31 December 2008

Thank You and Welcome

A sense of gratitude envelopes me as I say Thank You to all those who visited this blog.
Thank You to all those who left their traces. All of them are greatly appreciated.

13 December 2008


I am not a big fan of writing tags, but when you read each others blogs, it is human enough that readers know who the writer is. And obviously so when some bloggers lift your spirits when writing a comment or sending an email. Don't you think ? So when I checked the blog Hidden in France written by corine yesterday I was surprised to find my name and was wondering about the million dollar question " should i or shouldn't i play tag ".Because one does talk about oneself quite a bit.
Let me cut to the chase -

w.r.to pt no. 4 - i assume many may not have an ear for classical music, but the man has studied music theory for 3 years and plays violin ( hindustani classical style ).

03 December 2008

aay mere vatan ke logo...

A friend in bombay writes : " the same dishoom dishoom goes on".. everything is back to normal."
Another writes: "i have work piled up. 2 days of not going to work has ONLY added more work".
This is the issue with Bombay. The common man bounces back even before you have winked your eyes. Business is back. children have started playing, "terrorist and the commando "instead of "chor police". Though anger is depicted in the Indian media the majority of the population have a job to go to and vacation days cannot be lost by sitting at home in fright. They also have bills to pay. The people who take the train to VT is alert, as usual. Every day they take the same local, at the same time. They discuss about terrorism with terror in trains with their "train friends."
Bombay can never be buckled down ! Ah! the resilient fighters of Bombay, otherwise how would it have become the financial capital of the country? And role model for the rest of the others in the country !! Will my dear bombayites realize what a great power they have and they can do anything ONLY if they set their mind to it - buckle down the politicians too.
Light your candles but pick up your swords (Read: Ask your politicians! to send our Forces.Don'take no for an answer). Otherwise the next generation will be raised under the fear of a "bomb" and the conditioning of 'fear'. There will be "kashmir" from kashmir to kanyakumari. Children learn what they see you do more than what you say. Gandhi did whatever it takes to kick the british - Cutting the long story short - "gandhisim is rebellion".
Sitting back and saying "Peace,when bullets are being sprayed on to you is an act of cowardice and non-confidence.
I rest my case.
(Edited later)

02 December 2008

VT station (CST ) and a letter to the Indian politicians.

That night as usual the ticket Collector just stepped out from his office at VT station (long distance) to put the updated charts on the notice board and fell to one of the random bullets sprayed by the terror makers. When I switched on the television and saw the news flashed on the screen “Terror in Mumbai” I called up my friend in Bombay without calculating the time that it was already 1.00 am there.

I was relieved to hear his voice at the other end, knowing very well that he stays very late at work and takes the local from VT. Another friend who generally takes the 10.45p.m Kasara local ( what NYorkers call subways, bombayites call it local ) that day left early to escape the routine “why are you late everyday” greetings of his wife.

Many of whom I knew escaped the jaws of death but many others died. But a million other lives are emotionally shattered by the sound of the bullets that the terror created at VT station – where people embark on a train – either for long distance travel, or work, study or go home. Everyday same time, same local except on weekends.

My brother said that the double fast local had left some time ago otherwise the casualties would have been higher because those who know VT too well only know that the station is tightly packed. Another undying spirited bombayite went to work the 2nd day, but hearing the sound of the shootings near VT took the next train back home.

As I heard about the shootings at VT station my usual calm self slowly started fuming and started reading the many blogs and the comments who gave a better picture than the media. I could see the crowds waiting on the VT concourse for long distance trains and a blood bath at an unearthly hour.

Having worked with the police for an year and having toured the dadar jurisdiction with the Rapid Action Force of Mumbai, I shuddered to think what it would have been for the police to be hijacked of their van. The havaldars and the station police are mere batons in the hands of the police authorities (IPS officers) and the politicians. They are nothing beyond servants in uniform. They do what they are told. They take what they are given.

At this point of time I remembered, the millions of people whom I saw everyday, but still did not see because I was hurrying to be at school in time or to be at work. The long decorated arches of VT station, the pillars, the high ceilings, the sun light passing through the glass bricks, the carvings at the station, the colored window panes and the giant clock are still so fresh.

They were my everyday sights and when I came out of the platform and crossed the road I would turn back to marvel at this structure (the first picture ) that beckoned the call of every tourist to visit and that coveted the awe of every traveler that took the train into VT.

When the bullets pierced into the surroundings and the people, my mind aches to think that it could be some one whom I knew and was taking the long distance train that day. The bullet marks on the walls of VT, the running of people into the narrow doors is something that can enact in my minds eye because I knew all of VT station and the adjacent lanes well (still do).

I have always seen VT crowded (except some days at the wee hours in the morning) so now when I saw the pictures of the concourse empty in the media I found it very hard to digest. Where millions of resilient bombayites fight to survive the poverty of their villages and find home in a crowded city and its suburbs, I light a candle for their strength to call the government to act NOW or another such incident is only waiting to happen in another corner of the station.

My letter to the politicians who has resigned and is contemplating it .

Why do you have to resign now when it is time to put your heads together and come up with an action plan? Don’t you feel capable to engage in your responsibilities? Have your heads stopped plotting and scheming now that the scheme is upon you and in your backyard? The Americans ridicule George Bush because in the past 8 years he has created more anarchy than any president, but as an Indian at this hour I salute the guy because he did not run away from his oval office nor did he resign from the seat that he was elected to when the terrorists attacked pentagon and the world trade centre in NY. He accepted responsibility.

George Bush along with Dick Cheney and his people tracked the roots of terrorism and went after the terror creators – both the root and the shoot. He created a system that the world heard loud and clear, “Don’t mess with us” Or We will come after you. He launched a war (against the protest of many) that strikes terror in the heart of the very people that created terror in the hearts of the citizens. And since 9/11 there was only one incident of terror in NY city - a black out but no man died. George Bush has kept his promise to protect his citizens. Why is your media not screaming, “Where is the George Bush of our country?” (few days ago they were shouting who is the obama of india)

United States seized power for itself. Nobody gave it to them on a platter. They are bullies when it comes to security for themselves and doing well for their country. Their politicians are as distorted like you but they are sadistic about their unity in keeping their home away from terror. They also pretend to help other countries. You do not have to extend welcome to every visitor who invites themselves. So when Madam Secretary is on her way to Delhi to pour water on the fire have the guts to stand up and tell her, “Go back Simon".

We all know too well that when your bureaucrats go for their initial training at the Lal Bahadur shastri institute of academy , US and UK universities/consulting firms get the contract to train them (last year i think it was Syracuse university NY among others) Your bureaucrats also go to be trained in institutions abroad paid by the tax payers. Have their grey cells freezed ?

Strategy, Vision, Mission Goals, Actions plans, tasks, deadlines... or do we have to hire somebody else to do the work? Or Are we going to outsource this work now? Dare you - if you outsource to any consulting company in any other country, (you have the dirty habit to do this) because if you do you will be removing the very armor from under your chair. Americans drink at every occasion they get ( to clear their head, i guess ) and their head doesn’t get light when they are at work…You always look UP to America? Learn the good things from this country not the bad ones.

Thank You

Image Credits and more pictures at:

01 December 2008

"kashmir across india".Can you hear now ?

In the middle of the night in a house in Kashmir.
“Knock, knock, knock,” open the door. The elderly gentleman who had fought in the kargil war against Pakistan answered the door. A man sprayed bullets into him. Next he killed his wife. The sleepy children ran to escape but the men ran behind and killed another daughter.

They assaulted and bruised another younger son and daughter - leaving one with a trauma that she is still recovering from. And left the boy partially deaf because there was a damage in the ear drum. This is just another case that has been filed into the archives of the Police file. The family that was afflicted was my friends. This happened in 2002.

My friend still trembles when she recalls this. Bomb blasts and living with fear, and not leaving the house after dark was how she was raised. Some relatives who stayed as far as Punjab had been asking them to leave the place for years. But they couldn’t. This was their home – they were born and raised right in the kashmir valley. Their father was in the Border security force . They did not want to leave their home where their father was raised in. They didn’t want to be away from their uncles and aunts, cousins and nieces, some who also worked with the Border security force. The assault on Kashmir is an old story which will not stimulate the nerve of any lawmakers, policy makers or get votes in the vote bank.

The valleys of Kashmir that heard the ooh and the aah of the tourists, and where shepherds tended their flock on the foot steps of these majestic mountains had become a ground for hide and seek for the Pakistani soldiers and people of the Islamic movement.The government of India in Delhi took heed in the beginning. But they gradually grew numb of the thousands of cases and the numbers of death that piled up in the archives. They had stopped counting. They had become immune to the situation and left Jammu and Kashmir in the hands of the wild – a case of international terror. The government stepped far and slowly grew accustomed looking at the situation with a foreigner's eye.

After all the people who were dying in Kashmir were the common folk and they were countless. The people who died were people who drank their tea sitting on the floor. Their diet was not pasta or caviar. They did not attract media attention and were seldom attracted to the glitterati of Bombay. They were interested in having basic amenities in their house, infrastructure of the town, decent schools for their children, health care, employment and food on the table. And many of their deaths had stopped to attract National Media.

Journalists and reporters could not get ahead in their career reporting such cases. And rating on major national stations would decrease because it was felt that it was some far flung place up north and the media and the people of the main land was tired listening about it. Kashmiri deaths were now reported on the 5th pages of the news papers or rarely reported. It was not a news item anymore. The political candidates did not even go out to meet them during elections. The citizens of Kashmir would hear the name of the candidates from a van on a loudspeaker and from the many posters and banners that were stuck on the walls at public places

This is the nth time that India shook under terror and bombay having had its fair share.

Not far from where it happened yesterday there was a bomb blast in Masjid (around 7 miles ) around 2 years ago and on the local trains towards kandivili and Kalyan (around 25 miles away from where it happened yesterday). But none of these ever reached the ears of the government that made them sit up and listen and take concrete steps.

They were dismissed as regional terrorism. The logic was simple- as long as the revenue of the city is not affected, as long as the places of the rich were safe from the bombs, as long as the people who died were poor and faceless and as long it happened in some far suburb in Bombay (we are talking about 25 miles max here) or some 3rd tier city like jaipur (in Rajasthan) and as long as the white men (American,Canadian and British tourists) were safe the politicians refused to be proactive until it affected their fate in the next election. Callousness slowly pervaded the minds of the media and the politicians towards such nefarious activities and now ingrains in them all so perfectly. The common man was reduced to the plight of braving and escaping such incidents.

But what happened in the last 3 days was like a deafening noise to the politicians and those in power because it happened in their backyard. The noise was sharp and long, that it could penetrate the most stone hearted of governments i assume but may also prompt them to do something (I pray that they get their acts together otherwise the people will slowly harness power to revolt against them)

Terror struck along the many lanes that the rich and powerful live, and where they host their shows and attend art galleries, sing and dance and make merry at two of the finest hotels in India – the Taj and Oberoi. We think that the people who created terror have a socially destructive disorder. Sure they do, but more so are the politicians and their band of bureaurcrats who have created policies, laws, processess and systems that do not empower the organizations. They also reign as exclusives who live in a closed cordon of like minded people and separate themselves from the real issues under the din and the lights of the chandeliers of the Taj and the Oberoi. Were the chords of governance finally struck or are they still dilly dallying to make a decision? Or are they just going to heighten personal security for themselves and their assets and spend the defense budget to get more bullet proof cars or send their personal security guards to get trained in the US or UK.

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