Tuesday, October 24, 2006
EID MUBARAK from NEW DELHI
I have just returned from a week long tour of the state of Gujarat where I found my great grandfather's house intact. My entry into Gujarat came via Ahmedabad where I visited Gandhi's ashram on the banks of the Sabermati river. I expected to be moved at the ashram and I was. Gandhi was a man of vision. His search for truth is remarkable though I must admit that even after the visit I still feel that "truth" is not what matters most in life. Truth after all is a construction that is intersected by memories and perceptions to name but a few. No one truth can stand in my thinking. To some extent Gandhi may have believed this too, for he writes that he has not found "the truth" in its entirety. I don't think any of us ever will.
The important part of my journey was finding Alipore. It took some doing and a few dodgy bus journeys but I arrived in Alipore (south of Surat and close to the Parsi center called Navsari) eager to find my great grandfather's house. The rickshaw driver dropped me off in a section of Alipore known as Lahermolla. A man directed me to the house I was looking for and just like that I had arrived at the place I came from more than 200 hundred years ago.
The house is in amazingly good condition. Mr Ebrahim Patel and his extended family now occupy the house. Mr Patel still refers to the house as "your family's house." Mr Patel and his son, Mustapha, also work land that belongs to my family. There is quite a bit of land and only time will reveal the drama that must come. I will post the pictures here in the coming days before leaving for Nepal.
So, I am sitting in my office at JNU with not much to do. I was supposed to deliver my second address to the University today. That is part of my duties as the Nelson Mandela Chair and Professor of African Studies. I just found out that my lecture was cancelled, again. I am annoyed but need to move on and just make like I understand how things work at JNU and India in general.
Anyway, the news on TV says that the Imams in India have mostly agreed that today (Tuesday, October 24, 2007) is EID. Some disagree and will celebrate EID tomorrow. My folks in Kimberley are celebrating EID today. May all be blessed this day that marks the end of the holy month of Ramadaan and also the end of Diwali and the beginning of the Hindu new year. Peace to all.