Following tension on LOC India and Pakistan have decided not to exchange sweets on the respective Independence days of the two countries this year. Earlier on Eid the traditional practice was not followed either for the same reasons.
With every passing year, the number of Eid greetings I receive from non-Muslims has been on the rise. It is gratifying that in India, Eid is gradually donning the garb of a festival not limited to Muslims alone. I wouldnt expect it to get completely secularised though (as with Christmas) because Islamic festivals, unlike their Hindu counterparts, are more about contemplation and less about celebration. That said, India observes as many as five significant Islamic holidays in a year. (Im uncertain if Pakistan observes as many or any Indian holidays.)
The fact is that despite political differences between India and Pakistan, countless Hindus participate in the joy of Eid. Thats why its unfortunate but not entirely surprising that this year, yet again, the Indian and Pakistani guards at Wagah did not exchange the customary greetings and sweets. No specific reason was cited but it doesnt take more than two grey cells to decipher it: escalating hostility. For long, both sides have been accusing each other of ceasefire violations, which have claimed casualties galore. I dont suppose you can exchange sweets and bullets at the same time, which is why even the theatrics by the guards at Wagah are supremely farcical. That heavy-footed stomping inherited from the British Raj continues till date and has reduced to a circus act for enjoyment by tourists and locals. It needs to stop.
India has time and again accused Pakistan of being a potent breeding ground for terrorists. Recent attacks have been traced back to the neighbour. There is enough out there for the world to see the extremist forces active in Pakistan. Meanwhile the latter proclaims that RAW has been using every trick in the book to destabilise its peace and that Narendra Modi is keen to bury Indias secularism and convert it into a pure Hindu state, both ideologically and culturally. Heres one debate which is not going to get resolved in this lifetime. The upside is, that whatever the conditions may be, that doesnt stop my Muslim friends from sending me delectable saviyaan and sheer khorma on Eid.
What a TVC
If you havent seen the latest Eid television commercial (TVC) of Shan Masala, search for it online. I saw it before it hit the airwaves in Pakistan and if theres any TVC in recent times that has brought a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye, here it is. Two Muslim brothers are away in Portugal. One of them, especially, misses their ammi in Pakistan on Eid. Yeh bhi koi Eid hui bhai? he asks, teary-eyed. The older brother quietly goes out to shop for ingredients to whip up a fancy Eid meal for his bhai, with the help of recipes from ammi over the phone. The younger bhaibreaks down on seeing his ammi on Skype, waiting to wish him and see him relish the banquet of food cooked by her, virtually.
Directed by Mumbai lad Amit Sharma, the genius behind the cracker India-Pakistan Google ad, this has got to be the most heart-touching TVC Ive seen in a long, long time. Im not surprised that it went viral on social media and got lapped up by thousands of emotionally overwhelmed Muslims living away from their folks. Several Pakistani brands are increasingly paying a premium to enlist the services of A-list Indian directors to create TVCs that are technically adept, emotionally layered and effectively enacted. Watch it. I promise you an unforgettable meal.
Shoaib Malik and Sania Mirza have lost their Dubsmash virginity. The power couple show us their moves to a Bollywood chartbuster in a video thats gone viral across social media. Wish more sportspersons would follow suit and let their hair down!
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