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Art of Boulder Painting and How to settle border disputes

September 13th, 2009

Last week there were reports that Chinese troops  intruded 1.5 km inside the territory of India in Ladakh and spray painted China (* in red, no less) on boulders and rocks. They did this near Mount Gya (22,420”), that (experts pointing to strategic significance) touches Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir, Spiti in Himachal Pradesh and Tibet in '?'.

Chinese response to these reports, 'No! No! We don't do rocks. War monger Indian media sells opium. Indian people, don't let them dope you. China loves you'

As often happens, China misunderstood the significance of these reports in India. In reality Indian received the news as one of those Ashok Kumar-Shammi Kapoor 'Pan Parg: O'Ho! Humein kya maloom tha aap bhi... ' moments: 'O'Ho! How could we know that you people also love to leave your name on insignificant inanimate things that will outlast significant human existence of this planet.'

I am sure if the Indian media, in an unbiased mode, had looked carefully they would have found a 'Raju loves Pinky' chalked on a nearby boulder. (Apparently, Indians, did quite deftly and artfully, respond by spray painting that same rock - INDIA. Sadly the chosen words were not - 'Raju loves India'. That would have been real triumph of Indian democracy.) It was such a big news in India because we didn't expect Chinese soldiers to do something like this without taking orders from higher up (Orders that must come with exact geo-location of the boulder to be painted and a fixed ration of red paint 'Not to be Inhaled'). In China of India's collective conscious nightmare, an artistic soldier who acts in such an independent manner probably have his fingers (and two thumbs) burnt in hot hand, and have his toes fed to hungry fish. Today he is painting boulders in morose highlands and tomorrow he is painting Groucho moustache on dear magnificent Mao at busy Tiananmen Square. Okay, that's too far fetched. But one can't be too careful with these painter-disciplined types, remember Hitler was a sad painter in Vienna. But, if one believes the reports then these sad and lonely Chinese painter-soldiers can start a war (at least a little skirmish) between the two big brothers of the region.

Okay, on a serious note, maybe there is more to this bizarre Chinese act. Maybe they took the history of this region too seriously (can't blame them, unlike Indians, Chinese always took history very seriously).  In this mountainous Himalayan region, in days of yore, ancient kingdoms used to demarcate their boundaries by leaving special diagrams ( usually eight in number and called m├ątrcakras - 'circles sacred to Mothers', as mentioned in Rajatarangini) engraved on rocks and boulders present at special locations, usually the 'gates' or mountain passes to the valley.

So may be these Chinese are mocking India in a very subtle manner. Maybe before moving to more basic,  powerful and finalistic method of demarcating boundary - men pissing on rocks and boulders, maybe, just maybe we can try that old Indian device used for claiming space- leaving handkerchief at the desired spot first. It works fine in Blueline buses of Dilli. Maybe it will work at the borders. But then its not a very practical solution because the Handkerchief solution works only till you later show up to actually claim the spot, so men will have to be deployed to guard the piece of cloth (Is flag a piece of cloth?). (Also the wind may blow the Hankies at such outdoor locations.). But if you think about it, may be that's how the two sides first decided the locations to be manned, and built posts. Since we still haven't decided our borders after all these years of talk (Damn Angreez people for eternity! Do we always have to fight to settle these things?), may be we can let a unbiased, well-fed, drunk horse decide the border.
* Wily Chinese! The Chinese text on the boulder actually translates as cryptic, 'In Yellow River'. So, maybe we can write enigmatic 'Dr.Bengali' on the same boulder in place of 'India'.


  1. Laughing very hard @ "Raju loves Pinky"


  2. Hello Vinayak,

    a very good read and the criticism of 'Indian' habits deftly put. Not only are rocks favorite, most historical monuments bear the brunt of love- heartburn or passionate heart alternatively. Most men think they can immortalize themselves by etching their name and will become popular as several people visit the monuments. Now i am looking for the Raju ( Pinky walla). :-)

  3. Ah! Man and his quest for immortality!


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