A package arrived from Lahore via TCS on my birthday. Sent by Maleeha Azeem. It was longish and fat … and I thought the girl must be really mad to send me Sugar-Free Laddoos, Barfees, & Gulab Jamuns from Nirala (and I thought again, for the hundredth time, "Why the fuck have they closed their shop in Karachi?
I hurried to open it and put the contents into the fridge … and, lo and behold, there were two gifts inside. Worth a lot more than the Sugar-Free stuff.
There was a box of 100 Comic Magazine Covers and a book: "Jerusalem" by Guy Delisle. The cards were a thrill to view quickly and be put aside to view again at leisure. But Delisle! I had to start reading it right away.
The first page had this, of course.
I had liked this French-Canadian cartoonist when I read his "Burma Chronicles", mainly because it went back to a land that I had visited three times in my early shipping days. It has changed an awful lot, since then, though the people still seem to be as aggravated as ever if they are in uniform
I remembered how, in 1959, I had put my pass down at the main desk to go out, once. A very, very drunken guardsman had pulled out a cocked gun and pointed it a couple of inches from my head because he felt that the paper made a noise while he was sleeping
. He was shaking wildly and said my body can be taken back to the ship when he was through, swearing in Burmese.
Trembling, Stanley Fernandes (a Second Engineer who was with me) and I pleaded with him and apologised as profusely as one does when facing death. Fifteen minutes of standing there, with a gun at your head is a terrible experience, let me tell you. Finally the guard agreed, took all the money we had, and let us go out.
Photo by Luigi Novi
Guy Delisle draws simple things wonderfully well!
Take a look at this mess/mass of wires …
… that reminded me of Karachi,
as did the sketch of a plug point inside the house.
So does this:
It reminds you of how close to our home Burma is! (It's called Myanmar, now, by many countries except US and a couple of others who do not recognize it's Government and insist on calling it Burma.)
The trip to Burma with his wife who works at Doctors Without Frontiers shows you their life for a few months in that country, introducing you to its people, their customs, their religion, the repression that takes place there, and much more that could remind you of our own
So getting to read Jerusalem was essential! Once again, I thought how amazing these people are. Away from us, they think very much the same way as we do, give or take a few points.
I am not sure if we can find Mullas who would be anything like the anti-Zionist Jews, apart from the 'seven kids', their 'fashions', and the 'variations' among their personal beliefs that make everyone else a kaafir.
The Arabs, naturally, are even more like us.
Which is why we like them? Don't we?
The buses and the clothes. Wow.
The books takes us into their places that are strictly Jewish, strictly Arab, and includes the mistreatment of the Arabs by the Israelis (which is plenty!), and offers you a run down of the city that is (was?) a home to Jews, Christians, and Muslims.
The book also suggests, as most Muslims do, that the Second Mosque is in Jerusalem. There was no mosque at the Meraaj (Isra' in the Qur'an) of The Prophet at Jerusalem, of course. It was built much later. The Second Mosque, as you may know, is never named in the Qur'an. It just states that it is the furthest mosque. Also the Qur'an says that the First and Second Mosques will have Peace … something that this Mosque has never really had. The First Mosque is the Kaaba and the Second Mosque is the Masjid Al Nabvi — both known for Peace!!! This statement is now accepted by a few scholars. You can go to Google or YouTube and find a video from Mohammad Sheikh about this.
The priests there, too, have a sacrifice of animals, and seem to love blood! No wonder there's so much killing of humans in both parts because this must allow them to get over the feelings I and many others have about killing.
When I was 10 years old a Mulla came to do the sacrifice at our downstair neighbour's house. He gathered all the children and said that the way to do this is to look straight at the animals eyes … "and that will help you kill kaafirs in a Jihad without fearing." I wonder how many kids are taught this at Madressahs.
The Jerusalem book was superb and I learnt a lot more about the Jews despite having read many of their writings. My paternal side of the family that came from Turkey used to be Jews three generations before they migrated to India with Babar, who brought Kazi Kidvah with him to be the head of his court. I was most amused to find out about the Messianic Jews. (Read the book and you'd be surprised, too.)
Now I am waiting to read "Pyongyang" - a slightly older book by Guy Delisle - and learn more about Korea.