21 March 2011


I think with all the attention on Japan these days, some of you might enjoy reading my earlier post about a Samurai lady meeting two Khalsa in San Francisco.  First, I have constructed a picture as my tribute to the people of Japan, which I will share with you here.

My Tribute to the People of Japan

This is my recognition of the spirit, courage and civility of the Japanese people and their response to the recent trisaster.

This is a reminder that the Sun is always shining. Sometimes we just can't see her.

Below is the the devastation of the earthquake and tsunami, while Fujiyama soars above the tragedy. Above all, the benevolent presence of Amaterasu-no-Kami, the Sun Goddess and chief deity of the Shinto religion, gives her blessing and strength to her people, the people of Japan.

(Note: I am neither Shinto nor Japanese. If I have hurt anybody's religious sensibilities, please let me know and I will correct the matter.)


With much thanks to Derek Visser. Three of his photos were used to make the Fukushima plant here:
To the United States Air Force
the US Pacific Fleet(Navy)

I believe all other images used are in the Public Domain.

A few weeks ago, we visited the San Francisco Bay Area, courtesy of one of my husband's nephews. I was the first time I have been to San Francisco, Mani's favourite American city, since the events of 1984. Such memories, it brought back! I can't really share these with anyone here, so I'm sharing them with you, my online friends.

San Francisco

One year, I think it was 1978, but I'm not sure, we decided to celebrate our anniversary/my birthday by taking a holiday in San Francisco. Very unusual for us, we decided to leave Sandeep in the safe hands of the family and set off for nine days and eight nights in The City By The Bay. Family had our hotel number, of course, along with a promise not to phone unless it was a life-altering emergency. No such emergency occurred and we had a wonderful time. OK, I'll fess up. We called home each evening to say hi to our Sikhling.

One of the few things Mani and I could never agree about was our manner of dress. His appearance was very important to him. His clothes were always perfect, his turban beautifully tied, shoes, when he wore them, perfectly shined. He even ironed his jeans! (I refused to do that because I thought it was stupid.) I, on the other hand, insisted only that my clothes be neat and clean and cover me decently. And be comfortable. They must be comfortable. Beyond that, I really didn't much care what I looked like. We did agree on a few important points. No high heels, no dresses, no make-up.

On the farm, my appearance didn't matter all that much. He expected me to be a bit messed up, mucking around with the cows and goats and chickens (kept for fertiliser) and also with our various crops. I usually indulged him in the evenings by showering or lounging in the Jacuzzi for a while and then putting on a Punjabi suit, a salwar kameez. He usually lounged around evenings in kurta pajama. We might not have been a Punjabi couple, but except for his grey eyes and my brown hair and pasty skin, we certainly looked like one.

For our trip to San Francisco, we reached a compromise. During the day, while we were walking, hiking, goofing off, I would wear jeans - ironed by him! - and something colourful and attractive on my top. This was necessary because walking shoes look really stupid with dressy clothes. When we went out in the evenings, I would dress to the nines, looking every inch the proper lady, while he also dressed up - in full bana! He looked really cool in bana - what Sikh doesn't? - and he looked somehow silly in a suit.

We quickly found out that many fine San Francisco restaurants had a dress code that men had to wear jacket and tie. We avoided those. As Mani said, "They probably don't have decent vegetarian food anyway. We had a glorious time, walking from the Embarcadero to the Pacific Ocean - one side of San Francisco to the other, rambling through Golden Gate Park, exploring those strange, little neighbourhood shops that San Francisco seems to be full of. We spent a whole day at Fisherman's Wharf, watching the tourists shiver. Most people don't realise that San Francisco is quite cool most of the time, and so dress inappropriately for the weather. We also went hiking in the Muir Woods amidst the giant redwoods and hiking up Mt. Tamalpais across the Golden Gate Bridge in Marin County.

I really want to write about one particular afternoon and evening. We decided to go see a Toshiro Mifune movie playing in a theatre in Japan Town.

Toshiro Mifune
Japan Town, San Francisco
Mani gave me those cow eyes and asked me to dress up, even though it was only afternoon. I said it was too early, if I had to dress up I'd wear bana, too. He grinned at me and agreed. We ended up dressed exactly alike except he had a saffron turban, while I used a chunni. (We should have tied a turban on me, I now realise, but for some reason, we didn't think of it.) And, unlike him, I carried the more usual short kirpan. I admit we made a grand-looking couple, him in a dark blue chola, saffron-coloured gatra containing a full-length kirpan, and, of course, his perfectly tied turban, me similarly clad. Him tall and towering and masculine, the perfect Khalsa warrior, me short and slender, yet with the full figure of a fertility goddess, also the perfect Khalsa warrior, except in a battle, I'd have to ditch the chunni. As he said, "We look goooooood!"

We arrived for the afternoon matinee and, much to our surprise, there were only a very few others attending. I guess weekday afternoons don't bring out the samurai crowd. A very lovely Japanese lady, clad in traditional kimono, not only sold us tickets, but also tended the refreshments counter and acted less like an usher than like a hostess. When we first came in, she looked at Mani shyly, but still with open curiosity and perhaps a bit of apprehension. She was even shorter than I am; he must have seemed a giant to her. "Sir, "she asked in a heavily accented voice, with that high, squeaky voice that Japanese women traditionally affect, "may I ask you a question?" She waited for him to answer, which he did in the affirmative.

Our lady was really quite a few years older

I just knew she was going to ask if he were an Arab, but she surprised me. "I see you have a katana, a sword. Are you some sort of a samurai among your people?"  In spite of the accent, her English was excellent.

We were both startled at that question; I was very curious how he would answer. "We are Sikhs who have been initiated into the Khalsa Knighthood, so I suppose you could consider us a sort of samurai." He went on to explain a bit about Sikhi, which she had never heard of. When he finished, she was grinning broadly, obviously happily impressed.
Then she turned to me and said, "Great lady, you are also this Khalsa?"

Great lady! I could live with that. I smiled at her and replied, 


Her smile faded briefly as she asked, "Then why do you have such a small sword?" I didn't really have a good answer, so, on the spur of the moment, I came up with the explanation that I was so short that it would drag the ground., Actually, that is close to the truth. The answer seemed to satisfy her and her smile returned. She also wanted to see them both unsheathed; we were happy to oblige.


She was obviously impressed and asked if there was anything she could do to make us comfortable. She clearly wanted to do something, so one of us suggested that some Japanese tea would be nice. I mentioned that we were visiting San Francisco to celebrate our wedding anniversary as well as my birthday. She brightened up immediately. "Then you must have long noodles for long life to celebrate." He explained that we were vegetarians and ate only "Buddhist food." (We had learned that was the easiest way to get correct food in what used to be called Oriental restaurants.)

"No meat. No egg. Tofu is OK?" She asked."

A bit taken aback, we agreed.
"I be right back. You go sit down, enjoy watching the people stab each other." She disappeared into a back room and we went into the theatre and watched "the people stab each other."

After a time, she returned with a large tray of not only with tea and noodles (in miso soup), but also a sumptuous feast of vegetarian sushi, inari sushi, norimaki with vegetable and tofu filling, and small mounds of vinegared rice with various thinly sliced vegetables on top where normally there would be raw fish. And lots of wasabi, ginger and shoyu.

Vegetarian sushi
We were both overwhelmed. She ignored our reaction and arranged one tray on the seat to Mani's left and another to my right, dividing the food between us. "Now eat and enjoy while you watch movie." She smiled, bowed and walked away. What could we do? We ate and enjoyed and watched the movie. And wondered what was going on. After the movie, we found out, while eating some vegetable tempura that she brought in.

"I am Shinto," she told us. "I worship Amaterasu-no-Kami, the Sun Goddess, our foremother.


"Last night, she sent me a dream that I would meet some great warriors, not Japanese, but worthy to be samurai. I saw you and knew she had blessed me with your holy presence, so I could have the honour of serving you. I am descended from a very old
samurai family that was impoverished when the samurai class was outlawed. They took all our swords and melted them down. You know, all our women were also taught martial arts and sword fighting, so we could protect our homes and our honour, if need be. Without our swords, what could we be?"

Samurai swords
She was clearly speaking from deep in her heart, speaking as if these things happened recently, instead of in the previous century. I wanted to see your kirpans" - she stumbled over the word - "so I could honour my ancestors." We didn't quite understand that last statement and didn't ask. Somehow asking seemed cold. "There is one more thing, please." She pulled out a small book wrapped in a silk cloth and handed it to me. (Why not him? I do not know.) This is the Bushido Book, The Code of the Warrior. I think you do not know Japanese, but please accept it as my gift." We were quite overwhelmed. The book was obviously quite old, probably a family heirloom. Still, it was unthinkable to refuse it. We took it and kept it always among our few treasured possessions.

A commercial edition of the book she gave us

A most important note: As usual most of these pictures are roached from the Internet, compliments of Google Search. Two are not. That strange-looking being on the Golden Gate Bridge is me, as a giant Nihang. Why not?

That very handsome Sardar Ji I have used to illustrate bana is the father of my little sister Kamal Kaur. His name is Sarbjeet Singh Ji and he, like my own Dad, is a Canadian from Punjabi. Notice the twinkle in his eyes and that lovely smile.

Sarbjeet Singh Ji

My medical caretaker,Irene pointed out to me that if he is my sister's father, then he must also be my Dad. An interesting idea, as I believe he is somewhat younger than my 57 years! My thanks to these two for letting me use this picture. 

One further note about Kamal Ji. You might have noticed her listed as an author, although she has never contributed a post. This is for a very special reason. For some time, she has been downloading and saving each post's html on her computer. Anything can happen on the Internet. This site could be hacked, Blogger could decide to delete it for some reason, new laws in America might restrict the freedom of speech and/or the press. If this blog should, for any reason disappear from the blogosphere, dear Kamal Ji will have preserved it, so it will not be destroyed. Of course, I also download it to my computer, but my poor old compy isn't very reliable and if something should happen to me, it might sit forever here with no one the wiser. So she is performing a great sewa, in my opinion. This will probably embarrass her, but, little sister, I want to thank you from my heart for doing this.


16 March 2011


In solidarity with the people of Bahrain



Bahrain locks down kingdom as uprising surges 

"...Doctors at the country's main hospital said their facility was taken over by security forces, blocking physicians from either leaving or treating the wounded on site.

"There are many people injured, but we can't bring them to the hospital because of the travel restrictions, and doctors can't come to us," said Ali Marsouk, a resident of the Shiite village of Sitra, who said helicopters fired on homes in a three-hour attack..."

A freedom struggle is noble and good and exciting to the imaginations of all who believe in freedom.  Is that why this is being painted as Shiites (the majority) against Sunnis (the rulers).  What better way to get the West to turn away than to report it as a Muslim sectarian  conflict?  Boring!  But this is the People against the Tyrants. 


I am not an expert on the Middle East, of course, but it does not escape me that the ruling al-Khalifah family is a long-time ally of the United States of America.  But what do I know?

Cui bono?  (Who profits?)



pleas help us they kill us now :(


15 March 2011


We Sikhs have a long history of standing with people fighting injustice anywhere.  Today on my Facebook page, I received this plea for help from my gallant young friend in Bahrain, Ghadeer Al-Shamlam:

Please Published for all people you know
Help us to reach our voice to foreign countries
What's going on with this world.. why everyone is watching what's happening in Bahrain and no one is taking any action?? WHY?? aren't we humans??? don't we deserve to live as well... Where are the people of the world??????? Bahrain is calling.. listen or it will be too late...

I feel so helpless.  All the attention of the world is right now focused on the four-fold disaster in Japan (earthquake/tsunami/nuclear meltdown/volcano)  and the good people of Bahrain have been nearly forgotten.  Japan, of course, must be helped, but do we have such small hearts and minds that we can only help in one place?  Please look at these pictures that Ghadeer ji just sent me.  This is what the government of Bahrain, with the help of the Saudis and, I just heard, the Kuwaitis, are doing to their own citizens.  As Sikhs, we know what it feels like to be attacked by what is supposed to be our own government.

One more picture, a screenshot from a YouTube video about the attackj on peaceful protesters.  (See also the second video below)

 It seems a particularly destructive form of tear gas is being used against the protesters.  I've breathed tear gas a few times and even the ordinary form is bad enough.




07 March 2011


In the 1960s before they were outlawed, there was a TV cigarette commercial that proclaimed,
You've come a long way, baby
To get where you got to today
You've got your own cigarette now, baby,
You've come a long, long way.

Aside from the fact that calling a woman "baby" is demeaning and having a cigarette for women is a very dubious advancement, I got to thinking how far have we come as women, both in the West and in India.  (I thought about posting the commercial from YouTube here, but I was afraid some readers would accuse me of promoting tobacco, which, of course, I would never do.)

Politically, I suppose we have come a long way.  Names of women in politics come to mind.  Hillary Clinton, Margaret Thatcher, Carolyn Parrish (I love her!) and, of course, Indira Gandhi (I do not love her).   Politically, I guess we have come a long way.

Socially?  In the West there have been huge changes in many ways.  Spousal abuse, which up until the 1970s was considered a family problem that the law should stay away from, has become unacceptable to most people and the perpetrators are prosecuted and jailed sometimes.   Oftentimes, still, however, the woman refuses to prosecute her abuser for various reasons.  Although perhaps understandable, this is very sad on numerous levels.  It is bad for the woman. it is bad for the society and it is especially bad for the children.  The boys learn to punch and the girls learn to be punching bags, thus perpetuating the cycle of violence.  There has been progress, but not enough.  One area where I have seen progress is in the attitudes toward rape.  Rape is now recognised as a crime of violence against women, not just the boys having a good time because "she asked for it."  Having sex with a woman who cannot resist because she has been drugged or is asleep is also recognised as rape.  Marital rape, where a husband forces his wife against her will has likewise been criminalised.  I remember reading a very influential book called Against Our Will:  Men. Women and Rape.  Although published in 1975 and a bit dated, this book is still one of the best analyses of the subject that I have read.  I do find her condemnation of men in general too harsh. 

This is the cover I rermember.  I believe it has been updated.

India, as is often the case seems to be in a state of confusion.  Societal issues, in general, far favour men over women.  Thr double standard is in full force.  (A boy is just sowing wild oats, a girl is a slut or whore.)  Eve-baiting occurs everywhere to the point that many young women dread going out.  A woman who has been raped is often said to have been "dishonoured," although she is the victim and the male perpetrator is the one who has dishonoured himself, if indeed, he had ever had any honour to dishonour.  (This leads into izzat, which is a topic for another post.)  Some laws, I am told,  favour women to the point that a simple accusation without supporting evidence can land a man in jail, I am told.

This article from today's (7 March 2011) Times of India is a real eye opener:
Printed from
NEW DELHI: Nearly one in four Indian men has committed sexual violence at some point in their lives and one in five has admittedly forced his wife or partner to have sex. The findings of a recent International Men and Gender Equality Survey reflects a new low for Indian men. Only 2% Brazilian males and less than 9% of men in Chile, Croatia, Mexico and Rwanda were found to have indulged in sexual violence.

The survey was conducted in six developing countries across four continents to map attitudes and practices related to gender equality. Researchers from the International Centre for Research on Women ( ICRW in US and India) and Instituto Promundo in Brazil, who led the survey, interviewed more than 8,000 men and 3,500 women, aged 18 to 59, from these countries.

Indians, who are known to excel in competitive examinations globally, were ranked last on the 'gender equitable men' scale, given that only 17% of men here qualified to the 'highly equitable' (gender-just) category. The percentage was the lowest for this category among the six countries. On sexual violence, 24% said they had committed some form of it in their lives.

While Croatia topped the test, with 82% 'gender-just' men, more than 50% men in Brazil, Chile, and Mexico made the grade. Rwanda, which is among the least developed nations in the world, in fact, fared better than India, with 30% males qualifying as 'highly equitable'.

Rwanda, however, joined India with highest rate of domestic violence, with 38% men admitting they had physically abused their partners. Worse, more than 65% Indian men also believed that women should tolerate violence to keep the family together and that women sometimes deserved to be beaten.

And although Indian men were the most sexually and physically violent at home, they were not involved in violent or criminal behaviour outside. Only 4% Indian men had participated in robbery and 7% had been involved in fights with weapons, compared to 36% men in Croatia and 22% men in Brazil.

The findings, released in Washington last month, reiterated that although India may be on its way to becoming the world's fastest developing economy, it figures at the bottom of the pile when it comes to gender equality. "Indian men are far more traditional, to put it mildly. Even young, educated men are not changing as rapidly as women. They are still living in the old ages," said Ravi Verma, director of ICRW's Asia regional office in Delhi.

Verma added that they would soon present the survey findings to the ministry of women and child development and other policy-makers to urge them to make appropriate changes in policies and programmes to better foster gender equality.

In the survey, which found Indian men to be the worst offenders in terms of sexual violence, more than 1,000 men from the 1,500 interviewed in India were from Delhi. The findings mirrored the high incidence of sexual assault in Delhi: the capital witnessed 489 rapes last year.

"Although the survey has focussed on violence in the privacy of homes, it reflects the situation in public places, too," said Kalpana Vishwanath, project director of the Gender Inclusive Cities project run by Jagori NGO. South Asia does fare quite poorly in terms of gender equality.

Vibhuti Patel, a women's rights activist, blamed the repression of sexuality in India for the high rate of sexual violence. "All the other countries surveyed have more sexual freedom than India. Rwanda, too, has tribal culture so people are more open and women's role in the economy is recognized," said Patel, who heads the economics department at Mumbai's SNDT University.

"In India, the age-old code of conduct has been to keep men and women separate. So women are only viewed as sex objects," she added.

I can think of no better way to end this post than to remind all my readers of the beautiful words of Guru Nanak Dev ji.  Most of us say this words each morning.  I think it's time we listen closely and take to heart what he wrote.


 From woman, woman is born; without woman, there would be no one at all.

 O Nanak, only the True Lord is without a woman.

  ॥From woman, man is born; within woman, man is conceived; to woman he is engaged and married.

ਭੰਡਹੁ ਹੋਵੈ ਦੋਸਤੀ ਭੰਡਹੁ ਚਲੈ ਰਾਹੁ  
Woman becomes his friend; through woman, the future generations come.

ਭੰਡੁ ਮੁਆ ਭੰਡੁ ਭਾਲੀਐ ਭੰਡਿ ਹੋਵੈ ਬੰਧਾਨੁ  
When his woman dies, he seeks another woman; to woman he is bound.

 So why call her bad? From her, kings are born.

 From woman, woman is born; without woman, there would be no one at all.

 O Nanak, only the True Lord is without a woman.


Here is my annual post.  Nothing has changed.  I am sick and tired of this.  What more can I say?
There is a lovely little nursery rhyme that every child in the UK and Canada knows. I am not so sure about the children of India, so I reproduce it here:

Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are.
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky.
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!

As long as I have been expressing myself publicly (about 2 years 5 years in 2011), I
have said that the most dangerous enemy we Sikhs have is not the
Indian government, the Deras or even the Hindus. It is no force from
outside our own community. It is ourselves. We are fast destroying
ourselves through one particular practice. I have here a little poem
I wrote about that. It unites IWD and our self-destructive

Tinkle, tinkle, little boy,
Bring your parents so much joy.
You're their diamond, you're their pearl,
They're so glad you aren't a girl.

Punjab practice straight from hell.
Very soon its evil tell.

You are looking for a wife,
Someone who will share your life.
Not a woman to be found,
Rotting foetus in the ground.

Guru's teaching has been taught,
But its meaning never sought.
Daughter is a gift from God,
Not a dead, decaying clod.

Without woman, there's no life,
No more children, no more wife.
Guru's teachings die off now,
Go and worship sacred cow.

Tinkle, tinkle, little boy,
Bring your parents so much joy.
HAPPY INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY, 2008!!! 2009!!! 2010!!! 2011!!!


05 March 2011

Canadian Hindu Advocacy - Real Or A Sick Joke?

A lot has been going on, especially with developments in the Hoodh Pind Massacre case.  I am assuming you have been able to read about that elsewhere on line, so I am writing a bit of news from my home of Canada.

A brother who is on their mailing list received this letter from the group calling itself Canadian Hindu Advocacy:

The Canadian Hindu Advocacy is very pleased to announce our intention to
hold multiple events over the summer celebrating heroic acts of anti
terrorism in India.

In 1984, the heroic Indian Army destroyed the terrorist Khalistan movement
by attacking terrorists occupying the Golden Temple in Amritsar. That same
year, Hindu civilians after the assassination of PM Indira Gandhi deterred
Sikh Khalistan terrorists by fighting back against Sikh rioters on the
streets of New Delhi.

Other than the assassination of Indira Gandhi, 1984 was a great year.
Thousands of Sikh terrorists were killed both at the Golden Temple and in
New Delhi, and together the Indian Army and Hindu citizens smashed
Khalistan terrorism.

Everyone on this list will be invited to our summer celebrations.

Rahul Bhardwaj,
Canadian Hindu Advocacy

I don't think they much like Sikhs.  Although I cannot deny the credibility of the brother who received this, it just didn't seem real to me, so I did some research.  The Canadian Hindu Advocacy is a real group.  It uses OM on a Maple Leaf as its logo.

It has both a Facebook page and a website.  On Facebook, its statement of purpose reads: 


    We are a national organization of professionals, most of whom have left other groups, … to join together and form an entity that really stands up for traditional Canadian and mainstream Hindu values.

    We advocate for Canadian Hindus, and we stand up for Canada, traditional Canadian values, and democratic principles.

    Hindus have the highest per capita income of all ethnic groups in North America, are among the best educated, and constitute the majority community of the world's largest democracy / emergent superpower (INDIA).

    Hindu civilization gave rise to the world's oldest language (SANSKRIT), from which all European languages (including English and French) developed. Science, medicine, and mathematics developed in Hindu India helped Europeans build Western civilization.

    Standing up for Canada means supporting Hindu interests. We are together because Canada needs us!!

    Historical Hindu and traditional Canadian values must be defended. An attack on one constitutes an attack on the other. ALL CANADIANS MUST STAND UP FOR HINDUS and HINDU VALUES.

    Canadian values are endangered by the enemies of Canada, who use the media, education system, and politicians to spread false stereotypes about India and Hindus.

    We believe in multi-faith initiatives with groups and people who share our values of democracy, liberty, and merit-based success. This includes the Jewish, Serbian, and other communities. 

    We support fellow democracies such as INDIA, ISRAEL, AMERICA, and TAIWAN.

    Our friends and partners in various communities will work with us to shape and build a better Canada, purged of malign and negative influences.  Are we Sikhs among those "negative influences?  Definitely Khalistanis are.  [added by me]

    With the skills and experience brought in by our members and directors, we have formed the leading mainstream Hindu political and media lobby in Canada.

    From political lobbying to media advocacy to business seminars on ethical investment, we have the skills and drive to deliver results.


If this represents mainstream Hinduism,,,

Its website contains such shining gems as a letter to the editor,  CHA: Praise anti Khalistan operations of 1984, both in Delhi and Punjab (but the link doesn't work).  And, of course, they are supporting le Bloc Quebecois in banning the kirpan from the Quebec "National" Assembly with a goal of banning the kirpan in the Canadian Parliament, a move that would effectively bar Amritdhari Sikhs from holding national office, as banning it in the Quebec "National" Assembly bars us from provincial government.   No doubt their eventual goal is to totally ban the kirpan in Canada. 
From their website, this is their core values:

Our Core Values
We believe in unity, diversity, and tolerance.

This is why our directors and members include Hindus  hailing from many different parts of India. We also include Hindus from the Caribbean, Malaysia, and elsewhere.

We even have non- Hindu directors from different communities, including the Jewish, Serbian, and Anglo-Saxon ethnicities.  No Sikhs, though, for some reason [added by me]

Inter-faith events and alliances are an important goal for us. Because our organization is a beacon of hope for all communities and groups who share our passion for merit, freedom, and democracy.

This is why mainstream Canadians see us as not just a group that represents Hindu interests, but also a key defender of the values that define Canada.


I feel the need to take a bath.