Sunday, November 30, 2008

Treat the disease and not the symptoms

Terrorist attacks seem to have become cyclical events. Let's live with the reality and face it boldly. I tell myself. Is the worst yet to come? I wonder. Another dangerous trend is our acceptance of these events and our inbuilt resilience to carry on with life, albeit with symbolic protests - lighting candles, holding peace marches and so on. Even more dangerous is the emerging stoicism of people as if nothing ever happened. Business is as usual. But is it really? The inability to question and reflect on one's predicament is one of the signs of a people that is myopic and missing the big picture.

Today, the television was filled with 'postmortem' on 26/11/08. Views, analysis, discussions - mostly bringing to the fore the inevitable blame games, bickerings - so sickening to watch it all!! Is this what we should be talking? Is this how a chief minister, acccompanied by family and friends visit the affected site as if it were some 'ordinary' object of curiosity seen during that post-dinner stroll? I simply fail to understand the presence of Ramgopal Varma in his entourage!! Perhaps he wanted to get first hand 'inspiration' for another blockbuster, from the charred remains of the hotel, apparently tired of copying Hollywood flicks! What was Sagarika Ghosh upto on CNN-IBN? Yelling at that top of her voice in her interaction with two senior retired IPS officers... trying to prove, defend, analyse and what not. Is this the way to address the issues? Why do we always react and never believe in being proactive? Why do we always treat the symptoms and not the disease? A disease that is deeply rooted in the way we are evolving, internally as a nation. Being vulnerable to terrorist attacks is one of the symptoms. The disease is more serious.

Confronting terrorism demands us to be a nation, a nation that can proudly face these destructive elements. A nation that puts the collective consciousness before its individual motives. A nation that does not stay content and complacent with sacrifices of policemen and commandos but thinks beyond. A nation that examines its hypocrisies and illusions. Is it really possible to achieve such lofty ideals in today's India? India - where politics is getting more parochial than ever, where state are getting further divided into smaller regions motivated by vested interests of some sections. Factional politicians should remember - when Mumbai was burning and bleeding it was not merely the local leaders who came to the forefront to save her, but people speaking different languages and representing different cultures. Then why do we put up with people who still believe in dividing and ruling ...religion, region, caste, socio-economic name it we have all in India, innumerable ways to break the people.

Now that we are into an era of coalition governments where it's a pure game of numbers each party vying for power, risking stability and sustained administration. Frequent elections drain our exchequer, frequent elections are a sign of decaying democracy. Do we need a basic constitutional reform from the perspective of coalitions? How can we present ourselves as a strong and unified country to the rest of the world?

This Maestro is beyond awards

This writeup on Pt. Pandit Bhimsen Joshi appeared in The Hindu when he was conferred Bharat Ratna the highest civilian honour in India, tells us about Panditji's youth and the rigorous training the maestro had undergone under his guru Sawai Gandharva. Here's the link to the article:

Saturday, November 29, 2008

26/11 - Rape of human sensibility

Writing, it is said, is one of the outlets for releasing that accumulated angst, anger and anguish. Especially, when your thoughts are maimed by certain events beyond your control and you feel incapacitated in more ways than one. I write these lines as I watch, read and reflect on the gory events that eerily unfolded since the late hours of 26/11/08 when Mumbai was marauded for her magnificence, benevolence and tolerance.

Those unforgettable sixty hours
Glued to their televisions were millions of Indians
And people from rest of the world
Watching one of the worst, heinous and despicable
Acts of timidity and barbarity
Unfolding in unperceivably obscene manner
Targeting hotels, hospital and railway terminus
Involving people from different countries, faiths
Innocent people, most vulnerable
Blindly slain, held hostage or massacred in cruelest manner
Perhaps the most abhorrent terrorist attack

Was it merely the city of Mumbai that was marauded?
Was it just the siege of an iconic heritage structure?
Certainly not!
An act of unimaginably inhuman magnitude
Planned and executed with such precision
Impacting the human psyche in ways impossible to frame in words
Probably worse than any act of physical violence

To me, it was a rape of human sensibility
Outraging the modesty of human values
A rape by gang of misled youth
suicidal and
Unconscious of their dastardly deeds
Driven and used by destructive agencies
Unabashed by sights of human carnage
While meeting their target in the form of numbers killed

Leaving more questions than answers
As we count the dead and injured
As we mourn the martyrs
As we assess the damage done to the edifices
As we wonder when normalcy would be restored
As we listen to the victims and survivors sharing their experiences
As we empathize and choke
As we sleep and wake up
As we...

Little realizing that
If anyone is to be blamed, it is us!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Haritha - 7 Kms

Typical Hyderabadi weekend when cyclone hits the coastal AP, especially in early winter - cloudy skies, light drizzle, chill breeze - perfect weather for snugging up in the cozy corner of one's home, snacking on some hot tea and muffins, perhaps catching up with some reading as well. This time I wanted to do something different since I badly needed a break from daily chores, especially that inevitable visit to Ratnadeep for vegetables and other stuff.

None of us wanted to remain indoors, just felt like unwinding, may be go for a refreshing long drive that would take us away from the din of the city, at least for some hours. We started and drove towards NH7. Sandip was keen on some bird-watching, armed with his camera and binoculars. We could not see many birds though, mainly due to the inclement weather. We crossed Medchal and were about to reach Toopran, I badly wanted to have some tea, so thought we would stop at Reliance Plaza, unfortunately it was closed. We were unable to see any tea vendors around, then Sandip spotted a signboard on the right pointing to Haritha (the APTDC restaurant). I took a turn and entered into a road that showed Haritha 7 kms. To our surprise it turned out to be a lush green driveway that connected to Gajwel about 25kms away.

Serendipity - was my word of the day for this splendid Sunday!!!

This lovely road had some green and golden paddy, potatoes and other vegetables farms lined up on both sides of the road, neatly interspered with sugarcane and some mango orchards. There were some ponds too, that make it look even more picturesque. We stopped for a while, since we found some rare birds near the waterbodies. The panoramic view was simply exhilarating. However, we could not find Haritha anywhere on this road. Half way through there was a temple, wondered if it was a famous pilgrim spot, and concluded that the restaurant would be in the temple complex. We were not sure about it, coz the temple did not seem big enough to be promoted by APTDC. Nevertheless, we did not slow down near the temple, the place was too crowded with people since it was an auspicious day for vanabhojanam. We reached Gajwel and took a right turn to state highway that connected to Shamirpet. It said Hyderabad 60 kms. Towards our right we spotted a big Haritha restaurant, but we weren't prepared to turn back. Was this the restaurant that the signboard pointed to, we speculated ? It was exactly 27 kms from that point? May be the '2' before '7' got erased from the signboard? Were there two restaurants by the same name within such a short distance? We were just wondering trying to solve the Harita puzzle, but thanks to the Haritha signboard we got to drive through some pleasantly serene avenues, full of rustic charm, that made us hard to believe that we were just 60-70 kms away from Hyderabad.

Rajma Art

One of those evenings, when Shreya decides to keep herself away from the TV, toys and books and gets really creative. Here's her piece of art done with Rajma (dried kidney beans). She kept it in tact till I reached home from office so that I could capture it in my camera. There is a story behind the scene, it had to do with a man and his car...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Thoda adjust kar 'Garib Raths'

Normally, passengers in trains adjust and oblige with lower berths for senior citizens and expecting mothers considering the fact that they cannot not get into middle or upper berths. Now, it looks like Indian Railways have made it their motto by asking everyone to adjust. And we Indians seem to be good at the art of adjusting with anything and everything even if it means risk to our lives. Look at the way the new AC 3tier coaches are designed. I managed to dig out this newpaper report on 'redesign of coaches'.

In the last couple of months I travelled thrice to Bangalore by three different trains - Kacheguda-Bangalore Express, Kacheguda Yashwantpur Express and Bangalore Rajdhani Express. I've been travelling by trains for years, but this time the exprience in AC-3 tier in Bangalore trains including Rajdhani Express has been harrowing to say the least. Well, in Rajdhani too, the bedsheets and blankets seem to have remained unwashed for ages! Thanks to Lalu Prasad Yadav's Garib Rath and new management concepts for Indian Railways, all normal AC-3 Tiers have been re-designed and converted to nine passengers per compartment. Several compromises seem to have been made in terms of quality of service, infractructure and so on. This new idea may have helped Indian Railways fill the coffers but for the common person it spells trouble. Now nine people share the seats which is originally meant for eight. We have three side berths and with AC fluctuations it gets suffocating. The 'unfortunate' ninth passenger with a confusing odd number who gets the side middle berth remains at the mercy of other passengers for his/her seat during the day time.
Where are the principles of design and usability in the whole coach re-design process? I guess these have been sacrificed for better revenue for railways. With the introduction of an extra berth the lower and upper berth spaces are very congested, forget about sleeping, you cannot even lie down properly, wonder how someone who's more than 5-5" adjusts in this space. What if the passenger is on the heavier side and gets the side middle berth? Is there a weight-limit? What about the way these berths are folded? There are several issues like this that one gets to think of ....
Note: The pics in this blog are from the Internet and not from the train in which I travelled.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Kids' dance party

Watch out Shreya and Pratham dance on Mithu's birthday.