Yup, met the man himself today. He is on the west coast for some business, and he paid a visit to the farm. He met President Hennessy prior to his talk at the Encina Hall. I had an interview( about which I am going to blog next) so I could not attend his talk. But since I had to meet the topmost diplomat of the Great Republic of India - the Indian Ambassador to United States - I literally rode my bike like a horse and reached just in time for the last 2 questions - he was done with his talk - was just taking audience questions. I loved the way he answered a question on Hindu extremism in India:
Q: So Ambassador, are you people in India worried about Hindu extremism?
A: Yes! Yes - period! So the I was taking to someone yesterday and i told them what makes us Indian - its not a piece of territory - its not our flag, its not even out national anthem - its our tolerance and respect for diversity, diversity in religion, races, cultures, languages, even culinary diversity! We are not just tolerant, but are respectful of someone else's cultures and beliefs. India was a civilization first, then a nation, then a state.......and he continued......
Anyways, so I went up to him and he was really very approachable - even though he was surrounded by the top ranking government people. So I said to him - sir i am rahul thathoo and i belong to Kashmir. Now a while back there was a talk on campus about how India and its alliance with Israel was a terrible thing. Sir, what do people think that Muslims of the valley are the only sufferers, what doesn't India make it a point to highlight the pain and suffering of the Kashmiri Hindus. I mean we are refugees in our own country - and what is the government doing for us. People think that there are only Kashmiri Muslims who are the sufferers, I mean who will think of us. Just because we are fewer than them doesn't mean that we would be thrown to the dustbin.
His answer was more of a soothing reply - I know what you are taking about and I feel your pain, believe me I have visited those parts of Kashmir. And I know the exodus was so fast and you guys were really made to leave faster than what happened to people in the Balkans. But we are doing ....... someone else interrupted him then.....leaving much to be said (and done!).
We ended on a good note, he shook hands with me and my roommate who was also there, and gave his business card to both of us and left in his luxury (small) limo.
Hopefully he will remember the Kashmiri Pandit plight and will let the international community know about us and our plight.