Saturday, November 29, 2008

Prove It!

Pakistan has refused to send the ISI chief to India, instead sending a "representative". How can they do this? It's making me furious. If they want us to believe that this was not an act supported by the government they need to prove by standing alongside India in this investigation. Reports of late night meetings between the Pak President, PM and Army chief sound suspiciously like a huddle, as if they want to get their "story" right.

Okay, so maybe I am pointing fingers here, but I don't care. This is no time to be sensitive to governments, only to individuals. I will never forget the sight of Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan's shocked mother caressing his cold forehead.

Update: (in response to OJ) As subsequent coverage and speculation suggests - the government is just a puppet and faced a lot of flak from the Opposition, the Army and even (annoyingly and dishearteningly) from the media - for agreeing initially without consulting with everyone. Some have apparently said that for Pak to send their Chief would be an admission of guilt. You should see Karan Thapar grill Zardari about this on IBN.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Reality TV

The city people arrive in to touch the stars - when that city turns into a nightmare, there is betrayal, anger, horror, and a fascinated magnetism for watching the same reels of blood, gore, death and hatred playing again and again on every news channel.

Images of a young man with crazed eyes - is it his expression or a red-eye malfunction - wearing a T-shirt and a backpack slung on his shoulder, fill the screen. If it were not for the gun in his hand and the blood on his face he would seem just a college student.

As I type there is some sort of operation about to be initiated - and I hope it will be successful. Media have been requested not to broadcast details, and I don't mind. I'd rather the media conspire with the law-keepers than blab it to the world (and terrorists) in the name of information.

Every news channel - Indian and international - we turned to during the long night was showing just this. The worst ever terror attack on Bombay. And the most organised. I just hope it ends soon.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Tracks of Change

If I had to mime a train's action, I'd place my palm vertically against my nose and go Koo jhik jhik jhik, picking up tempo with the jhik jhiks and putting all my energy into going KOOOO in a quick regression to childhood and train games of travelling to exciting destinations.

I sometimes wonder how kids growing up in the age of electric trains will represent trains.

A cousin's memories of childhood train rides brought back to me the wonder trains had once been. The longest train ride I ever took was 2 nights and 3 days from Delhi to Vishakhapatnam. My brother, 2 years old then, was petrified when the train let off its first hoot and refused to get in. Once in, he looked around and asked, "Where did the train go?" And so began a long journey where we even played cricket with a plastic bat & ball in the corridor.

Much later a huge group travelled to Chennai for a wedding, and my cousin and I could barely chat over the collective Mukharji/Banerjee/Sen snores that erupted all around us once night fell. Afraid that other passengers would ask us to tell our family to hush, we quickly pretended to fall asleep ourselves!

Nowadays the most train travel happens when we go to Shantiniketan from Kolkata. The first time, we went in an unreserved compartment because Singur protests in December '06 delayed our travel. We listened to bauls and also bought the famous "Joynogor-er Moa" from a vendor who boarded the train. The moas were had and we began dissecting how it didn't quite taste too good and my poor mother-in-law tried to defend her enthusiasm by saying they no longer tasted like they used to. At that point the gentleman who had been hanging on to the overhead rail near our seat with one hand and picking his nose with the other chose to inform us that these weren't the genuine article anyway and the real stuff would come a few stations later.

Last year, at Agra station I had occasion to peer in through much-tinted windows at the hyped Palace on Wheels. While I've never travelled in that much luxury, I certainly am tempted to try and plan a long train holiday to someplace to recapture some of that laidback travel. Yes, the toilets may be a deterrent and I may control my beverage intake to counter that, but I think it would be worth it for a bit of time-travel!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Serious Business

He entered the meeting with a serious expression. His forehead was furrowed with years of work experience and business worries. His business suit was pin-striped, impeccable, and perfectly coordinated with his tie and cufflinks. His hair and hands were well-groomed. He sat down and seriously started explaining what he required in their new corporate brochure. He complained that the rough-cut we had shown him was not up to the mark. He contradicted what his marketing manager had told us. He contradicted what their mission statement said. He contradicted himself. He confused us.

But me. I just giggled inside. After all, how can you take someone seriously when they wear grey socks that have purple polka dots on them.