BBC News – ‘A huge loss to Indian cinema’

Soutik Biswas, BBC News

Delhi – India, 29 April 2020. Irrfan Khan’s untimely demise is the biggest loss to Indian cinema since the death of Smita Patil, one of the country’s most promising actors, in 1986.

Like Patil, Khan was a protean actor, excelling in a wide range of roles and straddling diverse genres in mainstream and art house cinema.

Khan was a successful outlier in Bollywood, known for its hammy film-making. He was a quintessentially understated actor – underlined in his brilliant performance as a loner in The Lunchbox – with unforced grace.

I still remember a brief meeting in a hotel lobby in the city of Agra where he was shooting The Namesake for Mira Nair, a cloying, moving tale of a newly-immigrated Bengali couple in the USA.

I told him he looked every bit a bespectacled Bengali professor from the seventies, the role he was playing in the film. He smiled shyly.

Khan was buried at the Versova Kabristan cemetery in Mumbai soon after the news of his death was announced. His family, close relatives and friends were present.

The statement released by his PR company confirming his death said, “surrounded by his love, his family for whom he most cared about, he left for heaven abode, leaving behind truly a legacy of his own.

“We all pray and hope that he is at peace.”

It’s the second tragedy for the family in under a week.

Four days earlier, Khan’s 95-year-old mother died in Jaipur but he could not attend her funeral because of India’s nationwide lockdown aimed at tackling the coronavirus pandemic.

The link below takes you to :
Irrfan Khan: Slumdog Millionaire and Life of Pi actor dies,
followed by the commentary by Soutik Biswas – Descendants of Bhai Mardana Ji struggle for bread due to no financial aid by SGPC and DSGMC

Sikh24 Editors

Lahore – Panjab – Pakistan, 06 May 2020. Bhai Naeem Tahir, the 17th generation descendant of Bhai Mardana Ji, has informed that the descendants of Bhai Mardana Ji are facing hardships amid lock-down due to unavailability of monthly financial aid by the SGPC and DSGMC for the last five months.

Notably, the SGPC and DSGMC have committed a small amount of monthly financial aid to the descendants of Bhai Mardana Ji which is not being given to them for the last five months.

Sharing the development with media, Bhai Naeem Tahir informed that it has become difficult for them to afford day to day expenditures amid lockdown due to the unavailability of monthly financial aid by the SGPC and DSGMC for the last five months.

“Due to lockdown, there is no hope of any assistance from even the Sikh sangat living abroad,” he added.

He has appealed the PSGPC and ETPB to permanently employ the descendants of Bhai Mardana Ji so that they can live their lives smoothly.

It is pertinent to note here that the SGPC and DSGMC are spending almost all of their resources to feed hungry and needy people in this odd time highlighting the great concept of langar given by Guru Nanak Sahib.

Unfortunately, the duo Sikh bodies have forgotten the descendants of Bhai Mardana Ji who spent most time of his life with the founder of Sikhism i.e. Guru Nanak Sahib.

On being contacted by Sikh24, SGPC’s chief secretary Dr Roop Singh excused that the financial aid committed to the descendants of Bhai Mardana Ji is often sent collectively through the Sikh Jathas going to Pakistan on Gurpurab.

“Due to lock-down, no Sikh could cross over to Pakistan on Vaisakhi last month due to which their payment got delayed,” he said while adding that the SGPC will explore other means to convey this financial aid to the jatha of Bhai Lal Ji’s grandson.

Descendants of Bhai Mardana Ji struggle for bread due to no financial aid by SGPC and DSGMC  

Gentbrugge/Ledeberg – Park de Vijvers – Gentbrugge Stelplaats

Park de Vijvers
24 March 2020

Een vijver = a pond

In this park are several ponts, hence its name
Park de Vijvers

Gentbrugge Stelplaats
Remise / Depot
24 March 2020

Tracks for Tram 2, the Stelplaats is on the right

A Gent PCC, these are rarely seen on the network

Tracks to the E17 viaduct, underneath which
trams and buses
were parked until chunks
of concrete started coming down from it

On the right and on the left two more PCCs

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

The Covid-19 Pandemic: How Sikhi speaks to me

Posted to Learning Zone by I J Singh

Opinion, 05 May 2020. A New York-based publication Newsday runs every year a special issue on Interfaith relations in which spokespersons, usually clergy, of major faiths like Judaism, Christianity Islam, Hinduism, Sikhi among others are invited to explore very briefly their holy days or a specific practice or belief.

All 5 or 6 pieces appear on one page once a year, I have luckily drawn the assignment over the years to provide many such synopses on Sikhs and Sikhi.

In a special issue on 26 April 2020, Newsday highlighted opinions of faith-leaders, in 250-words apiece, and included my brief contribution on Sikhs and Sikhism as well. This essay in your hand today is an expanded version of my brief piece on this pandemic that has roiled life all over the globe.

Over the past couple of months, many Sikhs have written extensive essays, especially on the Internet, about this event even though details about its devastation in India remain largely unexplored. A most notable calamity was the passing away of the Raagi Nirmal Singh as a consequence.

The corona-virus surfaced just months ago, like a nuclear disaster, an existential threat to life on Earth. Now we see some hope on the horizon but intermixed mostly with a darker visage. Today the world seems closed. It will surely reawaken but when and in what form remains a mystery.

The first thoughts and reflex that grab us are automatic and often simplistic: Has the Creator abandoned his Creation including all human life? Talk to people of any faith, including Sikhi. Surely many believe that people have forgotten God and His retribution is the well-deserved consequence of the pandemic now visiting humanity.

But I wonder! Wouldn’t that be a vengeful Creator punishing all for the possible sins of some? How best to understand and deal with what torments us? As expected, we quickly jump to prayers for forgiveness. Prayers might calm and focus our minds, which is good but will not necessarily prevent further suffering.

Ergo, I would not suggest that we blame the whim of God. The Creator should not be the scapegoat for any disaster that crosses our path. Covid-19 is not the first disaster in human history, nor is it the last.

Let us also eschew the path of beating up on ourselves and our sinful ways. These are signs of desperation that steer us into the path of self-created failure.

What next? Let a prayerful mind anchor itself so that we do not stray from the path of sanity. Prayer can settle the mind and that is central to a productive path so that it is shaped by commonsense, reason, and information with science and technology as necessary.

So, heed the experts, mavens, and scientists, not charlatans. Respect knowledge and let them guide us. Again, prayers will shape the mind. Without the mind at peace knowledge remains unbridled and may often lead us astray. Our focus has to remain on the common good that is the goal.

The Covid-19 challenges us with the most modern and unusual weapon, posing a challenge to human scientific talent and achievements. The human potential is and will prove its acumen but it will take a little time and considerable challenge to human talents.

As a Sikh, I lean on Sikh spiritual underpinnings of Guru Nanak’s teachings. The Guru Granth pointedly reminds us that pleasure and pain are two robes in our wardrobe. Each of us dons one or the other in turn. Such is life, “Sukh dukh doi dar kapray pehray jaaye manukh, p.149.”

This hints at the obvious that the two items in the wardrobe, sorrow, and joy, Sukh and Dukh, are not only cyclical but transitory as all life is, and we are all renewed by our mortality.

Life is thus a transitory temporary circumstance that we are experiencing, by just passing through. Our onus then is to make the most of it during our short and brief passing through.

Hence, we need to cultivate the state of mind that accommodates both pain and pleasure and anticipates the change of seasons with patience, contentment, and equanimity.

Each moment heralds the new and the old, the anticipated as well as the unexpected, some more welcome than others to our mortal existence. The variety is the richness of life and the cure for life’s mendacity. Accept it and work with it.

Guru Granth also pointedly reminds us that even the most undesirable horrendous event may be the needed positive agent of change “Dukh daroo sukh roag bhaya ja sukh taam na hoyee,” p. 469.

Forget not this apparent idea that absolutely does not contravene the first teaching but enhances it to relate to a full life inherent in the metaphor with the two robes in our closet.

And I conclude with another powerful metaphor from Gurbani that tells us to continue working towards the common good, “Aapan hathi aapay he kaaj savariyae” Guru Granth p. 474.

So, don’t diminish the Creator to the level of our own insecurities, and don’t fall for the spin masters whether religious or political charlatans. Keep in mind that corona-virus is not the first such mega-disaster in human history nor is it the last

Remember that this, too, shall pass.

Dawn – Why we are seeking justice for our son: Daniel Pearl

Ruth Pearl, Judea Pearl

Assalam-o-Alaikum and Ramazan Mubarak.

Karachi – Sindh – Pakistan, 06 May 2020. Eighteen years ago, in 2002, we lost our son, Daniel Pearl, who was kidnapped and brutally murdered in Karachi, Pakistan.

We still remember the day Daniel was born, in a hospital in Princeton, New Jersey. He was an unusually easy baby, always peaceful, self-assured and self-entertained, even in discomfort and stillness.

We raised Daniel to worship truth, honesty and friendship. He was friendly to all strangers. He didn’t know what a stranger was.

For him, a stranger meant an opportunity to develop a new friendship based on mutual respect and trust. He grew up to be a journalist, committed to writing the truth and upholding principles of justice and humanity throughout his many journeys to the Middle East and Asia.

After the tragic events of 11 September, Daniel went to Pakistan as a journalist with his wife, Mariane. There, in Islamabad, he learned he was going to have a son and chose to name his baby Adam, to symbolise the unity of mankind. But Daniel was never to see Adam.

Instead, while on professional duty as a journalist, reporting, he met a diabolical criminal named Omar Sheikh, who lured Daniel to Karachi in a complicated, cruel plot to kidnap him for ransom.

With Daniel in captivity, Sheikh made all sorts of ransom demands, all under the threats of death. He wanted Pakistani prisoners freed from Guantanamo Bay. He wanted the delivery of F-16 fighter jets from the US to Pakistan.

Sheikh was helped in his criminal plot by three men, Fahad Nasim, Syed Salman Saqib and Sheikh Muhammad Adil. Days after Daniel’s kidnapping, our son was brutally murdered in cold blood, in front of a video camera that documented his death.

These four men are directly responsible for our son’s murder, and they were convicted in 2002 of their role in that inhumane, barbaric act.

Over these 18 long years, we have continued to believe that truth and justice will be upheld in Pakistan. However, in April this year, the Sindh High Court overturned the convictions and sentences of the four men convicted in Daniel’s murder, ruling that they should go free.

We strongly believe this decision is a travesty of justice and that it sends the wrong message to violent extremists and potential terrorists the world over. Therefore, we have filed an appeal against the decision in the Honourable Supreme Court of Pakistan.

Our intention is very simple: to make certain that the four men responsible for our son’s murder remain behind bars so that all Pakistanis and journalists are safe.

In losing Daniel, we found a new purpose for our lives. In our long personal journey of 18 years, we have built bridges with Pakistan by hosting Pakistani journalists in our home, sponsoring music concerts in Pakistan, initiating interfaith dialoges with Muslim colleagues in the USA, and nurturing life-long friendships with those who share our values of peace, tolerance and humanity.

Today, we are standing up for justice, not only for our son, but also for all of our dear friends in Pakistan and around the world. The men behind Daniel’s murder represent an extremism that we must challenge, and the world is watching how the courts in Pakistan keep its citizens safe from terrorism and creates a future of peace.

As parents, we know that, regardless of differences, parents everywhere want to raise their children in a safe society, free of the violence and terror that took Daniel’s life.

Like our son, we believe in the values of peace, friendship and justice, and we want to do everything in our power to realise your hopes of keeping Pakistan safe for its citizens.

We hope that you will stand by us and support our appeal for all people of conscience. May justice and peace prevail among our people. Ameen.

Ruth and Judea Pearl are the parents of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, who was murdered in Karachi in 2002. They are cofounders of the Daniel Pearl Foundation.
Twitter: @YudaPearl