Happy Birthday Gandhi!

Uncategorized | | October 2, 2008 at 4:06 am

It is Gandhi’s birthday today and it is a day I hold of great respect each year. Besides being a strong follower of his belief of invoking change in others so that they see the result of their actions. I also am an avid believer in non-violence for change. I was fortunate enough to go to school at the Phoenix settlement in South Africa. This was the place Gandhi had settled in South Africa and established his printing press and home. The school I went to, The Kasturba Gandhi Primary School (equivalent to an Elementary School), was named after his wife. I still remember walking during the break to his Printing Press. I never knew at the time that I was so privileged to be able to touch a part of history. Neither did I know that I would be one of the last ones to be a part of that history. Tragedy struck, and in 1985 my hometown (Inanda) along with the settlement was burnt to ashes in a political riot. I recall being told the morning that I could not go to school as riots had already erupted there, and being very angry at missing school (what can I say I was a geek), and at 13, I was oblivious to the danger around me. That night I lost my home to the riots but was lucky enough to evacuate with the only the clothes on my back. Anyway, I digress, this riot took away such a gem of history and I am sorry that people today won’t be able to share in it.

Something else regarding Gandhi that bothers me is the movie Gandhi, or most importantly the cast of Gandhi. I loved a movie depicting Gandhi for all he stands for and have the utmost respect for Richard Attenborough. What galls me though is that in a population of a billion Indians he could not find one single Indian to play Gandhi. Not only that, if you see the cast names, the first Indian name is not even in the 1st 10 names and then they get scattered towards the latter part of the credits. Come on, I think the person playing Nehru or Kasturba his wife should be listed a little higher, don’t you think? Am I the only one who thinks something is amiss? I wonder whether people would ever accept a white person depicting Martin Luther King, or a black depicting a Kennedy. Ben Kingsley is a fine actor, but excuse me he should NOT be playing Gandhi.

I was fortunate enough, while on a tourist trip to India, be able to visit his home. I also visited his place of death, a place where a diya (lamp) is kept and the flame is never allowed to go out. I hope we don’t disappoint the faith he had in mankind. Happy Birthday Gandhiji and may your soul rest in peace.

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