Of Cabbages and Kings

November 30, 2008

The Rose – Better Midler

Filed under: Music — Tags: , — Chinmayi @ 10:24 pm
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November 29, 2008

What we can do

Filed under: Uncategorized — Chinmayi @ 1:04 pm

Suketu Mehta has always had this talent for being able to trace the spirit of Bombay out in words. The beautiful and elusive spirit of Bombay is something that I see in my mind but am unable to draw out for you as he does. So I will give you his words, instead of mine:

Mumbai is all about dhandha, or transaction. From the street food vendor squatting on a sidewalk, fiercely guarding his little business, to the tycoons and their dreams of acquiring Hollywood, this city understands money and has no guilt about the getting and spending of it. I once asked a Muslim man living in a shack without indoor plumbing what kept him in the city. “Mumbai is a golden songbird,” he said. It flies quick and sly, and you’ll have to work hard to catch it, but if you do, a fabulous fortune will open up for you. The executives who congregated in the Taj Mahal hotel were chasing this golden songbird. The terrorists want to kill the songbird.

And his answer which I endorse and adopt as mine:

But the best answer to the terrorists is to dream bigger, make even more money, and visit Mumbai more than ever. Dream of making a good home for all Mumbaikars, not just the denizens of $500-a-night hotel rooms. Dream not just of Bollywood stars like Aishwarya Rai or Shah Rukh Khan, but of clean running water, humane mass transit, better toilets, a responsive government. Make a killing not in God’s name but in the stock market, and then turn up the forbidden music and dance; work hard and party harder.

If the rest of the world wants to help, it should run toward the explosion. It should fly to Mumbai…

From his article in the New York Times.

November 28, 2008

Mumbai

Filed under: Across the Universe — Tags: , , , — Chinmayi @ 6:46 pm

The last 48 hours have been difficult. I have been calling relatives and emailing colleagues, emailing even people who are in touch with people who were near all the violence to see whether everyone is okay. The selfish relief that my friends and family and their friends and family appear to be fine is difficult to supress. It is however miniscule in the face of the horror and nausea that washes over me when I think about how around 150 violent murders have taken place over the last 48 hours. 

For regular updates:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/ 

http://twitter.com/dina

http://ibnlive.in.com/

https://twitter.com/prempanicker

Articles:

http://www.hindu.com/2008/11/28/stories/2008112854791000.htm

http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/11/27/asia/hotel.php 

http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/11/27/asia/scene.php

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/11/27/AR2008112702709.html

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/nov/28/mumbai-city-terror-attack-india (Suketu Mehta)

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/gallery/2008/nov/28/mumbai-terror-attacks?picture=340177689 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/nov/28/mumbai-terror-attacks-india

http://globalvoicesonline.org/2008/11/28/mumbai-and-terror-the-day-after/

The last link has some information on the list of casualties.

November 26, 2008

Mumbai attacked

Filed under: Across the Universe, Personal — Tags: , , , — Chinmayi @ 9:09 pm

This seems to be a week for violence. Bombay is under attack as I sit in this faraway country and look up the next day’s reading material. The Hilton – which is brightly lit all night – looks tired and decrepit and has the army and the police swarming all over it. Arrogant powerful business-people are now frightened hostages huddled inside. People hurrying home after a long day’s work have died and their relatives cannot get to them because it is too dangerous.

A crowded raiway station, three (possibly four) of the most exclusive hotels and a busy central shopping avenue have been attacked. Machine guns and grenades seem to be flying about, there is blood splashed on the sidewalk and the most powerful and resilient city in my country is terrified and falling apart. A man that heads the firm that I used work at managed to escape from one of the hotels under attack. My friends are confined at their offices because to leave would mean to walk straight into restricted areas and gunfire. 

Tonight I will pray. That this madness stops. That more people are not hurt. That the retaliation is not worse than the attack. That the cycle of violence stops here and Bombay has time to heal as it has so many times before today.

Calling 999

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Chinmayi @ 3:19 am

It is interesting that this should come up in today’s paper since I spent the last evening reading all I could on the emergency numbers that one might use in London. 

Two young men  – good friends of my flatmate – were mugged in Camden and left unconcious on the street. This sort of story frightens me. London is full of dark streets and one in three international students are apparently robbed. So I think it is safe to assume that I stand a reasonable chance of being attacked over this year.  The next question I suppose would be – what does one do if one sees goons sidle up on a lonely street? Shouting and attempting to run usually results in more violence so that’s not an option. The only thing that remains is to get in touch with the police and so we turn to 999.

999 is a one-stop emergency number so after you dial, you usually have to choose from a menu of options as to what kind of emergency yours might be. Presumable the thugs’d be upon you by then and you wouldn’t be in the best position to pay careful attention to the menu, press the correct button and spend a few minutes describing the exact nature of your emergency. 

And here’s an article that popped up this morning on a girl that tried just that. She was being attacked – raped by a stranger – and she called 999. Emergency operators apparently have the power to override the automated options if they hear suspicious sounds, but apparently ‘ the quality of the background conversation between Hannah and the driver was too indistinct to raise concerns’. This is the conversation that the operator heard and while the oversight can be understood in this specific case, I cannot understand why no one seems to be interrogating the system. A little more time spent listening to the call and Hannah Foster may not have had to die.

Is it so difficult to imagine that someone covertly calling an emergency number mayn’t be able to arrange for appropriate descriptions or clear sounds within a minute from calling?

November 16, 2008

Filed under: Personal, Random musing — Chinmayi @ 11:26 pm

London is very different from anything I have known so far. At home, it was possible to walk down a road and know instantly who to avoid and who to smile at. I can’t read faces here.

So when a greying man from my country accosts me at the tube station, I listen to him. He says he has just escaped death. A bus he was about to board had a horrible accident. I listen. Then he tells me he was visiting his ex-wife after thirty years. And then that she kissed him and she lives in a house as large as the buckingham palace. 

“Congratulations on your lucky escape”, I murmur and flee to the other end of the platform.

November 10, 2008

Protected: Welcome to my blog

Filed under: Personal — Chinmayi @ 8:44 pm

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November 8, 2008

The going rate for manufacturing a baby

Filed under: Across the Universe — Tags: , , , , — Chinmayi @ 10:59 pm

is apparently 40,000 RMB if you are a middle school graduate and not very pretty, and 100,000 RMB if you have a bachelor’s degree and are pretty. 

Sigh, what will the chinese come up with next. 

Source: Marginal revolution. Read the entire post here

This begs several questions though, not the least of which is whether we can see this as the market price for childbirth generally. Even if it comes in the specific context of surrogate parenting, perhaps it implies that a natural mother is measured in terms of her looks and resume.

Corona

Filed under: Poetry — Chinmayi @ 9:49 pm

Autunm eats its leaf out of my hand: we are friends.
From the nuts we shell time and we teach it to walk:
then time returns to the shell.

In the mirror it’s Sunday,
in dream there is room for sleeping,
our mouths speak the truth.

My eye moves down to the sex of my loved one:
we look at each other,
we exchange dark words,
we love each other like poppy and recollection,
we sleep like wine in the conches,
like the sea in the moon’s blood ray.

We stand by the window embracing, and people look up from
the street:
it is time they knew!
It is time the stone made an effort to flower,
time unrest had a beating heart.
It is time it were time.

It is time.

-Paul Celan

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