Friday, September 30, 2005

Day and Night

This beautiful photograph was taken by the crew on board shuttle Columbia, which disintegrated during reentry in 2003, during its last mission, on a cloudless day.
The picture is of Europe and Africa when the sun is setting. Half of the picture is in night. The bright dots you see are the cities' lights. The top part of Africa is the Sahara Desert . Note that the lights are already on in Holland , Paris , and Barcelona, and that's it's still daylight in Dublin , London , Lisbon , and Madrid .

The sun is still shining on the Strait of Gibraltar.The Mediterranean Sea is already in darkness. In the middle of the Atlantic Ocean you can see the Azores Islands; below them to the right are the Madeira Islands ;a bit below are the Canary Islands; and further South, close to the farthest western point of Africa , are the Cape Verde Islands.

Note that the Sahara is huge and can be seen clearly both during day time and night time. To the left, on top, is Greenland , totally frozen.

Ah, the beautiful earth

sameer bhat

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

La citation du jour

Forget the futility of existence
Believe in the inevitability of sucess
Understand achievement and struggle
Kill boredom. Buck the trend.
Create your own cult.
Let a thousand weeds bloom
Change icons before they change you.
Learn to swim in life, with it!

sameer bhat

Kashmir: How it all started

Kashmir has had a bloody history. Independent for generations, the last king of independent Kashmir, Hari singh, acceeded to the union of India in 1947. Here is the letter, that the late Maharaja wrote in a hurry to Lord Mountbatten, the last viceroy of India. This letter was going to change the course of history in Kashmir, Pakistan and India.

Letter from Maharaja Hari Singh to Lord Mountbatten on Pak invasion of J&K in 1947

My dear Lord Mountbatten,

I have to inform Your Excellency that a grave emergency has arisen in my State and request the immediate assistance of your Government. As Your Excellency is aware,the State of Jammu and Kashmir has not acceded to either the Dominion of India or Pakistan. Geographically my State is contiguous with both of them. Besides, my State has a common boundary with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and with China. In their external relations the Dominion of India and Pakistan cannot ignore this fact. I wanted to take time to decide to which Dominion I should accede or whether it is not in the best interests of both the Dominions and of my State to stand independent, of course with friendly and cordial relations with both. I accordingly approached the Dominions of India and Pakistan to enter into standstill agreement with my State. The Pakistan Government accepted this arrangement. The Dominion of India desired further discussion with representatives of my Government. I could not arrange this in view of the developments indicated below. ln fact the Pakistan Goernment under the standstill agreement is operating the post and telegraph system inside the State. Though we have got a standstill agreement with the Pakistan Government, the Govemment permitted a steady and increasing strangulation of supplies like food, salt and petrol to my State.

Afridis, soldiers in plain clothes, and desperadoes with modern weapons have been allowed to infiltrate into the State, at first in the Poonch area, then from Sialkot and finally in a mass in the area adjoining-Hazara district on the Ramkote side. The result has been that the limited number of troops at the disposal of the State had to be dispersed and thus had to face the enemy at several points simultaneously, so that it has become difficult to stop the wanton destruction of life and property and the looting of the Mahura power house, which supplies electric current to the whole of Srinagar and which has been burnt. The number of women who have been kidnapped and raped makes my heart bleed. The wild forces thus let loose on the State are marching on with the aim of capturing Srinagar, the summer capital of my government, as a first step to overrunning the whole State. The mass infiltration of tribesman drawn from distant areas of the North-West Frontier Province, coming regularly in motortrucks, using the Manwehra-Mazaffarabad road and fully armed with up-to-date weapons, cannot possibly be done without the knowledge of the Provincial Govemment of the North-West Frontier Province and the Government of Pakistan. Inspite of repeated appeals made by my Government no attempt has been made to check these raiders or to stop them from coming into my State. In fact, both radio and the Press of Pakistan have reported these occurences. The Pakistan radio even put out the story that a provisional government has been set up in Kashmir. The people of my State, both Muslims and non-Muslims, generally have taken no part at all.

With the conditbns obtaining at present in my State and the great emergency of the situation as it exists, I have no option but to ask for help from the Indian Dominion. Naturally they cannot send the help asked for by me without my State acceding to the Dominion of India. I have accordingly decided to do so, and I attach the instrument of accession for acceptance by your Government. The other alternative is to leave my state and people to free booters. On this basis no civilised government can exist or be maintained.

This alternative I will never allow to happen so long as I am the ruler of the State and I have life to defend my country. I may also inform your Excellency's Government that it is my intention at once to set up an interim government and to ask Sheikh Abdullah to carry the responsibilities in this emergency with my Prime Minister.

If my State is to be saved, immediate assistance must be available at Srinagar. Mr. V.P. Menon is fully aware of the gravity of the situation and will explain it to you, if further explanation is needed.

In haste and with kindest regards,

Yours sincerely,

Hari Singh
October 26, 1947

Response from Lord Mountbatten

My dear Maharaja Sahib,

Your Highness' letter dated 26 October 1947 has been delivered to me by Mr. V.P. Menon. In the circumstances mentioned by Your Highness, my Government have decided to accept the accession of Kashmir State to the Dominion of India. In consistence with their policy that in the case of any State where the issue of accession has been the subject of dispute, the question of accession should be decided in accordance with the wishes of the people of the State, it is my Government's wish that, as soon as law and order have been restored in Kashmir and its soil cleared of the invader, the question of the State's accession should be settled by a reference to the people.
Meanwhile, in response to Your Highness' appeal for military aid, action has been taken today to send troops of the Indian Army to Kashmir, to help your own forces to defend your territory and to protect the lives, property, and honour of your people. My Government and I note with satisfaction that Your Highness has decided to invite Sheikh Abdullah to form an interim Government to work with your Prime Minister.

Louis Mountbatten

October 27, 1947

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

A Kashmiri lass carries crop home from her field
Pic Sam

Monday, September 26, 2005!

A woe crosses my heart
and limps to my eye
as words hurt and fall
and blue birds bid bye
Why it betides me
lovey-dovey ol' soul
in a land very hard
I find difficult to ward

My most recent composition -- Just that I was feeling a little melancholic!
sameer bhat

Saturday, September 24, 2005

God...It was close!
Caricature Sam

Near miss

Have you ever heard about close-shaves. No no. I don't mean those smooth shaves that we make each morning -- and every second morning -- in my case. Lather and foam! I escaped a falling tree this morning. It was both interesting and scary.

I was walking in the rain, around noon. I love these moments. When the showers are full and I am alone. I keep humming to myself and listening to the rain. Infact it has been raining since previous night. There was lightening and thunder in the night. I was woken up by a particularly menancing, loud thunder at two in the night.

I must have been a few yards past the fated tree. A loud crashing sound made me turn -- by impulse -- 180 degree. The huge tree was crumbling. Aged and loftly, it was perhaps weakened overnight by strong gusts of wind. The rain dealt a final blow and off it came, just missing me by -- less than 6 seconds.

I usually trust my impulses. I reckon, I would have run had the tree decided to obey gravity, the very moment I was underneath it. Split-second decisions. Rushing against time. All of us do that in times of adversity. It comes naturally. But...who knows? May be I might have come under it. Injured, Dead!

I thank God, anyways. One of those moments, He likes me.

sameer bhat

Thank God for those pearls. Love 'em!
Pic Sam

It's raining again

Let the rain kiss you
Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops
Let the rain sing you a lullaby
The rain makes still pools on the sidewalk
The rain makes running pools in the gutter
The rain plays a little sleep song on our roof at night
And I love the rain.

a langston hughes adaption
sameer bhat

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Go forth under the open sky, and listen To Nature's teachings.

Pic Sam

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Quote of the Day

Climate-change denial has gone through four stages. First the fossil-fuel lobbyists told us that global warming was a myth. Then they agreed that it was happening, but insisted that it was a good thing: we could grow wine in the Pennines and take Mediterranean holidays in Skegness. Then they admitted that the bad effects outweighed the good ones, but claimed that climate change would cost more to tackle than to tolerate. Now they have reached stage four. They concede that climate change would be cheaper to address than to neglect, but maintain that it's now too late. This is their most persuasive argument
George Monbiot
September 20, 2005
The Guardian

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Ruins of the parliament in Patara, considered the world's first elected government. Its semicircle of seats became a model for the Capitol in US.
Pic With thanks, NY Times

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Birthday Boy

Sep 18: My birthday.

There are times when I think I am a lucky chap. This is one of those days. I just turned 20-something. Right from mid-night, when the clock struck 00 hours and propelled me into my nth year of being, I started getting calls and texts from my friends all over the world. Hold on!!!I am not a celeb but as luck would have it, I have friends living across a wide geographical stretch.

Calls from Kashmir...Suhail was the first to give me a ring. Bleary-eyed the poor boy remained awake till 12 to wish. Can you ask for more? Selcuk, my Turkish pal sent a heart-felt note shortly after mid-night. I was humbled. Around that time, Kokes and Waseem and Navvy burst into a carol -- wishing me! Tanseer sent a text at one in the night. Moron! He had again gotten the Indian timings wrong. I love him for his capers! (Flight timings wrong, names wrong...the list is wrong, sorry, long!) can I leave them out. Or how ever can they forget me. Usuals, Manprit, all so charming and nice. Rang up from the serene shores of south India. Leera sent a belated text. Naughty as ever.

Hadi called up from NYC, Tanseer complimented with a call from Baku. Sweet texts kept trickling in. Selcuk with his flowing locks, who else! Doctor Uncle -- Tan's pops -- wrote a birthday text. I suddenly felt double-blessed.

I cut my cake at the french corner dubbed Patessiers'. Folks clapped. Kokes was too good -- loved his gifts.

God, I never want the world to love me. I just want my loved ones to stick by me. That is exactly what took place.


sameer bhat

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Tiny globs of rain: Through my lens
Pic Sam

Rain dance

The past few days have been utterly pleasant. It has rained and rained. Glinting silvery stripes of rain. The downpour has brought the mercury crashing down on her knees. What injustice to someone who has been so haughty all summer. Lady mercury -- also globally known by her cognomen HEAT -- made us sweat and fume. Not that we didn't fight back. I bought an ac-plant to keep her off but she was persistent with her swelter. Till yesterday!!!

As always nature came to the rescue. Where Bush flunks, nature prevails. So heavens opened up and it poured. I love rains. I am a compete romantic. I live for rain and snow and breeze and that delicate sunshine. Not Heat!!! There is so much of beauty in nature's elements. I love to walk in rain. Drench myself. Soak in the godly shower. And I walked in the rain yesterday. My slippers got wet, my hair-gel was washed off and my back was moist. I didn't care two hoots. I felt good and fresh.

The rain was incessant. It came in small and big torrents. On the rich and the not-so-rich, in the president's lush gardens and the tarapaulin roofs of slum-dwellers, on bird-less nests and concrete enclosures. In ponds, across roads, on the lamp-posts. For those magical rain moments, all city seemed to dance in the drizzle.

Happy worms swam in brown slush. From a distance bushlarks and parakeets cooed.

It is a interlude, one wishes goes on forever.

sameer bhat

Friday, September 16, 2005

Price of Freedom

It is difficult to reflect on this picture. This is Kashmir, Circa 2005. A lone mother sobs softly at her son's grave in Srinagar, the capital of Kashmir. Her son, like thousands others, perished in the bloody strife that has plagued this beautiful glade on earth since the late 80's. I guess, it is difficult for parents to outlive their children.

What joy it is when a baby is born! Mothers' go through the pangs of motherhood, the kicks, the pain, the anguish and the pleasure to beget a life. She breeds the kid, brings him up. Educates him at her lap. Watches him crawl, babble and jostle for his drink.

Sees him go to school, imbibe words, croon rhymes. Blushes to see him grow his first face-hairs; does a quiet prayer when his tender voice turns hoarse. The sheer emotion that flickers to see him go camping. His band. His room. His books. The joy of being a parent. The bonds. The anxities, those parental dreams for him!

And suddenly a bomb! Gun shots! Dreams shattered!
Blood in runnels. Her son's!
Who got him. Gunmen, Army!
His grave. Mom sobs! Tears. The agony.

God, I can't stand this!


I was in a heaven. This long-shot will tell you why I hate to tear myself from the place!!!
Pic Sam

Rouge apples dot my trees in our apple orchard.
Pic Sam

How I love rains!!!
Pic Sam

Pee Mr Prez

Prez Bush writes a note to his Sec of State Condy during the UNSC meeting in NY: I think I may need a Bathroom break? Is this possible? Go Mr. Prez. Pee!
Pic Reuters

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Happy! Am I ?

Mujhe dekho khwahish e jaan e jaan 
main wohi hoon anwar e neem jaan
tumhein itna hosh tha jab kahaan 
na chalao is tarah tum zubaan
karo mera shukriya meherbaan 
tumhein baat karna sikha diya

— Ye Jo Halka Halka Suroor — Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

Can we ever be fully content? The question often hovers about my senses but disappears right before I attempt to answer it. I am not particularly happy or unhappy but something in me vacillates and stirs me to hold fast onto mirth. I don't easily give into melancholy. I think deep inside I must possess a cheerfully thumping heart. My pals will vouch that I have a funny bone. I must concede that I have a couple of them.

Positivity helps. It makes us think clear and neat. There are lots of pits and pockmarks and punctures on the high road to bliss but the car -- as they say -- must trundle on. Life's beautiful. Why not color it into a giant canvass? Touch the gentler shades. Trim the non-linear parts.

When we tend to become mirthless and dispirited, don't we rob ourselves of much beautiful moments in life? Soon...we forget to frolic and laugh. We capitulate to gloom. I reckon, falling into endless layers of sorrow helps only the woebegones and makes humans very sour. That is some silly baggage all of us must readily shed.

Life is but a race. There are times when I find millions of things stacked up against me. As if God is playing dice with a ham-handed soul. The answer definitely is not lying low. It is only rising up -- and above -- after every steep and not-so-steep fall. This is the basic human essence all great philosophers -- from the dialectical Socrates to Sartre -- attempt to say.

I can be emotional but not gloomy. I am sentimental but markedly happy!
Opposites work, very often.


Saturday, September 10, 2005

My fav doc-friend Mujib, in Philadelphia, PA
Pic Sam

Thursday, September 08, 2005

The Interview with God

Take a break. Click on my fav link and gently touch the view presentation button.
Don't tell me it did not make a difference to you.

Sam's highly recommended:

sameer bhat

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Gulmarg, some miles drive from my home -- And onto the Paradise we will go!
Pic Sam

The skies of my city, red and angry, perhaps this time!
Pic Sam

People ferrying in the Dal lake, Srinagar, Kashmir on Saturday!
Pic Sam

A lone Pigeon -- like me -- wets its tender feet in Shalimar garden, Srinagar, Kashmir.
Pic Sam

River Jhelum, Srinagar, Kashmir, at Sun-down
Pic Sam

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Kokey in an earlier picture { Don't be foxed into believing that he is thinking here, he never does that}

Pic Sam

Friday, September 02, 2005


He is a small bundle of joy. One of my youngest students -- I'm not a teacher, but I love to tutor kids close to me; perhaps my youngest friend and a true heart-on-your-sleeve guy. Taukir features in the select list of chaps, I truly admire. He is at once stylish and frighteningly lazy. He is smart and instantaneous. I love to call him Kokes, thought I think Jug-head also fits him just right!

Kokes laughs in small interludes, almost incessantly. Although he rarely comes up with very many funny quotes himself but he sure has a funny bone. He laughs and giggles at every loud sylabble you utter. That keeps his cheek bones in action, all the time. 24 X 7. I am sure, if I prattle anything in the middle of a difficult situation, kokes is sure to compliment it with a smile.

However, the most enduring element is his sincerity. I reckon, the world around us is painfully short of such sincere, honest blokes and that is where my young pal scores.

Truthful and amiable would be the best two-words to describe Kokes.

sameer bhat