Sunday, November 30, 2008

Numbing images, numbed thoughts!!

I thought of writing this some time ago, when I was watching the news channels which were showing the images that have numbed our senses for the last couple of days, and when there was a heated debate raging on what went wrong, and why things came to this turn that a few young boys rode across the open seas, landed in our midst and caused havoc with our lives. But in hindsight I’m happy I didn’t write it then, as I was in such a state with anger and helplessness that nothing sensible would have come out of my mind.

Honestly the events over the last few days have made a deep dent into our psyche, whether you guys agree or not. My roomie summed it up best when he said that the menace suddenly felt so close to us, for the first time perhaps we felt weak, vulnerable, helpless. What does one do in a time like this? Keep watching the news channels? Switch on some music/entertainment channel in the false hope that we are pushing the issue to the back of our minds, and life is normal? Pray for the safety of our loved ones, and wish that the entire operation ends quickly and all the perpetrators are caught/ killed? Or wish that they had taken a couple of cabinet ministers hostage instead, as if that would help wake up our ever-sleeping and thoroughly incompetent bunch of jokers we call our politicians?

Well, I guess we will tide this one over too, owing to our now-over-abused and over-stretched “resilience”, and normal life will resume again. Just as it has every time over the last 15 years that we have been bombed, shot at or targeted! But guys, seriously, when we talk of our so-called ‘spirit’, what choice do we have than to get back with our lives and pretend everything is normal? I mean it’s a question of survival after all, right? To me, its not spirit, its just our resignation to the fact that since we have a useless bureaucracy and even more useless politico, its no use expecting anything from them, better go back to work and forget everything. Sometimes I feel its this “resilience” that’s harmful for our own good, we resign to everything, and we just don’t demand enough/protest enough, which can at least make our great politicians take some notice. I guess that’s what being ruled by foreigners (and this goes back much before the British era) for centuries has done to us!

Spare a thought for the amazing rulers we have for us- a home minister who’s more in the news for changing his bandhgalas between meetings than for framing forward-looking policies (I heard a rumor there is an Indian attire fashion show being planned somewhere in his name!), a railway minister who has more scams in his name & more cows in his shed than the years he has spent on this earth, a prime minister who, notwithstanding the fact that he is an earnest man, sounds as threatening for the enemies as Venkatesh Prasad bowling a bouncer at a batsman, and most of all, a president who has decided to cut short her very important trip to far east (which was to my guess more of an effort in the direction of her improving her culinary skills in the sea-food category) more because another former superstar V.P. Singh has passed away (no disrespect intended at a person who has died, but you get the comparison!). Well, with this and more as a list to look up, its anyone’s guess that our enemies won’t really be quivering in their boots or even expecting an aggressive diplomatic real-politik stance from us!

Well, I don’t mean to sound entirely pessimistic, so lets dwell on some positives as well. And nothing can be more heartening for an Indian than the way our security forces, the NSG & the MARCOS have risked their lives in saving ours, and in the process we have lost some of our bravest citizens. My heartfelt salute goes out to all of them, for inspite of being poorly paid & shabbily treated, they have stood up for us when we needed them the most, and shown us what true bravery is all about, and who our true heroes are! God bless, gentlemen!

What now? Well, some points that keep coming up after every such incident so much so that they have become a tad rhetorical, though that doesn’t take anything away from their importance. First, reforms in the way our security forces are treated and improvement & more investment in their equipments and modernization of the same, on a war-footing. Creation of a central body on terror that will, most importantly, be an autonomous body and be answerable only to one person at the top(this looks a bit difficult, though!). Drastic and immediate improvements in the pay scales of our security forces, I mean this is so elementary that it’s a shame to even mention it! Reaching out to every community in our country through regular programmes, making sure every complaining voice is heard, and no situation is created wherein few people can take advantage of the feelings of injustice/hatred people may foster for each other.

Last but not the least, more involvement of our generation in politics, & what I mean by that is at least making sure each one of us votes. I know you will say they are all the same, but at least it has to be made clear to the politicians that the educated class cares in how the country is run, and if its not done properly, it will ask questions.

Let this be the turning point in how we deal with terror, and how we look at taking our country ahead, and I would end it on a positive note, quoting Morgan Freeman from Shawshank Redemption: “Hope is a good thing, and no good thing ever dies!”


Sunday, November 2, 2008

So long Jumbo!

I was spending the perfect Sunday afternoon, after a satisfying lunch at home thanks to our caring Maharashtrian cook, curled up on the drawing room sofa watching the India-Australia test match, when the news filtered in of Anil Kumble hanging up his boots. Well, not a surprising piece of news you might say, not even one that would evoke a lot of emotion among someone who doesn’t follow cricket.

However, I’m and always have been, an ardent cricket fan, and always believe test cricket is the ultimate test of a cricketer’s skills, and there is something about test cricket that mirrors life, that is so eerily similar to life itself! And it is with this background that I thought it fitting to pay tribute to a monumental cricketer, and man.

The last few days have been bringing along bad news by the galore, TV channels falling over each other to bring us news of the entire manoos-bhaiyya drama (I call it idiocy), the Assam blasts (of course, it’s a different matter that we have become completely de-sensitized to these by now, as along as we are in one piece, its cool!), not to mention the economic meltdown, courtesy which an entire breed of professionals seem to be losing their value in the matrimonial market! Amidst all this negativity, it was a welcome change to see some positive words and comments today in the channels, that’s the power of good old-fashioned goodness of character, integrity and dedication, words that are as alien to modern day society as politicians not indulging in regional vote-bank politics. And that’s what brings me to the man called Anil Kumble!

There is something very great about someone who refuses to give up, someone who stands tall in the face of adversity and still retains the strength of his character and doesn’t give up on the way he has decided to live his life, someone who is humble and modest often to a fault, someone who, even in these troubled and confused times, pursues his goal single-mindedly and without resorting to cheap gimmicks, low tricks and in a manner reminding everyone the way sport should be played, and indeed, life should be lived- with head held high! Qualities like these warm the cockles of our hearts, because deep down, we all nurture this goodness, and want to live life that way (trust me!), but most of us are too weak to resist the temptations, or we give in to our circumstances, as we love to say. The truth being, there is always a choice (quoting Spider-man), and its upto us to make it.

That’s Kumble’s legacy, not his 619 test wickets, or his nearly un-playable top-spinners or googlies, or his impeccable line and length, but to be able to demonstrate true leadership and be able to be a true champion, someone worthy of emulating and making a role model out of, whichever field one might belong to. Who can forget his bowling in West Indies with a fractured and heavily bandaged jaw, so much as he could hardly open his mouth even to appeal!

The farewell scenes were poignant, and brought a lump to my throat. But more than anything I realized what a true champion can do, he rises above the game or his own field, and gives us some pointers as to the way life should be lived, and unites us in a way which no politician or other hate-agents can ever dream to undo!

Well, I might be getting a bit emotional here, but I guess this is the vent I needed to pour out my feelings about the crap that has been happening lately! Guys, we all have a responsibility of behaving in the right way in the present circumstances, and to use an old chiche, spread the cheer!

And as far as Mr. Kumble is concerned, I guess it will suffice to say:

Well played sir!