Thursday, November 27, 2008

Mumbai attack

There have been bomb blasts in India before. Every single time I have been agitated. I would go restless, plotting mentally an end to these attacks. But this one shook me to the core, not because the elite or few Caucasian people got caught but because this was literally a war against my country.

It was just 10-25 terrorists but without a concern for their life and with sole aim of murdering as many as they can, a situation were there was nothing for them to lose while every single casualty was a loss to us . Every morning, those 3 days, I woke up thinking it would have been all over, it was deeply disturbing.

To top it, I got my news update from CNN. Given the choice between swallowing a Blood pressure tablet & switching off CNN, I had to choose the option of turning off CNN. I haven't even enrolled in flex spending, so there is no question of BP tablet. Every single word out of their mouth was condescending towards India. So, further discussion on CNN anchors will be banned.

With them as the base, every single person they invited on CNN seemed intelligent. Deepak Chopra except for some stupid rhetoric about Pakistan seemed to atleast spoke from the point of view of Indians. Thanks to 9/11, US at least seems to understand what terrorism means, they cannot appear not to. Pakistan, however is their pet child, no, Pakistan is the only entity they are worried about. They were discussing how to prevent the war between India and Pakistan. I could never quite get it, but its ok for U.S to wage a war against Afghanistan and Iraq, which by the way, is not even on the path after 9/11 attacks while India which has lost 7500 lives to terrorists from Pakistan should keep quiet? I haven't figured out under what moronic/perverted logic does that make sense.

People have been sighting Pakistan's Prime Minister statement to claim that Pakistan is not involved which again raises questions in my mind.
1)If Pakistan was indeed the reason, would their PM really come out and say they were involved? So, what kind of moronic evidence is that then.
2) How many people realize that Pakistani army is an independent entity of its own? Pakistan PM, today's or any yester year one's have never had any control on them?

On the other hand, Pakistan PM and others from Pakistan have literally been begging India not to wage a war against them. It almost reminds me of kids who would scream, "Na pannala, na pannala". This with us, their arch rivals! So, seriously sad state of affairs at Pakistan. Also, take a look at the wiki entry for bomb blasts in Pakistan and you will realize they are as troubled as us.

Meanwhile, the backboneless Manmohan Singh, who should have struck to Economics and Sonia Gandhi, who in my opinion should never have to do anything with government have sent proof to US that Pakistanis were behind the attack. Morons, as if US is going to look at the proof and say ok, go ahead launch the attack.

Hello, US has been giving money literally to Pakistan for the past 7 years in the hope they would eliminate Taliban, Al Qaeda which if you notice hasn't done anything either. If the George Bush had concentrated finishing up in Afghanistan instead of waging a war without a reason against Iraq(not Irock, it is Iraq, get that right first), we honestly wouldn't have to face this day.

I don;t know what is really solution in this regard. Pakistan seems quite powerless to handle the terrorist in their own country. India is not going to get access to the terrorist, all it can do is war against the military.

US should and can, but US would puppetize the government in Pakistan, further killing the democracy, honestly quite dangerous to India. Plus a strong presence of US military in our neighbor land can't be good to us.

CNN interviewed Jonathan, a candian Citizen who was staying in Taj during the time of terror attack. One can clearly see he was shaken, I mean I would be too if I had encountered death at such close quarters.
Two things that caught my attention was,
1. He said let us all take the next plane and go to Mumbai to show the terrorists they can't do anything to us. This from Canadian citizen, may be it was just rhetoric, still it means a lot, isn't it, coming from a mouth of a person whose face still echoes the throes of death he had just been in.
2. He and every other caucasian who were interviewed all had good things to say about the Indian Military. Finally, some good acknowledgement esp from a westerner.

Indian NSG have done a good job. But there is no harm in pointing out that there is hardly any security in India compared to rest of world. The security guard thatha at the mumbai airport waved me in looking at my face instead of my boarding pass! As I was standing in line at Chennai airport to get my luggages scanned, there was a simple iron chain barricade between us and the people who had already undergone the scan. Airport staff comes in with a row of trolleys opens the chain. When he puts the chain back, he simply asks the guy who by now is standing in the middle, secuirty check achu? The guy nods and is simply let into the other security cleared line! A terrorist could easily look for loopholes like that.

It simply hurts that a billion of us are not adequately protected. While Jayalalithas, Karunanidhis, sonia gandhi's mother in Italy all get amply protected. We just don't seem to have serious attitude towards security!

Fine, even with all this security as Rajiv Gandhi's security Guard said, " For us everyday is a victory for the terrorist a split second is a victory" but atleast put up a fight.

I just want to point out, LTTE had a free pass in Tamil Nadu before Jayalalitha's regime. She simply abolished their presence. The woman had a iron hand in dealing with LTTE. On the other hand, every time Karunanidhi comes in, few LTTEs escape from Jail. Attitude at the top matters!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

What to do this thanksgiving?

Drive drive and drive around.
Because you never know when the shaikhs will raise the price again and when they do, they will get back with vengeance.
So for now drive, drive, drive around.

If you had ever wanted to aimlessly wander on the pretext of finding yourself, do it now. do it using a car.
Go somewhere, go anywhere in your car.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Varanam Aayiram

* We, as in I, like Coming of age/finding yourself stories. Garden state and Razor's edge are my favorites. But I can't recall watching a tamil movie in this genre.

* The movie is set in two places that are close to my heart. The movie is shot extensively in SFO and the place where I grew up. The Light blue shirt, dark blue Pant uniform that Surya sports is from my Alma mater. So, I should know these places and people.

* In spite of the familiar setting and genre being a personal favorite, I still couldn't relate to the movie. The ingredients is what threw me off. Surya's love at first sight, how he finds his life's calling reminds me more of a masala movie than real life. None of them really end up getting any admiration. When Surya's parents ask him to take a trip to find himself, I more look at them as irresponsible parents than as Parents who were confident and mature enough to trust the kid. Surya's character up until that point hasn't displayed anything that felt like he deserved the trust. See that's what the problem with the movie was, couldn't relate esp. in a surrounding so familiar and unjustifiable and also not that well made.

* Sameera's character acts, reacts as expected. She is one of the normal ones.

* Gautham Menon handled the love angle in Kakka Kakka and Vettayadu Vilayadu sensibly, making me wish he would direct a full fledged love story one day. But apparently if he does that it will end up like Minnale. A Minnale with litte less regressive idea of a woman.

* Sameera Reddy could look beautiful, who knew?

* We(as in I) like the songs, but today morning I found Bheema's music intolerable. As this is Harris Jeyaraj, the music might suffer the same fate too. 'Annal melae' and Mundinam parthen are picturized quite surprisingly what one would have imagined.
Oh and they also apparently shot a song in Farah Khan's OSO set.

* Surya has put in quite a bit of work in essaying two roles and it shows. Simran requires just few scenes to shine. In those few scenes, she makes you forget the others including the two Suryas.

* I am never going to forgive Tamil audiences for not lapping up Simran back with open arms after her Child- birth break. You guys so deserve your Jyothikas and Trishas.

* Surya calls his father, daddy in the movie. The Dad Surya calls his son, Kiddo. (!!! no this is not the 70s shows). Surya here belongs to a generation before mine. i.e when Sarang was called Mardigas. So the peterness is out of place. On top of this, Surya's diction doesn't allow the daddies and kiddos to slip by without you noticing it and squirming about it. The more I noticed, I realized Surya has trouble even in saying Azhagu.

*Caught the movie on Saturday. The Original plan to watch on Sunday crashed because DB felt movie might not be worth it after reading the reviews. DB, DR and the other couple dropped out. But just couple of days before that, another friend S had asked me to come along. After reading the reviews I was scared not because I thought it would be sub-par but because I thought it might have more melodrama that I can take.But somehow S convinced me with a gushing email from another friend of hers and I went along. As of today, we both are looking for hired helps or an auto full of goondas to be sent to the author of the gushing email.

Few pieces of info.
1. Sarang of our times was called Mardigas once apparently.
2 Surya shopped in Bath & Body works accompanied by his Sister-in-law and bought tonnes of stuff.
#1 mattered to me and #2 I have to report as per Gossip Raja's rules of data transfer wherein Gossip listened to, however trivial in content will be passed on to another person.
3. Next time when some one wishes to visit SFO and your car refuses to go on what would be its silver jubilee of SFO sight seeing trip, please hand them over the DVD of Adiye kolluthey.

At some point, this random post has to end. So here.

Friday, November 14, 2008


When I was in Grad school, I emailed a random Kashmiri guy* (whose website I had come across accidentally) asking him if he wanted Kashmir to be part of Pakistan or India. He replied, "Neither, we want an Independent Kashmir".

What? Come again.

See, for a long time, all I heard was that Kashmir was part of India, the crown of India and Pakistani militant Infiltration is the sole reason for problems in Kashmir. People of Kashmir of course wanted to be part of India. Those of them who didn't, must have been just brainwashed by Pakistani militants. So, as Arvind Swamy jumps into the fire to protect the burning Indian flag with Tamizha Tamizha playing in the background, I had goosebumps. Gosh, a hero after my own heart(any which way, no?:)).

Now, Faisal of Kashmir was telling me that Pakistan alone was not responsible for the problem.

Then I thought may be the Indian military presence and their inhuman treatment is the cause of resentment. Military people are always like that, taught to act on command and not on reasoning.

Or may be Faisal was one off case.

But What if he is part of majority? If majority of people residing in Kashmir want independence, wouldn't it be oppression on our part to keep them glued to India. I feel Kashmir as part of India and they don't.

They argue that Kashmir as a region has nothing much culturally with the rest of India. So is Tamil, Telugu, Konkani, Bengali. So should India just break into 50 different countries, then? Where does that kind of reasoning end?

That's when I realized just as I was brought up under the tenets that Kashmir to Kanyakumari is India they have grown up with the tenets that Kashmir should be a separate country.

Idea of a nation lies sometimes in just the arbitary lines drawn and the propaganda about the Nation that ensues it. i,e British united the different kingdoms into a place to rule and drew the lines of India when they left. Nehru did a good job of Kashmir to Kanyakumari Propoganda. So, I have India.

Someone out there feels that another set of arbitary lines should be drawn and would call it Independent Kashmir.

I would like to stick with lines that I have grown up with.

I also find the process of deconstructing ideas such as these these easy but it takes a little more time to reflect in my actions or my opinions. In this case, may be I don't want to reflect it on my opinions either.

Feelings for India - Patriotism/ Jingoism, whichever way you refer to it, is one of my stronger identities. This kind of thought process leaves me to question even that basic identity of mine. I don't think I want to lose something that I have identified with all my life.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Obama Won

Yesterday as I tuned into the TV, I don't really remember caring who is going to win. I am a democrat by default but living in california, one has no clue what other states are feeling. And due to my Indian experiences, I am always suspicious about these sample polls.

But then I saw Obama had a clear lead. After switching between Fox and CNN for an hour, I switched to some DVD. When I switched back after less than an hour, Obama was already declared the president.

That was it, I don't think I will ever be able to describe my job. Went out, disappointed that people were not making any noise on the street. Did a couple of jigs. Treated myself at starbucks(silly, silly me).

After this it has been all night of listening to Obama's speech, revisiting his interviews with Jay Leno, David Letterman, heck even old pops Oreilly's one. He has been a delight in each of these interview filling each reply with humour. This is not a side of him we are going to see him again while he is in office.

Considering my feelings are so overwhelming for Obama today, I can't but smile how I thought Hilary clinton should/would become the next president last year.

Let me just trace from last year to this point, what I felt at each point, lest I forget that I wasn't even supporter obama all the time.
So Hilary this time, is it?
Obama isn't bad, I don't care if either of them becomes president.
why can't clinton just quit?
oh man why can't clinton just quit while Mccain has even started his election.
He is Barack Hussien Obama, so ?
Oh my god, Sarah Palin - will get back right at you.
John Mccain isn't bad.
People have issues with him black?
Obama is winning.
Slight slip.
Obama Won.

Funnily enough, I also don't hate John Mccain like the way I hate George Bush, Sarah Palin. In another time with a lesser opponent he would have won. And if not for Obama's skin tone, with his personality, Charisma and with such anti-incumbent wave against Bush administration, he would have sweeped more.

It was a fair contest and that is always nice after the mockery George bush made of the white house in the apst 8 years.

Not that I am really sure what Obama promises to me. We are really in desparate times. People use the sentence all the time, but this one time nobody can dispute it. Will Obama ensure I will have my job? Will my taxes increase? Will US be able to pull out of Iraq without much of a chaos in 15 months?

I honestly don't know the answers to these. But I know that he was the best of the current lot and probably even across few of the previous elections. People have bet and the historical milestone cannot be ignored. Hope for world's sake he does some miracle.

And yeah, he is hot!

Ps: Prop8..! For those who voted yes on Prop8, I hope you all have kids who turn out to be gays so that one day you will wish you had voted no.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Religious fundamentalism - 3

The post would be incomplete without describing the pseudo-secularism that some people practise. In India, secularism= minority patronizing, in my head secularism= i don't give two hoots about any religion, minority, majority or a non-existent one called scientology or atheism. I won't decide even the personal cases per any damn religion, any kind of religious disputes(though in case of babri masjid or any such religious institution, i personally think, a status quo is best solution, some changes in life are irreversible.. ).

Some people feel the need to talk abt all the past atrocities while condemning bomb blasts owned by a terrorist organization in the name of islam. Any life killed, is a life killed. A life killed without the proper trial of jursidication should not be allowed. You have to condemn it, unequivocally.It is not a question of 10 hindus versus 1 muslim killed or 1 hindu versus 10 muslim killed. May be putting a face instead of just quoting numbers would help. I am not sure a hindu/muslim will die happily because 10 other people of other religion was killed.

People eager to show their secular attitude, always feel a need to add atrocity done in the name of Hinduism when they condemn a bomb attack done in the name of Islam. Like these bombs are bad, so are gujarat riots/babri masjid, you can't honestly go back this way, it is highly possible in the quest of origin of this problem, you might end up all the way upto Abraham and Issac.

Congress started this. Actually Nehru started it but I honestly believe that man did it for good reasons. He assumed naively that only minority will feel insecure and they have to be protected. Over a period of time, the later congress leaders started treating them as vote banks. I am not sure of this fact, but some one told me that congress refusal to arrest terrorist because they are muslims(congress's traditional votebank) is leading to several bomb blasts today. BJP lucked out of this deal by tapping on the insecure Hindu minds. I can't deny the fact, even a lay person like me can see that raise of BJP in every state has resulted in a major riot in that state(orisssa,karnataka?). Minroities resort to bombs, majorities resort to riots.So, I don't need to go on to explain more how this appeasement of one religion over others would not work.

I look around and I don’t see any countries with such high diverse ratio without problems. The usual looking west for solution wouldn’t really work in this case. USA feels it fit to screen everyone who follow a particular religion as a suspected terrorist and openly screens for such names and subjects them to more checks. In this process, I am sure it is creating a few more terrorists. On the slightest sign of diversity,France decided to ban Headgear.

Few other countries which have religious diversities seem to have same amount of people who are ready to start for riots at the slightest sign of provocation. India’s pseudo-secular act made people from majority religion feeling insecure which lead to an eye for an eye and is slowly turning people blind.

As a nation, India should know that intolerance of any kind wouldn’t work. I see religion as a private affair and government should stay away from it. A truly secular society - shouldnt give two hoots about any religion. The section of society which is responsible for implementing this, the politicians and police should know that. Just so that they continue receiving their bribes.

Religious fundamentalism - 2

The thing is, as I read through links from outlook from one of my favorite bloggers, a vague feeling of familiarity stuck. I am not going to come off extremely politically correct in the process. Because what I could visualise was how the dialogue of the hindu extremists would flame most hindus.

As I read the rioter's voice, somebody who has heard those rants before, I can see the trajectory from where they were coming.

See, I went to a school which promoted hinduism, I went there mainly because it was a CBSE school and that was a must for us with parents in transferrable job. Plus dad thought we will learn sanskrit.

Just to tell you how hindu,We had extensive bhajan session every friday. Half a day every week went in just singing Bhajan. Most of other schools were christian in the small city and they had their own dogma, insisting no bindi, no anklet and teaching hymns. So which ever school you went religion was thrust down your throat.

When I was ten years old, I was told to pay a Rupee for a stamp of a temple. It was compulsory and I don't think I knew what Babri Masjid was. But yes I contributed a rupee to that unknowingly. But I remember fighting with Parents and Uncles who had once again voted for congress instead of the raising BJP. I remember feeling enraged when some teacher explained to me that the Masjid was built on a Hindu temple.

Most of us tend to develop an attachment or bonding or loyality to things we are associated with - Religion, family, country, Race and sometimes even actors.It is as simple as that. We might not even know the meaning of things, if you throw any allegation, we could easily come up with an explanation for it.

Logically, a decision follows arguments. Sometimes in cases such as religion, you are already into a religion in full force. And we start collecting pros for something we are already into. Like in my case I used to say how Hinduism is an not an organized religion. Today I think I am a follower of Hinduism, because I was born into it. If I had born into any other religion, I know I would have followed it and equally argued for it.

Still, We develop a bond for that religion. With that bond as a base, each attack against your religion and favoring of other religion angers you.

Like a Shah Bano case or how Babri Masjid is Janma Bhoomi of Ram and the fact that muslims rulers destroyed the temple and built a Mosque there. Or this whole civil code which allows polygamy etc will be used .Keep repeating that how Hinduism is the only religion that politicians attack again and again. In tamilnadu's case, Karunanidhi does that. He is an atheist, but this actions are anti-hindu than anti-religion. Obv. he is after the votes. Politicians are always after votes. Yes, they might have started off due to their loyalities, but a raj thackeray or a karunanidhi know what they are doing today.

I am not going to say that the Hindus are the only Bigots. As a Hindu I can see the trajectory. But as a Muslim/Christain, the very fact that I understand that you are a minority is enough to cause insecurity.
I never got why minorities might be more insecure than majority but I think now I do know. Minority means in terms of crisis or fights with other people of other religion, the person responsible for protecting your rights, might himself be from the majority religion and the impartiality might be effected. Gujarat with its Narendra modi.

Not everything can be blamed on politician. To start with people weren’t politically correct either. People alredy branded each other, Hinduism=casteist, Christainity = conversion*, Islam = meat eating. But people never shied away from going and buying their parle-G’s and hamam soap from Bai Kadais. The way I see it, they co-existed with their prejudices intact.

Since we co-existed for the first 30 years of independence, I am assuming these prejudices doesn't cause riots but rather got fueled by the politicians agenda.

Having said that I still don’t know how they make that transition. How from people with prejudices they turn into people who have blood in their hand, I don’t get it. At the end of the day, it is blood in their hands, how they develop their insensitivity to feel muslims not as humans, I can't quite understand.

I was once told, Mob mentality was the explanation. There is a scene in Hey Ram. In the morning, the mob will try to attack Kamal and his tailor who is part of the mob will save him. The same tailor will be part of the mob that rapes Kamal’s wife that evening. As Kamal seeks his revenge, you will hear the tailor scream, it was all done in a moment, I don't what came over me.
The reason why I mention it here is, the outlook article tells me something very similar. Some rioters know the people they attacked, personally.

An insecure mind flared up. 22000 of them flared up to attack the people they know because they converted.
I hope it explains to some extent how these things happen.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Religious fundamentalism - 1

I have been reading various blog posts on the Orissa riots for sometime now. I am not sure what for. For one, I don't see any of the blogger or blog-reader actually hurting someone in the name of religion for the major part. Two, the people who might do so I am pretty sure don't read blogs. So, i am not really sure why me or someone else is arguing about this. Quite a few of us know how to keep our differences to ourselves and not translate into violence on others, physically or verbally. So..

But I guess these posts do help us become more aware of our own prejudices or may be not. That is if you are one of those types that do live and learn and I do.

At first as I read these posts, I just wanted to repeat my usual rant against the raise of violent intolerant behavior in India. I mean we have been a country for 60 years now and lived relatively with less fight for the first 40 years and suddenly for the past 20 years, we have this huge riots over everything including the colour of ribbon on my hair?

But I think I might be able to add more on to it. As a person who once was more prejudiced.

I am a Hindu, today conversions absolutely don't matter to me. On the other hand, why would it matter to any Hindu? Are they afraid that they will lose their place of worship because god forbid, all the 700 million decide to convert leaving you all alone. 700 million is a large number, its going to take a long time to convert all of them. So, What exactly is their problem? And what exactly gives them a right to attack somebody else over their problem. More importantly, human beings are not going to be perfect. Their thinking/rationalization is going to change over period of time and it is going to be different from some one else. For each of these differences, should we take a gun in hand.

On the other hand, looking back at history, I have often wondered, how hinduism didn't die. World over religion started with worshiping nature, evolved into polytheism and then monotheism and then shunned idol worship. If you look through the different philosophies that existed or originated in India which eventually got clubbed as hinduism, you would find the very same strands(

Also, I also see a wave of conversions to Abrahamic religions across the world in history. Most of the earlier idol/nature worshipping religion seems to have vanished when organized religion was introduced. Hinduism which in its practiced form is very much still an idol worshipping religion has survived. Under aggressive Islamic rulers who destroyed temples, christian missionaires and with an inherent flaw that 70%-80% of its followers ill-treated. I don’t know what is the cause, may be these group of people are simply reluctant to change.

Before I go further, Hindusim as I see it is a term for all the godly pracitces and beliefs that existed before the advent of any other religion. With the advent of other religions(could have been buddhism/Islam), there was a need to coin a term for existing religion, so hinduism. The practices of this religion also seemed to have changed with every influence it faced. So, you see monotheism and monism. This is also probably why it survived. Changing with times is the only way for any religion/language/culture to survive.

None of this is the way my hinduism is. To me, it is simply following the poojas/festivals my mom did, repeating the shlokas I got introduced to. They are my way of approaches to my god. My faith in this might come from probably being introduced at a young age i,e nostlagia.

Also, I am not spiritual. but religious. (I have always wanted to say it from the time I read the opposite of those lines).

So, philosphies of advaita are going to hardly matter to me.

So anyway, when people in the orissa or karnataka are killing/burning in the name of religion, they are obviously not aware of any of the former. They are probably practising hinduism exactly the same way I do.