Monday, December 29, 2008

Verdict 2008: Jammu and Kashmir’s “vote for democracy”?

(Pictures: Reuters)

As the pro-India National Conference emerged as the single largest party in Jammu and Kashmir assembly elections, the writing on the wall is a tad difficult to miss.

Fed up of living under the constant shadow of violence in a state divided under religious lines, Kashmiri voters surprised seasoned political pundits by turning up in large numbers to cast their ballots.

They defied calls of poll boycott from Muslim separatists and belied fears of violence in the wake of the bitter Amarnath Yatra land row that led to the fall of the Congress-PDP coalition government and imposition of central rule.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has called the high voter turnout a “vote for democracy” and Congress President Sonia Gandhi has said this should be a message for “our neighbours” (about what the people of Kashmir want).

Whether it is their desire for better governance and development first and the issue of autonomy later, the Jammu and Kashmir voters have set the ball rolling on the counting day in many ways.

Conducted in seven phases, the elections this time came on the heels of agitation over the Kashmir government’s decision to give forest land to the trust that runs Amarnath, a cave shrine visited by Hindu pilgrims.

This enraged many Muslims.

The government then backed down on its decision, which in turn angered many Hindus in Jammu, the winter capital of the region.

The deep divisions that surfaced and the polarized electorate seems to have helped the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a party that has traditionally struggled to make its presence felt in the state. The BJP won 11 seats from Jammu, a gain of 10 seats from 2002.

Both the National Conference and the People’s Democratic Party have done well in the valley.

The National Conference has kept the doors open for a possible alliance with Congress to make the half-way mark in the 87-member assembly.

But such an alliance will not come without its customary wariness given the history of their political tie-ups in the late 70s and 80s, most of which were followed by periods of Governor’s rule in the troubled state.

It remains to be seen whether the NC and Congress take advantage of the lull in overall violence in the state and live up to voters’ expectations of giving more weightage to development issues.

Or will they get cowed down by separatists looking to regain their foothold in the region?


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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas advice for the lonely and single - how to make the most of your misery

"MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! We're here!" sang a bunch of my friends over the speaker phone on Christmas eve. One thoughtful deed deserves another. So I growl politely "bugger off...!"

"Whats with the grouch Bhowmik?" One cheerful elf asked while I could clearly hear giggled whispers of 'PMS" and "sex starved depression" in the background.

"I can hear you, you know?" I say.

I'm not anti-fun as such. I have tried fun in a hygienic and controlled environment and its fun.

But I have begun to dread this festival euphoria and the "are you having fun?" syndrome which hits worst when you are single, grumpy, and down a drink or two.

It is a must that you have a Plan.
The Plan includes pretty men and women clad in the latest boots and fur coats with posh accents. They must have the right mix of devilry and corporate suave to know a punch from a cocktail. And uh...they must be a part of your friend set.

Since I do not have such a Plan, and most of my friends look at the right hand column of a menu first and exclaim openly at the outrageous prices of food and drinks, once again I find myself alone at Christmas, wallowing in my private misery.

I feel the pressure of 'having fun' too much to handle every time a national holiday or a festival comes up. Every one seem to be asking the question I dread so much. "What are your plans?" Normally I ho-hum a bit, look shifty and say "Well I did have to line my kitchen shelves with newspaper..." Till a close friend pointed out the folly of it all.

"What are you, an ogre? Never admit that you don't have plans. Say you will be out till 4 am partying. No one will check up to see if you are actually downing tequila shots in a pub or wearing your ugly pajamas and polishing brass candlesticks."

Years and years of such constant pressure to "have fun" has forced me to come up with a list of things to do to counter frantically happy people who have perfect lives and cool friends to have fun with. It's the Plan against the List.

The List (for the lonely/single/divorced/widowed/dead/all of the above)

1. Stock enough vodka and lime juice to last a nuclear holocaust.

2. Spend the day shopping for peanuts, DVDs of F.R.I.E.N.D.S or Seinfeld or comedy movies

3. Come home by 4 pm, switch off your phone/blackberry/laptop/desktop. If company policy prevents you from switching off these gadgets then put them on silent mode.

4. Get dressed for the occasion. Best if you have a threadbare pair of pajamas and a sweatshirt/top.

5. Drag a pillow and blanket to the living room and make your sofa/couch/bed as comfortable as possible.

6. Bring in the drinks and the peanuts and stock it in reachable distance from the TV.

7. You are set for the night.

8. Its 930 pm and you are sloshed beyond decency. Get up, sway over to the fridge and get some food. This is the right time to call up old friends.

9. Call up old friends and slur "heyyy bitch...how are ye doing?" Most fun conversations happen when you are drunk. You will of course kill yourself in the morning, but hey, you are allowed your pathetic night out.

10. 11 pm. You are a rock star, but for heavens sake go to bed now.

You can alter some or all of these points in my list if the situation so demands.

This list always works for my lonely and pathetic life. It might work for you too. Or you can just go and buy a new set of friends on eBay.

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Monday, December 22, 2008

"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night"
























"There are some upon this earth of yours," returned the Spirit, "who lay claim to know us, and who do their deeds of passion, pride, ill-will, hatred, envy, bigotry, and selfishness in our name, who are as strange to us and all our kith and kin, as if they had never lived. Remember that, and charge their doings on themselves, not us." - Dickens (A Christmas Carol).

Don't blame me if I spoil your appetite for cheer and good will this season. I have found out the world has become a very complicated place for me in the last few decades. 

I've been around for much longer than most of you. So excuse me my condescension. 
I have survived the Cold War, Great Depression and 'Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi' and I have lived to tell the tale. 

It's true my red sack is considerably lighter this year and mostly filled with crappy recycled gifts that no one wants but I have an appraisal coming up and I have to still get up and go about my job even when all I want is to curl up with my pint on the sofa.

I was wanting to write to you guys for a long time but postage costs shit these days and Internet connection isn't always reliable in North Pole. 

I have stopped using my wi-fi ever since I got a very scary mail from the FBI saying some little known terror group in India had hacked my network to transfer data to their associates in Pakistan. 

Those fat fools in the FBI would not believe me when they interrogated me at length about my alleged connections with this Lashkar something group. I told them I wouldn't be involved on principal with a group whose name I couldn't spell.

And beside, terrorism isn't really my field of work anymore. Especially since Social Services has made it illegal to leave out naughty children from my Christmas gifts list, even if they are the devil's offspring. 

They say it breeds inequality and the trauma of not getting any gifts can scar children for life no matter what their crimes are. They suggest counselling, I suggest good old fashioned  spanking across the knee. They force me to bring goodies to 15 year old dope pushers on street corners. 

But I have always been known for my tolerance and love for all, rich or poor. So even as I offer candies to a character who answers to "Blade", he asks my mother to do unspeakable things to his brother. 

But how I ramble. 
In this yearly newsletter to my followers, I write to let you know that Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet and Cupid have been grounded by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals this year. 

Even as I write this, a bunch of them are protesting right outside my office wearing nothing but a great red clown ball on their noses and stuffed reindeer horns on their heads. 

Now I really like their costume, distracting as it it for my working elves, who anyway have been complaining about a meager bonus package this year. I would appreciate these PETA kids more if the missus wasn't home to breathe fire down my neck. But as it happens, no one tells me how to treat my rein deers.

As it is, I'm fuming and frustrated over the list I got from kids the world over this year. Now let me tell ye good people, I have been running this show for the last thousand years. I have given out the strangest gifts to good boys and girls who ask me nicely before Christmas.

A black parrot for the prince of Persia, a diet for BritneyS pears, the secret of youth for Dev Anand and facial hair for Himesh Reshamiya. So dont tell me about strange gifts. 

But what in Saint Nick's  name is an "Xploder"? I double checked the IP address to make sure it isn't a sneaky request from a trainee terrorist to slip one over me. I do not want another visit from the busy elves at the FBI headquarters thankyouverymuch. It's actually from a kid in Chicago and he says "Its like the coolest game, yeah, so like...cudja pls pls gimme me ok?" Sigh. What has happened to Monopoly and Scrabble? Or to grammar?

I have of course the standard requests for world peace and as always I have marked them as spam. But I have one very interesting mail from a black guy in Washington who claims to be the President of US in waiting. He writes to let me know that he has been a very good boy this year and could I please, if it's not too much trouble, get him out of the auto crisis which in a way is his legacy born of mainly an out-moded system of union contracts.

Ho Ho Ho.
I used to be the embodiment of everything jolly and nice. My flowing white beard and huge belly, is a child's delight as he sits on my lap whispering his heart's desire in my ear at super malls. 

Not anymore it seems. According to new regulations, any unseemly physical contact with a minor is jailable up to 12 years. Thanks to a ghoulish looking pop star in US and his way with children. 

I was discussing this with an elf at work today. I said, really, what are they going to think up next? Sliding down chimneys into homes is breaking and entering? Punishable with 4 years? So Greenbell the elf says "whatever you do chump, don't touch the stockings."

Don't touch the stockings? Excuse me, I was under the impression that was my job. To stuff stockings. So Greenbell sniggers and informs me "you dirty old thing, you. that's a major kink doncha know?"    

I had the most harrowing time at the North Pole air traffic controller's office. They ran over everything in my sack with a great big metal detector which went off thrice a minute. "What's in here grampa?" The evil looking officer questioned me. I drew up to my full height and let them know that it's gifts for kids all over the world. "Whatever it is, you have to check it in. Cant allow food items, liquid and weapons on board." 

Its a toy squirt gun for a kid in Israel for heavens sake. "Israel, yeah right. Squirt guns are not what they want at the mo, do they?"

When did it become this complicated? At the Cambodia airport I had to line up for vaccination as a very friendly stewardess informed me about a fresh outbreak of bird flu. 

If this despair I am feeling is bird flu, then I'm definitely coming down with it. I am Sinter Klass, Saint Nicholas, Santa Klaus for crissake! I have always been around, I have spread love and have worked Christmas miracles. 

I have come in children's dreams and I have merry Ho Ho Hoed for years. 

I do not have to go under the metal detector, be frisked or stay away from minors. Or for that matter be asked to inject liquidity into the market. (What the hell does that mean, anyway? Weird nerdy requests always bugger me)

So my sugar plums if this Christmas isn't that good for you, do not blame me. Its not "rocking" for me either. I have been asked by the government to quit smoking my pipe as it is bad for passive smokers (yeah, like my rein deers care! snort!) And I do not have the nerve of Shah Rukh Khan to yell back at the government. 
   
Hope you get the discounts at the super malls and the couple night passes at pubs that you really wanted instead of my usual photo frames and gilt bracelets. I waited all year to visit you when you are sleeping in your dark silent houses. But looks like I cannot do that either without tripping up the burgler alarms or getting clicked by the CCTVs. 

So Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I Am Going Into Terrorism

The owl glasses have spoken. 

I am going full time into the terrorism business. 

All things considered, I think it's the safest bet in these unsteady times of recession and bankruptcy.

I have tried this journalism business for some time now and the only thing I have to show for it is a holier-than-thou attitude and hardcore cynicism that my mother thinks lends me the distinguished air of a jack ass.

A friend across the border called in really early this morning to say there is a buzz on the share market circuit there that Lashkar-e-Taiba shares have hit rock bottom since constant raids by government soldiers and missile strikes by U.S. drones. 

If this is the state of a perfectly dependable organisation based on solid old world Jihadi economy, then how will the smaller fringe groups survive in these hard times? 

"So listen," my friend says, "there is word that the government will liquidate the outfit. There were some talks of a bailout plan but they got squashed by meddling non-state actors from India and U.S." 

I of course sent him a five rupee note to stick on the entrance to the cave in the wild wilderness where the front office of the outfit operates from. 

I checked out the risks involved in going into the terror business with a moll who often worked with trainee operatives in finishing school. 

Dressed as a virgin, her role was to train these 20 something gawky youngsters in etiquette required of them in jannat. 

"We cannot of course have them pawing virgins and behaving like a kid in Disney Land," she says.      

I still had my doubts on the return on my investment. 
"Look, I won't lie to you. There are chances are that your brains will be blown out and your bones spooned up from sidewalks. But lets be realistic here. That happens only in Sri Lanka and that too if you are dumb enough to wear a bomb on yourself."

"Things have changed now. We have outsourced and the guys that apply from some of these Middleeast and even some western countries are simply the best in the business. We have expanded into hostage taking now."

I was still worried. I have never taken a hostage in my entire life. 
Unless you count out the time I locked my sister in a bathroom in fourth grade for 40 minutes and ate all her candies.

"You just have to open fire till you get a crowd rounded up inside a prominent building. Then on, you will not have to worry about a thing."

How will I know whats going on if I'm locked up myself inside a building with a bunch of people?
"Just turn on any TV set and you will know what's happening, including pictures of commando action," she says.   

I brighten up visibly. But as always I drive a hard bargain. 

Look my job might not make me a millionaire but at least it keeps my family going. I'm leaving all this to join groups whose fourth quarter profit looks grim. It's easy to prance around a training room in a "Like a Virgin" costume surrounded by Versace clad men. But it's my ass on the firing range here. 

"We have thought all about that. Here are season tickets to the best virgin shows in jannat for you and this neat package paid in instalments for your family after you are gone."

What do you mean 'gone'? You said it was a cakewalk and even if I get caught It wouldn't be so bad in jail.

"It wouldn't. Have you heard what Kasab eats in jail? Four meals a day running into four courses. We have lined up some human rights groups who will go on a chain hunger strike as soon as you are arrested to ensure that you are not tortured. We have links in the UN who will keep enquiring about you from time to time."

What if they trace me back to you guys?

"Are you kidding me? They are still shuffling papers trying to trace the last eight attacks, and we are here getting stronger. Aren't we? And anyway, your dressing will confuse them, I am quite sure."

Hey! I never cross-dress when I'm on a serious job. How did this get around anyway?

"(laughs) I didn't mean cross dressing you big oaf. You will have a saffron waist band, Gucci shoes, a red bandanna, and a Halloween mask." 

The saffron, Gucci and Red I understand. What's the Halloween mask for?

"Er, have you seen the last lot we sent to CST and Taj? Our new world motto is to combine beauty with terror. Would you really care to bare your ugly face on national TV?     

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Saturday, December 6, 2008

World's best crank call, a war that almost was

Time: 2 am IST
Place: Somewhere in New Delhi

Caller A: Haallo haallo!! Operator? Please put me through to Jordaari, immediately.

Operator: Who is this? Who do you wish to speak to?

Caller A: Jah shala! didn't I just say? Jordaari Jordaari! It is a matter of bhery much importance.
Operator: You must have the wrong number. There is no Jordaari here. This is the President House.

Caller A: Yes, yes, I know. I must get Jordaari. Aarey, he is your President or no?

Operator: Ah I see. Just wait a moment while I connect you please. And Sir, my apologies for the delay.

Time: 2:30 am
Place: President House, Pakistan

(Hectic conversations between intelligence officials and presidential aides)

Official 1: It can't be Mukherjee. It just can't, I don't know, call it my ISI experience, or plain intuition, it can't be him.

Official 2: Has your ISI experience taught you when to shut up?

Official 3: Guys, guys, this is not the time for argument. I have checked the call details. They bloody match. It must be him. We have to wake the president. These are drastic times.

Official 2: On your shoulder be it then

Official 1: I knew I should have taken up the offer with the FBI when it came. This could be something major.

Time: 2:25 am
Place: President's bedroom, Pakistan

Operator: Sir, putting your call through

Caller A: About time!.......Hallo hallo Jordaari?

Caller B: (stifles a yawn) Namaste! To what do I owe this very late pleasure?

Caller A: Pleasure! Mumbai is burning and you talk of pleasure! Have you no conscience?

Caller B: (startled out of slumber) Yes, it is very unfortunate. I have sent my condolence via fax, didn't you get it?
I tell you M, the state Musharraf left things in here is simply disgusting. Nothing works. Can you believe it, I don't even get to keep my Blackberry. Although I'm not complaining, I heard Obama also gave up his. When you become president (hint of pride in his voice) what's a few material things, eh old chap?

Caller A: Listen Jordaari, if I had to do tete-a-tete at this time of the night, I would wake up Manmohan no? I have called to lodge serious complaints about you.

Caller B: Me? What did I do now?

Caller A: I am sorry to say you have again, ki jeno kothata, (what's the saying?) ha, 'dropped the ball.'

Caller B: (getting angry now) Look if this is again about Palin, I must tell you I am fed up of this. I only complimented Palin, I swear I never laid a finger on her. She is like a sister to me.

Caller A: DHUR CHHAI! (dammit) who is talking about Palin? I don't like the way you let your ISI do whatever damn well they please. Ui are bhery bhery angry about Mumbai. And let me tell you ui will take sturn action. Ui will make war, yes, Jordaari, NOT LOVE, BUT WAR, with you.

Caller B: (completely awake by now) Wait a second! wait a second! this is not the diplomatic briefing I got! Who is talking about war? We are bhery (dhur chhai!) very sorry it happened. But there is no need to arm twist me.

Caller A: (chilling laughter) He he he, you will see. (Disconnects)

Caller B: (to officials who were eavesdropping outside the bedroom)
Immediately call the White House! Wake up Rice! (looks under the bed), wake up Bush! we are at war! India is attacking us! WHERE ARE MY SLIPPERS WHEN I NEED THEM!!!

Time: 3 am
Place: Somewhere in New Delhi

Caller A: Damn. I ran out of coins. I knew I should have got 20 bucks more in loose change.

The next day is history. Indians living near the Line of Control woke up to see heavy troop movement on the Pakistani side, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice flew in to Delhi to "reassure India of its continued support", the media went berserk and the Indian Foreign Minister maintained that India is appreciative of Pakistan's support.

This piece is a figment of my imagination. But the incident is true. A prank caller pretending to be Pranab Mukherjee to Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari had both nations almost on the brink of war with few minutes of a midnight conversation.

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Friday, December 5, 2008

This mail is doing the rounds. I am hosting this on my blog as something I have NOT written myself but feel needs to get around.

He is the "manoos", he is the busy "mumbaikar"… he is the youth….he is the aged…he is the oppressed… he is the angered… and today he is just an Indian!!


Thus, with threat of 4 kgs of RDX seized at CST (which later turned out to be true), with the threat of some terrorists still moving about scot free in the neighborhood, with the threat of a political unrest…he comes out from the safe recluse of his daily routine and starts walking through the hustle and bustle of the CST station and Hutatma Chowk, crossing the Flora Fountain, to reach one destination… The Gateway of India!


He must have received a sms or a mail which asked him to be present at the Gateway of India for a cause that affected him…his family…his co-passengers….people he had known.. people he had not known… but today he was there to prove his existence amidst the ocean of humanity by the sea, for his country.
"His Country", a sentiment long publicized to earn money for film-makers, used to gather votes by political parties, a sentiment he felt has been drubbed within the pages of the History Book.

He took to the streets out of compulsion, on the 26th of July, the 11th of July…he was compelled to stay back home on the 27th of July… but today he had had enough.

Suddenly I notice, that this "he" was in fact "everybody"….I did not have a choice but, be a part of this "everybody"…. Well then… be a part of this "everybody", reach the "Gateway of India" and do what?

Hurl slogans to demand resignation of politicians? Demand to curb all facilities for politicians at the cost of public money?

Scream slogans of death for a neighboring nation? Try to establish that we are living in horrific conditions where we do not have a way out? Demand better training and equipment to fight terror for our police?A group of people even went to the extent of demanding the "return of bargirls"….who, they proclaimed, could protect the city better than the politicians we had elected.

The agenda was however, one that of paying homage to the deceased in the blast & shootout and condemn terrorism.Whereas, Slogans that raged on like a storm were blowing fire… the fire of frustration that this city and this country had endured for years… All of them spoke of hatred…they were all protesting against the system that has cut them into many pieces.

As on observer and a participant one opines that there were more to this gathering than just giving way to frustration.

Maybe we did not realize, but probably it was the first instance after the Indo-Pak war that, a non-political mass of people had gathered out of their own will, essentially non-violent, fuming and fretting with anger, chanting "Bharat mata ki jai" and "Vande Matram" making the opportunists tremble with the echoes.

Maybe after a long time the common man had decided to take the onus on himself to fight injustice, not waiting for somebody else to do it for him.

Maybe after a long time, the old and aged would not dare question the patriotic sentiment of youth in this nation, who had worked hard to convey messages of protest against NOT BEING INDEPENDENT in their own country in this gathering.

Maybe after a long time somebody was asked to tear his clothes and make a TIRANGA out of it, when in his spree of enthusiasm he almost tore a flag when he tried to get one for himself from a lady distributing the same at the venue.

Maybe after a long time, the mob did not want to stand in front of the media cameras installed wherever possible, such that their folks back home get to catch a glimpse of them at the venue….

Today everybody wanted to move ahead… they knew that they were not here to have a nice little picnic going.

Maybe after a long time such a huge mob had conducted themselves so well in a gathering where the situation could have gone out hand at any moment. Maybe after a long time, people wanted concrete results arising out of this statement of protest!

They did not want to forget this bruise in a short while………. As the night progressed, the crowd thinned… the wind started blowing stronger by the Arabian Sea….A small tree at the Gateway seemed unruffled with the wind…….

Where a hundreds of candles burnt around the bark of the tree… a small bouquet of roses was kept with a message…."Dear Patriots… We the people of INDIA salute you"A little kid was seen bending down on the sand, beside the tree, trying to light yet another candle there… His father was helping him out against the strong wind that had started blowing. My appeal to all my fellow countrymen…. This time…..let us keep the candles burning!!

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Monday, December 1, 2008

Fighting disasters with humour, camaraderie

This post is all about personal experiences.

After the Oberoi Hotel operation, commando Karamjit Singh Yadav handed a card to commando Bharat Singh who had a part of his ear nipped off by a bullet fired by a terrorist.
The card simply said “Life is too short - 2 inches.” Signifying how close they came to getting shot.

But the message caused a lot of good natured ribbing by Singh's colleagues.
No one would believe these men only a couple of days ago darted through dark corridors, matching bullet for bullet at a bunch of young guys pretending to be grown ups.
If they laughed reading the card now, the commandos wept for Major Unnikrishnan who lost his life trying to save one of them.
It reminded me of another disaster four years ago when a beaten and shattered bunch of people laughed at themselves when they did not know what else to do.
December 2004, the tsunami ravaged parts our southern coast and engulfed withing hours whole thriving villages of fishermen. I was sent to cover the disaster 7 days later and as any paradropped journalist from Delhi, beelined to Cuddalore district where portions of a coastal village was swept away in swirling waters.

I did not know Tamil and my famous hand gestures are still spoken of by the village elders.
When I met the Panchayat head and tried to coax details out of him through my local colleague who also acted as an interpreter, he appeared baffled.

After 15 harrowing minutes and much amusement of the locals who gathered to watch a journalist from Delhi make a fool of herself, I got some facts and figures and decided to call it a day.
It was only when I turned to go away, did he call out to me, in chaste Hindi, asking me to visit any time I wanted and that I was very welcome.
Many of the villagers joined in his laughter as I gaped at him in shock. These are the men who had lost their family members in the tsunami, their boats and livelihood and still they smiled in unadulterated pleasure at the humour in my predicament.
When I stopped fuming I realised that they had every right to laugh. I was a visitor from the distant and posh national capital and had assumed that I would sweep in amidst their tragedy, get cold and hard details and walk out regally. They obviously didn't think so.

And the surprise showed in their eyes as I smiled back at the panchayat and thanked him in Tamil. Gotcha!
To reach the island of MGR Thittu I waded in waist deep sea water for over a kilometre and all the while the locals who walked along with me to retrieve their soggy belongings from destroyed huts joked with each other and teased me about the quick sand that I might step into.
When I gulped and asked them about the quicksand, they replied laughingly and assured me that they were not as dangerous as the coastal snakes.
At the hastily erected community kitchens, the young monks from Ramakrishna Mission ate sitting on the ground with the fishermen. It was pongal, a festival of abundance and the happy cries were missing.
The children played hopscotch inside the camp ground, apparently thrilled to bits about something. I asked a girl who looked about 11 years old the reason behind all these very sneaky smiles.
"Our school is washed away. All our school books are gone."

At the village of Devanampattinam, where actor Vivek Oberoi camped to help the villagers, my introduction of "I am from PTI (Press Trust of India)" was greeted with very hopeful smiles.

I was amazed at my own popularity, till one doctor in Oberoi's camp pointed out that the people thought I was sent by the Port Trust of India with some news about their boats.

These were some of the glimpses of the aftermath of the tsunami as I experienced. the pain of losing lives and livelihood was there, but so were these snatched moments and I am glad I saw both.

Thank god that men, through the bloody ages, have not lost their sense of humour, something that keeps them going when nothing else will.

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