Monthly Archives: November 2008

CNN and my sore hand

I am happy that CNN is doing an almost end to end coverage of the Mumbai Shootings, but I wish they wouldn’t spin random stories and talk about people’s feelings and console with a crying reporter on air. I realize that being objective is a tough thing, but people asking the crying reporter how she was able to keep in touch with Americans and how she was able to console them is not reporting and definitely not something that needs to be done on air. NDTV is reporting that they are not carrying live pictures and live information about army movement to protect the troops and to comply with authority requests and the CNN reporter is going on and on about ow she is not being informed, how nothing is coming out and how it is impossible to make sense of anything. She was also talking about how the hostages became thirsty and could not drink tap water because they could possible die from contamination…and how it was a catch 22 situation.

It is a slow operation, and the commandos are showing they are more than capable of handling it, if only they were allowed to do their job. It is difficult to go room to room in a multi storey hotel , knock on each room, convince people to get out, all while making sure the casualty rate is kept low and as many hostages are removed alive. There was delay, and sometimes sloppy agreed. But there has to be some degree of understanding from the media and the people. If India refuses military aid from Israel or America, it has a reason, it is not something to be pitied. They make it sound as if we are being pig headed in refusing aid. India is a huge country with a huge population. If citizen rights were totally clamped and religion was totally prohibited from public eye, maybe things would be different. The west needs to understand that. They were shown to be incompetent too, after the WTC attacks prior to 9/11 and the other attacks, they still proved to be vulnerable. Britain showed itself to be vulnerable. Give us a break.

In the same breath, I think the Indian Government absolutely need to pull their socks up. This just will not do. As much as I admire the resilience of Mumbaikers, resilience should be shown in preventing another attack and not in forgetting the previous ones. There is an urgent need for Indians as a collective population to stand up and demand that the government pay attention, clean itself up and demand we be given a voice in the system. There is no meaning in pointing fingers, sitting under a blanket of denial and cry woe betide me or blame the colonial past. We need to move forward. We need to change the politics of the country. We cannot be running aorunf the congress , BJP circle. There needs to be a new India.


The Killing winds of November

Being a non-Mumbaiker, I have always found Mumbai to have a sort of mad character to it. Compared to the calm of Coimbatore, it had a happy chaos to it. A chaos which people thrived on. I am still not sure if I love it or hate it. I do however admire it, a lot. The idea that so many people can live peacefully on seven island pasted together. Inspite of the many terrorist attacks and bombings and what not, it has managed to retain that beauty of its madness and yet yesterday and today, I wonder and actually hope it will change. Sometime it doesn’t take a lot for resilience to turn into apathy and when people come on TV or paper and say we will get through this or we will not let this stop us, does it at some level turn into, “Not again, this is horrifying, let’s hold a candle. Ok Done, move on”

Where are the Raj Thackerey’s of the world. Is he writing an elaborate post on how this is actually the work of Biharis and people who don’t belong to Mumbai. Why did Manmohan Singh not come on TV almost immediately, instead we get some sort of pithy statement from Shivraj Patil who looked as if he needed an aspirin and some Oxygen.

The Police were fighting with guns leftover from Colonial India and the terrorists with AK 47’s. They were running around in their thin khaki uniforms without bullet proof vests, without any protection whatsoever. Where is all the money that we give going. A mistake on the date on a trade challan gets the state border people so riled up when my father tries to do some honest business. They demand money and what not and yet, so many were able to get it with guns, explosives and bombs without people batting an eyelid. There are so many laws in this country and yet not one enforced properly, so many people and yet not enough to protest against the government and demand an answer, so many youths whose answer to these crisis often become fleeing to foreign lands. A democracy without people, a democacy without government and a democracy without legs to stand on.

US and British Citizens and being targeted. Israeli rabbi being held. Where were these governments when India was crying itself hoarse over terrorism nd they kept supplying weapons and supplies to various countries. How is the war on terrorism fought if a new cold war is being perpetuated and if arms sales are being encouraged.

Amidst all this there is Cyclone Nisha which not strangely enough is not on the front pages of either CNN IBN or NDTV when I checked a few minutes back. They are talking about the cancelled cricket matches, but this “oh No..not enough viewers. Why the hell are the 64 people in Tamilnadu less important than the 100 in Mumbai. Tamilnadu is the southernmost state in India. We are on the eastern corner bordering Kerala and the Bay of Bengal and have Srilanka to the south, and no not all of us are called Madrasis and not all of us eat Idli dosai everyday. It is irritating when people think India ends with Bangalore and think we are a separate country. Can you blame us if we have some irritation. I am not in anyway comparing a nature’s wrath to a few men’s dissatisfaction with life in general, all I am angry about is that it is in some way considered less of a news than anything else. So is news from the North Eastern states of Assam, Meghalaya, Sikkim, Manipur and so on. Half the people don’t even know the states that make up that region. What have they done. Is it Democracy if a fourth of the population are forgotten or if half the population are just not considered “INDIAN” enough.

My rant aside, this needs to be taken seriously. I mean people should not walk away thinking they are being resilient, they should stand up and demnad more, demand a better government “For the people, by the people and of the people”

Seeing the molehill in the mountain.

So 150 things before I turn 30. Picked the tag up from somewhere. Interesting. Covers only some of the things I really want to do before 30. Now that it is done, I am thinking why set a limit. I know I am going to live to be 100 and pester the hell out of people by talking about the 1980’s and 90’s so I intend to keep doing things till then I figure. All said and done, this is interesting. Kind of like writing your resume and realizing that you are pretty experienced :D. whittles down the mountain of things to a little mole hill. Now that my mole hill is available for conquering, I suddenly miss the mountains. Maybe I will just add a little more rocks and make a new one. YEY!!

(Walks away, picking up rocks to add to her happy mountain, finds a huge one, and happily skips away)

The ones I’ve done are in bold.

01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink…Uh, Don’t drink, so no point in getting other ppl drunk 😀

02. Swam with dolphins

03. Climbed a mountain

04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive

05. Been inside the Great Pyramid

06. Held a tarantula (Seen one..It is more than enough)

07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone

08. Said “I love you” and meant it

09. Hugged a tree

10. Bungee jumped (Plan to, soon)

11. Visited Paris

12. Watched a lightning storm at sea

13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise

14. Seen the Northern Lights

15. Gone to a huge sports game (US Open at Flushing Meadows. Saw Nadal :D)

16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa

17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables

18. Touched an iceberg

19. Slept under the stars

20. Changed a baby’s diaper

21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon

22. Watched a meteor shower

23. Gotten drunk on champagne. Well..Does three sips and a headache after count??)

24. Given more than you can afford to charity

25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope (Many times)

26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment

27. Had a food fight

28. Bet on a winning horse

29. Asked out a stranger ( for coffee to kill time. Would suffice I guess?)

30. Had a snowball fight

31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can

32. Held a lamb

33. Seen a total eclipse

34. Ridden a roller coaster

35. Hit a home run(Does the Wii count)

36. Danced like a fool and didn’t care who was looking

37. Adopted an accent for an entire day ( British, after a trip to London :))

38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment (Plenty of those ppl)

39. Had two hard drives for your computer

40. Visited all 50 states

41. Taken care of someone who was drunk (That’s what you do when you are the only teetotaller in the room)

42. Had amazing friends (Have and will continue to)

43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country (Salsa in Cambridge)

44. Watched whales

45. Stolen a sign

46. Backpacked in Europe

47. Taken a road-trip

48. Gone rock climbing

49. Taken a midnight walk on the beach

50. Gone sky diving

51. Visited Ireland

52. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love

53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table and had a meal with them

54. Visited Japan

55. Milked a cow (Grew up on a farm, even had milk directly :D)

56. Alphabetized your CDs

57. Pretended to be a superhero (All the time)

58. Sung karaoke

59. Lounged around in bed all day

60. Played touch football

61. Gone scuba diving

62. Kissed in the rain

63. Played in the mud

64. Played in the rain

65. Gone to a drive-in theatre

66. Visited the Great Wall of China

67. Started a business

68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken

69. Toured ancient sites

70. Taken a martial arts class

71. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight

72. Gotten married

73. Been in a movie

74. Crashed a party

75. Gotten divorced ( i hope not!)

76. Gone without food for 5 days

77. Made cookies from scratch

78. Won first prize in a costume contest

79. Ridden a gondola in Venice (Does the Gondola in Venetian hotel in Las Vegas count??)

80. Gotten a tattoo

81. Rafted the Snake River

82. Been on a television news program as an “expert”

83. Gotten flowers for no reason

84. Performed on stage

85. Been to Las Vegas

86. Recorded music

87. Eaten Shark

88. Kissed on the first date

89. Gone to Thailand

90. Bought a house

91. Been in a combat zone

92. Buried one/both of your parents

93. Been on a cruise ship

94. Spoken more than one language fluently

95. Performed in Rocky Horror

96. Raised children

97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour

98. Passed out cold

99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country

100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over

101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge

102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn’t stop when you knew someone was looking with the windows open

103. Had plastic surgery

104. Survived an accident that you shouldn’t have survived

105. Wrote articles for a large publication

106. Lost over 100 pounds

107. Held someone while they were having a flashback

108. Piloted an airplane

109. Touched a stingray

110. Broken someone’s heart

111. Helped an animal give birth

112. Won money on a TV game show

113. Broken a bone

114. Gone on an African photo safari

115. Had a facial part pierced other than your ears

116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol

117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild

118. Ridden a horse

119. Had major surgery

120. Had a snake as a pet

121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon

122. Slept for 30 hours in a 48 hour period

123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. States

124. Visited all 7 continents

125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days

126. Eaten kangaroo meat

127. Eaten sushi

128. Had your picture in the newspaper

129. Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about

130. Gone back to school

131. Parasailed

132. Touched a cockroach

133. Eaten fried green tomatoes

134. Read The Iliad and The Odyssey

135. Selected one “important” author who you missed in school, and read

136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating

137. Skipped all your school reunions

138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language

139. Been elected to public office

140. Written your own computer language

141. Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream

142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care

143. Built your own PC from parts

144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn’t know you

145. Had a booth at a street fair

146. Dyed your hair

147. Been a DJ

148. Shaved your head

149. Caused a car accident

150. Saved someone’s life

Pick it up….

The Age of Ganguly!

There were a few things that defined my teenage years. Saurav and Kumble, Graf and Agassi, FRIENDS, Tom and Jerry. Well, the last thing can be explained. FRIENDS was over four years back, if you don’t count the reruns. Graf and Agassi are restricted to ads. Saurav and Kumble retired last week. The world I knew it is changing and from where I can see, I am not sure what’s next. I have a love all relationship with tennis and a love-hate with cricket. I learnt both tennis and cricket sitting on my grandmother’s side. She explained the rules, the quirks and the silliness of people fighting over a ball. Tennis, I got hooked on. Cricket, not until I saw Dada walk on to the pitch. I was sold. I had no clue whatsoever what an offside was but knew it looked beautiful when he hit it. Fours and Sixes looked breathtaking. There was something about the smug look on his face and the pride with which he approached the game. The slight tilt of his head, the smile, I was thisclose to worshiping the ground he walked on. I heard bells for a whole day after speaking to him over the phone and flew inches above the ground when he wrote to me twice (Personal gloat Moment), well actually his secretary did, but try explaining that to the 16 yr old me. Anyway, Kumble 10 wicket haul and the amazing moment when Saurav removed his shirt at Lord’s are engraved in my mind. They are those few defining moments of Indian cricket when I was growing up. The cornerstones of a team that was defined itself as a quite, defiant, stubborn, proud and overtly passionate..qualities I aspired to have. Everybody liked Tendulkar. I liked Ganguly because I like to go against the grain. I wanted to rebel and the rebel from Calcutta captured my imagination. His retirement is extremely bittersweet. Here is a man who ruled Indian cricket at its pinnacle, who took pride in the team and the game who was made to kneel and bow..the so called prince from Calcutta who was forced to step away in the most disgusting of fashion. I know he has lot of faults, but I couldn’t see them. I might be blinded by the fact that his loyalty and pride in his youngsters trumped every thing else. Ganguly’s legacy was defining Indian cricket in a way that they would be able to withstand the assault of the new century of cricket. The sport has changed a lot, and he was responsible in many ways for bringing them from the shadows of Gavaskar and et al to the light that Dhoni, Khans and the rest represent. The cricket loving nation owes him that much.

The new generation define themselves in whole new ways. I teach students who were 10 years old when Clinton ruled and don’t remember anything before 9/11. I am not that old, or is 25 yrs that new new middle years!!!! Anyway to think that a whole new set of people are going to not know Ganguly, Tendulkar, Kumble, Chandler and Monica, Ross and Rachel, Phoebe and Joey or the doctors of ER or everything that reminds me of the amazing 90’s leaves me with a funny feeling. Maybe they will make a comeback, just like bell bottoms, Pink Floyd or the Beatles, maybe emulating the 90’s will become hip in say another 10 years. I will live for that moment. Till then I am going to go an enjoy the like of Nadal and Williams, Hamilton and Wii and of course Tom and Jerry.

A step forward for the two steps backward.

Same Sex Marriage legalized in Connecticut. At least some states are moving ahead

Remembering the fallen

Today marks the 90th anniversary of the end of World War I. From Australia to America, countries mark the 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th minute with a minute of silence to remember the fallen of the Great War and the wars that came after it. Why is there nothing in India to mark the soldiers who gave their lives during these wars and the other wars that were fought? The Indian Army had 1.3 million men serving around Europe and the rest of the world in World War I and close to 2.5 million men in World War II making it the largest all volunteer force in history. We lost 130, 000 men in the two wars combined. That is a rough estimate. So how come when the world remembers their fallen, we maintain silence.

The silence for me is extremely uncomfortable. There are so many voices that seek to fill that void, so many noises that seek to give meaning to the silence. Do we as a nation do not care? Do we not wish to be reminded of the people who no longer are here? Are we so intent on erasing everything that represents the old that we are willing to turn away from the very people who made this nation a possibility? Are we so caught up in fighting the petty wars of today, that we could not afford a day to remember the people who gave the lives for a higher purpose? Or is patriotism a “uncool” factor that people talking about it are seen as weird?

A country that does not remember the fallen also does very little for the ones surviving. The Indian Government does not to my knowledge have a veteran’s division. A palce where veteran’s from the armed forces can expect some kind of aid, support and care. Our collective ignorance is abominable in light of the fact that the armed services in India has always been a volunteer force and there has never been a draft or compulsory recruitment. To a person who joins the army for the sake of his/her country the way we repay them is with a silence on the one day when they should be remembered. For all the national holidays, religious holidays, government holidays we couldn’t make time to remember them one day. The younger generation today remember only the Kargil War. Truth is Indian forces are stationed in more places than just Kargil. There needs to be a movement towards the improvement of veteran affairs, helping the wounded and the disabled and it should be done with the full knowledge of the public, just so we know that the people who are willing to give their lives are not because of a government’s ignorance forced to give it in vain. It needs to be done, not just for us to remember the ones who have fallen but also for the ones who have fought, and bear the scars of the battlefields, for the ones who are tormented in their dreams and are seeking help, for the ones who despair under the stress and for the ones who are willing to still go out there and fight.

The Politics of Inequality!

So while Barack Obama marks the beginning of a new era in American politics as the first Black man to become the President, a new era of inequality has begun. California overturned laws legalizing Same Sex-Marriage and Arkansas has banned the adoption of children by single unwed men and women, a law which majority feel is targeted at homosexual couples. Can America ever be truly EQUAL.

Let’s stop and think for a moment, when we fall in love don’t we fall in love for who the person is, what the qualities of the person are and what the person thinks and feels. So when we fall in love or find our soul mates, why should the physical matter so much. One of the main opposition movements for the law was headed by the Mormon church, the same people who practice polygamy and the same people who still swear by child marriage. Doesn’t it seem like a case of the kettle calling the pot black. I don’t want to get into a biological or a religious argument here for the simple reason that I don’t think biology or religion has anything to do with this. As far as I am concerned who a person fall in love with, or who s/he has a relationship with does not define who the person is. Being gay or lesbian does not mean the person is a freak or does not mean the person sinned in their life and were cursed to be born this way, it just means that they fell in love and are choosing to marry this person who just happens to be of the same sex as they are. How society chooses to define them does not change the face that they are people like every one of us. When a person can treat an animal like a relative or child, when a person can still marry a 12 year old girl and take her home as his 12th or 15th bride and when a kid can grow up in a home where the father and/or mother are drunk, abusive and absolutely not fit to be parents, go without being questioned or banned why can’t a person chose who they are going to live their lives with and how they chose to live their lives.

I honestly don’t think that being born to homosexual parents or being brought in a home where the parents are of the same sex scars a kid in any way or makes the kid automatically homosexual. If anything, I think the kid has a much better chance of understanding relationships in a better way and copes with life in a much more sensible way. Yes, there is going to be some criticism or painful moments but that is only because society chooses to see the relationship and define them as weird, strange, queer and so on. I used to think that we have come a far way from the time when Black slaves use to counted as one fifths of a person. Let us not go through the same thing again. Couples, be they of the same sex or of opposite sexes go through the same trial and tribulations in a relationship, treating one as different from the other indicates the smallness of the human mind and how narrowly we chose to define humanity and how narrowly compassion and love are defined. I don’t want to give examples of relationships in the animal, plant and other worlds. All I want is a degree of respect and acknowledgment that it is impossible to peg human nature, sexuality, relationships as two round pegs into two round holes. Just open your eyes.