Saturday, November 29, 2008

It's over

The news was confirmed today once the Taj was rid of terrorists and the NSG took over the building. It's terribly heartbreaking - I know India hasn't been immune to bombs and terror but it's just such a shock to have people you know and love and respect being involved in it. My heart goes out to her husband and her two children.

This has been said before, but I really need to put it down here - I wish the media was more responsible. For what the shoving of cameras into the faces of people who were waiting in terror or who had lost their loved ones? Why the continuous close ups of the dead bodies in Nariman House? Can we have no respect for the dead? For those suffering?

As I write, the jingoism has already begun. I really don't see how the Congress will ever come back to power - as my dad has been saying almost like a broken record, this what you have when you have a government based on tribal politics and loyalty and no merit whatsoever. And there is no denying that this administration has been largely pathetic but the thought of the BJP coming back is terrible. I don't think anti-Pakistan rhetoric or a shift to right wing politics is even remotely useful - what will that ever solve? It's sad that the most common thing I have heard in the last few days is that the at least the US never suffered any attacks after 9/11 - that at least George W. dealt with toughness. What the US has lost in the wake of the draconian measures that government took will take years of fixing and has affected all of us.

Also, I wish Narendra Modi would shut the fuck up.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Have given up watching the coverage on television, mostly because I can't take it any more. My uncle, aunt, cousins were having dinner at the Taj when firing broke out. They were lucky and managed to get out in the first few hours. My old boss - she was editor of the publication I was interning with right out of school - was trapped in a corner room of the Taj. Last night I heard there had been no news from her since early that morning. Today they are saying she hasn't made it. We had exchanged emails just a few days back.

I am so sad and so, so angry.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

...

I have been watching the news for nearly five hours now and the insanity of the whole thing still hasn't sunk in yet. I don't think I've been this close to being in tears in a really long time. Those were all my places dammit. My uncle used to live at NCPA for the longest time - that's the stretch of Bombay I know best. And the policemen whose names are flashing on the television - those are people I know too. My mom called up to say she couldn't watch the coverage anymore, saying she was going to try and sleep and asking me to pray for the people and for the Taj. "I don't want to wake up and see the dome gone."
I'm so tired and angry and frustrated. And I don't pray much, but I don't know what else to do.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Idiocy

"If Lord Hanuman can make Barack Obama victorious, why not me?"
- BJP candidate Vijay Jolly who is contesting against Delhi CM Sheila Dixit in the state elections

Bonus Update:

Even more idiocy (via K) - Batman sues Batman.

Batman has a new adversary: Batman.
The mayor of an oil-producing city in southeastern Turkey, which has the same name as the Caped Crusader, is suing helmer
Christopher Nolan and Warner Bros. for royalties from mega-grosser "The Dark Knight."

Monday, November 10, 2008

Istanbullu Kediler

So, basically I should be working but I have been so terribly distracted by everything. I need to be kept away from book shops – I went and bought Nadeem Aslam’s The Wasted Vigil when I should actually have been reading about Ziya Gökalp and Turkish nationalism. Oh well. I have been reading about Islam and secularism today and this whole bit about the celebration of the conquest of Istanbul day – not a public holiday, but celebrated with huge fanfare in Islamist circles, though also open to the public, and creating an alternate to the national narrative of history – got me all distracted. Anyway, all this is beside the point. I am now procrastinating and writing this post that I had wanted to eons back. But I am lazy and so this has taken a few months. This post, by the way, is about Istanbullu cats - Istanbullu kediler.






Cats are everywhere in Istanbul. They literally run riot in the city, probably an equivalent to the mice in Hamlin. They walk lazily into the mosque court yards, sun themselves in the public squares, at the Sahaflar Çarşısı they laze on top of the books and amongst the prayer beads that are on sale. Istanbul is, like many very old cities, a city of the dead – graveyards keep popping up especially in the old city and of course, in the mosque complexes. Cats abound there too – sleeping on elaborate tombs, stretching and yawning and showing an utter lack of respect for the poor souls resting in the leafy compounds. Last year I was having çay at the open and airy Kaffeehaus at Tünel (sadly no longer there – it’s been replaced by another café place which I didn’t visit) only to have a big black ball of fur come and jump into my lap. Perhaps it’s because Istanbul is a sea city with an abundance of fish that the cats like walking its streets so much.







This overabundance of cats is in a way curious – Constantinople through history was always known as the city of dogs. Apparently mongrels used to rule the streets, barking into the night and being a general pain for the city’s municipality. They ate up the garbage but then equaled that out by littering the city with their droppings. Efforts were made to get rid of the dogs under a latter day Ottoman Sultan but the dogs were considered lucky by the residents and they were brought back from the island they had been shipped off to. Once the Young Turks came to power though, their brutality didn’t spare even the city’s dogs. A failure at providing the country a constitutional government -their main aim – they did manage to clean up the city’s streets and drains. In 1910, the packs of dogs that had for centuries been a feature of Constantinople’s streets were collected and shipped to a waterless island once again – this time to perish. Apparently, the whines and barks of the dying canines echoed across the Marmara for moths.





You do see dogs sometimes – but they are rare and usually domestic. With the dogs gone it’s perhaps no wonder that cats rule the streets. They also seemingly rule the hearts of the kind Istanbullus, who do go out of their way to feed and often pet them and happily share with them the streets of their city. I have to say here that I have always been a dog person – I don’t have any great liking for cats – but the ones in Istanbul seem to have grown on me, too.



Saturday, November 08, 2008

Travels

Spent a few days last week travelling in Rajasthan. Was in Mewar - Delwara, Udaipur, Haldighati, Ranakpur, Kumbhalgarh, Chittaurgarh among other places. We easily drove 1000+ kilometres through the Aravallis. I have visited Udaipur and Chittaur before, but it's been almost 8 years since.

Took very many pictures - so many green doors!! I have any photos of green doors from just this trip to fill have a book or something. And also some of very red safa's. Should share some stories too. Had coffee with the Maharana of Udaipur - no story here except he came out of his palace to drop us to the car and the tourists outside went crazy taking pictures. Quite amusing. My sister was fairly kicked about this whole encounter only to have me throw some wet water on that by reminding her that he was basically a commoner now, so no big deal. Except you get to see these crazy ass palatial houses that are so stuffed with stuff (what else will they be stuffed with) that there's not one inch of empty space. Imagine living in a treasure chest - sort of cramped.

Should also tell of the most interesting museum celebrating Pratap Singh I visited in Haldighati. A full celebration of the Maharana as the first freedom fighter in India. (Really? What about Shivaji? Or am I wrong?). All complete with with Hindu imagery. Ah, nationalism. That's a story for another time, though, I am not making much sense now. That's what happens when you have all these stupid applications to fill up and SOP's to think about. And it's not even like I have managed to get much work done. Sucketh.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Living History

Barack Hussein Obama
The 44th President (Elect) of the United States