Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Operation BAD... or BADR?

Many newspapers carried reports about how terrorists sent out messages to the media that they have accopmplished 'Operation BAD' with BAD representing Bangalore, Ahmedabad and Delhi. But considering that most of these terrorist activities are associated to an organization called Al-Badr, with the emails also being signed off as Al-Badr, it doesn't take a genius to figure out that the blasts may not end with B.A.D but the next target might be a city that starts with 'R'. There are lot of tier-2 cities in India that start with R (Raipur, Ranchi, Rajkot...). So one wonders if they will actually target tier-2 city or go for the big R... the Republic Day!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Live for today!

Saturday, the 13th of September, was my first weekend in Delhi. I have probably visited Delhi about 30 odd times in the last two years but most of my visits have been for a day. I fly in very early in the morning and catch the late night flight back to Bangalore. On odd occasions I have stayed for an extra day but never got a chance to see Delhi per se. I felt guilty everytime I fly back without being a 'tourist' in this vibrant city. But when I spoke to my colleagues in office and realized that they themselves hadn't seen Delhi's landmarks, despite being residents, my guilt would somewhat subside.

And so on my first weekend in Delhi I decided to pack in as much as I could. I woke up at 6, got ready by 7, and headed to Pragati Maidan to catch my first experience in the famed Delhi Metro. I had told my cousin who is a colonel in the army that I would drop by his house in Dwarka and in return he promised to take me to the massive malls in Gurgaon. After having lived in London for many years the Metro didn't bring out too much excitement inside me except I did notice that our trains are wider and cleaner and frequency of stations is twice as much as in London.

My cousin, his kids and I decided to head to the Ambience mall but as luck would have it we got lost on the way. He is two months old in Delhi and I am two days old. So what was a half hour drive turned out to be one hour but it was worth it. The malls in Bangalore are puny compared to the ones in Delhi vicinity and it was not difficult to see why the infrastructure development in Delhi, Noida, Gurgaon was always in the news. We shopped a bit, particularly a dress for my nephew who turns four on the 15th, and had our 'Happy Meal' in a McDonalds just as dutiful tourists should.

I got back to my guest house in Greater Kailash area by around 4.30pm and after freshening up a bit I headed out to the M-block market to try and find a courier office so that I could send the gift to my nephew. It's Saturday, market is packed, and the researcher in me was thinking where will the inflation head considering there is so much demand for goods. I roamed around the M-block market and I couldn't find a courier office which would deliver the package on time. Disheartened I walked around for a while and around 6.00pm I headed back to my guest house. Just as I bolted the door I heard a loud bang. I was wondering if a bus tyre burst or someone exploded a massive cracker.

It's not in our instinct to think it could be a bomb. I opened the door and in the distance I could see debri still flying in the air in the midst of thick smoke. Even then I thought some chai wala's cylinder must have burst but it was only after I saw panic striken people running did I realise it might be a bomb. Within minutes I was near the area where the blast had occured. Four people lay on the street, dead or unconcious, with twisted limbs and burnt flesh while two more were crying in agony. Despite what news people tell the police did act fast. They cordoned the area within minutes and asked people to move. Some samaritans were already taking the injured into autos.

That evening I was shaken. Not by the blasts but by the sheer uncertainty about our lives. This is the third time I have been in the vicinity of bomb blasts. The first was in London on 11th July '05 when I had just got out of the Liverpool street station. The second was recently in Bangalore where the blasts occured right outside our Madivala office. And now third time lucky!!

I realised half our lives we spend planning for tomorrow, the week after, the years ahead and our retirment. We postpone doing things that we really want to do in lives because we are either caught up in work or we feel there is always a next time. Somehow there is an innate feeling within us that we will all live to a grand ripe age but the reality is that we don't know what will happen five minutes from now. I am not advising against planning for tomorrow...but in the process please don't forget to live for today.

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