Saturday, November 29, 2008

1 Militant Played Dead ?

The young terrorist photographed by Sebastian D'Souza (of Mumbai Mirror) in Victoria Terminus (CST) was captured alive. The 21-year old youngster, now identified as Azam Amir Kasav, was captured while trying to escape with his accomplice in a hijacked Skoda.
According to reports, which I quote:
"But in that encounter, Azam’s colleague was killed and he himself was injured in the hand. He pretended to be dead giving rise to the news that two terrorists had been killed. However, as the ‘bodies’ were being taken to Nair Hospital, the accompanying cops, figured that one of the men was breathing."

Doesn't anyone check for a pulse before clearing the encounter area?

Friday, November 28, 2008

It is Still Not Over

Even while the commandos are trying to flush out the terrorist(s) in the Taj Mahal Hotel, news about the young men who opened fire in Victoria Terminus, at the Metro Cinema junction and finally at Chowpatty, continues to reach us through the newspaper.

One chilling account was from a shop owner in the out-station part of the Victoria Terminus. He said he saw the young men laugh and smile at each other while they shot at innocent people and stray dogs!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Explosions, Gunshots and Hostages

I am still trying to come to terms with what is going on in the city I live in. It is close 20 hours since terrorists boldly opened fire and lobbed grenades in certain areas in South Mumbai. In the midst of the intermittent firing and grenade explosions that the militants have smartly spread across more than two locations in the southern part of the city, two of them got away from the Victoria Terminus, the main railway station in South Mumbai.
A TV channel just aired CCTV footage of two guys slinking away from Cama Hospital. All this is still sketchy for me but what is amazing is that these guys got away in police vehicles! Of course this was much later after the initial firing in Colaba yesterday around 21:30. It is almost 18:00 in the evening today — 9 terrorists have been reported killed, 5 arrested (allegedly), 10 are still holed up in the Taj Mahal Hotel (a 5-star hotel), 5 more on the 19th floor of the Oberoi Hilton (another 5-star on Marine Drive), and another lot in Colaba in a building called Nariman House. There are some who seem to have escaped too. There are hostages — lots of hostages in the Taj Hotel and Oberoi. They include hotel employees and foreign nationals.
(
The numbers are changing all the time. Right now, none of these numbers hold true anymore. Now they are not talking about any of the arrests made. I am tired just keeping a tab on this, cannot imagine what the hostages and the commandos are going through. Hopefully, even the terrorists are getting tired and lowering their guard. I came to know my sister's friend just managed to get out of one of the hotels by the skin of her teeth. I hope these guys are caught and punished with the authorities.)
According to NDTV, there have been 10 attacks, 9 in southern Mumbai.


Who is the Deccan Mujahideen?
It is said the authorities received an e-mail originating from some Russian IP address staking claim over the incident. The group calls themselves the "Deccan Mujahideen". There was never a group that existed with this name! There is the Indian Mujahideen and they are also still a new outfit.
A TV journalist reported a terrorist had been arrested from Oberoi Hotel (I personally do not believe it yet, since the exchange of fire is on the 19th floor) who had divulged his name and nationality — mohameddan name and from Pakistan. He could have been fibbing but the TV guys love to report anything.
One foreign national who was lucky enough to be evacuated from the 5-star said they hid themselves in the kitchen for a while. The terrorists waved at them to move somewhere, the women were freaked out so they let them go. When asked what the militants looked like, he said they looked very young — 22 years old, short hair, clean cut face. Then he hesitated...but said the men did not resemble the typical Islamic militant.
I was told there is a possibility that one of the militants inside the Taj Hotel is a woman. Don't know how true that is, they saw a long-haired person at one of the balconies. Noone on TV has made a mention of 'her' again.
Today's paper carried a picture of one of the guys at the Victoria Terminus. Another one with a full front shot of both the men was shown on TV, along with the CCTV footage of them escaping. They are smart looking men dressed trendily — just like any other youngster in the city.
The CCTV footage has been uploaded on a news site but it will not play, possibly due to the traffic. If you watch it you will notice the way they move. It was like out of a Counter Strike game.

The Police are Never Prepared — Even if They Were, They are Always Outsmarted
The cops took ages to call the army in. The police has never strengthened its operations since the serial blasts back in 1993. They still function like a small town 'chowki'. They tried their best but their underpowered effort has cost over a hundred lives plus their own encounter specialists and seniors.
There are over 20 of them. One of the youngsters has been seen carrying a large rucksack. How did all this go unnoticed? How can someone walk into a hotel inquiring about the guests' nationality with an AK-47?
And...terrorists got away! One militant shot at an anti terrorist squad (ATS) officer at point blank range and got away in his car. And I am left thinking, shouldn't those cars be easily trackable?
Most of the cops do not have bulletproof vests, their body language (around the scene) shows they have not received any training to deal with such situations.
They do not use any sort of special equipment or any presence of mind to assess the situation and deal with the purpose of "containment".
Finally the army is doing something, they have entered the hotels and have a gargantuan task of scouring each and every hotel room. The Oberoi has around 800 rooms. There has to be a better way. The only consolation is that the army has experience in dealing with these situations because of the militant activity in Jammu and Kashmir.
The army has stated that it could be a while till we see a result but atleast they seem to be working at it. Our police is not capable of tackling such a situation — mentally, physically or tactically.

Who is Responsible?
It is too early to blame anyone. And quite pointless too. The media is cornering people who also stand to lose a lot from this attack but they still hound the owners of the hotels.
I wonder what the Central Government has to say about this? At the end of the day, the Center is supposed to provide funds to improve security in cities has been targetted by militants.

I just hope and pray I wake up tomorrow to hear that the situation has been brought under control, the hostages safe and next step of finding the culprits begins.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Case of the Worm-Eaten Book

I have been on the lookout for Imperial Blandings — an omnibus of the series on the Blandings Castle, by P.G. Wodehouse. Ever since my son ripped two pages off the book, I have had to be on the lookout to replace it. The copy I have does not belong to me, see? Unfortunately, the series seems to be somewhat of a rare find.
This afternoon I was dragged to the Crossword Bookstore — a place I sort of despise calling a bookstore for many reasons, all of which I will not list over here. Just one.
It just so happened that one their tables, which usually display books on sale, was laden with...you guessed it...works byP.G. Wodehouse. But no Imperial Blandings omnibus.
So I started going through the titles on display. Most of the books were on Jeeves series...and then I came across a grubby copy of "The Gold Bat and Other School Stories". It is a compilation of some of P. G. Wodehouse's early works. My guess is no one ever bought it and Crossword wanted to get rid of it.
With this copy in hand I began sifting through the rest of the pile. That is when I came across another copy of The Gold Bat. Let's compare and pick the better looking book, I thought to myself. As I placed the two books in front of me I noticed the lower face of the copy I had picked earlier...it had been eaten up by bugs. The bugs had gnawed into the lower edges of the book leaving gaping 'ant holes'!
I am willing to understand that some books may get infested even after taking precautions. But when a bookstore claiming to be a haven for book lovers keeps chewed up books for sale without giving them a once over, it is totally unacceptable. Even after I informed the slip of a boy of their callousness all I got was, "Fresh copy! Hey, fresh copy!" There are only two copies, both of which happen to be on the table. "Sorry Sir. No extra copies."
"I have the other copy," and walked away... ("You guys suck," is what I wanted to say.)
At the counter, after paying for the books we picked up, I once again brought the issue to their notice. "You must be more careful!"
"Yes sir. We will not let it happen, sir." Why did I even tell him that? The floor managers were out today (I have never seen these guys before — ever!) near the table where I showed the chewed up book to the staff. He probably turned a blind eye. Now I hope their clothes get moth-eaten.
Crossword Bookstores is nothing but a pseudo bookshop run on marketing gimmicks. They do not really give a damn about books unlike Strand Bookstore, which is a result of a man with a different set of principles. Crossword is only interested in making a quick buck.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Another Ad - Featuring a Young Folk Singer

Here is another ad I like. Actually, I don't like the ad as much as I like watching Kabir Arora shake a leg to the tunes of Ashraf Khan - a teenage Rajasthani folk singer. Both these kids were part of the Cadbury's Bournvita Confidence Academy.
Kabir Arora is part of Shiamak Davar's (a very popular dancer cum choreographer) who is also known for his summer holiday workshops) junior dance troup.
Ashraf Khan is a Rajasthani folk singer from Jaisalmer (a.k.a. The Golden City), Rajasthan. I have heard him perform on a reality TV show where he appeared as a guest along with Kabir. The TV show was a talent show for children — basically an Indian Idol for kids. (I hated the show. Too much drama and too much pressure on the children.)



If I remember correctly he even sang a song from the film Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (literal translation - I have already given my heart, my love...Blech!). It turned out to be the one I find very annoying. (It didn't surprise me one bit...almost anything annoys me.) I will not describe the song. It is titled, "Nimbooda" — go do your own search in your own time.
But Ashraf sang it so beautifully in that folksy style of his, it left me floored. This type of music is typical of wandering minstrels — a weathered look, a strong and clear voice, a bit of wanderlust, accompanied with probably just a string instrument for harmony.
There must be so many genres of music that are peculiar to only some parts of our country. Not many get to hear them or enjoy the...as people's lives urbanize their art, which is probably passed down through generations, gradually dies a slow death.
Or maybe urbanization will not kill such genres altogether. Maybe it will give birth to a new one — a fusion or a mutation of the music — combined with the same spirit, the same voice, the same weathered look...

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Hunt for an Image Authoring Software

When I created this blog I had decided I will not write about technology. It is what I live and breathe everyday, literally. I had made a pact with myself that if at all I feel geeky, it will be a rant of some sort or a humourous run down. But after spending a late evening at the office looking for an image authoring software, I felt I should go back on my words...eat the ol' proverbial hat...so to speak.
What I wanted to do was this:
- Create a disk image of a set of files and mount it on a virtual CD/DVD drive.
I hardly ever come across the need to do this at work and I rarely ever get to use the computer at home long enough to tinker around with such stuff. It has been a while since I did this sort of thing and as a force of habit tend to uninstall software that is used infrequently.
A couple of Google searches later, I hit upon the motherload — a list of optical disc authoring software. This list is exhaustive and the creators/editors have nicely categorized them, for noobs like me, into Freeware and Commercial ware.
I ended up choosing ImageBrn and Virtual CloneDrive. Reason? Simply because they are free, easy to use, light on the sytem, I vaguely remember using them a long time ago and they suited my needs for the moment.
Hopefully this will serve as a helping hand, a signboard showing them the way to the restroom, the compass in the wilderness they find themselves in...
(Now you know why I just had to spread the love.)

More Links: List of Disk Image Emulators, List of ISO Image Software

Bingo "Hatke Jhatke" Chips Ad

The first time I saw this ad on TV my initial reaction was, "What tha!?"
I did not like the new Bingo Hatke Jhatke ad at all. The chips which are a combination of two different flavours and have a little bend in each one of them, has these two guys doing some sort of an urban kalarippayattu, to the beat of a Tamil song, in the middle of a busy street.
As I was subjected to this ad again and again, I was brainwashed into liking it. Fickle, yes. I cannot help it. The music and the antics finally got to me. It is quite zany and would like to defend myself by saying it is better than the earlier, nuttier Bingo ads.

I have not been able to identify the Tamil number that plays in the background — my Tamil friend is yet to get back to me on this one. Noone has been able answer this question on Yahoo! Answers either. Let me know what you think of the ad.
By the way, "Hatke Jhatke" literally means "different (set apart from the rest) jolts".



Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Here, There and Beyond

I hope Sarah does not mind my using this picture. She does not know me from Adam and all I know about her is what she has entered in her Blogger profile. What I do know is that she is doing what most of us do not do, do not care to do, or are just incapable of doing. The least I can do is make more people read about folks like Sarah who are doing something to make a difference in others lives. Here is a beautiful post on Sarah's experiences in Zambia: Where is MY Zambia?

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