Twittering Upto A Revolution

26/11 has changed many people forever. Those who have survived it, those who escaped it and got lucky, those who lost loved ones, those who came face to face with the terrorists, those who were reporting on location and then there were those who monitored the news closely and kept contributing to an online newsfeed with timely news reports, analyses and opinions.

I was on twitter and I sincerely want to thank the community for using this unique medium to create awareness about the situation across the globe. The phenomena brought forth the power of citizen journalism. Of course, it had its pitfalls too. Rumors can spread quickly etc. But then, think about it. Those living abroad and concerned about the situation in Mumbai could constantly keep in touch via this medium.

These twitter feeds were being used by the international media as well for the speed and precision with which it functioned.

Unfortunately, the one thought that hasn’t been letting me rest is that the terrorists’ aides could have been monitoring twitter too. The TV channels couldn’t stop giving out key information about the NSG operations at the three locations, which I am sure was being conveyed to them. The terrorists were equipped with SAT phones and blackberries. Did I unknowingly help those b*stards?

But I think some people on twitter deserve a mention here.

Right from the list of emergency contact numbers to the victim names, Asfaq was constantly mobilising info to help out concerned individuals across the globe. Your contribution is immense. Thank you

www.twitter.com/asfaq

He heard a blast like sound in his south-Mumbai residence and immediately put a question on twitter. His tweets on my phone made me realise the magnitude of what happened at 10.30 pm on the night of 26/11; thank you, Gaurav.

www.twitter.com/gsik

Lives abroad, but didn’t lose touch with the city while it withstood the worst terror attacks ever. Used to be a student at my Uni. Thanks for interesting reads you put up, Shriansh.

www.twitter.com/shriansh

I don’t know this person, they followed me and I followed them. They’ve been putting up amazing articles that give you an indepth read into the situation.

www.twitter.com/crypticvalentin

This person has been speaking of communal harmony and just been supportive of the sentiments of the Mumbaikars. It didn’t matter that they’re far away in LA, US.

www.twitter.com/goldenheart

He got together with his friends and organised a candle light vigil at Carter Road. Thank you.

www.twitter.com/ajeshh

These are just a few of them. There are a lot more. These guys make me believe that our country has people who think and will not be scared to run the country if they need to.

At a time where me and billions of Mumbaikars were distraught about the terror struck in their city, seeing these guys constantly putting up info, selflessly, was heart warming. I am glad I could put in my two bits. And as I write, there are about 20 tweets going up under the #mumbai tag every minute. Bravo guys! Bravo!

Mumbai Terror Attacks: Pieces of the Puzzle

I have been tracking all major news channels and twitterfeeds since early last morning. The feeling of anger has subdued and I am in an analytical mode now. I scanned through the papers and I recommend you read the cover page of ToI thoroughly. A report that has caught my eye is ‘Search for Sabina Still On’. According to this reported Sabina Sehgal Saikia was resting in her luxury suite on the top floor of the heritage building.

When she heard gunfire and activity, she immediately called her friends and relatives. She was in touch with many people through SMS. She kept saying that she was alone and a final message from her to an employee of the Taj says that ‘they are in my bathroom now’.

They have not found Sabina yet. The police traced no activity on her cellphone until seven hours later. It was used from Raigad.

The last line has left me numb. How did her cellphone get out to Raigad? Were the terrorists posing as civilians to get out safe? Have they split into groups to hold the show at the 3 locations while the rest of them have made a run for it?

Last night the Taj Mahal hotel was declared flushed and empty. Then late last night, the reports said that there was an injured terrorist who was putting up quite a fight and moving room to room. A fresh report this morning says that there is more than one terrorist in the old heritage wing of the Taj and an unknown number of guests stuck. They are NOT HOSTAGES, but they are stuck inside none-the-less.

Our Prime Minister, Chief Minister or even the nation’s President, have failed to make an impactful speech that makes the citizens believe that we can get over this ordeal. What’s worse is that they do not even appear shaken. At this point, I keep thinking of Mayor Giuliani, who emerged as a New York hero post 9/11 and built the city’s morale back into shape. Do we have such a leader? Do we deserve such a leader?

I have never felt this helpless. A stranger following my twitter feeds kept asking me about the Rabbi at Nariman House. Turns out he was known to this person and was a close family associate. I tried and tried, I still don’t know if the Rabbi is in the building, is he dead or is he alive? No idea…

This whole incident has changed me forever. I will never trust the stranger standing next to me on the bus, just as you might never trust a harmless person carrying a haversack next to you in the street. My dad was in Istanbul 4 years ago when there was a bomb blast there. He asked his taxi driver how he dealt with the uncertainty. “We assume there’s a bomb between our two feet!” the taxi guy replied.

I do not want to be a part of an India that makes us or the future generations think on those lines… Is somebody listening?

Ps: I am writing from my phone. Please excuse the bad grammar and spellings!

Mumbai Terror Attacks: Lesson For Us To Learn!

The past 13 hours have been numbing for every single Mumbaikar. There’s no point in explaining what happened. It’s all over the media. If you don’t know what happened, close the window and read a paper right now.

I don’t know why I’m writing this. I have been up almost all through the night. Worried sick for friends, then for the city and then for the bloody morale of this country, just worried. I have been surfing news channels. Gladdened by the sense of responsibility that some channels are showing, angered by unnecessary sensationalising of news.

This is a rant a bloody rant of a grieved citizen, a grieved Mumbaite and more than anything else, a shattered human being.

As I write this, I hear that the operation carried out by terrorists was just to cause mayhem and killing. They have no demands! This is ridiculous. We cannot tolerate these fanatics doing this for the fun of it.

We cannot tolerate these fanatics arriving in a boat on the Mumbai coast armed with explosives and guns. We cannot tolerate the fact that they got into high security stations and so called well protected hotels with guns and bombs and held people hostages. We cannot tolerate the fact that they killed people to just prove that they were capable of doing so.

I refuse to be resilient. I refuse to be tolerant. I want answers and I want them now. I want to know why the intelligence did not spot this. I want to know why the coast guard did not spot this. And I want us all to ask those questions.

This is a cue for us to get up and ask. How can we let these uncivilised bastards hold the city at siege? I don’t care if this post does not make sense. This is how I feel and I will continue to feel so until I hear that ATS chief Hemant Karkare, SI Vijay Salaskar, DIG Kamte and many other individuals did not lose their lives in vain.

As I post this, Barkha Dutt is questioning the info. More than 100 people are trapped in Trident and blasts have been heard.

A big thank you to Barkha Dutt, Kashif Khusro, the entire Times Now team for responsible journalism and for asking the right questions and keeping the citizens informed.

Right now, some sources said that the weapons used were H&K MP5s which are the Pkistan Military’s standard weapon and are produced in Pakistan on a license. The pieces of the puzzle if fit together create a scary picture.

Dostana- Different and fun, but not quite awesome!

Dostana has all the makings of a masala hindi movie, but I was pleasantly surprised that it’s a completely new Bollywood experience! Hot guys, hot girls, beautiful locales, an OTT Punjabi Mom, gorgeous designer clothes (minimal but beautiful!), dhinchak music and I can go on and on.

The plot is nothing new. Two guys falling for the same girl has been done to death but this time it’s different! There are two men vying for an apartment and are ready to go to any length to get it. Kunal and Sam fake a romantic gay love story to move into a plush Miami apartment. The hitch? They share it with a super sexy Neha, who works in a fashion magazine, but has the ever so slight makings of an Indian girl (She doesn’t share an apartment with guys because of valid reasons and also respects her deceased parents’ sentiments). A few songs, a few twisted comic situations and major emotional turmoil later, the boys fall in love, not with each other silly, with Neha.
Kahani mein naya twist is the silent, intense and confident Abhi, who transforms from mean, hard to impress boss to a sweet, simple guy who adores Neha. Which of the guys’ heart is about to be shattered? Will Neha forgive Kunal and Sam for the web of lies they’ve spun?

The plot is obvious, but the way it’s presented is fully entertaining. Abhishek is absolutely brilliant as the male nurse Sam and John is just concentrating on looking hot and succeeds (Oh! How hot he looks!). Priyanka’s performance is awesome but with John & Abhishek’s chemistry, she is sidelined
(maybe it’s just that John’s yellow trunks made a far better impact on my oh-so-feminine mind than Piggy Chops’ golden bikini)

Why must you watch Dostana:
– John’s butt
-John’s abs
-Abhishek’s effortless portrayal of a loving, gay boyfriend.
-Delicious beaches of Miami!
-Music that’s sure to set your foot tapping and the videos will almost inspire you to get up and dance
-Just for fun guys!

Questions I’d like to ask Tarun Mansukhani:
-Ummm… I don’t see how they end up bonding! Coffee, shopping sprees and stuff are regulars! Why weren’t a scene or two dedicated to show their inter-dependence beyond sharing the house? The song (Jaane Kyun) would have been awesome after establishing their friendship
-How do the dudes manage falling for Neha? What is it about her that makes them go crazy? We know Neha is ambitious, we know she’s sweet n caring but what beyond that? I want to know what are the little things she likes, dislikes etc.
-What’s with the hamming and corny giri? KKHH dance in the rain scene replayed! Really?!?!
-is Neha really daft? Doesn’t she get the vibe? Whether Gay or not, when guys are whisking you off to a surprise romantic setting and doing super special things, you kinda figure or at least question the motives!
-Where’s the magic gone from movies? I wanted to feel the magic I still feel watching KKHH or a DDLJ!

Dostana lacks a plot, has a lot of loopholes and doesn’t exactly make you feel like hugging your best friend pronto! (Remember how you felt after Dil Chahta Hai??)
But wait, it’s not an absolute waste of money or time. It’s worth a try. Keep your brains aside, take a chill and enjoy the first (almost) movie that openly talks about homosexuality even though it’s all humored. At least its not poking fun at a gay side character by dressing them up as half woman half man, right? This is a huge step for Indian cinema, I truly believe.

Kudos: John and Abhishek! You need to be very secure about your sexuality to pull off a Kunal and Sam! And you guys look so good together! Bipasha and Ash will get jealous with the sizzling chemistry!

I am inspired: To go and dance to Desi Girl! And yeah go on a strict diet and exercise regime… everyone in the film looks hot! Except Kirron Kher and Sushmita Mukherjee, of course…

We’re Just Good Friends!

‘A man and woman can never be friends!’ Harry tells Sally who staunchly disagrees. They prove the point by sharing an awesome friendship, but the inevitable happens. They fall in love! 

‘I am so lucky! I married my best friend,’ says Naina in Kal Ho Na Ho. Some of us do fall for our best friends and don’t get as lucky as Naina.

Take Reema’s case. She was very close to Varun who shared a lot of common interests with her. Both spent a lot of time together talking about anything and everything. ‘I guess nobody around us could understand that we were just good friends. They kept brainwashing us to realize there was something!’ finally Reema developed feelings for Varun and he wasn’t sure. They took their friendship to a new level but it was a disaster. ‘We were great as friends but our relationship sucked. I knew too much about him and expected too much too. It just ruined our beautiful equation!’ Reema admits sadly.

Sometimes, two individuals connect on a level that takes them beyond their gender differences. In fact, this male female mixture brings a newer and a fresher perspective to the relationship. ‘I love getting serious advice from my best friend. He’s a guy and sees things practically!’ Sandhya always tells me. I adore her relationship with her best friend but quite a few of their friends have tried and nudged them towards ‘the next big step’. They both know that their compatibility is limited to friendship and nothing else. But not everyone can sustain this friendly ‘advice’ business.

Both the friends have to be extremely clear, matured and focused to sustain the societal pressure. ‘People can easily manipulate your thoughts and create unwanted complications,’ says Sameer whose best friend refused to understand that two people loving each other as friends does not translate into being ‘in love’. He believes that we watch too many films and believe what they have to say.

It’s like a huge plan to make sure the friendships across genders do not remain where they are. I used to go to a school where every girl tied a rakhi on her guy friends’ hands. This prevented the teasing, winking and elbowing. I thought getting out of school would change that, but it still exists around me in a mutated form. Labelling your friendship with ‘brother’ tags might be super sad, but at least it shuts the people around you up.

‘It’s a very treacherous situation. If you feel the passion and stuff, sure go ahead and take the plunge. But if you’re just getting together because people suggest it, and there’s nothing better to do, think again!’ says Payal who’s fallen for her best friend and has been enjoying a super fun yet mature relationship for quite some time now.

Everybody’s story is different and you have to let friendship be. To quote Miranda Hobbes from Sex and the City ‘Only the two people in any relationship know what’s really going on and nobody else!’ So, while it’s awesome to be best friends with the love of your life it may not necessarily mean that your best friend is the love of your life! You may still take that step but remember it’s a huge risk. It works for many but if it doesn’t, you stand to ruin your relationship.

Let Harry love his Sally and let Rahul and Anjali live happily ever after. Don’t let films or people around you dictate the course of your relationship.

PS: I’ve changed names to avoid any old stinky sandals flying at me. Also, this is no ‘Dostana’ inspired post. I was working on this for two weeks, and now that I got the weekend to look away from CampusJunkie, I have put it together! Watch out for my own review of Dostana, tomorrow!