In Memory Of the Real Heroes

1 12 2008

Mumbai was in thought, mind and spirit for the past 100 hours. In those moments of heightened and frenzied activity, my emotions were a big kaleidoscope of mixed colors: of denial, anger, blankness, insecurity, helplessness, and agony of loss.

Digesting the mindless madness of this attempt has been the toughest part of the past week. I was praying for the ruthlessness  of the time and mind to commit the horror of the moment to the memory and make me carry on life like business as usual. I guess its the classic escapist nature of the self that lulls one to hope and wish for the better future and life of the countrymen.

Terrorists, Bombs and attacks are not new to us. They are just a part of old news that we deal with in our lifetime. Resilient and united is how our Mumbai janata has always been. They made me proud during the blasts or the floods of the recent times by the way they stood for each other and supported one another. The glorious NSG, Army and Commandos who laid their life on battle to save their fellow countrymen, and those innumerable and countless people of Taj and Oberoi who sacrificed their life in the name of duty, responsibility and honor: You make me proud. You also teach me a lesson in humility, love, respect, honor and duty. I mourn for the senseless loss of you all. May your soul rest in peace and quiet and may your sacrifice remain forever in the mind of people and make way for a positive and better future.

As an Indian, I couldn’t resist myself from quoting this song that’s committed to my memory since childhood days.

‘E Mere Watan Ke Logon, Jara Aankh Me Bharlo Paani
Jo Shaheed Huve Hai Vunki, Jara Yaar Karo Kurbani.’

My eyes are still red with anger, and contempt for the senseless audacity of the monsters and the grief for the destruction of the lives of the people and here we promise that your sacrifice wouldn’t go waste in lighting candles or tea time discussions of Mumbai blasts but would be committed to memory and reflected in actions of our fellow men.

This is time for leadership, for action, and commitment from the Government to take India to the progress and security. Dear leaders, do tell us. Could a better intelligence system have avoided this Mumbai Massacre? Could a better planning would have reduced the heavy loss of life that tolls heavily on the conscience of every Indian? Yes, we Indians are resilient and we would bounce back to life faster. But isn’t it your job to ensure and assure that these incidents wouldn’t repeat and rehash themselves in grisly and morbid frequency. Give us a plan, and not just some shoot off the lip condolences and condemnations. I refuse to believe that India, with its rich intellectual horse power can’t learn from this lesson and make plan for the best intelligence and tracking system to deroot the terrorist network. This is the time of action for us to take a stand tall like determined patriots and contribute our share to the betterment of the environment and society at large. This is the time to take time to reflect, cull the lessons, and make a personal plan for contribution to the enhancement of the security, safety and growth of the team called India.

A note to the Monsters:

What appalled me is the gall of those uncultured, vacuous bigots who could kill with smile and with utter disregard to conscience. I wonder how would your so called God permit this frenzied destruction under a larger purpose. What could be the education of your brainwashed asinine monsters whose doctrines permit the ruthless killing of fellow people with reckless abandon in the name of holy war or some messed up ideology to reserve a seat in heaven. Wah, is this your idea of holy war business? What could be holy in taking on defenceless, unprepared, friendly people by surprise and blowing their brains out in a displaced sense of justice? Oh I forget, you peanut brained guys cant be expected to understand concepts like holy, God and justice. Ever tthought about what does your Heaven look like? A mirror of the destruction you created? Of strewn lambs of your fellow men, of debris of the marvels of creation filled with stench of blood and flesh?

Yeah, right. You guys were making a statement: of your empty headed ideologies, of your debased moral sense, cheap values and of the deviousness of the monstrous actions. Just wake up from perdition and watch for yourself. You wanted to our national monument to bit the dust? You would see the Taj standing proud and tall, living to tell the courageous tale of the ordeal. I can see it back to its feet better and beautiful in weeks. You wanted to instill fear in the heart of the business of India? Go check, for the city of Mumbai is back on its feet, with those crowded metro stations and with tonnes of people making a statement of courage as they brush past the terror and walk up to a purposeful Monday with determination. You wanted to cripple India’s growth? We might miss some tourist dollars, but haven’t you already noticed the the vadapav centres getting busied up on the streets in utter disregard for your brutish actions. Nothing and no-one can stop the tenacity and the persistence of the Indians that make my country. It’s just another day for us, to conquer life and the world at large.





Indian Eccentricities..

27 03 2008

Another in series of forwarded wisdom – titled “Some Facts about an Incredible Indian”.. Some of them are really intriguingly true. 🙂

___________________________________
1. Everything you eat is savored in garlic, onion and tomatoes.
2. You try and reuse gift wrappers, gift boxes, and of course aluminum foil.
3. You are Always standing next to the two largest size suitcases at the Airport.
4. You arrive one or two hours late to a party – and think it’s normal.
5. You peel the stamps off letters that the Postal Service missed to stamp.
6. You recycle Wedding Gifts , Birthday Gifts and Anniversary Gifts.
7. You name your children in rhythms (example, Sita & Gita, Ram & Shyam, Kamini & Shamini.)
8. All your children have pet names, which sound nowhere close to their real names.
9. You take Indian snacks anywhere it says “No Food Allowed”
10. You talk for an hour at the front door when leaving someone’s house.
11. You load up the family car with as many people as possible.
12. You use plastic to cover anything new in your house whether it’s the remote control, VCR, carpet or new couch.
13. Your parents tell you not to care what your friends think, but they won’t let you do certain things because of what the other “Uncles and Aunties” will think.
14. You buy and display crockery, which is never used , as it is for special occasions, which never happen.
15. You have a vinyl tablecloth on your kitchen table.
16. You use grocery bags to hold garbage.
17. You keep leftover food in your fridge in as many numbers of bowls as possible.
18. Your kitchen shelf is full of jars, varieties of bowls and plastic utensils (got free with purchase of other stuff)
19. You carry a stash of your own food whenever you travel (and travel means any car ride longer than 15 minutes).
20. You own a rice cooker or a pressure cooker.
21. You fight over who pays the dinner bill.
22. You live with your parents and you are 40 years old. (And they prefer it that way).
23. You don’t use measuring cups when cooking.
24. You never learnt how to stand in a queue.
25. You can only travel if there are 5 persons at least to see you off or receive you whether you are traveling by bus, train or plane.
26. If she is NOT your daughter, you always take interest in knowing whose daughter has run with whose son and feel proud to spread it at the velocity of more than the speed of light.
27. You only make long distance calls after 11 p.m.
28. If you don’t live at home, when your parents call, they ask if you’ve eaten, even if it’s midnight.
29. You call an older person you never met before Uncle or Aunty.
30. When your parents meet strangers and talk for a few minutes, you discover you’re talking to a distant cousin.
31. Your parents don’t realize phone connections to foreign countries have improved in the last two decades, and still scream at the top of their lungs when making foreign calls.
32. You have bed sheets on your sofas so as to keep them from getting dirty.
33. It’s embarrassing if your wedding has less than 600 people.
34. All your Tupperware is stained with food color.
35. You have drinking glasses made of steel.
36. You have mastered the art of bargaining in shopping.

_________________________________





Inscrutable Americans

26 03 2008

“Dear brother,

greetings to respectful parents. I am hoping all is well with health and wealth. I am fine at my end. Hoping your end is fine too. With God’s grace and parents’ blessings I am arriving safely in America and finding good apartment near University. Kindly assure mother that I am strictly consuming vegetarian food only in restaurants though I am not knowing if cooks are Brahmins. I hope parents’ prayers are residing with me.

Younger brother, I am having so many things to tell you that I am not knowing where to start. Most surprising thing about America is it is full of Americans. Everywhere Americans, Americans, big and white, it is little frightening. The flight from New Delhi to New York is arriving safely thanks to God’s grace and Parents’ prayers and mine too. I am not able to go to bathroom whole time because I am sitting in corner seat as per revered grandmother’s wish. Father is rightly scolding that airplane is flying too high to have good view. Still please tell her I have done needful.

But, brother, in next two seats are sitting two old gentle ladies and if I am getting up then they are put in lot of botheration so I am not getting up for except when plane is stopping for one hour in London. Many foods are being served in carts but I am only eating cashew nuts and bread because I am not knowing what is food and what is meat. I am having a good time drinking 37 glasses of Coca-Cola.

They are rolling down a screen and showing a film but I am not listening because air hostess ladies are selling head phones for 2 dollars which is Rs.60 and in our beloved Jajau town we can sit in balcony seats in Regal Talkies for only Rs.3. I am asking lady if they are giving student discount but she is too busy. I am also asking her for more Coca-Cola but she is looking like she is weeping and walking away. I think perhaps she is not understanding proper English.

Next I go to place marked ” Baggage” as Father has advised and suddenly place I am sitting starts to move throwing me. It is like python we once saw in forest, only rattling and with luggage bouncing on its back and sometimes leaping to attack passengers. I am also throwing myself on bag before it is escaping. I think if I am not wrestling it down it would revert to plane and back home to India. I am only joking of course.

At Customs, brother, I am getting big shock. One fat man is grunting at me and looking cleverly from small eyes. “First visit?” he is asking, “Yes,” I am agreeing “Move on,” he is saying making chalk marks on bags. As I am picking up bags he is looking directly at me and saying “Watch your ass.” Now, brother, this is wonderful. How he is knowing we are purchasing donkey? I think they are knowing everything about everybody who is coming to America.

But, brother, now I am worrying. Supposing this is CIA keeping watch or else how they can know about our donkey? Anyway please do not tell Mother and Father or they are worrying, but lock all doors and windows. If CIA wants to recruit me to be spy in Jajau, I will gladly take poison before betraying our Motherland. Then I am going out and cousins are waiting and receiving me warmly. I will write soon after settling down.

Your brother”

Guess the above excerpt from the book says it all. This book is truly hilarious! I can still remember the quizzical looks that I garnered in the train by laughing my heart out while reading this book. It seriously made me think, why did I took so much time to discover this book! 🙂 Anurag Mathur beautifully highlights the cultural differences between the East and West through the experiments of Gopal who goes to America for study purposes from a small town in India. Guess every Indian can identify with the innocence of the country bumpkin that Gopal effortlessly carries. With a dash of humor and a pepper of satire, Anurag Mathur really tickles your heart and thought. I must say that its a must read! If this doesn’t make you laugh in splits, I don’t know what would ever will manage!





Blind Men And The Elephant..

9 02 2008

This is a story from my Granny’s collections. One of those fond memories of childhood and yet such a lifetime lesson to practice. A little googling helped me locate this story and saved me from recreating its fondness from memory. For the trading with memories involves dealing with interpretations and perceptions which may not let you remain true to the original. 🙂

**************************************

Once upon a time there were six blind men. They lived in a town in India. They thought they were very clever. One day an elephant came into the town. The blind men did not know what an elephant looked like but they could smell it and they could hear it. ‘What is this animal like?’ they said. Each man touched a different part of the elephant.

The first man touched the elephant’s body. It felt hard, big and wide. ‘An elephant is like a wall’ he said. The second man touched one of the elephant’s tusks. It felt smooth and hard and sharp. ‘An elephant is like a spear’ he said.

The third man touched the elephant’s trunk. It felt long and thin and wiggly. ‘An elephant is like a snake’ he said. The fourth man touched on of the legs. It felt thick and rough and hard and round. ‘An elephant is like a tree’ he said.

The fifth man touched one of the elephant’s ears. It felt thin and it moved. ‘An elephant is like a fan’ he said.

The sixth man touched the elephant’s tail. It felt long and thin and strong. ‘An elephant is like a rope’ he said.

The men argued. It’s like a wall! No, it isn’t! It’s like a spear! No it isn’t! It’s like a snake! They did not agree. The king had been watching and listening to the men. ‘You are not very clever. You only touched part of the elephant. You did not feel the whole animal. An elephant is not like a wall or a spear or a snake, or a tree or a fan of a rope’.

The men left the town still arguing. A little girl heard them and said ‘Each of you is right but you are all wrong … but I know what you are talking about.’

***************************************
A nice illustration of this story in poem is available here. This story leaves me with a lingering echo that sounds like this.
“O how they cling and wrangle, some who claim
For preacher and monk the honored name!
For, quarreling, each to his view they cling.
Such folk see only one side of a thing”

Well, thats the thought that stayed with me since carefree days.





A Promise Is a Promise..

11 01 2008

Yes, Mr. Tata. Thanks for living up to it. You made me proud with the People’s car Nano.. I have been waiting for this news since four years now. I can’t express how much pride I felt when I read your interview on ET today with my morning cuppa. I have been resisting this post since yesterday, and now that excitement literally pulled me from slumber to spill over in all the words that I could find.Made me dwell on the memories of Mr. Kerouac.. Let me dedicate this to you, as it fits you so apt in this moment.

“Here’s to the crazy ones.
The misfits. The rebels.
The troublemakers. The round
pegs in the square holes – the
ones who see things differently.
They’re not fond of rules and
they have no respect for
the status quo. You can praise
them, disagree with them,
quote them, disbelieve them,
glorify or vilify them.
About the only thing that you
can’t do is ignore them.
Because they change things.”





Chak De India

14 09 2007

The first thing that strikes about this movie is SRK and Yash Raj Films.. Honestly I expected a super romantic story with loads of good music. Must say I am delightfully surprised. King Khan delivers complete justice to this off beat de-glam role as he creates magic with his magnificent aura and charming presence. It is a special movie for many reasons and after watching the movie at the edge of my seat for a couple of times, I must admire the courage of Director Shimit Amin for coming up with a novel theme of women hockey game in this cricket frenzy India. Many fail to appreciate that Hockey is our national game and somehow it went into oblivion when the most glamorous cricket took over. I am most impressed by the fact that hockey stick sales went up by about 300% after the release of Chak De!

This movie brings out beautifully that ultimately when everyone is on field, its more than just a game. Its about getting ten odd players with diverse backgrounds to unite and stand as one. Its about a team playing its heart out for the love of the game, with a hope to win against all odds and for a chance to hold on to a dream created by belief.

Many times it so happens that we take for granted a lot of issues that are inherent in our country. Sorry Mr. Shaw, but I don’t believe that Patriotism is all about thinking my country is great as I am born in it, though I love the way of expression. 🙂

Its about appreciating the beauty and the values that I inherent from my motherland and taking a charge to preserve, or protect its identity. It also involves how much am I taking responsibility to introspect, or change for the betterment. Shimit has done a great job of highlighting a lot of issues that come in the way of the development of sports in India, like the unethical side of media in branding Kabir Khan as a traitor, the politics, corruption and the bias with in the selection board in dealing with coach and player selection, regional fanaticism within the players and the crowd, gender discrimination in India, selfish motives of the players, lack of mental training and encouragement. We always talk about Unity in Diversity, yet we seldom acknowledge the discrimination that we show to the minority classes or the south eastern states.

Whats sets this movie apart is that unique touch of Indian flavor, and well grounded realism. I loved Komal Chautala and Balbir Kaur in their well groomed roles. And it stands out as it creates hope and makes us believe that nothing is impossible when we set our hearts on it.

Namumkin? Wahi To Karna Hai!





The Great Indian Family!

1 06 2007

Today I chanced to see Om Jai Jagdish, a hindi movie that’s centered on the love and affection among three brothers (Om, Jai and Jagdish) in a highly romantic Indian setting. It’s a beautifully crafted Indian movie, which brings out the positive and the idealistic side of a principled family whose love and affection for one another is second to none. Waheeda Rahman is a widow who brings up her three sons in her family estate with lots of love and affection. Anil plays the role of a non-imposing, ever-loving and self-sacrificing big brother character pretty well and Abhishek Bachchan practically lives the role of a carefree young brother. Well, one could always say that it’s just another feel good sort of movie with a clichéd ending that love alone will be triumphant. Yet, the fact that I have watched it a couple of times and yet I stuck glued to the television shows how much I loved that movie.

It made me ponder on the values that Indian family setting imbibes in an Individual. Also, this movie highlights the attachment that a family has for the family home. It rings quite true for me, as when you grow up or live in a house which we call home, its not just brick and mortar anymore. It houses our fond memories and is a living reminder of the beautiful joys in life.

Its true that there is subtle politics that comes into play in a joint family kind of environment, where one has to be socially correct and politically appropriate to those relations involving authority or power.. It could be your grand dad with a cane in his hand or it could be your mother in law with an indirect nag. Pretenses to be maintained, respect to be kept. Yet, all these people carry a weight of responsibility which may be big for their shoulders. Being figureheads or the actual Dons of the family, they may have to keep their family’s interest above theirs at most of those times. And they play it with so much ease, as if they are honored to live the responsibility at any cost! It all comes for a price!

I don’t know whether people in Indian family settle for one another. Yet, I know that love and trust comes so easily to us. We accept people in all totality with such gullible warmth, mother them with over flowing concern and ensconce them with love and affection. The fiercely passionate way in which each family stands for one and one for all is worth paying a tribute for. Long live family culture!