Saturday, November 29, 2008

A tribute


-By Swetha Amit
The last two days and three nights have a continuous ordeal of nightmare. Terrorists unknown in number were lurking about in the most unexpected of locales holding hostages to ransom. It was convicted as another 9/11 only this time it actually ended up being a 28/11. Residents have been waking up to gun shots, heavy firing in the vicinity. It made many wonder if Mumbai will ever see daylight again.

Fear, panic and tension rose in the air. The city which usually bounces back from the tragedy the next day was brought to a stand still. The bustling area of Colaba which is usually vivacious turned into a war zone with commandos and choppers indulging in reinforcement to eliminate the miscreants. The three operations at Oberoi, Nariman house and Taj intensified. Exchanges with the enemy and loud bombings send shivers down the spine around those watching it on television and live. It was a daunting task considering the questions hurled by millions “With a few number of terrorist in comparison to the NSG forces, what was taking them so long to nab the extremists?”

Yet the grit and determination indeed portrayed the valor of our security personnel who managed to make their operations successful. Smiles are beginning to emerge as millions are celebrating the end of this terror nightmare.

Meanwhile in all this war and bloodshed, there are quite a number of heroes without whose valiance; one wouldn’t even have begun to see daylight. This is a tribute to those who died a martyr’s death only to reassure us yet another day of existence: Hemant Karkare, Vijay Salaskar, Ashok Kamte, Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan and Havilder Chander. It is also a tribute to those lives which have been lost for no fault of theirs or were forcibly taken such as the hostages so that their country can sleep in peace. Their bereavement would have left their near and dear ones in immense grief due to this untimely mishap. One prays that their soul rests in peace and offers consolidated support to those families whose loss may never be compensated by this disaster in more than one way.

Fingers are pointed out to political incompetence with much indignation and ferocity, and one hopes that such loopholes are dealt with at least now as one certainly does not want brutality of a black Wednesday, Friday or any other day for that matter.
Written for www.msn.co.in

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Dark Night

-Written By Swetha Amit
It was the usual routine towards the end of a rather long day that brought us to the gym tonight. Little did we realize that an unexpected jolt of news would completely cast a dark shadow on the entire spirited city of Mumbai within a span of five hours? It seemed like a night that would never see daylight with the severe recurring attacks of masked faces.

It was the voice of a frantic man reporting an appalling incident of having witnessed a shooting outside Leopold’s in Colaba Causeway that made many sit up and take notice of. The instant reaction of logging on to the news channels followed hoping for more insights on this bizarre occurrence. The initial reports of it being a fiasco between two warring gangs led to a casual dismissal as just one of those incidents when a couple of more atrocities were announced. Before anyone could say ‘Jack Robinson’, a couple of blasts were reported and from then on it became the reign of terror in the maximum city.

Millions were caught of their guard by this ‘surprise’ visit which apparently was out to destroy everything that the city was proud of. It seemed that maligning the prestigious monuments topped the to-do list of these miscreants. The affluent joints were rebuked in such a callous manner that would instigate psychologists to label this as an extremist’s streak of sadism against the prosperity of the entire nation. It seemed that the quest for revenge against innocent civilians had also spread to architectural exhibitions which were a manifestation of the creative human mind.

It was a shocking sight to see the iconic symbol of the city being used as the hostage hub for these terrorists only to go up in fumes later. The entire city was a victim of havoc, hue and cry. Police jeeps, ambulances, gun shots and the media swarmed the streets of South Mumbai along with the entry of commandos and the rest of the support system. Several were left sleepless and helpless as they watched the turmoil and panic stricken fellow mates undergo anguish and misery. Petrol Bunks, stations, cinema halls, hotels, and couple of areas in North Mumbai were not spared. Not to mention the causalities included the Chief of the Anti terrorist squad as well.

True that Mumbai has been a terror target before. Yet this one seemed to have completely made the vivacious city go haywire and shaken up completely. The ‘spirit’ of the city is much talked about which is depicted in its quick recovery after a calamity-man made or natural. It appears that the city which never sleeps has lived up to its meaning including the defense and its simple folks who were probably up praying for the safety of their near and dear ones.

Will Mumbai recover and be on its tracks again? Or is this a blow that it will not forget very easily leaving behind a few scars. Time will tell.

However it made me wonder about the precautionary methods adopted by the government. Several serial blasts have occurred all over the country in the past one year. Yet it appears that our country has failed to fight this disease. The mindsets of terrorists also prove to be a mystery here. Why use innocent civilians as pawns in this battle between politics and them? Don’t they understand the value of lives and families? Is it cowardice or a method to convey some sort of supremacy? Would the politicians have learnt their lesson? Or would there be more cases of doom over dome, such as the case of the Taj Mahal hotel? And leave millions of us to only hope and clasp our hands in humble prayer hoping that such an untoward incident will never occur again. Yet the veil of doubt spreads like a shadow with a tinge of gloom like the twilight zone bringing in darkness.

This dark night would never be forgotten easily as one can foresee the innumerable sleepless ones to come by. Certainly where it is bound to leave them feeling restless and incomplete.
Written for www.msn.co.in

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Friday, November 14, 2008

Retaining the child in you

-By Swetha Amit
http://content.msn.co.in/MSNContribute/Story.aspx?PageID=4b62d035-eb38-474d-bbf5-53f379069c1a
It was the sight of a child not more than 9 years of age consoling his mother that brought me to a screeching halt equaling to that of a car slamming its breaks on seeing an aged pedestrian. As I drew closer to this rather unusual sight I learnt that she had lost her purse containing a lump sum amount of money which symbolized her pined up hopes for the future. “Don’t worry mom. Everything lost will come back in some form or the other. Life is like that.”

The calm expression on the little boy’s face was one that imprinted in my mind as I cruised through the busy streets of Mumbai. There was none of the expected innocence and the vitality that one would expect from those who haven’t even reached the brink of adolescence. And yet words spoken could have put a so called ‘grown up’ to shame who would have normally reacted in nothing less than a hyperactive manner. My mind flashed back to several instances earlier which did not have me indulge in introspection, but now they seemed to have clouded my mind. How ironically I thought, that such had to surge just on the eve of children’s day. The very day attributed to these little off springs who were known to be the manifestation of divinity with their hearts as pure as that of the morning dew. Yet today’s young generation seemed to have been diluted with the smog of hard hitting realities through exposure and forcing them up to ‘grow up’ quickly.

With an ocean of information floating around the virtual world, not to mention the accessibility factor, kids get the hang of not wanting to ‘kid’ around anymore. The new generation seems a lot wiser in comparison to their previous ones. Hearing, seeing too much of adult talks have definitely robbed them out of their naïve charm. The parenting styles have apparently altered of not ‘screening’ their conversations. Be it politics, terrorism, volatile stock markets, accidents cinema, and spirituality, there seems to be no dearth for a variety in exposure.

The fast paced approach has obviously caught on where children are trying to either match up to their grown ups or attempting to be a step ahead of them. While one can look at this ‘progress’ with much appreciation, its quite natural to miss the playful laughter and the air of vivacity with those who were oblivious to the world. The latter factor was what made many elders come from stress filled office environments to look forward to those angelic smiles of reassurance in their own way. Gone were the days of not caring for anything at all. The obsession for fashion seems to have caught up with the young ones as well. I could still recollect a girl’s vehement refusal to a piece of chocolate cake for fear of adding calories. Or that conversation between two kids which consisted of the ‘happening’ places in town. Or the young boys discussing their fathers’ financial positions.

Is it time to wake up to new generation that is awakening? And get ready to face the truth that they could be possible agony aunts/uncles during crisis. What a strange thing to note that either provides a soothing balm to us. Their charming smiles or the worldly wise lines. It appears that one cannot ignore this ‘upcoming’ aspect for long. Especially when even the latest advertisements where a girl offers a solution for future savings or a boy’s tagline which says” If you don’t ask questions, how will you learn?” Yes it’s that time of the era where elements of dependency are replaced with despondency. Playful stance is replaced with a replay of questions that would invoke ones grey cells to cause the same shades in their jet black locks.

So where is the childhood factor? And who can blame them? Undercurrents of vast information corrupt their budding mindsets to bloom into a beanstalk overnight. A quest to become the ‘Jack’ of all trades perhaps? The question is: will we be forced to grow old quickly due to these raging young blood or propel us to retain certain childishness in us not to feel the pangs of our twilight years soon?

Just the other day a suave corporate man mentioned that 60 is the new forty and “So where am I growing old? I still have the zest to explore different facets of life and have miles to go before I sleep.” I couldn’t help compare it to the contrast statement of a ten year old stating he was too old to be celebrating birthdays. And yet we are all heading towards the same direction through unique walks where one day or the other we reach our second childhood which is the old age. One where we may not be very welcome or have attention showered upon us. Demands will be shunned with disgust and horror. And then it’ll be too late to realize that the most gratifying years were lost only because one wanted to grow up quickly.

The youthful spirit is killed by depriving it of space, time and fun. It’s important to not kill the child in us at any cost and that which keeps us raring to go till the race is over. Our clouds of deriving little pleasure in small things shouldn’t ultimately lead to the cloudburst of the child factor. And its important that we retain the child in us.

Note: Wishing all readers a Happy Children’s day irrespective of age as the mind that makes the year factor and not the other way around.
Written for www.msn.co.in

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