City Notes

The big difference between Narendra Modi and militants is that Modi gets to go to weddings, and militants go to either schools, or recently, Indian air force bases, like the one in Pathankot. The base there first came to the public eye in the 1965 War, when the PAF dealt much destruction there. Does that make it a logical militant target? Well, it took the Indian law enforcing agencies almost two days to flush them out. And in the process show another difference between Modi and militants. Modi is alive. The militants are dead.

The attack on the Indian consulate in Kandahar was perhaps not as dramatic. However, it involved the Indian Foreign Service rather than the IAF. True, Kandahar is a more dangerous place than Pathankot. But one presumes that military personnel would have at some point realized that one could be killed in the line of duty, even if IAF personnel might have expected air crashes or planes being shot down rather than gunfire; and one presumes diplomats to expect nothing more violent than a good talking-to when they are summoned to the Chancery of the country they are posted in.

A little like the Bangladeshi expulsion of a Pakistani diplomat for funding terror, but really because Pakistan has been objecting to execution of people sentenced to death for 1971 war crimes. Is it a coincidence that they belong to the Jamaat Islami, which is in opposition to the Hasina Wajid government. Pakistan responded by expelling a Bangladeshi diplomat. Well, it beats what has been going on between Iran and Saudi Arabia. The Saudi Embassy in Teheran has been stormed, reminding one of the storming of the US Embassy in Teheran back in 1979. It was stormed by a crowd of protesters, who were much exercised by the Saudi execution of Baqir Al-Nimr. He was accused of terrorism. His execution, of course, had nothing to do with Iran’s nuclear deal. Nor with his involvement in the bombing of any mosques in Saudi Arabia.

In apparently a separate development, an Indian Schoolboy not just smashed a century-old-record, but trampled it underfoot. Not only did he score the first personal score of 1000-plus (in any class of cricket), but he also broke a very old record, one dating back to the 19th century, set in the UK in 1897, of 628, by A.E.J. Collins, in a house match in Clifton College. Thus I have lived to see all the batting records I grow up with broken. The Test record was 365 not out, set by Sir Garfield Sobers back in 1957-8. It was broken thrice, by Brian Lara in 1993-4, then by Matthew Hayden in 2003-4, and then again by Brian Lara later in the same season, with 400 not out, which is still the record, apart from being the only Test quadruple century. The first-class record was 499, by Hanif Mohammed in 1958-9, which was broken in the UK by Lara again, who scored 501 for Warwickshire against Durham in 2004. Now Collins’ record has been broken, but not by Brian Lara, but by an Indian schoolboy, Pranav Dhanwade, in an inter-school match. He made 1009. Which is twice the first-class record. Not to put a damper on the celebrations, but the previous holder didn’t do much afterwards, unlike the other record holders. I mean, the last three holders of the first-class record are Lara, Hanif, and Sir Don Bradman, while in Tests, before Lara and Sobers was Sir LenHutton.

Another attempt to create a record was by North Korea, which tried to carry out a thermonuclear test to succeed its nuclear tests. Apparently, the test didn’t come off, and the yield of the explosion is explained by the fact that you need a fission reaction first to set off the fusion reaction that is behind a thermonuclear bomb. It seems that a nuclear explosion wasn’t enough to express President Kim Jong-Un’s frustration at his bad haircut, and he needed a thermonuclear one. Why doesn’t he just sack his barber? Especially since he can just order him shot by an anti-aircraft gun? Which was how he had a top aide fired once. Though of late he has been inclined to accidents. Please don’t tell him about police encounters. North Korea was the eighth nuclear power. India and Pakistan were respectively the sixth and seventh. And neither India nor Pakistan were headed by leaders with such bad haircuts. Mian Nawaz Sharif at that time was bald, but now, when he has flowing locks to reduce the shine coming from that pate, he must be seen as nuclearly responsible.

True, the North Korean test came late in the day, so that wouldn’t explain the warmness of this winter. One measure of the temperature I have is my need to add a blanket to my quilt. This year, the thought hasn’t crossed my mind. And I’ve heard that winters are mild the world over. It seems the Paris climate change conference didn’t stop anything. Even if Mian Nawaz attended.