February 19, 2020
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Did Ravana Really Exist? Did you know that sporting a Buddha t-shirt will get you deported from Sri Lanka? Read the juicy gossip from the neighbourhood...

The Subcontinental Menu
The Subcontinental Menu

Underwater Ravana Palaces Discovered

Sri Lankan archeologists claim they have found two underwater palaces near Kirindi in the Indian Ocean. Reports suggest that these great drowned structures could be 2,500 to 3,000 years old and could belong to the era of Ravana, the mythical king of Lanka. Indrajith De Silva, of the Ministry of Tourism and Development, has strongly backed the claim. The government now awaits the final report by archeologists who are studying the und­­erwater sites, says De Silva, adding that it was very difficult to reach these places. Once a conclusive report is prepared, the department plans to release pictures and videos. The palaces were discovered near Kirindi between two lighthouses built by the British on two islands. Interestingly, these two islands were named Kota Ravana Kotwa (fort of Ravana) and Maha Ravana Reef respectively, much before the discovery of the structures.  


Liquor Leak In Punjab Lab

The staff of Punjab’s State Drug Food and Chemical Testing Laboratory has had to “dispose of” 98 bottles of Johnnie Walker Blue label and Black Label. At least, this was the explanation they provided to the state’s vigilance dep­artment, which came on an inspe­ction to the lab’s premises after a com­­plaint against the lab for not following ‘standard operating procedures’. The bottles had been deposited with the lab by the state police as samples of liquor seized in raids. The bottles were discovered missing when the vigilance staff sat down to tabulate all ‘case properties’ of seized contraband, supposed to be in safe custody of the lab. A bottle of Black Label costs around Rs 3,000; a Blue Label costs nothing less than Rs 17,000.  


Possessive Over Mother’s Sari

The legacy of a saint in today’s times has huge influence, and also, by rule, huge commercial value. When Mother Teresa was canonised by the Vatican in September last year, a lawyer on behalf of Missionaries of Charity—the organisation that the Mother founded—had the trademarks registry in India copyright her iconic sari that we know so well. Yes, the plain white drape with three blue borders. News of this perhaps reached Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins a little late in the day, and he is not pleased with it at all. Martins, 85, a top Vatican cardinal, thinks it “absurd” that taxes will now have to be paid on Mother Teresa’s sari. “It’s the first time I have heard anything like it,” an Italian weekly quoted him as saying. 


Buddha On A T-shirt Will Get You Deported

It probably was in the does and don’ts list that Indian tourists get with their on-arrival visa in Sri Lanka and often ign­ore, but few would think that such laws would be taken seriously by Col­ombo cops. A 26-year-old Indian tourist was shopping in a swanky mall in the country’s capital when cops approached her and informed her family that she was being arrested. For what? Wearing a t-shirt with a blissful Buddha printed on it. Apparently, any depiction of Buddha on clothes or in tattoos is an offence in the country. In 2014, a British tourist was reportedly deported from Sri Lanka for having a Buddha tattoo on her arm. The woman with the Buddha t-shirt, as the Indian tourist came to be known to all the mall goers that day, apologised for wearing it. But the sensitive cops were in no mood to take the middle path.


The All-Red Hot Property

This is not the first time that tomato prices have shot up. But this time, it has alarmed the lucky traders who have them hoarded in plenty. Some of them in Ind­­ore have asked the management of the local vegetable market to hire security guards to protect their stock, prompting quick deployment of guards. The traders see nothing unusual in their demand. A big consignment of tomatoes was recently stolen in Mumbai and they fear something similar.  Tomatoes prices have skyrocketed across the country over the past few days because of the extensive damage caused to the crop by incessant rains.

A Mission That Went Awry

The pressure to reach the objectives of lofty national programmes is great. Kanwal Tanuj, DM of Aurangabad district in Bihar was promoting the anti-open defecation campaign in a speech when someone in the audience shouted that they did not have money to build them. “If that is the case, then go sell your wife,” blasted Tanuj. Someone took a video, and all hell broke loose. The officer later said he was speaking in a “larger context” of cases of molestation and rape due to open defecation.

No News From Darjeeling

In today’s world, protests and civil unrest are not only confronted by crackdowns by security forces but also silenced through attacks on that virtual, disseminator of information—the internet. So, all the Bengal govern­ment needed to do to mute the Gorkhaland agitations was to pull the plug on the internet in the hills. With the internet blocked for over 40 days, mainstream media, which now relies on people posting information online, soon ran out of daily updates. But the more local ABN News Network, the only Nepali satellite channel in India which operates from Siliguri, was still active. As of Saturday, July 22, the state government has sealed the channel’s office on Sevok Road after accusing it of “promoting unrest” and ‘encouraging’ the movement for a separate state of Gorkhaland.


London Falling

London might well be a favourite property market for the world’s rich and famous. But for Pakistani politicians it surely is proving to be a jinxed destination.

If Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is under pressure to explain the legitimate source of income that allowed him to buy property in the British capital, his bete noire, Imran Khan, also seems to be facing the heat for a similar indiscretion.

Not only Sharif, even Imran is struggling to answer how he bought a London flat. His sworn court statement is reportedly false.

The former cricketing icon-turned-politician took the lead in demanding Sharif’s resignation when the PanamaGate scandal, involving the prime minister and his family, erupted in Pakistan. But now, Imran is finding it difficult to explain the source of his own income that enabled him to buy a flat in London.

Pakistani media reports say the “misstatement” given by Imran before the country’s apex court to explain the  “money trail’ about his flat could well end the political career of the leader of the opposition party, Pakistan Tehreek-e- Insaf.

In a sworn statement bef­ore the Supreme Court, Imran claimed he bought the flat from the money—$75,000—he was given during the 1977-79 Kerry Packer Series and subsequently, an amount of £61,000 he was paid while playing county cricket for Sussex.

The Chelsea flat had cost £1,16,500 and with the money from his two cricketing contracts in Australia and Sussex, he could pay for it. But Imran also claimed that at the time of the purchase of the flat there was parity in the value between the US Dollar and the British Pound.

However, this was not the case and during the period in question the Dollar and Pound ratio was 2:1. This, in eff­ect, makes the Dollar income from the Packer Series well short of the amount required to buy the flat in London.

According to a Pakistani English daily, The News, which contested the PTI chief’s claim with documents obtained from the Bank of England, the wrong exchange rate raises a big question about Imran’s source of income that allowed him to buy the flat. A demand is now growing for him to come out with details of all bank accounts associated with his offshore company, Niazi Service Limited, set up in 1983 and shut down in 2015.

However, many in Pakistan are wondering whether the documents about Imran’s London property and offshore company are being supplied by the Sharifs and their supporters, or sections within his own PTI.

Illustrations by Sajith Kumar

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