About: the world this week, 29 August to 4 September 2021, end of a US war, India medals the Paralympics, which in turn lessons us about keeping time, India sprints in a marathon vaccination-drive, and a famous Pop Music group is on the comeback, Mamma Mia!
The United States (US) seriously kept a commitment of withdrawing its armed forces from Afghanistan and did it one day ahead of the scheduled 31 August 2021. It was an inevitable good decision, though it would have been better if the ending was, ‘and they lived happily ever after’ kind. On the contrary it was unimaginable chaos up to the last flight out of the country. And the US did its best – they have fought so many of the World’s wars and deserve our support. And now they do not wish to bring about change in another country through military action – twice bitten forever shy!
The World needs to move on, and away from war: instead, spend the money, the effort, and the brains on education, healthcare, and the kind. Arm people with weapons of knowledge and missiles of clear thinking. Maybe we should be able to say a ‘Farewell to Arms’, one day?
Meanwhile, resistance to the Taliban is alive, kicking, and roaring in the Panjshir Valley, the last region holding-out, which is not under Taliban rule, in Afghanistan. News of attempts at a negotiated settlement; of the internet being cut-down; of the Resistance Forces repealing attacks by the Taliban- which has the place surrounded, are doing the rounds.
We need to watch that Valley of Resistance. I believe that are some tough people – maybe lions- out there.
The US based Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes, and trends shaping the world. And a Pew Survey conducted before the Taliban took over said that nearly 99% of Afghans favoured Islamic Sharia Law being enforced in Afghanistan. Need we say more?
If only Pew could predict Hurricanes – based on the ruffle and tremble in people’s voices? Whatever, Ida, a Category-4 Hurricane, found its way through America and smashed the State of Louisiana, wrecking havoc, rendering thousands homeless, and those who kept their homes, lived in darkness without power. The rising water levels also brought to the surface, Alligators from the deep, who easily found their footing – roads to walk (and swim)- competing with human folk. A 71 years old man was attacked and killed by an Alligator while he was walking in the flood waters. Next up for Louisiana is the scorching heat, in the days to come.
In another deluge, in flash flooding caused by remnants of Hurricane Ida, parts of New York were submerged in water and as many as 40 people were swallowed by the ‘alligator waters’. New Yorkers termed it a ‘Historic’ Weather Event. Record rainfall, which prompted an unprecedented rain and flood emergency warning in New York City, turned streets into rivers and caused subway services to be shut down. Perhaps we should keep Noah’s Ark on standby, at all times – talk to the spanking new Governor of New York. New brooms sweep well, they say. Can she sweep-off water? For a start she said, “I don’t ever want again to see Niagara Falls rushing down the stairs of one of the New York City subways.”
Otherwise, the cycle keeps cycling. I’m tired of saying Climate Change.
Paralympic Games, Tokyo
While Hurricanes and tornadoes are swirling and wandering around wealthier nations, it’s raining medals for India at the Paralympic Games.
India’s Bhavina Patel started the drizzle by winning a Silver in the Singles Class-4 Table-Tennis Tournament, playing from her wheelchair. And suddenly India struck a gold seam. Sumit Antil – wearing an artificial leg – threw 68.55 meters to win the Javelin Gold Medal, while Avani Lekhara, with her spinal chord injury – paralysed from waist down -showed real spine in consistently hitting the target in the 10m Air Rifle competition to score 249.6 and win Gold. She is the first Indian Woman to do so in this event. Later, she went on to add another medal – a bronze in the 50m Rifle 3 Position Event becoming the first Indian Woman (again) to win two medals in the Paralympics. Records are shot outside the arena too!
Then the Indian medal tally jumped high when defending champion Mariappan Thangavel, hopped on his artificial leg to clear 1.86m to win the High Jump Silver (Gold was 1.88m) and polio affected Sharad Kumar followed behind to take the Bronze with a 1.83m jump.
Nishad Kumar won the Silver in another High Jump event, clearing 2.06m, for those with a unilateral upper limb impairment. Devendra Jhajharia won a Silver Medal, in men’s javelin category for those with arm deficiency, with a 64.35m (metre) throw, while Sundar Singh Gurjar picked up Bronze with a 64.01m travel of his javelin. Paralytic limb affected Yogesh Kathuniya won himself a Silver Medal in the men’s discus with a throw of 44.38m. Polio affected Singhraj Adhana grabbed the Bronze in the men’s 10m Air Pistol Shooting with points of 216.8. On Friday, Harvinder Singh, who lives with a limb deficiency, won India’s first ever Archery medal, clinching Bronze.
In total India bagged 13 medals (Gold-2, Silver-6, Bronze -5) as at the time of publishing this Post.
Never mind the handicaps, the Paralympic Games set an example on the importance of keeping time. I am a stickler of time, always arriving well-ahead of an important event, or a meeting, or making my World Inthavaaram post every saturday morning, but many never bother to keep time…a few minutes is not all right. Malaysian shot putter Muhammad Ziyad Zolkefli, along with two other competitors arrived three minutes late for the Shot Put event. And was allowed to compete as they might have a logical reason for being late, which was being examined by the Tournament Referee. Meanwhile, Muhammad Ziyad Zolkefli ‘putted damn well’, and went on to win the Gold Medal. But, by then the Referee came back, after studying the evidence, and concluded that ‘there was no justifiable reason for the athletes failure to show up to the event in time’. This resulted in Zolkefli being stripped of the medal and given to the person who won Silver. Rules are rules – they must be followed as the gold standard. Tardiness can be costly.
India is going strong: after jabbing more than 10 million arms last week, it repeated the feat this week. Who said India cannot do it? Media news company, CNN, said so: that India doing 600 million doses by August 2021 is an ‘incredibly ambitious undertaking’ with its ‘poor rural healthcare infrastructure and inadequate healthcare system that is already buckling under tremendous pressure from the coronavirus’. India did over 654 million does by 31 August 2021. Hope someone in CNN is reading…and listening. It’s time the world looks at India with eyes wide open. The ‘Snake Charmer only’ days are over – everything India does these days is charming.
The Return of ABBA
During the Wonder Years of my school days, in the late 1960’s and 1970’s my English music voyage began with the Beatles, Bee Gees, Boney M, Osibisa…and yes, ABBA. Songs that still sing in the mind are: Mama Mia, Dancing Queen, Tragedy, Knowing Me Knowing You, Name of the Game, Take a Chance on Me, Fernando, Waterloo…
The Swedish Pop Music group – Benny Anderson, Agnetha Faltskog, Anni-Frid Lyngstad, and Bjorn Ulvaeus are reuniting for a new album called ‘Voyage’, their first in 40 years. The Album will be released on 5 November 2021 and includes a Christmas song. Two tracks from Voyage, ‘I Still Have Faith in You and ‘Don’t Shut Me Down’, are already out in the air. Their 1992 greatest hits collection, Abba Gold, is the longest running album in the United Kingdom’s album charts. In July, it became the first to surpass 1000 weeks in that position, and is currently sitting at No. 14.
They have also announced a new concert experience in London, also called Voyage, beginning in May 2022. ABBA says, “London is the best city to be in when it comes to entertainment, theatre, musicals…We have always felt that the Brits see us as their own”.
ABBA was formed in the 1970’s with the first letters of the names of the group’s members, and went on to become one of the most successful pop bands ever, reaching the height of fame in the mid 1970’s. Their song catalogue is also one of the most brilliant in all Pop Music.
Knowing ‘A’ and knowing ‘B’, the letters started looking and singing to each other and they became married couples with each of the A’s taking a B. I recall most of the promotions had the B’s reversed, facing the A’s. Sadly, both couples consciously uncoupled in 1981 and it was a tragedy that by 1983 the Group fizzled out – wonder which Winner took it all! They cut their final Album in 1981. Then in the year 2016 they briefly go together to perform one song to celebrate 50 years of songwriting partnership, ‘The Way Old Friends Do’.
I still have faith in ABBA and will certainly not shut them down…not yet!
My respect for sharks grew teeth ever since I read the Elle McNicoll’s superb book, ‘A Kind of Spark’ where the central character Addie is awfully fond of sharks and swallows a ton of books on sharks-finds them more fascinating than ‘dull’ Dolphins. These are some interesting facts about sharks that I hunted down:
‘Sharks are older than trees and have been around for a very long time. They have existed for more than 450 million years, while the earliest tree lived about 350 million years ago. Sharks are also one of the few animals to have survived four of the five mass extinctions – they outlived the Dinosaurs. There are over 1000 species of sharks with new ones being discovered every year.
And you may be surprised, sharks do not have bones- they are made up of a flexible cartilage skeleton. Shark teeth are constantly replaced throughout their life – springing up in about 10 days or several months. Typically, a shark looses about 30,000 teeth during its lifetime, and grows them back!
More teeth to grow about sharks; stories of music and comebacks will be sung in the coming weeks. Listen and swim with the World Inthavaaram!