Sunday, November 30, 2008

Don't back off now

Like many moderates, I have always believed that you cannot vilify a nation for the actions of a misguided few. But you have to draw the line somewhere and something stronger than the line of control. We have a ceasefire at the border but they are now inside the country attacking our homes. The Pakistan government claims terror is not State-sponsored but the terror camps are definitely based in that country with or without State patronage.
And as long as these camps exist in Pakistan, we should take an uncompromising position against it. Sure, all Pakistanis are not terrorists but we should take no chances, it's our lives at stake here. We should severe all diplomatic, sporting and trade ties with Pakistan till they are willing to take a stand. Tough times call for tough measures.
Let's not fire a shot in anger but let's not back off either. Let's stop talking till they can speak the truth. It's about time. Let them not feed off our indifference or riches: No trade, no talks, no ICL or IPL booty, no mercy.

Stuck in the Mumbai moment

I am stuck in the Mumbai moment. I can't move on. I feel rage but I don't quite know how to channelise that. The zealots have not just hit Mumbai, they have hit at the heart of freedom. For a philosophy that gives women no rights, to burn down a city where women can move around safely, might be an irrepressible urge. A city where dreams can be fulfilled is evil to people whose own dreams have been interred in hatred.
I really don't know where I am going with this diatribe, but I feel as much anger towards the apathy of our own. Faces I never ever want to see again include:
R R Patil: For the singlemost pathetic, insensitive and foolish statement I have ever heard in my life. I would wring his ugly, illiterate neck if I could.
Shobhaa De: All dolled up, eyebrows done to perfection, pearl necklace and voice quivering, raging "enough is enough." Did you practice those lines at the salon? So, can you do something about it? Because you can.
Arnab Goswami: If there is a worse television anchor in the world (Barkha comes a close second), I will watch Times Now all my life as punishment. Arnab, brazenly pimping the exclusives that his channel managed, is more pathetic than our coastal security.
Somebody tell me what to do because I don't feel like moving on. It's affected me more than I thought it would. Because what has happened in Mumbai is my problem.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Mumbai or Beirut

How long will our leaders hide behind the spirit of Mumbai? And how long will they pass that bloodied buck. Everyone is blaming everyone else, Modi is blaming Manmohan who is blaming intelligence failure. And they are all collectively blaming Pakistan. I feel ashamed of our leaders whose salaries I pay with my taxes. These jokers talk of transforming India. Yeah, they have successfully transformed Mumbai into Beirut. Shame on you incompetent fools.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Look ma, the cops are fat

Mumbai continues to be held hostage. I have never watched more television in my life than I have over the last 30-odd hours. The TV screens are full of combat troops in various uniforms ... the blue fatigues of the Rapid Action Force, the olive green battle fatigues of the army, the black jumpers of the elite National Security Guard and the khaki of the Mumbai police.
When you watch these men in Khaki, you get a sense of why it is so easy for a bunch of 20-odd kids to hold a country to ransom. The Mumbai police looks listless, scared and well fed on petty bribes. They look in no shape, physically or mentally, to combat well-trained, brainwashed militants. A photographer friend who was on location at one of the terror-hit venues in Mumbai said the cops were as scared and clueless as the public when the militants stuck.
How do these poor sods in khaki protect a teeming megapolis of 20 million people and a 100 million hiding places. This certainly is not the last time Mumbai is going to be hit. Scary.

PS: I am told India's most important city does not have a company of NSG posted there permanently, they had to be flown in. Smart.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Terror has a chocolate face

I saw the face of terror on television today. He didn't look anything like Osama or sundry rabid mullahs on Hollywood terror flicks. He was floppy haired, wore a black tee and cargos and looked like any other teenager hanging out at a city mall. There was just the small matter of an Ak-47 he was slinging.
We have learned to live with bomb blasts and the odd riot but I don't think we have seen anything as scary as this. Terrorists come in from the high seas on boats, dock at the Gateway of India and take over high-security hotels and clean out top Mumbai cops. In between they race through the streets firing at people in restaurants and outside cinema halls. It's all too simple and all too eerie for comfort.
Mumbai's greatness is its weakness. It's been hit in the gut again but having lived there a significant part of my life I know it won't buckle or budge. Life will go on but the next time you are out watch out for floppy haired boys with dangerous toys. Terror has a chocolate face now.

Top of the movie charts

Jean Dominique Bauby has "locked-in syndrome". In English, it means he is completely paralysed except for one eye. He can blink, that's about that, thank you. However, he can think, imagine, hear and of course see half of everything.
Jean is the Editor of fashion magazine Elle, in his mid-40s and now comatose. The nasty ones in fashion circles say "Jean is a vegetable."
"What sort of a vegetable," Jean wonders, "a carrot?" Ironical, sad, brave and totally rivetting, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly has stormed into the Top 5 of my all time favourite movies. And believe me that's an exclusive club.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Bikini bond

There was a time when James Bond movies meant a gorgeous Honey Ryder rising from the Carribean sea in a bikini. Now, a wet James Bond rises from the sea in a bikini, Proteinex-abs and all. Sigh, how the mighty have fallen.
My friend Dipta has written a solemn treatise on the death of Bond as we know him. Read it here:
And don't laugh, it's not funny ok.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Kamikaze firefly

I thought moths were not very bright till I saw the Kamikaze firefly. It was a rivetting sight, the firefly glided into my darkened apartment, like an aircraft on a sortie in hostile skies. It fluttered and twinkled in abandon before Lucifer whispered in its ears. Without warning, it dived straight into the waiting warmth of a solitary candle. Burning firefly in molten wax. Stupid insect.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Wintry sundries

I like the winter. The air is crisper, the days are shorter, sleep is sweeter and most of humanity is hidden under layers of clothing which is a delightful thing.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Smile Obama weep Obama

Obama has been smiling a lot on television. I just don't get it. Americans are getting fatter and their wallets thinner, the globe is a hot plate, there is nothing left in Iraq or Afghanistan to bomb and he can't even bring back jobs from India because they have all been fired. That's a messy world you have inherited my friend. He can't even be stupid, Dubya has exhausted the world's stupidity. Tough eh?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

To the camera born

If anyone was born to act, it's Matthew Carter. In case you have been hiding under a rock with sunglasses on, Carter is Juno's ultrasound baby. Always watch the credit roll of a movie: Old jungle saying.

Monday, November 3, 2008

A tale of two movies

The Visitor is an exceptional film. A film without big moments, theatrics or even great surprises, but it takes you to a very warm place. Can't tell you much without giving it all away but it's about a near-depressive professor with a very unremarkable existence who redisovers a lost rhythm through the eyes of two unwanted guests ... a Syrian drummer and his Senegalese girlfriend. Rent it, steal it, pirate it ... own it.
And then I put myself through Madhur Bhandarkar's Fashion. The film has more cliches than a cricket commentator's vocab and more potholes in the plot than a Bangalore road. Bhandarkar is obviously much more at home in Chandni Bar than in the trippy underbelly of high fashion. It shows.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Ashes to gold dust

I once found myself sitting across a table from Rajesh Khanna in an airline lounge in Mumbai. The old man in the black kurta looked defeated by age, harsh lights and whiskey. I couldn't help but gawk. Here was a man, who according to my mom and aunts, had an entire generation of women eating out of his hands. He didn't look like much of a lady killer to me, he looked half dead. I could never bear to tell the women in my family that their hero aged and rotted like the rest of us.
There is something about the lives of role models whose lives run parallel to yours. Their fragility reminds you of the transience of everything ... fame, beauty, youth, life. As I watched Anil Kumble doff his cap to the TV cameras in farewell, it brought back a flood of memories, not just Kumble's life but my own. I can't remember watching cricket without Kumble playing. He has been there forever, like me. And now he's gone. One day Sachin will go too. Ashes to gold dust.