April 04, 2020
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Everything's Swine

Everything's Swine
outlookindia.com
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The rain may not have dampened anyone's spirits for the Silk Road reopening ceremony up at Nathu La on the Sikkim-Tibet border last week, but it was a big bore. The red carpet slithered on mud and slush. At one point, I feared it might glide over to Tibet. The chairs were wet. The awnings had holes. Puddles collected in front of the armchair put out for the Chinese ambassador to India, Sun Yuxi. A poor jawan was given a plastic mug and bucket and told to scoop out the water from the puddles before the ambassador arrived. The red carpet itself had been rushed from Siliguri in north Bengal at the eleventh hour after it was discovered that the original one was a few feet narrower than the one the Chinese had laid out on their side of the ceremonial arch. Indian dignity was preserved. Well, at least till lunchtime. Tibetan traders attending the ceremony had been invited to lunch at the new trading mart in Sheratung, about 5 km down the mountainside from Nathu La. I dread to think what impression they went back with. Being famished myself because of a staggeringly early start to the day, I had a quick dekko inside the 'building' where luncheon was being served. It was a pig pen. The food was being slopped out like pigswill. The used plates, in classic dhaba style, were being dunked in dirty water before being reissued. I retreated swiftly into the drizzle and slush outside.
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