Sunday, July 30, 2006

The Carnage at Cana

They say the entire Middle East is a sacred swathe of land. According to Bible -- Gospel of John – Cana is a place where Jesus Christ performed his first miracle. At a marriage ceremony, to which Christ was also invited, the family ran out of wine. Upon insistence Christ turned water into wine. Jesus' divine act saved the embarrassed hosts their day and perhaps firmly established the holiness of Christ for the first time. [Marriage at Cana: Source:]. More than 2000 years later, an Israeli laser guided bomb, in the same village of Cana, established another milepost – that of Israel’s unsurpassed crimes against humanity. Pity, there are no Prophets these days and God, by the way, is on an extended vacation.

Let us stop taking sides for a while. Imagine the plight of ordinary people caught in the middle of a vicious vortex. I felt terribly bad for the poor children – including infants -- as neighbors scrambled to pick their contused bodies from the mangled rubble of the four-story building, razed by an Israeli air strike last night. If there exists a devil, it must resemble a Zionist fighter jet, I am sure.

Southern Lebanon is the most dangerous spot on earth right now. An aggressive, unstoppable, US-sponsored Israel is on rampage in the area. Like one of those mad Spanish bulls. It hits anything that moves. Anything that slithers. Anything on two legs. Six-month old babies in their mothers’ laps. Elderly women on wheel chairs. The people killed overnight at Cana could not afford to leave their old village. They all crouched together on the ground floor of the building, hoping they would be safe. They are all dead!

New York Times reports that the two extended families staying in the house that the Israeli missile struck — the Shalhoubs and the Hashims — had discussed leaving several times over the past two weeks. But they were poor — most worked in tobacco or construction — and the families were big and many of their members weak, with a 95-year-old, two relatives in wheelchairs and dozens of children. A taxi north, around $1,000, was unaffordable. Little did the poor folks know that a sinister Israeli bomb was going to gobble them up, very soon.

The strike was a precision-guided bomb dropped from the air, the same kind of bomb that destroyed a UN position in Khiyam last week, killing four UN observers. Writing on an olive green fragment of the munition which caused the explosion read: GUIDED BOMB BSU 37/B. A precision guided missile, mind you. In more advanced terminology, that means -- the bomb is programmed what to strike and where. If Israeli extends an apology now, taking the world public opinion for a ride, we can safely consider it a farce. [Laser Guided bomb: Source: The Guardian, London.,,1833884,00.html].

Mistakes happen once. Israel has a history of such blood-thirst. A 1996 Israeli artillery bombardment that hit a U.N. base in Cana killed more than 100 Lebanese who had taken refuge from fighting. That attack sparked an international outcry. Ten years later, the attacks didn’t come as a surprise. The same outcry? Ironically, in the context of America's war on terror, anyone claiming to be engaged in the fight against terror gets carte blanche to do as they please. We can see who is the culprit here. Can't we?

Not surprisingly, Israel was at pains to explain that -- one -- it asked the people to leave southern Lebanon and two -- there were rockets fired from near this building that was hit. The answers, I reckon, aren’t too difficult.

The road leading to the north has gotten a regular pounding by Israel, rendering it hugely unsafe. Ambulances and Red Cross cars have been taken down by the Israeli air force. The Guardian comments, Israelis blame mainly Hizbollah for using civilians as human shields. But a UN report noted many inconsistencies in the Israeli account and said it was "unlikely" the deaths were the result of technical errors (on part of Israel). It has infact been part of the Israeli propaganda factory to come ready with excuses much before it commits any of its heinous acts.

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities, Voltaire, the great Frenchman once quipped.

Mrs. Hala Shalhoub, who miraculously survived the strike in Cana but lost two of her daughters, ages 1 and 5, has been moaning and rocking slightly in her hospital bed. “I want to see my children,” she said slowly. “I want to hold them.” No one attempts to console the poor mom. Let her cry, a sobbing relative says. She has after all – lost her whole world.
[Source: NY Times]

Hope hate transforms into love. Isreali bombs into tiny ducklings.
We desperately need another miracle. Jesus!

Sameer Bhat

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Let's walk in Paradise!

The winds that on the uplands softly lie,
Grow keener where the ice is lingering still
Where the first robin on the sheltered hill
Pipes blithely to the tune, "When Spring goes by!"


Friday, July 21, 2006


The test of democracy is freedom of criticism.
David Ben-Gurion

I often wonder, What if I wake up one morning and find myself dumb? Unable to express myself. Gesticulating for a cup of coffee. Not being able to talk. That would be the scariest nightmare, the crummiest thing to happen. Gives me goose bumps. Yet I know such a thing may never happen. These irrational fears are only figments of one’s naïve imagination. Well…that almost happened! Nearly.

The largest democracy in the world nearly took the right of expression from thousands of its citizens, overnight. In what can safely be alluded to as ‘Censorship’ of the worst kind, a stupid Indian government order asked Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block access to several blog sites. The nervous ISPs blocked not only the websites but entire services. Reputed weblog publishing systems like Blogger owned by Google went blank, in a jiffy.

Now technology can at best of the times be misunderstood. The ISPs, in an ignorant gesture, pushed India in the same bracket as some communist regimes like China, North Korea, an autoritarian Russia, several repressive middle-eastern countries and so on. The infamous list is long and really infamous. We joined them briefly last week. At least a serious attempt was made to club India with all intellectually bereft nations of the world.

The fact is that censorship always defeats its own purpose, for it creates, in the end, the kind of society that is incapable of exercising real discretion. But India, being India, the media never let the guard down. Next quick phone calls went to the political leadership.

International attention followed. People began asking questions in US and Europe. India, many taken aback, banned blogs!! Are you serious, my American friends asked? "A lot of people are saying, 'Wait a minute. This can't be happening in India. China, yes. Pakistan, understandable' The Tribune, USA ran a headline. Across the Atlantic all major newspapers and TV channels carried commentaries. BBC world to New York Times. India was in news, for all the wrong reasons.

Half sleepy, the Indian government was clearly caught off guard. What is the noise? Suddenly some silly official realised the fallout of the stupid, incomplete order. Another swift order went: Lift the ban. We are the world’s fastest growing economy. Numero Uno investment destination. Mecca of Technology. LA of outsourcing. In a globalized world, how can we impose Censorship? Well, they say, you can cage the singer but not the song.

In a jiffy, the services were restored and your loyal blogger is back. I knew we are not North-Korea.

Long live India. Gosh, that was close!


Monday, July 17, 2006

Attachment: The binding force

One has to have some level of attachment in life. With something real or unreal! When we are truly attached to something we realize that we still have some amore in us. Whatever miseries visit us, we can fall back on that something. That something can be a home, a pet, a friend, a lover or a crowded train. The past couple of days have been somewhat anfractuous. For us all. India on the whole!

The past week saw a series of bombs ripping through the local train system in Bombay. In a matter of less than 200 seconds, 200 innocent people were cut to an instant, cruel death. For no apparent reason. For an anger with no reasonable justification. In cold-blood. Just like that.

I flunk to understand the root of this madness. How can someone kill with such impunity? With such heartlessness. On such a murderous scale. I didn’t catch much of TV. There were only gory images on it. That – honestly -- puts me off. I despise Indian media for its naivety. Showing body parts. There is no dignity of the dead in this country. That is something we are yet to learn – or ape -- form our western counterparts.

Still the bridled tears linger. The sound of a million sobs. The initial scare may well be over but the scars remain. For five days on the trot, images of people hurriedly running helter-skelter --like alarmed ants after a micro-stampede -- filled the newspapers. Pictures of suspects. Stupid looking guys who look distinctly unlettered with a prominent rage-filled head.

I lay reading a book in my bedroom, the next night of the bombing. Suddenly I went flipping channels -- with the remote -- for World-space radio to give me the latest update. Frequency 342 -- BBC world, mid-night Asia: Western Railway resumes services, the lady-anchor gushed. I couldn’t help work up a tiny smile. That is resilience for you, mates! The human spirit.

People attached to a service that they feel proud to call their lifeline. Going back to work. To life. Workers furiously mopping up overnight bloodstains. Citizens of a great city returning to their beloved possession. The Local. The spirit never bends. The affections are just too strong. Like my Dad’s fondness for our home. Whilst all my friends’ families have moved on to newer locations and fancier homes. My Pops continues his romance with our cosy-old home.

The love of Dad’s life – my mom – lived here. I know the exact reason why the beautiful people of Bombay decide to take the same train, same track, and same bogies again. It’s their love for the journey of existence. Their bond. Their attachment.

God bless us all.


Life's like that

Passing thought: Very funny... Peter!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


Keep your love of nature, for that is the true way to understand art more and more.
~ Vincent van Gogh

Monday, July 10, 2006

The poem

Dikhaye diye yuv ki bekhud kiya
Hamey apse be juda kar chaley

Mir Taqi Mir – 1723-1810, one of the greatest Urdu poets ever,
Known for his literary style marked by brevity, imagery and musicality.

Transliterated –
Your appearance sends me in a trance
It splits me from myself

Sameer, 2006

A few hours can affect the outcome of whole lifetimes. I can’t say if it was a silly dream or if I am being poetic here. I often doodle -- What could we beget were we to cross – a lot of love and a little heartache, some ecstasy and a dab of passion, handful of joy and layers of yearning – all at once. Indescribable. It is that impossibly enraptured feeling. In the middle of a harrowing summer, suddenly small, cold rains came. There was above us a crash of thunder and a fierce glowering of the sky. It got cloudy. There was so much beauty in the air. I could hear my soul hum. Quietly. Urgently. Rhapsodically.

I may appear vague. Can’t help it. Excuse my expressions. My trek was enjoyably strange. Nothing much mattered. Nothing mattered much. I have so many memory-imprints that they are all jumbled in my head now. Like a ferociously schooled kid, I was reading the most endearing eyes in the world. I am not sure, if I could. Only looking at someone can be satisfying at times. Like burgundy that is purled into the cut glass goblets. Completely. Fittingly.

The song came with flawless tenderness. It had the highest alto. Sung with the innocence of a damsel and pitch of an unmated nightingale. The muggy evening gave away to a sober sweet melody. Its luster heightened by the singer’s delay and distillation. Silence. I was flabbergasted. The fizz of silence took my breath away. Just like the song. I am not suggesting that others can’t croon better. My siren song was special. Sung for me with a tutting indulgence that was all mine.

The moments slowly wore off in a clamorous, compelling spell. There are times when you want to paint every inch of the nakedness with an ancient exquisiteness. As if we were making love in bright, flashing colors and the colors keep changing from one moment to the next, like some wonderful kaleidoscope.

You can love someone just by looking in those eyes.


Saturday, July 08, 2006

Byronic beauty!

But mighty Nature bounds as from her birth;
The sun is in the heavens, and life on earth:
Flowers in the valley, splendor in the beam,
Health on the gale, and freshness in the stream.


Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Candid sighs

I've never touched somebody
Like the way I touch your body
Now I never want to let your body go
Bryan Adams -- Song: Let's make a night to remember

A time comes in our lives when we feel a sudden pleasing fluency in the myriad thoughts we think. As far as my memory goes back, I’ve always been a surmising type. Thinking about very naïve things -- like the alluring colors of butterflies in our kitchen garden, back in the serene yards of Kashmir. I would be fascinated for instance by the gooey cheeping of tiny-fluffy chicklings that mom used to raise. The tender shards of old folk-tales our ever-old neighbours' granny fed us. How did the wily wolf understand Urdu, I often wondered?

As I grew up, I found myself still pondering. Still curious. Still asking? All my education, upbringing and love for books made me some kind of a liberal. Thoughtful. Activist. Feeling for others. The downtrodden and helpless. The cruel travails to their drumming my car-pane at traffic signals. The world has been living with such extreme contrasts, I try telling my heart. Still their desperate eyes pike me at odd hours. If God is just, why does He let these kids starve, heart throws back.

I have stayed hapless on many counts. I could never cease to be a romantic. I could never shrug that innocence which love evokes. Love for nature, friends, kind souls and some. I still believe in unadulterated, unconditional love. Another matter, no one takes the call!

Then there is a humorous side to my musings. My pals will vouch for it. I believe a sense of humor... is needed armor. Joy in one's heart and some laughter on one's lips is a sign that the person down deep has a pretty good grasp of life.

I will be candid. I have a heart which is simply: f**** caring. Now this means two varying things. At one level I have been compassionate and at yet another, I got hurt more than anyone else. Misunderstood! It is not that my choices have betrayed me. I think my stars go astray somewhere; I think I can’t align myself to anyone anymore. Like those gypsies. Nomads who wander. My heart wanders.

They say journeys, like artists, are born and not made. A thousand differing circumstances contribute to them, few of them willed or determined by the will-whatever we may think. I am glad that I’ve a candid set of scruples and I always – loved. With all my heart and soul and everything!

I don’t think many will ever understand me in this life. Anyways, I don’t believe in a second life. Afterlife – can’t say. A friend – who is a co-religionist – is hard trying to convince me that there is an after-life and people go to heaven or hell. He goes on, ‘Your mom was kind, she will be in heaven’, you don’t pray, you may go to hell’.

Hope they let me see mom for a while. Hope they allow brief reunions.


Monday, July 03, 2006

Love alarm!

Love is setting up early alarms
and melting into bracing arms
Little strokes on the hand
saving a solitary hair strand

When all blades in the meadow
and all pines in my clough
Despite their lavish lush
can't match your sweet blush

Sound of the summer rain
brings back your images again
Duck's quack or goose' honk
I can hear you in every cronk

Million maddening mysteries to crack
and only your memories to stack
Dreams locked away in glee
open only to your magical key

Love is waking up each nightly hour
to check on the mystic flower
to look at the alarm clock
and answer heart's tender knock