Monday, October 31, 2005

I am off

Friendz... I am off to paradise for a week. I want to be myself. No work. No gizmos. No laptops. No breaking-news. No counting finances. No number-crunching. Just myself...imperial, plain and honest. And who wants to be disturbed in a paradise!

I am off to a Vacation!!!


In the land of scoreful faiths, celebrating the greatest festival!

Some joys spill love loads
on a love lorn world
Touch us in ways unknown
to rekindle our soul

When lights, glows & wicks
Lap the lands,over
Moments which one wished
stay on for ever

Endless stars and sparkles,
dazzle in the night sky
Big bangs rent the skies
to a myriad eager claps

When a hug undoes hatred
when blooms wipe off bombs
When sweets mix with smiles
and joys meld with love

It is Diwali time folks,
when God loves our shimmer

sameer bhat

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Moon shines over San Francisco
Pic Sam

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Birds with Broken Wings

'Birds with Broken Wings'. Last night, over a tall glass of lemonade, a friend used that term. Innocuously. It struck a chord.

I've often tried to find reason with many things. Like a friend, I met recently and have started to like. I believe that people enter our lives for a reason. You may only understand the reason after they have left or you may never understand. Friends are Godsent. I believe mine are. They have all played a role in opening a part of me up. Of forming me into the person I am at this moment. With their quirks and wild ideas. I love them all!

I have also come to realize that we all have a few lose bolts upstairs. If we did not...we would not be human. And although the term was intended for women; we all are Birds with Broken Wings.

sameer bhat

When I Sleep

When darkness awakens, my body settles gently into bed.
The day races rapidly in my thoughts as I close my eyes.
Slowly, I am lulled into a peaceful sleep.

I hear vibrant music - so full of passion.
I feel the warmth of the sun’s rays that grace my presence.
I see kind, adoring eyes gazing back into mine.

The air is full happiness - so much laughter.
Soft caresses are exchanged.
At this moment, life could not be any more wonderful.

A thin line of love and friendship gets crossed,
and two single souls find a home to share eternity.

Birds begin to proudly serenade the morning dawn.
Lonesome roads slowly progress into distinguished passageways.

Light peeps through my mind and I awaken to a new day.
I am ready to endure what the day brings for me,
because I know that I am a twerp
but I know extraordinary love when I sleep.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Hey mate, fancy a cruise!
Pic Sam

An autumn dinner

During the weekend, I was hoping to go hopping. I didn't expect a sudden encounter. I was looking shabby and grungy. And then a special friend called up. We need to meet, I was told. I couldn't say no. I am glad I didn't say so!

We went to a restaurant built upon aesthetic compages. The food didn't matter much but the environment and the company was lovely. I could have hung on for ages. The crooners and the music they made was simply sensational. Most of the songs they sang were my favourite. For a while my pallet forgot to function. It was astonishing to hear them sing in many different hues. It was a shame that the two hours of dinner ended as quickly as a cat can blink her eye. This was one of the most enjoyable times I had after such a long time!

I must add that it is so important to find good friends, friends good at heart. And my newest friend has been so very comforting. We seem to have clicked so well and I hope I go on like this. There is none of the artificialities of the parties I go to, none of the gloss of the gals I date, and none of the affectations of my journalistic rigor. This is different. It has none of that fakeness. I could feel the warmth, one can warm by and those stealing glances.

Blue-brown images of the evening flickered in my mind as I lay on my bed reading 'Clash of Fundamentalisms'that evening. The book, though an interesting take on global politics, was getting a little drab.

There is a certain magical feeling about this camaraderie, I cannot quite fathom. Don't want to!

sameer bhat

Monday, October 24, 2005

Srinagar -- my home -- through my lens, the last time I was home!
Pic Sam


Here, Try this link

Try it. If he's stuck somewhere, pull him down through mouse. But don't pain him because he pains an entire mankind! Play with the mouse though. It's really good fun!

sameer bhat

Thursday, October 20, 2005

A loving Lad

He loved them all
and spoke his heart
Then cried in pain
and left a mark

In classes and corners
upon hopes and dreams
He loved them all
and left a trace

Across angry seas
and tough nights
He thought of them
and dropped a tear

In rainy moments
on moonless nights
He recalled the kiss
and said a prayer

He is the sweetest of them all
and the nicest of the lot
He is my friend
and I call him Jits

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Suhail -- my best buddy -- puffing it away in NYC
Pic Sam

Salah and Isra in London [Nikab ki ade mein]
Pic Sam

Jits, hiding his famous eyes in Brighton, Uk

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Pinter's Prattle

The Special Relationship

The bombs go off
The legs go off
The heads go off

The arms go off
The feet go off
The light goes out

The heads go off
The legs go off
The lust is up

The dead are dirt
The lights go out
The dead are dust

A man bows down before another man
And sucks his lust

Harold Pinter
Against the US invasion of Iraq
Pinter got the Nobel prize for literature, 2005

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Beyond pain

Imagine sleeping out in the open in temperatures touching freezing. Creepy. In the rugged mountains and ruined alleys of Pakistan and Kashmir, an estimated 2.5 million homeless, have been sleeping in the chill for over a week now. With little aid and no roof over their head, these crestfallen people are facing the worst nightmare of their lives. They have lost their children, their extended families, all their belongings are gone. Now they are completely at nature's mercy. As one victim puts it, "It is beyond pain". I can only agree!

"There were up to two million people left homeless by the tsunami, which was spread out over many countries. But just in Pakistan, the government estimates that there are 2.5 million people who are displaced and many more need assistance," notes Mercy Corps' Global Communication Officer Cassandra Nelson. Many journalists, relief workers and aid agencies vouch that the intensity of the Quake and widespread deadh and pain will change them for ever. Already people are calling it one of the worst-ever Quakes ever.

UNICEF said nearly half of those affected by last weekend's quake are under 18 and that the international relief effort must focus on keeping children alive in the weeks ahead. "With wintry conditions arriving in the higher elevations, children are facing a potentially deadly combination of cold, malnutrition, and disease," UNICEF Executive Director Ann Veneman said in a statement.

As I post, there are reports that it is raining in Muzzafarabad, the worst-hit area in the Quake. It couldn't have been worse for these blokes. Friedrich Nietzsche once marked," The miserable have no other medicine but hope."

These folks have our prayers and that Hope!

sameer bhat

Friday, October 14, 2005

Does India care for Kashmiris

India calls Kashmir its integral territory. Talk Kashmir in any nook of India and you will have people drawn in. The government apparently sends subsidized goods to the Himalayan Kingdom and swears by its Kashmir connection. Ordinary people in India will have you believe that Kashmiris are as Indian as any Gujarati or South Indian. I am afraid that may not be the case. Saturday's Quake in Kashmir tells a different tale. As someone rightly put it," When mistrust comes in, love goes out."

None except the federal government came forward to help the hapless Kashmiris in the biggest catastrophe of their lives. I'm sure even the government was driven by political compulsions, because a civil society is a reflection of its government. When the people are apathetic and flunk to be touched by a disaster of such magnitude in their own country, I guess the government can't be blamed much. The Quake in Kashmir was as powerful as the Bhuj Quake in Gujarat some years back. Yet none of that urgency is in sight, anywhere.

There are no mass donation camps. No Banners. No school drives. No relief caravans en route. No newspaper and TV sensitization. No Bollywood -- Indian film Industry -- rallies to rally people. Ziltch corporate contibution. Isn't this place the paradise where the entire Indian upper class en mass honeymooned. The land of greens and golf-courses. Why did we abandon the tall pines around which countless songs of Hindi films were shot? This was Nehru's favourite abode. Where Indian leaders of every fibre used to ponder for endless hours. Isn't this place the bone of contention between India and Pakistan, which both claim as their own. I thought India fought wars for this swathe of land.

Why are the Indians so cut-off from People they consider their own? Why this gross indifference? Contrast the Quake with Gujarat. Cynics would say that Gujarat Quake killed more people and recent Tsunami affected more lives. Yet we forget that the people severely hit in Kashmir are only the poor. They inhabit one of the world's most difficult terrians. This compounds the misery, many-fold. And a human life is as precious in the shores of south India as the snow-capped peaks of Kashmir.

The average Kashmiri has been alienated from India since partition. While the Army's stupendous role in the Quake-hit areas has melted many hearts, what baffles Kashmiris today is the total lack of identification by the ordinary Indian. They are begining to believe that inspite of all the lip-service and the our people poppycock, there is no love lost between Kashmir and India. Once again, at the hight of a terrible human tragedy, Kashmiris feel alone. Forsaken.

Till the violent faultlines in Kashmir crack again!

India, Kashmir beckons.

sameer bhat

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Pinter bags the Literature Nobel

Harrold Pinter, Playwright, author and poet has been awarded the Nobel prize for Literature for 2005. Pinter is an avowed critic of the Iraq war and famously called President Bush a mass murderer and Blair a deluded idiot.

Pinter's works include The Birthday Party, The Dumb Waiter and The Caretaker. He is credited as someone who restored the art form of theatre. In its citation, the Academy said Pinter was "generally seen as the foremost representative of British drama in the second half of the 20th century," and declared him to be an author who in his plays uncovers the precipice under everyday prattle and forces entry into oppression's closed rooms.

The son of immigrant Jewish parents, Pinter was born in Hackney, London on October 10, 1930. In 2002, Pinter was diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus and underwent a course of chemotherapy, which he described as a "personal nightmare". "I've been through the valley of the shadow of death," Harrold said afterwards.

sameer bhat

Adduce of the Day

Faith in a higher being is as old as humanity itself.

Rise to the occassion!

The violent shakings of the tremblor are still fresh in their minds. On the fifth day of the Quake, after-shocks continue to rock the South Asian region. Relief is steady, pouring in from different parts of the globe. Local populations have heroically risen to the occassion. In both India and Pakistan, armed forces have come to the fore and are at the centre of rescue work. Needless to say, army is perhaps the last functioning institution in a land, where every other structure seems to have come crashing down.

The upshot of Nature's saturday morning fury has been overwhelming. People have been touched by the unprecedented scale of the disaster. Humanitarian assistance like food, warm clothing, water, blankets, tarapaulin sheets, tents and sheer goodwill is being hurried to ground zero. Gladdening to see aid workers and rescuers outstretching in their collective efforts to give succor to the victims. The British and the Americans are working with the Koreans and Iranians in a zone where nationalities have ceased to exist, if only temporarily. Indian troops have crossed over to Pakisan-administered Kashmir and helped their Pakistan counterparts.

Journalists have done some exemplary work. Leise Ducet of BBC, Betty Anderson of CNN and countless others reported non-stop to bring the plight and the miseries of people to world-attention. Major TV channels and world newspapers like the Guardian, NY times among others pulled all stops to give extensive coverage to the event. The tears and pain were zoomed right into the board rooms and drawing rooms of us all. We owe to the media to sensitise us about the plight of ours brothers and sisters. For once my profession makes me feel proud.

However, the key to all the good work being done is proper co-ordination. Pakistan and Kashmir need a disciplined, well co-ordinated and effective aid effort. Many a times, large scale aid efforts by NGO's, government and foriegn charities, coupled with volunteers rushing to help ends up at the same place. We must aviod bumping across each other for this noble cause. Aid must reach all those who need it in all the places. That is where co-ordination is the key.

The UN said Wednesday that the rescue and relief operations in Pakistan following the earthquake is beyond the means of any government. That is little respite for the authorities. The governments of Pakistan and Kashmir must get their act right. Relief has to be routed through proper channels and in a syncronised fashion. Distribution has to be even and orderly. Army can play an instrumental role here. Prez Musharaf in a televised address last night said that pointsmen have been appointed and relief will be co-ordinated. Better late than never.

Every effort at any level is welcome, as long as it brushes a tear away and saves a precious life.

God Bless

sameer bhat

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Today's Adduce

A man can be destroyed but not defeated.
~ Ernest Hemingway

In Kashmir, a villager mourns the loss of his ten-year-old grandson as others try to retrieve the body

Pic With Thanks Time mag

The panic persists

It has been almost five days since the land called God's paradise convulsed. Hopes and dreams still lay interred in the cataclysmic turn of events. Rescue and relief work is going on at frenzied spree. The scale of devastation in Kashmir and Pakistan has been super-colossal. Nothing that this region had known of in ages. The stories of human misery are slowly becoming evident from across the line that divides the two Kashmirs. A quirk of fate seperated this himalayan state close to sixty years ago. A nation was split at its belly. It took a devastating earthquake on the Saturday morning to uncork some of those past demons.

Mutual distrust and acrimony in both countries -- India and Pakisntan -- have thus far meant that no planes from Indian Air force have flown over Pakistan airspace in years. Such has been the nature of our relations. The quake changed it all. India airlifted on Tuesday the first consignment of 25 tonnes of relief material to quake-hit Pakistan in what is considered to be the first humanitarian assistance from New Delhi to Islamabad. Pakistan is still wary of allowing Indian relief teams to cross over to the Pakistan-administered part of Kashmir, to attend to the villagers, who are more easily accessible from the Indian part of Kashmir. The ghosts are too strong to be forgone so easily. Politics goes in parallel to the pain.

At a more plebian level, people continue to suffer. Our relative, the lady teacher in Muzzafarabad, who went missing the other day, as she left to teach has been found dead. Her fountain-pen tightly clutched in her hand. One of the 40,000 estimated people dead. This capital of Pakistan Kashmir of 0.2 million is no more a city of the living. It is almost a graveyard now. Bodies can be seen everywhere, on roads, streets and under the debris of devastated buildings. In Balakote, Pakistan two school-schildren were pulled out alive after four days.

Extra-ordinary tales of individual courage and determination swells the heart with pride and forces a tear out. Ordinary folks with bare hands and extraordinary courage doing the impossible. The UK and other countries have been helping in the race against time and life. US cargo helicopters are flying extra sorties and rushing medical aid and food to the needy in the far-flung areas of Tribal Pakistan. Ironically the Americans are hated in these badlands. In Indian Kashmir, Indian Army and civilains, who have a hate-hate relationship, are helping each other. Indian Air force choppers have been air dropping food packets and shroud cloth in the high reaches of Kashmir. For once, no one is an enemy. I still believe that all of us are humans in the first place.

My heart sobs. I pray for Socale.

sameer bhat

From the Time

"The catastrophe prompted scenes of dread and supplication unusual even for strife-torn Kashmir. Families wandered the streets, refusing to return to their homes. Children and women wailed in the open. Schools, whose examination halls had been filled with students taking their high school diplomas, were deserted, answer sheets scattered on the floor. When the tremors hit, people rushed screaming into the street. When they found open ground, families began offering special naful prayers, while others knelt on the roadside and began reciting the Quran. Loudspeakers in the mosques urged the faithful to seek forgiveness. "I thought doomsday had fallen," said Abdur Rashid Hajjam, as he came out of prayers at a Sufi shrine. "Pray for our brethren who died today and thank Allah for we are safe," said the imam at Illahi Bagh mosque on the outskirts of Srinagar, which lies in Indian-ruled Kashmir. "Whatever the scientists say, our Prophet said that when this earth is replete with sin, this would happen." As evening fell, the thanksgiving prayer, Nimaz-e-shukrana, echoed from every mosque in Kashmir. "
Yousuf Jameel reporting in Time mag.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Death in the Dell

Aftermath of the devastating earthquake that hit Kashmir on Oct 8,2005

The ground beneath their feet shook. An earthquake with a magnitude of 7.6 on the Richter scale hit Kashmir -- my home -- and Pakistan. It took little under a minute to undo what was carefully assembled over endless years of hard work. Homes came crumbling down, trees shook, turnpikes were ripped open as if sliced by a some piked object. The epicentre was in Kashmir, that is the Pakistan-administered part of it and the shock waves sent people scurrying for cover in places as far as New Delhi.

Quakes shake consciences. It shook the whole of valley and Pakistan to its innards. Hundreds of thousands died. They say more than 15,000 may have perished in Muzzafarabad alone. One of our relatives -- living in Muzzafarabad -- told my family over telephone that his teacher wife was missing. He fears the worst. She is among the countless unaccounted for. Nature's fury is cadaverous, merciless. It leaves children and the sick trampled in its tracks. Thats exactly what happened in Kashmir. School children are still buried in the rubble of their classrooms and dormitories,the state administration is dazed, too paralysed to act.

I talked to my family many times over on Phone. I called up my friends in Kashmir also. They are all in a state of shock. Traumatised and scared. I think it is natural after a major accident for people to behave like that. I'm stressed out -- away from home -- watching the horror unfold on my TV. Sheer imagery of people, blood still dripping, being carried away, of women wailing, of the sick shivering in the cold. It looks a slice of the Armageddon but this pain is too real to be passed over.

I was informed that my bedroom -- back home -- has developed cracks. All books fell off my book racks and piled up on floor. "Only a copy of the Holy Q'uran remained on the shelf," my little sister added. I could only gasp. I don't believe in such stuff but in times of great adversity, only the unpalatable becomes palatable. Like a guy who was pulled out out the ruins of a multi-storied apartment building in Islamabad, yesterday, three days after the quake.

Grisly stories of mother's spitting in their kids mouth to keep them moist and people staying out in the open night skies fills me with melancholy. They say it was raining and people huddled together to keep each other warm. The best of human beings comes out in the worst of times, as they say. Tremors and after-shocks continue to scare people, as I post.

The United Nations warned today that more than 2.5 million people needed shelter.

My heart goes out to the countless dead and injured.
I hope the anguish and pain is soon over.
I pray, people pick up the pieces shortly.
I yearn the flowers bloom again.
God bless them all, us all.

sameer bhat

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Life is like that!!!!
Cartoon: courtesy a creative pal
Turkey has a tortuous road ahead. In its quest to join the EU, Turkey has to slaughter many of its demons. The country is already taken the highway to Europe. There are pits and bumps and sharks out there. Lets hope the Turks wade through in what would be a truly momentous event. A multi-religious Europe. Not a cristian-club, as Edovan calls it.

Turkey's Progress card
State of reforms


· Abolition of the death penalty

· Language rights for Kurds

· Greater civilian control over the military

· Release of political prisoners

· Start of economic reforms after customs union with EU in 1995. Both sides removed barriers to trade in industrial goods, while Turkey adopted EU's external tariffs for trade with non-EU countries

· Softened stance on Cyprus by backing UN-plan to unite island, though this was rejected by Greek half of island in 2004

· Adopted competition laws in 1996

Still to do

· Recognise Cyprus and open up Turkish ports and airports to Cypriot shipping and aircraft

· Loosen the military's grip on the government

· Speed up judicial reforms

· Prove that human rights are on a par with those in the EU

· Write 80,000 pages of the acquis communautaire - the EU's rule book - into Turkish law

· Scale down subsidies to industry

· Comply with EU laws in areas such as food hygiene and the environment

· Cut the budget deficit and inflation

· Open up services, such as telecoms and energy, to the EU

· Centre for European Reform

sameer bhat

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Turkey is welcome

Turkey's 40-year dream of joining the EU took a momentous step forward last night when both EU and Turkey finally agreed to open membership talks after a marathon round of negotiations.

What Next:

· Turkey faces up to 15 years of talks which will involve 35 "chapters", covering everything from free movement of goods to judicial reform. The European Commission runs the process but each chapter can only be closed with the approval of all 25 members
· Commission conducts a screening process to assess which chapters to open first."It will pry into every aspect of Turkish life," said one diplomat
· Each EU country must approve the "screening report", giving opponents a chance to use the veto or kick up a fuss
· Turkey can prompt a possible showdown and might ask for opt-outs
· Over the next year, Turkey will have to open up its ports and airports to traffic from Cyprus and move towards recognising the Greek-backed government. Failure will be exploited

If talks succeed Turkey has three more hurdles:

· The commission must carry out an "absorption capacity" test, which means it will have to decide whether or not the EU can fit Turkey in

· France and Austria will hold referendums on whether to admit Turkey

· The EU must update the Nice treaty, the basis for enlargement, which may be difficult considering the rejection of the EU constitution.

Long, winding road, but many in Turkey will say worth the wait.

sameer bhat

Saturday, October 01, 2005

United Colors Of Bee-tle!
Pic Sam