Thursday, December 25, 2008

Death of Innocence

Does the city have a life?
The mad rush of day and night….
The stream of life….
The tempers, the trials, the tribulations.

The tears, the smiles,
Of loved ones and passers by….
All the little joys of nature….
Unnoticed, they all go….

The lure of lucre eggs us on.
But what have we lost?
The lust for life, the passion to be….
And innocence dies a death.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

'God's own country'

An old piece (written on January 27, 2002) describing my trip to Trivandrum (January 24-26, 2002), which I think is worth preserving.... Here goes:

Me's just back from a junket to 'God's own country'........ yeah you got it right - Kerala, truly 'God's own country'. I had a conference in Trivandrum organised by my company. A whole lot of people from my co were scheduled to attend..left Delhi on a 'brrrrrrrrrr' cold morning.... the plane was full of my office people - seemed as good as home in there..........landed at BOM at 8.......... a city I love for its myriad smells, tastes, colors and sights, a city that epitomizes triumph and endurance of the human spirit over adversity........ was tempted to get out of the sterile environs of the cabin,
smell the air and call up a few friends..... but didn't because I was afraid, I might branded an Osama follower!!! We flew over the Konkan and Malabar coasts................ what a sight that was........ would pay a million for that.... the shimmering blue sea on one end and green and brown of land on the other. Landed at Trivandrum at 11.......... the approach to TRV is fabulous. The airport is located near a beach and in the middle of a coconut grove..... the view was fabulous..... the doors were opened and we were greeted by the bright Kerala sun and warm balmy breeze. Waiting at the terminal building were lissome dusky Malloo beauties, all there to welcome us!!! We were all greeted with a tilak and a red rose each...the route to Kovalam is fabulously green. Coconut trees lined both sides of the road. had a small glimpse of the backwaters. Reached the hotel on Kovalam beach and had to get ready for the conference which was to start in an hour..... Kovalam is known for its beach sands which have thorium in minute quantities ........ a place frequented by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis...the view of the sea was too tempting...... but had to rush....... the thing went on the till late in the evening after which we were invited for a Mohiniyattam show in open air theatre....... good music in the sea breeze - what else could I ask for.....the next morning I was up early for I couldn't resist the lure of the sea..... nopes I don't know swimming......... I was lured by the strong sea breeze....... went to the beach and saw the fishermen returning with their catch for the day.......the conference was over by 2PM........ we had time for ourselves now...... went for a speedboat ride.......... cannot describe how it felt. Soon after that we left for the city... visited the Padmanabha temple.... even though I am not a religious guy or a 'temple-goer'. stripped to the bare and clad in lungis (as per the custom!), we watched in wonder the exquisite 700-800 year old stone was the time to buy some souvenirs......... went about the city for that and picked up quite a bit. Reached back late in the night........and I shouldn't forget the food........ yum yum yum... coconut rice, curd rice, appams, thorans, sambhars, local coconut stews, fish curries.... mmmm my mouth waters at the thought of Keralite food. Woke up at 2AM in the morning - we wanted to view the sunrise at Kanyakumari!!!! Kanyakumari is a 2hr drive from TRV..... reached Kanyakumari well in time, but there were clouds in the horizon....... we were not disappointed tho..... there was a 'slit' in clouds and we could see the sunrise........ what a place to be on 26Jan!!!! Sitting at the bottom-most tip of the peninsula, watching the sunrise and hoping for brighter times ahead for us and our Republic!!!! Long Live the Republic! Moved about, went to Vivekanand Memorial, the Thiruvalluvar statue and moved about a bit....... and then it was time to return....had to rush back to TRV to catch the flight back to Delhi..... was sad to leave the warmth of the they say all good things come an end, but this was the beginning of my love affair with 'God's Own Country'......... as one of my friends had said.. for those who love time is eternity for those who love, yes the short I spent there was like we took off, I made a vow to return back..... spend more time, visit Cochin, Munnar, Thekkady, Periyar and the backwaters!!!! And now its back to the cold, dust, traffic jams of Delhi.....

All that I want!

Up I go.......

on the long winding road.

The blue sky, the bright Sun,

The green hill, gushing streams,

All things big and small ...

Speak of a beauty....


What use is all this

...... without that loving voice,

... those caring hands,

... that comforting smile.

To have her beside me....

Walk up, hand in hand

...... step by step,

... is all I want,

... is all I need!

(Dedicated, with lots of love, to Neeti)

Thank God it was Saturday!

Sometimes one just wants to escape .... escape from the reality ... freshen up oneself, get out of the routine.

And that's precisely what we did yesterday.... we tried to, for a moment, forget what's coming up and tried to live the day. A week passed by since both of us had been down with a bad flu, a few months had passed by of trying in vain to get what we rightfully deserve .... and what the hell....Saturday was the time to break loose. Well some what!

Again it was one of the days when we missed the gym again, but could there be a better day to binge? I guess not.

After a late breakfast of oat porridge, boiled eggs and poha, we headed out to Inorbit Malad at 1 PM. Gosh - what discipline - breakfast at 1 PM???

The recession is here for sure, so we thought we ought to cut our costs right? So we parked our Dreamliner at Hypercity - the parking coupon is redeemable against purchases at the store - and we walked down to Inorbit, a couple of minutes away.

Got into Shopper's Stop for window-shopping, we could not help exclaiming how fast things have come back to normal after 26/11 - the mall-rats were back, finally!!! But the security was pathetic as ever. While I was frisked reasonably, Neeti went through casually - do we give a damn for security?

To compensate for our inability to visit our gym today, we sauntered up and down Inorbit for about an hour, fairly briskly, burning those calories stored in the flab and then as always, a cuppa was what was needed! So our pace quickened towards Coffee World, where we consumed a few more calories alongwith some refreshing Assam tea - afterall the company was great, to chai ho jaye!!!

While enjoying our tea, we were preparing for the worst - making contingency plans just in case Mr. Kasab's mates walk in with a few crackers - we quickly mapped our escape routes, etc. etc. Fortunately for us, Mr. Kasab's mates probably haven't yet commenced their voyage on the high seas!!!

And then, Halleluiah!!!! It was time to head to my temple - the meat and poultry section of Hypercity, where I have to dutifully pay my obeisance, everytime I am in the vicinity of Malad!!! Picked up some pomfret - thank God, Neeti has finally given in to the joys of a carnivorous existence, after over 3 years of my patient convincing!!!!!

And what recession are we talking of? People are still splurging - filling in trolleys with goodies. Now what's the truth? No doubt inflation has hurt us all. No doubt malls were running empty till about two weeks back. How was today different? Perhaps, people who were sick and tired of being at home after the attacks suddenly loosened up and vented out their feelings by mall-ratting. Perhaps, people were lulled in by the "comfort" that we've have a great three weeks and no attacks. Sure this would be a great research topic for a psychologist! Whatever it is, we have forgotten all this so soon, far too soon that it pains.

And it was time for another cup of tea, this time at the Brio. My hypothesis has always been to protest against bad service. This time around the service at the Brio was far far better. Neeti has been saying for the last 3-odd years that I always sniff out bad service, like a lion smelling its prey in the air!!!! Whatever it is, we as a country have a long way to go before we learn what good service is - a long subject that's better left to another blog.

And we headed back - I had a date with my barber for my long due haircut (Gosh! People at office thought I had changed my hairstyle! My style statement was getting blown to smithereens - I needed a haircut, badly!!!).

I joined Neeti at Lokhandwala market, where she was indulging in her favourite pastime of bargaining. On our way out, we chanced upon "Guru da Dhaba" in one of the by-lanes. I had been hearing of this nondescript joint on the foodie forums online for at least 2 years, as one of the most remarkable joints for "homecooked" food. Naturally we were tempted at the thought of rajma-chawal, kadi and arbi. To top it all - the ambiance was just like "home" (read: North India) - an elderly Sardarji - dressed in white with a orange-yellow turban, sat at the counter listening to soothing Gurbani!!! And the food, well, basic but delicious!

And it was time to get back! Thank God it was Saturday!

A New Life

The blue sky looks down at the Earth,
Parched, lifeless, listless and barren,
Life on Earth looks up for mercy.
Little can the sky do to end its misery.

With each passing moment,
The fury of the Sun gets unbearable.
Phoebus laughs on seeing the agony below,
Oblivious of the invader on the horizon.

Trumpets herald the arrival of the army,
An army mightier than Alexander’s.
Splendid gray clouds come from all over.
Vanquishing the invincible Sun in no time.

The victorious soldiers invade the sky.
All over the sky – east, west, north and south,
Life is shielded from the fiery glare of the Sun.
The sky salutes the victors with darts of lightning.

The army pays its tribute to the Earth.
Drops of water rain down.
Lying dormant in the barren ground,
The impregnated seed comes to life!

Trumpets sound – A new life on Earth has come!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Haven't we learnt any lessons?

Every time terror strikes, we claim that we have learnt what we need to do and we pretend to do it for some time - albeit a very short period of time. And then, guess what, we conveniently forget.....

We proudly say life goes on and has to go on.... and that we as a nation have to ability to bounce back.... And then it happens all over again.

Couple of incidents that I have seen have make me feel particularly vulnerable.... make me shit bricks....

Not very long ago, we had the 11/7 blasts on the Bombay local trains in 2006. In a panic reaction, metal detectors had been installed at Churchgate station. Cops were deployed and CCTVs installed to monitor the crowd movement. But I don't think, or dare I say, I am convinced that these detectors never work - they barely squeal when pass through them with a metal object - it could be a goddamn bomb. Cops, on the other hand, instead of keeping a hawk's eye on suspicious movement, either prefer ogling pretty girls or just don't care. I have myself walked through Churchgate carrying big bulky carrybags several times, without being questioned a single time.

You may blame that on indifferent attitude of Government staff.....

Now sample this.....

Yesterday, I flew on India's "finest international airline" (am trying to be politically correct here) from Bombay to Ahmedabad. Anticipating a stringent security check at the airport, I reach well in advance - a good 90 minutes before the scheduled departure. Sample this - the CISF at the entrance to the terminal barely at e-ticket printout and my id proof and waves me in. You need to be a tech-geek to forge an e-ticket, do you? It's a five minute job on MS Outlook, right?

Then, why don't we have a bag screening process prior to entering the terminal - the CISF cop at the terminal entrance, just checks the e-ticket and the id proof, without having any clue of what lies in your bag - it could theoretically have kilos of explosives and weaponry, which could wreck havoc in the terminal. Possible? Yes, very much.....

The newspapers yesterday spoke of ladder point checks and zero tolerance towards laxity in security checks. But, my friend, there was no ladder point check at all....

The story doesn't end there. I was assigned row 22 - common sense is that one should board from the rear ladder. But yesterday, the "finest international airline" had boarding pass checks only at the forward ladder point and not at the rear, which was being used by the janitors. Respecting the logic of safety and given that checks were taking place at the forward ladder point, all passengers moved towards there. However, when my turn came, the lady tore the stub of my boarding pass and smilingly asked me to use the rear ladder as it would be kind closer to my assigned row.

I did just that - but..... there was no one to check my boarding when climbed up the rear ladder, neither cabin crew at the rear find anything unusual. It is well known that Bombay airport has porous peripheries. Theoretically, anyone could have sneaked with a cache of arms and handed it over right? Now dare think of what could happen next.....

Landing at Bombay is a nightmare - given the proliferation of slums around, imagine how easy for a rogue to target a landing aircraft with a shoulder-based mini-Anti Aircraft missile - need I say, these are wholesaled in our neighbourhood - the famed arms markets of Peshawar! But the slums, they've got to stay, for Madam says so.... Great, right, what a free for all!!!!

7/11 was just last week, but have we forgotten it so soon? I must say this amnesia so damn shameful....

Let's look at the post 9/11 US on the other hand. No exceptions are made, no compromises are made. I still recall when George Fernandes, our then minister, who enjoyed diplomatic immunity, was stripped to the bone..... Moral of the story - giving up a few liberties is a small price to pay for national security.

There are two problems with us - one we start security initiatives with great fanfare, but lose it somewhere, two, we Indians don't like being checked. Voila, this results in a deadly cocktail.....

Bottomline, neither do we learn nor do we want to learn.....

Friday, November 28, 2008

Terror in Bombay -- A few unanswered questions.....

Twenty - twenty five years back as a kid, I recall flipping through The Illustrated Weekly, which carried photo feature on the best hotels of the world. The Taj Mahal was there. Papa who saw me flipping through the photo feature described the grandeur of the place to me, as I listened in wonder....

Today the Taj is in shambles. God knows whats happening inside the Oberoi and the Trident. All this is a sad testimony to the lackadaisical attitude of our authorities.
Bombay, a city that has fascinated me for its speed, attitude and iconic structures, is bleeding for the last 45 odd hours....

Are we so ignorant that we didn't know that this could have happened? The incident has opened a Pandora's box of questions that must be answered for the benefit of Indian citizens.

  1. Why weren't the Taj and the Oberoi-Trident complexes not stormed on Wednesday night / Thursday morning? Why did we wait for 8-9 hours despite the army, navy and NSG being called in? Why are we so soft on terror?

  2. Quoting a comment on Facebook on these terror attacks, that no matter how much pesticide you use, you surely get a few cockroaches. The key is to brutally and swiftly eliminate these cockroaches. Why are we so slow and casual? We have constantly been attacked, almost an attack a month, for quite long now. Was the government sleeping, all this while?

  3. I came across an interesting insight on Facebook today which said that India is the only democracy where the top three posts - Prime Minister, Home Minister and President are nominated by a person who herself does not have any mandate from the people! And at least one of these three people are surely ignorant and insensitive to the terror we are seeing, let alone taking any action. Mr. Home Minister has said that we need to show compassion to those involved and these arms and RDX laden guys are brothers gone astray. How stupid and insensitive. How long can we let someone have power without any accountability of any kind? Is there something murky over there?

  4. Security analysts have for the last 5 years have been talking of a marine threat. What have we done to boost our marine defence and patrol systems?

  5. What a slap it was on the face of the state government that it took Narendra Modi's visit to the Trident and Oberoi this morning to get Mr. Deshmukh out of his slumber. Where was Mr. Vilas Rao Deshmukh all this while?

  6. What has India done to curb Islamic militancy in our hinterlands? How long can we ignore this real and genuine threat in the name of secularism?

  7. As evidenced from the nuclear deal, India now has a strong lobby (both with US megacorps and the administration) in the US. Why can't we leverage on our new found strong relationship with the US and the rest of the Western world to pressurise the Pakistanis to curb terror?

  8. Why do we want to trade with Pakistan when we know they will stab us? Why did we support the financially bankrupt state of Pakistan in getting support from the IMF?

  9. Why can't we coerce Pakistan into clamping down on terror by strangling Pakistan economically - disrupt the shipping lines into the Karachi and Gwadar ports?

  10. Why can't we learn from the Israeli swiftness and brutality in dealing with such matters? Why can't we join hands with them in dealing with Islamic fundamentalists? If not all that, can't we get Israelis to train our commandos and state police forces to deal with these situations? How long can we be so sensitive to a certain vote-bank that we don't co-operate with Israel on these matters?

  11. Why don't we have a disaster management plan? How can we allow three top cops to travel together, thereby multiplying the risk of losing them all - this is precisely what happened when we lost the top three ATS cops on Wednesday night. Losing three ATS cops on the same night is strange. Is there more than what meets the eye or is it a mere coincidence?

  12. Last but not the least, I got an interesting text message this morning which went as follows: "The Navy commandos are headed by a Sikh. The Army operatives are headed by a Haryana Jat. NSG has been called in from Delhi. Taj and Oberoi staffers who heroically tried to save guests are mainly Punjabis. Where are Raj's Marathi Manoos?" Relevant I think - if he loves the city so much, if he loves his people so much, where is he? Why haven't we heard from him so far? Why aren't party workers assisting in relief efforts? When I sent this message across to most people on my cell's address book, I got an angry response from one of my contacts saying "we should not talk of all this and we should stand as one today". Surely we have been standing as one and that's why there has been a co-ordinated approach. But my question still remains - where are Raj and his Manoos gangs now? Why don't they help the authorities in hunting out the sleeper cells, instead of targeting North Indians?

Can the readers help me with some answers on these random questions on the terror of the last 45 odd hours?

As we wonder about these questions, we need to resolve to flush out and eliminate these cockroaches. We need to remember that our Motherland, India, is indeed incredible and we'ld better keep it that way. Jan Gana Mana....

Friday, November 21, 2008

Saluting the Punjabi spirit...

About three weeks, while channel surfing, I chanced upon the movie "Pinjar" showing on World Movies. The movie Pinjar is about the ordeal of a young Punjabi girl, Puro (Urmila Matondkar), in pre-partition Punjab. And I bet I have never seen a movie that has haunted me, touched me and affected me as much as this one.

Despite being a movie that unsettles the audience, it is a must watch for all those who want to know the ordeals the Punjabis went through during the partition era.

When I spoke to my parents about the movie, they also told me tales about the partition that they had heard as kids and the problems their families faced after they migrated to India. Neeti told me similar stories from her side of the family. And it's not just our families that have stories to tell - almost every Punjabi family has some or the other painful story on the partition.

It is even hard to imagine the hell Punjabis went through in 1947. And after decades of patience, hard work and a never say die attitude, they came out of it as winners. Who could have imagined that the relatively infertile part of Punjab would be turned into India's wheat and bread basket? Or the belt from Amritsar to Delhi would be turned into a belt of unparalleled prosperity?

Our grandparents came here to independent India after losing everything in Pakistan with nothing more to lose but with a will to survive and succeed. And that will prevailed.

So coming to the Punjabi attitude that made it happen - of working hard, playing hard and of living life kingsize. This attitude has been unmatched in the rest of India - the rest of India which was unaffected by miseries of partition.

Often we get to hear of malicious comments on the ostentatious nature of Delhiites (read Punjus), but have we ever got to the bottom of what makes the Punjus of today what they are? Have we ever heard any Punju say that they don't accept any outsider in Punjabi majority areas of the North? Never till date, and never in the future - I can bet my reputation on that. Despite being proud as a community, the Punjabis have always seen themselves as Indians first - look at the contribution of the Punjabi community to the Indian armed forces.

My hypothesis is that all Indians secretly admire the attitude of the Punjus and aspire to be like them. The proof of this lies in Bollywood - almost 90% of all Bollywood movies show a Punju background, bringing out all the giggles from the audiences. Why? Because it sells. Why do these movies sell? Because Indians aspire to have an attitude like the Punjus.... Admit it or not!

But as they say 90% of the iceberg is below the water, this ostentatious Punju attitude is only on the surface. Deep below, there is a warm heart, waiting accept all with open arms and a deep sense of pain for all our Puros, who were left behind and snatched away from our forefathers in Pakistan.

I salute the Punju attitude and would love to be reborn as a Proud Punjabi!!!!!!!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Will Obama rise to the challenge?

Hail Obama! The new president has been elected!

Obama has laid out his priorities very clearly - cleanse America of all its ills.

He has been riding a strong wave of popularity. And popularity brings with it a huge amount of expectations. And when the expectations are the highest, chances of under-performance are the highest, because there is and there always will be a big gap between the perceived expectation and the actual expectation on the street. Will he match the actual expectations and deliver is the big question... This gap is biggest cause of declining popularity of most rulers.

Obama has not had any administrative experience so far. And for being the head of state of any country - be it the United States or the Republic of Vanuatu, prior administrative experience is an absolute plus and a certain desirable. Obama does not have that at all.

And in politics, entrenched affiliations give the necessary leverage to take decisions that may often be unpleasant. Does Obama have that clout? I doubt it...

To make up for his administrative and political deficit, Obama is planning to appoint Hillary Clinton as his Secretary of State. Hillary is a power-person in her own right. Will she ever accept Obama's authority? Won't she be tempted to create a power center of her own, undermining Obama's agenda?

And then measures to alleviate the economic pain may not be too pleasant for US conglomerates, which have entrenched lobbyists at the Capitol Hill. Won't these lobbies undermine his administrative actions?

And we can't ignore the most powerful industry of the United States - the war industry!!! Won't the armanent and defence industry oppose any move out of Iraq. Similarly, energy firms which have landed lucrative oil and gas contracts in Iraqi Kurdistan, will go all out to protect their turf.

Obama may be thinking right. But thinking and talking about the right thing and doing the right thing are two very different matters. And whether he would be able to maintain his popularity and survive as a successful President is the biggest doubt I have.

But for me, I will always miss Bush for his Bushisms and his unflinching support for the Indian nuclear deal. I doubt whether Obama could have pulled it off at all.

Would Mr. Obama perform? Let's answer this question, let's say, in an year's time...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Africa Is Where My Heart Lies...

I can't describe the excitement I felt when I went through the slide show on Lake Malawi on The New York Times Style magazine yesterday. Was reminded of the day when flying down from Lusaka to Bombay that day in March 1987, when I gazed at wonder at the distinctive shape of the northern tip of Lake Malawi from a height of 35,000 feet - it was an awesome sight.
And yes the slide show of on Lake Malawi confirmed what I always thought - Lake Malawi is indeed beautiful.
But its not only Lake Malawi that is beautiful - the entire southern Africa is. I can never forget rolling savanna grasslands with the typical trees, the anthills, the clear waters of the rivers, etc. etc.
And the colourful culture - tribal customs, colourful clothes, soulful music and gleeful faces.
Nothing describes my feeling more truely than "Mama Africa" Miriam Makeba's song "Africa Is Where My Heart Lies..."

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Respect the Soldier

One news report I heard last night is haunting me.

NDTV carried a story last night saying that there was a great deal of frustration in the armed forces on the huge disparity between the salaries of the armed forces and other wings of the government. Though the recent Pay Commission has tried to increase the payout to the armed forces, it is still peanuts. Fortunately the service chiefs recognised this and rejected the revised pay-package to bargain for more.

And if you pay peanuts, you will get monkeys. But national security is no monkey business.

It's sad, really really sad. These brave men lay down their lives defending our borders for us and yet we fail to give them sufficient dignity and respect. The corrupt bureaucrat takes a fatter paycheck than the average army officer. Is this how the honesty and bravery of our soldiers is rewarded? This is probably why the armed forces are not able to attract talent.

Today we dream of becoming a world power, a superpower - of having an economic might, exceeding some G8 countries. But we forget that economic power and military might go hand in hand. To defend our economic interests, we need a blue water navy patrolling the key shipping lanes. We need a air force that allows us to reach the Atlantic, Europe, Australia-Pacific, Africa, etc. And we need a land force to guard against our deceptive northern neighbour, whom we should not trust at any cost.

To do all this we need strategic minds -- minds that can plan not for today but for the next 30-50 years -- minds that can craft a viable military doctrine. In short, we need sharp minds. And we need a lot more officers and soldiers who are able to implement the crafted military doctrine. But today, why would any sane mind join the armed forces today, when a peer who is not so bright can join, say a BPO, earn more and enjoy life?

It's sad that the government is living in a state of denial -- it is shocking. They did show some foresight in enabling acquisition of the required military hardware -- Phalcon AWACS, IL78 mid-air refuellers that enable our Sukhoi Su30s to reach Alaska without halts, but that is simply not enough. But where is the talent to run these machines?

Respect is not only about the pay-package. It is also about honour. Not very long ago, we fought the Kargil war with Pakistan, came out victorious, thanks to some heroes, some of whom laid down their lives. These brave men were honoured - Vir Chakras, Ashok Chakras, etc. But their families did face a lot of harassment at the hands of greedy bureaucrats when it came to handing out the compensation -- this was well documented in the media and cinema also highlighted this issue. Is this how we respect our soldier? We all remember how the government recently Field Marshall Sam Maneckshaw "honoured" in death.

Dr. Manmohan Singh had the foresight to craft the nuclear deal for energy security. Dr. Singh yesterday mentioned that India loves Bush, for whatever he did for India.

But Dr. Singh, India also loves their brave soldiers and so you better show some respect to them. Don't test the soldier's patience anymore.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Random thoughts and a few unanswered questions...

  1. South Africa in turmoil again - the revered statesmanly South African President Thabo Mbeki is making way for the strident, radical Jacob Zuma. Is the Rainbow Nation going the Zimbabwe way?
  2. Blasts in Islamabad - you reap what you sow. Will they will ever learn this lesson?
  3. Terror in India - the limp, soft state probably thinks this is an answer to our population woes, is that right?
  4. Obama v/s the Republicans - the journalists are best at sensationalising what they hear. Was the comment "putting lipstick on a pig" a sexist remark after all?
  5. The Fed is bailing out Wall Street with a US$ 700 bn package - is capitalism dead as we know it? Or is it a return to socialism - state support and intervention?

I love my 'nimbu paani' ...

Three eventful years of marriage - can't imagine how time flies... and the best part is that I am for sure looking forward to what lies ahead.

But there are times when one gets so pissed off... so irritated... so angry that patience seems to run out. But that's the key - the hard part- keeping the patience. How to do it? There is no formula - it just happens. One just learns it.

Marriage just grows over you - one learns to appreciate, or at least tries to appreciate things that had not figured in one's scheme of things. The most most mundane example here is that before I got hitched with Neeti, I could barely stand Shahrukh Khan. I used to jokingly call his antics like those of an untamed simian. However, after marriage, I was bombarded with Kuch Kuch Hota Hais and Shahrukh and all that. After three years, I have developed an 'understanding' of why he is the way he is!!!! It works the other way round too - Neeti, can now sit through a part of the gory gluttony Bourdain show!

Teamwork is what marriage is all about - navigating our way through the ocean is what marriage is like. One finds a way to develop that understanding - trusting each other's instincts, blindly, at times. This doesn't happen immediately. It takes time, but it happens. And each couple has their own way of developing this sense of navigation!

To sum it all - I have always said that marriage is like cool icy fresh lime (nimbu paani) - a little sweet, a little sour, but can there be anything more refreshing than a glass of cool icy fresh lime on a hot summer day?

I love my fresh lime .... I guess you know what I mean!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Buddha is Grinning!!!!

In 1974, immediately after India conducted its first nuclear test, the message that our then Prime minister received was that "the Buddha has smiled".

But today, the Buddha is grinning...

Ending 34 years of the nuclear apartheid, the NSG has finally given its waiver. A great job done, a feat achieved. I must admit, I am no fan of the UPA government or the Congress party. Till a few months back I used to think that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's government is being run by a remote control. I felt sorry for him, as he, I thought, was a misfit in his role as the PM.

However, the cool confidence with which PM and his team has handled the case was impeccable and has proved that Indian diplomacy has finally come of age and India as a superpower is truly in the making. Hats off to you and your team, Mr. PM!

However, the deal is not merely what it seems. What we see today may just be the tip of an iceberg.

Why has the US done all this for us? 10 years back, it would have been tough to imagine US and India going to bed this way. So what has changed in these 10 years would give us clues on why the deal went through.

The US has lost hope in Afghanistan and Pakistan -- it seems that the US is getting around to the idea that there is no point in hoping against hope. With energy prices on the boil, the US can perhaps ill afford to continue to sustain heavy expenditure both on energy and its military campaigns in the Middle East and our neighbourhood.

The bottomline is that the US needs friends here. India is perhaps the only nation that fits the bill -- India has some economic as well as a military prowess that can help the objectives of the US in the region.

Further, despite the fact that for decades, successive Indian governments were cozying up with the Soviets and took pride in being non-aligned, the Indian public largely identified themselves with the US. This is evidenced from the fact that recent surveys which have in fact proved that Indians actually appreciate the US -- only citizens of a dozen or so countries share the same feeling. The rest -- citizens of the remaining 170-odd independent countries either hate the US or just don't care. So domestic public opinion in India will not be an issue.

The US cannot trust the Chinese any more -- the US and China were together all these years for business. But today, with the Chinese successfully make inroads into governments of key US allies -- Australia, New Zealand and a few European countries, the US is genuinely and justifiably terrified. Never has the US needed a counterweight to China more than today.

The nuclear deal brings India and US into a de-facto military and economic alliance (the CENTO of the 60s will be reborn, with Japan, Singapore and other ASEAN countries also being a part of it!). Now that the US has done its bit, India would have to reciprocate -- my idea is that India would be required to police the Indian Ocean shipping routes from the Persian Gulf right upto Straits of Malacca and from Diego Garcia right up to the Andamans, thereby giving India a control of flow energy and commodities to China.

The US would also leverage on India's relationship with Tehran to get Tehran to open up. Despite all rhetoric, Iran by far has been and is the most stable nation in the Middle East. The US needs energy, Tehran is the potential supplier and India can get them talking.

On the commercial side, the nuclear deal opens up a whole new opportunity for US hi-tech companies to expand into a virgin territory for dual-use technology. And in this too, India is a huge market, especially when it has the third largest army in the world. India gets the required military hardware that it needs to stand up to China.

A win-win for both the US and India. India never had it better, the Buddha is surely grinning!!!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Choices of life...

On way back home from work tonight in the local train, I was wondering about the time we all spend commuting, or rather the time we waste commuting to work. Believe it or not -- commuting takes away nearly 4 hours of my day, every day, day after day -- I shudder at the calculation of the number of "years" of my life that I would lose.
I am sure that is what most professionals in metros would feel.
But this is a lifestyle we want, we crave for, we desire?
My work often takes me to small towns all over the country. Earlier this month, I travelled to Jodhpur and Jaipur on work. It was refreshing to see the relaxed pace of life there. A casual conversation with a local person was enlightening -- he told me that he takes 10 minutes to commute to commute -- it would be a maximum of 20 minutes on a bad traffic day!
The social life, he said, begins after work, he continued. After reaching home, he said he found time to help his kids with homework, meet friends over a cup of tea, have a relaxed dinner and go to be bed by 10.30PM.
Boy, what a life!
My next question to him was on his career. Good it is, he replied. But he went on say that he knows that he could earn a lot more if he moved to a metro. Yet he chose to stay here in Jodhpur -- he said he wanted to feel and enjoy seeing his kids grow, he wanted to be with them, teach them the values of life. He further went on say that he made a choice in life and he was quite happy with that choice.
Tough choice I thought.
We know that the lives we lead are unsustainable. Yet we still live this unsustainable lives.
We are like chain-smokers -- we know it is detrimental to us, yet we still do it, just for the thrill, for the kick of it.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The World this Week

When I started this blog, I had resolved to be regular -- regular in posting my thoughts online. Despite feeling lazy, I am trying to keep with a promise that I made to myself with my thoughts on the week gone by.
The Indian manufacturing dream is in grave danger -- the Tatas, who had actually conceived the Nano, which has the potential to be the car of the masses the world over faces a grave uncertainty due to "political" unrest camouflaged as a protest by the "100,000 odd" farmers in Singur fomented by the Didi! While the Tatas will pay a heavy price for not paying adequate "tributes" to the right people, I am told Singur never ever had 100,000 "farmers"!!!
The boil in Kashmir goes on -- but should we taxpayers pay dearly for ungrateful people who don't care? I am told Kashmir, which has a dead economy, sustains itself on a per-capita subsidy of an odd-Rs. 9000 as against Rs. 700 in more deserving Bihar. Waving green flags is one thing, but living life is another. It's a challenge -- if those waving green flags were to break away from India, they will barely survive a week on their own, without the Indian taxpayers' money doled out to them.
While Pakistan and stability are two different banks of a river that can never ever meet, I still feel that purely from an Indian perspective, we were better off with Musharraf as the president. At least he did try to think differently to resolve issues with India. "Mr. 10%" as president, would first fill his Swiss bank accounts before thinking of anything else!
The NSG meet for India went on expected lines -- while the New Zealanders, the Swiss and the Irish have voiced their concerns on exceptions being made for India, it is improbable that they would go against their guardian, the US, by blocking the deal. It seems they have adopted a mere face saving mechanism to satisfy their domestic constituencies by voicing their opposition now, only to let the deal through in September. Look at who is opposing the deal -- New Zealand for long enjoyed US protection under the ANZUS nuclear umbrella and Ireland continues to do under the NATO umbrella. How naive they are to put India in the same category as North Korea and Pakistan!!
The Russian revival post-Putin has sent shockwaves through the West. The misadventure and bravado by the Georgian Prseident Mikheil Saakashvili was set right by Russian intervention. Russia today means business and it has proved that it will not tolerate any nonsense in its backyard, especially when it comes to shady energy and arms deals by the Americans. Is India listening? We ought to do something similar in our region -- our regional nuisances -- Nepal, Bangladesh, etc. have taken us lightly for long. We need a Putin to set things right here. A friend whom I would not like to name here for obvious reasons thinks that Narendra Modi could do a Putin here if he becomes the PM.
India has had its best ever run at the Beijing Olympics -- a big haul of 3 medals, one of which is a gold fortunately. While our establishment, corporates and media have started deifying the winners, this inflection point in Indian sports could be used as opportunity to groom young talent for the 2012 and 2016 Olympics -- needless to say corporate support will be required.
Africa, which has been in the news for the last few months for the wrong reasons (Robert Mugabe and suppression of democracy in Zimbabwe, post-election violence in Kenya), lost a democratic leader -- President Levy Mwanawasa of Zambia died after suffering a stroke in Paris. Zambia which has been holding on to the beacon of multi-party democracy in Africa after the ouster of Kenneth Kaunda, goes on to show that Africa can make the transition peacefully.
And as another week begins, I do hope I have something more substantial to write on than just do a Prannoy Roy again!!!!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Is India truly "Independent"?

This day, the 15th of August, as we celebrate our 62nd Independence Day, I am sitting here in the capital of our country, thinking about what independence means to us individually as citizens and collectively as a nation.
What does independence mean to us as citizens? Was it merely the transition of power that happened in 1947, from British rule to self rule? Is it a mere relic, a casual remembrance of an event that happened 61 years back, or crudely put, a mere public holiday to relax? Or is it freedom of thought and expression and freedom from fear? Does it mean economic empowerment? Or does it mean social development?
As a citizen of this nation, independence for me today means an independence from fear -- are we free from fear? Do I know I will be alive tomorrow? The answer is a big NO. We are not free. We as a nation are being held hostage to fear coming from various ideological movements that threaten the fabric of the very freedom our forefathers fought for. Successive spineless rulers are solely responsible for our "slavery" to fear. They have have made India a "soft state", a place where any Tom, Dick or Harry has been virtually granted a right to violent expression at the expense of an ordinary Indian. The encouragement of religious politics and "minorityism" at the cost of national interest has been the root cause of this. That is why Indian citizens were subjected to the humiliation at Kandahar, of numerous terror attacks, of countless release of militants to free influential hostages and of a systemic failure to curb naxalism.
Gandhi said that we are a peace-loving nation and that an eye for an eye will make the whole world blind. In today's scenario, we can't just give ourselves away that we lose both our eyes. Wouldn't it be better that if one of our eyes is taken away, we blind the enemy in one eye, so that he doesn't return for our second eye? We have had enough of this idealism for 61 years of our so called freedom. Gandhi was certainly a great man, we all respect him, but I am sorry, we Indians can't give our "eyes" away. So our ruling class better take notice.
Nothing can happen in country where heroes are not respected and honored. We continue to pay homage to sons of dynasties, who did little for the country besides organised extortion. But we forget the real heroes who die guarding our borders in appalling conditions. We forget heroes like Field Marshall Sam Maneckshaw, who gave India one of its finest victories in military history. Nothing can become of a nation that forgets its heroes.
Nothing can happen in a country where traitors who supported the Chinese aggression against our country today hold positions of power in Parliament, hold the country to ransom and brazenly take positions detrimental to the nation.
Nothing can happen in a country where I cannot travel to certain places, cannot have ownership rights in certain states and where locals are displaced on the basis of religion, with the state being a mute spectator? We had for decades taken a moral high ground on issues like the South African Apartheid in global fora, yet we shamelessly practise a Apartheid against our own people within our own land.
Today we take pride in a booming economy. We take pride in being recognised as an economic might in the world. Indeed, India has changed. India has seen economic freedom in the last two decades. There have been multiplier effects on job creation and opportunities as a result of outsourcing of manufacturing, technology and services as result of which the common citizen does feel economically empowered.
But economic freedom and freedom from fear go hand in hand. One can never be really free without freedom from fear.
So while we "celebrate" the anniversary of an event that happened 61 years ago, we Indians still yearn for our TRUE INDEPENDENCE from fear.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Fury of the Flooded River

The flooded river flows down with all its fury.
No one in its way is spared.
Even the mighty rock is crushed to pebbles and dust.

There I am ......
Trapped in the flooded river.
Desperately trying to keep afloat,
My head above the water.
Battered and bruised I am...
My face cut, my body aches.

Weary I try to find my way to the banks....
I hope the woes would end soon...
"My feet will again kiss the sand on the bank"
I put in an extra effort at this thought...

The mighty river with all its momentum moves on.
It hits me back the harder I try to move to the banks....
I let out a cry of pain....
"God help me - Get me out of here"

I avoid a rock,
Pass by a whirlpool...
I heave a sigh of relief...
"Thank God I wasn't sucked in"

Forget all the pain and weariness for a moment...
I move with the flow....
Gradually, the force reduces, calmness and normality returns....
I begin to see the bright sunshine,
And hear the sweet song of the canary.

I make my way to the banks....
Once again my feet feel the firmness of the bank.
The warmth of the sand energises me.
I take a deep breath and bow my head in a Prayer
"God, Thanks for the strength to survive the ordeal"
I move on.....
For life has dreams....
Dreams to be fulfilled!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

There's no love greater than the love for food....

Lunching away to glory at Cafe Britannia at Bombay's old quarter of Ballard Estate, that day in August 2006 was when I discovered their signature paper napkins had a rooster on it with a quotation saying "There's no love greater than the love for food".

George Bernard Shaw could not have been more correct than this... Is there anything better than great food? I do not think so.

Yet, for every ten people you meet on the street, food is just a normal chore, like having a bath, going to work or answering Nature's call (!!!). These hapless poor souls revel in their mediocrity.

There is nothing more pathetic than the routine of having the same food, day after day, week after week, year after year till the end of one's life. Life is to be enjoyed, food being an important element of it -- do we eat to live or do we live to eat?

I would agree with the latter.

I remember, as a kid, my Mom used to cook chicken and mutton, almost every Sunday. My entry into the kitchen was forbidden as my folks were apprehensive that the sight of blood and gore of uncooked flesh would put me off. However, I used to be fascinated by the smells that used to waft out of the kitchen. And then on the dinner table, I used to be scramble for my best piece, the chicken leg.
But with times, things have taken an exotic turn, much to the "shock" of my parents, sister and now my spouse, Neeti...

As I live to eat, I do tend to veer on the extremes in my quest for epicurean delights that take me into a state of trance ... crocodile fritters, braised rabbit, to name a few. The more sinful the better - could there be anything better than a greasy English breakfast of eggs, fried bacon, sausages, ham, potatoes and baked beans on a lazy Sunday morning? Driven by my excesses, Neeti has now coined an acronym for our weekly grocery list -- HSBC - Ham, Sausages, Bacon and Chicken!!!!!!! (I hope guys from HSBC Bank don't read this and sue us for the copyright!!!)

And who can forget the orgasmic pleasures of creepy crawly creatures -- cracking the crab shells, and struggling to gorge on the sweet white crab meats!!! And squids, octopus, mollusks, the list is endless. And what smells better than freshly caught fish? The very sight of this stuff makes my mouth water...

Despite my conviction that anything that walks, creeps or crawls is edible (except humans of course!!), I revel in equal measure or rather am quite demanding for the vegetarian stuff as well. Imagine how a fiery "tadka" can transform the plain looking daal, or how garlic can sizzle up any meal, or how aroma of simmering "maa ki daal" can cause the salivary glands to burst!!!!!

I have always believed that travel gives one an opportunity to explore the local food. Once I travelled to Kerala for a conference, with my colleagues from a previous organisation in Delhi. All along the journey, I was fantasising about famous stews and appams and other Keralite stuff. I was so pissed off when I discovered that the buffet that was laid out had tandoori chicken, paneer tikka, daal makhani, etc. And closer to Bombay, Gujaratis are no different. McDonalds should think of a new innovation -- McThepla for a global launch, which I am sure will be quite profitable!!!!!!! HA HA HA HA

The ultimate foodie I revere is Anthony Bourdain -- this guy is simply amazing. He has no qualms about trying anything, without battling an eyelid. Anything means "anything" here -- from a live beating cobra heart in Vietnam to seal poop in Alaska.

I can only aspire to be like him!!!

P.S. I can never forget the "Oh no, not again" look on Neeti's face when she saw the Cafe Britannia paper napkin

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


The Sun rises, the Sun sets,
Seasons come, seasons go,
Years come, years go.

The feeling is strong.
The longing is there.

Is it love?
Is it something more?
….. something deep?

I don’t know….
All I know is that….
The footprints are there….

Deep and timeless….
Sure they’ll stay on….
For years to come.

Monday, August 4, 2008

How long can the Moon eclipse the Sun? ---- Random thoughts of a straying mind...

A few days have passed and my mind has been straying from one thought to another, much like a monkey, in a jungle, swinging from one branch of a tree to another.

These reflections have touched on the good times in the past, the golden moments that I would love to relive, to the aspirations for the future and the events of today, which may not seem all that pleasant and those that seem to have a potential to impact (positively or negatively) the achievement of aspirations for the future.

Life can be unfair sometimes, we meet a lot of wrong people, have quite a few unpleasant experiences. And the result is that I (as with most of us) end up feeling down and out.

The biggest irony of life is what I find most surprising -- the good times pass off in a jiffy -- a split second, but the tough times last an eternity. It seems that the night will never end.

And the most surprising fact of all -- these circumstances recur with an amazing frequency.

But then there are hopes for the future. These thoughts are like lifesavers -- the ropes that one holds on to for dear life.

And then these times also teach us about our friends -- those who stand by us and those who pass us by. As we go along, most old friends fall by the wayside, but those who remain are there for good.

And one becomes so vulnerable, so sensitive at times that it becomes so easy to hurt those who love you dearly. It's like what Forrest Gump said "Shit happens".

And one better count one's blessings in tough times -- that I have love and support of family, am physically able to take life head on, have a mind to think, weigh options, etc. etc. If one starts counting one's blessings, the list will be endless.

But then then the Sun does rise and rise it will, rise it must! And it happens so fast that seldom does one realise that it's happening. And that's probably because its darkest before dawn, as one song once said -- which one I forget.

What will see us through - it's all about faith - faith in God Almighty (one can believe in God, irrespective of whether one believes in religion or not), faith in oneself and faith in love.

To sign off for now, I will mention what the dollar bill says -- "In God we Trust"

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The bonding over a steaming cup of tea...

I have always seen people bond over a smoke and a drink, but for me, a steaming cup of tea works wonders...

But if you think, its as simple as it sounds, you are mistaken. The tea has to be made the right way, my way, probably the only way, is what i would say.

The right way is to heat the water and just as it starts to boil, add tea leaves and take the pan off the heat. This ensures that oxygen is not boiled out of the water, ensuring the oxygenation of the tannin in the tea leaves, which comes about by brewing it (of course off the heat) for about 5 minutes and voila....

One wrong step and it all becomes a royal mess, that I would prefer to throw down the drain.

Now coming to the element of bonding over tea, or dare I say the right kind of tea, just happens. In Neeti's and my family, it is the trigger - its like a war cry to say "chai ho jaye", and the anticipation of a conquest over the cup of tea begins. This invariably happens every night after dinner, providing the right trigger to stay up a while and talk about the happenings of the day.

I still remember the day my folks and I visited Neeti's place for the first time before our marriage. After an hour or so, when we moved out, the first thing I told my folks was that I loved their tea!!! And my folks nodded in agreement, laying the foundation for our marriage.

Mauritius, where we had gone for our honeymoon, is known for its boutique vanilla teas. Our resort had nothing but vanilla flavoured tea all over. And both of us had to struggle with the Creole and French speaking staff just to get a few tea bags of Assam tea. Wherever we go now, one of the standard gifts we usually get for our families are tea gift packs.

Tea has taken to several extremes. On weekends, when we are out in the market and Neeti starts checking out some nick-knacks, I can barely control my patience for half an hour after which extreme boredom sets in, and I am forced to let out the war cry of "Chai ho jaye"!!! And Neeti, like a fellow "drinking partner" gets so tempted that she winds up within the next 15-20 minutes, after which we either head home or to the nearest Barista or Cafe Coffee Day.

One such hangout for us used to be the Cocos outlet at Lokhandwala market. It charmed us with the quality of its tea and its colourful ambiance. But as real estate markets had their way, high rents forced them to move out. And old does indeed make way for the new.... we have now started patronising Coffee World with a similar zeal.

And just as I want to write more, I hear Neeti making the war cry of "chai ho jaye" - it's time to go...

Who Am I?

Who Am I?

Puzzled am I,
When I wonder “Who am I?”

Am I the lonesome warrior,
Battling the mighty army ….
The army of time, fate and luck?

Or the ship,
On the stormy seas….
Being tossed up and down with the waves?

Am I the mind?
Or am I the Soul?

Am I more than mere existence?

Or am I mere existence?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Enduring memories

As years have gone by, there have been moments in my life that remain vivid and crystal clear as they had actually been...

These are those moments that always bring a smile to my face, a sudden rush of blood through the veins, moments that I would love re-live each day of the rest of my life.

The aroma of ginger cookies and bread, freshly baked by Mom ..... Papa teaching me how ride a bicycle .... Receiving a hand made birthday card from Neelima .... Anticipation of a birthday gift the night before ..... The first peep into the glowing cockpit 0f the Hawker Siddeley 748 during a flight that night in 1984 - a sudden excitement and thrill .... My granny cracking jokes (I know she'll be looking down from Heaven and smiling now) ..... Having the first phone call with Neeti that eventful Dushera day in 2004 - the conversation that went on and on, blossoming into this rocking relationship ..... Our first date, at PVR Saket and Ansal Plaza on January 29, 2005 and the first time Neeti and I held hands crossing the Outer Circle at Connaught Place in February 2005 ..... The endless debates with mine and Neeti's folks over freshly brewed Assam tea .... The stupid "bakar bakar" with Supratik about birds of steel and ..... what? (don't ask!!!) ;)

These moments are the first of their own kind, which can be relived only in memories, the best part of life is that this list will grow bigger and richer, as time goes by...

Monday, July 28, 2008

Terror attacks - the day after....

It is indeed tough getting back to the routine after a lazy and fun filled weekend.

Taking the train to office, unlike any other day, today I felt a sense of fear in the fellow passengers' behaviour and body language - perhaps we all were thinking whether after Bangalore and Ahmedabad, were we the next?

But then who cares? And life goes on...

Are we so weak as a country that we can't fish out, weed out and eliminate such elements? And we call ourselves the next superpower! It is one thing to be powerful and it is altogether another thing to be perceived as powerful. And in today's world, perceptions matter more than substance.

Fact of the matter is that India is perceived as a weak state. And weak we will stay if we don't act. And the government better forget about human rights for a moment, forget about public opinion for a while - it better take action against terror and prove that as a country, we are not taken lightly, anymore.

But again by evening, the train commuters were back to their usual boisterous self. I wonder whether that is a sign of helplessness that little can be done or is a sign of getting on with life and work.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Of paranoia and a dying culture

We finally did make it to South Bombay, despite or inspite of the downpour. The roads a- a full 35 km of them right from Lokhandwala till Fort were all empty -- it was really surprising to see this given the fact that weekends are when our city folk venture out for shopping, recreation, etc.

Was this because of the rain? Is the never say die attitude of our fellow city dwellers giving way to paranoia that they'll get caught in another"26/7-like" deluge?

Or is it the double digit inflation, which is forcing us all to stay indoors in an attempt to curb expenses? I wonder...

Despite the decay in the city, south Bombay still retains its old world charm, perhaps like it always has... I wonder again. It is indeed a visual treat to drive along the Marine Drive promenade, with mighty waves almost kissing the cars. And the colonial buildings of Fort, which I hope will be conserved for the future generations to see.

Talking of decay in city, I am told by friends who have grown-up here that Irani cafes were an institution for many years. but as I read these institutions are dying out for various reasons - lack of interest in the younger generation, etc. etc.

Neeti and I went to one such Irani cafe - nothing beats "bhurji pao", "bun maska" and steaming hot tea as you watch the rain pouring outside. As we get carried into a reverie, we realise, we have to drive back home another 35 kms in this downpour, before the flooding starts.... yes the paranoia is there!

Rain rain go away.....

What a day it is..... wow!!! Its been raining here in Bombay since night, or say since yesterday for all practical purposes.
And it looks beautiful outside the window. But the best part is that we don't have to venture out of home, get wet, get water splashed on you on the road, get stuck in a traffic jam on the road, wade through water....
Indeed it seems, the monsoon is the best time to be in Bombay. Everything is so cool, green and full of life. In fact, my better half, Neeti, who happens to be a hardcore Delhiite, did tell me a couple of days back that she had got used to Bombay weather that it would be difficult to adjust to extremes of the north.
But is monsoon all that fun in Bombay if you have to venture out? Perhaps not.... I still remember the grand deluge of "26/7" or July 26, 2005. Spent the whole night in office. The road outside had turned into a river. People were scared. And the next morning when I left for home with colleagues, the devastation was to be seen to be be believed. Loss of life and property has been well spoken about.
Even today, people shudder when they talk of that day - an all pervasive fear. Even continuous rain for two hours is enough to send the city into a spin.
Have we learnt lessons from "26/7"? Perhaps not...
The little said about the administration the better.
What can we do? Eminent citizens like Alque Padamsee go on TV to talk of how the monsoons were in the 1940s. But what have they done beyond that.
Compare this with Delhi - that city changed due to intervention of the courts - PILs filed by eminent citizens forced the city and state administration to shut up, sit up, listen and do. And today Delhi is a much pleasanter place to live in - the quality of life is so far better than Bombay.
So what does the common man like you and me do? Enough of getting saluted for keeping the "Spirit of Mumbai" alsive. Let's cut the crap. Perhaps, we should group together and initiate action ourselves, as collective action is more powerful than individual action.
As for me, Neeti and I just laid to rest a plan of driving down to Fort, for the fear of getting caught up in the mess!
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