Friday, December 08, 2006

Goodbye Mumbai!

Shifting Base!!! Yeah, I am leaving Mumbai for good.
So the name will have to change, I guess!! What do you think??

I am leaving for an undisclosed location on 16th of Dec 2006.
First I go to my native place and then the new place which would be my base!

I would like to thank my dear Foster mothers, Mumbai & Vasai, for their kindness, love & affection! Mumbai Made me! I love you! I will miss you!!
Keep watching this space for my new endeavors. I promise, there will be many!
So see ya all in new year. Happy Christmas, and New Year.
Till then Bye

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Sanjay Dutt Convicted in 1993 Bombay serial Blast case

Famous bollywood actor and son of late Mr. Sunil Dutt is convicted for keeping an AK-56 rifle and it's Ammunition during the Mumbai Bomb Blast 1993. He is likely to be send to Aurthur Road Jail. Sunjay Dutt has been accused of taking 2 AK 56 rifles, a 9 mm pistol and Hand Granades. He returned all except one Ak-56 which he destroyed later. The Special Court Judge Pramod Kode found him guilty of this charge but acquitted him on Conspiracy charges.
Sunjay Dutt 's Career graph has seen an unprecedented high lately. His films, Kaante, Vastav & the famous Munnabhai I & II was all superhits. The Munnabhai series has attained cult status and the second part was triggered a new interest in "Gandigiri", or Gandhi-ism. Recently a University from Rajastan offered a new cource in "Gandhigiri" and it's VC invited Sunjay Dutt to deliver the first lecture.
Currently aproximately 100 crore rupees is riding on him in various projects. half a dozen films are nearing finalization and this verdict means doom for them. The court will give the sentence only at a later date but it is likely that he will get 3-5 year term. He has already spend 18 months as an undertrial. But a 5 year term spells doom for his filmi career.
This is a big blow to Priya Dutt, the Congress MP, who have actively supported her brother during his ordeal. The BJP is likely to call for her resignation on moral grounds. During her election campaign, Sunjay Dutt has actively campaigned for her.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

A new Low in Indian Cricket

Indian Cricket team received another drubbing at the hands of South Africa in Durban. Screamed the headlines of leading dailies the other day. So what’s new? Wasn’t this a regular feature of our millionaire’s club aka Indian cricket team? When was the last time India won a trophy convincingly? Even if we won some after Kapil’s devils, it was more like some other team lost to some other, or a team didn’t score enough runs in a certain over so we qualify or better still, it rained and washed off the play so we got half of the points which otherwise would have been nil. I still don’t understand why all this hype and hoopla about a game. Yesterday our responsible MPs (Member of Parliament, you read it correct) made a big issue about it in the parliament. They want the Coach to be sacked. Why they didn’t ask the Captain & Players to be sacked? It is the players who perform on the field. The coach can give instructions, but it is the players who execute them. So aren’t they responsible?

By the way, ain’t there any other issues worth raising in the temple of democracy? Like the continuous farmer suicide in Maharashtra? Or the Border dispute with China, which is rearing its head again? Or the Terrorist strategies that include sending trained and armed women to seduce army officers and leak information? No. I guess nothing is as important as a bunch spineless individuals losing to a superior team. One must remember the fact that they don’t even represent India. They represent a club called BCCI. Such waste of time…

After the heavy loss, India (I still call them Indian cricket team just for the sake of it) Team captain, Rahul Dravid, lamented the fact that it is our inability to cope with pace and bounce that brought the shameful display. How true?. When we lost to the West Indies on Not-So-Bouncier tracks when we toured West Indies, he said it was lack of application. When we lost to the same team in Indian pitches, it was Experiment and process which were more important than winning or losing. Now he is offering another excuse for their pitiful toe dance (wasn’t it more like a toe dance than a batting display with all our players jumping around to avoid the flying bouncers?). He has been asking for more lively pitches in India so our batsmen can learn to live with pace & bounce. So my dear Dravid, when other teams tour here, are they too calling to change their BOUNCIER pitches changed into featherbeds? Why should we change our pitches (and throw away whatever little advantage we get at home) to suit other’s need? Are you advocating that Pace & Bounce is the only way to survive in a cricket field? Is there a thing called Technique? Or will to fight? We never expect you to win games there. But this kind of wishy-washy excuses are what makes me cringe.

Just a one liner from me to you Mr. Dravid.

“Idiots find excuses for their failure. Others take corrective measures”

Good Luck.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


Finally God decided to put a stop to my Father-in-law's suffering and took him from us. He died peacefully in his home on 14/11/2006 at 7:30 PM aged 68. He is survived by two sons and a daughter.

The funeral will be taking place on 17th Novemeber 2006, friday and till then his worldly remains will be kept in the morgue. The delay is for his sister, who is a Bangalore resident, to come and see him one last time.

God may rest his soul in peace.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Tough times!

Been absent from my writing & photography for a long time now. A lot of things happened all of a sudden.
First I was under the weather and had to be away from Mumbai for a couple of weeks. Came back refreshed only to be told that my Father-in-Law is in critical condition. Another 3 weeks and I am back. But not feeling like writing anything. My father-in-Law is dying of Cancer. As of today, there is a feeble breath left in him. Just that!
The cancer has spread all over his body and eating up him from within. Hope he don't suffer much. And pray to god to rest his soul in peace!
I'll be continuing my rants once my mind is cleared.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Happy Diwali

Here wishing you all a very Happy, Safe & prosperous Diwali.
Play it safe. Keep an eye for our environment too..
See ya all after a long weekend..

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Tech-savvy mumbai

Overheard on a Mumbai Local train

Hey boss, your Digicam is of how many MPs? And howm many x zoom??
Arre yaar, Compact Flash cards are better than SD??

Another occasion…
This is an AC/DC train. So careful while you jump into get a seat. It comes & goes faster…

You should buy a mobile with Smart phone technology. See you can install various softwares that you can download from net. SIS file, Jar file you know… And GPRS, EDGE etc is there. Arre yaar while on the move you could watch news & your e-mails on your cell…

Home theatre? Buy one with 5.1 channels amp.

Mumbai is definitely getting tech-savvy, won’t you say?

Monday, October 09, 2006

Denial Mode.

Recently there is widespread panic in Kerala at the speed with which Chikun Gunya is spreading. But the health ministry is keep issuing circulars to newspaper offices.
Chikun Gunya is not fatal. Those who died (the last count is somewhere close to 100), died due to other illness”. The question is if they didn’t contract Chikun Gunya, would they die now? No answer.
The dreaded disease polio is rearing its head in Mumbai once again. All this concentrated effort to eradicate it failed miserably. Now the administration is blaming it on the “Influx of Immigrants from UP & Bihar”. It’s not our fault, you see.
After the floods and subsequent epidemics such as Leptospirosis, The civic chief famously said “It’s the weather. We can’t do anything about it. Due to unprecedented rains this year, there is flooding and epidemics”. But last year also we got Unprecedented rains. So there is precedence.
When dengue hits the city it is squarely blamed on Mosquitoes. “Due to the uncontrolled encroachment of mangroves & other natural resources mosquitoes are breeding very fast. This is causing the current outbreak”. See, none of their / our fault.
This year upmarket areas like Napean sea road witnessed a surge in Malaria cases. Who to blame? Ofcource the mosquitoes. They came from the sky. We didn’t do anything.

Nobody is responsible, you know. The government blames it on administration; they promptly put it on weather, flood, inefficiency, over-worked staff, inadequate funds and trade union problems. Those who are in their list, and can respond (can’t you see, weather, inefficient workers can’t respond to it) put the blame on whatever they can come up with. We, the public, throw all the waste onto the gutter and roads, making it a breeding ground (or rather breeding pool) for mosquito and blame the government of doing nothing. The vicious circle starts all over again.
Who will take the initiative? Who can do something that set off a chain-reaction? I say the government. The government says you start. Now what?

Some photos from my trip

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Rude? Who, us Indians? get a life...

A few months back there was a big furor about a survey that found Indians among the rudest of all people. Every one was outraged at that blatant statement and protest notes were all over the place. Blogs, articles and TV shows competed to prove otherwise. Yours truly also joined the bandwagon and wrote how the Mumbaikar was not at all rude but how much compassionate during the recent bomb blasts that shook the city. It is true that in adversity we go out of our way to help others but in everyday life are we that lenient? The everyday fight for a seat in a crowded local train, the abuse-hurling nature makes me think otherwise. And my recent trip to Kerala doesn’t make me think otherwise.
We – me, my wife and my 18 month old daughter boarded a sleeper class reserved compartment from Kalyan on Mangala-Lakshadeep Express. Unfortunately my seat was in the next coupe and due to my daughter’s continuous whining I decided to stay with them. A family was sitting next to our seat and they occupied the rest of the coupe except one seat. A man in his forties was sitting on that seat. When he left his seat to stand in the doorway, I decided to have breakfast. While we were having it, he came back and asked me to vacate his seat. I have no other option but to stand up with Idli plate in one hand, coffee cup in the other. I cursed the moment when I decided to have breakfast together. I could have let my wife eat first while I baby-sit, and once she finished I could have mine!
Throughout the journey the family next to us was very accommodating and kind, but this guy was outright rude. Once or twice my kid laughed loudly and he made it clear that he is irritated. Luckily he got down at Ratnagiri, a 6 hour journey from Kalyan, along with the family next to me. It felt like a lifetime!
From there till Madgao (Goa) we had the entire coupe for us. We reached there about 10:00 PM and my daughter was in a playful mood. I had to restrain her many times from climbing down the seat and walking barefoot. She made friends with a guy who was sitting on the double seat across the aisle and by now he too was sleeping on his berth. Suddenly two foreigners came into our coupe with heavy backpacks and luggage. They put all their belongings on to their reserved berths and all the while chatting and laughing, albeit in a low voice. When they noticed that my wife and child was sleeping she politely said “Sorry about the noise”. I mumbled something and got ready to sleep as well.
The next morning while we were having our breakfast, the women from upper birth woke up and checked her companion. Since he was fast asleep, she went back to sleep. This repeated for some more time and every time she gave us a sweet smile. Finally he too woke up and they started shooting the passing landscapes on their digital camera & camcorder.
After some shooting they came back to the seat and struck up a conversation. The first question was “Did we bother you last night?” to which I replied in the negative. Suddenly they two started talking. By then my daughter was fed up with not getting any attention and decided that enough is enough. She started making faces and doing her version of a conversation and these two responded with equal naughtiness. The way they spoke and behaved was amazing. I never remember any of my co-passengers talked to me like that. In a couple of hours we become friends.
Sebastian & Nathalie were from France. He is from Paris and working as an Insurance Marketing executive. She is from some other place (I don’t remember the name or her nature of work since her accent was heavy). Both were on a tight budget (hence the second class railway) and been to Varanasi and other Hindu pilgrim centers. After visiting Goa, they are heading to Kerala. Sebastian was full of questions. Why Indian women wear the “bindi” on her forehead? Is it a symbol of matrimony? How many languages are there in India? How do you manage with all these languages and cultures? Etc…
Natalie wasn’t far behind. She wanted to know how to wear Saree. And is it a costume to wear only after marriage etc. The whole day we spend in talking and myself asked about their culture and living in Paris. By the time we had to get down, we exchanged e-mail address and promised to contact once they went back to France.

Now I strongly believe we have a lot to learn from westerners, particularly from Europeans. Not their free society culture or revealing clothes. But how to behave in a society. How to talk and how to be kind.
Ps: Sebastian & Natalie, we enjoyed that trip tremendously. It was just because of your company. Here is a big Thank You!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Taking a break

Due to reasons that is beyond my control, I am forced to take a break from blogging.
Been under the weather for a week and now I suspect it's little more than that. SO going for a detailed check-up and medication.

See ya all after a while!

Till then Bye

3rd Oct 2006

Back from te forced hiatus!!
Some respiratory tract infection!!
Now back in full swing!
Will be writing about two extra-ordinary french people I met on my journey, Sebastian & Nathalie!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Tungareshwar - The heaven of Earth

Trek to Tungareshwar

I have long been planning a trek to Tungareshwar, one of the highest mountain plateaus in Vasai Region. Me & my friend, Saju Isac, started from Vasai West by 10:00 AM on a quite Sunday morning, the second week of August. My back pack was packed with snacks, water bottles and my camera. I had the tripod with me, considering the low light in the monsoon and windy conditions up there. My friend carried the tripod.
Tungareshwar Mountains is one of the highest plateaus of the Vasai region and a tourist attraction. The best time to visit is during the monsoon. You can find the details about it here
I rode my bike through Vasai East – Sativli road. First get to the Highway intersection and cross the Highway. The narrow road ahead is the path to the base of the mountain. As I crossed the Mumbai-Ahmedabad highway, I spotted hundreds of picnickers walking up the path. I parked the bike at the entrance point of mountain and started the climb.

The first few miles were crowded. Picnickers of all kind, old, frail to mothers carrying infants were walking the rocky path. Huge rocks lines the road and few adventurous youths rode their Pulsars and Suzukis. And one or two Rickshaws also plying. The first obstacle is a small river and in monsoon it swells. About thigh-high. Careful not to get my camera wet, we safely crossed it.

From there it was relatively easy except for one or two small rivulets flowing down on giant rocks. A small bridge is provided but most of the picnickers chose to cross the stream. The Rickshaws were precariously swayed when it passed the stream but the experience hands were not trembling.

After about an hour, with a couple of halting, we reached the first stop. And for most this is the end. There is a temple of Lord Shiva and few villagers selling goods ranging from “Bhoota” (Corn fried on coal) to small firing ranges. From food stalls to book stalls. And long queue for “Darshan”.

The boisterous crowd melts here. They take a few steps ahead and get themselves enough fun at a small waterfall. I saw a few people smoking pot and upon seeing my camera and tripod, they invited me to join. I graciously refused.

We started our climb on 11:00 AM. There was not a single human being in sight. Very soon we got sucked up in the overpowering silence, and we too fell silent. The only sound was that of wind blowing onto the trees. The constant whirring sound. We stopped for a couple of times for snacks but apart from that no conversation was required. Whenever I stopped for shooting, my friend set the tripod and dutifully stayed silent. An overwhelming sense of the need to remain silent and respect towards the nature.

It was almost two hours and we spotted an open space. Through that opening of jungle, we could see the far fields and villages through the haze. It was dramatic as well as refreshing. It was 1:00 PM and the climate was fast changing. The whirring sound now turned to a roar and wind was swaying the trees as if in a rainstorm. We felt tired and sat down for lunch.

We saw some village people coming up. They just walked past us without a comment. Soon after finishing lunch, we encountered another group who was coming down. We asked them how long it is and the reply was encouraging. “Just half an hour more” was the reply. We walked for another 40 minutes but nothing. I felt cramps and my weak legs were complaining. But then everything changed. Soon we engulfed in the mist and the visibility was only about a few meters. And the view from that point was breathtaking. We saw three guys washing hands and readying for their lunch on a small stream. One side was an abyss and the other was huge rocks. The stream came from the top and run through the muddy path. For a second, the wind blew away the mist and whole world was visible. The next instant, everything is covered in cloud and you couldn’t see the person standing next to you. Literally it was like being on clouds. The heaven of earth.

Rejuvenated we started once again. And another 30-35 minutes and we reached the top. The path was straight and not steep. The tree grew very short and in curvy branches. An effect of constant wind, I guess. We visited the Ashram of Sadanand Maharaj, a scene straight out of picture postcard. They provided us with a hot, black tea made from local herbs. It refreshes the body & mind. The effect was miraculous. Our tired and saggy bodies were soon revitalized. The only thing is photography is not allowed on the premises. We thanked the Guruji and started our journey back home.

It took only 2:30 hours to get down to the bottom. Once down, we felt like we have no legs! I couldn’t even get my bike started. But it was worth all the fatigue. It was an experience I never forget. Since my migration to Mumbai, about 11 years back, I never experienced that much silence. Infact I forgot what it was. I never got that much pure oxygen. I never felt that clouds before. It was worth every penny.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Two milestones!!!

Two milestones!!!
1st. Completed 100 posts!!!
2nd. On this day, few decades ago, a hapless child was born!!! Wonder who is he???
It's me Guys!! It's me...

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Photographer's plight

Being a photographer, in these times, is not easy. I have experienced many stares boring into me while shooting public places. I can read the expression on their faces. “Is he planning to blow this up?” is the question that going on in their minds. I can expect them to be hostile and suspecting since we all live under the looming threat of terrorism. But what I got from the police was the most annoying thing.
I was a very active N.C.C cadet in my college days and hence always admire the military and police (to a certain extend). I always hoped to make it into the armed forces and hold a “B” certificate of NCC. So anything that is related to the armed forces, like parades, is a craze for me. That’s why I decided to get some photographs of the Independence Day ceremony in my city. It was on august 15.
So dutifully I went to the police station, Vasai Police station, to take permission for shooting tomorrow’s flag hoisting. After an hour’s wait, the Supreme Authority (I can’t read marathi, so don’t know his position on the pyramid) called me in. He asked me the purpose, my details and I gave him what I was looking for. After all it’s just a flag hoisting, nothing like I asking for permission to shoot our nuclear reactor!!
After thinking for a minute, he told me that I can take photographs, and to come next morning sharp 8:00 AM. I gleefully left him promising him a print once I am through with it.
Despite it being an off-day and insistent rain, I slung my tripod over my shoulder, got my camera fully loaded with a new roll and other necessary items. Normally I have one of my friends, who is very keen to learn the tricks, accompany me on most of my shoots. But today he too, took a leave! I reached the police station exactly at 7:45 AM, early enough to set my tripod at a good angle and get whatever required. I went directly to the office only to be told by a constable that the ceremony is over!! It was scheduled for 7:30, not 8:00 AM! He then sympathetically suggested that there is a asst. superintend office round the corner and their’s is on 8:30. I ran there and told the in-charge what I want. He told me to wait till the asst. sup comes in. He came, fully uniformed and ready to do the ceremony. I requested him and his response was a curt “No it is never recorded” ad off he went.
I stood there frustrated, holding my tripod and camera. If the parade and display of India’s latest weaponry in DELHI can be filmed, why an inconsequential flag hoisting at small-time city police station can’t allow it? What if I shoot it with my mobile camera or a simple Point & Shoot camera? Is it just that they don’t want to take any risks? Or plain inefficiency? What risks they run when they allow a photographer to take a flag’s picture along with some shiny boots and a sword? After all that’s the only time one ca see these police men polish their belts & Boots and iron their Khakis!
I still remember one of my instructors at a NCC camp. He was attached to the Madras Regiment. One of my fellow cadets wasn’t stomping hard enough. And when he saluted, he didn’t raise his knees enough to be stamped back. The Major of Army said “Go Join Police”. Since then my perception about police is that of a weak, inefficient and lazy outfit. This incident reinforced it.

Terrorism in a bipolar world - part 3

The Modus operandi
It is public knowledge that terrorists operate in very unconventional way. In a war, forces fight against each other, but in a war against terrorism, the forces are hidden among the civilians, hell, the enemy IS the civilians. Just look at how Hezbollah went about the war with Israel.
The operation starts at picking recruits. For this, Jihadi outfits heavily depend upon Madrassas, and Muslim dominated countries. Once they get their marks, next step is to turn the new recruit into a walking time bomb. Constant brain washing by describing how Muslims have to suffer all over the world, showing the most devastating effects of riots, and other atrocities against Muslims. The constant feeding of this information turns him into believing that the whole world is against him. The recruit is not allowed to ask any questions or h can’t verify the authenticity of the facts that is produced in front of him.
Next is training. Our neighboring country provides ample opportunity and logistic support for them. From these camps they learn the art of death.

The method they adopt to kill their enemies are the most disgusting and fearsome. Chopping off the head heads the list. Hanging comes second. The mode of war is Guerilla style. Hide until the opportune moment ad strike. This makes them effective and elusive.
So how can we stop this menace? What are our choices? I want to check the options that we have first. But do we have any options? Let’s see.
Long term
The government shouldn’t indulge in a vindictive head hunting and arrest & harass law abiding Muslims. This will further alienate them from the social mainstream and makes them easy prey for terrorist head hunters. We feel enraged after the wasteful killing of innocents and react with the same tenacity. That is exactly the terrorists are hoping for. They could attract more youths using this as an excuse. True, we must hunt down the culprits and in the process some innocents are bound to be harassed, but what justifies the mass arrests from a Muslim dominant area for every terror attack?
Second, the government should think about starting / supporting the Madrassas and should regulate them properly. Not a single Illegal Madrassa should be allowed. The government can recruit Mullahs & other Muslim clerics who can play a vital role in educating the youth and guiding them. The fiery fanatics should not be able to exploit the insecurity among the Muslim youth freely.
The Police force should be able to act without any bias. It is a well documented fact that during the Gujarat Riots police was abetting the rioters. The police force should be freed from the clutches of low-grade politics.
The ghetto-isation of Muslim community is dominant. Something has to be done since this is what the terrorists exploit to hide and stockpile their weapons. Former terrorists and criminals, who have surrendered, can be used as informers and their identity should be protected.
The most important thing. Politicians with a shady background shouldn’t be allowed any spectrum in politics. Technically, they can compete but I don’t think they can beat the combined might of others. Those who try to earn a few votes by inciting riots, inflammatory speeches, and offering rewards for killing should be dealt with very strict norms. When police was still investigating the role of SIMI (Students Islamic Movement of India) in the Mumbai Bomb Blasts, UP CM Mulayam singh Yadav gave a clean chit to the organization. He should be brought to book for abetting terrorism, interfering in police investigation and Anti-nationalist statements!
Short Term.
Most of the people I spoke to react in the same way. Attack Pakistan. Is that the answer to all our woes? If that’s true, then Israel must be the safest & happiest country. But the fact is if we defeat Pakistan, which is not that easy considering the nuclear capabilities of both the nations, there will be thousand other locations terrorist’s can choose from. America did the same mistake by attacking Taliban. Are thy any safer now? I say they are more prone to terrorist attack now. One Afghanistan gone, New Somalia, Bangladesh and others can spring up. Or like England, home grown terrorists can do it! So while trying to reveal the role Pakistan plays, we should strengthen our borders by fencing them completely to stop infiltration, and keep our youths from taking up Jihad by educating ad spreading the awareness about the pitfalls of terrorism.
The discrimination in the society must end. When the Babri Masjid was demolished, the government banned RSS, Bajrang Dal and a few other Muslim organizations. While the ban on Muslim organizations are still on, RSS & Bajrang Dal got the ban revoked. Why ban Muslim organizations when the equal culprits of hate-crime- the RSS & Bajrang Dal- are free and can do anything? What is the criteria used to ban / or allow their activities? If it is not the same yardstick, then where is the basic problem lies?

I hope all the nations rise to the new challenge that they are facing. The challenge from an unknown entity. A faceless, yet a very efficient, ruthless death machine. To succeed in this un-holy war, one need perseverance, will and unorthodox methods. It is not a phenomenon where you can wipe out the threat just by using artillery and bombs, but need sweeping changes as well.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Terrorism in a bipolar world - part 2

Nationalism Vs Religion
A recent survey conducted in London has revealed startling facts. About 24% of London Muslims think the July 7 suicide bombing was justified. The most radical view came from people below 24 years! And 25% despise the freedom in the society and want to see Sharia law implemented! 33% dream of London Becomes an Islamic state one day! Details of this survey is available here.
Startling? Well, as I wrote in the first part, the way Muslims look at the world has changed. Most importantly, the youngsters are more attracted to the fanaticism and are more rigid in believes. The gap between Muslims and the Rest is growing. The bridging attempts are met with skepticism and those who try it are labeled anti-Islam. The new emerging face of Islam is of an intense, sweeping typhoon. It will progress by smashing everything in its wake. Destruction is the way. Terror is the weapon it uses to dominate.

What are the motives? Is it to establish an Islamic state? Or is it an attempt to break free from the clutches of free-world and go back to orthodox Islam? Let’s take the case of India, a long-term sufferer of Islamist militancy.
If I am correct, during the 80’s islamist terrorism started in the Kashmir valley as a freedom movement. I am not delving into the wrongs and rights of Indian government’s approach against it, since I am too small to do that. But at that time it was a Kashmiri resistance force. During the years hard core militants, mostly from outside of India emerged on the scene and the sole aim of these groups were to destroy India. Pakistan, freely, helped them with training, ammunition and money and provided haven in their territory. And the world viewed India’s claims with skepticism. For them it was a territorial dispute and nothing else; Till 9/11. Till they realize that this is not an isolated incident and their backyards are breeding ground for a new generation that hates their motherland, or adopted motherland for their believes. Suddenly there was a global wave against terrorism. In fact this helped the terrorists to gain global recognition and started a ghetto-isation of Islamic interests. First goal achieved.
Second was to spread the terror web across the globe. They recognized the difficulty of operating their usual hard-core image in the changed scenario and found new ways. Thus born the sleeper cell ideas. This was the most difficult to trace. The Jihadi has a new face. That of a boy-next-door. They act very normal, are part of your local group, engage in regular activities. Suddenly they get their orders, execute them, and go back to normalcy. The Mumbai blasts were an example.
Another aim is to spread terror and disrupt the functioning of the government machinery. I can testify for one thing that I live in perennial fear ever since the recent Mumbai blasts. Every time I see a bearded face, inadvertently my eyes go to his hands to see whether he is carrying a package. Every time I see a big package on the racks of the train, I search for a bearded, capped face. I know I am being silly but can’t help it. During the preceding days of Indian Independence day, I was contemplating about taking leave. I believe that most of my colleagues feel the same way.
As conclusion, it is everything that I mentioned at the beginning. It is to establish an Islamic rule world wide as the final motive. As a way, first to terrorize the world, dominate the society and make them submissive. Non-believers have no place in their scheme of things.
So the terrorists are winning in that perception. As Santosh Desai wrote in Times of India a few days back, if one doesn’t care about one’s own life, he can’t be stopped. Is there any way to stop the terrorist juggernaut?
[To be continued]

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Terrorism in a bipolar world - part 1

1st Aug 2006, Times Of India.
An excellent article by Pritish Nandy.
The euphemisms that he talks about could not be more accurate. On this line, I too have something to jot down.
After reading this, don’t label me a fundamentalist. Or a Pseudo secularist. I am neither. Just an individual, shell shocked after seeing the destruction a misled individual can inflict upon innocent victims.
Why almost 90% terrorists are Muslims? LTTE, IRA, yes non-Islamic terrorists are there but the lion’s share of this ilk goes to that particular community. Why it is so? What do they gain by shedding innocent blood? Don’t they have any soft-feelings? Are they filled with hatred, so much so that to kill innocent children and women? Try for answers…

In the last 2 decades the average Muslim has changed a lot. The constant harassing they have to undergo in different parts, be it Gujarat Riot, or Palestine, or Iraq has caused the normal Muslim to look at the world differently. It’s an us vs them mentality. This has caused him to embrace the religion fiercely. A new generation was born there. One that put religion and Allah above everything; above one’s own life; they start to relate themselves with the plight of far flung Muslim communities. A radical approach towards everything that is not Islamic. An intolerance and arrogant mentality as spreading like a wild fire. This is the time when the Radical Mullahs and Jihadi agents make the entry. They recruit these hapless young men and turn them into death-machines by constantly brain washing them. Their poor economical and education background wasn’t helping either.
If terrorism can gain anything, it is hatred towards their own community for which they are fighting, or so they claim. If terrorism can achieve their goals, then why Palestine country is still a dream? Why Iraq is still occupied? Could the damage of Gujarat riots be undone? And WHY, Why shed innocent blood? Terrorism is the way of a coward. Those who never were brave enough to reveal his face and fight from the front. Those who recruit poor Muslim boys, brain washing him with the promise of heaven after death and a few thousand Rupees. If they can get along with foreign mercenaries, why can’t they get along with their neighbors?
The fundamentalists misinterpret the Prophet’s words and quote it for their own good. Where did Allah said to Kill innocents? To kill Women and children? They say those who don’t believe in Islam is Kafir. And Prophet said it is alright to kill Kafirs. But in prophets own words, Kafir is he who obscure the truth. He who don’t believe in Truth. Enough for misleading?
What was the intention behind the Mumbai Blasts? Or NY WTC attack? Or Spain bombings? Did they kill anyone who is RESPONSIBLE for their plight? In every atrocity that is committed by these lunatics, scores of innocents are getting killed. And governments seldom care for innocent blood.
So, this is a request to those who plan the next massacre. Please spare us. We are in no way responsible for Palestine, Gujarat, Iraq or god only knows whatever else. We want to live in peace. We want to reach our homes, to our children everyday after work. We don’t want to end up as a ripped apart body in one of those bloody explosions.

Child Labour & India

They say that the sweetest time of life is childhood. No worry, all play. True, for most of the lucky ones. But those who born into a poor home in India were not that lucky. Despite a law in place India is still home to this malaise. So an addition of couple of more industries to the existing law would make any difference? Today Indian Government decided to ban the Child Domestic Labour . Let us try to delve into this malady.
In the first place, why parents send their little ones to work in hazardous situations? I saw many young children, aged between 10 and 14 working in many a shops in Mumbai, India’s financial capital. Be it in a Hotel, a two-wheeler workshop, Zari units or works that required sheer physical effort such as building sites, mines etc. All this happens right under the nose of the authorities. By authorities, I specifically mean POLICE. So why, at the tender age, when they should be playing & studying, mingling & learning, they have to work hard and support their parents?
The first and foremost reason is financial. It is the additional income and a mouth less to feed theory that is gaining the most popularity. But how much truth does it hold? True, a minority has lost their earning member and no one else is there to take care of them or their ailing mother, younger sibling etc. They have a reason. But what about those who have to support his / her fathers alcoholism? How many of the kids had to suffer silently at their own home? 75% of the kids who work have a story to tell. That of a physical abuse, starvation, parents alcoholism etc.
Whatever the reason, however compelling it may be, no child should be allowed to work. It is the time for their development. Mentally, physically, socially. At a time when India is emerging as a force to reckon with, this should not be allowed to go on. But changing a law is not all. Strict implementation and proactive measures. The usual suspects in this game are Zari units, Hotels & bars, workshops, mines and construction works etc. These places should be checked regularly to make sure they don’t indulge in this and if found guilty should be punished severely. Only then our younger generation will be enlightened. Theirs is not a life to rot in the gutter. They are the future. Give them an opportunity.
Read this too. An article I wrote back in February

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Curse of July

It’s been exactly one year since the famed 26/7 cloudburst and subsequent flooding of Mumbai. Yesterday, Johny Joseph, the BMC Chief, was narrating his pain over the Media hype of the incidents. It is not fair to put the entire blame on him, he said. And he was emphasizing the point that this year BMC is better prepared and within three [3] years, there will be no floods in the city.
God Bless him, but how is it going to happen? As I wrote earlier, a mere 250 MM rain caused wide spread panic, totally flooded streets and the lifeline, the railways, had shut down it’s services. Now who is responsible for that? The irony of the fact is that, the Emergency / Disaster management Cell set up by BMC was flooded in the first day of rain! Isn’t it a little too poetic to say that they are prepared? There are five more days to go before July comes to an end. Anything could happen within these days. Mr. Joseph, I sincerely hope that you don’t have to eat your words. Not for your sake, but for the poor Mumbaikar;s sake. We have had enough for a lifetime. Flooding, Riots, Bomb Blasts and epidemics.
The apathy of people towards this is appalling. In Vasai West, a housing colony, named Brij Bhuvan, has at least 8 cases of Jaundice. And it is spreading to others. Some tenants went to the Secretary and asked him to get the Water tank cleaned. He said that there is nothing wrong with the water tank and no need to clean it. Some of the residents don’t even remember when it was last cleaned!!

Is there a curse on July? Every year July brings disasters and maladies. There are reports that Malaria and Dengue is wreaking havoc in the suburbs. Jaundice is already making it’s presence felt. An old annual guest, the viral fever, is fast approaching the city. Other strains are already came and having a ball. Leptospirosis has already claimed many lives. Yet our BMC chief says that we are prepared. What are they prepared for? Mass Funerals? Or mass suppression of facts? BMC claiming that only 2 deaths occurred due to Leptospirosis in Private hospitals but the original figure is much more than that.
How long we continue to live like dogs? The lethargic, stoic nature, famously dubbed as Spirit of Mumbai, is the bane of an average mumbaikar. Get up from the slumber. Or our beloved city will be a mass grave.

Friday, July 14, 2006

The Spirit of Mumbai - or is it denial of reality?

The spirit of Mumbai

Naun : resilience ; [ri’zilyuns]
The physical property of a material that can return to its original shape or position after deformation that does not exceed its elastic limit

The words are worn at edges from constant usage. Like an old typewriter keyboard. It is clichéd. The media, politicians, and religious leaders everyone exhorts Mumbai to keep it high. They call it resilience of Mumbai.
This phrase was used frequently when Mumbai is under siege. Be it monsoon, flood, bomb blasts, communal riots, police firing, or strike. They use it as if it is some kind of a cover for their failure to keep the city in shape or at least warn the city about the impending danger. It has become a common practice, so much common that the shoe shine boys on the railway Platforms start talking about the spirit.
What is this spirit?
As per our political fraternity (includes the PM & CM), it is not showing our fear or anger and report to work the next day. For the Media, it is to bounce back tragedy after tragedy and move on as if nothing has happened. For religious leaders, it is not indulging in retaliatory measures and not investigating their interests. For the common man, it is pure and simple. It’s his Life. If he doesn’t report to work next day, he stands to loose one day salary, or a leave which he can’t afford. SO put on a brave face, march on.

But what is exactly happening to this famed spirit? The soaring indexes of Sensex? After every bomb blast in the city, the Sensex gain a few points. The next day media holler “no one can defeat the spirit”. After seeing all the bloodshed, violence and natural calamities, are we immune to these sentiments? Or is it just a mechanism to escape all these, shutting down all the emotions deep within? Why we are so short on memory, that we still don’t have a memorial of those who died in the 1993 blasts? In Us or London or Thailand they remember their dead on every anniversary and shed a tear. Why we can’t do that?

According to me, it is just a mode of denial; denying of what happened to survive. It’s not bravado, but a mean selfishness. That “Oh I am Ok. I am not hurt” kind of thinking. It’s a mechanism developed by the subconscious mind after being constantly exposed to tragedies. For the Mumbaikar, not a single pass without seeing a tragedy. Be it train run over, road accident, flood, epidemics, or building collapse. Every day, he sees dead bodies and blood. So the numbed mind automatically develops this mechanism to escape a nervous break down.

And survival. Mumbai is the most benevolent city; at the same time, it’s the most unforgiving too. 65% of the population lives in slums and most of us can’t afford to take a vacation. A day off means less salary or a leave being deducted. And there is dead lines to meet, commitments to fulfill….
An average Mumbaikar is a hardened soul. Only the Local train traveling in peak hours is enough to make him harder than a battle hardened veteran. He literally had to fight his way in and fight his way out. Meanwhile, a few people fell off and died but he is obsessed with reaching in time.
Finally a bit of selfishness; If I am not hurt, why should I bother?
Despite all these the true compassion was at display on these blast sites. I am not forgetting that. I was referring to the general perception of spirit of Mumbai. It is nothing but a myth. It is time to shed that stoic image and be angry. Be very angry. And show that we are scared. Don’t let the authorities run away from their failure, just by making us false heroes. The city has reached the elastic limit. Not a millimeter can be stretched now.
Show the anger and fear.

Few photos - Exclusive of Mumbai Blasts - Matunga

Images are the property of Jagran TV Pvt Ltd.


Wednesday, July 12, 2006

My prediction about the blasts came true!!

I don't like to tell you "I told you". But in May 17 I have made a startling prediction Here. How prophetic it was!! But our Intelligent agencies were nowhere near with their thousands of informants and fancy gadgets. May be in India, The Indian meteorological DEpartment (IMD - Indian Wheather bureau) and our Intelligence agencies are on same wavelength. None of their predictions came true!!

Mumbai Blasts – a First Hand Account II

Day 2 after the devastating Blasts. Mumbai returned to normalcy. Almost. The trains were running on schedule, The same passengers, though they are little ruffled, still joking and laughing, over-crowded trains etc. Everything as usual as if these blasts were nothing but just a routine affair. But only one thing has changed. The faces that regularly met at First Class compartment. Some families will never be again the same. They lost everything in a moment.
Where is the help?
Right after the blast, within 2 minutes of it, I reached the spot. By then, fellow commuters who were in the next bogies started the rescue mission. They pulled out the injured from under the dead bodies, put them into the waiting hands and eased them to the grass and tracks. But where is the transportation? I saw an official; probably the Matunga station master, came to the site after 10-15 minutes the blast, took one look, and was on his phone. His exact words were “Idhar Bahut bada blast ho gaya hai! Mamla bahut bekhar hai. Jaldi gaadi aur police bhej do” (A big blast occurred here and the situation is worse. Send help and police immediately! Then it took another 30 minutes for the first ambulance to reach the spot. Talk about disaster management!!
Police version
It rained soon after the explosion, making rescue mission more difficult. I spoke to a policeman at the site, who was drenched in his Khaki uniform from the rains. He, a hardened policeman, too was shaking his head.
I - “Sir, How is the situation?”
Cop ; “total 7 blasts occurred and it’s total mayhem. Bloody bodies keep arriving from the trains. I have never seen something like this”
I : Why Police took so long to reach the site?
Cop; What do you think? We were sitting idle in our office and dozing off? Arre, (a popular way of addressing here in Mumbai) there were total 7 blasts and we were busy at other sites;
Point taken sir. Only at that time I was aware about the other blasts
It was once again on display; the famed resilience of Mumbai, the so called spirit of Mumbai. Total strangers were consoling the relatives of injured, People set up tables in front of their housing society distributing water and snacks. Local youths were trying to stop vehicles to put the stranded people on them so that they can go at least little closer to home. The slum dwellers rose to the occasion, first providing bed sheets as stretchers and helping in the rescue, then providing water and snacks in front of their shanties. Local Telephone booths, PCOs, let people to make calls without any charge. Just write the number on their log;
Some one called my city as the rudest in the world a couple of weeks back. Do you still dare to call it? The compassion at display was overwhelming. People lined up to donate blood in major hospitals. Is that what you call rudeness? Or may be taking a total stranger to your home and sheltering him, like those locals did!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Mumbai Serial Blast 7/11 - A first hand account from Matunga

The train left Churchgate station at 5:57 PM precise. Me and my friend were little late leaving office so we opted to get in to the second last bogey instead of our normal 4th coach. I was engrossed in my reading and soon the train was entering the Matunga Platform. Since it was a Fast local it doesn’t stop at Matunga. Suddenly a loud explosion occurred. First I thought someone set off a cracker in some celebration. Then there was this sound similar to pelting stones on a sheet metal. (It was the strutting out sheet of metal scraping on the sleepers) My first thought was, “Oh Sh*t, some protests are going on and they are stoning. But by then the overhead wire, carrying 1500 Volt DC, fell to the other side of the train. People started jumping from the moving train. It happened so fast, that I now wonder whether it has happened at all. I shouted “Don’t Panic” to fellow commuters. By then my friend came along and grabbed me towards him and told me to jump. He too felt that the wire fell down and there is a chance of electrocution. By then most of the people got off, jumped to the tracks. In the process, someone broke a leg, some landed on the other etc.
Once got down, I could see the 4th Coach was totally destroyed. I grabbed my camera, ran towards the scene, and once there, regretted my decision.
It was one of the worst scene I ever witnessed. Dead bodies were lying on top of other. I started shooting. But I was so trembling, I got only 5-6 frames right. The rest was spoiled. The scene was horrifying. One man, under two dead bodies, raised his head, looked at my lens then died. Another was sitting on the ground, side of his face totally punched inwards, teeth protruding outwards awkwardly and bleeding. He was so emotionless. Totally shocked. Another lay on the tracks, his innards came out through a big cut in his stomach and was just rolling his head. In despair? Or in Pain? I may never know.
After shooting for some time, I felt dizzy. The smell of blood and the smell of death were all around. It was intoxicating. In fact I read about the smell of death. But came to know only yesterday. Raw flesh, severed limbs and a head, bodies scattered around the tracks… I couldn’t stand it any more.
The courage and Spirit of Mumbai was once again in full swing. By the time Police and Help arrived, a good 45 minute later, most of the injured were transferred to available transport and to hospital. Ripping the train’s seats they made makeshift stretchers and carried the people on it. No one thought about the possible danger. Whether there is another bomb etc.
I made it out of the station to see the spirit once again. Nearby residents and Local Shiv Sena activists came out with snacks, water and some youngsters forcibly stopped the passing by vehicles. Whether it’s a good’s carrier or it’s a Merc. They put the stranded people into the vehicles. At least they can get a little closer to home.
I’ll be continuing this series . Right now I feel stressed out. Seeing all the blood and gore, I wasn’t able to sleep. It’s sheer luck that I am still alive and I thank god for that. And my heart goes out to those families who lost their dear ones. I can’t get one image from my mind. One guy, was in the same position as he was from the beginning of the journey. Sitting, hands supporting head and sleeping. He died in his sleep.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Mumbai deluge - An annual ritual

Another deluge hit the city. It was almost like 26/7. Well, almost. The major difference is while 26/7 witnessed an unprecedented 900 plus mm of rainfall, the last few days saw only 250mm at maximum. But the effect was near total. Water-logged roads & railway tracks, lost productivity, attendance of office dropped to a mere 50% on Wednesday. So what had changed since 26/7? Mumbai is famous for its undying spirit, the resilience, and its vibrant nature. But how long it can survive just on reputation? The infrastructure is creaking under the burden. A collapse in inevitable. Did we witness a trial run of that collapse? Was this a precursor of what is to come?
A couple of years back, on a rainy day, I set out for my office. From Vasai to Bandra the local train ran without any incident, though slower than normal. At Bandra it stopped and the Public address system was announcing the submerging of tracks and how trains can’t move ahead. Me & my friends caught a cab from there and reached my office 1 hour 30 minutes late. In the meantime, we never thought of going back home and we knew we will go back in the evening when the water level subsides. But this time around, we were glued to the office TV, watching news channels and anxiously looking skywards. But by 3:30 the urge to leave took over and the next day no one turned up.
So the deluge and water logging is not a new phenomenon for the embattled Mumbaikar. But the fear of getting strangled on a local train amidst submerged tracks, spending the whole night in awkward position without food or water, has prompted him / her to take the excessive precautionary measures. 26/7 left an indelible mark on Mumbaikars psyche. It surfaces whenever he sees a dark cloud on the sky, and gradually buildup along with the rains. They don’t want to take a chance. At the slightest suggestion of a heavy rain, he packs up and leaves for the safety of his home. Otherwise what explains the exodus I witnessed on Monday evening? Every road, every subway & every train was packed, by 4:30! And Tuesday & Wednesday, empty train, empty roads and empty office.
The main reason is the fear, but the authorities are not helping either. By seeing the pathetic conditions of Roads (that too laid recently) and how the drains are clogged at the mere suggestion of rain, and how their homes are getting flooded year by year, how can they not get scared? BMC & MMRDA has made a lot of promises before the monsoon but they can’t prevent the flooding. The reasons are just as ridiculous. Mumbai is a coastal city, and a low lying one so flooding is inevitable! So didn’t they consider this fact before making statements like, “This time we are fully prepared” and “if there is any flooding, you can dunk the ward officer”.
Now this is going to be an annual ritual, one that’ll be included in the government calendar. Just like How the U.S.A declare holidays when it’s snowing heavily. Mumbai has reached the saturation point. Be prepared for the next episode of flooding. May be this will be one that lasts for the entire monsoon.

Post Script:

Some people went ahead with their anti-Mumbai rhetoric, suggesting Mumbai-ites have become a whining lot. They blame the authorities (read Central govt) for every mishap etc. Let me remind you guy’s one thing. Mumbai has every right to complain. We are the highest tax paying city in India, and therefore we demand the best of infrastructure and facilities. We feed the countries economic growth, then why can’t we expect the country to payback when it’s time? We are the economic capital but what do we have in terms of infrastructure? We have a 100 year old infrastructure, mainly the drainage system and since its inception, the population of this city has grown manifold. So why, why Mumbai can’t ask for favors? Or complain? After all Mumbai rightfully deserve it. And if you meant our officials, yes the public have every right to be angry. Those armchair pundits, who writes lengthy articles sitting on their comfy armchairs don’t know what an average Mumbaikar has to suffer on a rainy day. Flooded streets, submerged tracks both means he can’t get home on time. Ground floor residents have to dash before their valuable possessions got submerged. Traders has to shift the grains and other perishable stuff to higher points. So why, why can’t they ask for their lazy Babu’s to do their duty? Can’t they learn from mistakes? How many incidents do they need to do proper job?

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Mumbai Deluge Update 2:53 PM

More bad news for western Railway Commuters!
Trains stopped plying between Dadar & Bandra.
Rains wreaked havoc through out the city.
SV road closed. Airports (both) closed.
As I write this, it is pouring down outside.
No respite anytime soon, as it seems!

Mumbai Rain 2006

It's pouring down in Churchgate & Fort area right now. Most of the offices gave permission to leave. But Central Railway is already stopped functioning.
Western Railway is still running albeit 30-40 min late.
Advice to all who haven't ventured out of their office.
Stay in the office. High tide timing 2:30-3:00. Coupled with this incessant rain, it's gonna be a lot more than what it is now. If you get stuck in between, only god knows when it will move again. In Office you are safe, you can freely roam around and most important, you could get water, use restroom etc.
And beware about overflowing, open manholes. So don't wade through the water.
And if you have any cuts, or bruises on your leg, please avoid getting into the water. You could well get infected with Leptostirosis.
So stya where you are and venture out only after the rains stopped.
Good luck!!

Monday, June 26, 2006

GOD was Aussie; but referee was an Italian

The world cup Round two match between Italy Vs Australia; from the 40th Minute Italy was only 10 men. But the Aussies couldn't capitalize this one-man-extra advantage as the match entered into it's dying seconds and was sure to go extra time. Till then The ref was ok, regardless of not calling offsides, the ball crossed the sideline, yet the play continued. But the biggest blunder of the ref cost Aussies the match;
Only 12 seconds remaining in normal playing time. Italy attacked through the left wing and the Australian Defender slided infront to block the ball. The stricker, clearly and visibly intented to jump over him, tripped over the defender. The ref pointing to the penalty spot, and my heart was beating in my throat!! What a blunder!! Totti netted the penalty and there was no time to retaliate. The match was over!!
Sorry Socceroos! You deserved to win! God was with you! But the referee was an Italian! Next world cup mate!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

FIFA World Cup - Statistics & Trivia

The first round of FIFA world cup is over. Half of the teams made it to the second – Knock Out – round while the other half is preparing to go back. So far there wasn’t any major upsets in this world cup. There wasn’t any spectacular individual performance. The big guns, touted as the main attractions, so far failed to fire while smaller teams with less known faces made some progress. Here is the pick of this world cup.
Ghana – The UN general secretary Kofi Annan’s natives gave a stellar performance that put more famed teams to shame. They are into the second ground. Will Pele’s prediction of an African team winning the word cup come true this time?
Ecuador - No one gave an outside chance to them. Being in a group of powerhouses like Germany & Poland, they were extremely resolute and played total football. Once again proved that Big names are just that. Big names.
Only a handful of teams produced good scoring matches. The rest were so content in defending and not letting score! As a result, the average goal per match is a measly 1.2! This is despite all the efforts from FIFA, from rule changing to new design of ball, to make way for more goals. Even the top teams played defensively. And the inability of stars to score compound the problems. The lesser known teams were adopting a more defensive strategy and marking the leading players very hardly. Look at Ronaldo, Owen, Rooney just to name a few. All struggled to break free from the strangle hold of the defenders.
Team, Goals Scored & goals conceded, in that order
Germany 8 2
Poland 2 4
Costa Rica 3 9
Ecuador 5 3
England 5 2
T & T 0 4
Sweden 3 2
Paraguay 2 2
Argentina 8 1
Holland 3 1
Ivory Coast 5 6
Serb & Mont 2 10
Mexico 4 3
Angola 1 2
Portugal 5 1
Iran 2 6
USA 2 6
Italy 5 1
Czech 3 4
Ghana 4 3
Australia 5 5
Brazil 7 1
Japan 2 7
Coratia 2 3
S. Korea 3 4
France 3 1
Togo 1 6
Switzerland 4 0
Spain 8 1
Tunisia 3 6
Ukrain 5 4
KSA 2 7

Most goals scored is 8, by three teams, Germany, Argentina & Spain.
Serbia & Montenegro has the dubvious distinctions of letting in the most number of goals, 10. Costa Rica is just behind with 9 goals.

Three groups scored the most number of goals in a group, A, C & H. 18 goals
The least goals is in Group B, 10.
None of the asian teams made it to the second round, Iran, KSA, S. Korea & Japan were ousted in the first round itself.
One African team made it, GHANA
There was one bloody moment when Italy’s De Rossi elbowed American Brian McBride and the latter had to receive treatment for a bleeding wound.

There was this robot fortune-teller invented by an Indian software company, who was accurate in predicting everything. So a few people went to him as asked him the following query.
A Brazilian;
"Robot, When will Brazil win World Cup?"
Robot (In a machine-like voice)
"Brazil will win every alternate world cup"
An argentina Fan;
"Robot, When will my team win the world cup?"
Next Edition"
so on..
So this Sardar went to him an asked thus;
"Robot Mahasay, Will India ever hold the world cup?"
The Robot said "Possible"
Excited he asked robot "great! But when?"
"can't say! An Indian have to steal it!!"

Friday, June 23, 2006

Passing the buck

Once again, the prices of essential goods are shooting up. The UPA government, who came to power on an anti-NDA wave due to the failure of that government to check the increase of price of essential commodities, repeats the same mistake. Though late, PM has chipped in with some suggestion to reduce the burden on the people, how much effect it will have on this jacked up market is yet to be seen.
It all started with the hike in petrol prices early this month. The government’s well thought out strategy was, increase it ridiculously, then when the protests erupt, bring it down to originally planned level. Well, it worked very well. As usual, behind-the-scene arrangements made sure that the LEFT staged a mockery of a protest, NDA went on with their protests and at the end, the prices are still going up.
The total increment in essential commodities is up to 40% in some cases. Consider tomato. It has gone up by 40%! The increase is partially due to the hike in petrol but the other reason is lack of supply since this is off-season for this crop. But an interesting phrase was ringing everywhere. It’s so much clichéd these days.
“The cost of production/Distribution/marketing has increased since the hike in petrol price. So we have to pass on the burden to consumers”
Well, right from the top notch FMCG manufactures to the friendly vegetable vendor. Everyone was repeating the same. Water bill, Electricity Bill, real estate, everything has gone up. Does the income of this poor consumer increases proportionately? No. But everyone keeps passing on the BURDEN to him. The government stated that Public Utility companies like, Indian Oil, can’t afford to take the huge losses it incurred due to the low price of petrol in India. Unless they are not increased, they will go bankrupt.
The vegetable guy say, since the petrol price has gone up, his overhead expenses like transporting, also increased. Every one has to pass it on to consumer.
But where we, the consumer, will pass it on? Could we cut down the amount of milk our children consume, because it comes dearer by 2 rs per litre? Or should we stop buying medicines for our parents? Or may be we just stop eating. I don’t know.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Logic "DYFI"ing Tactics!!!

The art of Black-flagging

Black always evoke memories of death and grieve. Black is the color of devil, it is believed. It is a worldwide practice to wear a black ribbon when some major figure in a country dies. Witchcraft is called Black Magic. So black is the representation of black, Black itself is scared of black.

Kerala politicians developed an art form called Black-Flagging. Patented by Left youth wing, DYFI, pronounced “difi”, a close relative of “defy”, since their nature is to defy everything. Law, logic and commonsense. This dark art is practiced only in Kerala, that too at an interval of Five years. They perform it for five years continuously and the next five is spend in researching. The patentees believe only they can perform it. But when someone from the other community performs it, another dark art, in which DIFY is so brilliant, is performed. It has close resemblance to the tribal martial art, popularly known as “Kootayadi”. But there is a major difference in this form. Wherein Kootayadi, both teams have almost equal number of participants, this one is few against many.

For the past five years, the inhabitants of Kerala were lucky to see this ever flourishing art, Black Flagging, at regular intervals. A MLA, who goes by the name of M. V. Raghavan, was the chief beneficiary of this. Wherever he goes, DYFI enacted this art in front of him. The MLA has become a scholar in this art. So much so that he plans to write a book about it, sources revealed.

But things took a turn yesterday. An attempt is made to break the shackles of this untouchable status. The offenders were the youth wing of Congress. When a LDF minister was inaugurating something at someplace, a motley group from this party, hitherto considered inferior to their opponents in both these dark arts, tried to perform it for the minister. So infuriated were the protectors of the art, the group was subjected to the other dark art, modified form of Kootayadi. Though, it’s been around for a while, it is yet unnamed. So unprepared were the youths, they meekly surrendered. Few broken rib cages, some lost teeth, and bleeding mouths was all they got as a souvenirs. The Left leaders endorsed the right of DYFI to perform these arts vociferously.

The YC camp equated their attempt at Black Flagging to that of “Sepoy Mutiny” & “Kshetra Praveshana Vilambarom”. They vowed to fight the injustice and want the right to perform Black Flagging. The argument is no single section of society can claim the patent to a popular art form. They quote noted legal bigwigs as this is “total violation of right of expression and right to perform” and hence can get a verdict favoring them.

Both way, the resident Keralite is in for a surprise. They could enjoy this darker art at regular intervals even after DYFI (read their seniors) is in power. They were ruing the fact that since DYFI can’t black flag their own Ministers, this art may lose steam. Now they are heaving a sigh of relief that someone is coming forward and keeping the tradition going. The less fortunate NRKs (Non-resident Keralites) can watch it live on TV and highlights of it after prime time. News papers are also eager to promote this with vivid pictures and detailed reports.

So brace yourself, pack your refrigerator with snacks. A lot of action is coming up.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

New Yahoo! Mail Beta

Have anyone tried the New Yahoo! Mail beta? I just got a chance to test it. I was bowled over. It's such a beautiful interface coupled with new features, it's gonna be a runaway hit and a trendsetter. Now Yahoo mail box look almost like my outlook mailbox and it is as much easy to navigate through the thousands of mails. here are a few highlights

1. The interface. So easy. Click on a mail, the contents show up in the lower pane. Want to see in big window? Double click, and ANOTHER tab pop up. The previous list of mails remain there. No back & forward anymore.
2. Contacts ; They made it into a neat list, instead of an ugly small window. Click as many as you want, and CLICK RIGHT BUTTON!!!! you can send mail (forget CC & BCC), Edit or Delete the contact or add.
3. RIGHT Button Menu; Now just like window applications, you could select different options in your web page!!! Yes it's true. For each pane, the menu list is different.
4. Key board short-cuts; What a relief. Use Keyboard shortcuts like, select a message, press 'r' and the reply tab is opened!!! How easier it could get??
5. It's fast!!! No more agonising wait to open up the message. It's all there when you sign in. Click on the list, it is there.!!!

It could be a tad heavy on resources. I ran the test on Firefox and at a point CPU usage is 95%. And it's frequent. So having more than one tab while this is open may be a little taxing on the resources.
I can't see nothing else...

A fine product from Yahoo!. This is going to change the way we see web-based e-mails. And a sure shot winner!!!

Umpiring Standards & Biases of ICC

The umpiring standards of the current India Vs West Indies matches are something of a benchmark of the slide in the standards that are lately plaguing the game. Billy Doctrove was more than once guilty of lapses. So is Asad Rauf. Let’s see two glaring mistakes they committed during this series.
Where are you buddy? Asad Rauf.
The second One-day International at Sabina Park, Jamaica. 9th over of West Indies Innings. Irfan Pathan bowls to Sarwan. He pushes on to the onside and goes for a quick single. Suresh Raina, who was fielding there collects the ball and throw down the stumps. Everyone turns to the Square Leg umpire to appeal, but, Umpire was not in his position. He was talking to someone on the boundary Line. The other Umpire, Asad Rauf, permitted to play without checking his counterpart is in position.
To decide or not to decide
4th Day of 1st test between India & WI. Indian Keeper MS Dhoni’s swashbuckling stroke play left WI gasping for breath. After hitting three consecutive sixes off Mohammed, he went for another one. The skier went to Ganga who took a catch at the boundary line and Dhoni started walking. But Asad Rauf (Yes Him Again!!) stopped him and consulted the other field umpire, Simon Taufel. They referred it to Third Umpire. The Third Umpire, Billy Doctrov (Yep, it’s him), took some 10 minutes, since the TV replays were inconclusive. The question is whether Ganga touched the rope while taking the catch. In normal circumstances, the benefit of doubt is given the Batsman. But, strangely, Doctrov didn’t make a decision and gave the stick back to field umpires. This resulted in chaos, utter confusion and WI captain, Lara’s childish behavior.
Technology Vs Humans?
So is technology helping the umpires? Or it prevents them from taking a decision? Are these umpires being too indecisive, fearing backlashes in the event of a wrong decision? Remember the days of David Shepherd and Steve Bucknor. Those guys stood in the middle of some hostile crowd, yet they took decision which was not in favor of the home team. Now that is what called umpiring. In this series there are too many mistakes. Wrong Lbws when the ball kissed the bat, genuine outs were not given, no balls not called too many of them to be an occasional lapse. The ICC should look into the quality of the elite panel umpires.
Umpiring is all about taking the right decision, not appeasing the home team. If that’s the case, then how can one explain the decision to let off Brian Lara, who snatched the ball from umpire Asad Rauf, and ordered his players to field, though the umpires haven’t reached a decision? Virender Sehwag fined 20% of his mathc fee for excessive appealing. Jayawardhene of Sri Lanka, fined 20% for knocking off the stumps for getting out off a widish delivery. He was showing dissent to himself. Not to any official. Here, one of the prominent player of Cricket, wagging fingers at umpires, snatches the ball and bringing the game to disrepute, yet escapes without even a warning! Need anymore examples of bias?
A few years back, when Sachin Tendulkar, a god in this part of the world, was cleaning dirt from the seam of a ball and he was fined heavily by the match referee. Now Lara’s antics aren’t a serious charge? When Akhtar bowls 150+ Kmph missiles, it’s chucking. But When Bret Lee is doing it, its fast bowling. When Harbhajan & Muralitharan bowls mystic doosras, their arms are bending more than the permissible limit. But when an Australian or English player does it, they change the Law to admit them. This despite the fact that 80% of the total revenue of ICC is generated from Asia.

Read this together with Steve Bucknor’s allegations that the Production Crew doctor footage and the third umpire not always get the correct delivery footage. He, from the beginning, was not at all happy with the advent of technology into the jurisdiction of Umpires. This kind of incidents further underlines the need of the maximum use of human brain. Anyway, our brain is more powerful than any other computer, our eyes are more fast (fast lens means more power to gather light) than any sophisticated lens then why should we needlessly depend on technology? Before the advent of Computers, anyone can do a simple math in their mind. Now even for calculating the total of your vegetable purchase, one takes out the calculator. Technology helps, but not always.

Monsoon Chronolgy - Day 9

Nothing to report. A slight drizzle on June 7. That's what it is. So I am putting a temporary stop to this diary. Will write only after the monsoon picks up.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Monsoon Chronology Day 6

Monsoon Diary
June 6th, 2006
LAst 4 days, Saturday, Sunday, Monday & Tuesday witnessed a dry spell. No rain at all.
The gradually increasing mercury and overcast conditions make us sweat.

There is nothing write home about. Rains have done the Vanishing Act and The Leading Dailies are full of Rahul Mahajan stories.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

DNA & Mumbai mirror give link to this

I am proud to say that My article was published by Mumbai Mirror in their Blogger's park section and DNA India gave a link to it in their e-paper on Jun 4th Edition. Two newspapers on the same day!! Isn't it an achievement?

Friday, June 02, 2006

Monsoon Chronology 2006 - Day 2

Monsoon Diary
June 1st, 2006
Heavy rains till noon, and respite for a while till it started to rain again in the night. This was the second day of Monsoon 2006. Trains and traffic returned to normalcy, well almost. There were allegations and accusationsin the power corridors about what went wrong and who is to blame . BMC, MMRDA and Traffic Police all blamed others for the first day debacle.
The searing temperature now gave way to a damp coolness. And umbrella and rain-coat vendors are lining the streets of Fort area. The construction work on the most of the arterial roads are still half-way through and bearing the brunt of this are two-wheeler riders.
Yesterday, most of the offices reported about 20-30% absenteeism. May be last year's deluge is still afresh in people's mind.

Rahul Mahajan is Critical but Stable

Son of Mr. Pramod Mahajan, the late General secretary of BJP, Rahul Mahajan is put on life support system in Appollo Hospital Delhi after suffering a bout of vomiting and serious illness. His condition is said to be critical but stable. "Rahul had low blood pressure, oxygen levels were low and respiratory levels were also low. He barely had any pulse," said Dr Ritu Rawat, Apollo Hospital. It is deja vu . Those were the exact words of the doctors who treated his father. Critical but stable.
Pramod Mahajan's secretary, Vivek Moitra, died due to complications arose from the food poisoning.
According to this news, the cause is food poisoning. The Delhi police is investigating the case and still not divulging the exact cause yet.

Is there more to it than what we are made to believe? What was there to celebrate with champagne, that too with the secretary of his late father? It was barely a month since his father's tragic death, and he already celebrating? Who were those three strangers came to the house according to the above mentioned news channel, and more importantly how did they gain access to a high security zone like Mahajan's residence?
"It looks like a drug overdose", some comments screamed from NDTV'scomments section. Is there any truth in it? The whole things is shrouded in mystery and the police too is still groping in the dark.
Was just reading about Mahajan Jr.'s possible entry into politics last week after he attended the BJP meeting in Delhi. Was this a planned attack, from someone who doesn't want the very name of Mahajan raised again in Indian political front?
Now the silence of Pravin Mahajan, the killer of Pramod, gain more significance. Was he the real culprit? Or is he trying to save someone? Someone who is very close to the family?
A lot of questions, many of them without an answer. Coming days will unfold more of this tragic incidents, and may be, there will be many more arrests.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Monsoon Chronology 2006 - Day 1

Day 1 - May 31, 2006
There was a general perception that after 26/7 debacle, the BMC and Railways are better prepared this time to deal with the rains. But this proved to be entirely wrong. On the first day itself, the life is thrown out of track. The entire system came to a standstill, or close to it. Snarl-ups were everywhere. Most of the arterial roads witnessed chock-a-block traffic. Water-logging in various places made movement difficult, if not impossible. The tall claims of the CM and BMC authorities were proved to be entirely fictitious. Or relied on statements, not on facts. If the drains and Nallahs are cleaned properly, how could this happen? The ironic thing is, the BMC head quarters was under knee deep water. And the recently inagurated, with much fanfare, control room was out of power.

For the railway commuters, the first day brought back memories of 26/7. inundated tracks made trains delay as much as three hours late in Central Railway. One of my colleague caught the train from CST at 6:37 and she reached Vidhya Vihar by 9:45. Otherwise a 45 minute commute. So much for the precautions. At Sion, where tracks are a low level, water rose to inches below the platform.
Harbour & Western Railways claim to have less impact and their schedule is only 45 Minutes. but in reality, Western Railway is as much hit as central. Those who got into the 7:59 reached Virar by 10:45. Normally a 1:25 minute journey took them almost three hours.

The irritating thing is, even though most of the trains are equipped with a one-way radio, ther was no announcement in the train. All the windows were shut, the heat emanating from ever growing crowd, life was hell inside the compartments. People had to stay in this unbearably humid conditions for long while without having a clue as to when the train will move or why they are being held-up. When are the motormen and railways going to learn some Public Relation excersizes?

To sum up, the unexpected heavy rains in the beginning itself caught everyone off-guard. It was testing times for the average mumbaikar who had to suffer the most. Coming days will bring respite or make the situation worse is yet to be seen.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Welcome Monsoon

The monsoon is here! What a relief for the Mumbaikar, who suffered under the sweltering conditions. The pied crested Coockoo, the harbinger of Monsoon, is spotted in Mumbai. As on cue, today morning was a bit gloomy with all those dark clouds hovering above. Some of the places in Mumbai, the lucky ones, got a few showers too. But the best thing is the suffocating humidity is considerably reduced and merciless sun is stifled by the dark clouds.
As with every prediction, this time too, our IMD got it all wrong. They predicted June 7 with a 3 day error margin, but it may not go beyond 2nd Of June. The news from kerala is, the south west monsoon is at full force there for the past 5 days and causing a lot of damages. For Mumbai, it's music. It means the monsoon will reach here within 6-7 days. And it's already 5 days.
So take out your umbrellas, rain coats, those rain shoes etc.. And pray to god not to repeat last year.
You could expect some rain shots right here.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Some photos...

This shot happened without any planning....

This is shot at Vasai St. Michael's church. Scanning destroyed half the beauty. :)

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Nepal King- Dug his own grave

The Nepal Parliament passed a legislation to become a Secular state and stripped the King of all his powers. And renamed the government from “His Majesty’s Government” to simply “Nepal Government”. And the army is renamed from “Royal Nepal Army” to “Nepalies Army”. The king is stripped of his powers and made his title just that. A title. Here onwards he will have no immunity from Law, have to pay tax and will have to adhere to the law of the Land.
This is an astounding victory for democracy and the people of Nepal. There was no way the King could have continued in his dictatorship. Six months he has ruled the Himalayan kingdom with an iron fist and now the table is turned. His erstwhile government’s office bearers are facing charges of the atrocities they committed against the people’s movement against the kingdom. Some of them will surely spend a few years behind the bar.
What a contrast between the last king and present one. King Birendra was loved by every one and mild mannered. This one was arrogant and loved by no one. The circumstances in which he got to power are highly suspicious. The Shah dynasty, which was established in 17th century, may die an unceremonious death with this patriarch. Poor Paras, his dream of becoming the king has badly mangled.

The changing face of Christianity in India

The Ban request
Finally the film “The Da Vinci Code” is cleared for release in India despite the opposition from Indian Christians. The censor board and special committee reviewed the film and told the distributors to add a disclaimer saying it is a work of fiction. I have read the book and found it is a good read. A good work of fiction. That’s it. It is, in no way influenced my belief nor it changed the way I see Christ & Christianity..
A bounty for the head of Dan Brown
So why Indian Christians reacted in such fierce way? The film is released in 36 countries including Italy. Why a particular Nicholas Almeida announced 110,000 RS as a reward to bring Dan Brown “Dead or Alive” in front of him. Okay, what is he going to do once he is brought to him? Slap him? Or sentence him to death? Wasn’t he acting like some other fanatics from UP, who announced a similar bounty for anyone who kill some Danish Cartoonists even though he denies it? Or was it just an attempt to gather some mileage and catapult himself into the limelight?
Changing Basics?
Over the years Christianity has suffered a lot. Right from the time of Christ to this date many of the followers been killed or battered. In India there are several cases comes into mind. Particularly The Graham Staines Case and the rape of Nuns in Orissa. And many more attacks on priests and church goers and destruction of churches. In Mumbai some Vandals disrupted a prayer meeting and beat up the pastor and devotees. All the while, Christians held peaceful marches and candle-light rallies but never were aggressive. That’s the fundamental of the religion. Tolerance and absolution. So why, in a rare gesture, Christian groups exploded? I am here trying to look beyond the film and trying to figure out the changing mindsets.
It has started with the changing scenario of world order. After 9/11 there was the War on Terror and Islam, as a group, is viewed as dangerous. Though a few unscrupulous elements in that society are terrorizing the world, the whole community had to suffer. As a result, even mild-mannered Muslims are forced to come out against US and most of Europe. For the poor and un-educated this translated as Christians. For them, US and Britain is Christians. The opportunistic leaders took full advantage of this situation and compared the present situation to Crusade. They were successful in furthering the divide. They were so successful in their anti-US protests and always got media mileage by their outrageous ways of protests. Then come the cartoon imbroglio which further underlined the effectiveness of violent protests. The entire world took notice of growing unrest and had to withdraw the cartoons.
On the other end of the spectrum, The Hindu organizations were always successful in their campaign. The Pravin Togadias, Sudarshans, Modis and Thackerays always held sway with the media and their inflammatory speeches fuelled the mob fury. They can bring down a centuries old shrine and still get away with it. When their shrines are attacked, Akshardam, Ayodhya Makeshift temple, the perpetrators are caught and the police action is swift. But when it comes to Christian churches being torn down or priests and Nuns are attacked, no one raises a finger.
Slowly and steadily this wrong conception, of violence getting notice, started seeping into their subconscious mind. The Film ‘Sins’ was the test case. The film, in which a Catholic priest was portrayed in a sexual manner ignited passion among the same group and protests were held.
Finally the Christian groups that is growing less tolerant to religious matters taking a leaf from the above mentioned religions. If they can do it, Why can’t us? is the question. Where this will lead the community, which is noted for its charity and tolerance is beyond my comprehension. But Indian Christians have finally turned a leaf and there won’t be a turning back.
May be we will see a blanket ban request regarding religious matters. From there onwards, no filmmaker can portray a deity in ill manner. No priests or Nuns can’t be depicted in it. No Purohits or Maulavis will ever hold a dark role. No churches or Mosques or Mandirs can’t be shown as the place of crime. And it’s an end to all protests regarding Films. Peace at last is here.