Zarang Restaurant in Kolkata (India Blog 11)
The restaurant where I went to yesterday is in Lonely Planet (Zarang Restaurant). I had a conversation with a guy there. I don’t know if he is the owner or just the manager. I hope that I did not piss him off too much with my comments about Trump, and then some critical comments about Modi.
I hear the morning Izzan (call to prayer) starting from a nearby mosque. The time is 5:54 AM.
The guy thought that I might be supporting Trump. I told him that Trump is doing great damage to the United States. I said that it was a horrible development. He seemed to be astonished. He said: “Oh, but you are an American. Why would you say that?”
I said, “Well, in order to tell the truth.”
Actually, I mentioned quite a few things about the government. I told him that the US is not a democratic country but an oligarchy. It is ruled by the rich corporations. I told him that if you want to be a representative or a senator in Congress, you have to take millions of dollars from corporations to get elected.
I didn’t mention to this guy that I lived in Turkey. I have told some people, but sometimes I do not. When I tell them this, they are always surprised.
When the guy got around to asking me about Narendra Modi, I had criticized Modi for being a Hindu nationalist and communalist. Actually, I suspected that he might have the same sentiments. He said something about religion.
I didn’t want to start getting into talking about the caste system. So I just said, “Well, I agree with the analysis of B.R. Ambedkar. I think that he was right.”
I think that at that point, the guy sort of ended the conversation. He may be an Arun Shourie type guy who trashes B. R. Ambedkar. But I didn’t know.
For Ambedkar, Hinduism was the root of the problem of the caste system. To solve the problem of caste, one had to abolish Hinduism. Of course, that would be impossible in India. Tantamount to abolishing Indian society itself.
People really do seem to be quite naive.
He asked me if I thought the US would keep troops in Afghanistan and in Iraq. I said: “Sure, they will. One should understand that the US is a global empire. Countries have to take orders from the USA. Either that or get bombed.”
Then he asked me if Obama was better than Trump. I said that he is a nice guy, but he was lazy. He didn’t really do much while in office. I could have been more critical, but I left it at that.
The guy said: “Oh, but he got Osama bin Laden.” I said: “That was nonsense. Bin Laden was living in Abbatobad in Pakistan next to a Pakistan Army base. The Pakistan military was protecting him.
He knew that it was true, that the US created bin Laden. Earlier, bin Laden was working for the Americans. I said: “Sure. And they created Saddam Hussein too. The US supports these guys as long as they take orders from the USA. Then the US goes after them if they do not.”
Then I gave the example of Turkey: Tayyip Erdogan. I said: “The US was fine with him for some years after he became Prime Minister. But then, the US launched a coup against him in July 2016 and tried to kill him. It was a CIA operation, carried out with the Fethullah Gulen organization. But they failed. God saved him!” I added the last, being cynical. I also told him that I have written and published a book on the Iraq war.
“USA and the New Middle East,” published in Delhi by Gyan Publishers in 2008. It found its way into many libraries across the Middle East, and also in several in the USA.
Wow! Sometimes the people that you talk to seem to be very naive. He asked me why the US would stay in Afghanistan. Good question. But the US is a global empire and being so, generates big profits for US capitalists. Afghanistan is rich with vast minerals. And then, there are the plans for pipelines for gas to South Asia.
The conversation got around to Kashoggi. I said: “Look, the Saudis murdering him was alright with Trump. It is all about money. If he invests in the USA, and buys weapons, Mohammed bin Salmon is great for Trump. It doesn’t matter if he murders a journalist from the USA.
I said that Trump only cares about money. He is just enriching the big corporations in the US. The US working class has been losing since the 1970s.
I said: “Why should I trust Donald Trump? He got his money from his father who was a big slumlord in New York City. He cheated the poor, the tenants and cheated the government out of taxes. That is all on record, of course. Donnie boy is the same.”
Well, there are some Americans who are so stupid as to say: “Oh, you shouldn’t criticize your own country while you are abroad.” Well, I can hardly think of anything more stupid than saying that!
When I criticized Modi for being a Hindu nationalist and communalist, he pointed to the young waiter there and said: “Well, look. He is a Moslem and he doesn’t have any problem.”
I said: “Sure, many Moslems would support him because they both have religious issues.” I didn’t want to talk about communalism.
Modi can use their votes, but they may not realize the thrust of his communalist Hindu ideology.
I do not know if he knew what I know about the history of Hindu fascism in India. The RSS (Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh) and so on. I couldn’t get into all of that.
When I start to talk to a person like that, I start to think that I really know too much, far more than is good for me. The guy probably regretted that he asked if he could talk to me. He didn’t expect to hear what he heard.
I later told him that we shouldn’t discuss politics. Maybe sports is better. But then, I didn’t know anything about Indian sports.
He agreed. Sports is a better topic.
I got the idea that criticizing US imperialism is fine for him. He also does not like what the US does. But he does not like criticism of Modi. Wow! This country, like Iran, is full of petty bourgeois shop keepers who are socially, politically, and religiously backward. That was my reflection.
The failure of Gandhi, Nehru, Patel, the socio-political construct. It generated a lot of hot air over the years, but never delivered for the masses. It has led to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Just like the liberal Obama failure led to Trump in the USA. Hasn’t it happened around the world? Brexit in England. The working class gave Brussels the finger. Up yours! That was the message. Now the ruling class in Britain cannot digest it. They are looking for another way to weasel out with another referendum or pro-European deal in the United Kingdom. Becoming a rat-fink as the Europeans did in the referendum in France, where they had a second vote. So much for British democracy. They just cannot stomach their defeat.
But now most of the Europeans are fed up with dealing with the British.
In late March, the remainers have yet to give up screwing over the people who voted to leave.
Well, this trip is more interesting to me when I can have some stimulating conversations like that. But I didn’t want to hurt the guy’s feelings. He was a nice person.
I am sure that there are many intellectuals at the university here. It is not so far from here. That’s the story this morning.
6:00 Morning. I have been hearing the sweepers doing the streets for some time. The army of bhangis. Slaves, essentially. Indentured labour, for sure.
After breakfast I am off for the long walk to the Howrah Bridge.