Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Candle in the wind

The one word - Overwhelming. It sums up the gamut of feelings that I am filled with, after the candle march that I was a part of at Marine Drive, the stretch of sea-adjunct land that starts from the Oberoi hotel and marks the shoreline of south Mumbai. No amount of TV images, living room debates and discussions or even the morose emotions that brew in my heart past days, could compare to that one moment when we lit up candles right in front of the Oberoi Trident in the memory of all that Mumbai has lost in her mayhem.
The March commenced at 7pm dot. A proud moment for the citizens of Mumbai, who despite their wry sense of punctuality, gathered and initiated a moment, so defining, at the time when it was supposed to be initiated. Glum faces incandescent with candle lights, some carrying placards that voiced their opinions (including me). Energies, rebellious and revolutionary, colliding with each other, charging the atmosphere with a sense of extreme passion.
Candles endured the wrath of the Arabian wind, probably suggesting a reflection of the hearts that carried them. Even if one blew out, a neighboring candle would come to the rescue, probably suggesting the (much abused but yet affable) spirit of the city. The march went on.
Slogans eulogizing the heroes of the horror - the cops, the soldiers, the hotel staff, the hostages - resonating across the air. “Jain Hind” ...“Bharat Mata Ki Jai”... “Vande Mataram”... leading us to the doomed Trident. There were occasional anathemas launched against the politicians and the terrorists. All aglow with a thousand flickers of light. The light paving way for insurgency of citizens' might. A citizens' movement about to begin. You could feel it in the air.
It had stopped being about mundane issues anymore. Approaching the Trident with every step gave the emotions a whole new crescendo. The shattered glasses were visible now, one can only imagine the ugliness that unfolded inside. It stood there dilapidated, forsaken, abandoned but certainly not decimated. It looked aglow, somehow (or was it a reflection?)
And a sudden rush of feelings took over. Flashes from the images seen on TV overlapping this monument that stood in front of me in flesh. Flames emerging out of that window, a hostage waving out from that window, a commando examining that window. Like it was still happening now.
A strong unison of voices and I was brought back to the present. The national anthem had started. “Jana Gana Mana Adhinayak Jaya Hai.. Bharat Bhagya Vidhata....”
Everyone stood still. Not because they were required to, but because they wanted to. The candles held up high in the air now, faces wistful, wishful even. A distant gaze at a future devoid of terror. A thousand lit minds. Hopes, optimism, drive, execution. A new found ability to question, to confront, to revolt too. To change. A congregation of minds that wanted change, that wanted to be the change. A cohesive force between us. A revolution underway. A movement as begun.
India’s own renaissance.
Birth place - Mumbai , 30th Nov’ 2008

image courtesy - yahoo/Assoc. Press

url - click here

Friday, November 28, 2008

40 demons, 50 hours, 165 lives

More than 50 hours since the nightmare began, leaving Mumbai in the worst grim, the worst gore, the worst gloom of terror she ever faced. It feels like an eon since the last pleasant thought. Endless blood stained, fire gutted and grief struck images of this madness in Mumbai. The final leg of the mopping up operation is in it’s swing. Some respite from the incessant gunshots and grenade blasts after 2 days of baneful darkness. The death doll at a 165 now. The PM has summoned the ISI chief as obvious Pakistani links where traced by the conversational intercepts and I.Ds of the terrorists. There is an influx of international aid, including America's FBI and UK's Scotland Yard.
All strata, the proletariats at the Victoria Terminus and the patricians at the Taj, are equally affected by the terror. Terrorists holed up the buildings, citizens holed up in their houses, there appears a heavy lull in the air. A chill has settled across the city and her hearts, and I don’t mean it figuratively. Disputed numbers of those still inside the hotels, of those dead and of the terrorists keep flashing on my TV screen. Some rumors are afloat about some terrorists being dispersed all throughout Mumbai. Friends and relatives of those taken hostage have come to terms with the obvious, some still pray, some still hope as the military mopping up happens in the hotels. An apparent sense that it’s coming to a stand still after what seemed like an eternal battle. Questions will keep surfacing, disquisitions will begin, the blame game will start, human rights will be discussed, world will watch... and this catastrophe will be remembered for a long long time.
But it’s time for the aftermath to begin now. Because soon the much dormant (and thankfully so) politicians will start pouring in with their accusatory and defamatory statements. The denouements and deconstructions, the debates and discussions have started to begin. Tales of survival and those who succumbed. In between explanations for the laxity in our securities at such a prime location in the city, one burning question remains unanswered - The failure of intelligence not withstanding, why was such an enormous attack unleashed on the city and sustained for more than 2 days?
Various words used to describe this crisis; some say “numbing” ;some say “surreal”.
But one thing is for sure, this is NOT the end. And this is NOT just one of those terror attacks that Mumbai will simply move on from. Optimism befits when terror destroys everything else. And as we face such a horrific attack, optimism isn’t ging to be about 'moving on'. It is now going to be about a radical change. A movement where all the citizens will come together in the wake of terrorism and fight back. Question the system, confront the system, rectify the system. And diplomacy just isn't the way to deal with anything.
I would like to reiterate Shobhaa De’s statement here that NO, we will not stay calm. A slogan will lead us into a citizen’s movement - “Enough is Enough”. A movement where all of us, who take pride in calling ourselves “Mumbaikars” stand together, defying any attack on our integrity as a society, as a city and as a nation. We stand, united and fortified.

image - guests at the Taj use curtains to escape.
courtesy - The Telegraph/AFP
url - click here

Thursday, November 27, 2008

30 hours of a nightmare

Almost 30 hours into the more horrific terrorist event ever faced by Mumbai city now. Some label this as the most catastrophic crisis ever faced by independent India. The news by now has gained international momentum due to the magnitude of it, even because the hostages taken were of British, American and Israeli nationalities. 50 odd blasts heard from the Taj and Oberoi hotels. The number of deaths reported by now has reached 125. Each passing hour brings in sounds of fresh blasts from inside the buildings between eerie lulls.
The Mumbai Police and ATS (anti-terrorist squad) fought the initial level of this war sacrificing the lives of 14 officers, 3 of them top officers of the Mumbai combat team to terror. The NSG (national security guard), India’s topmost security body is now smoking out the holed up terrorists from the Taj and Oberoi as I write this. The world is watching as Mumbai fights for restoration of peace.
The deconstruction of the crisis is impending as thankfully most politicians and even news channels are refraining to make any politically inclined statements.
Meanwhile, as I stayed glued to the TV all day, I was so impressed by Shobhaa De's outburst on television (NDTV) while talking about the terror situation in Mumbai. She came across as a veritable Mumbaikar (bang on reflecting the angst the common Mumbaikar is going through right now) bluntly asking the politicians to "stay out of Mumbai" while we face this event.
She was very vocal about her stand and was, as she would herself put it, 'politically incorrect'; quite blatantly targeting the politicians for the security laxity while themselves being provided with Z level security when in fact, a city should be conferred with that.
The most defining moment of her agitated commentary was when she accused the PM of giving an "uninspiring, lack luster, robotic" speech asking the people to "stay calm" she almost yelled out "NO WE WILL NOT STAY CALM!"
Despite her obvious infuriation and distress, she rightly praised the army and the brave officers who laid down their lives while fighting terror.
It certainly worked for me, it stirred me, as a denizen of Mumbai, as a citizen of it...
we have us for eachother. And no, this blow wont be taken lying down because no one can take our spirit or our affability for granted. A citizen's movement is indeed needed. And will be born!

wayyyyy to go Shobhaa, wayyyyy to go Mumbaikar!!!!

watch the video on youtube here

The darkness lingers on...

16 hours since the first sounds of gunshots and grenades, Mumbai is still reeling under the black cloud of terror. The Taj remains captured although there is no ‘hostage-like’ situation. The Oberoi trident is still under evacuation operation and a new hostage location The Nariman House has emerged since I slept at 6am. Over a 100 reported killed since then. Casualties in many hundreds.
Many accounts of the crisis. Every news channel covering the situation. Responsibilities being doubted. Names being dropped. Origin unknown. Lashkar and fedayeen. Soldiers and civilians. Reporters and stories. Loopholes and strategies. Condolences and homage.
THEM and US.
Some few lucky ones escape, huddled behind barrages. Many still battling, looking fear in the face . Soldiers waiting in ambush outside the locations while the scene inside the buildings can only be imagined (actually not). International reactions pouring in. My friends expressing concern, disgust & trepidation. A carnage being conducted on the belly of Mumbai city. Disaster being managed. Rumors being spread, speculations being born. Hope being anticipated.
That this shall be over too. Hopefully soon. Amen.

courtesy - Indranil Mukherjee/Getty images/AFP
url - click here

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Dark Night

It’s been more than 6 hours now that the mayhem began. Mumbai, as I write, is ablaze. The Taj, Mumbai’s premier hotel, the postcard picture of Mumbai, the symbol of a centenarian Mumbai, was set on fire by grenades. Terrorists came in through the Arabian sea and disembarked on the southern Mumbai, India’s economic HQ, wrecking an unprecedented havoc. And it wasn’t just the Taj. The Hilton towers, Madam Cama hospital, Victoria Terminus along with 8 other prime locations in down town Mumbai have been targets of terror attacks with Indian, American & British hostages being held. A debutante attack of the Deccan Mujaheddin impaled Mumbai right through her heart.
Apocalyptic images are running across my TV screen. Shattered glass, sanguine streets and singed heritage. Mumbai’s very own holocaust. I am commentating on the situation with R.(who is in Bangalore) on the phone, discussing and deducing, canvassing and concluding. Divinities, Prophets, Idolatries & Pagans. Scrutinizing the roots of hatred while recurrent images of The Taj in flames flash on the TV. A terrorist’s face is shown. He looks high on gunpowder, his face smeared in blood and those eyes... like a cannibal’s.. I change the channel. The Taj in flames again. Some of the harbingers of death die. Martyrs are borne. 80 lives killed. 200 lives broken. A city shook.
This night will be bookmarked forever in this city while I close my eyes with a silent prayer. Amen.

courtesy - Reuters
url - click here

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Season of pains

6.50am in 1999. A murky weekday of July. The black & grey hybrid sky about to leak it’s saturation. The metallic aftertaste of half boiled milk in my mouth and highschool graduation presentiments in my mind. The temple bells have started clamoring, sandalwood incense effused in damp air. The other kids look half sleepy waiting for their over crowded lugubrious green school bus. The garbage lady forages for moist breakfast provisions in the garbage bin. The unseemly crow laboriously searches for straws while the pleasant nightingale gets ready to steal it. Life is up and about, ready to dispense.
My canvas shoes make podgy sounds that co-ordinate with my lazy heartbeat. Quanta of energies in my bag and pockets of sleep in my head. I get inside a rickshaw that teaches me how to share my space with peers. I am painfully awake. Painfully educated. Painfully cared. I settle myself to catch a wink amidst eruptions of my pains. I watch the girl on the pavement. My age. Fighting her tears, trying to sell a batch of clammy newspapers with stuck pages. Pain is relative. Tears are absolute. It starts to rain. Our hearts interpreted.

art title - rain drops, Canon 30D
artiste - Jon Bruschi
url -

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Trajectory of a corporate interviewee

Merry looking corporate guard : Hi sir
I : (not sure whether to reply in english or hindi) err.. Hi.. I am here for an interview
MLCG : Bag. Check. sir
I give my bag for checking.
MLCG : (humming a merry tune) Yeh kya hai?
I : Yeh.. Sunblo..err.. Cream hai..
MLCG : (continues humming, continues rummaging) ok sir. Go shtrait, turn lepht, lasht room.
I keep repeating directions, yet I get lost in a maze of mysteriously named rooms with no obvious link - T3, T7, T16, T19.
Busy Looking Corporate Passerby passes by.
I : Hi.. I need to get to the HR.
BLCP : HR is that room (points to another series of rooms; leaves before I can falsely thank her)
I find the HR following a frightened looking corporate interviewee.
It’s a room called the ‘recruitment bay’ filled with jumpy looking corporate aspirants.
I go to the reception manned by an unamused looking corporate temp.
I : hi.. I am here for an interview
ULCT : anyone you want to see specifically?
I : yeah. Someone called Jhar..Khand.. I guess. I am not sure about the name (smiles sheepishly)
ULCT : (unamused) Jaakal.
I : oh yeah. Jaakoor.
ULCT : Jaakal. Thats me. Submit your resume and take a seat.
I take a seat between a perv and a dyke. Perv keeps looking at girls, boys, chairs, coffee machine, post-it’s perversely. Dyke keeps joyously smiling at girls but goes stone faced when spots a boy. Everyone is talking is whispers. Not being used to whispering, some choke, hawk and keep modulating their voices sometimes involuntarily producing sudden high-pitched sounds.
Pompous looking corporate employee walks in to announce something.
PLCE : (importantly) you guys will have to wait for another 15minutes. Our interviewers are (short pause) in a meeting.
We all get convinced.
Interviews start in 15minutes and an hour.
Interviewees come out smiling the ‘it-was-a-cake-walk’ smile, falling trap to the HR’s constant smiling faces.
Perv looking at an unsuspecting folder lustfully. Dyke getting ready to smile at a girl she spotted through the glass door.
I am waiting for my turn....

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Braking bias

When I hear an old hindi song played on loud speakers a rush of despise takes over me. And then after several suppressed grunts, I realize that it was the same song my mom very intently made me listen to in the car when I was, I guess, 10years old, on one of our annual trips to Kulu Manali. But now I am programed to not display any amount of affiliation to hindi songs because of the percept that alternative is cool, popular is NOT.
We, in our quest for individualism, like to segregate ourselves from the herd. We have tendencies to deviate from the general consensus to prove the point of our aberrational behavior. We refrain from providing any sort of benefits of the doubt to popular forms of art and in the process, even develop a strong aversion to it without venturing into much reasoning. We like to hate Britney, Titanic and The Da Vinci Code even before we really scale them thoroughly. Our attention deficits only but help us achieve this.
Like Rachel, we all have movies that we say we like and movies that we actually like. We update our orkut and facebook profiles the way we want others to look at us, seldom the way we really are. Britney gets replaced with Bjork. Titanic with Citizen Kane and Da Vinci with The Fountainhead.
Pop becomes synonymous with pedestrian. And pedestrian with the proletarian. Proletarians aren’t the rebels. And this goes against the DNA of our young blood corpuscles.
So we forsake pop for alternative. And we keep refining ourselves. Keep specifying ourselves. Keep defining ourselves. Dictating our hearts to succumb to the impositions of our conditioned minds. Forgetting that the only dictatorship our choices are subject to is that of the heart’s.

art - blue shot Marilyn, of Marilyn Monroe Pop Art collection
artiste - Andy Warhol

url -
additional url -

Monday, November 17, 2008

Anticipation = hope squared

Anticipations serve as the momentum to the daily wheels of life which otherwise would have been at inertia with Expectations. Where expectations fluctuate from being low to being great (ref Dickens), anticipations remain constant. Constants in physics have a tremendous application in propelling equations and deducing formulae. Lets assume Anticipation being one such constants and apply this to the metaphysics of our lives.
You expect a salary, but you anticipate a perquisite. You expect a song to be good, but you anticipate a song to make you look at the sky. You expect food to satiate your hunger but you anticipate the food to satisfy your feelings. You expect happiness, but you anticipate bliss.

Expectations overshadow our anticipations because maybe our pessimisms only allow us so much. Expectations cause us to overlook the fact that the size of the hope derived from them is very limited. With anticipations, hopes become less fragile and more expansile, thus exponentially enhancing the possibility of a favorable outcome. As in business, where “anticipation” is a term used to offset losses against future/unrealized earnings or to pay a bill before the deadline, can we use our anticipations to impede the losses in..well.. life, as such?

I'd anticipate my day will make me wanna pray at the end of it and I wake up to see the sunrise tomorrow. I'd anticipate my winter to bring hibernal butterflies in my room and snow fakes outside it. I'd anticipate my life to turn into a song in the end and begin a new tune after the end.

I wont keep any expectations. My anticipations will nurture my hopes.

Recommended watch
: "Nights in Rodanthe" starring Diane Lane & Richard Gere, it tells a story about two emotionally distraught people who teach each other to anticipate. And it’s this anticipation that lets them disentangle themselves finding each other at the end of it. Adapted from a novel of the same name by Nicholas Sparks, it takes place at a small village called Rodanthe, North Carolina with a picturesque inn adjoining the sea serving as the backdrop.

art title - anticipation, oil on canvas
artiste - Karen R. Fox
url -

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Eyes filled holes

Window. You wake up half groggy from last night’s battled sleep and get drawn to catch a glimpse of the world through your window. There is a peevish housewife washing utensils on a sink who watches you through her window. An old hag who hates the noisy children in the neighborhood watches you. The skeptic bird at your window watches you. The nebulous portion of the sky through your window watches you..
And you watch back.
Like a custom, actually more like a reflex, that we have acquired living in the middle of these encompassing peep holes, there are various moments throughout our day when our private spaces overlap others'; and at these overlapping moments, both of us watch eachother, momentarily exchanging details (apparent and obvious) of our lives, touch and go, we become a part of eachother’s lives, intertwining them at that juncture, and then moving on. Like ants in a colony, sensing eachother as they jostle through their busy trails exchanging details.
A fraction of our lives get witnessed by strangers through these windows. Placed so closely to eachother, breaking through the fences we build around us, baring us, stripping us, peeling us. Hunting our vulnerabilities. Mapping us. Defining us. Judging us. The reality show of your very own life. Watched through innumerable windows.
And it will go on until you vanish in the true sense. They will watch until the last shards of your corporeal existence fades away. Interred or cremated. And then it will be your turn to watch.. without being watched.

art title - window, Canon EOS Digital Rebel
url -
artiste - Anon