Tag Archives: Bombay

Ek Tha Tiger: Death and Bal K. Thackeray

We have reasons to be grateful that Bal K. Thackeray has died, a normal, natural death. Several of those whom he admired, didn’t. Adolf Hitler, the fellow ‘artist’ he often invoked, killed himself, his mistress and his dog. Indira Gandhi, and her son Sanjay, the mother and son firm of despots that Bal Thackeray endorsed, didn’t go gently into the night either. Sanjay Gandhi, the ‘bold young man’ whom Thackeray recognized as a fellow spirit came spiraling down in his own airplane, demonstrating that the indifferent sky does occasionally listen  to the prayers of the earth to alleviate its burden. Indira Gandhi and her son Rajiv both fell to the forces that their own ruling dispensation had nurtured, Khalistani zealots and the LTTE.  Bal Thackeray was lucky to have lived as long as he did, sipping his lukewarm beer, spitting out his bile. Very lucky. As for us, we are fortunate that Thackeray did not get to go down as a Maratha martyr, just as a lapsed cartoonist, a would-be caudillo and a has-been demagogue. Continue reading Ek Tha Tiger: Death and Bal K. Thackeray

City in Terror: Dilip D’Souza

Guest post by DILIP D’SOUZA

Starting today eighteen years ago, for much of December and January (and then March 12), Indian killed Indian on the streets of my city. Terror at its most elemental: I felt it then. I saw it then. Others told me about it then.

Some memories of those weeks, in no particular order but they all still make my hair stand on end.

Creative Destructions

Part of a Series. See here.

In January of this year, I had taken a friend to Mumbai. One of the places we went to was Lower Parel – I wanted to show him what I could of the Mills. You could still see the Mills then, if not in the same form. The same compounds now housed small galleries and boutiques. There were advertisements for a ‘mills culture tour’, sold as something in between a bar hop and an art gallery cruise. I knew big clubs had opened here, as had malls. Phoenix Mills was Mumbai’s version of Delhi’s DLF Emporio – all the major global brands were there. Even here, however, I remember laughing and pointing out to him that some of Bombay’s stubborn egalitarianism remained. Armani was next to Addidas. Rohit Bal next to a paper store. Unlike in Delhi where no non-hyper-elite brand could get near DLF Emporio, in Bombay, even Armani couldn’t buy space away from Adiddas.

Continue reading Creative Destructions

Maya Bazaar

Its 6.30 am on a mid-May Sunday morning in Bombay, India’s favourite metropolis-on-the-sea. Like a sudden gift from a dying relative, an unseasonal chilled breeze is blowing in from the ragged beaches of the city. I put my sandals on and go downstairs from my flat to meet three friends; all of us having decided to do what Bombay dwellers do periodically – use a Sunday to make friends with the city again, to momentarily cease the war that rages, unbidden, every other day of the week. Continue reading Maya Bazaar

A Media Simulated Ecstasy?

Amidst the blood lust evident in the mass media in the run up to and especially the aftermath of the judgement on Kasab, comes a slight relief in the form of the following story in The Telegraph, Calcutta.  Sociologist Andre Beteille, not particularly known for his radical and loony views, said “It appears that people want vengeance — not justice,” underlining that  “the media’s role is crucial in whipping up passions. I’m not really surprised”.

A photograph and some extracts:

Special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam outside the court after the death sentence was delivered on Thursday. (PTI)
Special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam outside the court after the death sentence was delivered on Thursday. (PTI)

May 6: Special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam was asked outside court this afternoon: “Sir, what’s your score?”
Nikam figured out the question in a split second, beamed like a gladiator and replied with a chilling echo of Ab Tak Chhappan: “Thirty-eight death penalties and over 600 life terms.”

Clap, clap, clap….

The crowd, not entirely made of journalists, could not resist the temptation to celebrate. Crackers were burst, drums beaten, cheers whooped, effigies hanged and mock funerals held in an outbreak of exultation. “Death to Kasab! Hang him! Hang him!” they cried; Nikam waved heroically and flashed more Vs — the prize fighter who’d delivered the knockout punch for India…

A postcard from Bombay for Raj

Don’t think it’s a good idea and you’ll do it one of these days. Do it today! Go to your nearest post office, buy a postcard and address it to Raj Thackeray. Don’t be abusive, write a peace message, and when you write the MNS office address, write BOMBAY instead of Mumbai. And shoot it off today! If you like the idea, buy more than a few postcards and give them to friends.

Details here.

Thinking Through the Debris of Terror: After Bombay

Last week’s terror attacks on Bombay/Mumbai, for which there can be no justification whatsoever, have targetted railway stations, restaurants, hospitals, places of worship, streets and hotels. These are the places in which people gather. where the anonymous flux of urban life finds refuge and sustenance on an everyday basis. By attacking such sites, the tactics of the recent terror attack (like all its predecessors) echo the tropes of conventional warfare as it developed in the twentieth century. These tactics valued the objective of the escalation of terror and panic amongst civilians higher than they viewed the neutralization of strictly military or strategic targets. In a war without end, (which is one way of looking at the twentieth century and its legacy) panic is the key weapon and the most important objective.

Continue reading Thinking Through the Debris of Terror: After Bombay

Witnessing Madness 24/7

What is happening? The Taj is burning, gunmen are shooting, the police is storming, the Oberoi is burning, the army is descending, people are running; bleeding; dying. Barkha Dutt is talking, Rajdeep Sardesai is talking, Srinivasan Jain is talking, Vilas Rao Deshmukh is talking, L.K Advani is talking, Manmohan Singh is talking, Vikram Chandra is talking, an eye-witness is talking, the army chief is talking, the naval chief is talking, an ex-hostage is talking, the terrorist is talking, Javed Jaffery is talking, Arnab Goswami is talking, is anyone even listening, is everyone listening—But what is happening?

Continue reading Witnessing Madness 24/7

Bihar, Bombay, Boston: Dilip D’Souza

Guest post by DILIP D’SOUZA

What’s the real issue in the whole Raj Thackeray-fueled mess?

Well, according to someone who left a comment on my blog, it is “migration”. With some elaboration, here’s how our back and forth went, after that.

While this person was opposed to the violence, he also thought migration is indeed the issue, and with the agitation, Raj T “has brought out the failure of the UP & Bihar governments to create jobs for the last 50 years.” Continue reading Bihar, Bombay, Boston: Dilip D’Souza