Monday, December 29, 2008

Its that time of life...

...When folks say 'Oh there's this nice Rishta (proposal) that's come, why don't you meet him?' One broken semi-engagement down, its the last thing I want to do. I got away from it all for a while with having been given time to get over events of the past, and now more recently 26/11 with dad having moved back home only last Tuesday, nearly a month after he left home.

Anyone who knows me, knows Im a dreamer, a sucker for falling in love, a staunch believer in meant to be and Prince Charming. True Ive wavered from my incurable romanticism many times, thinking its all in the movies and what not. But still, that persistent tiny little voice inside says 'I want to marry for love'. I always have.

I don't know what it is about 'Arranged' marriages and the concept that scares me.... Actually no, I do know. A complete stranger, who will seem chivalrous, gentle, kind, well dressed when you meet him 4-5 do you know how bad his temper is? Or If he has a really bad history? I know Indian society is pretty close, and parents generally do a lot of groundwork and background checks... but how does coming from a great family and being well educated guarantee that your not a selfish, narrow minded person? These are qualities (among many) that can really undo a good impression, and will generally never be displayed in the first few meetings..

How do you get yourself to spend the rest of your life with someone you have known 3-4-5 or max 6 months? I knew someone 8 years, and things didn't work out with us. So a few months pale in comparison. I'm a crazy, entangled, moody, hormonal, sentimental extreme person. Id need someone who would understand that and embrace it. I've seen fun filled, enthusiastic young women turn resigned, quiet, compromised ...lose the very part of them that made them the person they are. That's something I cant compromise. If i were to stop being so mad, spontaneous and extreme..I wouldn't be me.

That said, Compromise I'm willing to make. I'm willing to try hard to get his folks to like me, or move another city if he gets a job he cant refuse (and expect him to do the same) or tone down a Little, or try learning a new language in case he's not a Maharashtrian like I am, or have a kid extra if he wants lol!!
I'm also a person who wants to settle down at the right time in life... I was always very clear that I want to have a family and a husband ... when I'm young, and have time to enjoy married life. Career driven is right, but family comes first.

Which puts me in a fix. I'm 25. Not open to Arranged Marriages. Very scared of the whole love marriage thing even, cause Ive been through the planning shanning, and it wasn't as fun as I thought it would be. In fact, with the amount of compromises that were being made by my family and me, with the boy very adoringly trying to soften the blow for me each time (and bearing the brunt of things most often), I'm surprised people manage to stick it out and smile on the wedding day. I had reached a point when I didn't want to sacrifice anymore... I wanted it my way. A maharashtrian wedding, a pretty engagement ring which I or we pick out, A proposal Id never forget, A fun filled Sangeet....most of which somehow were Just not panning out. I should mention how supportive and understanding the boy was at this time just cause it was something Ill always admire him for. Amid everything that was happening, I could see how much my dreams meant to him... and that is a quality I hope the person I end up with has...exchanging each others dreams and making them ours.
Ive never realized how that falling out made me feel.. I simply run away from most feelings, but Ive come to realize... It felt bad. And Feb 1st will always be the first almost wedding date I had. No regrets though, the boy is also happier this way... having given wayy too much into making me happy than he deserved. So here's to a new lease of life...

Somehow the years keep slipping by, I dont get why. Shouldnt they go slower? Considering a minute is 60 seconds and 60 minutes is an hour, and a day is 24 hours? sheesh. I almost pased out when I realized I passed out of school about 10 years ago. This when I was mentioning in a conversation to someone how 5-6 years ago when we were in school something something and I was corrected saying its been 10. Seriously? Seriously.

So like it or lump it, new years here. So, as Opposed to being home last time, I will be at a friends terrace this year, bringing the new years with my friends, then following it up with my first ever trip to Goa with friends yay! psst, I was born in Goa :) , and share my birthday with St. Xaviers which is a BIG day in Goa. (Maybe Im him, reborn?). Im praying I dont get so tanned since this tan is just about wearing off. :(

Anyway, for having read my rants and leaving me a word, and for the silent readers (there are some I hope =)) please leave me a word lol!! Thanks guys, I wish you all the love and luck and good health I can muster up. Hang with me :) Have a good year, and DONT DRINK AND DRIVE!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

And We Wait....

For Justice. For Answers. For Action.

Each day I watch ardently, hopefully (to no avail) as just more and more of the same cat and mouse game continues on the news. Each day I wish that someone would take a FIRM stand on things, and say it like it is. Maybe its just me, but I think we've reached a point where 'DIPLOMATIC' is the last thing I want to be. Two days ago Mr. Pranab Mukherjee realizes The terror attacks were a cold and calculated act”, (Really, What a revelation. And here we were, thinking it was a stroke of luck for the terrorists that they managed so much damage)

As I stood at my window overlooking the Badhwar park sea just a day ago, I thought had I been in my window on that ill fated day. I could've seen them probably. Get off, Unload. And what an eerie thought it is.

Lets pretend this plan was hatched only 6 months ago. Picture the Mastermind Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT)'s Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi and a few others sitting around in a dinghy room in our dear Neighbouring (Friendly) country. I wonder who it was that came up with the idea. Did they have a good laugh after coming up with such an ingenious plan? Or pat themselves on their backs for their plan? Or was it grim silence while they contemplated the task that lay before them.. recce of the places, training to the selected, selection of the executioners? Do they have families? Wives? Mothers? Do their mothers know they raised vicious heartless ruthless men? Can they see it in their eyes?

Did they spend the run up days to November 26th in eager anticipation of their attack? Did they pray to Allah before they embarked on their mission? Why did Allah listen to them? Didn't he know better?
Understanding the psyche of such deranged demonic men gives me goosebumps. I wonder what they were talking about on the dinghy on their way... When they could see the lights at Badhwar park, while we all went about our mundane activities unaware...
Did any one have cold feet? Even for a second? Did they expect to see each other again? Did they really think they'd achieve some form of sainthood,nirvana, jannat?

I wonder what we were all doing at the time... its an eerie feeling. That we went about our daily life, groaning about its inconsistencies while such a sinister plot was already underway. Who knows, there could be a meeting in process right now?

But the Mayhem continues, Tongues wag, and more politicians embarrass themselves. Nearly a month down the line, we are still looking for a strong, reassuring voice, a resilient defiant stand against the perpetrators, and an end to being taken for granted. Both as a country, and as a citizen.

And we wait.

Its not everyday...

That you meet someone, who does something so extraordinary with so much ease, that you realize, that yeah, you can do it too.

Meet Kiran Manral, mom of one (fondly called the brat) in her words 'A concerned citizen. And a mom. Trying to help those she can to the best of her abilities'. Shes started the India Helps blog of which today, I am also a part. It started with Mumbai helps... and moved on to India Helps. We are just a few people, bound by love for our city, concern for the affected, and a restless urge for doing something which will help us move past this feeling of futility.

We're all doing stuff... in our own way. And this is just a start. Each one of the women who attended the meetings so far, is driven, dedicated and confident - about helping, and making a change.
Kirans effort is inspiring - she started off with nothing, and we strangers have just come together with a bond that overwrites not knowing each other, for the cause we are workign towards. You can see what we're upto on the website I've linked before. also working on a badge for the blog and other enhancements... not only to the blog, but also to the cause.

If you want to contribute in whichever way, drop me or any of the team members on the website a line, we can figure it out. Thanks Kiran, for a wonderful effort... you've certainly inspired me.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Rab ne bana di body!

Took some advice.. and went and watched 'Rab ne bana di jodi'. Heres my two cents on it.
I maintain that I am not an SRK fan. I loved him in Swades, liked him in Chak de. THAT'S WHERE THE LINE ENDS . Im done with the song and dance routine, the over-emotive crying, the typical voice modulation and the benevolent, unrealistically nice roles he plays.

After forgettable (and seemingly repetitive)perfomances in KKHH, Mohabbatein, KANK, DTPH and the likes, I heard he's playing a person suffering from Autism in the next one. That'll be a challenge for him, I should think. I don't think anyone can ever outdo Sean Penn (I am Sam) though, or even Hrithik (Koi Mil Gaya).
'I am Sam' is arguably one of the most moving films I've seen, with commendable performances by both, Sean Penn as well as Dakota Fanning. Such Mature expressions, in depth understanding of the character and a crisp, strong portrayal of a young girl by Dakota were unforgettable.
(If you haven't got the hint by now, PLEASE RENT THE DVD AND WATCH IT, IF YOU HAVEN'T ALREADY)

Coming to Rab ne... I had serious issues with the script. While one cant hate the movie (one can rarely hate mellow, non violent, pretty actress song and dance movies can one), Id say i came pretty close. Its a good concept, and a good scriptwriter couldve done wonders, considering the gamut of emotions he had to play around with. Grief, new beginnings, hesitation, simplicity, love, ache, want, long, quiet desperation.. all could have been woven into a beautiful interleaved tale. I don't know why most Hindi movies make me feel as though the writers get carried away halfway through the movie and decide that since people have anyway come all the way to a theatre, lets try and make them sit for as long as possible. I had similar problems with Dostana, which could've ended a good 15-20 mins sooner, and not gone into predictable Hindi movie style chaos.

A movie is funny, cute, adorable etc, only till a certain point. If someone keeps tyring to prolong it, in a hope that it will make the story more intricate or interesting, then what they are achieving in effect is boring the audience. I was groaning when (ANOTHER) dream sequence song started playing. That's another problem. When you have more than one song which is a dream sequence, you should realize that since you don't have places to put songs in your movie (cos they are not required maybe?) you make dream sequences out of them.

I did like Surinder though. So many of him exist in a typical non metro Indian society. He was surely likable, his simplicity, the Unsure gait, the moustache proclaiming his masculinity, his scooter, the Reebok shoes (which are the cheapest in the range but Reeboks nevertheless), dedication and love for his tutor - he was simply difficult to dislike.

My next problem was the transformation. I refuse to buy a quiet mouse like character suddenly unleashing a lecherous, Over the top, loud and distasteful character like Raj, unless the character is suffering from Multiple Personality Disorder. That too, slipping in and out of the characters with ease, and no conflict or friction during the transformation. Even leaving my brains behind and going for a movie after a gap of nearly a month (and what a month its been), I simply couldnt get myself to let go of this absurdity. Cinematic liberties are all good, but come on, the characters were not that complex that asking for a semblance of sense is asking for too much.

The new girl is refreshing, cute and is undeniably fit for the role... that of a typical Gori-chitti pretty North Indian girl. I adored her clothes... the patiala's and dupattas she wore were pretty, classy, vibrant and yet, simple. I WANT. Other than the muddle of emotions that she was made to undergo (I wasn't sure what she was supposed to be feeling at many points in the movie), I don't have too many issues with her. I did like her long flowy hair, young and innocent face, and her body - tall, slim yet curvy. A refreshing break from thin and flat. =)

All in all, it couldve been better, or even bearable had it been at least 40 mins shorter, less dramatic, entangled and slightly crisper in terms of story line. If the scriptwriter isn't sure where the story is going, the audience wont either. And simply uniting the hero-heroine in the end just doesn't a good movie make.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The stars know...

"You may be a bit obsessed with finding your true purpose in life right now, Serendipity. Although you may not like to admit it, this may be occupying your thoughts a great deal of the time. Try not to be so stressed out about this. Realize that knowing your true purpose can take many years, even a lifetime, or careful thought and observation. Try to focus instead on enjoying more of the day-to-day moments, perhaps spent with your loved ones. You may just stumble onto the answer you were searching for... "

My Horoscope for today, 17th Dec '08! God read my mind.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The What nows & What nexts

2 weeks its been. And yet, it feels like yesterday. The Anger, the feeling of futility, of haplessness, of the WHAT NOW? and WHAT NEXT? My last blog post was actually an email I sent out all the people I know. I noticed a pattern.
  • The People who never replied - Not that Im mistaking this for cowardice, or Nonchalance. But everyone who it made a difference to, has written back/called/sms'd saying it was good/made a difference or something of the sort. And its encouraging, to know at least a few would take it up, even little by little. That was the whole point.
  • The People who did reply - Everyone said the same things --thats its up to the youth, that they're angry too, they wanted to reach out, it starts with us citizens etc. Each one of them had pent up anger, disgust and disbelief that something like this could happen to us. It made me happy that there is in fact, so much collective energy to be tapped... that when the time comes, WE CAN, and WE WILL stand together, and stand tall.
  • Those who are abroad - I have had long conversations on the phone with at least 10 of my friends settled abroad post the terror attacks. The feeling of their city, home and family being violated while they are sitting so far away, the helplessness and anger in their voices was palpable. An Indian friend who lives in the US originally from the North, visibly shaken up through his mail replied to me about how devastated he was that his country was held at siege, and how trapped he felt being away. His last line was that he wanted to help out, to come back .. to find some meaning to his Indianness. This really struck a chord.
  • The trivialists - Good mail, well written were a few compliments. Completely bypassing the topic, with no mention of the subject of what was written at all. Wondering why Im so affected even though my Dads safe. Laughing off my whole Im yet not out of it space. I cant understand how some peoples mentalities can be so small that they're state of being is affected only be the wellbeing of their near and dear ones.
  • Finally, the ones to count on - The one's who didnt bother telling me about well written or not, the ones who spoke with me about the content, their thoughts, their determined voices asking me for ways to help/reach out/be involved. A new breed of responsible citizens is now born. Take a deep breath, and wait. You will be needed.

So what now?

Mr Kasab and his Biryani wanting, Mother Missing, forgiveness craving rants. Should we defend him? We're stuck in a Moral Dilemna. " Free legal assistance at state cost is a fundamental right of a person accused of an offence which may involve jeopardy to his life or personal liberty,'' said a three judge bench of the Supreme Court in a landmark judgment of 1986 in Sukhdas vs Union Territory of Arunachal Pradesh. Ironically this is under the 'Right to Life' act.

If I had my way, I would milk him for all the information he has, and BEHEAD him. Until we execute terrorists and show them that we're talking Business, no one will take us seriously. But then again, Im just an Angry young girl. We need to have years and years of legal proceedings for terrorists and criminals who ultimately most of the imes walk scot free, BECAUSE THATS THE LAW. I forgot. my bad. Lets keep him, feed him, let him write letters to his mother, pamper him, give his terrorist friends time to come up with a rescue plan for him. A Hijacking perhaps?

Today, I am full of disgust. Of dread, of the feeling of impending doom. Armed security guards with heavy loaded guns have become a way of our life now. If the CISF act is amended in the Parliament today (16th dec 08), we will be able to see CISF security, the kinds we see outside Airports, Parliaments etc, outside Private Institutions like hotels etc too. While I think this is certainly necessary (given by the rejoice in dads voice), I cannot believe we've entered a day and age when we need to enter a hotel greeted by armed commandos, have our bags and self screened and checked, just to watch a movie, or grab a bite to eat.

'Its a global phenomena' Aj said when we spoke about this yesterday. And its true, the world, in all its glory (?) is taking terrorism forth year on year, with the footprint only getting stronger, wider and denser as each year goes by. Find a safe haven. I dare you. A place unaffected. a city untouched. If you do, keep it to yourself, Because its just a matter of time...

**wanted to hear some views, whats your opinion on Mr. Kasab getting legal aid? Ive heard the experts and the journalists battle it out on the news , what do you as a common citizen want?

Friday, December 12, 2008

'WE' the Change, 'BE' the change..

I know most of you will read this post, with a few quick glances and close it. Some might even linger for a few minutes, think a while and then move on. This is for those of us who will read each word, understand the significance and realize the importance of US. You and me. The common man. The devastated Mumbaikar. Shaken and stirred.

Last week as our city and our families sat gripped in the claws of terror, you and me could do NOTHING about it. I watched the news for an agonizing 3 days with little or no news from my father inside the Trident, and maybe that's why for me, this time, Terror is Personal. It entered through my backyard, lived in my dads office and stared my family in the face. Its an experience I wouldn’t inflict on my worst enemies. Anyway, this isn’t about me. Its about US. You, me, our neighbor, his twenty year old son, Aunts uncles EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US.

Two weeks after the trauma, after 20,000 people turned up at Gateway to voice their solidarity and demand ‘Change’. We got this - Ashok Chavan CM of Maharasthra, Chaggan Bhjujbal as the deputy CM. (Allow me to remind you AGAIN that it is this man who resigned from the same post a few years ago, due to “Moral grounds” on being involved in the Multi crore Stamp Paper scam).

As our state lay orphaned, leaderless for a week, our ‘Leaders’ spent time debating which political figure would be their best bet to retain power. How about making us feel safe? As these leaders come into their position, Its clear. The change is that THERE IS NO CHANGE. We’ve gone from one crook to another. That’s the only difference.

Its time we took matters into our own hands. Its time we begin to believe that each one of us can make a difference. To take our responsibilities as a ‘citizen’ seriously. Someone needs to protect us, Lets start with being our own eyes and ears.

VOTE - It’s the least we can do. Agreed we need to choose the better of two evils, but do so. Democracy means we get to choose our own devils, lets do it. You also have the right to NOT VOTE. As per the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1969 Act, in Section 49-O that a person can go to the polling booth, confirm his identity, get his finger marked, and convey to the presiding election officer that he/she doesn’t want to vote for anyone. Don’t waste your vote or run the risk of someone stealing your identity and voting for you.

SAY NO TO BRIBES/CORRUPTION - Don’t bribe the Ticket conductor in the train, the security guard on the railway/airport etc.. Don’t use ‘Influence’ to buy a flat, invest unethically in any mode of income. Remember, if you can do it, so can a terrorist. A friend of mine was narrating to me how he had loaded DJ equipment in the back of a taxi, while the taxi guy did'nt even bother asking him what it was. Im so proud of Devang, that he told the taxi driver that it is his duty, responsiblity and right to ask whats being loaded into his vehicle. Lets all remember such lapses in duty lead to lives being lost and cities held at seige. Lets remind people of their responsiblities not only to themselves, but also to you and me and the other citizens. At the same time, lets not forget our own.

REALIZE THAT THE FACE OF TERROR HAS CHANGED - They are no longer menacing hoodlum looking tall dominating men. They are young, driven, unconventional looking men. The ride our trains, visit our hotels, invest in our markets, live among us, study our habits and then strike. If we can get away with corruption, so can they.

BE AN ALERT CITIZEN - Allow yourself ... actually insist on being inconvenienced at malls, airports, multiplexes by checking of your bags and self. In fact, if your not being checked well, or carelessly, then someone else could enter with explosives too. Insist that you are checked carefully. Its is their job, raise an alarm if you feel its not being done.

UNDERSTAND YOUR RIGHTS - As a citizen, understand what the RTI is, why we need it, how we can use it, our basic rights as a citizen. 100 crores were recently sanctioned for safety equipment, speed boats etc. I wonder how much of it will percolate down to actual quality equipment, and how much will earn our Mr Deputy CM another college. Have the urge to understand where your money is going and where its being used. Its our right.

KNOW THAT YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE - Those of you still reading this, and nodding your head as each bullet point unfolds…We can make a difference. And this is the time that we have to. Its now or never.

Its time we took up the reins. No more blame game, bad mouthing. Lets start with ourselves first, and then move on to bigger things. The time is NOW.

I hope somewhere, somehow a part of you wakes up on reading this. A part of you gets angry again, stays angry and realizes how important it is for you and me to join hands and come together. Lets do it. Hold my hand.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Face of Change?

Mr. Ashok Chavan, Chief Minister, Maharashtra. B.Sc., M.B.A. Son of former CM (late) S.B Chavan. T0 Quote (outraged) Mr. Rane 'What Qualification does he (Ashok Chavan) have except be the son of a former CM (S.B. Chavan)'

Mr. Chhagan Bhujbal, Deputy CM, Maharashtra. Trying to find Qualifications, but found some vague mentions of 'Electrical/Mechanical Engineering'. This qualifies for a qualification, and then some.

So this is what our 'Peace March' and 'Voice of Mumbai', anger, angst, outrage led to?? The appointment of one politician whom we've never had opportunity to judge. (I couldnt think of a past record - good or bad), and one tainted, corrupt, money laundering politician.

The future looks grim. Mr. Deputy C.M. in all earnestness (did i say earnestness? I meant crooky shady trying to gain trust attitude, for lack for worse words) has ordered Rs. 100 crore of security equipment, sophisticated arms and ammunition, speedboats and what not. How much of this will reach his pockets and earn him another college I wonder?
I am angry. I certainly expected more from this. Was it too much to ask for. I feel helpless. To be juggled from one crook to another. Politics in India has become a joke. What qualifications do these people have? Simply being someones son or daughter seems to be enough. How do we put an end to this? I don't see one in sight. And to think I'm a fairly optimistic person.
How is it that they get away with this? I'm simply at a loss for words, and so infuriated right now that coherent words and reasonable logic is failing me. How can a person, who is a public servant, earn as much as a senior management in a good company be worth over 100 crores, own schools/colleges etc? HOW? Nearly all our politicians own schools/colleges right now.. be it Datta Meghe, Bhujbal, Manohar Joshi, D. Y Patil, all have Flourishing 'Founder and Chairman' tags with money rolling in through he side door. Of the 131 private unaided colleges in Maharashtra, almost 100 are owned by politicians, including Ministers. Other than the few names I mentioned before, ex-Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh also owns an institution in Mumbai, Nationalist Congress Party leader Sharad Pawar owns three, while his son owns one, and Pawar's close associates own another five. Former Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao's son Rajeshwar Rao controls an education society in Nagpur. source
Every morning I wake up with the same feeling - anger. Every morning I leave home and spend my train journey wondering what to do with my frustration, how to keep this spirit alive.
One of my friends Uncle's is a lawyer whom I want to meet and understand the RTI, how to invoke it, what my rights are, how to go about it and other such things. If anyones interested, do let me know maybe I can figure something out. Want to follow up on Our Rs. 100 crore and its whereabout after a few months, as also the other security measures that have been promised.
There's also something else I need to figure out. Todays TOI reported that only the firemen at Taj are getting an increment, because apparently it was much riskier there as opposed to Trident, CST, Nariman house. Im of the opinion that all the guys who spent 3 days dousing fires, and putting their life on the line ought to be rewarded. Want to start a citizen donation/citizen reward type trust where we can all contribute whatever amount we feel like, and give all these guys a reward 'FROM US', 'From Mumbai' a thank you and a mark of recognition. Am at a loss of ideas of how to go about it, since would need help from a big media/corporate as wouldnt want anyone questioning where the money is going in.
If anyone has any suggestions, do drop me a line. Lets take this forward, and keep the spirit alive.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

One Huge smile coming right up.. =D

I got this. From The Mumbai Diva whose Pen name I totally wish I had thought of first. Thanks, it did cheer me up :)

Since Im not sure how it works, and how many people I am supposed to pass it on to etc, Im just gonna go ahead and do my thing.

There is someone Ive been meaning to thank since a long time. But obviously when you need them the most, words fail you.
I pass on this award to..
The Nomad - For many reasons... For being so proactive during the terror attacks, calling up people, finding out ways she can help in, for having a tear in her eye when she was over and dad walked in, for being an AWESOME person, for having links about how people affected by the terror attacks can be helped . Take a bow, Nomad.

***update - Added the kreative blogger award I got from Sunshine. Thanks SS. :) (for direct dil se posts she says:))
Coupla days ago, I was wondering how personal my blog gets at times. But then again, this started off as a personal blog, and its something I want to read years down the line, recollect and relive memories Ive documented here. :)

Monday, December 8, 2008

Chappar Phad ke?

I believe in God. I do. I believe that there's a larger picture, and that destiny will overtake you, no matter what you do. I believe that he loves each one of us, and that there's always something in store. I also believe that when your time is up, you gotta go.

You could be a careful driver, a safe pedestrian or a paranoid parent. You could have a fireproof, shockproof, burglar proof, natural calamities proof home or office, but you of your family could die eating at your favorite restaurant. In today's day, when terror is in our faces, in my backyard, and was staring my dad in the face, we need to be terror-proof. How?

There are times I do question God. I question my blind belief in the 'Whatever happens happens for the best theory'. Like today. At work, someone was telling me about how her dad escaped death because he randomly missed the bus (which he catches each and every day) one particular day, and that's the day the bus had a horrific accident and nearly everyone died. 'There is a god', she said 'and he saved my father'. That sentence was enough for me to wonder -- the families of everyone else who perished must also have prayed for their safety, for their life.. what about them? I wonder if they stopped believing in god. Or do you say 'This too happened for the best?"

My dad was safe. And when people I meet say, 'Thank God, all went well' I stare dumbfounded - 'Did everything go well?' NO. I have a friend who lost her cousin and his wife who have two small kids (who, are busy making fake phone calls on plastic phones to their parents since they cant understand what death is) at Tiffin, a friends friend who lost her entire family, is battling 5 bullet injuries, let me not even begin on Hemant and Ashok uncle and so many other stories from near and dear ones.

I have a strange superstition that I hear of deaths in 3's. (other than natural calamities/terror attacks/unexplained tragedies). Im waiting to be proven wrong. 3 deaths between Thursday-Friday. 3 today already... (all unrelated to the terror attacks ironically). Its like they say .. 'Dene waala jab deta hai to deta chappar phad ke' (when he gives, he gives in abundance).

Some respite from bad news please. For me and these families and Mumbai. Strength to retain belief, to withstand, move on and rebuild. Peace, of mind and heart - for we need some in the midst of all this tumult. Some alone time at Siddhivinayak without being jostled around for space.

As if grappling with events of the past weeks, and the aftermath which brought no solace, there are other events to deal with. Weddings, Engagements -- which will go on, and must (should) be attended. I'm torn between what I'm feeling inside, and the thought that its someones happy day and he/she cant live in the past. To be honest, I cant see myself going, simply because Id rather not be a wet-blanket, go to a wedding and have a long face. It simply isn't fair. What to do?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Some Venting of Overwhelming-ness.

It was that time of year again... Time just flies past at alarming speed. Given the situation and the mood Ive been in, there were obviously not going to be any celebrations. Updated Facebook with a status msg requesting people not to wish me, and work friends were asked not to decorate my desk and make it a grand affair (which birthdays in office generally are).
A not so surprising birthday get together at a friends place was thrown despite my insistence otherwise. I started off being very very angry, and having a fight with Aj for having gone ahead and inviting people when I wasnt in a social mood, and not in a place to have fun yet. I was/am still in it. This is 'terrorized' in all its glory. For how I made him feel for having done no wrong except try to cheer me up, Im sorry. I was (not surprisingly) not in control of anger, frustration and quiet desperation that I had been feeling since the last week, and which hadn't yet vented.

Crying on the phone and blogging about it is a great way to feel better, but nothing compares to a long, warm, protective hug. And I got that. In the midst of me YELLING incoherently, unreasonably, I was hugged. And it was just what the doctor asked for. I gave way to what i was actually feeling, and just let go and cried. It strange, that strength I felt in crying.

I had the nicest evening since a very long time. It was a wonderful break from the tumult of the past week. Thanks Raj, Bhv, Chau and Aj for having spent Monday evening blowing up balloons, Bhv again for very good naturedly withstanding the embarrassment of travelling around holding red roses and a cake, Riz and Nuz who came in spite of being a work day, N and Ob who got me a wonderful bouquet and N specially for her incredibly warm hug, Rushi and Devang who came even tho Aj conveniently forgot to ask (ALL) my OWN friends to come. All these people didn't have to spend so much time and energy in trying to cheer me up, but they did, and I am touched.

Wednesday threw me back into the glum, with the niceness of the previous evening having worn off. Home seems different when your dad's not living with you and is parked at work day and night. For it isnt over yet, Its just begun. Investigations, Reviews, Reports, Eyewitness records...

We also needed to go pay our respects at Hemant Uncle's house. Since dad couldn't make it, Mom and I decided that we just couldn't wait anymore... and set off in the evening.

One will be amazed at the simplicity of a person of this stature. Nothing in the house speaks power, glory, position. It took all the courage and determination inside me to stop from bursting out all over again. A 2 foot long picture of him with a single garland around it, adjacent to which on a table lay the following - His Uniform ironed and neatly folded with Medals and Badges in their respective loops, Baton, Uniform cap, Belt....and the bulletproof dark green helmet television screens last showed him wearing. I cant describe in words my feelings at the time...
I barely made it past the gate after we left before I couldn't hold it in any longer... and got into a cab headed home when i noticed something that replaced my hurt with anger.

Just a stones throw from the house , streets are lined with HUGE posters saluting the courage and might of the three Mumbaikars (Karkare, Kamte, Salaskar) who lost their lives from political organisations, Leaders, Hopefuls, Private companies you name it.. Dadar the Plaza area, and the area under Tilak bridge is inundated with posters. When a person like me who was at their house for a matter of less than an hour left, and couldn't deal with seeing their faces all over the place i wonder how traumatic it would be for the family to leave home, maybe even for a short walk, to feel a little better... only to be besieges by posters/banners forming a part of political propaganda which must throw back the tragedy in their face.

Could these nincompoop, thoughtless, butt faced politicians be any less sensitive? Is letting a grieving family mourn in peace too much to ask for? First they try to en cash in on grief by offering charity (err compensation) so that they can use it in their political speeches, proclaiming how benevolent Mr. Modi is. Next they disrupt peace and sanctity of the house (and surrounding areas) BY VISITING.

Really, Mr. Deshmukh, Ms. Pratibha, do you think they're feeling any better now that your royal behinds visited them? [You will be interested to know that an hour before these two toured the hotels/ CST and the grieving houses, all venues were checked by sniffer dogs and traffic halted for security reasons]. More than a hundred people deployed for your safety? One person? What about us Millions of Indians? Whose money it actually is?On the other hand , I hope u come FACE TO FACE with terror, so maybe you'll know what it feels like. Are you too preoccupied since your ass is on fire right now to realize that taking your son and a prominent filmmaker along on an official entourage was a bad idea?

This was the not the first time mission that wives of Karkare, Kamte and Salaskar thought could probably be their last. Only like always, hoping against hope, they prayed in anticipation even as visuals of their husbands donning the gear flashed garishly repeatedly on tv screens, they prayed that they do actually come home. But im guessing your pint sized brains are far less evolved to understand what that mustve felt like. Waiting for a loved one, knowing they are surrounded by gunfighting, grenades and bombs is a feeling that goes beyond what humble English words can offer, and far greater than the money-dealing and scam-planning characters you've honed to near perfection.

Maybe one day our Prime-f*cking minister takes terrorism and understands the sentiments of the citizens so well, that he speaks impromptu, without words being fed into his mouth by a speech-writer, and sounding like the drone of a out-of-work transistor. Maybe one day, his voice will break while choking back emotions as he watched people from his country bleed and die...
Until then, God Bless us.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

(No) Thanks to the Media..

Those three days when Terror rocked my city, my home, turned my life as well as almost everyone in Mumbai's life upside down, were undoubtedly the three longest, most traumatic and tense days of my life. I had already started planning for life after, assuming my dad wont be walking in home. Im ashamed to admit it (now) that I had a slimmer of hope, which faded every passing second, every one explosive, every one gun shot we heard and watched on television.

The Media didn't help one bit. I agree it was our only source of information (other than looking out the window and making sure that the buildings are still standing (as opposed to being blown away by bombs, which is what i was expecting all along). If there was anything that could make the situation worse, it was the news.

Its a given that the television was not switched off, save for about 45 mins on the first night when we (tried to get some) sleep, and 3 hours the next night when Mom was coaxed into sleeping by B aunty, and I passed out of exhaustion on the sofa. Coming back to the point... There were SO MANY TIMES, so many times, that it would say 'BREAKING NEWS - FRESH EXPLOSIONS INSIDE TRIDENT' for sometimes 2-3 hours at a stretch... So we wernt sure if they were newER blasts from the breaking news we saw 3 hours ago, or simply the same feed that was relaying to us by some nincompoops who don't understand the gravity of their jobs and that there were families like ours glued to the television...

All news channels as we have seen run 3 -4 live feeds which keep scrolling horizontally across the screen even while the newsreader is on air. At one particular instance, one line read ' Hostage situation ends at Trident' while the line DIRECTLY below that read 'Hostages feared to be killed inside Trident'. Seriously people? What exactly is the qualification of these people who input news into teleprompters/live feeds? Is common sense not one of them? Do they need a manual that says 'Do not put contradicting news on lines directly above/below one another' Cause ill make one for them, i promise.

The kind of mayhem, panic, heart stopping moments that things like this induce... is something I wont be able to describe with the most verbose of descriptions. All I know is at some point I switched off, (am ashamed to admit) gave up, sat teary eyed in front of the screens hoping and praying for this to be over.

Why cant they run the live feeds as the "updated time:followed by news item"
e.g. ' 11.38 p.m. fresh blasts in Nariman House' '10.56 a.m. Hostage situation still critical'.
Meanwhile, Barkha Dutt launches into Panel Discussions. which at that moment were unnecessary.

Of the many moments frozen in my memory - On Thursday night, the second night of this carnage, at around 3 in the morning while I was secretly watching Tv while my mom and B aunty slept in her room, for a long time, there was no news of the Trident.Most channels were running the same 'Hostages believed to be killed'. 'Fire breaks out' (while i could see that it was doused) type stories, I started Panicking and wondering why there isn't ANYTHING on the news. My dad hadn't been taking calls or responding to sms's, but it was on. I know that since a lot of people tried calling him too, and told me that it was ringing but he wasn't answering it. It was of some solace to know even this.
That night at 3-3.30 in the morning, with my heartbeat reduced to near nothing, I sent him an sms saying 'Daddy why isn't there anything on the news, is everything ok'. Of course, i DIDN'T expect a reply. But still. for whatever reason, I didn't get a delivery report for a Long time after. between 45 and 50 mins to be exact. those 45 mins felt like an entire day.

I was feverishly keylocking/unlocking keylocking/unlocking keylocking/unlocking algorithmically with thoughts I cant even pen down here running through my mind. Considering it was so late, and all my close friends and relatives were going through this as much as i was, I knew I didn't want to wake up people who were getting some sleep... Tried switching channels to watch something mindless in the hope that maybe the next time I switch back, There will be some good news.
At some point, with the television on, I must've drifted off into sleep. when something buzzed. It was a delivery report. I breathed a sigh of relief, turned off the television and convinced myself to sleep. At that time, even a delivery report was enough to go on...

Monday, December 1, 2008

A Draft post im posting a month later, since I didnt know I had it saved...

Until we move past the bureaucracy and dirty politics that encompasses our governing, judicial and defence systems, we will remain vulnerable for the rest of the world.

Mumbai has always been the golden goose, with the most number of people per sq foot area, transport systems that are bursting to the seams, hotels and social places which are always packed -- hence scope for maximum destruction. We are also part of a country that witnesses our trauma, speaks of it sympathetically for a few days and goes to work the next day. We are the ones that move on the soonest, display the most courage… and remain silent in anticipation of the next attacks.. cause we all know this is not the end.

Even today, I shudder to think that the events of the past few days could be a mere pause in the larger plan that terrorists have drawn up. Are we even safeguarded against something happening today?

I was at the Marine drive vigil yesterday, overwhelmed by the turnout and emotions. A poster someone held up said ‘Enough is enough’. And I thought to myself.. we had blasts first in 1993. did we need to wait 15 years, for over 441 people to die (this year alone) to realize that enough is enough? If that wasn’t enough, we’ve had constant reminders, in our city and others time and again. More political bickering, more bureaucratic mayhem. No one to take responsibility, no one to emerge as the voice of strength.

Its amusing, how when incidents like this occur, people stand up and say ‘ govt was informed about coastal security’ etc. Im of the opinion that our security should be airtight and impenetratable 365 days a year. Why do we need constant reminders ghastly massacres to realize that protection and safety comes first, that loss of life is irreplaceable, and invaluable… and that maintaing constant and prevention of infiltrators from neighboring (hostile) countries is of prime importance. WHY?

What we need is police forces, intelligence agencies and a federal system which is buffered from the Government. Agencies which operate in synchronization with each other, and who report to no one, except themselves. These politicians and their pressure (contacts, bribes) just prevent the proper functioning of these integral agencies. Hemant Uncle once at a dinner conversation mentioned to daddy how he was enjoying his stint at RAW since he was for the first time, slightly away from the hypocrisy and games that politicians play.

Today, there is conflict between the IB and the ATS over who will take the investigation forward. The terrorist is in custody of the IB while the ATS, has this role listed in its duties. Who will settle the matter? Both agencies will use various reasons as leeway why they should be the ones to take this forward. Any breakthrough, of course will bring a lot of glory, and who doesn’t want a piece of that pie?

I think I could go on. Vilasrao Deshmukh should be thrown out with sticks and stones, and not allowed to resign gracefully. This (please insert suitable abuse) has the audacity to take a filmmaker and his son to tour the hotels as part of his entourage. Is he crazy? Or unaware? Did he expect no criticism for this? Or was he just so sure that he could get away with this too, like everything else these (please insert suitable abuse) get away with?