Toot Gai”.
Moazam Ali is sequel to Aur Talwaar Toot Gai. One features Siraj Ud Daula and battle of Plassey 1757, the other Sultan Fateh Ali Tipu and the battle of Sirangapatam 1799.
I was quite impressed with Sultan Tipu’s courage and brilliance as both a ruler and as a military leader. The fact that he did not escape like most kings but chose to die along side his soldiers at the time of impending defeat tells us a lot about his personality.
He was the one who stated,
“ It is far better to live like a tiger for a day than to live like a jackal for a hundred years”.
He died proving it, his broken sword still held firmly in his lifeless hand, hence the book title Aur Talwar Toot Gai (And the Sword Broke) .
He truly was the tiger of Mysore.
So I have found at least one hero I was looking for.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Rat Invasion

We have been invaded.
No, not by aliens, by a rat
At least that is what we think it is, judging from the high speed object that squeezes though impossible crevices and non existent holes right before our very eyes.
It was most recently seen in a place that I would rather not have it seen in at all and by the last person in the world that I would want it to be seen by.
It was my son who spotted it. He went in to get a glass of water from the kitchen when he saw the little scoundrel dancing around the place.
If having a rat in the house was not nerve wrecking enough, my darling child is adding to the panic. He has simply refused to eat anything coming out of the kitchen (believe or not he has gone without food for the 24 hours) not even drinking the water which was safely placed inside the refrigerator all the time. He has been buying mineral water bottles from the market to quench his thirst and has literally been carrying them around every where he goes (If the rat wants to touch his precious bottles it is going to have to perform a vertical acrobatic feat, four feet straight up). On top of it all, he insists that we throw away all the crockery and start using paper plates and cups which can be disposed off after use. The fact that every single object in the kitchen is being regularly washed and scrubbed since the sighting is simply not good enough for him.
Only yesterday morning, when I asked him what he wanted for his school lunch, he retorted with a crisp “nothing”, informing me that he would buy himself something from the school canteen.
So much for my “home cooked meals are healthier and more hygienic then those found outside the house doctrine”
My young man is obviously beginning to form a difference in opinion.
The rat in question is turning out to be even more obstinate then my offspring, refusing to be caught in the mouse trap we lay out for it at night.
Ok, so it may be just a rat but that does not mean that it is stupid.
After centuries of having its ancestors caught by that primitive contraption, it has apparently learned to avoid the apparatus (either that or the vermin has simply developed a finer taste in cuisine to be tempted by the simple piece of bread we set as bait for him). What ever the reason, bottom line is, the empty mouse trap sits on the floor in the morning exactly where it was placed the night before, untouched, unmoved and sans rat

But we are not giving up either. Hopefully by the time I update my blog, we would have caught the cursed rat and convinced my infuriating brat that the house is once more pure and clean.
Wish me luck.

p.s: we caught the rat this morning.
The conventional mouse trap and the mundane piece of bread have proved once again that they may be old fashioned and un-appetizing to look at, but their mouse catching capabilities are not to be underestimated.