Monday, August 29, 2022






After the US annexation of the Philippines in 1899, a large numbers of Filipinos migrated to the United States to study or to fill up the agricultural jobs, primarily in California and Hawaii. As US nationals, Filipinos were not subject to the same restrictions imposed on other non-European groups. The Filipinos living in the US, make the second largest (4 million approximately) Asian group in the country. The period of American colonisation of the Philippines was 48 years. It began with the cession of the Philippines to the U.S. by Spain in 1898 and lasted until the US recognition of Philippine independence in 1946.There are about 850,000 people in Canada with Filipino ethnic origin.


Filipinos are usually very warm and friendly people who enjoy conversing with those around them. I met an immigrant from the Philippines. His great grandfather came to the US as labour. The family is settled in Flushing , New York. Flushing is a new residential colony inhabited by Asians from China. India, Philippines, Bangladesh, Pakistan and many more countries. The Filipino gentleman told me this:-

 "During the 1920s, many Filipinos immigrated to the United States as unskilled labour .We are about 4 million Filipino immigrants in the US The United States and the Philippines are a  treaty allies known as 'The Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951' . The Philippines is the oldest and closest security partner of the US in the Southeast Asia.  Philippines is also one amongst treaty allies of the US in the Pacific region. Approximately 350,000 Americans are residing in the Philippines. We hold our ‘Annual Independence Day Parade’ here. We introduced our cuisine Halo-halo, the cold dessert in the Philippines made up of crushed ice, evaporated milk or coconut milk, and various ingredients is very popular here. Our population is concentrated in Hawaii ,Washington, Texas, Nevada and some more places. We also have sizeable population in New york and New Jersey. We are in every sector of the US . You can see Filipinos doing well in healthcare , films, music , IT,  the US military, police, hospitality, administration, politics, education and many more sectors . They are contributing significantly to the American economy. Pilar Valdes, the celebrity chef in the US is a Fiipino. Ronnie del Carmen is a celebrity in Hollywood . He worked with Warner Brothers and now he is with Netflix. Then you have Isabel Sandoval, the Filipino American who is a well known Hollywood director . Then i can name Jeremy Castro Baguyos, Professor of Music at the University of Nebraska. Byron Acohido ,the Pulitzer Prize winning  novelist is from Filipino ancestry .Michael Janis ,the renowned glass artist is of Filipino ancestry. Monique Lhuillier is a leading Hollywood fashion designer. The list is endless. I can name hundreds. I mean to say that Filipinos have become a part of the American system due to their hard work . As Filipino-Americans , we think of our motherland positively, it's a part of who we are even if we're not there."

 Had our great Urdu poet Firaq Gorakhpuri visited the US, he would have immediately replaced word  Hind’  and ‘Hindustan’ with word “ America” in his below mentioned couplet :-


' Sarzameen e hind par aqwaam e aalam ke Firaq,

Qaafile baste gaye Hindustan banta gaya. '


 (On the soil of Hind ( India ) , O Firaq 

Caravans from all over the world kept coming,  

And so was Hindustan ( India )  made)


( Avtar Mota )


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To the above photo ,i am tempted to add lines from  a beautiful Gazal   of Kashmiri poet Ghulam Ahmed Mehjoor .. 

"Me chooni Sombaraavi khoone Dil che
Rachhaan roozis ba raet- raatas
Halam sambalith nishaan baapath
Timai tche naalas jarai ha laalo
.........Malaala  travith tse saala yikh
          ba maala poshan karai ha laalo..."

( Love ! , All along the night , 
 I did collect   and save  the 
 pearls from the agony of my heart .
Holding them in the safety of my hem,
a token of my love ,
I wait to decorate   them around your neck , my Love ! 
Forget the grievance,
Come for the  feast ,
Here I make flower garlands for you , my Love!) 

Dance  breaks language barriers and opens the doors for communication across cultures. Be it salsa,  hip-hop, ballroom, jazz, ballet, flamenco, Bharatnatyam, Kathak, Kathakali, Kuchipudi, Manipuri, Mohinattyam, Odissi or any other form ,  music remains its most important component . It is rare for dance of any kind—social, theatrical, or religious—to develop without musical accompaniment.If dance is the body, music is its soul . It is equally true vice versa.

We may speak different  languages, we may live at different places on this planet, we can easily find a common ground through dance . Dance creates  collaboration  and trust . It breaks barriers in a way that is difficult to  describe yet so easy to feel. It is  the hope of humanity that can't  be taken away .

Dancers are universal  story tellers and dance is the universal expression of joy, love ,bonding ,sympathy and longing. For many , it is the most powerful communication with known and unknown of this mysterious universe. It is a language that connects individual with his surroundings  and ultimately the humanity at large. 

In Manhattan, NewYork , i saw a Jewish family celebrating birthday of a child  and dancing together on Bumbro Bumbro,  a song of Nadim for which  Mohan Lal Aima created a tune listening to which none can resist getting up and dancing with its   tempo . I saw the  Latin Americans dancing on Bhangra steps.

( Avtar Mota)

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Saturday, August 27, 2022




Conversation With Radha  ,The Baby Sitter From  Mauritius Working in Manhattan,New York.

"I  Radha . Little little  English. No  Spanish. I French speak. Little little Hindi.  Vous parlez français?"
 " No, I don't speak French  . I am from India . Please speak Hindi and English . "

" Sil Vous Plait. I mix Hindi and  English. "

" Yes ,no issue,Please speak." 

" Our go Krishna family name. My  husband Gopala Krishna . I Radha. My son  Shyama Murari . My daughter Gopika. Tum samajha. We go French   home, TV ,shop, school.  Native   language all know speak but become gentleman speak French. Samajha tum. We America 1997.  Twenty five year. Husband die here . Son marry Vietnam family. He goodbye me and his sister. He no bother .  I alone.. Sometime daughter come . Sometime I stay daughter house. She marry  Nepalese guy. He small  restaurant open.  The guy respect like own mother. I  go salary 25 dollar one hour. No insurance.  Very bad . Where go when sick. I desire Ganga Ji river Darshan before  die . Who accompany? God know .  Bonne journee .Merci."

"  You too have a good day . Thanks ." 

( Avtar Mota)

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Wednesday, August 24, 2022




INTESAAB ( Dedication ) is a thought provoking poem of Faiz Ahmed Faiz . It reflects poet’s unwavering commitment towards the marginalised , downtrodden and sufferers . A dedication to labourers , Tongawallas ,farmers , factory workers , housewives , young boys , girls, students and suffering women. With powerful imagery, poem 'Intesab' is the anthem of the oppressed and the betrayed. It is dedicated to the forgotten, ignored , banished , unheard and unacknowledged . A dedication to their collective pain , suffering and sorrow .I quote some lines from this great poem of Faiz.....

“Aaj ke naam
Aaj ke gham ke naam
Aaj ka gham ki hai zindagi ke bhare gulistaan se khafaa
Zard Patton ka ban
Zard patton ka ban jo mera des hai
Dard ki anjuman jo mera des hai.....




un dukhi maaon ke naam
raat mein jin ke bachche bilakhate hain aur
neend kii maar khaaye hue baazuuon se sanbhalate nahin
dukh bataate nahiin
Minnaton zaariyon se bahalate nahiin'

( Dedicated to this day
And to the sorrows of these times,
The sorrow of these times
set against the garden of life
brimming with flowers .
My land ,my motherland is nothing but a 
forest of pale leaves.
My land, My motherland,
 an assembly of suffering and pain .....



Dedicated to those unhappy mothers 
Whose children weep and wail at night 
And then are cradled in tired and sleep deprived shoulders and arms . 
A dedication to those mothers who shall never tell their woes 
And will not be consoled by tears and entreaties) 

And then what about poet Farooq Nazki’s “Intesaab” for his closest friend and dear colleague Som Nath Sadhu. Nazki’s anguish over the loss of composite culture in Kashmir is deep and profound . He misses Kamla Ji ( Kamli ) who was like a mother to him ..Why was Kamla Ji (mother of Som Nath Sadhu ) made to leave Kashmir ? What had this simple and god fearing woman done? I quote him....

“Ek Intesaab Aur
Som Nath Sadhu, 
Teray naam.
Jaanta hai tumhari maa, 
Kashmir chho’rr kar gayi hai
Aur apnay saath chaandi ki woh thaali bhi ley gayi hai
Jis mein woh 
Hum donon kay liye khaana parosti thi.
Kya tu jaanta hai ke
Woh meray dar se kashmir se bhaag gayi hai.

My English rendering of these lines would be .......

" Once More a dedication to you ,
My Somnath Sadhu,
 Do you know Kamli ,
Your mother ,
Left Kashmir,
Taking her silver plate along ,
Yes the very plate ,
from which you and I ate ,
the food that she served us,
Do you know Som Nath Sadhu ,
Fearing me ,
She left Kashmir.
Your Farooq "

( Farooq Nazki )

This poem of Farooq Nazki comes close to a poem of Sindhi poet Sheikh Ayaaz that he dedicated to his closest friend and eminent Sindhi poet Narayan Shyam. In 1947, Narayan Shyam moved to India while Sheikh Ayaaz stayed back in Sindh..

( Avtar Mota )

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Monday, August 22, 2022




N S BENDRE (1910-1992) was a renowned artist of the country who worked for more than 16 years at Maharaja Sayajirao University, Vadodara ( 1950-1966 ) as HOD painting. It is pertinent to add that this artist had a special liking for the people of J&K state . He had worked as a journalist cum painter in the state for about 3 years (1936 to 1939 ). Sri  Triloke Kaul ,well known artist informed me that for sometime, he stayed in the Nawab Bazaar, ( Srinagar) house of Dr Shiv Ji .He would go out of his way to help budding artist from the state who came to Baroda .  Some noted painters from Kashmir  like G R Santosh,  Prof. Ratan Parimu and Triloke kaul   were trained by   N S Bendre in Baroda .Other notable artists trained by him are students were Balkrishna Patel, Gulam Mohammed Sheikh, Haku Shah, Jayant Parikh, Jyoti Bhatt, Kamudben Patel, Naina Dalal, Shri Ranjitsinh Pratapsinh Gaekwad and  Shanti Dave.

                     ( N S Bendre  at work )
Apart from many other awards , Bendre was honoured with Padma-Bhushan by GOI in 1991. He had  been already  awarded PadamShri in 1969. His most famous works include ,Hairdo (1949), "The Sunflower" (1955), "Monkey" (1957), "The Cow and the Calf" (1948), "The Female Cowherd" (1956), "Homebound", "The Bullock Cart" , "Gossip" ," Mother And Child","Flower selling Women ","The Basket Weaver of Kerela", Happy Monsoon" , "Three Women", "Mor-Med-Barn", "Women Selling Fruits", and "Women in the Field". He did innumerable untitled paintings , landscapes sketches,portraits( including the famous portrait of Mrs Indira Gandhi ) and posters . I am informed that Bendre had also done a series of scenic landscapes of Kashmir. I could only find five.

G R Santosh ( who was trained by Bendre ) would often pay due respects to his teacher or N S Bendre by saying this :-

" Hamaare Guru mile Brahmgyaani " 

( My teacher has been the knower of the Truth ) 

( Avtar Mota)

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Thursday, August 18, 2022



( A Dolmen site in UK ..Photo courtesy ..http://www.stone 

  ( Pottery an beads from Burzahom on display at National Museum ,New Delhi .Photo by the blogger)  
      ( A protected Menhir from south Korea ) 

            (  A cranium from Burzahom . Looks as if cranial surgery was performed on it ) 
             ( Rock art  from Burzahom )

                   ( A Menhir from Burzahom)


     ( Excavated from Burzahom , Kashmir)


I quote from Page  283 of the Book....
'EMPIRES OF THE INDUS '. by Alice Albinia  ..Published      by John Murray Publishers, London UK ....

" As I am standing beside the menhirs at Burzahom, the caretaker  wanders over.I ask him why there is no museum ,even though according to archeological reports from the time of excavations , one was due to be built in the 1970s. I have already been visiting the State Archaeology Department in one of Srinagar's  heavily guarded government buildings, where clerks  sit drinking tea all day long in darkened   rooms stacked high with unread files.The people there explained ,  " Funds for the museum were not forthcoming and there is too much tension in the valley."

Long back , Mr R K Saproo of ASI told me this :-

"The early Neolithic settlers  of Burzahom made simple gray or reddish-brown clay pots in different shapes and sizes. They also made stone tools that were polished . Animal bones were also used in making tools like harpoons for fishing, needles for sewing, and arrow-heads, spear-heads and daggers for hunting. The skeletal remains of Neolithic people found at Burzahom were
similar to those found in Harappa of the Indus Valley Civilization .The excavations had thrown up   residential  structures of mud , burial pits, bone tools, stone tools , pottery and beads  from the Neolithic period and Megalithic period .The objects excavated reveal evolution of civilization from stone to metallic age and from hunting to farming .By 2,000 BC, the Neolithic people of Burzahom started to live in mud huts.  There is also evidence of multiple burials, usually under house floors or in the compounds. Red ochre was smeared on the bodies before burial.   "

The Burzahom archeological site is on UNESCO’s world heritage watch list.  UNESCO, defines the  the Neolithic site of Burzahom as under:-

“ Burzahom brings to light transitions in human habitation patterns from the Neolithic period to Megalithic period to the early historic period."

Tne Neolithic and Megalithic are two different periods . The Neolithic Revolution, or the (First) Agricultural Revolution, was the wide-scale transition of many human cultures during the Neolithic period from a lifestyle of hunting and gathering to one of agriculture and settlement, making an increasingly large population possible.The neolithic evidence found was from 2900 BC to 1000 BC and the Iron Age or Megalithic period evidence found was from 1000 BC to 300 AD.  Strictly  speaking, Megaliths are  huge stones that acted as either burial sites or memorial stones. These are  found the world over.Use of high-quality red and black pottery during  Megalithic era is highly characteristic. At Burzahom, objects and constructions relating to both Neolithic and Megalithic era have been excavated .

For the first time since its excavation in the 1930s, the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) has started restoration work of the Neolithic archeological site of Burzahom in Srinagar outskirts. The site which is known to be the first Neolithic site to be discovered in Kashmir dates back to 3000 to 1000 BC.In 1944, Mortimer Wheeler, Director General of the Archaeological Survey of India had also done some excavation at the site.  The Archeological Survey of India made detailed excavations of the site between 1960 and 1971.We don't know the fate of stone age tools ,weapons and  objects excavated in 1936 jointly   by Dr. Helmut  Terra and Dr T. Peterson  and later by Superintending Archaeologist T. N. Khazanchi . Are these with us ? I don't know.May be thes objects and tools  made of stones , animal bones and metals  have   landed in some European or American  museum due to human  greed.I don't know the fate of all  the Megalithic period menhirs that existed at the site . The menhirs link Burzahom with world Megalithic Civilization as similar  objects have been excavated in Italy, Sweden, Russia, Turkey and many African countries.

There is one particular rock drawing at Burzoham that has been established to be about five thousand years old. This artwork shows two bright objects in the sky, with figures of animals and humans. The scientists believe that this stone drawing at Burzoham is a complete sky chart of the night on which the Supernova was first observed by unknown observers around 4,500 BC. A supernova is a transient astronomical event that occurs during the last stellar evolutionary stages of a massive stars life, whose dramatic and catastrophic destruction is marked by one final titanic explosion. Thus using their artistic skills, the inhabitants of Burzohama observed and carved something unique for posterity.

Burzahom excavations and subsequent excavations at Pampore, Brah and many more areas in the  valley  is the strongest evidence  of  a Neolithic Civilization in Kashmir. Alas ! most of us are ignorant and those who know have failed to put these vital excavated items into a scientifically maintained museum.I have seen some neolithic remains in Jaisalmer Rajasthan which are   far far less than what we discovered in Kashmir but at Jaisalmer ,they have been preserved and protected in an area of about 300 acres duly fenced with 24x7  watch and ward staff .The place is mentioned in every tourist booklet and  many tourists visit the place . It is nothing in comparison to what we have at Burzahom and other sites but sooner or later, this oldest heritage and link shall also go the way grand Wular lake  has gone.

I was told by reliable persons that Megalithic Dolmens were also excavated from Burzahom but unfortunately we list them due to neglect  and vandalism. We failed to preserve and protect this prehistoric  heritage . Dolmen comprises of three or four vertical stones on top of which  which a horizontal stone is placed . Menhir is single stone . Dolmens  were used to commemorate the dead and also may have acted as centres for various ceremonies in the area.

If you visit Burzahom,  you find that it has been vandalised to such an extent that the site has almost lost its archaeological value.The menhirs ,i am not sure about present status , were vandalised long back.

( Avtar Mota) 

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Thursday, August 11, 2022






Brasserie Lipp is a restaurant  located at 151 Boulevard Saint-Germain in the 6th arrondissement of Paris. Albert Camus used to frequent this restaurant.Mention the name Brasserie Lipp and famous authors, such as Proust, Camus and  Sartre, come to mind. In the  room with white table covers , Camus would sit with friends for drinks or coffee and his favourite  snacks that included Cheese Danish and pastries.

Once   the meeting place of the literary and intellectual elite of Paris city,  It is now a popular tourist destination. Its historical reputation is derived from the patronage of Surrealist artists and intellectuals such as Ernest Hemingway.  Other patrons included Proust , Gide, Malraux, Pablo Picasso, James Joyce and Bertolt Brecht. Although Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir  were also seen in this restaurant but they always preferred and patronised 'Cafe de Flore ' another well known restaurant. The couple were allotted free space to sit and work on first floor by the management of the restaurant .

Lipp, in actual fact, catered to a clientele that fell into three distinct categories: Lunchtime was for the local professionals and business people who wanted to dine in a quiet, serious place ; early evening was for writers, booksellers, publishers, magistrates, civil servants, doctors and artists looking to unwind over a drink or two and have a good chat; the later evening hours were for * “Tout Paris.”
For over 140 years  since its creation in 1880 by Léonard Lipp, the Brasserie has enjoyed a solid literary and political reputation. The menu of the Brasserie LIPP is characterised by traditional dishes that are   exemplary in quality.Among the famous specialities of the Brasserie LIPP are Bismark herring( a fish speciality ), brandade de morue ( potato and bread speciality ),  choucroute garnie( potato  and mutton speciality) , roast chicken, blanquette de veau ( rice pilaf, butter ,herbs and mutton speciality ) and tete de veau( a non vegetarian preparation from head portion) 

( Avtar Mota)

*(Tout Paris)  is a French expression referring to the fashionable and affluent elite of the city, who frequent fashionable events and places, and establish trends in upper-class culture.

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."We are different.”

“We’re basically the Chipotle of the Middle Eastern food.”

The food cart at 53 Street on 6th Avenue declares this to differentiate itself from many carts of similar name seen in Manhattan,New York. They  sell delicious  and  mouthwatering  food from Middle-East .Everything is fresh and clean. Everything is prepared before your eyes. At the 53rd Street in Midtown Manhattan, the "Halal Guys " carts serve  gyros, sandwiches, and platters to a steady line of patrons from 11 am to 5 am say for 18 hours non-stop .The chicken sandwich, pita brimming with shredded chicken, lettuce, and the signature white sauce, is completely delicious and affordable  at $8.

Even if you grab your plate, you have to decide where to eat with the plastic fork. You have to select a spot  to sit down .  One can see people sitting on the rim of the small fountains in front of the Crédit Agricole building on the west side of the Sixth Avenue. These fountains have the imposing sculpture of a female torso created by  artist Jim Dine in 1989 . This sculpture looks like a variation of  the 'Venus de Milo'. Titled "Looking Toward the Avenue” ,one can see customers of Halal Guys sitting on the stone  enclosure of  this sculpture.

You can see  office workers grabbing foil platters to eat back at their work  desks. Some like it standing. I  saw some carrying their food to  their homes or public parks and eating it at their convenience. The  aromas coming from the "Halal Guys" carts are tempting. The pedestrians get tempted to give this food a try. Those waiting  in the line for buying feel  the wait will bring gastronomic pleasure .

The "Halal Guys" is a company now that sells through various outlets and  franchise arrangements in various locations across the US . It has opened a franchise  in  Phillipines as well. Many new entrants to the  restaurant business opt the franchise route  created by the parent company the  'Halal Guys'  instead of striking out on their own. The" Halal Guys"  allows them  to use the brand’s name, likeness, menu, and other intellectual property in exchange for  fees or ongoing royalties . Rather than going through a risky  trial-and-error  route to find out what works and sells in the market  , the entrepreneurs  follow an established and  successful business plan.  They also get full  support from the “Halal Guys” ,the parent  company in the areas of  advertisements , finding trusted suppliers, and establishing operating procedures. The company has introduced  ‘Halal Food’ concept in the US  via a fast ,casual  and street restaurant format.

Initially started in Manhattan for immigrant  drivers  who were mostly from Middle-East, Egypt, Turkey, Iran , the 'Halal Guys ' carts now  cater to many segments of the American  society. However , their ninety  percent  customers  remain the Muslim immigrants .  From  Manhattan, the " Halal Guys"  moved to many other cities in the US. Started by three young  Egyptian immigrants , who travelled to the United States in a  hope of a better life .These three young immigrants , Mohammed Abouelenein, Abdelbaset Elsayed, and Ahmed Elsaka   set their sights on becoming a true American entrepreneurial success story. Starting in 1990 from selling ' Hot Dogs'  from  their cart in  Manhattan ,the Halal Guys introduced items like chicken and gyro over rice to the street food of  America. In most places, the 'Halal Guys ' carts open around 11am and remain busy for the day till early morning of the next day . Most of these franchise carts shut down for 6 to 7 hours from 4am  or 11 am. The  carts are there for your lunch and late night dinners.

We met a regular customer of the ' Halal Guys ' at 53 Street during our visit to the MOMA or the Museum of Modern Art in Midtown Manhattan. He told us this:

" Not the cart  you see at the construction site . This original 'Halal Guys'  cart. This  tourist neighbourhood  that why Sheraton and Hilton hotel this side. Look that side , There these hotels . You get me. Hey gentleman .  These cart guys go little free this moment. Later no time  when too many customer coming. They busy  busy till 1 o'clock night . Very busy. This special cart at 53 Street 6th avenue under this  stone art. I go daily customer . Here tourist ,office worker , shop employee, driver , student and all come  taste cheap ,fresh and healthy Halal food. You  taste . Taste gyro, pita with humus , chicken platter, falafel or Vegan special if you Vegan . You want  ?  He go prepare special.   He my friend . Taste very special  white sauce . The  ' Halal Guys ' company  owner three    guys . They start  1990 . That time truck  and taxi driver go their customer.  They Egyptian guys. The original guys  come more than 30 year. They go restaurant dish washing. They  go cooking chef . They go  restaurant helper hands . They go truck driver. Hard work. Sincere . No cheating. They make final' Halal Guys ' company  start in Manhattan . Now many cities .America great country. It make you happy if the guy go for  hard work , truth, simple and no cheating. Everybody  come here this cart   Turkish, Iranian, Indian,  Bangladesh, Latino, African American, Arab, Europe guys and Asian peoples. You get me.  Chinese come  little little. They  their cooking like. These guys here   using chicken,  meat, chickpea , rice floor, coconut oil, soya  powder, lettuce. tomato, lemon, spice, herb, beets, mushroom, Paprika and many other things. When you finish ,you eat  special Bakalva .Sweet sweet yummy. You Latino or Indian?  Madam look  Indian. The dress say that. "

" Thanks for information "

"  You Waalcom "

The present management of the " Halal Guys"  declares this :-

" Through hard work, determination, perseverance, and dreaming big, our founders have paved the way to take delicious American Halal Food mainstream. These restaurant industry visionaries understand and appreciate what has made them successful, and they give credit to where it all began: with their original, loyal NYC customers and tourists that made us famous."

( Avtar Mota )

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