"Are you sure you want to have that coffee? You will complain of acidity?"
"Why don't you have a swig of water instead?"
"Perhaps I should have gotten your sweater. You never know what is good for you."
"Don't wander about."
No matter how old you get, the experience of travelling with your mom never changes. Some equations never change. Thankfully. Though you may sometime make sham assertions of your grownup-hood, there is an unconditionally and concreteness about Moms that is perhaps unique. Which, much to their chagrin, girlfriends and wives never understand until they attain their own motherhood.
However, if the recent headline-grabbing N-Deal is anything to go by, the equations of International relations do change and how. One can see a new polarization of the world forces, with India, US, and presumably Israel and NATO on one side. The "other side" perhaps would be a China led front comprising of Pakistan, Iran, N.Korea and others that the west brands as "rogue" states. Russia is perhaps the dark horse in this unfolding saga. The recent incursions in Georgia has raised the hackles of the West, but push comes to shove, one hopes that its long standing friendship with India and more importantly its instinct of self preservation against a common enemy will see it side with the right side.
Coming back to the more important story, last week Mom and I were headed towards Chennai to see Mahabalipuram. It has been a long standing promise and finally I was able to take the time to keep it and I was so glad that I did. Of course providence helped in ensuring that it coincided with a business trip :) Mahabalipuram is about a couple of hours away from Chennai and is feast for the eyes. The five rathas, the temples carved out of stones, the sculpture on rock faces and the sea shore temple are sheer poetry and speak volumes of the artistic temperament of the Pallavas.
While Mom and I were getting enchanted by the magic of Mahabalipuram, China was surreptitiously planning to play the spoilsport. Had they succeeded it would have perhaps been a perfect replay of the "Hindi-Chini Bhai Bhai" story. However this time they had perhaps not anticipated the strong support from Bush administration. One phone call and the Chinese resistance crumbled and along with that crumbled the illusion that they really wanted to be friends after all. One hope India's stand on Tibet now becomes more pragmatic. Tibetans are our people and His Holiness as much an inspiration for Indians as the Tibetans.
Mom and I visited the croc park in Chennai's outskirts. It is difficult to describe the feeling of fascination laced with revulsion that proximity to these creatures bring. While one appreciates the conservation efforts but still one hopes that one never has to see one of these reptiles outside its enclosure. Mom was fascinated to see a turtle which rode on the back of a gharial with superb elan and grace.
The NSG waviver has been a major diplomatic win for India and the US. The hurdles at some point did seem insurmountable, however some deft maneuvering by both the Governments saw that that the Kung-fu opposition bit dust. My own work, thankfully, was equally successful and I came back with fond memories. The only fly in the ointment was an uncouth auto-driver, who thought shouting in Tamil would scare "outsiders". However, I hope that an encounter with a Bengal Tiger has left him wiser.
India and US, I feel are natural allies. I hope this equation does stands the test of time. For me what is more important is that I could finally keep a promise that I made a long time ago.