06 August, 2011

Islamic Terrorism - The double face of the Media

We all talk about the growing face of "Islamic Terrorism". Though most muslims the world over do not adhere to or support the doctrine of these terrorist groups, yet it is labeled as Islamic terrorism on the pretex that it is born out of an orthodox school of thought from within the muslims and from their flawed understanding of our holy book. I may agree with that, though it does not make sense to me that how because of the actions of minority, all practicioners of Islam are held responsible. But, as I said, I may agree with this.

However, what amazes and astonishes me is when the same yardstick is not used for other - similar - cases. We all read about the Malegaon blasts, the Ajmer Sharif blasts, the Bhopal blasts and the Mecca Masjid blasts. The administration and the police were quick to proclaim the hand of Islamic terrorist groups, SIMI, and Indian Mujahideen. A lot of people from the minority community were rounded up. The media made a huge hue and cry about the cruel face of the Islamic terrorism.

And yet, when it has been discovered that these blasts were the handiwork of a group of people from the majority community who call themself the "Akhand Bharat" group, the same media is quiet. The same administration that was quick to find an Islamic hand is now not giving any statements, not accepting its wrong, not asking for forgiveness from those who were incorrectly improsened and accused of such hineous crime.

Why so? If what Al Qaida and its minnions does is religious terrorism, is this not the same? Just because the perperators belong to the majority community does not entail different yardsticks. But no, this is not the same. Maybe because nothing sells like a Muslim terrorist, real or otherwise. Is this what it has come down to - TRPs and what sells? I always thought that news is all about reporting what is happening at ground zero - an unbiased and unopeniated account. But it seems that is not the case here.

Similarly, after the recent attacks in Norway, the Western media was quick to jump its guns and report an Al Qaida link to the attacks. And yet, when it came out that the attacker was a Christian, it suddenly was the deed of an "aggressor" and a "gunman", never mind his anti-muslim manifesto.

Maybe muslim whipping is the latest fashionable thing to do, and as soon as we find that another person is accused of a similar wrong we conveniently turn our backs and ignore it. May be this is the official position, and may be that of the media as well, but beware of what you do - for your actions will have consequences you yourself do not fanthom.

The need of the hour is to fight terrorism - in all forms - together. But if you alienate a section of the society by such behaviour, you are yourself giving new ears and hands to those you want to fight. The best way to remove a problem is by preventing it, but sadly the policy makers seem hell bent on turning a blind eye and even fan the fire. And later, the same people will rise up and say that this was expected.

Understand that whatever monsters and demons we have to fight are our own creations. You may kill the monster in the end - but does it not make sense to not create it in the first place? Am not sure about you guys, but it does make sense to me. Think about it.

This is Hashir, signing off

Over and out

15 July, 2011

Under the radar

We all make decisions. Some at the spur of the moment, while others after pondering over them. And this one has been made after a lot of pondering.

For the past many days I have felt a strange kind of suffocation.... a suffocation of not being able to write my heart out. The only reason I can not do it here is because I am too afraid of being judged.

I am not afraid of being judged as a person, but what I am truly afraid of is that some of my opinions - while being logical (at least according to me), will be judged on the basis of my religion. And while I am ready to have a logical debate, I am not prepared to hear that I feel that way because I am a muslim, and hence a pakistani supporter and not a patriot.

So, I have made a decision to go under the radar and try my hand at anonymous blogging for a while. And this space will gradually shift to a travelogue of my bike journeys.

Till then, this is Hashir, signing off

Over and out.

24 June, 2011

Think about this

What is the standard of reporting and journalism in a country where an ex-miss world, no-expression whatsoever actress and bahu of the so called superstar of yesteryears being pregnant is front page news.

02 April, 2011

Gulbarga - My first long road trip - Part 1

** A very long post **

Have you ever felt the urge - to take the open road, the uncharted ways, to travel for the sake of travelling, to ride into the sunset, and to test your limits? I had been feeling the same ever since I got my bike (earlier named the Hawk - now has been renamed as the Phoenix). Although I had done a couple of small rides on my new bike, and a few more on Shariq's Electra, I always felt that something was missing. I needed a long ride to call myself a biker, and was waiting for an opportunity (read leaves/free days to arrive).

The opportunity revealed itself to me thanks to a weird policy of my last organization, due to which I was suddenly left jobless for a week. And, instead of sitting at home, I decided to ride out to Gulbarga as I wanted to visit the place since ages.

Completing all the formalities in my old organization took most of Wednesday, and so I planned to ride out early on Thursday. I went to an Enfield spares shop to pickup a spare set of lights, and packed my bag for the next day. Also, decided to swap the stock back view mirrors for those of Classic 500 as they gave better visibility of the traffic behind.

But, as happens with all my "Wake up early" plans, got up royally late and moved out at around 12:30 pm after a cup of ginger tea. Had already decided to take the Bangalore ORR till Hebbal, and take NH 7 from there till Kurnool before diverting to Gulbarga. Met my roommate, Vikas, near his office at Marathalli before proceeding to NH7.

The plan was simple - to take NH7 till after Kurnool, and from there take the state highway to Raichur and then ride to Gulbarga. I did not plan to take any overnight breaks as I only had three days to reach Gulbarga, roam around, and return back to Bangalore. I wanted to return by Saturday so I had Sunday to rest and get the formalities for the new job done.

It took me around 2 hours to cross Bangalore, thanks to the daytime city traffic and the diversions in place because of the Bangalore Air show. Finally, crossed Yelehanka and had only minimal traffic till the BIA. Once crossed the airport, the traffic gradually reduced to a trickle and I had the whole highway to myself. I was cruising at speeds in excess of 85 Kmph, and thanks to the new helmet visor I had gotten, was not feeling the speed at all. The bike was begging to be released, and I did speeds in excess of 100 Kmph in some stretches.

I had taken my clothes and some spare parts (an extra headlight lamp, tools, break wires etc) in a laptop bag which I had hung on my shoulders. As I reached Bagepalli, I realised that this arrangement was causing some discomfort, and so I stopped at a roadside shop to get a drink and to tie the bag to the rear seat. Thankfully I had forseen this and had brought along a rope. The shop next to which I stopped did not have "cold" drinks, so I bought a water bottle to quench my thirst.

Form Bagepalli I proceeded till Penukonda, where I had lunch at a road side hotel. I had asked for a chicken biryani, but got a mutton biryani - so people who do not eat mutton beware. By the time I moved out it was around 4:30 in the evening, and I was around 150 Kms from Bangalore.

Afterwards I realized why it is never advisable to ride on a full stomach. I started feeling sleepy and even dozed off on the saddle. Thankfully the road was empty and so no harm was done. I stopped my bike near a lake and washed my face. Also, clicked some pretty awesome pics of the lake and the bike before moving on. The next stop was Anantpur - where I searched for an ATM and tanked up, before riding on. By this time the sun had started to set, which meant that the insects had started to commit suicide by whamming into my helmet's visor. Since I did not have much time to loose and nothing could be done about the insects, I decided to ride on = hoping and praying to God that the insect attack would stop. Thankfully, it subsided after a while. By this time, I had passed Gooty, and so I decided to take a tea break, clean my helmet's visor, and wash my face before riding on.

Stopped at a Dhaba run by a sardarji and ordered for a soecial kadak chai. Got talking to the attendant of the dhaba, a man named Tony. He asked me where I was coming from, and on being told that I was coming from Bangalore he was surprised. He then started telling me about his trips and about his friends. By this time I had finished two glasses of extremely good tea, and I decided to move on. The owner of the dhaba advised me to stop for the night near Kurnool, where his cousin had another dhaba, as the road from Kurnool to Raichur was a single lane, pothole filled road with lots of trucks coming by. I told him that I will think about it, knowing fully well that I would do no such thing ;). Talked to my friends in Bangalore and Hyderabad, who all told me to stop at Kurnool or Raichur, but I had other plans.

By this time it was getting quite chilly, so I wore a sweat shirt and rode on. It was 8:30 by the time I entered Kurnool, and I decided against having dinner as I still had a long way to go, and could not afford to feel drowsy. Plus, I was still full from the heavy meal I had earlier. Stopped at Kurnool for directions and tea, and was advised to go slow on the track. He also told of where to take the turn from, which I promptly went ahead and missed ;). Realized my mistake after driving ahead for about 1 Km and drove back, and finally took the correct turn.

About a kilometer into the side lane to Raichur, the potholes started. And not just any potholes - one of the biggest I had ever seen (up to that time anyway). It was more like I was riding on potholes, with some road thrown in for fun. The next 90 odd kilometers were straight from bikers hell, with buses and trucks coming from the opposite direction on the single lane road with headlights on high beam - blinding and forcing me to go off road and let them pass. Took a break every 30 odd kilometers to sooth my paining bum and to wash my face and the helmet visor.

Finally crossed the stretch at around midnight, and stopped at the next shop for a welcome cup of hot, steaming tea. Got talking to the owner, who gave me some pointers of the road ahead. Most importantly, he told me to not go through Raichur, but to ride to Devarsugur as the road there was in a better condition and had less traffic. Thanked him and drove on towards Raichur, and stopped near the fort to give a call to my friends and brother to give them updates about my position. Asked for directions to Devsugur and drove towards it.

Now, what the guy had not told me was that I would be driving near the Raichur Thermal Power Plant, which meant that the security would obviously be high. As soon as I crossed the thermal plant, I met a police checkpost manned by 2 khaki wardi walas. I was stopped and questioned about the trip and all - but no problems. After signing the register and showing them my ID proof, I was allowed to go. The junior officer then came to me and advised me about the route to take - turned out he was a resident of Gulbarga, and was more than happy to help a visitor to his home town. I was again stopped before Yadgir, where the lone constable talked to me about my ride and the plan ahead. He basically was bored to death, sitting alone at the checkpost, monitoring the almost non-existing traffic. The next time I was stopped at a police checkpost just after Yadgir, where the Inspector in duty even took my bike for a spin. He then complemented me on daring to ride so far alone, and that too at night. That, however, was not a big deal to me. All I wanted to know was the directions to Gulbarga which he duly provided, and I was off again.

The ride from Yadgir checkpost to Gulbarga was uneventful, save for the extra chill in the air and a lot of dead rabbits and rats I saw on the road. The traffic was minimal, and I zipped across like there was no tomorrow. Finally, reached Gulbarga at around 7 in the morning, checked in to a hotel and hit the sack.

Trip Meter Reading - 713.7 Kms

Total Journey duration (including breaks ) - 18.5 hours

Will be writing about Gulbarga and the return journey in the next post. Till then,

This is Hashir, signing off,

Over and out

13 February, 2011

Some updates

Hi Folks,

I have decided to update my blog and move towards writing my trips. So, have changed the template of the blog to reflect the touring part. Also, I have decided to remove a few old posts that I think are stupid (like online quiz results and all) from the blog.

Will be writing about my trip to Gulbarga soon. Stay tuned.

This is Hashir, signing off.

Over and out

29 November, 2010

Lets forget about 26/11

I know that on reading the topic of this post a lot of people will brand me unpatriotic, heartless, and what not. For these people, the post ends here. I do not give a hoot about what they think and feel, and so if you are one of them, you are not welcome here. But if you are not among those who judge the book by its cover or the post by its title, read on.

We recently "celebrated" the second anniversary of the 26/11 attack on Mumbai. The people held candle light vigils which was covered by the media, which spent the whole day deciding where did the responsibility of the attacks lie. The politicians held innumerable shok sabhas, where they gave speeches about how India will never forget about the day and how sad they were for the terrible losses and the lives lost. For a better measure, they even went ahead and abused the neighbouring country for harbouring terrorists and threatened it with dire consequences lest anything like this happens again.

While all this happened, the families of Major Unnikrishnan, Hawaldar Gajendra Singh, SI Tukaram Omble, ATS Chief Hemant Karkare, ACP Ashok Kamte, Vijay Salaskar, and Shashank Shinde and nameless other victims (for a complete list of victims, please visit here) tried to come to terms with their loss. Ajmal Kasab enjoyed another three meals while his appeal lies in the court, people went about their business as usual, and the zealots across the border kept planning on how to break our country down.

And once the date changed, all this was packed - the programs, the speeches, the candles - all went into packing, to be brought out again the next year. 26/11 has now become a "national holiday" in our country, almost like 30th January, 14th November, 5th September etc., where we have forgotten the meaning of why we do it, but we still do the same thing every year.

It is a shame that this red day in the history of our country has come down to this. I mean, haven't we been able to analyse what went srong in the last two years? Do we actually need the politicians, the media, and the candles to remind us of what had happened? If so, then well, there is no point in remembering this day at all. Seems we all have moved on.

And if not, then why do we need all this? In my opinion, one should not try to show the world that s/he is grieveing. It is supposed to be a private emotion. And, if you want to give a warning to somebody, please be ready to back your words with action. Otherwise they are Geedad Bhabhki as they say in Hindi - plain words that have no value what so ever.

But it seems to me that we all are hell bent on creating another holiday out of this date, so it is my humble request to all of you out there to please - forget about 26/11.

This is Hashir, signing off

Over and out

13 June, 2010

The Power of A Smile Day - 15th June - Blog Hop

15th June is The Power of A Smile Day. So from today to the 15th June, do use this Blog Hop to post on the Power of a Smile. Tell us your stories, show us your pictures, write us your poems, share your songs........just about anything that will tell us about a smile and bring a smile as well.

Click on the link to enter your blog's URL or the URL of that particular post.

Looking forward to a feast of smiles......

12 June, 2010

As I stood there.....

As I stood there in the compound of the Mecca Masjid, I reminisced the last 4 years I have been in Hyderabad.

I still remember clearly stepping out of the Begumpet Airport, filled with dreams and visions of the blaze of glory I will leave behind me in every thing I will do in my professional career.

Once out of the airport, the first words that came out of my mouth were, "This is so like Lucknow, so like Home". I come from a small city called Unnao, and Lucknow being the place where I did my engineering from and where my relatives stay has always been home to me.

Being from a small city I can never get used to the hustle bustle that big cities like Delhi and Mumbai have to offer. But, I never felt out of place in Hyderabad. The markets, the roads, and above all the people always made me feel at home. And nothing comes closer to my heart than the old city.

This part of the metropolis with its old world charm, narrow lanes and narrower bylanes, old time ambiance and with its people always made me feel as if I had stepped back in time to an era long gone and forgotten. Some people say that this part of the city is not safe, and some may never set their feet here or venture out alone, but to me this place denotes what we have forgotten in our race to become a modern, growing economy.

I have visited the old city many times, mostly just on a whim to be here, and have always returned at peace with myself and my surroundings. But today, as I stood there, I was not filled with peace, but with the sadness. I never thought I would feel what I felt then -- the feeling of going away, of leaving home, and of not knowing when (if ever) I will come back.

I know that when I decided to move to Bangalore it was a conscious choice, and I had the option of staying back here. And yet I decided to move out of here for personal and professional reasons. But I also know that when I leave this city, I will leave a part of me behind -- roaming aimlessly in the bylanes of the old city like I do now. I just hope that someday I get a chance to come back and meet him -- and maybe listen to his experiences and tales over a cup of hot, steaming Irani chai and a serving of Hyderabadi Biryani.

This is Hashir, signing off

Hasta la vista -- my beloved city, my home.

P.S. - There is a legend about the stone benches in the compound of the Mecca Masjid which states that anyone who sits on them will always come back to Hyderabad. I never believed in this legend until today, and so I sat there for some time. Lets see if it is true........

21 April, 2010

Earth Hour brings Dramatic Changes to the Environment

The earth hour celebrated on the 27th of this month has been successful in cleansing the atmosphere of all toxins, dust, and pollution. This correspondent has seen for himself the great good done by switching off the lights for an hour. The rivers are clean again, the forests have grown back, and a number of endangered species have a dramatic increase in number, all thanks to the switching off of lights for one hour. There are reports coming from all big cities of clean starlit skies - which the citizens have seen for the first time in ages.

Meanwhile a political battle erupted in the capital city with various political parties clamoring to take credit of this positive development. While Bahen Mayawati, the CM of UP, claimed that she should get the credit as UP has been celebrating "Earth half day" for the past many years of her rule, Lalu Prasad Yadav, the ex-CM of Bihar, poo poohed her claim by saying that his contribution was bigger as he did that in his state for close to two decades. He also expressed hope that the people of India would realize how great his contributions are and hoped to form the next government at the center with his allies of the fifth front. He also promised to increase powercuts so that India soon goes back to the time of the Indus Valley civilization.

Mamta Bannerjee was quick to point out that all this happened because she did not allow the Tata Nano plant to come up at Singur. She promised more such protests in future across India, and has vowed to convert India into West Bengal.

There are reports that experts from US and Europe are very excited with the dramatic change that has happened in India and are planning to send a joint committee to analyse the causes that brought about this turnaround. This correspondent wishes them all the luck and hopes that they too can achieve the spectacular results that India has achieved through the Earth Hour.

01 January, 2010

Why I re-read books and other quirks of mine

I am a very eccentric person, and have quite a few quirks. Following are a few of them -

1. I re-read all novels that I have. My reading speed is kind of fast, and I tend to skip through lines at times. So, everytime I read a book again, I find something new. Also, did not have a lot of options when I was a kid as I grew up in a small city with no proper library, and the school library did not have a huge collection as well. So, I had to always repeat books. I also usually read the last chapter of a novel first.

2. I hate very clean places. I find them kind of unnatural. Does not mean that I like garbage piles n stuff, but if everything is sparkling clean then I feel as if I do not belong there.

3. I hate wearing sandals. This arises from the fact that my Dad prefers them, and was always telling me to wear them as well. And I have always been a rebel when it comes to obeying him on how to dress, behave, and the likes.

4. I do not like to sleep unless my eyes are drooling and closing with exhaustation.

5. I am a night owl, again because my father wanted me to do the reverse. College only solidified this behaviour pattern.

6. I am very openionated about certain things.

7. I dislike the fact that my face shows what is going through my mind.

8. I do not know what I want from life, but am pretty sure that this is not it. This uncertainity and undeciveness is what is killing me.

9. I believe in first impressions, though I do not judge a person by his/her clothes, manners, or any other “expected” criteria. My judgement of a person is on very vague terms, and I usually try to sense whether the person infront of me is likeable or not. The perspective is always mine, and I can never define what I look for.

10. Usually I prefer to keep to myself, specially when in the company of new people. But once I get to know a person, I am the exact opposite.

11. I used to beat my younger sister and brother a lot when a kid. Then one day, I stopped. I don’t think I can ever hit them again. I love them too much to do so.

12. I always missed the presense of an elder brother in my life, and still do. I just hope my siblings never say the same.

13. I have this habit of fast viewing a movie. I keep forwarding the movie and finish it in 10-15 minutes. Then I sit back and watch it in full.

14. I love history and historical places, specially ruins. Where other people see broken walls, I see the past granduer of the place infront of me. I once the whole day in Lucknow Residency building (which was destroyed during the 1857 war of independence) just reading the tomb stones and imagining the war there.

15. There was a time when I had an immovalbe belief in numerology. But gradually I realized that I was becoming a slave of that knowledge, and so I chose to ignore it.

16. I am an amatuer graphologist, and like to go through handwriting samples and doodles. I miss that in the HiTech world that I live in, though.

17. Off late I have come to realize that though all my life I tried to be as different from my father as I could, we are more alike deep down. There are a lot of his characteristics that I have inherited. Surprisingly enough, it makes me swell with pride. Though I have a difference of openion with him on a lot of things, he is one of the most admirable and genuine person I have ever met

Think this is enough for now.

This is Hashir, signing off,

Over and Out.

P.S. – Did you hear that youtube will be allowing download of 3 Idiots 12 weeks after its release. This will ofcourse be for a small price. Think the producers are trying to curb Piracy by this means, though am not sure if it will work. It also marks the entry of Google into the “Pay per View” Video business.