Season’s Greetings!

Image: Courtesy Google Image search

Wishing all happy holidays! Hope this season gives every one what they wish for 🙂

Update: A & I are getting pampered royally at my grandma’s – meaning he is getting spoilt rotten and I am putting on loads of weight which I probably will never lose 🙂

All in fours- not really! ;)

The BeadDen tagged me on this one here.

From the four Vedas to the Fab four, the four cardinal directions to four suits of playing cards, four Greek classical elements to four Evangelists….four seems to a very significant number. The only number that has  the same number of letters as the number itself is “Four”! …More information found on the Wiki page for the number. Interesting surely!!!!

Here goes:

4 places I go over and over:

1 Landmark (It is a shop where I can peruse books, A can get toys ….it is the other way round in priority off late 😉 )

2 It used to be Costco/Sams like BD when I was in the US, here it is probably Big Bazaar (A loves the place as he can run around 🙂 )

3 Beach

4 Any place that sells handicrafts like Khadi gramodyog bhavan, VTI, Gurjari, Cauvery and the likes…

I like shopping…at least window shopping!!

4 people who e-mail me regularly (I tend to keep in touch through chats more often than emails. Hence this list will become either e-mail or chat 🙂

1 school friends like George, Y & P

2 friends from the US who I have left behind like B, U, Laksh, A-kay

3 Chennai bloggers (& Nikhil, Kris )

4 My brother & SIL

4 of my favorite places to eat: (not really a picky person…and have not gone out here as often…practical difficulties 🙂 That should explain some of the answers below! )

1 Amma’s / Grandma’s

2 Eden loved their bakes

3 Good old Saravana Bhavan / Sangeetha’s

4 Pizza hut / Dominoes (A’s choice 🙂 )

4 places you’d rather be NOW:

1 A place I can call my home and my own 😦

2 In bed with a good book and no interference 😉

3 Anywhere I’ve never been. (stolen from BD)

4 Doing something adventurous somewhere…trekking/ hiking/walking/rafting…whatever! Learning something?!? Anywhere but here?! 😀

4 TV shows I could watch over and over:

1 House MD (touch wood BD)

2 FRIENDS / MASH ….many of the sitcoms around the time of Friends. Was hooked on to Studio 60 at Sunset Boulevard)

3 NCIS /CSI (all those kind of series actually:) )

4 Yes Minister or Yes Prime Minister (love the books too!!)

Actually there are more than just 4 & they are all ancient except House MD. The others are

Fawlty Towers, Mind your Language, The Nutt House, Faerie Tale Theatre, Whose line is it anyway?, Mastermind, You asked for it, Believe it or not, Rail Sneham (tamil), Penn (Tamil) (link is about the brain behind the series), Malgudi Days,  shows like those on TLC…long list eh?

4 movies I could watch over and over ( I like watching movies…but not really a movie theatre goer 🙂 So this list is also pretty long…in fact I am thinking of picking up another tag…let’s see. Will just list a few that pop into my head now )

1 Cool runnings / My cousin Vinny

2 Dead Poet’s Society

3 Dalapathi / Nayakan

4 Sagara Sangamam

4 people I hope will respond: ( aahh…the tough part now!! 🙂 )

1 Nautankey (you tag me, I tag you 😉 )

Tagging the following for the first time! 🙂

2 Varun

3 Amit

4 Phoenixritu

To do list…

Nautankey tagged me on this 150 things to do in life. I can realise how boring my life has been!! Well….I guess I have a few more years to catch up! 🙂

01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink  – Have not been to a bar 🙂 when people were around 😉  Am goody two shoes 😀

02. Swam with dolphins

03. Climbed a mountain

04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive

05. Been inside the Great Pyramid

06. Held a tarantula

07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone

08. Said “I love you” and meant it

09. Hugged a tree

10. Bungee jumpeddoes the lame one at Six flags count? Well, I think it does 😉

11. Visited Parisjust CDG ….spent a few hours in each lay over 😀

12. Watched a lightning storm at sea

13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise twice once talking to a friend and another…well it was “Azhagan” style (for tamil movie viewers)…on the phone and it was very recent. Will treasure this for a lifetime!! *sigh*

14. Seen the Northern Lights

15. Gone to a huge sports game

16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa

17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables

18. Touched an iceberg

19. Slept under the stars

20. Changed a baby’s diaper

21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon

22. Watched a meteor shower

23. Gotten drunk on champagne

24. Given more than you can afford to charity

25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope

26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment

27. Had a food fight

28. Bet on a winning horse

29. Asked out a strangerbeen asked out by a stranger 🙂

30. Had a snowball fight

31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can and got a sore throat!

32. Held a lamb

33. Seen a total eclipse

34. Ridden a roller coaster love love love them 😀

35. Hit a home run

36. Danced like a fool and didn’t care who was looking

37. Adopted an accent for an entire day

38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment when I held A for the first time after he was born!

39. Had two hard drives for your computer more than 2 at one point 🙂

40. Visited all 50 states

41. Taken care of someone who was drunk

42. Had amazing friends have…but don’t know if the feeling is vice versa 🙂

43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country

44. Watched whales

45. Stolen a sign

46. Backpacked in Europe

47. Taken a road-trip

48. Gone rock climbing

49. Taken a midnight walk on the beach

50. Gone sky diving

51. Visited Ireland

52. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love

53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table and had a meal with them

54. Visited Japan

55. Milked a cow

56. Alphabetized your CDs – yes OCD that way 🙂

57. Pretended to be a superhero I have a son!! 😀 I need to pretend to be a lot of things/characters 😉

58. Sung karaoke

59. Lounged around in bed all day

60. Played touch football

61. Gone scuba diving

62. Kissed in the rain

63. Played in the mud

64. Played in the rain

65. Gone to a drive-in theatre

66. Visited the Great Wall of China

67. Started a business

68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken

69. Toured ancient sites

70. Taken a martial arts class

71. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight

72. Gotten married

73. Been in a movie

74. Crashed a party

75. Gotten divorced getting!!

76. Gone without food for 5 days – more than 5 🙂

77. Made cookies from scratch

78. Won first prize in a costume contest – way back in school

79. Ridden a gondola in Venice

80. Gotten a tattoo – stick on 🙂

81. Rafted the Snake River

82. Been on a television news program as an “expert”

83. Gotten flowers for no reason

84. Performed on Stage

85. Been to Las Vegas

86. Recorded music

87. Eaten Shark   will vegetarian

88. Kissed on the first date

89. Gone to Thailand

90. Bought a house

91. Been in a combat zonewell it seemed like one when my soon to be ex and I had fights 😉

92. Buried one/both of your parents

93. Been on a cruise shipdid not sail out though 😦

94. Spoken more than one language fluently

95. Performed in Rocky Horror

96. Raised childrenraising 1

97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour

98. Passed out cold

99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country

100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start overnot by choice though 😦

101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge

102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn’t stop when you knew someone was looking with the windows open

103. Had plastic surgery

104. Survived an accident that you shouldn’t have survived

105. Wrote articles for a large publication

106. Lost over 100 pounds- wish I knew the secret to lose weight…have to lose…well a lot 😉

107. Held someone while they were having a flashback That friend was drunk too!!

108. Piloted an airplane

109. Touched a stingray

110. Broken someone’s heart

111. Helped an animal give birth

112. Won money on a TV game show

113. Broken a bone

114. Gone on an African photo safari

115. Had a facial part pierced other than your ears

116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol

117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild

118. Ridden a horse

119. Had major surgery

120. Had a snake as a pet

121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon

122. Slept for 30 hours in a 48 hour period

123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. States

124. Visited all 7 continents

125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days

126. Eaten kangaroo meatwill not!

127. Eaten sushivegetarian sushi 😀

128. Had your picture in the newspaper

129. Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about

130. Gone back to school

131. Parasailed

132. Touched a cockroach zoology was my allied subject with cockroach dissection part of the syllabus!

133. Eaten fried green tomatoes

134. Read The Iliad and The Odyssey

135. Selected one “important” author who you missed in school, and read

136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating

137. Skipped all your school reunions none held so far…right school mates?!

138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language

139. Been elected to public officeselected to be in the college union and was first secretary of a Leo club

140. Written your own computer language

141. Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream

142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care

143. Built your own PC from parts

144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn’t know you

145. Had a booth at a street fair

146. Dyed your hair

147. Been a DJ

148. Shaved your head

149. Caused a car accident – well almost!

150. Saved someone’s life

Since I struck a few things out being vegetarian, may I should replace them with things I have done?

Like whitewater rafting (without knowing how to swim!)

Gone an ATV tour

Made your own candles

Visited at least one mystery spot 😉

Not been on a honeymoon having gotten married (guess no one will make this one bold except me! 🙂 )

Tasted the water of a salt pan ….yucky!!!! leaves you soooo thirsty!

Got caught red handed committing a crime and yet let free – went triples on my scooter during college days, got caught by a traffic policeman, who let me go with a warning 😀

Never had a crush – I know…been made fun of and have been told I have not experienced something vital in life 🙂 and I totally love that person!

Got stuck in the middle of nowhere cos you ran out of gas – ended up playing games with co-passengers till the situation was fixed 🙂  This was on the way back to Chennai from Kalahasthi

Being a Hindu…
Been to all the cosmic dance halls of Shiva…Pancha Sabha Temples: Chidambaram (gold), Madurai  (silver), Tirunelveli (copper), Tiruvalankadu (ruby) and Kutralam  (lotus) are revered as the five Cosmic Dance halls of Shiva. – Almost…The Ruby one pending 😦

Been to all the Pancha bhoota Shiva stalas .. Tiruvannamalai, Kanchipuram, Tiruvaanaikkaval, Kalahasti and Chidambaram  are five grand temples enshrining Shiva as a manifestation of the five elements. Almost Tiruvaanaikkaval pending 😦

Well I guess if I list the temples visited or to be visited…it will be an entire post 🙂 I love these temples. The architecture, the history, the significance!!  Guess I am not that much of an atheist after all 😉

I also suppose that this list is pretty volatile, one can add, modify or delete.

I am not tagging anyone on this. I just leave it open to anyone and everyone who wants to take this one up 😀 if they have not already done it.

Elf yourself :)

Taking a break – at least I am from all the tags I have ;)( I do enjoy tags…it is the retagging that gets me thinking way too much 😉 )

Anyways…before I digress; thought I would share something à la BeadDen :).

My dear friend George from school time told me about this link here.

So go on…elf yourself 🙂 Enjoy!

Words -> pictures :)

Scorpria tagged me on this one.

The rules of the tag :

  1. What you draw is your wish. But it has to be relevant to the words given to you.
  2. You must use all the five words given to you by your tagger and draw pictures using paint or GIMP or any other photo editing tool.
  3. Each picture must be self explanatory when you relate it to the given word.
  4. Each word MUST have at least one picture attributed to it.
  5. None of these pictures should be copyrighted. By this I mean that you have to draw them yourself.
  6. After you finish the tag, which I think will take quite some time; you need to pass it on to other people with a fresh set of 5 words.

The words allotted to me : Joy, child, game, footsteps, candles

I like painting; not necessarily MS Paint. So I did the basic image on paint, used Adobe Photoshop elements to add embellishments 🙂  like texture or shading. I also have used red, green as primary colours in the pics. Well, Christmas is round the corner 😀

So here goes :

Joy to the world!! 🙂

A note on the above : I wanted to stop with just the first image and later was persuaded by a couple of my friends to add in the rest 🙂 Thanks to their feed back!

Snow man missing 😉 or should it be some snowballs? 😀

Debated a lot (with myself of course, got a suggestions from those friends I mentioned too 😉 ) Decided to use this to depict “game” One of my favorite games 🙂

Self explanatory?! A walk in the sky…no clouds (have many hanging over anyways 🙂 😉 )

I had lit a candle in St. Patrick’s cathedral almost every Christmas I was in NY.  So, Thanks Pria – I at least drew them this season 😉

Scorpria: I hereby solemnly swear that I did all these on my own. No scanning nor copying 🙂 Well, would not have copied anyways…but might have sketched/painted on paper & scanned. Way easier than struggling with the mouse 😦 OH…Santa: I wish I had a graphics pen 🙂

Now for the most difficult part of the tag; passing it on…

Bhargavi : Tequila, dope, boyfriend,shopping, scapegoat 😉
Imp’s mom : Imp :), sister, Mysore, puzzle, train
A-kay : Friend, vacation, dawn, cuisine, kiwi
Dinesh : Dream, Madurai , Ghagra-choli, computer & dragon (after all you were named Dragon babu right;) )
Vishesh: Light, Exam, Poetry, reflection, heaven

Edited to add:

Vishesh: Since I found out that 2 others had tagged you on this, my apologies. I did not know you were tagged. Hence you are excused from this one 😉  If you still wanna take up the challenge and do it despite your exams; you are welcome 🙂

Sulz : Books, Chocolate, tower, Macau , friend 🙂 (Sorry for the late add Sulz…was wondering what words to give you. I almost gave you the password to your post!!! Ooopss!!! then changed it to Macau 🙂 )

All those tagged…a note to you: It is fun. So, go on ahead and try it out 🙂

To me: 2 down 2 to go!! (from Nautankey & The BeadDen) 🙂


Vimal tagged for this meme here. He has written he wanted more visits to that page…may be that is why this late tagging happened 🙂

I like tags. I guess I learn more about myself when I do them. This one : I learnt that I am pretty much open to most things in life; but certain stuff – I do have some boundaries which I think are justifiable.

Please thoughtfully consider the following, and choose one item for each of the categories below.(Be sure to describe your reasons for choosing)
One religious work from a non-familiar tradition you’ll read:
Am not a very religious person. Off late I have flashes of atheism too. Though I firmly believe in knowledge for knowledge’s sake. Besides I pretty much read anything printed!! (Stay totally away from self-help books – read a few though) So, what would I read from a non- familiar tradition? I should say that even Hinduism to a large extent is non-familiar. Though am game for any other work on whatever tradition 😀

One music video–that you like–from your “least likely to listen to’ genre:
Again I am open to any form of music and I don’t watch that many music videos. I am more of a listen to music kind of person. 🙂 “Least likey to listen to” genre is metal for me though.

A book from a genre you almost never read, that you have read, or you will read (promise!):
Self help books!! eeeks!! no way! Erotic stuff have never read! I would rather do nothing!!! NO!! I will not read these! 😀 so none listed!! 😉 No expansion?! no problem 😉

Somewhere you’d never thought to go on holiday/vacation, and why it might be fun to go there?
Timbuctoo or Mongolia….Don’t know why it will be fun. Just that I always think of some place remote. Run away from the maddening crowd…Any such place would be good 😉 May be it is just now!

A specific food you’ve never tried, but will because of this meme, honest!
OMG! Food….Well, I guess I will try anything lacto-vegetarian.


A sport or game you really hate, or haven’t tried yet, but are willing to give one more go:

I don’t hate any sport/game. Hate is a strong word!! Haven’t tried? Well, that would probably fill pages and pages. This is an expansionist meme, right? So am game for any sport/ game 😉

A style of dance you probably won’t try (we won’t make you promise on this one):
Again boring but truthful answer…willing to try any dance as long as it is not  characterised under perversion.

A career/ job you don’t feel you’re suited for, and why:
Marketing! I cannot lie to save my soul. I cannot sensationalise. I can almost never convince some one unless I myself strongly believe in that (which I know will not be the case in marketing jobs!)

An item that’s “thinking out of the box’ for this meme that hadn’t been included:
I have exhausted my thinking ability on responding to the previous questions. Cannot think of an answer to this one!

If  there’s one thing in life you wanted to do, and will do because of this meme, what will it be?
Again, I don’t think I would actually do anything because of a meme. There are a lot of things in life I want to do though! 🙂

Now for the tougher part than doing the meme itself. I am going to take the easy way out – leave it to who ever wants to take this up. One condition : Let me know so I can come check your answers 😀

Tags – 1 down 3 more to go! 🙂

Definitions & giving birth! :)

I got this as a forward and it definitely brought a smile on! Don’t know the actual source; a friend of mine sent this over. I suppose any one in the software industry can relate to the following 🙂

Here goes 🙂

Project Manager is a Person who thinks nine women can deliver a baby in One month.
Developer is a Person who thinks it will take 18 months to deliver a Baby.
On-site Coordinator is one who thinks single woman can deliver nine babies in one month.
Client is the one who doesn’t know why he wants a baby.
Marketing Manager is a person who thinks he can deliver a baby even if no man and woman are available.
Resource Optimization Team thinks they don’t need a man or woman; they’ll produce a child with zero resources.
Documentation Team thinks they don’t care whether the child is delivered, they’ll just document 9 months.
Quality Auditor is the person who is never happy with a delivered baby.
Tester is a person who always tells that this is not the Right baby.
HR Manager is a person who thinks that… a Donkey can deliver a Human Baby – if given 9 Months !!!

Interesting Article

I came across this article by Arundhati Roy. Read on

The original link to the article:

The monster in the mirror

The Mumbai attacks have been dubbed ‘India’s 9/11′, and there are calls for a 9/11-style response, including an attack on Pakistan. Instead, the country must fight terrorism with justice, or face civil war

Arundhati RoyArundhati Roy, Saturday 13 December 2008 00.01 GMT

Azam Amir Kasab filmed on CCTV inside the Chhatrapati Shivaji train station in Mumbai

Azam Amir Kasab, the face of the Mumbai attacks. Photograph: Reuters

We’ve forfeited the rights to our own tragedies. As the carnage in Mumbai raged on, day after horrible day, our 24-hour news channels informed us that we were watching “India’s 9/11″. Like actors in a Bollywood rip-off of an old Hollywood film, we’re expected to play our parts and say our lines, even though we know it’s all been said and done before.

As tension in the region builds, US Senator John McCain has warned Pakistan that if it didn’t act fast to arrest the “Bad Guys” he had personal information that India would launch air strikes on “terrorist camps” in Pakistan and that Washington could do nothing because Mumbai was India’s 9/11.

But November isn’t September, 2008 isn’t 2001, Pakistan isn’t Afghanistan and India isn’t America. So perhaps we should reclaim our tragedy and pick through the debris with our own brains and our own broken hearts so that we can arrive at our own conclusions.

It’s odd how in the last week of November thousands of people in Kashmir supervised by thousands of Indian troops lined up to cast their vote, while the richest quarters of India’s richest city ended up looking like war-torn Kupwara – one of Kashmir’s most ravaged districts.

The Mumbai attacks are only the most recent of a spate of terrorist attacks on Indian towns and cities this year. Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Delhi, Guwahati, Jaipur and Malegaon have all seen serial bomb blasts in which hundreds of ordinary people have been killed and wounded. If the police are right about the people they have arrested as suspects, both Hindu and Muslim, all Indian nationals, it obviously indicates that something’s going very badly wrong in this country.

If you were watching television you may not have heard that ordinary people too died in Mumbai. They were mowed down in a busy railway station and a public hospital. The terrorists did not distinguish between poor and rich. They killed both with equal cold-bloodedness. The Indian media, however, was transfixed by the rising tide of horror that breached the glittering barricades of India Shining and spread its stench in the marbled lobbies and crystal ballrooms of two incredibly luxurious hotels and a small Jewish centre.

We’re told one of these hotels is an icon of the city of Mumbai. That’s absolutely true. It’s an icon of the easy, obscene injustice that ordinary Indians endure every day. On a day when the newspapers were full of moving obituaries by beautiful people about the hotel rooms they had stayed in, the gourmet restaurants they loved (ironically one was called Kandahar), and the staff who served them, a small box on the top left-hand corner in the inner pages of a national newspaper (sponsored by a pizza company I think) said “Hungry, kya?” (Hungry eh?). It then, with the best of intentions I’m sure, informed its readers that on the international hunger index, India ranked below Sudan and Somalia. But of course this isn’t that war. That one’s still being fought in the Dalit bastis of our villages, on the banks of the Narmada and the Koel Karo rivers; in the rubber estate in Chengara; in the villages of Nandigram, Singur, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa, Lalgarh in West Bengal and the slums and shantytowns of our gigantic cities.

That war isn’t on TV. Yet. So maybe, like everyone else, we should deal with the one that is.

There is a fierce, unforgiving fault-line that runs through the contemporary discourse on terrorism. On one side (let’s call it Side A) are those who see terrorism, especially “Islamist” terrorism, as a hateful, insane scourge that spins on its own axis, in its own orbit and has nothing to do with the world around it, nothing to do with history, geography or economics. Therefore, Side A says, to try and place it in a political context, or even try to understand it, amounts to justifying it and is a crime in itself.

Side B believes that though nothing can ever excuse or justify terrorism, it exists in a particular time, place and political context, and to refuse to see that will only aggravate the problem and put more and more people in harm’s way. Which is a crime in itself.

The sayings of Hafiz Saeed, who founded the Lashkar-e-Taiba (Army of the Pure) in 1990 and who belongs to the hardline Salafi tradition of Islam, certainly bolsters the case of Side A. Hafiz Saeed approves of suicide bombing, hates Jews, Shias and Democracy and believes that jihad should be waged until Islam, his Islam, rules the world. Among the things he said are: “There cannot be any peace while India remains intact. Cut them, cut them so much that they kneel before you and ask for mercy.”

And: “India has shown us this path. We would like to give India a tit-for-tat response and reciprocate in the same way by killing the Hindus, just like it is killing the Muslims in Kashmir.”

But where would Side A accommodate the sayings of Babu Bajrangi of Ahmedabad, India, who sees himself as a democrat, not a terrorist? He was one of the major lynchpins of the 2002 Gujarat genocide and has said (on camera): “We didn’t spare a single Muslim shop, we set everything on fire … we hacked, burned, set on fire … we believe in setting them on fire because these bastards don’t want to be cremated, they’re afraid of it … I have just one last wish … let me be sentenced to death … I don’t care if I’m hanged … just give me two days before my hanging and I will go and have a field day in Juhapura where seven or eight lakhs [seven or eight hundred thousand] of these people stay … I will finish them off … let a few more of them die … at least 25,000 to 50,000 should die.”

And where, in Side A’s scheme of things, would we place the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh bible, We, or, Our Nationhood Defined by MS Golwalkar, who became head of the RSS in 1944. It says: “Ever since that evil day, when Moslems first landed in Hindustan, right up to the present moment, the Hindu Nation has been gallantly fighting on to take on these despoilers. The Race Spirit has been awakening.”
Or: “To keep up the purity of its race and culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic races – the Jews. Race pride at its highest has been manifested here … a good lesson for us in Hindustan to learn and profit by.”

(Of course Muslims are not the only people in the gun sights of the Hindu right. Dalits have been consistently targeted. Recently in Kandhamal in Orissa, Christians were the target of two and a half months of violence which left more than 40 dead. Forty thousand people have been driven from their homes, half of who now live in refugee camps.)

All these years Hafiz Saeed has lived the life of a respectable man in Lahore as the head of the Jamaat-ud Daawa, which many believe is a front organization for the Lashkar-e-Taiba. He continues to recruit young boys for his own bigoted jehad with his twisted, fiery sermons. On December 11 the UN imposed sanctions on the Jammat-ud-Daawa. The Pakistani government succumbed to international pressure and put Hafiz Saeed under house arrest. Babu Bajrangi, however, is out on bail and lives the life of a respectable man in Gujarat. A couple of years after the genocide he left the VHP to join the Shiv Sena. Narendra Modi, Bajrangi’s former mentor, is still the chief minister of Gujarat. So the man who presided over the Gujarat genocide was re-elected twice, and is deeply respected by India’s biggest corporate houses, Reliance and Tata.

Suhel Seth, a TV impresario and corporate spokesperson, recently said: “Modi is God.” The policemen who supervised and sometimes even assisted the rampaging Hindu mobs in Gujarat have been rewarded and promoted. The RSS has 45,000 branches, its own range of charities and 7 million volunteers preaching its doctrine of hate across India. They include Narendra Modi, but also former prime minister AB Vajpayee, current leader of the opposition LK Advani, and a host of other senior politicians, bureaucrats and police and intelligence officers.

If that’s not enough to complicate our picture of secular democracy, we should place on record that there are plenty of Muslim organisations within India preaching their own narrow bigotry.

So, on balance, if I had to choose between Side A and Side B, I’d pick Side B. We need context. Always.

In this nuclear subcontinent that context is partition. The Radcliffe Line, which separated India and Pakistan and tore through states, districts, villages, fields, communities, water systems, homes and families, was drawn virtually overnight. It was Britain’s final, parting kick to us. Partition triggered the massacre of more than a million people and the largest migration of a human population in contemporary history. Eight million people, Hindus fleeing the new Pakistan, Muslims fleeing the new kind of India left their homes with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

Each of those people carries and passes down a story of unimaginable pain, hate, horror but yearning too. That wound, those torn but still unsevered muscles, that blood and those splintered bones still lock us together in a close embrace of hatred, terrifying familiarity but also love. It has left Kashmir trapped in a nightmare from which it can’t seem to emerge, a nightmare that has claimed more than 60,000 lives. Pakistan, the Land of the Pure, became an Islamic Republic, and then, very quickly a corrupt, violent military state, openly intolerant of other faiths. India on the other hand declared herself an inclusive, secular democracy. It was a magnificent undertaking, but Babu Bajrangi’s predecessors had been hard at work since the 1920s, dripping poison into India’s bloodstream, undermining that idea of India even before it was born.

By 1990 they were ready to make a bid for power. In 1992 Hindu mobs exhorted by LK Advani stormed the Babri Masjid and demolished it. By 1998 the BJP was in power at the centre. The US war on terror put the wind in their sails. It allowed them to do exactly as they pleased, even to commit genocide and then present their fascism as a legitimate form of chaotic democracy. This happened at a time when India had opened its huge market to international finance and it was in the interests of international corporations and the media houses they owned to project it as a country that could do no wrong. That gave Hindu nationalists all the impetus and the impunity they needed.

This, then, is the larger historical context of terrorism in the subcontinent and of the Mumbai attacks. It shouldn’t surprise us that Hafiz Saeed of the Lashkar-e-Taiba is from Shimla (India) and LK Advani of the Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh is from Sindh (Pakistan).

In much the same way as it did after the 2001 parliament attack, the 2002 burning of the Sabarmati Express and the 2007 bombing of the Samjhauta Express, the government of India announced that it has “incontrovertible” evidence that the Lashkar-e-Taiba backed by Pakistan’s ISI was behind the Mumbai strikes. The Lashkar has denied involvement, but remains the prime accused. According to the police and intelligence agencies the Lashkar operates in India through an organisation called the Indian Mujahideen. Two Indian nationals, Sheikh Mukhtar Ahmed, a Special Police Officer working for the Jammu and Kashmir police, and Tausif Rehman, a resident of Kolkata in West Bengal, have been arrested in connection with the Mumbai attacks.

So already the neat accusation against Pakistan is getting a little messy. Almost always, when these stories unspool, they reveal a complicated global network of foot soldiers, trainers, recruiters, middlemen and undercover intelligence and counter-intelligence operatives working not just on both sides of the India-Pakistan border, but in several countries simultaneously. In today’s world, trying to pin down the provenance of a terrorist strike and isolate it within the borders of a single nation state is very much like trying to pin down the provenance of corporate money. It’s almost impossible.

In circumstances like these, air strikes to “take out” terrorist camps may take out the camps, but certainly will not “take out” the terrorists. Neither will war. (Also, in our bid for the moral high ground, let’s try not to forget that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, the LTTE of neighbouring Sri Lanka, one of the world’s most deadly terrorist groups, were trained by the Indian army.)

Thanks largely to the part it was forced to play as America’s ally first in its war in support of the Afghan Islamists and then in its war against them, Pakistan, whose territory is reeling under these contradictions, is careening towards civil war. As recruiting agents for America’s jihad against the Soviet Union, it was the job of the Pakistan army and the ISI to nurture and channel funds to Islamic fundamentalist organizations. Having wired up these Frankensteins and released them into the world, the US expected it could rein them in like pet mastiffs whenever it wanted to.

Certainly it did not expect them to come calling in heart of the Homeland on September 11. So once again, Afghanistan had to be violently remade. Now the debris of a re-ravaged Afghanistan has washed up on Pakistan’s borders. Nobody, least of all the Pakistan government, denies that it is presiding over a country that is threatening to implode. The terrorist training camps, the fire-breathing mullahs and the maniacs who believe that Islam will, or should, rule the world is mostly the detritus of two Afghan wars. Their ire rains down on the Pakistan government and Pakistani civilians as much, if not more than it does on India.

If at this point India decides to go to war perhaps the descent of the whole region into chaos will be complete. The debris of a bankrupt, destroyed Pakistan will wash up on India’s shores, endangering us as never before. If Pakistan collapses, we can look forward to having millions of “non-state actors” with an arsenal of nuclear weapons at their disposal as neighbours. It’s hard to understand why those who steer India’s ship are so keen to replicate Pakistan’s mistakes and call damnation upon this country by inviting the United States to further meddle clumsily and dangerously in our extremely complicated affairs. A superpower never has allies. It only has agents.

On the plus side, the advantage of going to war is that it’s the best way for India to avoid facing up to the serious trouble building on our home front. The Mumbai attacks were broadcast live (and exclusive!) on all or most of our 67 24-hour news channels and god knows how many international ones. TV anchors in their studios and journalists at “ground zero” kept up an endless stream of excited commentary. Over three days and three nights we watched in disbelief as a small group of very young men armed with guns and gadgets exposed the powerlessness of the police, the elite National Security Guard and the marine commandos of this supposedly mighty, nuclear-powered nation.

While they did this they indiscriminately massacred unarmed people, in railway stations, hospitals and luxury hotels, unmindful of their class, caste, religion or nationality. (Part of the helplessness of the security forces had to do with having to worry about hostages. In other situations, in Kashmir for example, their tactics are not so sensitive. Whole buildings are blown up. Human shields are used. The U.S and Israeli armies don’t hesitate to send cruise missiles into buildings and drop daisy cutters on wedding parties in Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan.) But this was different. And it was on TV.

The boy-terrorists’ nonchalant willingness to kill – and be killed – mesmerised their international audience. They delivered something different from the usual diet of suicide bombings and missile attacks that people have grown inured to on the news. Here was something new. Die Hard 25. The gruesome performance went on and on. TV ratings soared. Ask any television magnate or corporate advertiser who measures broadcast time in seconds, not minutes, what that’s worth.

Eventually the killers died and died hard, all but one. (Perhaps, in the chaos, some escaped. We may never know.) Throughout the standoff the terrorists made no demands and expressed no desire to negotiate. Their purpose was to kill people and inflict as much damage as they could before they were killed themselves. They left us completely bewildered. When we say “nothing can justify terrorism”, what most of us mean is that nothing can justify the taking of human life. We say this because we respect life, because we think it’s precious. So what are we to make of those who care nothing for life, not even their own? The truth is that we have no idea what to make of them, because we can sense that even before they’ve died, they’ve journeyed to another world where we cannot reach them.

One TV channel (India TV) broadcast a phone conversation with one of the attackers, who called himself Imran Babar. I cannot vouch for the veracity of the conversation, but the things he talked about were the things contained in the “terror emails” that were sent out before several other bomb attacks in India. Things we don’t want to talk about any more: the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992, the genocidal slaughter of Muslims in Gujarat in 2002, the brutal repression in Kashmir. “You’re surrounded,” the anchor told him. “You are definitely going to die. Why don’t you surrender?”

“We die every day,” he replied in a strange, mechanical way. “It’s better to live one day as a lion and then die this way.” He didn’t seem to want to change the world. He just seemed to want to take it down with him.

If the men were indeed members of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, why didn’t it matter to them that a large number of their victims were Muslim, or that their action was likely to result in a severe backlash against the Muslim community in India whose rights they claim to be fighting for? Terrorism is a heartless ideology, and like most ideologies that have their eye on the Big Picture, individuals don’t figure in their calculations except as collateral damage. It has always been a part of and often even the aim of terrorist strategy to exacerbate a bad situation in order to expose hidden faultlines. The blood of “martyrs” irrigates terrorism. Hindu terrorists need dead Hindus, Communist terrorists need dead proletarians, Islamist terrorists need dead Muslims. The dead become the demonstration, the proof of victimhood, which is central to the project. A single act of terrorism is not in itself meant to achieve military victory; at best it is meant to be a catalyst that triggers something else, something much larger than itself, a tectonic shift, a realignment. The act itself is theatre, spectacle and symbolism, and today, the stage on which it pirouettes and performs its acts of bestiality is Live TV. Even as the attack was being condemned by TV anchors, the effectiveness of the terror strikes were being magnified a thousandfold by TV broadcasts.

Through the endless hours of analysis and the endless op-ed essays, in India at least there has been very little mention of the elephants in the room: Kashmir, Gujarat and the demolition of the Babri Masjid. Instead we had retired diplomats and strategic experts debate the pros and cons of a war against Pakistan. We had the rich threatening not to pay their taxes unless their security was guaranteed (is it alright for the poor to remain unprotected?). We had people suggest that the government step down and each state in India be handed over to a separate corporation. We had the death of former prime minster VP Singh, the hero of Dalits and lower castes and villain of Upper caste Hindus pass without a mention.

We had Suketu Mehta, author of Maximum City and co-writer of the Bollywood film Mission Kashmir, give us his version of George Bush’s famous “Why they hate us” speech. His analysis of why religious bigots, both Hindu and Muslim hate Mumbai: “Perhaps because Mumbai stands for lucre, profane dreams and an indiscriminate openness.” His prescription: “The best answer to the terrorists is to dream bigger, make even more money, and visit Mumbai more than ever.” Didn’t George Bush ask Americans to go out and shop after 9/11? Ah yes. 9/11, the day we can’t seem to get away from.

Though one chapter of horror in Mumbai has ended, another might have just begun. Day after day, a powerful, vociferous section of the Indian elite, goaded by marauding TV anchors who make Fox News look almost radical and leftwing, have taken to mindlessly attacking politicians, all politicians, glorifying the police and the army and virtually asking for a police state. It isn’t surprising that those who have grown plump on the pickings of democracy (such as it is) should now be calling for a police state. The era of “pickings” is long gone. We’re now in the era of Grabbing by Force, and democracy has a terrible habit of getting in the way.

Dangerous, stupid television flashcards like the Police are Good Politicians are Bad/Chief Executives are Good Chief Ministers are Bad/Army is Good Government is Bad/ India is Good Pakistan is Bad are being bandied about by TV channels that have already whipped their viewers into a state of almost uncontrollable hysteria.

Tragically, this regression into intellectual infancy comes at a time when people in India were beginning to see that in the business of terrorism, victims and perpetrators sometimes exchange roles. It’s an understanding that the people of Kashmir, given their dreadful experiences of the last 20 years, have honed to an exquisite art. On the mainland we’re still learning. (If Kashmir won’t willingly integrate into India, it’s beginning to look as though India will integrate/disintegrate into Kashmir.)

It was after the 2001 parliament attack that the first serious questions began to be raised. A campaign by a group of lawyers and activists exposed how innocent people had been framed by the police and the press, how evidence was fabricated, how witnesses lied, how due process had been criminally violated at every stage of the investigation. Eventually the courts acquitted two out of the four accused, including SAR Geelani, the man whom the police claimed was the mastermind of the operation. A third, Showkat Guru, was acquitted of all the charges brought against him but was then convicted for a fresh, comparatively minor offence. The supreme court upheld the death sentence of another of the accused, Mohammad Afzal. In its judgment the court acknowledged there was no proof that Mohammed Afzal belonged to any terrorist group, but went on to say, quite shockingly, “The collective conscience of the society will only be satisfied if capital punishment is awarded to the offender.” Even today we don’t really know who the terrorists that attacked the Indian parliament were and who they worked for.

More recently, on September 19 this year, we had the controversial “encounter” at Batla House in Jamia Nagar, Delhi, where the Special Cell of the Delhi police gunned down two Muslim students in their rented flat under seriously questionable circumstances, claiming that they were responsible for serial bombings in Delhi, Jaipur and Ahmedabad in 2008. An assistant commissioner of Police, Mohan Chand Sharma, who played a key role in the parliament attack investigation, lost his life as well. He was one of India’s many “encounter specialists” known and rewarded for having summarily executed several “terrorists”. There was an outcry against the Special Cell from a spectrum of people, ranging from eyewitnesses in the local community to senior Congress Party leaders, students, journalists, lawyers, academics and activists all of whom demanded a judicial inquiry into the incident. In response, the BJP and LK Advani lauded Mohan Chand Sharma as a “Braveheart” and launched a concerted campaign in which they targeted those who had dared to question the integrity of the police, saying it was “suicidal” and calling them “anti-national”. Of course there has been no inquiry.

Only days after the Batla House event, another story about “terrorists” surfaced in the news. In a report submitted to a sessions court, the CBI said that a team from Delhi’s Special Cell (the same team that led the Batla House encounter, including Mohan Chand Sharma) had abducted two innocent men, Irshad Ali and Moarif Qamar, in December 2005, planted 2kg of RDX and two pistols on them and then arrested them as “terrorists” who belonged to Al Badr (which operates out of Kashmir). Ali and Qamar who have spent years in jail, are only two examples out of hundreds of Muslims who have been similarly jailed, tortured and even killed on false charges.

This pattern changed in October 2008 when Maharashtra’s Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) that was investigating the September 2008 Malegaon blasts arrested a Hindu preacher Sadhvi Pragya, a self-styled God man Swami Dayanand Pande and Lt Col Purohit, a serving officer of the Indian Army. All the arrested belong to Hindu Nationalist organizations including a Hindu Supremacist group called Abhinav Bharat. The Shiv Sena, the BJP and the RSS condemned the Maharashtra ATS, and vilified its chief, Hemant Karkare, claiming he was part of a political conspiracy and declaring that “Hindus could not be terrorists”. LK Advani changed his mind about his policy on the police and made rabble rousing speeches to huge gatherings in which he denounced the ATS for daring to cast aspersions on holy men and women.

On the November 25 newspapers reported that the ATS was investigating the high profile VHP Chief Pravin Togadia’s possible role in the Malegaon blasts. The next day, in an extraordinary twist of fate, Hemant Karkare was killed in the Mumbai Attacks. The chances are that the new chief whoever he is, will find it hard to withstand the political pressure that is bound to be brought on him over the Malegaon investigation.

While the Sangh Parivar does not seem to have come to a final decision over whether or not it is anti-national and suicidal to question the police, Arnab Goswami, anchorperson of Times Now television, has stepped up to the plate. He has taken to naming, demonising and openly heckling people who have dared to question the integrity of the police and armed forces. My name and the name of the well-known lawyer Prashant Bhushan have come up several times. At one point, while interviewing a former police officer, Arnab Goswami turned to camera: “Arundhati Roy and Prashant Bhushan,” he said, “I hope you are watching this. We think you are disgusting.” For a TV anchor to do this in an atmosphere as charged and as frenzied as the one that prevails today, amounts to incitement as well as threat, and would probably in different circumstances have cost a journalist his or her job.

So according to a man aspiring to be the next prime minister of India, and another who is the public face of a mainstream TV channel, citizens have no right to raise questions about the police. This in a country with a shadowy history of suspicious terror attacks, murky investigations, and fake “encounters”. This in a country that boasts of the highest number of custodial deaths in the world and yet refuses to ratify the International Covenant on Torture. A country where the ones who make it to torture chambers are the lucky ones because at least they’ve escaped being “encountered” by our Encounter Specialists. A country where the line between the Underworld and the Encounter Specialists virtually does not exist.

How should those of us whose hearts have been sickened by the knowledge of all of this view the Mumbai attacks, and what are we to do about them? There are those who point out that US strategy has been successful inasmuch as the United States has not suffered a major attack on its home ground since 9/11. However, some would say that what America is suffering now is far worse. If the idea behind the 9/11 terror attacks was to goad America into showing its true colors, what greater success could the terrorists have asked for? The US army is bogged down in two unwinnable wars, which have made the United States the most hated country in the world. Those wars have contributed greatly to the unraveling of the American economy and who knows, perhaps eventually the American empire. (Could it be that battered, bombed Afghanistan, the graveyard of the Soviet Union, will be the undoing of this one too?) Hundreds of thousands people including thousands of American soldiers have lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. The frequency of terrorist strikes on U.S allies/agents (including India) and U.S interests in the rest of the world has increased dramatically since 9/11. George Bush, the man who led the US response to 9/11 is a despised figure not just internationally, but also by his own people. Who can possibly claim that the United States is winning the war on terror?

Homeland Security has cost the US government billions of dollars. Few countries, certainly not India, can afford that sort of price tag. But even if we could, the fact is that this vast homeland of ours cannot be secured or policed in the way the United States has been. It’s not that kind of homeland. We have a hostile nuclear weapons state that is slowly spinning out of control as a neighbour, we have a military occupation in Kashmir and a shamefully persecuted, impoverished minority of more than 150 million Muslims who are being targeted as a community and pushed to the wall, whose young see no justice on the horizon, and who, were they to totally lose hope and radicalise, end up as a threat not just to India, but to the whole world. If ten men can hold off the NSG commandos, and the police for three days, and if it takes half a million soldiers to hold down the Kashmir valley, do the math. What kind of Homeland Security can secure India?

Nor for that matter will any other quick fix. Anti-terrorism laws are not meant for terrorists; they’re for people that governments don’t like. That’s why they have a conviction rate of less than 2%. They’re just a means of putting inconvenient people away without bail for a long time and eventually letting them go. Terrorists like those who attacked Mumbai are hardly likely to be deterred by the prospect of being refused bail or being sentenced to death. It’s what they want.

What we’re experiencing now is blowback, the cumulative result of decades of quick fixes and dirty deeds. The carpet’s squelching under our feet.

The only way to contain (it would be naïve to say end) terrorism is to look at the monster in the mirror. We’re standing at a fork in the road. One sign says Justice, the other Civil War. There’s no third sign and there’s no going back. Choose.

  • © Guardian News and Media Limited 2008

Dec 14

It is Dec 14th! December is a month where lot of things have happened. I had A, my dad and my favourite cousin have their birthdays, I got married. Yes it would have been (it still is 😦 ) my 8th wedding anniversary today.

It is so easy looking back ain’t it? Looking back, I am questioning so many things. What have these 8 years meant to me? What if? What have I got for the last 8 years? Many would answer – your son! True…I have him. I love him and he is definitely all I have in life now. Though, I also tend to see him as a huge responsibility. I am scared. Would life have been different if I did not have him? Of course. I might probably not be alive writing this post! Assuming, I did live, would it have been different? Again yes. I would probably not be with my parents. I would not have many constraints I currently have (which many fail to get!) when looking out for a job.

Do I have regrets that my marriage ended (or to be factually correct – is ending) ? Not really. I just want all the legalities to be done with at this point of time. I must thank a special someone  and a few friends for making me realise that it was not worth it to brood over and that I could not have done anything different.

I have been told to be strong. I don’t understand what that means! Does confessing that you are scared of what the future holds at this point mean you are not strong? Does crying over losing 8 years of your life make you weak? I am scared. I do cry at times when I am overwhelmed. If that makes me weak, so be it.

I was telling a friend earlier that I have accepted my situation. She said that I had not accepted but am resigned to what is happening in life. I probably am resigned. I can do nothing about anything. I know many would say oh you can do this or that! I really wish I could….but I have realised there is nothing to be done but wait. I am waiting for P to file for divorce (yeah…the guy still has not!!!) He sends me money though every month. Thanks P. I am waiting for some gaps in communication to be filled (can’t explain now! 😦 ) I am waiting for something to look forward to in life. I do not blame life or destiny. I am not whining here….it is just a matter of fact. I wish I don’t merely exist but live my life – not just my son’s life! (I know I am not the ideal mother/woman….blasphemy that I wish I had a life and did not live for the only person I have in life!!!!!)

I spoke my mind to someone today. That person did not even respond – did neither deny nor accept what I said. I don’t know what to make of it. I said I would draw my own conclusions – rather stick to my ideas about that person. Again silence. I think I have burnt that bridge but I don’t feel bad about that either!!

Have I become so cynical that nothing matters? If nothing did, why am I writing this entry? I never ever took new year resolutions. To me, it is just another day but I wish it is not this year. I wish and hope things change. I am tired of my life. Weird, I have not lost hope on a few things I hold dear. I am hoping those happen.

I refrained from writing totally depressing entries. I could not help this! As I key this in, A is asleep. I just feel lost. Waiting sucks…. I wish I get that call I have been waiting for, I wish I get a job, I wish that the divorce was truly done with,I wish A never ever misses his father growing up. Weirdly, as much as I hope all those happen, it feels like there really is nothing that will. It feels like I will keep existing till the end whenever that is (sometimes I wish it came sooner)!

D is for “Dare”, D is for “Drum”, D is for “Dot”, D is for “Duh”, D is for…

Took this one upon myself as you will understand from the rules. I have been assigned the letter…..

Dby  (well as an indicator to the image I chose to display the letter 😉 …here is to you…  🙂 ) the BeadDen here.

Here are the rules:

You leave a comment on this post, and I’ll assign you a letter. You write about ten things you love that begin with your assigned letter, and post it at your place. When people comment on your list, you give them a letter, and the chain continues on and on.

You can leave a comment and not be assigned a letter if you want.  Just let me know if you want a letter to keep this going.

I find this interesting. The letter assigned is kind of something that keeps popping into my mind in the words that I think of. Do I love them? Not really! 🙂 My last post also is a word that begins with “D” ….

Just listen to the “Piece Audio” for the letter D and how most words associated are well…not really good ones 🙂 So, here I list those words that come to my mind…not necessarily those I love. Sorry for deviating from the rules 😦 I will try listing only positive ones…

Date : Something I have not been on for a long time now. 🙂 Don’t intend to either 😉 but doesn’t every one think about the word “date” every day?

Divorce: For obvious reasons, this D word pops into my mind ever so often! apart from the word that is the title of my last post which I don’t intend to list here 🙂

Deuterium: This word does not come to my mind as often (please…don’t think I am that much of a nerd! ) but it did come when I was trying to think of words to list here. After all chemistry was the subject I majored in. Confession : there were many other geeky/nerdy words that did pop in my brain (absolutely not intentional I am sure! 🙂 )

Dream: Everybody does have a dream, isn’t it? I am yet to figure out mine; I suppose it is pretty positive a word to think of when dealing with “D” 🙂

Dinosaur: My son A came and asked me what I was doing. Told him I was thinking of words starting with “D”. He asked me to add this one 🙂 So, dinosaur is my fifth word!

Five down…five to go!!!

Daughter: Talking about A, I must say that I always wanted a daughter. I so wished A was a girl when I was pregnant!! *sigh*…. Well, am lucky I have A in my life 🙂

Development : Another positive word that came up was “development”. I suppose it is positive, at least I think so. Don’t quite know what is there to be developed in my life now…but  hope there is something and it is positive 😉

Dimension: I like fractals at least looking at those images 😉 Hence this term did come up when I thought of “D” words… I am definitely figuring out the dimensions of the problems I am facing in life now 🙂

Desolate/Depression : I know! I said I will try!! These words haunt me all the time; so could not let these pass when listing words that begin with D!

December : We are in the month that begins with the letter “D” helping me complete this meme 🙂 Tis the holiday season for most people. Wishing everyone “Happy holidays”. Hope the next year brings all joy and cheer to each & everyone’s life 😀

Thanks to Google image search for all the images. Copyrights would be as per what the original images hold!

Thank you BeadDen for giving me this letter. I really liked doing this one. If the readers think of more cheerful words to replace the depressing ones above, please do let me know. I am sure there will be many 🙂 though the above are those that came to my mind. I am a  Dingbat, Ding-a-ling – could not help that one either 😉 My Dosts (hindi for friend – pluralised using the “s” by me 😀 ) would certainly vouch for those attributes of mine 😉