Strange things go on at Amazon (a mere customer might not see their reason, but he can rhyme)

Strange are the goings-on at Amazon
Not the jungle river but the king of e-comm

I ordered a phone from them around midnight…

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…but they somehow moved it before eight,
Such is their foresight!

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I was happy, they promised to deliver it by 11
(for a fee, of course)
But when it didn’t arrive by noon, or 1,
I was just a little morose

I was pissed, I hammered out this tweet
They wrote back (and I thought that was sweet)

I needn’t worry, they said,
The day was long, my phone would arrive
Before I hit the bed

I stayed home all day, fingers crossed
Neither my phone rang, nor my doorbell buzzed
Outside, the sunshine beckoned
But I dozed in my cold room awhile
Made a cup of tea, the hours to beguile

Came 6, I was still pacing about my home
Half hour later, this message on my phone:

Stop! Wait! Is this a joke?
I’ve been stood up like a loser bloke

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I have been home all day
Stop lying, Amazon, for shame!
The stories you tell
Are rather lame

Your computers are rigged
All timings you can fix
Is this all, or do you play other tricks?

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Well, I cancelled our deal
After this day-long ordeal
The least you could have done
Was process my refund

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But no, you’re in no hurry
A few business days more, I needn’t worry
What shall I do with your managers’ courtesy
When I am at your algorithm’s mercy?

Your apologies mean nothing
Save them, o mighty Amazon,
Rather than wrestle with you
I’ll go run a marathon

***

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How Amazon India ruined my day (and what they could have done differently)

Last night I ordered a Moto G5S Plus phone from Amazon India (@amazon ). I wanted the Mi A1, which was available on Amazon’s rival Flipkart, but it would have arrived only by Sunday. Since I was off from work on Friday, and Amazon was offering to deliver the Moto by 11am, I opted for it even though it was a few hundred rupees costlier.

I formatted my Samsung phone before going to bed — I had opted to exchange it — and transferred the SIM to my old Nokia Lumia 520. Everything was ready from my side. The payment was made online, the old phone was ready to take away.

What happened at 11am on Friday? No Amazon. I called the courier whose number Amazon had texted me. He said he was running late and would arrive only by 2pm. He said it casually and unapologetically as though he was unaware of the 11am delivery deadline (for which I was charged Rs 150 extra).

What happened at 2pm? No Amazon again. At 4pm, I called the guy. He said he had handed my packet to someone else, who HAD DELIVERED it. Delivered where, I asked? He said I should check with folks back home. I said I had been home all day. He disconnected the call.

That’s when I tweeted this:

I also had a chat with Amazon support, and the executive assured me the package would be delivered and the premium delivery charges waived off.

BUT, at 6.30pm, Amazon sent me this message:

You what? When did you attempt to deliver my order, Amazon? I was the one trying to get it delivered all day. You just lied to your customer.

So back to my laptop I went and had another chat with the support team. “Don’t worry,” said the executive, “you’ve been sent a wrong message; we deliver till 9pm.” I wasn’t sure of that, but I said I would put off cancelling the order till 9.

What happened at 9pm? Of course, no Amazon. It was my holiday. I could have gone out, seen a movie, caught up with friends, bought groceries… Instead I spent the day caged at home while those whom I had paid to bring me a phone led a free life and fed me lies.

Amazon thinks it can make amends by waiving the premium delivery charge of Rs 150. Is my day worth Rs 150?

Here’s what they could have done differently

When I informed Amazon at 4pm, the support team could have alerted the delivery supervisor in Ghaziabad, who would have then called the courier on my beat, found out the exact status of my order, and conveyed it to me through either Amazon or directly.

Amazon should have ensured that my phone got delivered today, even if they had to hire an Uber at night to do it. That would have shown me the value of their commitment. Yes, they couldn’t make it by 11am, but they made amends for their courier’s fault.

As things stand now, Amazon lied to me through the day; made no effort to fulfill its commitment, and unapologetically rescheduled delivery as per its convenience.

I cancelled my order after 9pm.

***

Why it’s okay to call someone to the backside

Backside does not mean only arse: Don’t blush if you use the word for the back of your house

A long time ago I used to say ‘backside’ for the back of my house, school, the playground, or any other place. Backside was a directional word until a teacher told us in school it meant something else. After looking up the word in a dictionary, I never again used it for navigation.

This was about 30 years ago, and since then I have found the world split among those who say ‘backside’ to mean a direction, and others who know better. People who know better than to say ‘backside’ seek each other out in a crowd with knowing smiles, rolling eyes, raised eyebrows, sighs, etc. They are an elite club, they believe. Better schooled. Superior.

But this sense of superiority is ill-founded, I will show you now. If you are stopping here, just take away this much: it is perfectly fine to say ‘backside’ to mean the back of a building. Backside is a side, period.

***

Now let’s visit a dictionary. Here’s the Oxford Dictionary of English, 2010.

What does backside mean? Mainly, buttocks, but the sense of ‘side’ or direction is accepted too. You can say ‘backside’ all you want.

Backside Oxford

Next we come to the 10th edition of Noah Webster’s A Dictionary of The English Language (see page 79), dated 1866. The tables are turned. Backside is chiefly “the back part of any thing (note that ‘anything’ is two words).”

backside webster

But let’s go all the way back to Samuel Johnson. This definition is from a 1799 copy of his ‘A Dictionary of the English Language’.

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Backside is first “the hinder part of any thing”, and then “the hind part of an animal”. Yes, it is also “the yard or ground behind a house.”

Here are the examples Johnson picks. From Newton: “If the quicksilver were rubbed from the backside of the speculum, the glass would cause the same rings of colours, but more faint…it increases the reflection of the backside of the glass.”

From Addison: “A poor ant carries a grain of corn, climbing up a wall with her head downwards and her backside upwards.”

From Mortimer: “The wash of pastures, fields, commons, roads, streets, or backsides, are of great advantage to all sorts of land.”

The word is more common now than ever before in the past 200 years (see below). It would be even more common in print if we used it fearlessly in its natural and most obvious meaning. To those who then look at you contemptuously, consider bestowing a thump on their backside.

backside ngram

***

There’s a little bit of China, Australia and New Zealand in Gujarat’s Somnath temple

The Somnath temple in Gujarat is quite a cosmopolitan building. Its foundations have absorbed waters from the “Hoang Ho, the Yangtse and the Pearl rivers” in China, the Murray river in Australia, and the Auckland Harbour in New Zealand, among others.

This story is set in 1951, the year when the temple was reconsecrated. Several months before the installation of the lingam at the temple on May 11, 1951, the chief of the temple trustees started sending letters to India’s embassies abroad for contributions of water and twigs from all corners of the world.

Digvijaysinghji, the temple trust’s chairman, was also the Jam Saheb of Navanagar and Rajpramukh (titular head) of Saurashtra state. His quasi-official designation left Indian diplomats in a quandary. Prime Minister Nehru, a staunch secularist, repeatedly expressed his displeasure over such demands being made upon embassy officials, but he was unable to stop the flow of waters to India “from all seven oceans of the world.”

On April 17, Nehru wrote a letter to K M Munshi, the man who had been steering the temple’s reconstruction after Sardar Patel’s death.

“My dear Munshi, our ambassador in Peking writes to me that he has received a letter from the trustees of the Somnath temple asking the Embassy to collect and send waters from the Hoang Ho, the Yangtse and the Pearl rivers and also some twigs from the Tien Shan mountains. It was stated that this was necessary for the reconsecration of the Somnath temple…”

The Mercury, published from Hobart, reported on March 7, 1951:
“A request from India for 12 ounces of water from the Southern Ocean at Hobart Town has been received by the Tasmanian branch president of the United Nations Association (Mr J B Piggott). The water — sealed in a special container — was airmailed from Hobart yesterday.

Well, that’s how much 12 ounces is:

12

“Other things needed for the ceremony are: 12 oz of water from the Murray river, 1/4 pound of a few twigs of any species of vegetation from the Australian Alps, and 1/4 pound of soil from Canberra,” The Mercury said.

From New Zealand came “water from Auckland Harbour, twigs from the Southern Alps, and soil from Wellington… for this ceremony water, flora and soil were required not only from the sacred places in India, but also water from the seven traditional oceans of the world, and soil and flora from distant lands.”

A week after the ceremony, The Chronicle of Adelaide reported that more than 100,000 pilgrims from all over India had come to see it. “Astrologers marked out 9.47am on May 11, 1951, as the most auspicious time in the calendar for the ceremony… At that precise moment a linga or column of black marble was lowered through the roof into the centre of the inner sanctum round which the new temple is being built.” It must have been quite a spectacle.

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Nehru took a principled stand on Somnath, but Modi won’t understand

Narendra Modi is not the first Prime Minister to disregard India’s promise of secularism, but he is certainly the most vicious when it comes to attacking the man who strived to uphold it

Prime Minister Narendra Modi says his rival Rahul Gandhi should not have visited the Somnath temple in Gujarat because his great-grandfather, Jawaharlal Nehru, opposed reconstruction of this temple. In Modi’s telling of this ‘itihas’ (history), Nehru “threw a fit” when he heard Sardar Patel’s proposal to rebuild the temple, and he wrote strongly worded letters to President Dr Rajendra Prasad to not preside over the new temple’s installation ceremony on May 11, 1951.

What Modi is telling his Gujarati audience is that Nehru was not a good Hindu as he showed no reverence for this most important of Shiva temples. Also, Nehru could not bear other Hindus practising their faith, and finally, his great-grandson’s temple visits are a sham. These sentiments usually win votes in Gujarat.

But is Modi speaking the truth? Only half-truths. Let’s see how.

Did Nehru oppose reconstruction of the temple because he disliked Hindus or Hinduism, or did he have a different motive? As the first Prime Minister of secular India, Nehru was sticking to his principles. He was thinking about the country’s image abroad and the internal conditions after the tumult of Partition.

A principled stand

That the temple would be built, and built with people’s contributions rather than government funds, had been decided in the lifetime of Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel. There was no going back on that. But a controversy arose in March 1951 when Digvijaysinghji, the Jam Saheb of Navanagar, who was chairman of Somnath temple trustees and Rajpramukh (titular head) of Saurashtra state, approached Dr Rajendra Prasad with an invitation to preside over the ceremony.

Prasad wrote to Nehru on March 2, 1951: “I personally do not see any objection to associating myself with the function, particularly because I have never ceased visiting temples, and… denominational religious or semi-religious institutions…”

Nehru replied the same day: “I confess that I do not like the idea of your associating yourself with a spectacular opening of the Somnath temple.” But it wasn’t a whim or an anti-Hindu feeling. Somnath was not just any ordinary temple and its history was a communal flash-point.

“This is not merely visiting a temple, which can certainly be done by you or anyone else, but rather participating in a significant function which unfortunately has a number of implications,” Nehru wrote to Prasad. “Personally, I thought that this was no time to lay stress on large-scale building operations at Somnath. This could have been done gradually and perhaps effectively later. However, this has been done. I feel that it would be better if you did not preside over this function.”

But Modi is colouring the event to suit his interest, as this letter from Nehru to C Rajagopalachari, sent on March 11, shows. “I do not know whether it is desirable for me to insist that he (Prasad) should not do so. I propose, therefore, subject to your advice, to tell him that he can exercise his own discretion in the matter, although I still think that it would be better for him not to go there.”

On March 10 again, Prasad wrote to Nehru saying it would not be right to turn down the invitation because the temple had much historic significance and the invitation had come from the Rajpramukh himself. Nehru replied on the 13th: “if you feel that it will not be right for you to refuse the invitation, I would not like to press my point any further.”

The two leaders are on perfectly cordial terms. Nehru has very strong views on the topic but he is not arm-twisting Prasad in these letters.

International embarrassment

While Nehru was trying to convince Prasad to not preside over the Somnath ceremony, the Jam Saheb was sowing new headaches for him by shooting off letters to Indian embassies to send the waters of rivers and oceans from across the world.

On April 17, 1951, the Somnath business weighed heavy on Nehru’s mind. He received a letter from K M Panikkar, then India’s ambassador to China, informing him about the demand from the temple trustees for “waters from the Hoang Ho, the Yangtse and the Pearl rivers and also some twigs from the Tien Shan mountains… necessary for the reconsecration of the Somnath temple.”

“The whole thing is fantastic,” Nehru replied to Panikkar. The same day he wrote to Rajagopalachari: “I am very much troubled about this, and yet I do not know what I can do. In any event it is amazing for people to write to our embassies for the waters of the rivers there.”

To the secretary-general and the foreign secretary in the ministry of external affairs, he wrote: “Does External Affairs know anything about these letters addressed to our embassies abroad asking for the waters of various rivers? I think you might write to our embassies not to pay the slightest attention to these appeals…”

Nehru’s letter to K M Munshi, who was the driving force behind the temple’s reconstruction after Sardar Patel’s death, shows how strongly he cared about the event’s impact on India’s image abroad. “It would not have mattered so much (although even that would have been undesirable) if some private individual had made this request. But the request coming from persons connected with the government and with the President’s name mentioned is most embarrassing for us abroad…”

Pakistan was already using the controversy to foment trouble in Afghanistan. On April 17, Radio Pakistan (Peshawar) broadcast the lie that tribals from Quetta to Chitral were opposing Afghan Prime Minister Shah Mahmoud Khan’s decision to return the Somnath temple’s gates — carried off by Mahmud of Ghazni after the sack of the temple — to India.

Nehru protested in a letter to Pakistan PM Liaquat Ali Khan, on April 21: “My dear Nawabzada, …nobody knows if there are any such gates anywhere and nothing of the kind is being sent from Afghanistan to India. Nevertheless, the Pakistan Press has been full of this story. I leave it to you to judge how far the broadcast, a report of which I am enclosing, is decent or desirable from any point of view.”

A matter of propriety

Then reports reached Delhi that the government of Saurashtra had set aside Rs 5 lakh — an enormous sum those days — for the ceremony. India was an extremely poor country at the time and food was in short supply. On April 21, Nehru wrote to U N Dhebar, chief minister of Saurashtra: “this is not a governmental matter and it is for private individuals to collect money for it. I doubt it it is a proper use of public funds held by governments to be spent in this way.”

Next day, he wrote to Prasad about it: “At any time this would have been undesirable, but at the present juncture, when starvation stalks the land and every kind of national economy and austerity are preached by us, this expenditure by a government appears to me to be almost shocking. We have stopped expenditure on education, on health and many beneficent services because we say that we cannot afford it. And yet, a state government can spend a large sum of money on just the installation ceremony of a temple.”

That letter of April 22 again shows Nehru’s anguish at the beating India’s image was taking abroad. “In criticism of our policy in regard to it, we are asked how a secular government such as ours can associate itself with such a ceremony which is, in addition, revivalist in character.”

Here is a Prime Minister standing up for India’s founding principles, but six decades later he is ridiculed and tarred for it.

On April 22, Nehru finally wrote to the Jam Saheb: “If it was merely a private affair, it is none of my concern. But there is a widespread belief that this is a governmental affair… My real difficulty is that the President is going to the ceremony. I have pointed out to him that this might be misunderstood. But I do not wish to come in the way of his personal inclination in the matter…

The Jam Saheb responded with an invitation to Nehru, and the Prime Minister’s reply of April 24 is such that every politician in India, including Narendra Modi, should read it: “I must be quite frank with you about this ceremony. Indeed I have written to you about it in another connection already. I am troubled by this revivalism and by the fact that our President and some ministers and you as Rajpramukh are associated with it. I think that this is not in line with the nature of our State and it will have bad consequences both nationally and internationally. As individuals, of course, it is open to anyone to do what he chooses in such matters. But many of us happen to be more than private individuals and we cannot dissociate ourselves from our public capacities.

Where are such statesmen in Indian politics today?

By end of April Nehru had resigned himself to Prasad’s decision. This is from his letter to Mridula Sarabhai on April 24: “It is too late to change the President’s plans now, even if he wanted to do so. I do not think it is worthwhile your writing to him. You may, if you like, see him and tell him briefly how you feel about it and about the criticism of the Gujarati press to which you refer.”

Nehru could not stop the President from going, but it would have been worse if the radio service went overboard with its coverage of the ceremony. Accordingly, he wrote to R R Diwakar, then Union minister of information and broadcasting, on April 28: “I think that this pompous ceremony regarding Somnath temple and any kind of governmental association is going to injure us abroad and even in India… I feel that in the circumstances our radio broadcast should rather tone down the description of what happens at Somnath and not make it appear in any way that it is a governmental function.”

On May 9, just two days before the ceremony, he wrote another note to S Dutt, secretary, MEA, about his disappointment with the turn of events. “I have been much distressed at the association of the government of India with the ceremony that is taking place at Somnath… I find now that in fact some ministries of the Government of India, including our ministry, had been consulted and in fact they encouraged various steps that were taken. I am afraid we can do nothing further in the matter now. But I think all this association is most unfortunate.”

***

(S II/V 16/P 1/pp 270, 603)

For Indian kings, no amount was too much to please the British

In 1912, Gwalior Offered Rs 125,000 To Pay For A Statue Of King George V; Bikaner Rs 75,000 For A Statue Of Queen Mary

On December 12, 1911, King George V announced the transfer of India’s capital from Calcutta to Delhi. A new imperial city would be built with grand buildings. Scindia, the ruler of Gwalior state (now in Madhya Pradesh), offered to brighten it further with a present of a statue of the King-Emperor.

When Lord Hardinge, then Viceroy of India, mentioned Scindia’s offer to other Indian princes at the city’s stone-laying ceremony on December 15, they made similar offers to prove their loyalty. Kapurthala, Alwar and Patiala tried to ingratiate themselves with the British by separately offering to install a statue of Queen Mary. But that honour went to Ganga Singh, the ruler of Bikaner state on India’s west.

More than a year passed before the question of the statues arose again. Should they be made in white marble, or in bronze? How much were the Indian princes willing to spend on them? Who should be given the job?

In a letter he sent to Major C Wigram, assistant private secretary to King George V, from Shimla on May 13, 1912, Hardinge wrote he wanted the King and the Queen to choose the sculptor for their statues, and Gwalior and Bikaner were unlikely to pose any difficulty on this point.

Hardinge himself was in favour of white marble statues “especially in a place like Delhi, where the rains are not excessive and where there is nearly always a bright sun.” He also wanted them done by one sculptor so that they would look like a pair.

Since the cost of the sculptures depended upon the materials used, the decision on cost and materials was left to the native rulers, and the choice of sculptor to the British royals. The same day Hardinge wrote to both Scindia and Ganga Singh.

“My Dear Maharaja,” he addressed them in separate letters, “As an indication of cost…the cost of the statues of the Prince and Princess of Wales in white marble without pedestals came to £5,000 (£2,500 each). The cost of bronze statues on suitable pedestals would be much larger… Will Your Highness therefore kindly let me know whether you wish the statue to be bronze or white marble, and what limit you may wish to place to the cost?”

Ganga Singh replied from Mount Abu on May 19, and he showed himself partial to fair skin: “I quite agree that a marble statue would in every way be more desirable, and the Indian public too, I am sure, appreciate a marble statue in preference to a bronze one, even though a bronze statue is more costly, because in bronze the face, and indeed the whole statue, looks dark.”

Cost was a “secondary” consideration to him, for “apart from loyalty — which must inspire every Rajput — my personal feelings of gratitude for all past favours and gracious kindness and all the honour done me, as well as of devotion to, and admiration for, Their Imperial Majesties are such that my one long desire is that the statues should in every way be befitting our beloved Emperor and his gracious Consort, and at the same time worthy of the new Imperial city of Delhi…”

Such were his admiration and devotion to the British crown that Ganga Singh gave “this statue from my Privy Purse, and not from the State Funds.” In fact, he was willing to spend a lot more than what the British estimated the cost to be.

“My idea was that it would cost us some Rs 50,000 or Rs 75,000, but from what you write I gather that for Rs 75,000 (£5,000), it would be possible to have two good statues… in the circumstances, there is no need for me to mention any limit… I further hope that you will be pleased to permit me to also pay for the pedestal.”

Such charming generosity!

Scindia replied a day later from Sipri (now Shivpuri near Gwalior), and while he was sparing of words, he showed himself willing to do anything to remain their Majesties’ favourite: “I need hardly say that I leave the whole decision of the matter in Your Excellency’s hands, and I should be glad to place at Your Excellency’s disposal any amount that it may cost to the extent of Rs 1,25,000… In case this sum turns out to be too little, I shall be happy to advance any further sum that Your Excellency may consider sufficient.”

***

Heavily polluted Okhla was once fit to be the viceroy’s country residence in Delhi

Okhla in Delhi has little to recommend itself now. It is an industrial area first and foremost. A waste-to-energy plant has polluted its air further in recent years. The saving grace is a bird sanctuary on the Yamuna that comes alive in winter. But a century ago Okhla was a quiet place with healthy air and figured on the shortlist for the British Viceroy’s country residence in Delhi.

“Okhla itself is already very pretty and a great place for honeymoon, and with a little landscape gardening it could be made quite beautiful. There is good fishing and fair shooting and pig-sticking… On the whole I fancy that Okhla would be the most suitable.”

Those are the words of Sir Louis Dane, lieutenant governor of undivided Punjab. At a time when the British were busy restoring Delhi as the capital of India, Dane sent this recommendation in a letter to the Viceroy, Lord Hardinge, on January 30, 1912:

“As to a country place near Delhi, I can quite sympathise. I should think that the head-works of the Agra canal at Okhla, some 8 miles from Delhi off the Mathura road, would do very well. The country round is covered with short scrub grass and good greens could, I think, be made. Then the canal itself with its protection embankments, and the disused boat channel offer suitable hazards. By a little judicious silt clearance or even by raising the weir three or four feet, a good sheet of water could be obtained for boating.”

As a short-term measure, Dane recommended the Viceroy make the “good” canal rest-house his home and it could be enlarged to accommodate his suite.

What did Hardinge think of the proposal?

Three days later, the Viceroy sent his reply from Calcutta: “My dear Sir Louis… thanks for your views about a country residence. I think that Okhla sounds very desirable. I must have a look at it when I go to Delhi next.”

Then…

okhla 1

And now…

okhla 2

***

When Indian maharajas fell over each other to erect a statue to the British Queen

On December 15, 1911, three days after he announced the transfer of India’s capital from Calcutta to Delhi at a grand durbar, King George V and Queen Mary laid the first two stones of the new capital.

Maharajas and rajas of Indian states were present at the ceremony, and when the viceroy, Lord Hardinge, announced that one of them, the Maharaja of Gwalior, had offered to raise a statue of the King in Delhi to commemorate the occasion, a shiver of nervous excitement ran through the assembly.

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How could the other Indian royals allow themselves to be upstaged, to appear less devoted to their majesties? Before the day wore out, letters arrived at the office of the viceroy with offers to erect another statue to the Queen.

Jagatjit Singh, Maharaja of Kapurthala in present-day Punjab, was so worried about the royal couple’s imminent departure the next day that he directly addressed the viceroy. “May I, too, be allowed to offer a statue of Her Imperial Majesty to be erected on some appropriate site in the city of which she also has laid a foundation stone?” he begged.

Jai Singh, Maharaja of Alwar in present-day Rajasthan, wrote to Hardinge in the most obsequious language: “It would be only appropriate to have a statue of Her Most Gracious Majesty the Queen-Empress alongside that of the King-Emperor.”

He wished Hardinge would take up his request with the Queen herself. “Might I request Your Excellency to be so kind as to approach Her Majesty on my behalf and obtain her gracious permission if I may have the privilege of placing a similar statue of Her Most Gracious Majesty alongside that of the King-Emperor?”

And he was not keen to share the credit with another: “I would particularly appreciate the privilege if I was permitted, like the Maharaja of Gwalior, to subscribe for the entire statue myself.”

The Maharaja of Patiala was more restrained. His minister, Nawab Zulfiqar Ali Khan, sent a request to the viceroy’s private secretary, Sir James Houssemayne Du Boulay, and was careful not to lobby the royals directly: “My Maharaja, His Highness of Patiala, is very anxious to have the great honour of presenting a statue of Her Imperial Majesty the Queen-Empress to Delhi. The Maharaja will be highly obliged if you will kindly represent to His Excellency (Hardinge) on the Maharaja’s behalf and obtain his permission for presenting the statue.”

george v

I don’t know whether the Maharajas got their wish. The statue of Queen Mary you see at the top was probably an official version because the corresponding statue of the King above looks different from the one in Coronation Park. I’ll try to find out, meanwhile here’s a video you can watch:

https://www.britishpathe.com/video/mountbattens-at-government-house-new-delhi/query/Lady

 

But this is what babas have always done

Asaram, Ram Rahim Insan, and even the English-speaking Teflon-coated swamis are merely doing what Indian godmen have done for centuries. Here’s an account of 17th-century babas and faqirs by Italian traveller Niccolao Manucci…

 

When a dog bites a man, it is not news; and when a self-professed man of religion rapes a disciple, it isn’t news either, because that’s what god-men have always done. Let’s hear it directly from the jolly Italian Niccolao Manucci, who travelled through India in the days of emperors Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb:

If you gaped on hearing that Ram Rahim came to court in a motorcade of more than 100 cars, well, Manucci found 350 years ago: “When they leave their houses they never go on foot, but in a carriage or on horseback, at the same time taking with them (everyone) down to their scullion-boys, to demonstrate the number of their disciples and devotees… the hypocrite, with a severe mien, goes on his way, making signs with his hands as of one who gives good hope to all, and takes on himself to satisfy everyone.”

Wonder why gurus are surrounded by women?

“They have numerous wives and slave girls in their houses whom they send out at night in all directions as pretended devotees to earn an illicit livelihood, or to act as go-betweens to bring to the house of their master any woman that he desires. This is done under a covering of religion.”

Manucci’s Storia Do Mogor is a big, fat book in four volumes, but all you need to read for our purpose are these four pages from Vol II. I promise you there’s more meat in the parts I have not underlined. Enjoy!

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