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Tilak Rishi, born in India, has been working as a career corporate executive, after doing his MBA. Passionately pursuing his hobby for writing, he also remained a regular contributor to newspapers in India and the U.S. Many true happenings and characters he came across in life, including interaction with former president Bill Clinton, inspired Paradise Lost and Found, his first novel. A family saga, it starts from Kashmir, when this paradise on earth is lost for the tourists who thronged in thousands every year to enjoy its scenic splendor. Terrorists have turned it into one of the most dangerous places in the world. The family is not only a witness to the loss of this paradise, but also to another tragedy of much bigger magnitude. In the aftermath of the partition of India, along with millions uprooted from their homes in Pakistan, the family leaves behind all that it has in Lahore. Starting from a scratch on the difficult path to progress, it still has many joyful moments when along the way it makes a difference in many a life. The survival-to-success story climaxes in California where the family finds the paradise that was lost in Kashmir.

Monday, May 01, 2006

It Happens Only In America

The world of the U.S. is also known as the New World. It is a much different world. Over there in the old world, government employees go on strike to press their pay increase and other demands. Here in the U.S. federal employees staged ‘work-in’ to protest government shut down. Twice within weeks during the Bill Clinton presidency, the U.S. administration ordered shut down of government offices across the country because the Republican party who had majority in the House, refused to release funds to the Democrat president to run the government till the President came to terms with the Republicans on their budget proposals.

Mothers world over work overtime building image of their teenage daughters in the hope of getting them worthy husbands, but not Deborah Harter of Summer Ville, U.S. All day, every day, for one month, she led her teenage daughter around leashed on a two-foot chain to school, to stores, to bed. A judge had ordered the security measure for Tonya Kline, a rebellious 15 year old, who was getting in trouble with the law. “I lead her around like a leashed puppy dog”, Harter said.

Its owners sold Cardinals, the St. Luis baseball team, for $150 million, to a group of investors. This was the second highest price paid for a baseball team in the country where popular teams are bought and sold like company stocks. Back home in India, imagine Reliance buying Team India and then selling to Tatas for huge profit!

Mississippi voters, forgiving or ignorant, picked four convicted criminals for Sheriffs. The state law allows people convicted of federal laws to be elected to office, but it is illegal for them to carry arms. The sheriffs, in charge of upholding the law, would be subject to arrest if they carried a gun. “This really makes us look kind of dumb”, Safety Commissioner of the state said.

Far away from Delhi’s Tihar jail (Ashram), the day starts for convicts at the Alabama state prison quite differently. In groups of five, 400 prisoners, dressed in white, approach the guards and then kneel before them. The guards string them together with metal chains, ankle to ankle, five on a leash. The convicts are then taken out of the prison walls, on to the public roads to cut weeds and clean trash along the highways. The colorful Commissioner of Alabama prison is proud of his ‘chain-gangs’ and invites television crews and Press to watch the ‘spectacle’ as he calls it. Mrs. Kiran Bedi was, of course, kept away from Alabama ritual when she visited U.S. prisons on invitation from the federal administration.

For a former Delhi-ite, it was a familiar experience when power lines in most San Francisco areas failed with the first rainstorms of the season. But what made it look different was when the Chairman of the Pacific Gas and Electric Company, who provide the facility, said, “Another big storm will cause another big failure and there is little the Company can do about it”.

So, the U.S. world is different from the rest of the world in many more ways than mere driving on the wrong side of the road or switching on the light the opposite way.


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