Saturday, July 22, 2006

The Gatekeeper at the TAJ.

The TAJ was born because a man was turned away from a fancy hotel.

When prominent parsi industrialist Jamsetji Tata was refused entrance into Watson's Hotel in the 19th century because he was a native, he swore revenge & built the massive Taj in 1903, which outshone Watson's in every department.

It is less a hotel and more a proving ground for the human ego.

The Taj lobby and the adjoining toilets are where you prove your self worth - theoretically anyone can come in out of the heat and sit in the plush lobby, on the ornate sofas; amid the billionaire Arabs & the society ladies, or relieve themselves in the gleaming toilets.

The gatekeepers are instructed to stop no one.

But you need that inner confidence to project to the numerous gatekeepers, the toilet attendants; you need first to convince yourself that you belong there, in order to convince others that you do.

And then you realise that the most forbidding gatekeeper is within YOU.

Friday, July 14, 2006


The explosives went off at the Bombay Stock Exchange on March 12, 1993. There were sights of blood and gore that will not go away easily. March 12, 1993 can never be forgotten by a Mumbaikar. Or forgiven.

In New York on September 11, 2001, when twisted, horrific minds flew passenger jets into the Twin Towers. As a believer in the free world, I can never forget that day either. Or forgive those who wrought upon such terror on the rest of us.

I cannot but notice that the United States of America, which then declared its biggest offensive since Pearl Harbour and which action brought it tonnes and tonnes of international criticism -- not to mention unveiled threats of attack from Osama bin Laden, abduction of US nationals and their murder -- has not faced any terrorist attack since 9/11.

Whereas we in India have come to accept terrorist attacks on our soil as just another karmic fact of life -- no doubt with the same stoic acceptance that we took in invader after invader over centuries. Since 1993 Mumbai alone has faced at least 6 more terrorist strikes.

So what has the United States done that India did not?
For one, Uncle Sam displayed the majesty of the American State.
On the evening of September 11, 2001, as I sat glued to the television, US President George Bush addressed his nation in a measured and calm manner. Through the solace he offered his shell-shocked countrymen, he said: 'We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbour them.'
With these words America went to war.

I had waited all these years for the majesty of the Indian State to similarly display itself. I waited for it last night as well, and finally I saw the display.

On the streets of Mahim, close to where we work, the majesty of the Indian State was on full display as Congress president Sonia Gandhi accompanied by Home Minister Shivraj Patil and Railway Minister Lalu Yadav drove past, en route to the blast site. The news reporter counted 38+ cars in the motorcade that swept past, as other traffic on the road was kept frozen in place by the security phalanx. It was truly an impressive sight -? only, I couldn't help thinking, it was put on for someone who doesn't hold an office of authority. While the man who does, simply reviewed the security situation in the face of the Srinagar and Mumbai blasts, and directed that New Delhi's security be beefed up.

This was the majesty of the Indian State on display on Tuesday. I could have wept.

When somebody directs terror at you, nation-States are expected to hit back with maximum force, carry the fight into the enemy camp. It is not enough to possess unrelenting, unremitting muscle power -- it also becomes necessary, once in a while, to display that power. And not merely through caparisoned missiles parading down Janpath once a year, but by responding forcefully to challenges to the State's very existence.

All your nuclear weapons, your missiles, your tanks, come to nought when you don't have the steel in your soul to defend yourself and your subjects -- at any cost.

Has the Indian State done this? Ever?

The first serial blasts in Mumbai happened 13 years ago. Enough water has flowed into the Arabian Sea since then for the guilty to have spent part of their sentence in jail. But 13 years later even a fly has not been sentenced for the worst-ever terrorist attack in India. If you were a terrorist oiling your Kalashnikov and checking your grenades somewhere in the western sector, what exactly will you think of India?

What he does think is evident from the fact that in the last 13 years, Mumbai has faced six more terror attacks -- an average of one every two years. This, not counting the almost daily terrorist strikes in Jammu & Kashmir.

India believes, too, that the prime accused in the Mumbai blasts, Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar, is a guest of the Pakistani establishment. Not only him, official lists of others accused of waging a war against India and hiding in Pakistan have periodically been handed over to that country. Ordinarily, you would think, if Pakistan is harbouring India's enemies, providing succour and sustenance to them, it needs to be treated as an inimical nation.
Yet, India has been engaged in a peace process with the very neighbour it knows is out to dismember it through any and every means available to it.

Is it any surprise that terrorists continue to attack India with impunity?

Contrast this with the way America has gone about its business since September 11, 2001, and you will see why that nation has not faced any attack in the last five years. Osama may fume and fret from his mountain hole, but there's little more than that he and his terrorist hordes have been able to achieve against the only remaining superpower.

That is because America understands that war can only be won through war, it cannot be won through peace, a belief India has been labouring under for so long. When the very articles of your liberty become your enemy's hand tools to destroy you, it is time to revise notions of liberty and freedom.

Civil liberties are for those who believe in civility and practice liberty, not inhuman monsters who think nothing of inflicting untold horror on innocents. It is only this week, almost five years later, that the US agreed to extend the Geneva Convention to its Guantanamo Bay detainees -- contrast that with how India treats those waging a war against it.

The tragedy with India is that successive governments have ignored one fact of life --India has been at war for many decades now. This is not an enemy who will come at you over the Khyber Pass; this is an invisible enemy who uses your own resources, your own freedoms, your own laxities, to hit at you. If you don't stop him first, he will stop you.

It is futile to blame Congress administrations alone for this sorry pass India has come to -- the National Democratic Alliance, which came to power with so much of machismo, proved no better before threats of terror.

Till we turn around, realise that those who fight India in the name of religion do not represent the millions who practice that faith, and fighting the terrorists is not fighting the practitioners, we are condemned to suffer terrorist attacks - again & again ...


The media & the government can't stop talking about the "spirit" of Mumbai. 98% attendance was reported in offices & workplaces the day after the blasts. This is not the "spirit" of Mumbai - it is the cruelty of the city that makes people go against conventional logic. The city waits for no one and for all "hand to mouth" people, there is no option but to work.The government can't jus go on praising the so called bravado of Mumbaikars and hide behind this facade. What Mumbai needs is not spirit from Mumbaikars, but SECURITY from the people we have elected.
Otherwise, the only thing left in Mumbai will be "spirit(s)".


One question - there were many people upset that a statue was desecrated in Sunday. They were so angry that they burnt buses, blocked roads, broke cars and stopped Mumbai's life for that day. Aren't they angry now ? Can't they direct their anger fruitfully in such a scenario ? Where are these people ?

Whenever a terrorist is sentenced to a harsh term or given a death sentence, many Human Rights Activists come to the fore demanding a lighter sentence, claiming that Death sentences go against protection of human rights. Well, shouldn't they come to the fore now. Is terrorism within the boundaries of protecting our HUMAN rights.


A massive Intel - op should be carried out, the masterminds behind these attacks should be caught - even if it means an end to peace processes with our neighbours. All of them should be killed in public & the act should be covered by the media. It's high time India made a statement. It's high time Mumbai made a headline other than "terorist attacks", "mumbai floods".

We can't take this anymore. and we shouldn't.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

It's a bird . . It's a plane .... No ! ! .. It's ..

SUPERMAN . . Yes, Superman Returns, and How.
I caught the movie last wekend and loved it. Complete with action, plenty of odes to the Richard Donner 1978 original and with a leading man having an uncanny resemblance to Christopher Reeve. This certainly makes for a fantastic movie-watching experience.

Now, as is the case with all Huge movies - Gossip happens. For publicity, promotion, creating a buzz etc. Well, while browsing through Superman gossip, i came upon a segment -
"how is superman different from other super heroes ?" .

Here i would like to mention a quote from "Kill Bill" - one of my favourites and undoubtedly the movie having the best written dialogues. Tarantino - Im a FAN !
Anyways, in this particular sequence, Bill(David Carradine) is speaking to the Bride (Uma Thurman), when this quote is made :

"An essential characteristic of the superhero mythology is, there's the superhero, and there's the alter ego. Batman is actually Bruce Wayne, Spider-Man is actually Peter Parker. When he wakes up in the morning, he's Peter Parker. He has to put on a costume to become Spider-Man. And it is in that characteristic that Superman stands alone. Superman did not become Superman, Superman was born Superman. When Superman wakes up in the morning, he's Superman. His alter ego is Clark Kent. His outfit with the big red "S", that's the blanket he was wrapped in as a baby when the Kents found him. Those are his clothes. What Kent wears, the glasses, the business suit, that's the costume. That's the costume Superman wears to blend in with us. Clark Kent is how Superman views us. And what are the characteristics of Clark Kent? He's weak, he's unsure of himself... he's a coward. Clark Kent is Superman's critique on the whole human race."

This sums it up for me. It is beautiful & very very true.

Well, if this analogy is too deep for you, you can always read that article i read where the major distinction between superman & other super heroes was mentioned by the author as :

"Superman is a true superhero as he does not hide his face behind masks like other super heroes !"

Wow !
Now, why didn't Mr. Tarantino think of this ? ?

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