Sunday, October 14, 2012

Berowne's 139

(For Three-Word Wednesday and ABC Wednesday: "N" is for Nearly)
“Midnight Snack” is the title of the above.
I rummaged about in my mind through the past decades, trying to find something to work with. Then I remembered.
There was a fairly well-known snack back in the forties that I have never forgotten. It was in India, of all places, and I was there.
I can hear groans in the background of “Oh no, not another of Berowne’s ‘I was there’ stories.”
Sorry, but I’m afraid it’s true – I was there – and I thought it might make for an interesting post. Or at least semi-interesting.
I’m sure you remember the movie back in the eighties, a real epic, titled “Gandhi,” starring Ben Kingsley as the Mahatma.
In the film there’s a sequence where Gandhi is in prison because of his resistance movement and he is visited by an American photographer, Margaret Bourke-White, played by Candice Bergen.
When I saw the movie, I felt like shouting “I was there!” and nearly dropped my popcorn.
Here’s the story.
Soon after Pearl Harbor, with the draft board busily preparing to bestow upon me the coveted title of Buck Private, U S Army, I enlisted instead as cadet-midshipman in the Maritime Service division of the U S Navy. The first ship I was on delivered many tons of stuff to the CBI, the China-Burma-India theatre of war.
So I was in Bombay – none of us had ever heard of Mumbai – when Gandhi was in prison. Instead of just quietly existing as a prisoner, he was causing problems: he was sort of rattling his cage. Living out his famous policy of non-violent resistance, he went on a hunger strike. There had been a desperate attempt to get him to eat something, anything – a snack, even. It was about this time that he was visited by Bourke-White/Bergen.
And it was then, while we were tied up at a dock, that a British officer came by and told us that Gandhi was in bad shape; he was nearly dead. It looked as though the hunger strike would kill him. If that happens, he said, we should slip our lines and drift out to the center of Bombay harbor and anchor there, because there would be a national uprising on the part of all India and Europeans would not be safe on the street.
I wasn’t much of a European because at that time I had never been to Europe, but I realized that distinction wouldn’t mean much to rioters.
As a student, I had always been interested in Mahatma Gandhi. He seemed to feel that his philosophy of non-violent resistance was not just something one should adopt for moral reasons; he really believed it would work as a practical substitute for war. I know now that he was probably mistaken. As World War II went on, I felt that Hitler proved him wrong.
After a time Gandhi was removed from prison for necessary surgery, and was to live for another five years. (Presumably he had a few snacks during that five-year period.)
What a man was Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi!
He struggled for years to create a peaceful and calm India that would contain a wide variety of religions, all living together harmoniously, but the Muslim leader insisted on the formation of a fully independent Muslim Pakistan, a world apart.
The ironic truth is that in 1948 when Gandhi was assassinated it was not by a Muslim, it was by a member of his own religion, by a Hindu - who shot Gandhi three times at point-blank range with a .38 Beretta semi-automatic pistol - because of his tolerance of Islam.
(Also submitted to Sunday Scribblings)

39 comments:

Roger Owen Green said...

I saw the movie, but not since it came out. I forgot Bergen was in it.

And I very much admired Gandhi.

Helen said...

I have a lovely piece of decorative art hanging on my front door ... embroidered with Gandhi's remarkable words "My Life Is My Message" ...

Great post!!

Susan Lindquist said...

Talk about a shining light ... they guy was remarkable ...

Tess Kincaid said...

I just watched Gandi on TCM...fascinating and timely post, Mr. B...

Kathe W. said...

Ghandi was an amazing man- we need more like him. Wonderful remembrance Berowne.

Berowne said...

Thanks so much, Kathe.

Doctor FTSE said...

Assassinated by one of his own. The best thing about being an atheist - I'm not likely to be killed by another atheist for being the wrong kind of atheist.
Most interesting once again, Mr.B.

Other Mary said...

How cool that you were there! What an amazing life (yours and Gandhi's).

Sharp Little Pencil said...

Berowne, as a follow of Gandhi's pacifism, I know it's hard to grasp the idea of resisting Hitler. The fact is, if our COUNTRY embraced pacifism, our corporate war machine would not have manufactured and sold arms, steel, etc. to Hitler in the first place. And he would have never had the ability to command the influence he did without Farbin, IBM, and the rest of the war profiteers, including the Bush family (Prescott). My two cents.

As it is, your admiration for Gandhi shines, and as always, you continue to enrich my life with tales of the places you have been and the people you have known. Peace, Amy

Tigerbrite said...

You're the only man I know who could link that picture to Gandhi.
We dip into our minds and find what is there. LOL.

oldegg said...

Sadly Gandhi was a born martyr, his dream of a free India was never seen by him but yet he lives on by his example.

Berowne said...

Dr FTSE{ "The best thing about being an atheist - I'm not likely to be killed by another atheist."
True, but look out for those agnostics. :-)

Berowne said...

Tigerbrite: "You're the only man I know who could link that picture to Gandhi."
Yes, I have to admit it was a bit of a stretch. :-)

Raven said...

Tolerance - a sin. How backwards we all are. Thank you for filling in some blanks - I enjoyed it.

Little Nell said...

Wonderful to be able to say you were there at this remarkable time in history, and thank you for the anecdotes, which I'm sure we'd never find anywhere else. I remember the film, but haven't seen it in years; time for another viewing I think.

Irish Gumbo said...

Something to think about, the next time I'm feeling peckish. A remarkable man, he was.

Lyn said...

You move through this quite Zelig like. I so admire all your reports from the front..don't ever stop! Was there a particular snack?

Linda said...

Getting out of bed in the dark and opening the fridge would suffice, but not for you Berowne, oh no. Instead we are treated to a journey into the past, when a world war was raging, and treated to a story from half way round the world in exotic, Bombay! Thank you for sharing, these memories. I enjoyed the ride. =D

Berowne said...

"Zelig-like." I like that, Lyn. I do feel that way sometime. Thanks for the comment.

Kutamun said...

Clearly he was a shaft of light spearimg through great darkness, perhaps even something of a ship amxhored in the midst of a hostile harbour !

Leslie: said...

I should watch the movie again!

Leslie
abcw team

Joy said...

Gandhi was indeed a "great soul". Such an interesting voyage around your Indian adventure.

Hildred and Charles said...

What an interesting life you have led, - always enjoy hearing about it!

Berowne said...

Kutamun: "A shaft of light spearing through great darkness."
Well put, Kut...

Berowne said...

Always good to hear from Hil and Chuck. :-)

ninotaziz said...

I have been seeing Gandhi everywhere these last few days. And here you are!

I loved this - and the post on the Orient Express too. I love Agatha Christie and have a shelf dedicated to her.

Belva Rae Staples said...

This is another of your interesting adventures! Love it!

Nico said...

Great piece! I haven't seen this film in a few years, but it's one of my favorites.

rallentanda said...

H is for handsome if that is really you in your avatar:)

Daydreamertoo said...

No peace is ever won without a war which settles it and brings it to peace but, Gandhi is right in many ways, when he said: "If we keep on practicing an eye for an eye, son the whole world will be blind'
I can see why he thought you can win by waging a peaceful war and in the end it has to happen or mankind will bring about his own destruction.
This was a really good read, thank you.

Sheilagh Lee said...

I love your Berowne’s ‘I was there’ stories and this one is no exception.Thanks for this post.:)

Sue said...

Never apologize to me for one of these stories. I love reading them!

=)

Berowne said...

What a wonderful collection of encouraging comments from Sue, Sheilagh L, daydreamertoo, rallentanda, nico, Belva Rae S and ninotaziz - my sincere thanks.

mywordwall said...

Wow! What a piece of history - from personal experience - you shared there. :) Ghandi is a hero indeed.
Thanks for this wonderful and informative account.

~Imelda

Tumblewords: said...

Ah, there you are again. Amazing link between the photo and Gandhi - thanks for another look!

Carrie Burtt said...

Your life has made you an amazing teacher Berowne!!

Berowne said...

Thanks so much, Carrie.
I don't feel dull,
I don't feel hollow.
I found myself
In your "Blogs I Follow." :-)

RMP said...

No groaning here. I thoroughly enjoy your "I was there" posts. I often get so absorbed in your memories that I couldn't say one way or the other that you used all three 3WW words.

Yet again, a very interesting tale.

Raven said...

I am really enjoying your stories and the photos with which you enhance them. A lot.

 
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