Not a patch on the greats
Sir — Mukul Kesavan’s unfettered praise for Shah Rukh Khan and Om Shanti Om boggles the mind (“Flashback to the future”, Dec 13). It is shocking to see the otherwise intelligent Kesavan compare Fifties Hindi film stalwarts, such as Sunil Dutt, Dilip Kumar and Dev Anand, with SRK and his mates. Today’s Khans have neither the looks nor the talent of the heroes of the bygone era. Why else would the golden oldies still be watched on the big and small screens, while films starring Shah Rukh and Salman Khan disappear from the theatres after just a few weeks?
Shivaji K. Moitra, Kharagpur
Sir — I fully agree with Krishnan Srinivasan (“So near, yet so far”, Nov 28) when he says that “the Union government might want to ‘Look East’, but most of its bureaucrats in [the North-east] look West”. The policy largely overlooks the North-east, an area that links the country with east Asia (Asean et al) not just geographically, but economically, socially and culturally as well. If India wants to truly look East, it must first turn its attention to its own east —after all, the sun rises from the east (or North-east) of New Delhi. A prosperous and politically stable North-east is a must for successfully forging and sustaining relations with the ASEAN and beyond.
L.H. Chhuanawma, Aizawl
Sir — Sanjib Baruah must be thanked for throwing light on the roots of the recent tribal violence in Assam (“Reading the tea leaves”, Dec 11). He has rightly pointed out the limitations of depending on colonial knowledge for classifying tribal groups in India. This has become very important now, with tribal communities vying to be recognized under the Sixth Schedule. Baruah quotes a leader of an indigenous tribal organization as saying that the Bodos, as a migrant community, are not recognized as a scheduled tribe in Assam’s Karbi Anglong. But the migrant adivasis in the tea belt of North Bengal are recognized as STs. This anomaly between two states governed by the same constitution is truly perplexing.
Manoj Tirkey, Itanagar
Sir — “There’s a cobra in my pub poison” (Dec 17) claims that tequila is the only drink in the world that is “served with living or dead creatures”. I am not sure of this exclusivity of tequila, which sometimes does have a worm placed in the bottle. To the best of my knowledge, the worm is never “served” in a drink, as the report claims. But then I have never had the very last of the contents of such a bottle of the popular Mexican spirit. But if I am allowed to take just a little bit of liberty with the word “creature”, I would like to point out that the infamous Sour-Toe Cocktail, served in the Sourdough Bar at the Downtown Hotel in the former Goldrush/Klondike city of Dawson City (longitude 139.5 W, latitude 64.5 N; current population: about 1,780) in Yukon Territory, Canada, is actually served with a real preserved human toe in the drink. If one is daring enough to not only order and consume the drink but also have the human toe at least touch her or his mouth, one gets her/his name entered in the official register of the Sour-Toe Club. This is no tall tale, for I have myself achieved the feat and am now officially a member — along with the likes of Pierre Elliot Trudeau — of the Sour-Toe Club. Swallowing the toe is, however, not recommended.
Of course, Klondike stories abound in accounts on alcoholic beverages fortified with ‘creatures’. Those with literary inclinations may look up Robert Service’s famous Yukon poem, “Ballad of the Ice Worm Cocktail”.
Shyamal Bagchee, Edmonton, Canada