Thursday, November 27, 2008
This post is constantly being updated. Keep checking back for more. In a strange way, the only thing that I can do sitting in the peace and calm of my home is blog and pray. Its unfortunate and fortunate in many ways. Unfortunate because, in so many ways I want to goto Churchgate and help out at the hospitals and fortunate, because God alone knows how many more bombs are yet to go. There is so much speculation and rumor mongering and so many live updates that the mind is a squash of information. There is talk that the Marriott in Juhu was also bombed and then there is a mind boggling set of news bytes that the channels are throwing at us. Please ignore the junk the Hindi news channels are providing. They are still in Baba Tantrik eras and have a tendency to exaggerate news, while they steal information from the rival news channels. I prefer watching the versions of NDTV and CNN-IBN more than any other channel. They are brining live coverage since last night and Barkha as usual is giving us a second by second update of the goings on there. There is a clear mention of the Israeli and the foreign connect. Hostages are foreign and the Nariman House where hostages are held is a Jewish stronghold. Thankfully NDTV has not yet called jobless experts to give their 'point of view'(like we care about what they think) and comment on the situation. Fresh news will do just fine. Its the same story all over again. News channels will debate it, politicians will question the other parties and smses and blogs will pour over the news. In a sad sort of way, a lot of old friends have contacted me, out of concern. I appreciate it, but these attacks are so comonplace now, that they might as well call me every month. A concrete solution for all this is counter-terrorism classes for all students at the junior college level. Most other precautions are indirectly implementable and require individual participation. And at times care and concern for a vacant packet can lead to one's death. Like that of the little boy Santosh, in Delhi. Israel as a country expects compulsory training from its citizens with a few exceptions. Not only is physical and firearm training important, it helps the average citizen respect the policeman and the armed forces that give their lives in these terrorist attacks. Its already in place with the NCC at the school and college level. Can there be more intense training for all the students? What will be the response of families when they hear of their children working with firearms? After all what use are firearms in case of a bomb blast. Will bomb diffusion techniques be taught? and will those techniques be useful across all bomb types? There are many questions and very few answers, but we have to make a beginning somewhere. In case we make a new beginning, why not be aggressive. Update: NDTV has been broadcasting news continuously without any comercial break. The last break they too kwas at 8:00 p.m. and Sreenivasan Jain has been reporting outside the Taj for twenty straight hours. Barkha Dutt has been reporting for almost ten hours now. They havent given me a reason to switch channels at all. Somehow, my earlier irritation at them and their comercial obsessed reporting has given way to new found respect...because when it counted the most, they stood and reported with integrity. Update: The top politicians L.K.Advani, Jaswant Singh and Sonia Gandhi have flown together to the scene of drama(Look ma!! Solidarity...extra points for travelling together!!). They are going to resolve the situation and are going to end the war on terror. Apart from the lines of security that will be provided to them, the reluctant sound bytes that they will give, and the 'calm' they will ask people to maintain(why should we maintain calm when maximum security is being provided to them and minimum to the people who elect them), they will also be awarded brownie points for their visit. Which political strategist says that visiting a scene of damage is better than working on an action plan? Who remembers while voting how many bomb blast sites did Vilasrao Deshmukh visit? Update: PM Manmohan Singh is scheduled to arrive at the Taj to see the situation there. He doesnt have access to television and updates from the police chiefs. He has to come to Mumbai, to prove a point to world leaders that he is worried about the city. When Ratan Tata has the common sense to stay away from Ground Zero because security will be a hindrance, our PM is trying his level best to show that he is concerned. We have politicians of such high levels of intelligence that it almost makes me cry with shame. Update: CNN has Deepak Chopra commenting on the incident. Who is he? Just some God-forsaken author who for the lack of writing material has fooled the world into believing in some wacky powers that individuals will be empowered with--once they buy his books! Since when did some dumb self-help writer become authority on International Terrorism? Would the International Media have paid so much attention had there been no foreigners involved? Update: A few days back, Mr.Oldie L.K.Advani was hooting about Sadhvi Pragya's "innocence" and accusing the ATS chief of making a mistake and ill-treating her. As of now, the entire BJP machinery is talking in secular terms and making 'Indian' statements. After a polarising stance this chameleon colors of the party will not be forgotten. Oh and by the way, Mr Raj Thackeray is absent from this entire drama, simply because the terrorist or the victims arent Maharashtrian(duh!)?. Update: I wonder how rescue operation would have been had the Israeli Defence Forces(IDF) been in charge. Clearly our commandos are unprepared for this kind of scenario. Without state of the art bullet proof jackets and guns, most people would hesitate to take any risks. Every act seems planned and premeditated, but it would have been impossible without local help. The recce done by then has been almost perfect. Meanwhile here is a link on the myth of bullet proof jackets, in India Today. Update: A lot of questions are still on my mind and I hope the war on terror ends quickly to answer those questions. In a time of National Emergency do state and Central bureaucratic procedures apply? The NSG commandos are located near Maneswar, Delhi and their deployment is possible but only after Central Government orders. The NSG reached Mumbai after seven hours. It took this long because they had to load themselves up and pack up and leave. When they must have finally landed there would have been multiple issues to take care of. Hotel mapping, hostage rescue, terrorists to run after, people locked inside rooms. Its a wonder that we dont have elite forces across the nation that can be mobilised to save civilians in an event like this. In fact even the ATS isnt equipped with training like the way the NSG is. No wonder we lost an important life, in Hemant Karkare. Plus, we dont have many SWAT teams in the local police that can be used in a large operation. Most cities across the world have city-centric SWAT teams for operations like this. The Marine Commandos and the NSG are central forces. Update: The International Media is criticising India's failed political leadership for the problems faced by urban India. And rightly so. WSJ comments on the military blunders here. A Washington Post article can be found here. Update: Are the Indian public stupid? I mean really? Do we have no brains at all? When the Nariman House Opearation was declared incomplete via loud speakers, why was a large crowd still present in the narrow gully? Isnt it easy for a terrorist to throw a grenade and render a few causalties then and there? Update: Who has the stamina to stay awake, alert and agile for 48 hours? A bunch of terrorists with murder their minds. Its unbelievable and scary-their level of focus..or insanity ? The answer to this question is not focus and insanity, but keep awake pills. At times they use the method of microsleep to catch some winks for 30-45 seconds to stay alert later on. Update: The Washington Post comments here. The NYTimes editorial is here. Update: Now that the Jewish Study Center (Nariman House) has been attacked and a rabbi and his wife have been killed, we will see an increased participation of Israel in combat attacks with the terrorist organisations in Pakistan. The last time Israeli nationals were killed in the Munich Massacre, PM Golda Meir carried out a covert operation with the Mossad to respond to the terrorists individually. The Speilberg movie, Munich, is based on the Israeli response. In a way this is an ironical blessing for India, that Israel will be drawn into the game. It is too much for our Indian forces to go to war with Pakistan over harbouring militants in its backyard. Once the IDF takes charge, it will be interesting to see the developments in Pakistan as far as militant outfits are concerned. [digg=http://digg.com/world_news/26_11_Mumbai_Bomb_Blasts]
Monday, November 24, 2008
At the outset the words seem like a lie and deep inside me I ask many questions that start with a why Many months ago I toiled for affection the least you could give me was trust maybe a full circle moment was needed to see friendship crumble to dust... its funny now the distance between you and me one time foes and strangers fill the void you cannot see a sad turn of events, a sharp rude comment how the innocence of friendship dies the way I see it from here its better to say lonely goodbyes maybe we will meet again I might look the other way to the many questions you will ask empty feelings will give way...[digg=http://digg.com/arts_culture/What_Now_12]
Saturday, November 22, 2008
There is a silly Rape argument that is constantly present in Muslim speakers speeches. It goes on to defend the wearing of the veil and the burkha by saying that Saudi Arabia(which insttructs women to wear the veil and the burkha by law) has the lowest rate of rape. Which is utterly illogical. There are a number of reasons for this : 1. Discounting the fact that marital rape is not recognised in most countries as a crime, an actual case of rape is hardly reported in Saudi. Because the chances of women being accused of adultery is very high. For this reason, most women hardly report rape. 2. Saudi Arabia is a monarchy and most statistics related to monarchies can be tampered with and modified. In a country where freedom of press is suppressed, crime statistics hardly merit credibility. 3. Rape is so not related to veils and a burkha. Rape is related to an undeniable and disgusting urge to overpower a woman felt by a man. It is independent of time, location , dressing and even upbringing. Because perfectly educated guys also rape women. Whether you wear anything or not, doesnt change the outcome of a bad situation. Its rightly said...the perfect speech is spoiled by a factual error!
Monday, November 17, 2008
Things to watch out for in the movie Fashion : 1. The ease with which Priyanka moves into the top league of models. Her "confidence" which impressed Kitu Gidwani's character was C-L-I-C-H-E-D! 2. Noyonika Chatterjee and Jesse Randhawa on the ramp. They blaze the walkway like superwomen. Noyonika may have turned fashion choreographer now, but she sure has some of her old spark ! 3. Kangana Ranaut's ramp walk is too aggressive. True her character was written that way, but the wildness could have been spared on the ramp. The audience liked that attitude, but that NO WAY to walk the ramp. 4. The Sufi background score that plays when the credits are displayed, right in the beginning. Its lingers long after its over. 5. Fashion ka Jalwa and Mar Jawan can be kept on repeat mode without tiring the musical soul! 6. When Priyanka returns to the house after a wild night with a stranger, she wrecks her entire room. The camera angle is such that you see her movement in the background and the focus is on a turned shoe. The shoe is from Aldo's and the product placement idea is fantastic! 7. There is no guy waiting for the main character to come back into his arms. People and life around the central character have moved on. 8. Mugda Godse, Harsh Chhaya and Samir Soni play real roles and do justice. 9. The gay angle is over exploited. I mean really, the topic has been beaten to death. The movie is clearly a fresh take on the fashion industry and drips in glamour and high society shenanigans. It doesnt end with the girl and a guy and a happy family and a successful career. The movie ends with success, sometimes lonely, sometimes with loved ones around.
Sunday, November 09, 2008
The cost of infrastructure for the public is almost always borne by the general public both in ways of money and time. The Mumbai Metro project is an ambitious one considering the number of goals it will achieve--primarily, empty the trains and provide a much needed privatised relief to the chunk of government projects that await approval or finances. The promise of a 'train every 3.5 minutes' is yet to be realised. But the current state of the project at Versova has created new traffic problems. There are two malls-one at Seven Bungalows and another at Manish Nagar-that will create new problems. The mall at 7 Bungalows is ready and will open in a few weeks time, will create a traffic bottleneck in the evenings. Which means travelling back from Andheri Station will be a nightmare. The second route to Versova could be through link road via 4 Bungalows. But once construction begins at the Manish Nagar mall, there will be two projects contributing to the traffic situation--the mall and the metro. Both will take minimum two years to complete and till then the residents of Versova will take, on an average, an hour to reach hom from the station. For a better facility, the cost of time is worth paying, but Dubai completed a slightly smaller project in record time for the benefit of the general public. On the Sheikh Zayed road, the Fairmont hotel is a sight hard to miss. The traffic situation on this road is the stuff of legend. To avoid pedestrians the worry of crossing the road in the midst of choc-a-block traffic and speeding vehicles, the government built a bridge from the Fairmont Hotel to the Dubai Exhibition in twelve hours. The public was informed beforehand and the level of stategy and efficiency employed was world class. They achieved the target in record time. This link talks about the bridge, but the pictures are more interesting. "Character is a journey, not a destination"--Bill Clinton
Saturday, November 08, 2008
So the President-Elect of the USA has had his first meeting with his transitional economic advisory team and there havent been any clear signals as such. To a question on Iran, Obama reinstated his position of non-negotiation as far as a nuclear programme is concerned. And then there was his political gaffe regarding Nancy Reagan. The new advisory team has interesting names like Warren Buffett, Eric Schmidt , Paul Volcker and it was positive to note that the President went right into action with regards to the financial crisis. Of course with the jobless numbers moving close to the one million mark it was a much needed move. However there wasnt anything concrete that was spoken at the press conference. The Dow showed a good 200 point decline near the closing bell, which marked the beginning of the conference and then inched upwards. As far as cabinet names are concerned President Obama spoke of announcments in the coming weeks and not days as most would have like to hear. Here are interesting links to Rahm Emanuel (White House Chief of Staff) and the other cabinet hopefuls.
Friday, November 07, 2008
I have a strong feeling that Yash Raj will spoil SRK's new look in Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi and convert him into a flashy superstar before the end of the movie. That would be it. Its been a long time that SRK has been in a role that requires him to act and emote minus his looks(Yes he has looks..all you John fans!). I hope this Amol Palekar characterisation is carried till the end of the movie. It will be a shame and stupid stereotyping if they do otherwise. ---------- When I wrote this post about a useless program called 'A Moment of Truth', little did I realize that Indian Television will follow suit. This time Kiran Bedi is solving spats between people on National Television.Only its not for money. I completely respect Kiran Bedi's opinion on all social matters(she does add a sensible charm to public tv shows she's invited to!) and I feel that she will do justice to the job, but in this case, I think people are moving to this show so that they can get justice in some form, as opposed to the court route. Most of the contestants may not have the money or time to resolve issues in courts and have decided to resort to this 'public' panchayat with India's most respected police officer in command. As for washing linen in public, I believe their fights have already been in the public forum(in terms of friends, relatives etc.) for a while and so they are choosing this route. ---------- Why doesnt Harsh Chhaya act more often? He is the guy in the movie Corporate, who leaves the company on ethical grounds. I loved his acting in the serial Hasratein that used to be on air once upon a time. Other than a few plays here and there, there is not much of him on the small screen. Though I wish he would come back soon! UPDATE: In today's Bombay Times and Mumbai Mirror there is a nightmarish ad campaign of Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi with SRK in a flashy avataar. So the simpleton turned sassy super boy story is very much true. Sad, that few filmakers can try a new formula. But flop factory Yashraj Productions can hardly afford to do that, hence the mass market strategy. UPDATE: All that talk on the Aldo Product Placement in Fashion reminded me of the song Dance Pe Chance from Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi. The song is shot in a garage full of surprise surprise!!! Hyundai cars! Its not very noticeable in the trailers, but they will be a better view in the movie.
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Some of my favourite quotes from My Sister's Keeper...Jodi is a quoteamaniac!!!
"Maybe who we are isn't so much about what we do, but rather what we're capable of when we least expect it."
"A photo says, you were happy, and I wanted to catch that. A photo says, you were so important to me that I put down everything else to come watch. "
"Maybe who we are isn't so much about what we do, but rather what we're capable of when we least expect it."
"A photo says, you were happy, and I wanted to catch that. A photo says, you were so important to me that I put down everything else to come watch. "
"If you have a sister and she dies, do you stop saying you have one? Or are you always a sister, even when the other half of the equation is gone?"
"Normal, in our house, is like a blanket too short for a bed--sometimes it covers you just fine, and other times it leaves you cold and shaking; and worst of all, you never know which of the two it's going to be."
"See, as much as you want to hold on to the bitter sore memory that someone has left this world, you are still in it"
It's disappointing to know that someone can see right through you."
"I'm lonely. Why do you think I had to learn to act so independent? I also get mad too quickly, and I hog the covers, and my second toe is longer than my big one. My hair has it's own zip code. Plus, I get certifiably crazy when I've got PMS. You don't love someone because they're perfect. You love them in spite of the fact that they're not."
"Kids think with their brains cracked wide open; becoming an adult, I've decided, is only a slow sewing shut."
"Let me tell you this: if you meet a loner, no matter what they tell you, it's not because they enjoy solitude. It's because they have tried to blend into the world before, and people continue to disappoint them."
"I learn from my own daughter that you don’t have to be awake to cry."
"...seeing her sitting there unresponsive makes me realize that silence has a sound."
"What I really want to tell him is to pick up that baby of his and hold her tight, to set the moon on the edge of her crib and to hang her name up in the stars."
" Shooting stars are not stars at all. They re just rocks that enter the atmosphere and catch fire under friction. What we wish on when we see one is only a trail of debris."
Subroto Bagchi,Gardener of Mindtree, used to write a wonderful column titled 'Times of the Mind' in the Times of India -a column I sorely miss. In one of his writings he spoke fondly of a girl working in his company who disobeyed her parents wishes to get married and continued ahead with post-grad studies. In Indian Culture disobeying your parents for the sake of education is more or less a crime that doesnt garner that much attention today. A lot of women do it all the time. But to disobey your parents and marry the person of your choice is a heinous crime..one that elicits frowns all your life. So imagine if a daughter decides to sue her parents because they have been asking for her blood, kidney, bone marrow for her dying sister? When I read My Sister's Keeper, I found the topic so in your face! I mean suing your own parents! To me the idea seemed alien, but in Western culture a lot of kids have sued their parents for crimes they ought to be sued for! Its just that in the Indian realm of things suing your parents seems out of context. Or out of your mind. Anna is not sick with disease, she is sick with surgery. She is sick of giving blood, platelets and countless necessary bodily fluids to her perennially diseased sister, Kate. All of it makes her realise that she is just a speck in her family's entire fabric. Her family's foundation is breaking apart at the seams. Her brother Jason keeps getting caught for odd crimes, her mum is constantly at the hospital making every little development with Kate seem like a celebration. Unfortunately throughout the book, you dont feel the mother's need to sideline her kids. There may be bits and parts where you see the mother in her, struggling to balance the world that seems to be falling apart, keeping things that matter close to her heart and numbing herself from the realities of life. But it all seems so miniscule compared to the damage Anna and Jason are going through.I bet the characterisation is done so that we despise Sara and as a reader you are given no choice. I know of families which have to struggle with one child having a mental syndrome or a terminal disease and how the other children lose self esteem. Even in those situations, you tend to empathise with the mother. But here, Sara, the mother, is the criminal, right away. She loves her older daughter to a point where it seems suffocating. Every time there is a situation, it is about making Kate comfortable. And when she didnt have a choice to save Kate, Sara produced a designer baby in the form of Anna to supply bone marrow to her oldest child. Somewhere in there as a mother she may have felt that once this transfer of marrow was over, Kate would be fine and Anna would be just another welcome addition. But the transfers continue without Anna's permission. In a filial setting, permissions are rarely asked. You want to or have to save your sister's life. So Anna decides to take charge at the confused age of thirteen. The book jumps right on course, with Anna seeking the services of a lawyer for the right to medical emancipation. As a reader you feel for her right away and Jodi handles the relationship between Anna and her sister delicately. One only hopes that she had given more thought to Brian, the father, who is lost in the madness of her wife's love, hospital trips, an attention seeking son and an almost disowned daughter. This book fails miserably in the end. After the climax you wish for justice for Anna, but Jodi spoils the ending with enough melodrama to turn you off. There is too much of 'Alls Well that Ends Well' here and you almost wish for a cryptic ending like that of Nineteen Minutes. I found the pace much slower, and the flashback of the lawyer and his girlfriend could be spared. They are forgettable characters who I presume where inserted into the book to make is much bigger and longer than it already is. The author deserves praise for writing on a topic that deserves attention--How much of our lives and our bodies are owned by our parents? If we choose to exercise our fundamental rights, do we deserve praise for standing up or criticism for shutting out someone's right to live? My Sister's Keeper retails for Rs. 280 in Crossword and for Rs.263 in Landmark. The corresponding link on Amazon is here.
"You dont love someone because they're perfect, you love them in spite of the fact that they're not" — Jodi Picoult (My Sister's Keeper)[digg=http://digg.com/arts_culture/My_Sister_s_Keeper_by_Jodi_Picoult]
Sunday, November 02, 2008
She walked into the office one day and that was the last day we all concentrated. From then on it was more about how many glimpses we got of her and how many kinds of skirt styles she could sport. At times it was about the length of he slit in her skirt. Yes! She worre slit skirts. Unfortuantely for us she was the project leader of the client firm and we had to have our eyes in focus else there were repercussions. But dreaming and fantasising wasnt banned. And it helped that the girls in our office noted ehr style. The way she walked , te color of her hair. When we had none our female collegues supplied us with bathroom tales. We really didnt want to know the brand of perfume she used, but intimate details helped. It came as a blow to us, the day her husband walked into the company offices. He drovIe an Audi and looked everybit as stunning as her. It was the real life version of Jolie and Pitt. Life moved on and things were morose except for the whiff of fresh air that used to walk in at 10 every morning. It was a spectacle really...the way all instructions were kept on standstill and the way people craned necks to see sex bomb walk by. It was in the tired mentalities of all of us white collared workers that she was a snob. The girls hated her and a bad hair day was a party in our bay! A color mismatch meant fits of giggles. We used to simply yawn at these trivial details.
...how some people compare themselves to others and waste their lives in the entire process. Shouldnt you be more worried about how ahead or behind you are to your previous selves as opposed to someone else? Arent there enough examples in the world of a tide changing the fortune of people? So why take pride...arrogant pride... that too in things that change in the blink of an eye. It has a lot to do with the wannabe culture and the desparate need to feel greater than others. Unfortunately the fall is painful enough. I think these kind of people lead wasted lives and feel sorry for them.