Saturday, November 29, 2008

Massacre In Mumbai...

In my last post, I had written abut how Mumbai had been humiliated nationally. Ironically, the horrific turn of events that took place in the past few days have shamed the city in front of the whole world.

The city’s security and crisis management measures were put to test and they failed the test…miserably…in front of the whole world. What’s more, politicians made their own mark by showing up (and others by not showing up!!!) at the scene to display their ‘publicity skills’ to the whole world. All in all, a complete humiliation!

The one thing that everyone’s talking of, now that the night mare is over, is the ‘resilience of the city’, ‘spirit of Mumbai’, ‘bounce back attitude of the people’ and what not. What the heck, I myself was admiring this ‘spirit’, however, as of today I will correct myself. I feel that we Mumbaikars we use such phrases to hide our ignorance and taken-for-granted attitude. It is high time we stopped taking such incidents for granted. Ignoring the events that occurred the day before and going back to work (although tense and nervous) is a poor way of expressing sorrow and regret for those who have lost their lives in this mayhem.

Many of us have remained immune from the happenings of the past few days. I myself am a teenager who hardly visits Colaba, Fort or Nariman Point. Hence I cannot feel the agony, pain, sorrow and the triumph felt by the people who were there in the line of fire. All I can do is offer my heartfelt condolences to near and dear ones of all those lost their lives in the attacks and a salute to the martyrs and to those who went out of their way, selflessly to help the victims and rescuers.

One should remember, this was not the war, it was but the first battle.

I wanted to get this post up by morning but my opinions just wouldn’t come in a smooth flow, it was a jumble of incoherent sentences, surely a result of the shock I recieved as I watched and read all about the horrific events. But a big break and a re-edit have cured all that. Please do post your opinions about any related issue.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Mumbai, My Jaan...

Well Mumbai has been in the news for the past few months, tarnishing the already ‘controversial’ reputation of the city. I say ‘controversial’ not because the city has a bad record or something (not that it hasn’t, but that’s another story…) but because any cosmopolitan city, anywhere in the world has a controversial side to it. It’s like the two sides of a coin, one of them may be undesirable yet we cannot do away with it. The media was on a rampage, what with the special bulletins, episodes, interviews on TV and cover stories, guest columns all about the city, it’s culture, multi-ethnic way of life, unemployment problems and it’s decline (how dare they use such words!!!). The survey that ranked Mumbai 17th in the list of emerging global economic cities was like namakh applied on the zakhm. As I read all this (yeah, I prefer reading to watching, you can’t trust the Indian news channels nowadays!!!) I was disappointed…no, irritated actually.

Why was I irritated you ask? Well, that would be the very first reaction of any to-the-core Mumbaikar. What’s that? Are you asking me how to become one? Well, I don’t know if there is any criteria for membership but I happen to be one by birth. I admit that I have been in and out of the country a few times in my life, but Mumbai has always been and will remain my hometown.

One of the newsprint material, a column by an eminent journalist (and he wasn’t the only one…) mocked the MNS and it’s supremo Raj Thackeray for disrupting the ‘Life in the Metro’ and the government for it’s failure in repressing the infamous campaign against North Indians in the state. And what’s more he even went as far enough to mock the city itself, claiming that the city’s grandeur had declined and the city had “lost it’s sheen” and that is what fuelled my irritation.

Well, I totally disagree. The other day, I visited the Lamington Road with a my buddies Hitesh and Sagar and what I experienced during that trip convinced me that Mumbai will remain the grand ‘City Of Dreams’ as long as it stands. What exactly did I experience? I experienced what every Mumbaikar experiences on his commute through the city and yet is ignorant of the significance of it all. We started off from the Thane Station caught a train to Dadar. Even though it was quite late in the afternoon the crowd didn’t seem any less than on peak hours. We got off at Dadar to have a snack and buy tickets to Grant Road Station, here Sagar pointed out at the framework that held up the ceiling and at the adjacent platforms explaining that all these were from the British era. We exited the station to relieve our empty, growling stomachs. In order to exit we made use of one the largest railway footbridges on the Central line (which again Sagar was kind enough to point out…). Not that I did not know that, in fact I have used the bridge more than often in the past, but the one thing that always makes me wonder and admire is the crowd passing over it. The crowd never ceases, people keep walking in and out through the various staircases branching out of the footbridge in perfect rhythm (or so it seems). The bridge is arbitrarily divided into two ‘lanes’ (by the people themselves, there are no dividers) for the crowd to move through in anti-parallel direction. The hum of the crowd-noise, the people from different backgrounds, regions, classes, colours walking in perfect rhythm; side by side, the little vibrations of the bridge (yes, it does vibrate and sway vertically due to the footsteps and rumbling of trains from below!!!) all this never ceases to fascinate me.

We then headed to the nearest mall complex and had bhel puri and chaat from a wayside stall just adjacent to it. They were two different worlds, standing side by side. The mall with all it’s flashy showrooms, branded stuff and chic restaurant with a view of the city skyline and the humble chaat stall with it’s low budget-fast food service. The funny part was most of the people at the chaat counter were the ones who had just exited the mall! The typical Mumbaikar – He will live in a 3 BHK flat, drive a car, earn a six figure amount and shop in a AC equipped mall but he will never forget the good ol’ bhelpuri ‘n’ chaat and will always have it from the wayside chaat stall, what irony!!!

We were in the train and off to Grant Road Station. We reached the station in about 10 minutes time, a short walk and we were there, on Lamington Road, a hardware/software buff’s paradise. Right from the smallest 3-pin plug to the latest high-speed gaming PC, you name it and it’s there. There was the usual hustle and bustle on the street, footpaths crowded with stalls full of you-ask-it-you-get-it stuff. We spent time enquiring about new PC pricelists and software CDs and after about 3-4 hours we turned our feet in the direction of our homes sweet homes.

The whole point is that Mumbai’s soul is made of its people. And nothing can steal away it’s grandeur as long as it’s people believe in it. The fact that not even a bomb blast nor a riot can discourage the people from going on with their daily routine for more than a day or two is only one of the many examples that tells us – The spirit of the city will remain undaunted, irrespective of the obstacles that come in the way of it’s daily functioning. I agree that the city could do with some improvement in it’s infrastructure, security and quality of living. But we accept the city as it is, improvement or no improvement. We enjoy the posh malls and the chaat stalls, the multiplexes and the natyagruhas alike and accept graciously whatever the city has to offer us. That’s Mumbai my Jaan!!!

P.S As my exams are gonna begin in the next couple of weeks, I am busy rubbing my ass off, studying for them. So please do understand my plight if I don't post more often.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Talking 'bout Obama

A day before the US Presidential Election officially ended,

“Hurrah! Obama is in the lead”, I said.

My other part smirked and I could sense that it had something up its sleeve.

“So, why are you so elated?” it asked.

That question was a slap in the face, he is a man who is going to change things in America, his slogan yells out in bold letters - CHANGE, and my other part was being so foolish and stubborn enough to ignore this! But there was something more to this ignorance than what appeared on the outside and I think I was about to get my answer.

“I’ll tell you why, it’s only because he has almost the same amount of melanin in his skin as you and any other Indian does and mind you, I am not trying to be a racist here.”

I was aghast, “What!?!?!”

But I very well knew there was some truth hidden in those words (after all the ‘other part’ was a part of me).

My other part continued, “I very well know that he has a great calibre and personality. And he represents change not only in upcoming policies but in the complete history of American politics, but that is again because he is an African-American. Newspapers all over India have been ranting about how he likes Indian food and how many Indian-origin Americans there are in his team, one paper even went far enough to report that his pouch contained a miniature of a ‘monkey-god’ which could be Hanuman!!! I mean Mccain could have eaten all the biryani, tikka and dosas he wanted, sitting in front of the Indian Embassy and none of the journos would even care. The basic fact remains that the reason so many Asians are interested in Obama and hoping for him to win is that he, atleast physically, is so much like them.”

I surprisingly found myself in agreement with my other part.

And just then I heard my other part say, so slowly that it couldn’t even be called a whisper,

“Oh, how wrong they are!”

I have written this in a short and concise manner. I do not mean to be racist in opinion and congratulate President Elect Barack Obama for his spectacular win. But I also hope that my thoughts and opinions have reached you, my readers, purely as they are.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Am I at the Wrong Blog???

That’s the question you must be asking yourself and the answer is a big fat NO. It’s the new look and title that seems to baffle you for a moment but believe me you will get used to it very soon. I also the very next question in line will be,

Why the new name?

The answer to that is pretty simple and there are quite a few reasons (I didn’t say the answer would be short) for the new name,
  • When I established this blog I only had a few minutes to make up a name for it and I decided on ‘The Teenager’s Guide To The World’. After a lot of thinking I realized that the name gave an impression that this was a travel blog, which it is not.
  • Also, it makes the blog look like an agony aunt’s column which dishes out tips on ‘handling your own life successfully’ to all those depressed and frustrated teens out there. Sorry fellow teenagers, I have my own agonies and I am surely not your aunt!!!
  • But it was this very last incident that forced me to start deciding on a new name - a few days back, I was egosurfing for my blog’s name and I came across this. That literally sent me over the edge. I mean some bloody agony aunt or uncle whoever it was, had thought of the same name that I did!!! And I had it changed immediately.

As you can see the rest of the changes are quite clear. There is the dazzling blue theme in the background.

Also, a note of caution for all those plagiarists surfing on the net, I have secured my blog with a new Creative Commons license. Use my work without my permission and rest assured you will be hearing from my lawyer very, very soon…Muah-ha-ha-ha. OK, got a bit carried away there…but I am serious about the ‘no-copying-without-my-permission’ thing.

Last but not the least; I have even updated my nickname and profile. The nick isn’t my real name but I must admit that it is closer to my actual name.

Well that’s that, there will be teeny-weeny changes happening every once in a while only to improve the interface and make this blog more reader friendly