Friday, December 26, 2008

Back to their Old Ways

The impact of 26/11 was such that I began to believe it would be the foundation of change in our country.  I saw early signs of it. Both the politicians and the citizens showed promised. But barely a month down the line, while the latter are still trying to find new ways to contribute to the state of the nation, the former are back what they do best, politicize the issue. 

Mr. Antulay, the cabinet minister for minorities found a new found profession, that of a conspiracy theorist. The accusations that ATS Chief Hemant Karkare’s death was a plot by Hindu extremists took centre stage, over shadowing the voice of many Indians who were asking much more potent questions at that stage. The 542 remaining members of parliament got so involved in pressurizing him for his resignation that they passed 8 important bills in 17 minutes. 

While the chaos was on in Delhi, I found one Mr. Bal  Thackrey’s comments extremely inflammatory and misplaced, though highly amusing. I think you will too by the time I share them with you. 

Mr. Thackrey quoted in his newspaper, Saamna, “Most of the people who lit candles in front of the Taj were useless (he used the word nalayak). Where were they when terrorists attacked us before 26/11?” 

Shouldn’t he be asking himself, why he and his many mad men didn’t show up even after the 26/11 incident happened? Did their balls drop off? Did they feel that their hockey sticks and stone would not help against AK-47 and grenades? 

People have always been doing their bit. There have been citizen vigilance groups in the past and there are many more active now. People are also contributing for the modernization of the police force by pooling in funds. There are also funds to collect money for the treatment of the injured who are still recovering in hospitals. Mr.Thackrey what have you done? 

He further comments about the women in the vigil, “These women did not fight anything before this candle light show. They may not have seen or heard about the protests by our female freedom fighters and the women who fought for unified state of Maharashtra.” 

It is sad that women need to fight when they are supposed to be contributing to the countries growth economically and socially. Besides, what they are doing is not fighting, it is called protest. Must have heard the word right? Your men always find illogical reasons to protest (read bandhs, curfews, violence, loss of property) At least these women have a valid cause. 

And those female freedom fighters he is talking about had a bunch of leaders who they could really look up to. We have eunuchs who only know how to talk. (By the way, why is ‘our female freedom fighters’ and ‘the women who fought for unified state of  Maharashtra’ put separately? Any guesses?) 

The last statement of his, which was by far the winner, was about the rise of Hindu terrorist groups. “I want Hindus to produce terrorists. That would be the way to tackle the present situation.” 

Brilliant. Hahahaha. Thank goodness you are not our Prime Minister. Half of Asia would be in the middle of a nuclear war by now.

He needs tutoring by Mr.Ratan Tata. Oh I so love the man’s dignity and wit! I am going to the Taj if I get a good enough reason to celebrate.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Some Things to Cheer About

Everything seemed to be at a low a fornight back. The economy, national security, political will, and on a personal notes, work, creativity, enthusiasm and socializing. However, this week gave me many reasons to smile.


For starters, I am no longer benched. I am on a big-big project with a fun-fun team and at least for now, enjoying the lack of forced idleness. Those who have been there and done that tell me its early days and the work pressure will soon catch up, but I still feel it's better than letting your usually logical mind catch rust. 

I also had my much anticipated trip to Malshej and Bhimashankar last weekend. Though not as high on the excitement and fun quotient, it was a needed break from the monotony that had begun to set in. Moreover, I found time to spend with my lately neglected camera (yeah, it is fine now). Two whole hours early in the morning, clicking mountains, grass, streams, animals, trees and my naughtly little cousin. (I will have to be really smitten by the photography bug to mention my cousin at the end.) Some photographs from the trip are uploaded on my Flickr album.

To add the icing on the cake, three of my good friends just came down from the US on account of their Christmas vacations. We had a chance to have a mini-reunion with the college gang on occasion of their siblings' wedding and it felt like they had just gone yesterday! We had loads to talk. Nothing had changed in spite of the time that had gone by. The good food and the naach gaana made the reunion even better. 

I want to stretch the passing state of bliss a little longer. I am trying hard to hold on to it. While I am at it, smiles from the Illuminator for the festive season!! 

Sunday, December 07, 2008

System Reset

It happened one week ago. My friend and I were in the middle of a badminton game, playing on the deserted road by our neighbourhood garden. The road is rarely used by vehicular traffic and it being an odd hour of a lazy Sunday afternoon, the chance of a vehicle coming by was even less. 

It was my serve. My opponent flicked the shuttle cock in my direction and it fell right behind me. I took an about-turn .... and then found myself lying on the floor, looking in random directions, sometimes through people and trying to comprehend what was going on. It was literally the "main kahaan hoon" situation which a lot of protagonists from the Hindi movies of the 1970s found themselves in. I was totally blank. I was having a system reset.

It felt like eternity. I felt I had been sleeping forever, sleeping for so long that my memory had cobwebs and dust strewn all over it. I couldn't remember any details. Slowly as I became more conscious, they all start coming back, limping into my conscience. 

The first face I recognized was that of my sister. She was there, looking at me with a sense of shock. She got me back on my feet and took me to a bench nearby. I was disoriented as far as my directional sense went. I couldn't quite react to the stimuli around me and act intelligently. Though there was one sensation that was ramming the doors of my head, that of pain. 

She took me home and gave me basic first aid. When I saw my bruises, I realised I had met with an accident or had had a bad fall. I asked her to tell me what transpired in the last, uh wait, I didn't even know how long it had been.  The first reaction she gave me was of disbelief. The second was amusement and buffoonery (just discovered the word!).

I was getting a little irritated with my lack of cognizance about a period of my life, no matter how small. How could have that happened?! A complete blank out. It was a first in my life. What we fear the most is what we know least about and I was beginning to get worried for exactly that reason.

She said it has barely been 15 minutes. You met with a minor accident. You were hit by a cycle. I was not in the state to think much due to the severe headache. I went to sleep in sometime not knowing how waking up will bring a true realisation of the pain. I had a very stiff right leg, from the lower calf muscle to the groin (oh, had he gone a little wayward and I would have damaged an important symbol of my manhood), a swollen left knee, bruises on my right arm and a bump on my head. 

When I woke up, I asked her to tell me in detail. How could a hit from a cycle have caused a black out in my head? How could I have been bruised in so many different areas of my body at one time if it was just a light bicycle? She still thought I was bluffing, but then she realised that the otherwise know-all Kapil could not have pretended to act so dumb. Out of pity, she gave me an explanation which I had no option but to believe. 

I had turned around and before anyone could realise, a cyclist had just crashed into me. He was a 13-14 year old kid driving a cycle too big for him, riding at a pace as if he were escaping a  covetous cheetah. The road was wide enough for two rickshaws to pass by while we were playing so it was strange that he couldn't find a leeway. My sister thought he was paid to knock me down! If so, he did his job really well. My sister found it funny although I thought it was my 9/11. 

Not only did he smash into my right leg and throw me off balance but also managed to fall on me. One would wonder what difference would a weight of a kid made, but add to that the weight of the cycle which he brought down with him and you will know the gravity of the situation. The first thing that came to my mind was the Joker's dialogue - "This is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object." 

All the physiological evidence logically fits when added with the theory of  concussion which was later introduced to me by a friend. And when I thought I had estimated all the damage and taken corrective action, I discovered a pale yellow patch on my upper left arm with ugly red specks scattered on it. The doctor said it was a blood clot and would heal by itself in around 2-3 weeks.  

Thankfully, the damage was neither severe nor permanent, just very painful. I live to see another day and tell another tale. 

None of what I said was exaggerated but the last line. And yeah, in case you are reading this mumma, don't worry, your son has recuperated completely. To the other readers, I could hear you say 'ouch' to yourself.  A big thank you in advance for empathising. 

Thursday, December 04, 2008

For you Mumbai, a thousand times over

Author: Niki D (my sister who attended the peace rally on 3rd December 2008)

Twenty Sixth day of November. I shall never forget this day. It was the day my city was attacked left right and centre. The third day of December. This was the day my city stood up to justice, raised a voice against the terror campaign and seeked to root out political misdemeanors. “Bharat Mata ki JAI”, “Pakistan ki Hai Hai”, “Galli Galli mein shor hai, Politicians Chor hai!!” were just some of the endless slogans being screamed out by the livid Mumbaiites. People tore down banners of political parties and put up some witty ones of their own like “The government lied, the innocent died”, “Call the bargirls back, we need protection for our country”, “Shivraj Patil, suck ass”, “No taxes this time, only accountability” etc etc

Missing: Mr. Raj Thackrey? Marathi Manoos or Marathi Mouse

Jai Hind!!

 Yes, there was a sense of anger, but there was also a stream of hope that flowed through the heart of every single person there. This stream definitely had many obstacles in its way. But along its way, the more hindrances it encountered, the more resolved it became.

 People craved for justice. They very much wanted the right people doing the right things at the right time. Some would say this peace walk from St. Xavier’s College to the Gateway couldn’t change much. But, been there, done that, I felt it was worth every bit. You can grumble about the authorities not doing anything sitting at home. Or you can go out there, and show those blood-bathed rascals, we care for our country. We care for our near and dear ones. And this time, we will not take things lying down.

We know the fate of this film.

Hmm..Why don't people think before they say something?

 The attitude of people has definitely changed. It’s no longer the ‘I-won’t-take-it-seriously-till-it-doesn’t-happen-to-me’ mindset. On my way back in the train, in the first class ladies compartment, there was one particular bag which remained in the rack unidentified. After questioning each other repeatedly, we came to the conclusion that the yellow bag belonged to nobody. Someone screamed it could be a bomb. Everyone hated to admit they thought it was that too. A few of us (including me) got down from the train and called up the railway police. Just then, a woman wakes up from her stupor and tells us, “Why the panic? Its mine.” I better not put down the curses people have hurled at her after that.

 Just goes to show, Mumbai is not sleeping. India is awake and vigilant. We need is to defend ourselves like the U.S did after 9/11 and United Kingdom did after 7/7. Hit the cowards first and hit real hard. We cannot afford another 26/11. We just cannot. 

May the flame burn eternally.