Peruse, ponder, connect, act.
I have nothing against the British, although on the personal level the ones I met for most were unbearable to say the least, my experiences with them both professional and social adjudicate poorly. Maybe I have been unlucky or maybe not.We do have their legacy left behind which is a burden and a boon as well. I converse with you presently in a language considered universal more out of necessity than desire; to some this language is a gift whiles to others a bane. Our penchant to pursue, promote and establish materialistic and spiritual values, products and services for self and near ones is as justifiable now as was for the British for their King/ Queen and country when in India and they did it with aplomb and vengeance. Yes some of us are lucky; we were exposed to some of their favorable values, traditions and customs. However, their relevancy is debatable, especially when in their own land and society they have left these far behind causing us a bit confused and at times shocked. But then each to his or her own for better or for worse; my nose remains positioned firm; I care and concern for the present, where now I happen to live and breath in freedom and out of bondage. The wisdom and the actions of my brethren are more significant now. Not that they dictate my destiny or impose upon my lifestyle but they do at times cause anxiety and bother mainly reflective and obtuse.
I live in Secunderabad more pertinently in Bolarum; the latter name significantly has a story of sorts. When the British were laying out the railway line through this area, an officer asked a person the name of the place so as to set up a railway station there. The native being an ardent worshipper of Lord Rama and obviously he knew no English, he politely greeted the gentleman by saying “Bolo Ram”. The gentleman conveniently joined both the words and Bollarum was christened; it is also spelled as bolaram or bolarum.
The golf course is three minutes pleasant drive from my residence and en route the gulmohars and the bougainvilleas interspersed between large trees, with mass greenery, lined on either side of the road, freshen and lighten the mind and heart before teeing off. A great advantage when the stakes are high! But more on golf later.
Lined opposite the golf course on the other side of the road are vintage bungalows surrounded by low perimeter walls enclosing large open spaces. They are quaint though their façade appears grotesque comparatively. A rather, crude and rude architectural attempt by the early military architects! One such ‘Château’ has a prominent display in concrete lettering on its front wall, “The Retreat”. The National flag flutters on the mast over the roof and occasionally the colored lights at night enhance the outline of the structure. The aura and the stature thrust on this inanimate object is on account of its honored occupancy by a historical figure, Sir Winston Churchill, the great statesman and a renowned and revered leader of the British Empire. Winston Churchill stayed in the Retreat as a second lieutenant in 1896. He was one of the earliest members of what is called Secunderabad Club now and “he played polo in the Parade Ground and flirted with the Resident’s daughter. She however turned him down because he did not have enough money. He noted with his usual hyperbole that at least 12,000 men were based at the station keeping guard on a city which contained `all the scoundrels of Asia’ (Luther in his book on Secunderabad).
The escapade’s and the inane utterances of a dashing and frivolous subaltern are understandable and hence ignored. However, over the years Churchill’s perception and beliefs were more discerning and forthcoming. In 1947 when the British Prime Minister, Clement Atlee introduced the Indian Independence Act in the British Parliament, Sir Winston Churchill, war time Prime Minister of England, argued:-
“———-Power will go to the hands of rascals, rogues, freebooters; all Indian leaders will be of low caliber & men of straw. They will have sweet tongues & silly hearts. They will fight amongst themselves for power & India will be lost in political squabbles. A day would come when even air & water… would be taxed in India”
Personally I remain confused; was Churchill a soothsayer, a visionary or a very bad loser!
Maybe the latter as confirmed through his opinion of the ‘Father of the Nation’, whom he loathed;
“It is alarming and also nauseating to see Mr. Gandhi, a seditious middle temple lawyer, now posing as a fakir of a type well known in the east, striding half-naked up the steps of the vice regal palace, while he is still organizing and conducting a defiant campaign of civil disobedience, to parley on equal terms with the representative of the king-emperor.”
To update Shakespeare ‘And Churchill is an honorable man!’
Not very far from ‘The Retreat’ is a building where a more pertinent historical event took place. Sardar Vallabhai Patel, the first Home Minister, stayed and negotiated with the Nizam the annexation of Hyderabad with India in this building. No flag flutters over this building and no lights brighten it up at night. It is nameless and anonymity surrounds its existence.
Has the Sun set yet ?