Monthly Archives: December 2005

Lest We Forget

Last Sunday, on Christmas, for NDTV to come up with a story on the first anniversary of Tsunami was very thoughtful, probably, one of the few examples of responsible journalism. While most of the world looks ahead to the celebrations and joy the new year has in store, it is also required that we look back. Because if we don’t look back, we don’t learn. We need to look back, lest we forget.

I had been searching, without success, at NDTV.com archives for a link to that story, to share it here, with you. Alaphia, a fellow blogger and one of the journalists who covered the report on Tsunami, has shared the very same script that she had narrated on the NDTV story. Thank you so much, Alaphia.

Please read it here.

And yes, this is remembrance week.

Lest we forget.

The Aftermath

Last night, in Bangalore, a suspected terrorist attack, and the government has stepped into action now. But why were the security arrangements “light”, when New Delhi Police had already warned the State Government, of something like this happening, beforehand? Why is the security situation being reviewed by the state now, after the attack has happened? Why was this not done when the warning was issued? Why do incidents like these have to happen for the Government to wake up and take “precautionary” measures?

When Rohan Sippy spoke to Truman

So when I asked him, the director of Bluffmaster, on the chat at rediff, exactly why did he work in a coffee shop in New York, I expected a better answer. Something like, maybe he wanted to see how it feels to work in a coffee shop in NY, to meet new people or to have a feel of the city probably because the city has inspired him all his life (Typical Bollywood).

The answer was, well, he just wanted to earn some money. How boring.

And before I could tell him that my friends did not like his movie, he was gone.

But since I have not seen the movie as yet, I shall not (try to) be prejudiced. I am optimistic about the movie for many reasons, one of them is this.

Mine is the second last question, here.

Will Power

When I suggested my father, to get the sonography done because his stomach problem had dragged too long, I only echoed the words of my mother who had repeatedly asked him to do so. I had come to Goa, my home, during the vacations from Indore, where I had been studying for my BCA.

By the time sonography happened, I was back in Indore, studying for my exams.

In the brief long distance calls, I was unable to realise that something was wrong. Long distance calls were costly, the cellphone, still a toy of the rich, so it was usually my side of the story that made it through. How convenient it was, for me, to assume that everything was fine. Always had been fine, will be fine.

When maa told that Father was to be shifted to New Delhi, I thought something was serious. I was told there was an infection in his stomach, a “little” surgery had to be done. My sister was to be in Delhi, skipping her school.

In the conversations that followed, maa began to use the word “tumor” instead of “infection”.

Then one night, during a call, I asked Maa.

“Maa, is it cancer?”

The silence, followed by a reply that was bound by cluttered words formed by an unprepared mind, unfolded exactly what I had not been told all this while.

I paused.

I was instructed not to go there. Only after the exams, was I allowed to visit Delhi. Anything other than this, and I would end up adding to the despair my mother had been facing.

Two operations followed. Father had responded well after the second operation. His left hand was swollen with the IVs they had attached to him. There was no more space for thin, mean needles to go in, but it was okay with him.

It was all a matter of will power, he said.

Maa stayed 20 days (and nights) at the hospital, most of the times, sleeping on the bedsheet with a thin foam, on the floor. Not once did she complain. People asked her to let me skip college that year. Everyone expected my sister to repeat her tenth grade school the next year.

When I reached Delhi after my exams, I thought I would be staying with Maa, till the time Father was relieved. Instead, I was summoned to take my sister to Goa and was to stay with her as long as I could. No one was to skip an academic year, were Maa’s orders.

Apart from the support my father got from the family, it was the positive attitude that worked for him. And yes, Will power. The willingness to see through something like this, is half the battle won.

Today Father has fully recovered from Colon Cancer, all that remains is a scar on the stomach. But with that, he chooses to be reminded of his courage that made him look forward to life.

Kasauli

To arrive at this town, which has inspired writers like Kushwant Singh and Salman Rushdie, without a book, would almost be a sin, hence not only did I carry a Mistry book with me throughout, I was also able to take time out, reading the book whenever I could, in breaks, while sunshine sprayed on the hills.

Kasauli backside view

The days are cold, the nights chilly. Wind blows on the hills from the west but they could be mistaken to be coming from anywhere, for this chill brings the senses to a halt.

This town, if it qualifies to be a called a town that is, is just what I had thought it to be. Calm, serene, at peace. People drop by the city, en route to Shimla, maybe just to fulfill a formality of visiting the place, so they could have a “been there, done that” written against Kasauli’s name in a certain diary. The “Glitter, Glamour” has all been stolen by Shimla, 60 Kms away, and that is precisely the reason why I chose to come here.

Kasauli Town

To be here, is to come home to solitude. Kasauli lets you be alone. It lets you sip a cup of Tea, alone on the pavement made of heavy stones, shining and polished by frequent walkers, as people go by their work. No one comes to you, asking you to look at the winter collection of clothes, no taxiwalla comes to you trying to allure you in one of those sight seeing rides. You are left alone.

But do not mistake this for unfriendliness on the part of the residents of this small town. Talk once, and they will open their world to you.

Church of Christ

While the world has moved to multiplexes and malls, Kasauli has chosen to stay back. But not surprisingly, intrusions by a modern world are impending. Glimpses of it were evident as I saw Nokia Phones and Prepaid sim cards being sold inside small toy shops. And clearly, this town is not a fan of movies or it’s stars as I find no evidence or traces left by any bollywood release — no posters, no boards. In a small chamber that exists within one of the few narrow paths that constitute the demography of Kasauli, children play cricket, while behind the batsman is a hand pump, it’s cement cuboid base, serving the players as a makeshift wicket. The ball touching the other end of the wall, is of course, a boundary scored. Passer-by’s like me, act as the wicket keeper.

Evening comes and I return back to the Army Holiday Home, my “base camp”. On the edge, down below, I see the bed of mountains. Northwest of my view, I see Shimla slowly coming to lights and up above I see the even slower formation of a starry night taking over the reins from the Sun. The Sun that has hovered around these mountains of The Shivaliks, the lower range of the Himalayas, is now going down in a way as if choosing a mountain to find it’s abode in. It finally dims down, the mist and fog, giving it cover as it goes to the hiding. Orion is now clearly visible over my head. The wind blows harder, convincing me to go inside the warm indoors. Daisy, the German Shepherd, follows me to my room and stands at the door as if waiting for me to carry out a promise. I am reminded of the Breakfast I had shared with her in the morning. I realise we probably have a silent, mutual understanding. For dinner, I give her three slices of bread, the best I could offer. She walks away and I go inside, turn on the heater.

Sunset-2