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This is an unpublished cartoon by from Mid-Day.

Link by Salil B, originally posted by Sumant Srivathsan, cartoon by Hemant Morparia.

taj-heaven-small1

I must admit it has controversy written all over it. Wise decision by Mid-Day to not publish it because it is tricky to rationalize either view. (You can read the discussion at Sumant’s blog).

The most interesting point was put forth by the creator Hemant Morparia that the feeling is a comment on the way we perceive their roles in general :

As a corollary, had I shown NSG commandos in heaven and some people commenting that they feel safer here, would that be offensive too?

Personally speaking, I initially thought it was in bad taste owing to the sensitivity of the situation. Although I am sure I do not fall into the category of the people who according to Hemant might find it offensive, but I could not reason further. Some things just don’t feel right, which could be owing to society and its values. But I really cannot take sides here.

If you have any views, please write in.

No humour or sarcasm here.

I wasn’t really going to write anything today considering I am already in my finals week. But I wanted to write about a few things when the matter was relevant (and partly to make up for the guilt of having posted some humour recently).

The last couple of days I read responses by Rajdeep Sardesai and Barkha Dutt to allegations by the public that the media was irresponsible. Rajdeep’s response is here, while Barkha Dutt’s is here.

As expected they try to make sense and successfully defend themselves against having broken any rules.

Unfortunately, that is not what we were trying to tell.

Being stupid does not necessarily mean being wrong. While it made sense to argue that the media at all times respected the security cordon and hence prove that the media did nothing legally wrong, that does not prove that the media was ethically right (let us forget the stupid for a moment). I am sure you heard of something called ‘media discretion’ when you were studying to be serious journalists. How many times are you both going to stick to the ‘holier than thou’ attitude after every allegation ? I can assume for some time that the problem might be scaled down on your television channels (assume, I said), but somewhere, sometime let’s all own up our mistakes. Isn’t that what we are accusing the politicians of doing anyways ?

Composer Vishal Dadlani has started a campaign to not just bash the media, but help form guidelines for future crisis situations. Please spare a moment to let him know that you support the petition : smallchange.in

Let us shed our cynicism and contribute to the efforts of a united India, when it lasts.

On that subject, for readers from Pune, there is a rally this Sunday at Nal Stop around 10 a.m.somewhere in Pune sometime (someone please correct me here if I am wrong. Beat that). I am sure the rally might not change things overnight, but then again you could just be down the wrong thought process.

While on this point and mainly owing to the Mumbai attacks being hailed as India’s 9/11 (again something that attracts attention, but didn’t necessarily have to be so), here is a video everyone must see. It was Jon Stewart on The Daily Show, 9 days after the Sep. 11 tragedy, it is truly one of the most honest pieces of television you might ever come across :

Video

Jon Stewart, apart from being one of the most unbiased political commentators (which is quite a big achievement in the USA), is arguably one of the wisest men you will come across. For people who think war or violence is the only solution, here is what he quoted when British PM Tony Blair was on his show :

Jon Stewart: 19 people flew into the towers. It seems hard for me to imagine that we could go to war enough to make the world safe enough that 19 people wouldn’t want to do harm to us so it seems like we have to rethink a strategy that is less military-based, in general.

Worth stopping there for a second and thinking.

But the tragedy in all this :

Jon Stewart is a comedian.

His show airs on Comedy Central.

Lastly before I end, I heard this beautiful Kabir bhajan sung by Kailash Kher dedicated to the Mumbai martyrs at a recent function honouring them. Titled ‘Ud jayega hans akela’ , his version is here. Originally composed and sung by Pandit Kumar Gandharva, it is here :

The lyrics are pasted below for convenience and its meaning is here :

Ud jayega hans akela
Jag darshan ka mela

Jaise paat gire taruvar ke
Milna bahut duhela
Na janu kidhar girega
Lagya pawan ka rela

Jab hove umar poori
Tab chootega hukam hajoori
Jam ke doot bare mardoot
Jam se para jhamela

Daas kabir har ke gunn gave
Bahar kou paar na paye
Guru ki karni, guru jayega
Chele ki karni chela

P.S. : My posts heavily rely on the readers not being in China or who do not associate the term ‘Websense’ with their daily life.

Prologue : No one can possibly see humour at such a time. This post is obviously black humour.

While everyone was watching the tales of horror unfold on the Indian news channels (not to be confused with news channels that report news), many of us were wondering if this was the same India where bombs referred to the small noisy crackers we lit during Diwali and rarely after cricket matches, school going kids never sure if ‘terrorist’ contained 1 ‘r’ or  2 ‘r’s and glasses shattered only by stray cricket balls accompanied by the yelling of a grumpy old man. But apart from these, we always identified India with small innocent memories like politicians bickering, callousness of the leaders, apathy of the people and that precious feeling of “To hell with India”.

Which is why the recent attacks were doubly disturbing. They not only destoyed the fabric of a city, they annihilated the spirit of an entire nation. I could see leaders uniting (for a day), netizens actually using the word ‘India’ in their status messages, e-mails and petitions not for some lame turtles but for real citizens, people coming up with solutions for their problems and worst still, wasting time discussing about the country despite the fact that Amitabh Bachchan has a severely upset psychological condition at this very moment. How insensitive, no ?

This was not the India I knew, and I could not identify with this India.

But thankfully, we have once again proven that you cannot destroy the great democracy that is India with a single attack. Such is the power of this great country. It has not even taken us a few days to completely get to normal. Take that you @#!@#@@ (random number of alphanumeric characters here, don’t bother applying your excellent ‘explitivory’, which is NOT an English word so don’t come crying, skills) terrorists.

I proudly present the top 10 signs that India has returned back to normal.

10. We are receiving news that Dhoni has skipped his B.Com. exam paper, I presume because he is the skipper.

9. Shiv Sena bans Pakistani players and artists, not realizing that they have already done so 10,23,234 times before.

8. We are reminded that Ram Gopal Varma still exists and is threatening to make another movie (and you thought the terrorists could make you forget about RGV and his Aag).

7. BJP re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-iterates its demand for tougher terror laws. Oxford has offered them a free copy of their dictionary which specially includes the phrase ‘suicide squads’.

6. President Pratibha Patil has arrived in Mumbai hoping her skills with seances (communicating with spirits) can aid investigation.

5. India is awaiting Pakistan’s response on its ’20 Most wanted list’.

4. Maharashtra home minister plays down the incident in Mumbai plagiarizing a line from DDLJ (an untoward incident like this can happen in such a big city like Mumbai), and on severe reactions blames it on his bad Hindi.

3. There is a demand for ‘sacred site’ status to the Ram Setu.

2. Shiv Sena demands President’s rule in Maharashtra, realizing after one whole year that she is in fact a  Maharashtrian.

and the topmost fact that gives me the most confidence about the normal state of affairs ..

1. Mahesh Bhatt is back to talking random things about random topics.

But I must admit, the recent terror attacks have left us with one difference; something that I did not expect in my wildest dreams to change, Karan Johar’s orientation. He is now talking about bashing up politicians. Efforts are on to bring him back to consciousness by forceful screenings of Dostana.

Disclaimer : If you still haven’t guessed it, nothing mentioned above is true. I am not even sure if the above mentioned people actually exist. In fact, I am not even sure if I exist.

Credits : Aag review by Greatbong, Top 10 list inspired by the Late Show with David Letterman.

Some useful information put together here : Link

The day started off with 2 offliners from a friend :

S (11/26/2008 9:56:05 AM): major terrorist attack in mumbai
S (11/26/2008 9:56:12 AM): shootouts happening everywhere

and I was jolted from my sleep.

What was unexpected was the nature of these attacks. These weren’t concentrated blasts. They were random indiscriminate firings, five-star hotels under seige and a possible future hostage situation. This was a pattern never seen before, which probably was the reason why the establishment was caught off-guard. While it is really easy to speculate about intelligence failure, I do not think that is the right path to go at this moment. Nor should we be mixing our biases towards issues affect our reaction to this attack.

The international coverage has been surprising, although most sources are reporting that it was a targeted attack on Westerners, especially British and American citizens. This occurred only at the two Hotels; all other incidents were random terror attacks with the sole aim of spreading fear. The Hotel Oberoi is proceeding towards a hostage situation with a few foreign nationals in the middle of the fray, and so is the Cama Hospital. Three of the best and bravest police officers of Mumbai police have been lost, and many more officers and citizens, who I am sure were equally brave.

Most of you would find this surprising but the best coverage I got was from the twitter channel #mumbai ! In fact, the twitter channel was featured on CNN for updates. I am having to humbly eat my words when I was recently debating with a friend about the general uselessness of social media like Twitter. Citizens were quickly posting all the information they had, phone numbers, blood donation requests, snaps from ground zero and news snippets but thankfully none of them were rumours or speculations. And I was shuffling through all this in the midst of a telephone interview, for no other reason apart from the fact that Mumbai is how I identify India !!

A little-known organization named Deccan Mujahideen has claimed responsibility, although this might take some time to confirm; combat operations are still on in Mumbai. But if this is anything similar to Indian Mujahideen, I don’t think any non-Indians might be involved. I think there is enough proof of a non-Indian mastermind and execution, and some Indian assistance.

By the time I am posting this, the dark night has crossed but there are very few signs of improvement in the situation. I sincerely hope that this crisis ends soon. My deepest condolences to the family and friends of the citizens who lost their lives. Let us not use the word ‘resilient’ for Mumbai this time and demean their sacrifices.

We might get over this in a few days like all the past incidents, but I hope we can address this feeling of helplessness in the people of India someday.

2.58 a.m. update : Blood needed at JJ and St. George Hospitals
JJ Hospital no. – 022 23735555 JJ Hospital Blood bank no. – 022 23739400‎.
St. George’s hospital: (022) 22620242.

Live streaming of CNN IBN – http://ibnlive.in.com/videos/video_streaming.php

Essential and emergency telephone numbers : http://www.mumbaipolice.org/imp_telnfax.htm

In case you need to contact someone in Mumbai : http://mumbaihelp.blogspot.com/2008/11/can-we-help.html

The BEST news source is the #mumbai channel on Twitter : http://search.twitter.com/search?q=%23mumbai

Snaps from ground zero : http://www.flickr.com/photos/vinu/sets/72157610144709049/

Map of the terror attacks : http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&ll=18.922445,72.832242&spn=0.007054,0.007864&z=17&msid=105055855763538009401.00045c9d8b16af3ad1008

Amit Varma @ Indiauncut tells his story of the horrific night : http://indiauncut.com/iublog/article/a-night-out-in-mumbai/

Please write in if you have any other useful links.

And from what I have been reading, just as a passing thought, for the moment I really hope we stay away from finger-pointing and do not mix all our other issues with this attack at the moment. 

We can resume that in a few days.

Update : Deccan Mujahideen claims responsibility for the attacks.

More updates with numbers :

Some helpline numbers:
JJ Hospital +91 22 23739031
St George’s Hospital – +91 22 22620240
Taj helpline numbers for info about people stuck inside – +91 -22-66574322, +91-22-66574372, local toll free 1-800-111-825
Trident Hotel Helpline : 011-23890606, 011-23890505, 9810956888 | Dir Corp Comm, Oberoi Hotels
For Info on terrorist cars – call DG Control Room – 9122 22023366
Send an sms -type BLOOD and send it to 96000 97000
Info on Terrorist cars – call 9122 24937755/24937747
US helpline 888-407-4747 Brazilian help line 9820686143 (C) CNN IBN FA 1-613-996-8885 from Canada, 1-800-387-3124 E

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