Dec 30, 2008

Make way for the Competent Communicator!

This post is just a reflection of the one thought that's on my mind since afternoon today.

I completed the Competent Communicator series of the Toastmasters program today. And I'm so glad I have :)

CCTM, my home club, has brought me the best in more ways than one. I'm glad I've wrapped up at least one of the things that I took up here. I'll just work harder and keep my fingers crossed for getting the others to work!

The last of the 10 project series is one where you need to inspire your audience! I tried my best to inspire and move the audience. I'll post the script in my next post maybe, but for the moment I just wanted to brag a bit about my achievement of the day!

I am now Priya S, CC!!! :)

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Dec 26, 2008

Another year slips by...

2008 is slipping away. Another 5 days to go. Each of you probably have your own way of bringing on the New Year. Some like to keep it simple. Some hit the dance floors. Some keep their pitchers full. Some seek blessings from the Gods above. And for some January 1st is just as ordinary as any other day on the calendar!!! In the end it all boils down to ushering in the New Year on a note that appeals to you the most.

For me, it's that time of the year when I take stock of all that happened to me and all that brought me a smile or a tear (usually works the plural way!!!).

Here are some of my
bestest moments of 2008...

A little princess made her way into my family and all our hearts. My li'l niece , Harini, was born on the 13th of February 2008. She's a darling and is by far one of the best things that happened to me in this last one year. She's the reason I'm officially an 'aunty' :P... but she beautifully covers up for that with her smile and by doubling up as my punching bag :). That's a recent picture of hers alongside... post-processed and touched up by me... stuff I picked up from her dad.

Toastmasters happened to me in 2008. A special thank you to Swastika for introducing me to the Covansys Chennai Toastmasters Club (Covansys Chennai Toastmasters Chapter now... name changes I tell you :D). I am so glad I joined Toastmasters. Improving communication and leadership skills maybe its USP, but for me Toastmasters means a lot lot more... I met the most amazing bunch of people at CCTM and the times I've spent with them will always be cherished.

My short stint with Rebelz - a Chennai-based English theater group - for one of their shows. I know I didn't make as much of a contribution, but the few weeks that I spent with the Rebelz junta was by far the most fun weeks in my two years at Chennai. All the best guys for all your shows in the future.

My trip to Munich and the awesome experiences it brought along - the places, the people, the special moments by myself - was a perfect trip... away and yet not away!!! Given a chance I'd love to go back to Munich... quite a few incomplete moments to complete!!!

This was one year I spent watching a lot of movies. Some of the movies that left an impression - A Wednesday, The Bucket List, Fashion, The Pursuit of Happyness, Bridge to Terabithia (on someone's recommendation!)... and a few eye-sores like Yuvvraaj and Karzzz!!

iGoogle and Google Reader - my 'kill sleep at work' pills for the year :P News, views, interesting blogs... all of them RSSed in one window... read on endlessly!!! Guess that's made me more regular on my blog space too :)

Five of my really close couple friends got married in 2008. I felt just as happy for them as they probably felt themselves. I could not make it to any of the weddings in person and I still regret that... but I wish them all great lives ahead with a special mention on my blog :). Congratulations jodis... Ramya and Suman, Jay and Vrunda, Ojas and Shital, Sheetal and Sachin, Amrit and Rutvij.

That's about all that comes to mind for the moment. A lot of not-so-happening events also happened during the year but I've ranted a lot about all of that in my earlier posts.

The one thing I want to say before I wrap up this post... some things missed the list above coz they chose to stay incomplete in 2008. So be it. I choose to believe that they'll feature on my 'bestest moments of 2009' list... coz am not giving up on them!!!

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Dec 20, 2008

My list for Santa...

Christmas is just around the corner... and so are cakes, pastries, Christmas trees and Santa Claus :)

I did my schooling in an English Convent. Christmas was as much a part of my annual festival calendar as Diwali, Pongal or Ganesh Chaturthi.

Christmas at school meant singing Christmas carols, putting up plays on the life of Jesus (played the role of a shepherd in the manger where Christ was born - this is what happens when you're in an all-girls school :P), wearing coloured clothes to school on the last day before the Christmas holidays and secretly working out a Santa wish list :)


Somehow Santa Claus seems just as real as he is imaginary. Somehow I wish to believe he's packing his bags somewhere in the North Pole with stuff for me and all of you who believe in him.

Here's a sneak peek at my Santa wish list this year... in no particular order :)

  • Return Tickets to Bombay... i'm missing my frens there like crazy!!!
  • A yummy chocolate cake (like the one's Enid Blyton spoke of in her books) with zero calories... :P
  • A super-natural power to go kill those who master-minded the Bombay terror attack and other acts of terror.
  • A laptop of my choice... Dell's Studio 17 in Tangerine Orange is my choice for the moment :)
  • More of Abhishek Bachchan on the silver screen... and less of Katrina Kaif :P
  • Big time hits on my blog space... the new look better work ;)
  • The power to dream or wish for things that are possible... it hurts when your dreams remain incomplete... :(
  • On second thoughts Santa, please make that last one... the power to believe that incomplete dreams are only dreams that take longer to realize!
  • Additions to my Lucknowi Chikan suit collection... i can already sense one of Santa's elves coming along with them:)
  • A nice boss at the new job... i wonder if bosses feel just as weird when they're going to have a new subordinate!!!


Ten items on the list!!! I've been moderately good through the year :P... so Mr. Santa please start packing up my stuff right away :)

Merry Christmas all of you!!!

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Dec 11, 2008

Kochi Trip - Toastmasters Style

(Had to write about the trip for the company intranet... was soo lazy to edit the content and reduce the levels of being formal and professional :P just did a few changes here and there.)

I am a proud Toastmaster since January this year. It's surprising I never came across anything about this organization in the past. But like they say... 'better late than never'!!!

I am part of CSC Toastmasters (Chennai), which is a corporate club managed by the organization I work for. The club has been nurturing its members to be better communicators and leaders for over 2 years now. The best part about this club is it's member mix - the perfect combination of beginners, good speakers and experienced Toastmasters.



Participating in several contests and competing with Toastmasters from outside our club only helps evaluate ourselves and raise the bar even higher. We did exactly that when the Area and Division level contests came along in November 2008.

Nageshwar Sahu, a fellow Toastmaster from my club, won the second prize in the International Humourous Speech contest organized by the Toastmasters International at its Division G contest held in Kochi, Kerala on Nov 9th 2008.

Nageshwar kept the audience in splits as he recounted extremely hilarious experiences of his first time in the United States of America. Being funny and keeping the laughter meter high throughout a speech is not easy. Nageshwar had worked really hard for this under the mentorship of Janaki Prasad Pattanaik and some of the other members of the CSC Chennai Toastmasters Chapter. This helped him win both in the CSC Toastmasters club-level Contest and the Chennai Area Contest to qualify to participate in the Division G contest at Kochi.

Shadan, another member from my club also participated in the Humourous speech contest. Manikandan and I progressed to the Division contest in the Speech Evaluation contest.

We were accompanied by veteran Toastmasters Janaki Prasad Pattanaik, Kumar Viswanathan and Jayan Narayanan from CSC Chennai Toastmasters. Their presence and constant encouragement boosted our confidence.

Participating in the contest was a learning experience in itself. It was an honour to be part of the Toastmasters Division Contest where some of the stalwarts from the Toastmasters fraternity were present. We got an opportunity to interact with many eminent Toastmasters from Ernakulam, Bangalore, Chennai and Sri Lanka.

Our train journey to Kochi was a wonderful experience. I am sure none of us (and perhaps our fellow passengers too) would ever forget all the fun we had while travelling.

The journey from Chennai to Kochi was a meals-on-wheels experience. We feasted on samosas, idlis, biscuits, puris and chapatis (in that order if I remember right) through the evening. We were so full by dinner time that we had to skip the burgers we had packed!!!

We munched and laughed our way to Kochi. We reached the venue at around 3.00 am on the 9th of November, 2008. We had to put up at the contest venue itself - which was a beautiful resort called Sarovaram - excellent accomodation, delicious Kerala cuisine and a great ambience for the contest too.

After the contest was over we hired a van to take us around the city. We did not have much time as we were to leave the same evening. Being a Sunday most of the shops were closed. We managed to take a one hour ferry along the Cochin Shipyard though. It was a fun experience. Aditya and Lalitha from Chennai Toastmasters were also with us.


We headed to the station after a short stopover for tea and snacks. The return journey back to Chennai was equally interesting.

The entire experience was one memorable package. We learnt so much from the senior Toastmasters who were there. Many of them were kind enough to give us one on one feedback on our participation. Tips and ideas that will surely stay with us forever.

The Kochi experience was fun in more ways than one... more importantly it marked the completion of one more milestone in our Toastmasters journey!!!

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Dec 10, 2008

A Salute to the Heroes

(Here's the script I used for Project 8 of Toastmasters at the Chennai Covansys Toastmasters Club [CCTM]. I have used excerpts from my earlier post in this one. This speech project is supposed to use visual aids. I prepared a presentation using the pictures below. Do read through and leave me your valuable comments.)

When was the last time you did not grumble when the railway constable frisked you and your baggage?

Can’t remember??

Did any of us raise a voice against the delay in the effectiveness of the 6th Pay Commission for the Armed Forces?

I doubt!!

Policemen, army jawans, commandos and other such people who we rarely care for… were the true heroes during the Mumbai terror attack. We owe them a salute!!!

Policemen, army jawans, commandos and other such people who we rarely care for… were the true heroes during the Mumbai terror attack. We owe them a salute!!!


Bombay witnessed terror in its cruelest form at over 10 places on the night of November 26th.

Never before had Bombay witnessed this kind of 'on-the-face', 'live', 'real time' terror!!! Also, this time it was not just the average middle class that bore the brunt… but even the rich, elite and the international who were affected.

I believe that the insensitive cowards behind these terror strikes are not even worth a mention. I am instead dedicating this blog post to all those who emerged as winners in those horrifying 60 hours… true heroes!!!

I have a few pictures here to remind us of what happened.

A taxi blew up at Vile Parle. The local residents immediately gathered around to see what was left of the taxi and whoever was inside… here’s what was left...


I wonder if the people there had the faintest idea of what their city was going to witness next.

Victoria Terminus

Two terrorists made Bombay’s Victoria Terminus their war zone. They fired at people just like that. Over 50 people lost their lives in an instant... innocent people who were heading back home after a long day at work... innocent people who were waiting to board trains back to their home-towns. I wonder if those dead travelers knew that it would be last time they packed their bags!!!



Nariman House

After the successful massacre at Leopold’s CafĂ© the killers stormed into Nariman House. We all know what happened there after that. They put up a fight for 2 whole days… killing the Jews who lived there, including the young Rabbi and his wife.


The Taj Burns

With the stage set, panic and chaos at its highest and a sense of achievement the killers took the Taj and Oberoi hotels under their siege. There was maximum damage and loss of life at these two hotels. The terrorists killed guests at random, opened fire at people in the restaurants and also targeted foreign nationals in particular.


We cannot forget...

Horror stories like these bring forth the real heroes.

I have prepared my list of heroes from the 26/11 tragedy. We cannot forget any of them. I may have missed out a few more. I think they all deserve our sincere appreciation.

Mumbai Police

Officers from the Mumbai Police department were the first to take on the terrorists.We lost many senior officers from the Mumbai Police that night. Many other constables and police personnel laid down their lives or got injured while fighting it out.


It is clear that the police were not at all equipped to deal with the heavily armed terrorists. A lot of us are making noises about how our policemen have archaic weapons. It’s easy to sit back in the comforts of our homes and offices and come up with intelligent observations and opinions.

Our policemen, especially those who fought for us that night, deserve our gratitude for not hesitating or giving up just because they were ill-equipped. I want to make a special mention of constable Ombale who took around 30 bullets only to ensure that the terrorist is captured alive. I see Ombaleji as a true hero.

I salute him and the rest of the Mumbai Police!


Armed Forces

India’s jawans have always been there for her in times of troubles… whether its war on the border or natural calamities. This time too the army, RAF and the NSG commandos did their best to contain and capture those who brought terror to Bombay.

I read about this injured jawan who was interviewed in the hospital. He said that there were only two things in the minds of the jawans… ‘marna ya maarna’ which means to kill or die. It moves me to see the passion these young men have for the country and our lives. They deserve our gratitude… not just this time, but always.

I salute the Indian Armed Forces!



Mumbai’s Firefighters

Mumbai’s firefighters were the patient, silent heroes at the Taj and Trident hotels. They helped in the rescue operations and also risked their lives while trying to help the guests in the hotel climb down from their windows. They had no weapons… just the spirit to help despite the risk of losing their own lives.


I salute Mumbai’s firefighters.


Media

However much we may want to criticize the media for their over-the-top coverage of the Mumbai terror attack, I think our young reporters, camerapersons and other media staff who were at the terror locations deserve applause.


They brought terror right into our drawing rooms… but then so what!!! I think this media coverage to a large extent is responsible for stirring up the conscience of the average Indian.

I salute the media for, inadvertently, waking us up!!!


Hotel Staff at Taj and Oberoi



Every survivor from the Taj and Oberoi had a word of praise for the staff of the respective hotels. They truly lived up to the spirit of 'Customer Service Comes First' even as they knew it could mean their end. It is touching to hear how they valued their responsibility towards their guests even more than their own lives. They deserve a special mention because serving the customer under terror was not part of their employment contract nor were they paid for it.

I salute the hotel staff at Taj and Oberoi.


Doctors/ Paramedics

It must have been the busiest week for most of the doctors, nurses and other paramedic staff at hospitals across South Mumbai. Bodies of the dead and casualty cases poured in. To be able to hold on to ones senses in the midst of all the chaos and bloodshed, and above that help with the casualties is a service that is commendable.


I salute our doctors and paramedics.


The Ordinary Mumbaikar

This is one entity that is faceless yet something that I have very high regard for. This terror attack on Mumbai was one more occasion where the ordinary Mumbaikar stepped up to help those in trouble.


I read about this Radio Jockey who was chilling out with friends near VT when all the chaos began. He and his friends did not speed away in their cars; instead they rushed to Cama hospital and helped the staff there with the bodies that were pouring in. To me these boys represent a cross section of the ‘Spirit of Bombay’ – a phrase that has been much abused in the last two weeks.


Mumbai’s New Voice

This terror attack has got strong reactions coming in from the non-political class of our society. We need something as massive as a Civilian Revolution to get ourselves out of where we are. Terrorism is a global disease. We have a lot more ailments within our country to set right before taking on something as deadly as terrorism. We need to start from the basics.

I salute Mumbai’s new voice and the ripple effect it has created across the country.



**********

Here’s something that a friend passed on to me when he thought I was being depressed after this terror attack...

Beyond the door
There's peace I'm sure.
And I know there'll be no more...
Tears in heaven
- Eric Clapton (Tears in Heaven)


It is tough to get philosophical and be optimistic when we are angry and sometimes helpless. But somehow we need to get things moving… if not for us at least for…


… the future of India… our tomorrow!!!


(PS: I got these pictures as a mail forward... Terror captured by someone on camera!!!)

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Dec 3, 2008

Let this not pass...

Bombay witnessed yet another terror attack last week. For a city that has had over 15 terror attacks in the last 15 years it may seem like a matter of fact. But this time things are different. Let this not pass...

Terror never had a face before. Never before has Bombay witnessed this kind of 'on-the-face', 'live', 'real time' terror!!! This time things are different. Let this not pass...

This time the common man is shaken, anguished and ready to revolt against terror and its perpetrators. This time things are different. Let this not pass...


The 1993 serial bomb blasts in Bombay triggered Bombay's tryst with brutal terrorism. From then on Bombay's terror graph has only progressed (???!!!) diagonally upwards!!! The last one week has been traumatizing. For those who lost their lives - victims of terror. For those who lost their lives trying to save a few other lives - our saviors, true martyrs. For those who mourn the deaths of their near and dear ones - a grief that cannot be consoled no matter how hard we try. For those of us who were miles away from the epicenter of terror - helplessly glued to our TV sets for 4 whole days!!!

I am overwhelmed by this latest act of terror in the name of God and religion. I am lost for words to translate the millions of thoughts and questions that are zipping across my mind like a rollercoaster. This terror strike in Bombay (my nth attempt to show extreme contempt, disgust and zero respect levels for sick politicians who are nothing but opportunists indulging in selfless self-growth and silly meaningless acts like creating regional differences and renaming by-lanes, roads, airports and cities among other things!!!) has scarred me just as it has scarred every one of us who has a conscience left.

I have been meaning to write out what I feel about all that has happened and all that is happening as an aftermath of the terror strike. But with each passing day there are so many stories that I come across - stories about the acts of bravery of our commandoes and policemen, stories about the selfless spirit personified by the hotel staff at the Taj and Oberoi who lived up to the spirit of 'Customer Service Comes First' even as they knew it could mean their end, stories about power and attention hungry politicians who cannot resist seeing an opportunity even in something as gory an incident as this!!! These stories have only tangled my thoughts further.

Bombay witnessed terror in its cruelest form at over 10 places on the otherwise usual Wednesday night on the 26th of November 2008. The terrorists had an agenda. They had a plan that was worked out almost to perfection. Their choice of targets, planned distractions and months of training and planning - all culminated into Bombay's most brutal and fatal 60 hours.

Colaba Causeway is Bombay's favourite among those who love to shop, bargain or simply take a stroll. The numerous vendors who dot the Causeway have loads of stuff on display for everyone who drops by - locals and tourists alike. I have spent so many hours shopping along the Colaba Causeway.

Leopold's Cafe always attracted a glance - that many times ended up as a stare in awe. The Cafe had an aura about itself - even for someone like me who experienced it without ever stepping in. I could not miss the ambience that the dim orange lights created, the 'always packed to the brim' look, the variety of foreigners and their constant chatter as they wined and dined. This image of Leopold's would have stayed that way forever but for the terror it witnessed last week.

I have read a lot of articles about the bloodshed at Leopold's - about how almost everyone in the Cafe were killed, about couple of survivors who lay down in the pools of blood amidst the dead for as long as 45 minutes pretending to be dead till help came by, about how a waiter who worked at Leopold's for over 20 years got killed and also about how his brother (who also worked for a long time at the joint) managed to escape only to hear this when he made a numerous attempts to reach his dead brother - 'I took the phone out of this dead body's pocket, who is speaking?'!!!

Leopold's was back to business after 4 days of the incident. I wonder if they can somehow arrange for a fine dining experience for the captive terrorist right there at Leopold's tonight. It will be a slap on his face and on the face of the many spineless creatures behind this and every other act of terror!!!

Victoria Terminus - affectionately known as VT, forcefully known as Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus or CST (with no offence meant to the Great Maratha warrior - my childhood History book hero!!!) was the next on their massacre agenda. If local trains are Bombay's lifeline, VT is its heart. Lakhs of Bombayites cross paths at VT every day. Lakhs of people from the rest of India enter Bombay at Victoria Terminus. What a perfectly chosen spot to spread panic, take lives and leave the blood stains forever!!! Over 50 people lost their lives in an instant... innocent people who were heading back home after a long day at work... innocent people who were waiting to board trains back to their home-towns. A lot more lives could have been taken. We must spare a moment to appreciate and thank the presence of mind displayed by the announcer at VT station and his team who continuously relayed messages for 25 minutes cautioning the many passengers who were alighting at VT and those who were on the premises to run for safety through specific exits or stay put in the trains. They continued making the announcements even after the terrorists shot at their office. This time things are different. I urge brave men like these to let this not pass!!!

Another target was the Nariman House - a building in one of the packed by-lanes of Colaba. This building housed a Jewish Synagogue and attracted a lot of Israeli visitors. It took our commandoes two whole days to put an end to the battle at Nariman House. I am not qualified to comment on the logistics of the commando operations. But I also appreciate the delay and slow process keeping in mind the fact that our commandoes need to think twice about the hostages, the neighbouring buildings and the people around. This makes it a lot more difficult when compared to the fidayeen mentality of the terrorists. Five people including the young Rabbi and his wife were taken hostage and killed later. Their 2-year old son Moshe, who was rescued, is an orphan now!!

With the stage set, panic and chaos at its highest and a sense of achievement the killers took the Taj and Oberoi hotels under their siege. The Taj was where they had set up their control room. It reflects so poorly of our security system to realize that four of the terrorists were living in the Taj for four whole days prior to the incident, stocking themselves with arms, ammunition, strategies to kill and dry fruits to live on so that they could kill for longer!!! All of this went on unnoticed. How??? Is this a reflection of how weak we are or is it just that they're simply many steps ahead!!!

Over a hundred people were killed at the Taj and Oberoi. The toll includes a large number of foreigners as well. This was part of the agenda too - target foreign nationals to create international panic!!! My blood boils when I imagine how the vicious minds behind all this would be celebrating their success. Nine of their men may have been killed, but does that even matter to them!!!

We lost close to 15 policemen - including brave men like Karkare, Salaskar and Kamte. Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan of the NSG and another commando also met their end while fighting the terrorists. Some of the brave men are badly injured. Here is something I read about what an injured NSG commando said even while he was recovering at the hospital...

"There were only two things that crossed my mind that day. Marna ya maarna (kill or die)," he says without batting an eyelid. "When you take a vow to protect the pride of Bharat Mata (Mother India), death doesn't scare you," he says even as the hospital staff brings in a stretcher to move him to another room.

High time we (more importantly our so-called leaders) learn from brave men like these!!! The spirit to serve the nation was not meant to be limited only to our brave jawans!!!

After every disaster, natural calamity or terrorist attack is over India has always witnessed a dirty blame game. Loads of controversies and finger pointing began right after the commandoes won the battle and returned to New Delhi. Politicians who had locked themselves up for four days began surfacing once the coast was clear. It is really sad to see that we are being led by a bunch of people who do not even have the guts to own up responsibility, accept their failures and look at options that would never allow something like this to repeat. Instead they are busy passing the buck to make sure they get themselves a clean chit!!!

Maharashtra's Home Minister R.R. Patil had the audacity to refer to this incident as a small one that happens once in a while in big cities like Bombay. Gopinath Munde was at the Nariman House area immediately after the commandoes had done their job. For what??? I only wish he got beaten up that night!!!

Where were the Thackerays when their 'Mumbai' was burning??? Where were the Thackerays when the Marathi manoos was weeping to see his city being torn apart? Where were the self-proclaimed saviors - the Sena and MNS activists - when the city witnessed its darkest night??? Are our saviors and protectors only potent enough to burn effigies, indulge in rail-rokos, ransack shops that want to spread the message of love on Valentine’ Day and burn up taxis run by non-Marathis!!! It is time the real people of Maharashtra wake up... our saviors need help!!!

Politicians stink across states. It will be unfair to only point fingers at the Thackerays and their hooligans. I fall short of expletives to react to the disgusting and cheap remarks made by Kerala's Chief Minister. 'But for the slain Major, not even a dog will go there' - is what the CM said only because Major Unnikrishnan's father expressed his anger and grief against politicians. I believe that the distraught father's decision to not let the politician inside his home and his fury only mirrors what the rest of us feel. It is ok to be offended and hurt but the CM passing a remark as cheap as that only shows how much he even meant to offer his condolences.

Another politician who deserves a severe bashing is BJP's Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi who commented on Bombayites raising a voice against his clan by saying that 'lipstick and powder-coated women' were busy abusing politicians on TV. So what Mr. Naqvi?? What makes you more insecure - the fact that the masses are raising a voice against you and the rest of you or the fact that women have an option to adorn themselves with lipstick and powder??? Cheap and irrelevant remarks like these in the midst of a tense situation - shameful!!!

The police department is the first one to tackle any act of violence anywhere. It is clear that our police departments are not at all equipped to deal with the kind of terrorists we have today. Why does this inadequacy go unnoticed and unchecked? How difficult is it to have someone audit what is available and what is lacking in terms of skills, weapons, ammunition, protective wear etc.

I read somewhere that Vijay Salaskar - the encounter specialist who died last Thursday - has never worn a bullet proof jacket in all his successful encounter shootings in the past. This time too he was not wearing one. This is because bullet proof jackets available with the police serve no purpose. He had apparently raised this matter with authorities as well as in the courts. But nothing happened. Why can’t we have an external, non-government agency to look into such complaints and issues? Is it against a democracy in any way? Don't we as a tax paying people have the right to audit and ensure that our taxes are being utilized in the right way?

A lot of people say if you're not happy with politics, join politics and set things right. Why should that be the only solution? Not everyone can lead anyway... but that does not mean he/ she cannot raise a voice against the mess our politicians have created. When India can produce world class professionals in every other field why have we failed to produce honest men and women who can lead our nation from the front!!!

Asking the Patils at the Centre and the State to step down will make no difference. They will only be replaced by someone equally corrupt, if not more. It's not just the ruling party to be blamed. A dignified Opposition party would be one that steps forward to work hand in hand with the Ruling party to deal with this national catastrophe. But here we have leaders from the Opposition giving more priority to their election campaigns and distributing pamphlets with chronicles of the ongoing incident and how the Congress has failed!!! It is not just a failure for the Congress or the BJP. We have all failed miserably as a democracy. It hurt when I heard someone say that 'we are unfortunately a democracy'. But somehow that is the sad truth!!!

Every cloud has a silver lining. This cloud that had overcast Bombay was one real dark cloud. The silver lining appears to be the reactions coming in from the non-political class of our society. We need something as massive as a Civilian Revolution to get ourselves out of where we are. Terrorism is a global disease. We have a lot more ailments within our country to set right before taking on something as deadly as terrorism. We need to start from the basics.

We must also not let ourselves get carried away by emotions. The war against terrorism should not let us create divisions based on religion. This is not a Hindu-Muslim war. This is not an India-Pakistan war. We are all victims of terror. The strong statements made by the Maulanas in Bombay that they would not allow the bodies of the killed terrorists to be buried in their crematoriums speak volumes.

I am glad to have been born and brought up in Bombay. I have cribbed endlessly about how much I miss Bombay ever since I have moved out of it. I am proud to see my fellow Bombayites raise a voice this time. I am hurt to see the 'Spirit of Bombay' being criticized as nothing but a compulsion of life. I only pray that these reactions and stimuli last long enough to clean us up of all the mess. I only hope that what has begun as youth rallies against terror, candle-light movements, mass outrage on the blogosphere, email and SMS leads to something much bigger and more concrete. This time things are different. Let us get ourselves to let this not pass...

Lastly, what kind of God do these terrorists have? What kind of faith do they follow? What kind of God would be pleased to see innocent lives been taken... brutally!!! I have heard from learned men and women that there is only one God, that God is above all other and that he somehow sets right the wrong!!! Why is God silent over all that has been happening on the terror front then??? I am not ruling out our failures and responsibilities as a people. But if there is a God above are these unfair imbalances not visible to him??? The people of Bombay and the rest of the world who care have risen above this crisis to try and put an end to terrorism... somehow!!! This time things are different. Help us God... Let this not pass!!!

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Dec 2, 2008

This time I will remember

(Another poem I came across that once again reflects what we all feel about what happened at Bombay. We want answers. This time we are ready to take that extra step to not forget this incident. To take that extra step to not move ahead in life and call it the 'spirit' of Bombay. To take that extra step and ensure a safer tomorrow for ourselves and our generations to come. I found this poem written by Sanjay Trehan on NDTV.com)

This time I will remember
A mother caressing her dead son's forehead
Preparing him pre-maturely for his final destination

This time I will remember
Innocent diners lined up and shot at point blank
Caught in somebody else's war

This time I will remember
Blood splattered walls with grotesque imagery
Freshly burnt flesh shattered mirrors and broken lives

This time I will remember
A mother and her two young kids charred beyond recognition
While the Dad put public good ahead of the personal

This time I will remember
Gun totting terrorists creating mayhem on the streets
Target practicing at a railway station

This time I will remember
Backpackers at a cafe or receptionists at a hotel
Reduced to pieces for no reason

This time I will remember
How like vultures our politicians encircle dead bodies
And feed on the rotting flesh

This time I will remember
How netas usurp Z class security at our expense
And let us be killed like flies

This time I will remember
How our oily babus clamour for promotions
While a plane for commandos is buried in files

This time I will not forget
I will let my wounds fester
I will continue to rage against these parasites
I will demand accountability
I will not allow countless lives to be broken
I will not allow politicians to divide us

This time I will remember
And I will prevail.

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Dec 1, 2008

is baar nahi...

(Lyricist Prasoon Joshi wrote this poem after the Mumbai terror attacks. Says the ad guru and film lyricist, "I believe it should reach as many people as possible because it is our collective pain and voice". I was moved by what he's written... it's truly what every one in Bombay and the rest of India feel... poet or non-poet!!!)


Is baar jab woh choti si bachchi
mere paas apni kharonch le kar aayegi
Main usey phoo phoo kar nahin behlaoonga
Panapney doonga uski tees ko
Is baar nahin

Is baar jab main chehron par dard likha dekhoonga
Nahin gaoonga geet peeda bhula dene wale
Dard ko risney doonga,utarney doonga andar gehrey
Is baar nahin

Is baar main na marham lagaoonga
Na hi uthaoonga rui ke phahey
Aur na hi kahoonga ki tum aankein band karlo,gardan udhar kar lo main dawa lagata hoon
Dekhney doonga sabko hum sabko khuley nangey ghaav
Is baar nahin

Is baar jab uljhaney dekhoonga,chatpatahat dekhoonga
Nahin daudoonga uljhee door lapetney
Uljhaney doonga jab tak ulajh sake
Is baar nahin

Is baar karm ka hawala de kar nahin uthaoonga auzaar
Nahin karoonga phir se ek nayee shuruaat
Nahin banoonga misaal ek karmyogi ki
Nahin aaney doonga zindagi ko aasani se patri par
Utarney doonga usey keechad main,tedhey medhey raston pe
Nahin sookhney doonga deewaron par laga khoon
Halka nahin padney doonga uska rang
Is baar nahin banney doonga usey itna laachaar
Ki paan ki peek aur khoon ka fark hi khatm ho jaye
Is baar nahin
Is baar ghawon ko dekhna hai
Gaur se
Thoda lambe wakt tak
Kuch faisley
Aur uskey baad hausley
Kahin toh shuruat karni hi hogi
Is baar yahi tay kiya hai


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