From the coronavirus to the incursions in Ladakh, from expansionism in the South China Sea to the crackdown on democracy in Hong Kong, China poses a growing threat to the global order. As the world expresses concern about this, Bunny could say, I told you so, a long time ago.
It was 1970 and we were on a holiday in Kathmandu, Nepal. The Kathmandu of those days was very different from the overcrowded urban sprawl it was later to become.
There was very little motorised traffic on the roads, most of which were unpaved. The air was clear and crisp in the autumnal glow of October and the panorama of the great snow peaks that ringed the valley took our breath away.
In the narrow lanes which mazed through the ancient heart of the city, giant bulls of midnight hue, lounged in the shade of Hindu temples and Buddhist shrines, as old as time itself.
Hairy hippies in pursuit of mysticism and marijuana, not necessarily in that order, hibernated like Himalayan yetis in joints with names like Vishnu’s Chai and Pie Palace.
Bunny and I ate Tibetan thukpa and momos in Peace Restaurant which was also frequented by Roy and Pandora from Canada, a stunningly attractive couple, both very tall, she a platinum blonde and he as black as ebony.
Unlike India then, Nepal permitted the free entry of foreign goods. The few private cars and taxis on the streets were all Japanese. Local paan shops stocked cans of German beer. And when we ran out of Colgate the Marwari shopkeeper urged us to try Oxygen, a Chinese product which was half the price of its Indian counterpart.
I was all in favour of the Chinese brand. But Bunny had dire doubts, remembering only too well the 1962 Chinese invasion of India. I don’t trust them, she said. What if their wretched toothpaste makes all our teeth fall out? I laughed, and told her not to be so paranoid.
We used the toothpaste and our teeth didn’t fall out. But had I, and the rest of the world, been as suspicious of Chinese products and plans as Bunny was, the Dragon mightn’t have been able to spring unpleasant surprises on us. Starting with the coronavirus.
DISCLAIMER : This article is intended to bring a smile to your face. Any connection to events and characters in real life is coincidental.