Saturday, June 5, 2010

My 1st volunteer work overseas

Hi Everyone,

Life in Sydney has been buzzing for me. My MBA classes, casual job, internship at a telecom management firm has always kept me on toes. But as if that wasn't enough to squeeze every hour of my day, I took up a volunteer work for a cause I believe can't be stressed enough in a country like Australia. Callan Park Mental Health Festival is being celebrated on 25th September 2010 by honouring mental health consumers, their carers, family, friends and the community that supports them. With around 35% of population estimated to be affected with mental health related problems, the statistics speak for themselves.

I started out when the festival's team was being formed. I joined as a marketing intern by the end of February, concentrating specially on social-space marketing of the festival. Last month, I got promoted as the Director for Social Media Marketing, which pushed my responsibilities up further.

Just a couple of days ago, the Callan Park website put up my short blog on its Chatter Box. Do have a look, not just what I have written, but also at other parts of the website. If you are in Australia, Sydney in particular, please support the festival by being a part of it. If you are overseas, you can still be a part of the festival, as we are going to have a live webcast on the Festival day. So tag your calendars for 25th September.

More experiences await..


Click here for my mini-blog on Callan Park Website

Click here for Callan Park Festival website

Thursday, May 6, 2010

"Fear the Boom and the Bust" - a Hayek vs. Keynes Rap Anthem

Makes a good light-hearted watch for economics enthusiasts and professionals alike!! Smart and well made! (Courtsey:

Our lecturer started with the first lecture of Macroeconomics with this video!

Friday, March 5, 2010

"What's a 'border'?"

A friendly chat between my friend and her Aussie mate brought up a blatant truth that this side of the world is incognizant of. Blissfully so!

This conversation was conveyed to me via telephone. The chat was light-hearted, touching upon Indian cuisine, places of interest in India, the more recent hyped 'attacks on Indians' in Oz, et al. Her Aussie mate asked, "In India, you must be living so dangerously with firing taking place every day, bomb explosions and stuff (whatever 'stuff' means). How do you manage?" To which my friend replied, "Oh! Don't worry. I don't live in the border area. It happens there on everyday basis." Confused, the Aussie mate asked, "What's a border?"

This last question hit me in the eye. I first thought he must be kidding. But on second thought, I realized it was a grave, stark naked question! How are you supposed to explain to an Aussie what a border is? Just a territorial line for delineating enforcement of a State's rule? Could fit a textbook definition, a raison d'etre; but is it all that is attached to real-life meaning of border? What about a multitude of issues, humanitarian distress, conflicts, deaths, diplomacy, tears & hopelessness that is associated with 'border'. As Indians, we can easily relate to this term, albeit in a small measure because almost all of you reading this blog would be from a region far from the border. Still, some amount of appreciation would be expected.

But how do you explain this to a citizen of a continent-nation not sharing border with any other nation? Covered by ocean on all sides, for Australia, borders are nothing more than checkpoints for smuggling, illegal migrants & quarantining goods. How diametrically different from the concept of a border we have! Australia would never come to terms with a hard reality of 'border'. And I pray it never does...

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Sena still bowls dead-balls!

Yes, I am speaking about Shiv Sena, a right-wing militant organization based in Mumbai who has recently lost it all! Having no new political agenda at the moment, it is either clinging to the issues that date back decades ago or otherwise making issues out of non-issues. As a sportsman, I felt disgusted when Shiv Sena 'roared' that it wont allow Aussie cricket team to play in Mumbai. But anyway, it didn't come as a surprise from a party traditionally playing cricket-politics! Well, the point is, you all have heard enough about it and had heated discussions about it as well. Through this blog, I want to drive a point home to the Shiv Sena. Well, actually not me, but Lisa Sthalekar.

Confused??? Who is this Lisa Sthalekar?? I am sure you never heard about her! She is a Marathi for starters. Don't reach for Google yet, she will speak for herself... And yes, Sena, read it if you have still got some sensibilities! See, you have two so-called agendas: one, the Marathi cause and two, the cricket politics. But what would yo u do if both your agendas combine and stand against your face as one? What would you do if a Marathi person becomes a stalwart in Australian cricket circuit? This is the new face of Australian cricket that you are up against, and ignorant about! This is the Marathi-manoos for you, the one you don't stand up for!

Lisa Sthalekar (born 13 August 1979, Pune, Maharashtra, India) is an all round cricketer who plays for the Australian national women's team, as well as the New South Wales women's cricket team.An integral part of the team, Sthalekar is noted for both her batting and bowling (right arm off break) capabilities. She scored her maiden Test century against England in 2003, and has a Test bowling average of less than 20.

She currently serves as vice-captain for her country, and in the 2006-07 season she guided the New South Wales Breakers to their ninth Women's National Cricket League title in 11 years, scoring 83 in the final.In both 2007 and 2008 she was named the Australian International Woman Cricketer of the Year at the Allan Border Medal awards, Australia's annual cricket awards ceremony.

She became the first player with 1,000 runs and 100 wickets in Women's ODI.

Lisa had spent just three weeks in India before her family moved to Australia, where her father introduced her to the game, when she showed promise as a backyard cricketer.

"I first picked up the bat at the age of six or seven in the backyard with my father," she said. "Throughout my career, my family supported and encouraged me to follow my dreams."

"The smell of the sun, the grass and sunscreen again has got me excited," she told the newspaper. "In Sydney, everyone goes, 'the smell of sunscreen is like you're going to the beach', but for me it's the cricket ground."

Sthalekar, who works full time for Cricket New South Wales as high performance coach, also has an arts degree majoring in psychology.

More links on Lisa:

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A new art learnt!

What could be a better way to wave goodbye to a passing year than to take lessons in art in its twilight hours? The year 2009 ended for me with a 'hands-on' Mood Indigo '09 during 21st to 24th December 2009! Mood Indigo is IIT Bombay's annual cultural festival, attracting thousands of students from all over India and Asia. This time, I could experience a bit of dullness in the festivities, but nonetheless, I had a good amount of take-aways!!

The spotlight of the festival for me was 'Garnish- The Fruit Carving Workshop'. With about a 30-odd students attending it, it started with distribution of a watermellon and a knife-blade. I was all pumped-up because the fruit-carvings were displayed right in front of us, and with the equipment in place now, it was time for some serious carving. We started step-by-step following the instructions. First I peeled off half of the oval watermelon, so that I could have one face of the watermelon to work on. Then, it was time to make an initial design at the centre of the face with the blade. With a floral design in place, I carved out the portion between the petals by initially etching out a circle linking the tips of the petals, and then fine-tuning the cuts so as to extract the portion between the required design. So now, I had a flower at the centre. The next step was to etch out more petals by starting at the tip of any one petal and continuing into the circumference of the next outer circle. Following the same steps, I made three outer petal rounds. Then, in order to make it look more attractive, the petals had to be sliced a bit from inside, so that just a green border of petals was visible with the red colour of watermelon forming the inside of the petal. This had to be done on all petals. Finally after some 2 hours of art-attack, the carved watermelon looked like this. (see photo)

A sense of satisfaction made the rest of my evening, after taking the art-work home, saving it from the pushes and squeezes of the maddening crowd in a BEST bus!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

12 Days of Christmas by Boymongoose

This is a very funny song-spoof of the Christmas carol: '12 days of Christmas' by Boymongoose. Boymongoose is an Indian Christmas popstar who specializes in comedic remakes of all the classic Christmas Carols ( This spoof hits at 'desis' and would send you into peals of laughter; more soever if you are an NRI and living in Australia. So, enjoy while it lasts, mate!!

(For more information on the true meaning of '12 days of Christmas', click

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Laxmi Pujan in Sydney

Diwali festival has always been one of the most celebrated festivals at home. And since every day in Diwali has a special meaning and occassion attached, the festivities and ways of celebration are diverse. Not to mention the relish of traditional Diwali sweets and savouries!!

Down Under, Diwali is celebrated in Indian-dominated pockets, like Parramatta in New South Wales. Diwali shows are arranged and celebrated with colours of music and food. Unfortunately, this year Diwali was at a time when exams are just round the corner. So, going to Parramatta (net travelling of 50-60 mins from Sydney CBD) was out of question for me. Nevertheless, tradition had to be upheld and celebrated, so I planned a modest Diwali at home.

The night before, I made 'diyas' (lamps) out of the flour I had at home, and made some cotton wicks. By next evening, at the time of Laxmi Pujan, they had dried and hardnened and were fit for purpose. I performed Ganesh Puja first and then proceeded with Laxmi Pujan.

This was quite a make-shift affair. My mom had sent me a picture of Goddess Laxmi as an email attachment, which now was the wallpaper on my laptop. This was used for pictorial representation for the Puja. The home-made diyas furnished the sides of the laptop and the touch-pad acted as a place for placing some dollar bills (since Laxmi is Goddess of Wealth in Hindu mythology and wealth is worshipped on this day).

I felt strange as well as happy performing a Puja like this, but then, thats how you achieve maximization through minimum resources. I felt glad I achieved it in my own small measure!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Caramelized World

Sweet words, sugar coated,
Rightly and politically crafted
Deep down lingers the smell
Of the caramelized world.

The confluence of politics and business
Flows across the oceans deep
Enhancing the sweet salinity
Of the caramelized world.

Cold wars, increasing days afresh
Greys gaining over blacks and whites
The freezing, frosted numbness
Of the caramelized world.

A helping hand and selfless love,
Harsh words filled with concern
Soothing the daily burns
Of the caramelized world.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Picture this mate: Parking sense!!

Now, that's some parking sense! Optimization of parking space...

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Picture this, mate!: What's gonna end?

Is it the end of the bicycle track as well as the people walking? Sounds like a no man's land!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Picture this, mate!: Road signs!?

I am starting a new photo blog series titled "Picture this, mate!" on my blog which essentially is a collection of interesting pictures I have clicked in Australia. So here goes the 1st one out to you:

How would you read this?

Monday, August 31, 2009


The word is inescapable, if you are watching a cricket match. Me and my roomies were watching the Ashes series live on TV and suddenly an uproar from the almost calm fielding side broke through the air... "HOWZZAT!!!"

Its a word of appeal thats synonymous with the cricket world. The word that brings the game and the spectators to a brief, anxious halt! And when it is a nail-biting scenario, the word kicks up emotions more than just anxiety. But observing the word from a linguistic focus, it seems incomprehensible to word-intensive person like me. The word "HOWZZAT', actually a shorter form of "How's that?" would in a worldly sense of proper usage would invite replies like "that's good", "awesome", "hmm..not bad", "good work", etc. But instead, umpires don't waste their energy replying to such appeals asking for praise!! They just raise their finger or just nod the head sideways.

Moreover, just imagine a scenario where someone comes to you and asks you "How's that?".. And you turn in some other direction, raise both your hands and point finger to sketch a picture of a square in the air. Doesn't it look funny? But thats what umpires do on the field to refer to the third umpire!

I can't imagine what would happen to me if I was made to stand behind the stumps and judge the game! I would probably reply, "Oh! That's a great piece of bowling" to an LBW appeal. I can't imagine the brickbats from a team of 11 on the field!

That was just a passing thought then, but I later tried to google the origin of the phrase/word "Howzzat" in cricket, but I couldn't find any references. Maybe any of you cricket devotees could help me out. Just for etymological curiosity!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Oz 'racial' attacks: A Low-down

Okay.. so you 'heard' and 'read' much about the 'racist' attacks against Indians in Australia! And obviously, since we Indians have inherited the passion for protests and demonstrations, there had to be a protest planned against these attacks! Protests did take place, unfortunately somewhat Indian way, exhibiting much of rowdiness, indiscipline and loud slogans! Let me make couple of points here.

I saw the clip of the protests of Indian students in Melbourne (the video link featured above) and I was ashamed by the way they were protesting. They crowded on the streets marching away, raising loud, angry slogans, whistling and displaying indiscipline of protest - very much the way they behave in India! For the average Australian, who sort of sympathized with Indian students due to the attacks, this type of 'mob-like' protest was not at all welcome. A sort of bitterness could be seen a few days after these protests. Australians made it blatantly clear that such kind of anger-display wasn't at all appreciated in a country where civic discipline and peace is respected and upheld. I gathered this from my network of people who have been in Australia with their families and working here for many years now. Their Australian colleagues used to ask them whats wrong with the Indian students? Why are they behaving like this? It was very obvious that such actions from Indians like taking to the streets in hundreds, disturbing the civic life and peace, created unpleasantness amongst the locals; even Indian-Australians. But Indian students were far from respecting the culture of the land and were further edged on by the amplification provided by the Indian media, ever hungry to make a mountain of a molehill... Display of uncalled patriotic jingoism like shouting slogans of "Bharat mata ki jai" did nothing but further alienate themselves from the masses. How would you feel if a bunch of Aussies took to the streets in India shouting patriotic slogans about Australia? And if foreigners stay in your country and show the infamous middle finger to your police force as they did during the protest, in front of the Australian media? (see the YouTube clip). It certainly ends in a bad feeling! Now if this happens to further alienate Indians from mainstream Australian culture, who is to be blamed to cause racism? Predictably so, Indian media never highlighted 'how' the protests were carried out!

Let's now come to the point of 'racism' by Australians. I fail to get how can Australia be called racist when there is no such thing as Australian race! Indian can be a nationality as well as a race, but Australian is a nationality. The 'original' Aussies were the aborigines, who themselves were a victim of the European racism. The people we see in Australia have ancestral or parental linkage to different countries in the world - Indian, Chinese, Greek, Vietnamese, Croatian, Lebanese and many others. Hence Australia becomes a nation of heterogeneous races... so which of these would you call the Australian race? The attacks which took place in Harris Park, near Sydney were a result of a feud between Punjabis and Lebanese population there. So if a Lebanese bashes up an Indian, still do we call it racism?

If you say yes to this, what would you say about India then? India is much more racist than Australia is! Temples are still dominated by Brahmin lobby which doesn't allow any other caste to enter their domain. There are bitter quarrels between communities, linguistic groups, states. If a Gujarati is mugged and bashed up on a lonely street of Mumbai, would the newspapers publish the next day that Mumbai is racist?

Now here's a final thought to the series of events that unfolded. Build up on these cues and it is rational enough to view these attacks without being carried away by irrationalities of mass sentiments. Indian students in Australia have a lifestyle that consists of leaving for work or university in the morning and usually returning back home early or late at night, usually in public transport or walking. Since most of them are not rich enough to afford property rents around the city hubs, students prefer to live in suburbs (some of them notorious) where property rates are low and hence they afford rents by sharing with other students. Mostly these suburbs are lonely after evenings and people in Australia don't usually come late from work. The people who can be seen on these streets are mostly Indian students walking back to their homes. In these circumstances, it is but natural that most of the victims of mugging and bashing would be none other than Indian students!

Also it is interesting to note why only 'Indian students' and not 'Indians' were at the receiving end of the attacks which happened. If Australians are racist, believing the media propaganda, then Indians in general should have been the victims, which is not so! That leaves a question unanswered, right? And no one seems to ask that question!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

No cOZ for fear!

Hi Friends,

That is the news report in today's Pune Mirror, voicing out students' reactions who are in Sydney to the recent Aussie attacks. I had given a small email interview to this journalist and the report has finally made it to the print.

Just posting the link here. Please do put your comments so that we could make good use of this webspace for sharing viewpoints!

(Go to page 2: See inlay image for reference)

Cheers mate! No worries,

Monday, May 4, 2009

Does your vote really count?

41.24!!! That was the voter turnout in Mumbai for the 2009 Lok Sabha Elections. Shocking? Not really... What more can you expect when elections are mostly scheduled around a 4-day long weekend and soaring mercury? This has been a consistent trend, because it naturally and almost delusively keeps away the middle-class and the upper-middle class from the polling booths. I mean that tactic is just so obvious not to be noticed!

So we heard a lot of 'election-jargon' like 'anti-incumbency factor' and what not! Organizations undertook campaigns on a massive scale, creating 'more aware' voters (I take it with a pinch of salt!) and emphasizing the masses to 'jaago' (awaken) and vote! Though, this piece of writing would somehow hurt the sentiments of these campaigners, let me assure, this is not against the campaigns which are certainly run with a very good motive.

The question I am contemplating is whether the vote of the commons really makes any difference to the polls? Do we blindly follow the adage 'Your Vote Counts?' Ever wondered why 'anti-incumbency factor' fails to do anything else than embellish the statements of psephologists? And if I may go a step ahead and raise your eyebrow saying that it hardly matters whether you vote or not, would you call me a non-conformist?

Maybe to a great extent I am, but then again, I am proud of being one! But this topic is not about the helplessness experienced due to dirty politics and vote banks! The core of this blog concentrates on the rationality of a logical theory which underlines why voting of a common man doesn't count... Why majority doesn't play a decisive game as does minority!

The reason I say what I say can be made clear by taking a fictitious, yet trend-proven example of an election scenario. We know that there are countless parties in India, each 'following' its agenda. These numerous parties float their candidates which fill up a long page of the ballot paper. Suppose now that in a certain constituency, there are 20 candidates contesting elections. Take for example a population of 20000 of that constituency. Now, without deliberating on their patterns of voting, let’s simply assume for instance that each candidate gets equal number of votes, i.e. 1000 votes each. Or otherwise, if you want to assume a distribution of your choice, say, 1300, 700, 500, 1500, 300, 1400... etc. This is the voice of the 'common man', i.e., a majority of you reading this blog. Is it giving out any verdict? Certainly that would be wishful thinking!! Now let’s introduce a 'specific interest group' into this scene. This group maybe a business group, a social group or any group you can think of as long as it has a specific purpose for its formation and existence. Now for the time being, lets assume it is a group of local businesses in that area who need to acquire government lands in that constituency. Now, this group is searching for candidates who can fulfill their demands and in turn, candidates are always looking for such 'interest groups' who could leverage their count. Suppose out of a population of 20000, 1500 are aligned to this group, then it is anybody's guess that the candidate who assures the maximum benefits gets these 1500 votes... Now add these votes to our equiprobable vote count of 1000 per candidate. It becomes 2500 votes for that candidate. Compare 2500 with vote counts like 300, 700, 1000, 1200, 1500 or even 1700 (assume 1700 is the vote count of the most deserving candidate getting most votes by people). Still the margin is very high, and imagine if amplification factor is applied to this example, the margin amplifies more and more.

So at the end of it all, whose vote matters? Your vote (as you have been always told) as an individual? Or your vote ....... as a part of an interest group? The answer is obvious and not surprising at all. Hence, even if you religiously believe that your vote would help to elect the best candidate and bring in reforms, you certainly are in Utopia, because even if you go into a denial mode, the hard facts remain! And could be proved over and over again!

So what do I suggest? Well, the idea to contemplate is how you can make that difference and how your vote would 'really' count! There are various ways I believe this could be done, although I am not an authority to evaluate these options. What I believe is that to begin with, we need to streamline our efforts. I recommend we can start with being a part of an 'interest group'. This need not be always vested interests; sorry if the example cited offers you that bias. But then if you see in western countries, like-minded people follow a cause, however trivial it is and become one when it comes to electing the person who delivers what they stood for!

Even in countries where only 2 parties exist, this is observed. And moreover, when it comes to a multi-party setup as in India, this becomes a necessary step. Uniting votes and streamlining them for reforms is the issue at hand and maybe would pave a way ahead to make your vote 'count' and not just another increment in a vote count!

Monday, April 20, 2009

A tale of two cities

Having been Down Under for more than 2 months now, I can say I have experienced Sydney at least to a level where I can write about it. I avoid writing first impressions of the city, because they may not be always stay that way over a period of time.

Nevertheless, my first impression of Sydney was that of a city 'complicated and laid back' at the same time. I arrived at my temporary accommodation in Sydney in a shiny black taxi, the address being fed initially by the driver in the GPS navigator. Cabbies here have to be told the exact address at the beginning of the journey, complete with the house number and name! The navigator calculates the optimum path to your destination and the cabbie follows it.

Being used to a stochastic life, back home in Mumbai; the city that never sleeps, closing down of shops by 7 pm was quite queer. Everything followed a specific system, even in places where there is no such need. My initial days were spent adjusting to the new lifestyle, the city had to offer. I had nothing to do in the initial few days, except searching for a permanent accommodation. Google maps were the only source of moving around the city, since I didn't have a GPS navigator. There's no relying on the local residents of the area for the address, because people hardly have any know-how about the area other than important places, although street names are clearly visible everywhere.

Over a period of time, one thing has struck me that Sydney (or Australia) is overly reliant on systems. It may be true with all 1st world countries, but it definitely plays down human efforts or mind. People are used to follow only a set system and being guided for smallest instruction by it. Any change to that is not easily comprehensible by the person using that system. Even in the service sector, systems are followed which leaves very little scope for a challenging thinking or decision making on the part of the person delivering the service. In the event of system failure, I believe the functioning of the city would be drastically affected. The city lives by the dictum: 'We are for the system. The system is not for us'.

Things diametrically change in Mumbai which follows: 'The system is for us. We are not for the system'. The systems in Mumbai are not a set of rigid processes, but are more or less interpretative processes, which encourages lateral thinking and snap judgments. That is why, even if systems are not state-of-the-art in Mumbai, people 'know' how to react to divergence from normal behaviour of the systems.

At the end, life is smooth, with 'risk-averse' behaviour prominently seen amongst almost all citizens. People prefer to be guided by safe systems with little appetite for risk.

More thoughts to follow...

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Blogger Returns

Yes, I know its quite some time since I have posted anything up here. "Some time" could be an understatement, but nevertheless, I am making a re-entry into this web space.

Time flies and so do distances. I have been subjected to a new life and environment here in Sydney, away from home. Blogging was lost somewhere amidst this new beginning. Friends asked what happened, and I just used to tell them.. "yes, soon I will blog".

But now, I think enough is enough; I shouldn't act that busy and get to what I love the most: write, write and write...
Expect some new stuff on this blog, new experiences in new city, new people, family away from family and some reflections!
See you guys soon.. Thanks for sticking to this space!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Musings by the sea

An evening spent with 2 of my closest friends on the Marine Drive is enough to take away life's worries away for at least the moment. The sun setting behind the cloudy horizon casts a magic spell all over the place. The calm sea ahead of you and the bustling city of Mumbai behind you makes you smile an irony. Moments are cherished; photographs embellish them. Sitting on the facade of the rocks on the sea-face, sometimes words are lost. All of a sudden, there is nothing to speak about, but everything to experience. Even the fallen breeze makes you fresh and lively! That's nature! And that's us; an integral part of it; of the sea, of the tides, of the sun. A look at the horizon far away makes you feel a part of it. The horizon doesn't know how much more to tread on, where is the end, or for that matter, where should it begin... Illusion: thats what we live, and thats what is the horizon we see. But then if life is an illusion, we should enjoy every bit of it. Illusions can be conquered by human bonds, and that makes us special.

Chuckles of laughter stir the placid calmness and suddenly there is so much to say, so much to talk about. But the clock ticks away to glory; you can't bribe it... The twilight hour decks up the 'Queen's Necklace' as the place is called due to the literal resemblance. People throng to this captivating place to catch some much needed fresh air. Fresh air - a much sought after commodity in this concrete jungle. The worldly sense now takes over and wristwatches get a quick glance. Its time to return to our abodes and to life's frontiers.

What more can I ask on a Sunday evening?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Reply to an SMS

The terrorists attacks of 26/11 certainly invited the anguish and wrath of people of Mumbai. SMSs were doing rounds ranging from kudos to the armed forces to blindly attacking Raj Thackeray and MNS. Many of you must have come across this SMS:

"Where is Raj Thackeray and his brave sena? Tell him that 200 NSG commandos from Delhi (No Marathi manoos! All south & North Indians!) have been sent to Mumbai to fight the terrorists so that he can sleep peacefully. Please forward this so that it finally reaches the coward bully!"

And today I want to answer that SMS. First of all, let me tell you, Raj Thackeray and MNS has made me proud as a Marathi. I really don't expect this piece of news to be followed up by Hindi media channels because we are well aware of the convenient sidelining of issues by these biased channels. They have their own 'politics' of hiding the truth conveniently for their own vested interests. Nevertheless, for those who appreciated the message and also went ahead and pressed the forward button on their cell phones, this is what MNS was upto when news of the attack came in:

When he first heard of the attacks, Arvind Gawde, MNS ward president from South Mumbai and MNS workers pressed into action immediately. Their first priority was to arrange for blood. They contributed more than 1500 bottles for the injured. They made food arrangements for the cops and the NSG commandos, and distributed more than 2000 Bisleri bottles. They arranged for free medicines for needy patients and also provided medicines which were not available at hospitals. More than 2000 workers were helping victims at GT, JJ and St. George hospitals. Vaibhav Shinde, President of Students' Wing of MNS arranged 10 ambulances to take injured to hospitals. They also took 90 victims on their own to the hospitals.

The welcoming thing to appreciate is that Raj Thackeray didn't behave like any other politician. Even if he wasn't in any authoritative position unlike those in power, his party was not politicizing the issue but got down straight to be a part of the helping hand. And I sincerely feel that should be appreciated. Please rise above the petty politics played by the delusive media and look beyond. Infact Maharashtra CM should have been asked this question who had the entire state machinery at his disposal. Kudos to the MNS workers who were working behind the scenes, not caring for any sort of political brownies. Did Narendra Modi do anything fruitful for the Mumbaikars at that tragic moment? A press appearance is all that he gave us, and no one questions him what did you do than just expressing solidarity? But the name Raj Thackeray makes all guns to be diverted to him and pull the trigger without thought. Aren't we unconsciously biased? Do you want to be happy, being puppets in the hand of the media?

The second part of the SMS talks about NSG commandos (no Marathi manoos! All South and North Indians) being sent to Mumbai. Firstly the Mumbai police, essentially a Marathi force, did not just sit there waiting for someone else to take action. The very first heroes of the operations were none but 3 top Police officers from Mumbai, all Marathis. And NSG commandos also comprised of bravehearts like Rajendra Kore (a Marathi), who was injured in Nariman House operations.

Next time you make a statement like that, first get your facts together...

For those who need proof supporting what I just stated, do go through this picture. Its a report in "The Afternoon" dated 27th November 2008

Sunday, November 30, 2008

"In India, life is cheap"

"In India, life is cheap."

Those were the words of a US citizen when asked about her reactions to the terrorist attack of 26/11. And I can't agree more. Being an Indian, I very well know that here, life has no pricetag. The events unfolding after 26/11 just go a step further in establishing this known fact. What have we lost? Nothing! What have we gained? Nothing. What remains is blood, anger and superficial bursts of patriotic euphoria... I was sceptical about writing this blog, but then I had to vent myself out. I know not many people are going to like this piece of thought. Criticize me, hate me; throw brickbats... but then this is what I feel about the entire situation...

You may think I am angry. But I am not. Am I shaken? Certainly. But the feeling that is coming out strong and clear in me today is that of being ashamed. I am ashamed of being an Indian today. By India, I mean to point out to the 'system' of which we all are a part. No, no fingers at politicians for heaven's sake. I know we Indians are very well trained and love to throw brickbats at our politicians, but something more larger is accountable than just politicians. So am I being a non-patriot? Think as you like, but thats certainly not the case. When your sibling does something that makes you hang your head in shame, does that mean you don't love him/her anymore? Then can't we digest the fact that being ashamed of one's nation is equally natural? More soever, over an incidence that exposes your incapabilities and lack of will in front of the whole world?


10 terrorists. Over 400 NSG commandos. 60+ hours of operations. 3 locations. 100s of army personnel. This equation would certainly make any crisis management team, red-faced. Around 10:45 pm on 26th November, the police had an inkling of what they were up against. With very little information about the whole scenario, the police initiated an action. The Mumbai police stepped in quickly and tried to initiate primary operations. That was very commendable and Mumbai police truly lived to their expectations. Sadly, with the loss of 3 top brass officers, the operation hit a major hurdle. Karkare, Salaskar & Kamte suffered multiple bullet injuries and died. An observation that has come up now, in one of the dailies is that the bullet-proof jackets worn by these bravehearts bore marks of bullets passing through the protective covering! Is that what we give our saviours to wear when they lead from the front without caring for their lives? When they don't think twice about sacrificing their lives for the nation, is it not our duty to protect them in any way we can? Compromising on quality of bullet-proof jackets can happen only in India, I am sure! This is also a good indicator of how our priorities on defence spending are grossly misdirected. We spend millions on producing indigenous missiles and long range nukes. But when it comes to a soldier on the ground, we cant even give him a proper state-of-the-art equipment to deal with the enemy face to face? Do our missiles deal with terrorists holed up in cities? Are we not aware of changing nature of conflicts and defence situations that we would be confronting in the future? As I said, life is cheap... jackets are costlier!

The decision to call in NSG commandos came in quickly, but the time span between decision and action seemed like light years. I was again reminded of the Indian Airlines hijacking at Kandahar. 9 hours for beginning a commando operation of highest priority is something to be ridiculed. What message do we give to the international community? Is that our face of commitment and will to fight terrorism? And when they finally came, I thought that it was now time for the terrorists to count their minutes. Minutes transformed to hours, hours to days. This wasn't looking to be quite a commando operation, considering the typical parameters of one. I wouldn't go in depth commenting on what was expected. But experts in this field would surely agree that the operation was ill-planned and lacked proper logistics. It certainly wasn't one of the commendable operations as per international experiences and standards of operations was considered. Clearly, some major shortcomings on the commando action is clearly pointed out. When NSG commandos are used to provide security to top-brass politicians, I better not comment on the quality compromise that stares us in the face. Another very disturbing piece of news that came up was that our commandos didn't have the basic floor plan of the hotels! Now thats something that is really not expected of intelligence inputs and logistics team. And don't we feel ashamed when the international media takes note of this? Was it really that difficult for this input not to reach the daredevils on ground zero? Again, I have no words. On one hand we speak of making Mumbai another Shanghai, and on the other, thats the crude system of information we have in place as of now! Making a mega city dwells much further than just building state-of-the-art highrises and flyovers. And logistics is a subject we fail repeatedly.


Even in the midst of operations, the resilience of Mumbaikars and the undying spirit of Mumbai was in newsroom discussions. Politicians too followed upon the same recurring statement which comes after every crisis Mumbai undergoes. The fact is that this has gone too far. We feel proud when someone flatters us about this 'resilience', whereas in reality this has become a popular way of dealing with people of Mumbai. Praise them, sugar-coat your words in tried and tested tastes of bravado and valiance.. and Mumbaikars feel proud and sky-high. Its high time we know how much we are taken for granted by the use of these words.

Ok, forget everything. Lets apply our mind into this word 'resilience' which is used over and over again. In fact, we should realize that not being resilient is a luxury for us. We do not bounce back because we unitedly decide to, but because, we 'have to'. We can't afford staying back in our homes after any calamity. The city has an incredible appetite, and if you dont work or carry out your tasks so as to satiate this ever-growing hunger, you yourself would be eaten. That is why, even if you want to stay at home, you are 'forced' to come out and start your day's work. The bottomline is: "You don't have a choice".

If that is what we call resilience, we are grossly mistaken. And the 'spirit of Mumbai' that is talked about is nothing but smilingly accepting this mistaken phenomenon. And that makes Mumbai special, because the city doesn't allow you to sit down and think!


As always, politicians are quick to respond to any situation; apart from the fact that the response is misdirected and rarely of any valuable help. And politicians certainly lived up to their 'expectations'. Our honourable PM and Sonia Gandhi made a quick dash to Mumbai a day after the operations started. And it was anyone's guess what a great deal of support they were going to provide. In fact the situation in the city was that policemen had already been deployed in large numbers since the whole city was a war zone. Now, a VIP coming to the city requires another large deployment for the security arrangements to cater to him. That certainly put an additional pressure on the police presence in the city. But then who cares? What difference does it make to us when politicians come to the city? Nothing! But then, do they spend a small thought for the policemen who bear the brunt of this indifference?

Narendra Modi made his presence felt. Supposedly he came to stand up and be one with the people of Mumbai in this hour of crisis. But what he did was nothing but to criticize the PM's speech and immaturely announce 1 crore to the families of the martyrs. Only he can talk business when the city is grappling with bullets.


Anger! Thats an integral part of us all. In this situation, we too were angry and frustrated. Our blood was boiling. We don't know what we were angry for.. Do we ever think about that? People get killed, so you are angry! They bomb our city so you are angry! They killed our soldiers, so you are angry! Ok, so be it. Our helplessness manifested into anger and frustration. But then what do we do when we are angry? NOTHING. We just wait till the anger cools down! Meanwhile, we can do what we do best when we are angry - lash out against Pakistan. Its a classic example of misdirected anger. We need to realize that Pakistan is equally helpless when it comes to crushing terrorism. As a state, Pakistan is in a bad shape today, almost on the verge of going bankrupt. Both Pakistan and India are victims of terrorism - and they have failed badly tackling it. Not that India has been very successful, but then the blame game is easy and rides on the rival sentiments of the people. And when we vent out anger against Pakistan, we are quite off the track. Even if its quite popular in India, that doesn't justify it in any way. One of my friends had put his display quote on Orkut: Kill all Pakis. That grossly demonstrates the traditional anger target. As Premshankar Jha pointed out in a TV discussion, "Anger in a civilized society is a luxury, unless channelized properly".

There could be another reason for anger. This reason could be a subconscious one and you may or may not accept it. Is it so that we are angry because somewhere in us we know that the terrorists achieved their objective - terrorizing people? We killed the terrorists, but we didn't defeat terrorism. We won the fight, but lost the battle. Today I am shaken. I am scared. Scared that me and my family are not safe anymore in this country. Whether indoors or outdoors, the fear factor prevails and thats what the objective of terrorists was. And I believe they successfully completed the mission.

Another thing I would like to point out. Do not take it in a wrong sense. But I need to appreciate what is well done. I sincerely believe that the terrorists should be appreciated because they finished the task at hand with determination and with professional skills. 10 terrorists fighting against 400+ NSG commandos, the most elite of India's military force; for 3 days is a praiseworthy achievement. I hope we take a lesson from them that dedication to one's task should not be compromised.


Finally after 3 days of gunfire, its the time for counting. The brave sons of India who died fighting, got a tearful goodbye, with a promise that we will remember you always. A promise that is never kept. The euphoria and the mass reaction certainly are encouraging, but it dies out soon. In no more than 6 months, Karkare, Kamte, Salaskar, Sandeep Unnikrishnan, Gajendra Singh would be forgotten. And I am not saying this; our history stands as a testimonial. The valour of our martyrs soak in the wetness of our euphoric patriotism and dries out soon as the sun of getting back to life shines brightly and warmly. How many of us truly will remember them? You think you will? Ok, take this simple test..

Tell me, who won the 'Indian Idol 1' competition? The name 'Abhijeet Sawant' would come to your mind instantly. If not instantly, after racking your memory for a minute or two you would get the answer. In the worst case scenario, even if you don't know, ask your family members or the neighbours and you will certainly get this answer.

Now answer this: Who was the 1st martyr of the Kargil War? I know it wouldn't come to you instantly. Rack your brains, take an hour or two.. still no answer, right? Ask your family members or neighbours. Google '1st martyr of Kargil war', still you wouldn't get the answer. Thats because 'Lt. Saurabh Kalia' is a page lost in the history, almost a decade ago...

We remember 'Abhijeet Sawant' but not 'Lt. Saurabh Kalia'. Some of you may argue that its not his name but the sacrifice he made for the country that we remember. Fair enough. Now be honest to yourself and see whether you take Lt. Kalia's name in the same state of emotions and euphoria as you take Maj. Unnikrishnan's name... Certainly that wont be the case. Soon Maj. Unnikrishnan would be Lt. Kalia and the process will continue...


What remains is a shaken nation that would soon stabilize, even in the face of inaction. Lessons won't be learnt just as they have never been in the past because questions will go unanswered. A few measures here and there would be initiated and with no one to follow up and due to lack of political will and determination, it would go down the drain or some middle-man would reap its monetary benefits. Strong condemning would follow, eminent people would be showcased on newsroom talkshows, security would be momentarily tightened up, people would be vigilant till 26/11 is forgotten... What it takes to stir up the nation is only an attack of this magnitude, and till lessons are not learnt, we are going to face these attacks more frequently. Taking note of 9/11 for the US, there hasn't been a single terrorist incident after that, whereas in India, a bombing here and there is a routine practice. If a country like US, a country so vast in geography can keep a check on these activities, why can't we?

The bottomline is that your nation is not going to provide for your safety. A day may come when we have to burn candles every week; worse every day. Its every man for himself and that leaves us divided in the end. And still we will say, "I am proud to be an Indian".