arcana imperii :: the book of j


«singh a good poet, mush good at math»

the times of india reported today a rather sweet story recounting the first ever meeting between indian prime minister manmohan singh and pakistan's leader, general pervez musharraf. according to inside accounts of their tête-à-tête, urdu couplets and nostalgic nuggets marked this first encounter.

musharraf apparently floored the indian prime minister by presenting him with a painting of the school where singh studied in village gah, now in present-day pakistan. he also gave him a photocopy of singh's marks card from school, joking that singh had scored better than him in all subjects, except mathematics.

singh, in turn, quoted bits of his favourite urdu poetry to make the point that india and pakistan must seize the moment to make peace.

«aah ki in tarikion se surkian paida kare / is zameen ki bastion se aasma paida karen» recited singh, repeating the verse he had used when musharraf phoned to congratulate him when he assumed office as prime minister.

singh also used another urdu couplet similar in sentiment to shakespeare's «there is a tide in the affairs of men / which, taken at the flood / leads on to fortune»*. it went: «kuch aisi bhi manzar hain tariq ki nazron mein / lamhon ne khata ki, sadiyon ne saza paayi». if we don't seize the moment, generations may have to pay the price, suggests the verse.

singh called on musharraf at roosevelt hotel in midtown manhattan, where he is staying. the two delegations were together for only about ten minutes before all the officials were retired and the two had a one-on-one -- without even note-takers present -- lasting nearly an hour.

officials later said that musharraf had invited singh to visit pakistan and that singh returned the invitation. they accepted each other's invitation and dates would be worked out in due course.

*actually, this is a line from julius cæsar in which brutus urges his comrades to seize a fleeting opportunity in an armed conflict. hmmm...