A daughter shares her account of the long and excruciating wait for her father who was busy fighting the terrorists in the recent Mumbai attacks.

Bhangra

Bhangra dance at NID\'s Monsoon Fiesta 2008

To all those critics who said I couldn’t dance, here’s the proof. I, therefore, rest my case.

Philip Toledano’s ‘Days with my Father‘ is a beautiful and touching photo documentary of his 98 year old father.
J.K. Rowling on ‘The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination‘ – the commencement speech at the Annual Meeting of the Harvard Alumni Association

Learn to Enjoy the Coffee.

I’m not a big fan of forwards, but I do enjoy reading some really thoughtful ones, like the one that follows..

Enjoy the Coffee.

A group of alumni, highly established in their careers, got together to visit their old university professor.

Conversation soon turned into complaints about stress in work and life.

Offering his guests coffee, the professor went to the kitchen and returned with a large pot of coffee and an assortment of cups porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal, some plain looking, some expensive, some exquisite – telling them to help themselves to hot coffee.

When all the students had a cup of coffee in hand, the professor said: ‘If you noticed, all the nice looking expensive cups were taken up, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is but normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress. What all of you really wanted was coffee, not the cup, but you consciously went for the best cups and were eyeing each other’s cups.

Now if life is coffee, then the jobs, money and position in society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain Life, but the quality of Life doesn’t change. Some times, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee in it.’

Don’t let the cups drive you. Enjoy the coffee instead!

Colddd!

Its been brrringly cold here the past few days and in an attempt to keep warm, I’ve been wearing layers and layers of clothing. I really don’t mind the cold, but whats bugging is the dryness that it creates on the skin. Apparently, the only way to deal with dry skin during winters is to use moisturizers, which I absolutely hate – they make you feel so girly!! To keep the room warm, my roomies and I have closed all the doors and windows (barring one – to avoid suffocation), switched to yellow bulbs and leave our notebooks running through the night in the hope of generating enough heat to allow for a comfortable sleep. (I wish we could get one of those DLP projectors they use in the insti – they generate so much heat that it feels comfortably numb just sitting next to them) Although we haven’t been able to crack the ‘comfortable sleep’ part, our room has indeed become slightly warmer compared to the other rooms in the hallway which is a good sign. Now for more research on inexpensive ways to keep warm.

Barry Shwartz on the Paradox of Choice. Gist: Too many choices undermine happiness.
the neuroscience that shows that multitasking makes us less effective, not more effective

Treasure

Look what I found! A photograph of me with world heavyweight champion – Muhammed Ali shot exactly 25 years ago from today. This was 22 years after he won his Olympic gold and around the time he was diagnosed with Parkinsons disease. Priceless!

The Morning After

I managed to wake up this morning at 5:45am. It was cold outside but I knew if I let this pass today, I will not end up waking early as I mentioned last night. The cold water, warm bed and the misty morning were all trying to work their way up on me but fortunately, I was able to remain steadfast. Went for a walk and then a mild jog for about 45 mins and just got back. It feels good and I just had to jot it down here :) So there.

Early Rising

There are a few things that I’ve been wanting to do both in my personal and academic life. But the circumstances around me have always distracted me from doing so. Its normal here in campus to stay up really late and go about doing your own thing but I’ve realized that my actual productivity has been hardly anything on the days I work late, which, inevitably results in getting up late the next day. I’ve always been a morning person, probably due to the kind of upbringing I’ve had. There’s seems to be this high correlation between success and rising up early. So, with effect from tomorrow, I’ve decided to start my day early.

Whether we are seeking a mate or sizing up a potential rival, good-looking people capture our attention nearly instantaneously and render us temporarily helpless to turn our eyes away from them, according to a new Florida State University study.

Dust Is My Bed

Dust is my bed

Dust in my bed is a video directed by Alhamad in which he essays the one journey everybody makes – death. I had goose bumps all over me watching this. Its funny, we take life for granted without realising that all of us will have to go one day leaving behind our family, friends, the wealth we’ve earned, the relationships we’ve built, etc. I like what Steve Jobs had to say about death -

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything, all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose

The song beautifully rendered by Mashary is soul stirring. The video is available on YouTube or as a download.

A Wife’s Appeal for Justice

I received the following email from a friend with whom I share a no-spam policy. Having said that, I cannot vouch the authenticity of the facts stated in this email, but as a human, I strongly believe that the person in question be allowed a fair trial and the allegations investigated to bring out the truth.

I am the wife of Mohammad Afzal, the man accused of conspiring to attack the Indian Parliament on December 13, 2001. Afzal has been condemned to death by the Sessions Court Judge, S N Dhingra and his death sentence has been confirmed by the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi. Now the case has come up before the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India.

All over India people have condemned the attack on Parliament. And I agree that it was a terrorist attack and must be condemned. However, it is also important that the people accused of such a serious crime be given a fair trial and their story be fully heard before they are punished. I believe that no one has heard my husband’s story and he has so far never been represented in the court properly.

I appeal to you to hear our story and then decide for yourselves whether justice has been done. Afzal and my story is the story of many young Kashmiri couples. Our story represents the tragedy facing our people.

In 1990 Afzal was attracted to the movement led by the JKLF, like thousands of other youth. He went to Pakistan for training and stayed there for a little while. However, he was disillusioned by the differences between different groups and he did not support pro-Pakistani groups. He stayed there only three months without getting any training. Afzal returned to Kashmir and he went to Delhi to pursue his studies. He always wanted to study and before he joined the movement he was doing his MBBS.

My husband wanted to return to normal life and with that intention he surrendered to the BSF. The BSF Commandant refused to give him his certificate till he had motivated two others to surrender. And Afzal motivated two other militants to surrender. He was given a certificate stating that he was a surrendered militant. You will not perhaps realise that it is very difficult to live as a surrendered militant in Kashmir but he decided to live with his family in Kashmir. In 1997 he started a small business of medicines and surgical instruments in Kashmir. The next year we were married. He was 28 years old and I was 18 years.

Throughout the period that we lived in Kashmir the Indian security forces continuously harassed Afzal and told him to spy on people they suspected of being militants. One Major Ram Mohan Roy of 22 Rashtriya Rifles tortured Afzal and gave him electric shocks in his private parts. He was humiliated and abused.

The Indian security forces used to regularly take Afzal to their camps and torture him. They wanted to extract information from him. One night the Indian security forces came to our home and abused all of us and took away Afzal to their camp; another time he was taken to the STF (State Task Force) camp Palhalan Pattan.

Some days later they took him to the Humhama STF camp. In that camp the officers, DSP Vinay Gupta and DSP Darinder Singh demanded Rs one lakh. We are not a rich family and we had to sell everything, including the little gold I got on my marriage to save Afzal from the torture.

Afzal was kept in freezing water and petrol was put into his anus. One officer Shanti Singh hanged my husband upside down for hours naked and in the cold. They gave electric shocks in his penis and he had to have treatment for days.

You will think that Afzal must be involved in some militant activities that is why the security forces were torturing him to extract information. But you must understand the situation in Kashmir, every man, woman and child has some information on the movement even if they are not involved. By making people into informers they turn brother against brother, wife against husband and children against parents. Afzal wanted to live quietly with his family but the STF would not allow him.

You should also know that the STF force is notorious in Kashmir for extorting money from the people and they have become so infamous that when Mufti Sayed became the Chief Minister he promised in his election manifesto to disband the entire force. The STF is known for human rights violations including killing people in their custody and brutal, senseless, inhuman torture.

It was under these conditions that forced Afzal to leave his home, family and settle in Delhi. He struggled hard to earn a living and he had decided to bring me and our four-year old son, Ghalib, to Delhi. Like any other family we dreamed of living together peacefully and bringing up our children, giving them a good education and seeing them grow up to be good human beings. That dream was cut short when once again the STF got hold of my husband in Delhi.

The STF told my husband to bring one man Mohammad to Delhi from Kashmir. He met Mohammad and one other man Tariq there at the STF camp. He did not know anything about the men and he had no idea why he was being asked to do the job. He has told all this to the court but the court chose to believe half his statement about bringing Mohammad but not the bit that he was told to do so by the STF.

There was no one to represent Afzal in the lower court. The court appointed a lawyer who never took instructions from Afzal, or cross examined the prosecution witnesses. That lawyer was communal and showed his hatred for my husband. When my husband told Judge Dhingra that he did not want that lawyer the judge ignored him. In fact my husband went totally undefended in the trial court. When ever my husband wished to say something the judge would not hear him out and the judge showed his communal bias in open court.

In the High Court one human rights lawyer offered to represent Afzal and my husband accepted. But instead of defending Afzal the lawyer began by asking the court not to hang Afzal but to kill him by a lethal injection. My husband never expressed any desire to die. He has maintained that he has been entrapped by the STF. My husband was shocked but he had no way of changing his lawyer while being locked up in the high security jail. It was only after the High Court judgement was pronounced he got to know about the way the lawyer had represented him. Afzal refused to accept the same lawyer for his appeal in the Supreme Court. I had no way of getting Afzal a lawyer. I do not know anyone in Delhi. Finally Afzal wrote to the Defence Committee set up for Mr Geelani. I am annexing his letter. And the Defence Committee helped Afzal to get a senior lawyer, Mr Sushil Kumar. However, the Supreme Court cannot go into the evidence and so I do not know what will happen.

I appeal to you to ensure that my husband is not condemned to death and he is ensured a fair trial. Surely your conscience will not allow you to be a party to the death of a fellow human being who has not been represented in the court and who has not had a chance to tell his story? The police have made him falsely confess before the media even before the trial started. They humiliated him, beat him, tortured him and even urinated in his mouth. I feel deep shame to talk about these things in public but circumstances have forced me. It has taken a lot of courage for me to put all this on paper but I do so for the sake of my child who is now six years old.

Will you speak out at the injustice my husband has faced? Will you speak out on my behalf? I am of course fighting for my husband’s life, for the life of my son’s father. But I also speak as a Kashmiri woman who is losing faith in Indian democracy and its ability to be fair to Kashmiri Muslims.

Tabassum

Monsoon

There’s a wedding in the family and this is precisely the time of the year when all us cousins get together and have a blast. The past few days have been fun playing scrabble and drinking coffee while its pouring outside.

I know this aint gonna last long but for now we are all geared up to watch the clash between the Germans and the Italians.

Beat the Heat

The temperature in Chennai is at all time high and soaring. Its increasingly difficult venture outdoor these days without breaking into a sweat. For those confined to the cosy comforts of your home/office/home-office, it wouldn’t make much difference. However, if you’re the type who has to travel for work, then you’re bloody gonna find it difficult. Worry not, as I’m in the same boat and have a few tips to share.

  • Fluids – Drink loads of water. Your body is continously working to keep its temperature down by sweating. This is an automatic process and nature’s way of protecting you from severe heat. In order to keep going, its important that you take in as much water as you can.
    Drink tender coconut water atleast once a day. This is by far, the best natural coolant that you can find. Helps avoid dehydration.
    As you sweat, a lot of body salts are depleted. An easy way to replenish lost salts is to have lemonade or butter-milk mixed with salt.
  • Clothing – Cotton and linen are fabrics that breathe and are the best during summer. Wear loose fitting light coloured clothes as they’ll keep you feeling fresh through the day. Pastel shades and cool blues are in. Black and darker colours are out as they tend to show sweat marks once dried.
  • Accessories – Wear sunglasses. In addition to making you look cool and sexy, sun glasses play a pivotal role in blocking harmful UV radiation that can lead to cataract.
  • The other things – Wash the face regularly with cool water. This helps in cleaning out the pores which can get accumulated with dirt leading to acne and pimples.

These are some simple tips that I’ve been following to beat the heat. If you’ve got similar interesting tips to share, do so by leaving a comment.

S Khan

So Salman Khan is out on bail. The Indian media has been in a frenzy past couple of days covering every bit of what it feels for a celebrity of his stature to be jailed. Its crazy if you ask me, but I guess thats how news is portrayed in India. If it aint sensational, it aint news!

A five year imprisonment is not the ideal punishment for killing a black buck. Yes, it might set a precedent to prevent poaching of endagered species in future but apart from that, there’s no value add to the problem. The livelihood of thousands of people connected to the film industry is involved as a lot of money (estimated to be over Rs.150 crores) is riding on him. In this scenario, a better punishment would be to slap a hefty fine on him and use that money in wildlife conservation.

Salman , dad and me.

Thats mini-me with Salman and dad in the picture. We’ve had the privilege of playing host to Salman many years ago in Dubai and if I remember well, it was shortly after his super-hit film Saajan. Salman has got this sort of cult following in Dubai among the localites especially the women. Whenever he was spotted outside, people would scream and rush to him like a swarm of bees. This was at a time when he was just tasting success. I can only imagine what it would be like now!

Salman’s visit home had also turned me into a sort of mini-celebrity amongst my friends. Some of them thought that he was related to me and I never really bothered to correct that notion. :) Funnily, I was invited to a lot more parties and my friends circle in the apartment block grew! Thank you Salman.

Last night, I was watching the news on Salman’s release. There was chaos outside his residence in Mumbai as hordes of his fans tried to catch a glimpse of their superstar. Salman stood on his terrace and acknowledged the support and love that he got. He began waving and in-between did some funny poses (some Bharathnatyam steps). He might be 40 years old, but he is still that young Salman that I met many years ago basking in the adulation of his fans!

Rush

I just had a rush today. I dont know what happened, but it something like the thing that makes you feel fantastic within, something that makes you feel that the world is more beautiful, something that makes you take note of all the colors and that makes you wonder why you haven’t felt this way before. Its funny you know…

Start 2006

Happy new year!

Hello!

Welcome back. Its been a rather long sabbatical and it feels really good to be back to blogging. Yes, this is my new home and will sure hope to have this one going for a long long time. To put things in perspective, I’ve quit my job in Bangalore and have moved back home to Chennai. I’ve started a non techy job setting up a business with dad and its been very different and very nice to date. I’m actually enjoying doing things I never thought I’d end up doing.

Finally, I’d like to welcome you here and hope you keep coming back like you did with The RadioHead. Should you feel the need to contact me (for anything at all), feel free to do so. See you soon!

Today Is

Today is my birthday. I turn 23.

What Do You Want to Do With Your Life?

43 Things, Twinkler

Very, very cool.

Pain

Sorry, for the lack of posts – haven’t been feeling well lately. My head feels like as if its gonna blow any moment. Couple that with a terrible shoulder pain. I ask my colleague for a remedy and he tells me that the place where I feel the pain is the pectoral girdle. For the uninitiated, thats the set of bones which connect the upper limb to the axial skeleton on each side. So much for the remedy!

Really not upto it, so I’m gonna go home.

By the way, I saw a five rupee coin on the sidewalk today!

G’nite.

The End is where it all begins
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