the good word

It is natural to be outraged by an event like the Mumbai Terror Attack but only to a limit. Delhi loves Mumbai and Mumbai loves Delhi. I don't understand the need to prove it today. People who love Mumbai have and will do so. No one is going to start loving Mumbai afresh because 200 + people died there, irrelevant of the fact whether they died in a posh hotel or a religious sanctuary.

I feel the citizenry of India isn't reacting appropriately because the noise and outrage is a waste of useful energy. If you want a change, why not be the change. A PIL, filed by Society For India Law Firms, has asked for implementation of reforms in the police and administration - that's suggestive change, constructive at that.

The NEED of the hour is 'to be wise'. Don't let the media pull your strings to such an extent. Sieve the information that you recieve from them. Use your discretion. Media is a profitable business and a very opinionated one at that, most of the times. However, it is from this very body that you will get 'the good' information as well.

Thanks to Mr. Prem Shankar Jha, who I just heard on NDTV 24 x 7 in an interview. According to Mr. Jha 'The secy of State (US) did NOT visit India to tell Pakistan to cooperate in the Mumbai Terror Attack Investigation and be transparent in doing so. She would have gone to Pakistan if that was the case. She came to India to tell the government to be patient in our expectations from Pakistan'.

According to Mr. Jha 'The Mumbai Terror Attack has in a way been an effort on the part of terrorist groups to divert attention from the Western Front, which is a problem area for them. This inadvertent political turmoil that India and Pakistan have entangled themselves in, in the week after 26/11, with certain individuals hinting towards a 'required' attack on Pakistan in response to 26/11 - is exactly what terrorist groups had hoped to achieve' and will be doing so if our outrages isn't reigned.

The need of the hour is a) damage control and b) tightening of reigns in order to secure the Indian territory and please waste less time on swapping of political reins from one hand to another, right now isn't the time.



For years now …

I have fought an inner battle … I have told myself innumerable number of times that terrorists cannot be categorized according to religion; that its untrue that more terrorists are borne by one particular religion than others … heck why be coy … I have told myself that all terrorists are NOT Muslim and I have steered myself clear of the belief that ALL Muslims are terrorists …

Today, as the Mumbai, 26th November attack continues for over 14 hours, suddenly my belief in shaken out of my being. Perhaps my parents had always been right in being wary of Muslims everywhere; perhaps their belief has been strengthened by years of such experiences. My father’s words, which I have safely ignored for the past 3 – 4 years are now resounding in my head “the congress is not going to do anything about it in fear of losing their Muslim vote bank”.

I don’t know what to think anymore …

What I do know is that no party (and don’t shoot back at me the lame argument of ‘we chose them’) is capable of bringing about any drastic change in this direction …

…they are sitting snug, fully protected and safety jacket clad, in their plush homes or offices. Over the telephone they give TV interviews saying, the country needs to rise above political issues/differences. The Mumbaikars need to bounce back with the spirit of Mumbai.

Up until the last terrorist attack in my country, I was strongly affected and vehemently condemned them amongst groups of friends. We all did our fair share of ‘this is despicable’ and ‘tut-tut’, condemning the media for the way they covered the attacks, like leeches sucking the blood-like limelight from the attacks in order to achieve nutrition-like money … the greed being paramount in this whole scenario … … …

Now, today on the 27th November 2008, as the hostage scenario continues, I feel no anger, no vehemence, no fear … I feel nothing …

… there is this sense of hopelessness though


Conflict Reportage ???

I am not someone who disagrees with the existence and fundamentals of ‘conflict reportage/conflict photography’. I in fact now, truly believe in James Nachtwey’s theory of ‘war photography’ being an antidote to war. But, that’s because I only saw the documentary about him – ‘War Photographer’. What you see there and I would like to assume in most of Jim Nachtwey’s work is human distress – images of the survivors of conflicts or the families of the deceased … What you don’t see is flowing streams of blood, lifeless bloody bodies, injured people rushing / being rushed towards help …

I am not someone who has studied journalism herself and knows the fundamentals and ideals, the rules and regulations of this noble career herself …

I am someone who out of a sheer sense of humanity, which I was naturally born with and not necessarily can take credit for, knows its wrong to show such images of gore, blood, and extreme distress in TV and print media.

An hour and a half into the blasts in Delhi this evening and I have seen the visuals of an unconscious woman, head covered in blood, being whisked away to medical assistance in the least appreciable way possible. Wait … I have not only seen these visuals … I have seen them repeatedly on the leading news channels of the nation.

I am someone who knows someone personally who decades ago was witness to a conflict situation and saw a person being killed … that someone has not since been herself, is prone to regular bouts of depression and needs constant medical attention. My immediate concern on seeing these images is that she is somehow kept away from TV and newspapers for at least the next couple of days …

I am someone who was once closely associated with according to me the best media house in all of India … a media house I no longer work with … a media house that today like all others is running these images of dead and injured people in an endless loop.

I am someone who today, at 8 pm, 13 Sept 2008 has lost all faith in the Indian media – all of it.

Instead of being an antidote to this ‘conflict situation’, the Indian Media today, like many times before, is rubbing salt in the herida abierta (open wound).

In today’s scenario, it almost seems that since the blasts weren’t that high intensity and there isn’t large-scale destruction to be seen, the media is showing images of dead and injured people to create an effect of a heightened conflict.

Where are their ethics? How much lower will they stoop? How many more open wounds will they create?

What is the solution to all of this? I believe it is reminding these very “top channels” of their ethics which they seem to have completely obliterated. I personally implore them … to stop creating these second-birth like conflicts minutes after an area, a state is hit with such distress …


James Nachtwey

James Nachtwey grew up in Massachusetts and graduated from Dartmouth College, where he studied Art History and Political Science (1966-70). Images from the Vietnam War and the American Civil Rights movement had a powerful effect on him and were instrumental in his decision to become a photographer. He has worked aboard ships in the Merchant Marine, and while teaching himself photography, he was an apprentice news film editor and a truck driver. In 1976 he started work as a newspaper photographer in New Mexico, and in 1980, he moved to New York to begin a career as a freelance magazine photographer. His first foreign assignment was to cover civil strife in Northern Ireland in 1981 during the IRA hunger strike.

Seeking answers?

There are some questions that I seek answers to and some others that my soul yearns for that they be answered. They well up inside me until they come out in a surge and flow out into this colossal universe and get washed away by infinite others.

If God sees us humans destroying our very home, destroying each other and everything that is around us or comes in our way, why doesn’t he stop us?

Does he try but we just never listen?

Is it wrong to think about what I am going to have for breakfast whilst I read about people plagued by flood, homeless, foodless, clothe-less, lifeless?

Is it wrong to eat popcorn with coke vegetating in front of the television whilst a little child cleans my house?

Is it ok to not give the beggar seeking alms at the traffic signal any money because you have heard stories how some of them just use that money to buy drugs or the money that some of them make eventually goes to their agents (dalals)?

Is it right to sit in a plush eatery with a glass of wine, another of Perrier, a platter of chicken tikka, a pack of rich cigarettes and claim to want to benefit the world?

Is it correct to meet 40 somethings in their classroom being taught about the need to wash their hands after having been to the toilet and washed their excreta with their very hands; feel something for them for a bit and then forget about them?

Is it ok to meet whole families living in dump yards, stepping on the shit piled up on their porch, watch them consume whole meals amongst the garbage, the shit; throw up in a corner further dirtying their home, come back to your own home which is spick and span and forget about those families?

Is it all right to be a part of a gang war in a ravished slum cluster where no one remembers the reason why the gang war started; take pictures by bribing the underdog, come back home and use those photographs for your material benefit and forget about the people of the cluster who are miserably stuck in a life they didn’t sign up for?

Is it justified to meet hair collectors (people who go from house to house in slums et al and collect the hair that have fallen off people’s head whilst combing their hair), befriend them so you can film them, take pictures with them and then leave, using those pictures for your benefit, whilst never looking back at those people who you had befriended?

Is it all right to curse whilst driving, every car that overtakes you and wish that the driver ends up in an accident when they could actually be in a need to get somewhere urgently, like or unlike yourself?

Is it ok to hate the person sitting next to you in a movie theatre because he/she is getting emotional about a scene from the film?

Is it ok to have so much vengeance, so much hatred for this world at times that you could curse the whole world, wish it would all be destroyed?

Is is ok to wish death upon ones like you around you?

Is it ok to bare your soul?

Is it ok to not bare your soul?

Is it ok to watch the film about James Nachtwey, cry one minute, be moved when he says that “war photography is in a way an antidote to war” and think about your next meal before the film ends?


beauty in breakdown



I read through the pages of a book at night and I can’t get through the night without putting this down on paper. Do we really find love in War?

Coelho in his latest book The Zahir, talks about people … humans going to war because the total power rush achieved by sacrificing themselves gives importance to their lives.
Love Actually the film begins with the message of love … ‘when the planes hit the twin towers the last messages were messages of love and not of hate’.
Coelho’s Esther says that when she - the journalist goes into a war zone she starts living life because any moment could be her last. She really lives, loving every minute, every second … there being no room for sadness, doubts, nothing … just a great love for life.

I don’t question one of the author’s words, as he wraps his words around me and I in a leap of faith enter the fantasy world … only this time this world is full of blood, massacre, gore, death … the black world of love and war….

With my minimalist experience of pain & grief … love & war … joy & sorrow… I don’t consider myself worthy of saying this but if not today when will I … never If I wait until tomorrow.

Does this really stand true … at this point both sides seem balanced … on one hand there are films like War Feels like War perhaps …
That make you sit up and take heed of the gloom that surrounds you while you spend your holiday nicely snuggled at home, biting into warm supper, watch the 9 o’ clock news …. Do your fair share of Tut – Tut and go off to bed ………… all this as opposed to the other side of the world where the sun is rising as you pull the blanket over you … where a white sheet is also being pulled over the dead decaying body of a 12 year old at the wrong time of the day ….. its no time to sleep little one … all she did was being born in the wrong place in the wrong times … other than that she had never laid a stone on a bird ….she had never tried to squeeze a mollusk out of its shell and she had never ever ever used one foul word for anyone …even the old guy who had molested her last week in the house next to hers … today while sleep takes over some of us ….this little girl is being photographed by the woman who is shedding tears over her body whilst taking the shots from the best angles ….where the light is perfect not too dark not too bleached ….the wounds show well … “oh what the heck… let me take whatever and however many I can… my editor is going to love it” ……….. On another side of this same world … just as you change your side on the bed while going into deep slumber … another woman reports live from the war zone to her channel’s television station in a fourth part of the world … she tells her cameraman to keep the flash on for another 40 seconds and get a couple more shots of the gunfire … but alas this cameraman goes and gets himself killed … he wasn’t fast enough … you need to be on a roll …

I can’t even remember what I began writing for …