Thursday, August 06, 2009

WTF !!! Missing posts

Where ARE all my posts since March?

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

First experience of driving in the US - II

The next threat to the survival of the human species came fairly quickly, I would say around 1999-2000, when everybody and their grandchild, pet dog and neighbour's infant was scooting about perched on a Hero Puch while I was content with enjoying the visual delights of the world, read women, from the amazing place called the pillion seat on my friends' mopeds.

Well, as you would have guessed, the Gods of the time were not in favour of me remaining in this utopian state for long and hence I found myself being coached by my dear friend Deepak to ride a moped. And that is the time I learnt a valuable lesson of life - you cannot say no to a friend even if it may not be something you are very keen on.

As it turned out, there weren't that many coaching sessions and I did not own a moped of my own so I was able to avert becoming a reasonably competent rider for a long time until catastrophe struck.

It was a sunny, breezy and luke-warm November morning in 2000 when our group of friends decided to set off on a customary trip to a nearby riverside 'picnic spot' about 40 kms away as part of the thrice weekly class bunking routine to fulfill the requirements of the bachelor's degree course. Our troupe was as motley a crew of characters of various hues as you can imagine with the only common thread connecting us all was that we were all pursuing the aforementioned degree rather vigorously and were very determined to ensure that even the most eclectic of such requirements were met religiously.

Since I wasn't exactly threatening Valentino Rossi with my superbiking skills at that point, I was assigned to be pillion rider, behind one of the female members of the entourage, which made me very happy indeed for obvious reasons. And off we went, three Hero Puchs, one TVS Champ, one Hero Honda Splendor and a Bajaj Super to round it all up rather nicely.

And it would have been a rather routine trip like many others before and after, and would have been banished to the nether regions of my memory, gathering dust for posterity if not for what happened almost a third of the way to the destination.

The female friend in question, ceased to feel as much on top of the world as she was at the onset and was unable to continue to steer the moped which was the choice of locomotion for both of us. Suddenly, I was faced with choosing from one of two options, taking public transport from a rural area back into town, effectively killing the expedition for the two of us atleast, or donning the mantle of knight in shining armour and rescue the damsel by bravely offering to swap places and ride the moped in her place while she recuperates.

With the first option still leaving the question of what happens to the moped, and also raising questions about my knight credentials, it was never in the race. And so, with a steely resolve, lots of visible bravado despite being petrified, we set off with me in the pilot seat. Lesson two, skills half-learned at the insistence of a friend can come in quite handy sometimes. Take a bow, Deepak. Thanks.

To my immense surprise, we managed to make it to the destination without any further material incident. The only notable event was a comment about why I don't change gears as often as customary. I was in a fix whether I should answer that and reveal my lack of riding skills when another dear friend Shashank (rather surprisingly more well known as Mukul/Mukki) came to my rescue by explaining that I was a big fan of being fuel efficient and hence stayed in the top gear for as long as possible. Where that came from, I don't know but it did satisfy the querying female friend so its your turn to take a bow, Mukki.

And from that point on, there was no looking back. Mopeds, dodgy incredibly small-wheeled scooters, bikes, nothing fazed me. Soon I was laying rubber on the Allahabad-Lucknow highway (which is a misnomer if there ever was one) and the rumble strip to Phoolpur (don't worry, nobody else knows where that is either. It was the parlimentary constituency of Jawaharlal Nehru though) regularly.

to be continued..

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

First experience of driving in the US - I

Well, the title does give the game away but I would like to indulge in a few flashback instances from my rather eventful existence on this planet before I get to narrating what the title indicates.

Now for the more curious among you lot, the theme of these glimpses into the past is my previous attempts at various forms of locomotion.

The story starts more than a good quarter of a century back in time when our family friends and well wishers were beginning to get accustomed to visiting our family abode and expressing their concern about my absolute lack of interest in extending my lower limbs into any semblance of a support structure for the rest of my body.

Many theories were in circulation regarding the same ranging from the arcane to the downright bizarre. Some thought I was born 15 years too early for the pulse polio vaccine while others wondered if it was some sort of rare nerve disorder which made me unable to exert any sort of control over my shapely and supple legs, if I may say so myself. Needless to say, the eternal fount of wisdom that my dearest mom is, there was an increasing support for her initial suspicion that all these conjecturing toms were way off the mark and the real reason for my utter lack of self-driven locomotion attempts was sheer laziness on my part.

It took a good year and a half after I made my grand opening appearance on earth before my desire to grab hold of anything colourful as well as to take a healthy bite off anything interesting, in quite a few instances both happened to be the same, resulted in me shedding my torpor and deciding to take matters in my own hands, rather my own legs.

That initial global crisis averted, the next major challenge to world peace started rearing it ugly head around 1992 when it became patently obvious that I was not going to take to the bicycle mode of transport, by then readily adopted and honed to a considerable degree of expertise by my peers, with any success whatsoever. While my friends and classmates would lord over the world while pedalling away furiously, I would be content with being ferried to the school on a shared rickshaw trolley and walking ridiculous distances whenever alternative forms of transport were not available.

Needless to say, when the situation did not show any signs of improving by early 1994, my immensely wise father decided to take things in his own rather capable hands. And quite literally so. One nice fuzzily warm February day, he picked me up and perched me on the bicycle seat, warned me to be careful of my teeth and then pushed me away. In the 3-4 seconds of eternity that elapsed between the push I felt in my back and the 'slam' I felt on my teeth and knees, I became quite convinced that I would never be able to get friendly and feel warm and cozy around self propelled locomotion devices without any inherent balancing mechanism.

If I had my way, there was no way I would ever allow my precious posterior to be planted on another triangular semi-soft piece of impotence-inducing torture device called a bicycle seat. However, not surprisingly, and as all of you know very well from your own personal childhood experiences, I did not have my way. Which means that I had to undergo some more of the frankly scary and seemingly life-threatening experiences of being pushed in the back, lurching around for a couple of seconds and then succumbing to a rather sudden affinity for mother earth, usually with rather detrimental effects to my physical appearance.

Well, to cut what is drifting into a rather long story short, I realised that each successive push was resulting in me somehow being able to lurch around like a veteran alcoholic for a microsecond longer and I reached a point where my frustration with the repeated injuries forced me to make some rather half-hearted attempts at counter-balancing to stay vertical for a little bit longer. To paint a better picture in your mind, just imagine somebody realled sloshed to their gills trying to avoid falling flat on the ground and navigating their way home on their own rather shaky two feet. Top up the guy with 10 more drinks and you have a picture of me on the bicycle.

Anyway, so after dozens of these experiences, I found I was able to pedal my way from home to school in the morning in one go without endangering my knees and also do the reverse trip in the afternoon with no damage. And so it was, that I was weaned from the rickshaw trolley to using the bicycle for going to school. A Close shave, but crisis averted.

to be continued...

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Monday, February 09, 2009

Mission Sri Lanka - accomplished with minor damage

Dont need to write much on this, with the reams in the country's newspapers back home and the megabytes of opinions posted online already. Suffice to say it was a clinical performance, ruthless by Indian standards and yet, routine by Aussie ones.

Food for thought, team India?

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Saturday, February 07, 2009

The land of opportunity, really?

27 years, 3 months and 11 days after first setting foot on this earth; about 15 years after first hearing about this country; about 10 years after first dreaming of and visualising being here; 4 years after really hoping for the first time to be here; 12 days after being told that I need to come here, here I am, in the land of opportunity, the melting pot of the world, the maelstrom of cultures, races, ethnicities, eccentricities and everything else, more popularly known as the United States of America.

And frankly, I am underwhelmed. Not that anything specific I had hoped for in terms of infrastructure, facilities, vehicles, blah blah, isn't there. They are all here, and more. And yet, there is something distinctly not-so-impressive about this country. Maybe its because I have stayed in the UK for more than a year off-and-on, maybe its because I have had an overexposure to the US culture via television, movies, internet and books, maybe its because I was just expecting something not so rational, maybe I am becoming too cynical as a person, but it all looked so mundane, routine, almost taken for granted.

Having said that, its fun to see people driving on the 'wrong' side of the road and the automatic cars zipping about. I wish I was driving here. The sheer size of the country poses and immense and yet interesting challenge compared to the relatively puny UK where you could zip across the length of the country in less than a day.

The city of Hartford, Connecticut looks bright and shiny, snow-swept and welcoming. Good portents for the start of a new chapter in my life. It should be interesting.

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Sunday, February 01, 2009

two wins on the trot

I had deliberately not posted after India won the first ODI, just to make sure that the win was not a fluke start to the customary attritional ODI series in Sri Lanka with the islanders triumphing in the end.

And I might seem like contradicting myself by posting after only the 2nd ODI, with the series still undecided, but there is a reason for doing so.

What makes this win, 2nd in a row for the series and 7th on the trot for ODIs, different is the fact that Ajantha Mendis, the carrom-ball spin sensation from the country we should call down under instead of Australia, seems to be no longer a threat of Himalayan proportions that he was until now.

In the recently concluded series, in India no less, Mendis seemed to have got the better of not one but an entire batting order filled with superstars, all of which were brought up on a lifetime diet of high-quality spin bowling. A lineup that even the great Shane Warne could not budge had been made to look like English county batsmen from the decidedly second-rung teams in the Midlands. That the young upstarts from the south had given us a lesson in spin bowling was at once humiliating as well as thought-provoking.

That the Indian batsmen have managed to thwart his threat, and Murali's too, and take runs off both with giving them any wicket (Mendis got the last 2 tailenders while Murali got none) suggests that the batsmen have learnt their lesson, particularly that of aggression being the best form of defence.

Heartening to see an Indian ODI playing with the freedom and purpose we rarely associate with the Men in Blue.

Best of luck guys !

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Pichhurr Hall - Rab ne bana di jodi

What is it that keeps Shahrukh Khan going? What goes on in his mind? Who advises him on his next move(i)s?

These questions, of an existential nature to millions across the Hindi heartland, seem to be increasingly resonating in my head. His recent misadventures in acting seem to be confirming my belief that the Baadshaah of Bollywood is losing the plot. Big time.

This movie could have been a lot better. A lot. There are thousands of rom-coms in existence across Hollywood and Bollywood that could have been used as inspiration. Its probably the most widely accepted form of cinema in existence today across the world with acceptance across all walks of society and among all types of audiences.

The plot itself is a no-brainer. Simpleton marries zesty girl under extraordinary circumstances and attempts to transform himself in an attempt to woo her. Certainly not very original. And yet, being so generic a plot, there are always possibilities of retelling this story with some creativity to engage and impress the audience.

And that is exactly what Mr. SRK was probably thinking when he came up with the innovative idea, err..actually not, Amol Palekar beat him to it decades ago, of an imaginary alter-ego, more in tune with the times. And it could have worked too. But why, oh why, did the alter-ego have to be soooooo over the top? Why did he have to be so sadak-chhaap that I could not accept that the heroine could ever see anything in him worth falling in love? The crassness of the character and the excessive hamming, outrageous even by SRK's own lofty standards, must be seen to be believed.

And when Vinay Pathak, the man as likely to be the next Naseeruddin Shah as anybody else, is reduced to a caricature of a friendly salon-wala, you can't but wonder at what could have been.

And finally, did somebody tell Anushka, or whatever her real name is, that she is a perfect match for the dozens of television soaps of the Ekta Kapoor factory or their knock-offs?

Maybe the item number in Kaal was not so bad after all.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

TV Watch - Seinfeld

I wonder what India's moral police, Gandhi-ists and Congress folk would say when they came to know that in an episode titled "The Old One" in season 4 of Seinfeld, one of the characters who has a huge goitre claims to have been the girlfriend of Mahatma Gandhi, with a picture of a young Gandhi with her to prove it. To make it worse, she even goes on to describe his performance in bed !

How come its not reached the Indian Media and Censors? The series does air in India, right?

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pics of Trinidad apartment

Some pics of the Trinidad apartment, promised earlier.


Apartment entrance - top left













View of Diego Martin valley from outside the apartment





inside the apartment






dining area




Kitchen. Those are empty bottles of drinking water !

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Sunday, January 04, 2009

Portents of 2009 - Cricket

Now that India will not be touring Pakistan as a fallout of 26/11, the biggest highlight of the first half of India's international calendar is gone. A big bummer, but in the circumstances, its only appropriate. I wish we had attacked the buggers though. Anyway,on with the predictions.

India in Sri Lanka - 5 ODIs

While India have to figure out how to deal with M&M - Murali and Mendis, Sri Lanka have to deal with trying to get their tired and recently brittle batting order to put enough runs on the board as well as making their innocuous pace attack display enough venom in the opening overs to allow the tweakers to weave their magic. Fielding has been a game-changer in limited overs cricket on quite a few occasions and this is probably the first time that an Indian lineup has the edge over Sri Lanka, even if its a slight one.

Keeping the murderous form the Indian batting order is in, and the flexibility and options they have in rotating the order and playing different roles, I think this will be a 3-2 or 4-1 scoreline in our favor.

India in New Zealand - 2 T20s & 3 Tests

While India being the world T20 champs does not really matter much in this form of the game, New Zealand has some really explosive batsmen in McCullum and co. and they do hold a slight edge. They also possess far more experience in T20 cricket than the Indians. Either 2-0 to New Zealand or 1-1 but then this is T20, 2-0 to India is not that unlikely either, particularly with Dhoni at the helm. That man can do anything, provided he has Joginder Sharma to bowl the last over.

The tests are a different matter altogether. I admit that the New Zealand pitches and conditions are quite unique and India have not one a series there in more than 4 decades but I think we will fare better this time around. The batting lineup is settled and one of the most prolific in world cricket at the moment, the pace attack, well lets just say it deserves the moniker, and the spinners are not too bad either.

The biggest factors in the humiliation meted out to the Indian team last time around were the pitches. But a voice in my head tells me that they will not be presenting those greentops again.

On an individual level, I am looking forward to seeing how Sehwag and Gambhir do on this tour. I am reasonably sure Dravid and Tendulkar will unfurl a special or two while Laxman will do his customary rearguard whenever needed. On the flip side, I suspect Yuvraj will continue to provide test selection woes to Srikanth and co.

So 2-0 or 2-1 to India, unless the weather decides to play spoilsport in a big way. In which case, it could be 1-1.

IPL season 2

This season is make or break time for IPL. Last time around, the novelty of the concept in cricket, coupled with the big names on display meant that there was reasonably high levels of customer interest throughout. This time around, Lalit Modi and co. have to deal with viewer fatigue as well as figure out ways to avoid a couple of good teams running away with the competition and rendering a lot of games meaningless.

If they manage to figure out how to do that, we could well have a long-term winner on our hands.

While I can't pick a winner out of the 8 teams in the contest, I suspect that the standard of cricket on display will improve remarkably. I also think that all teams will come up with a more thorough analysis and will have remarkably similar strategies. It will be much closer than it was the first time around. The semi-finalists will probably not be known until the last 2-3 league matches.

Beyond that, may the most explosive batting order win.

ICC World T20

India can only go downhill from the heights achieved in the first edition. Australia will certainly come to the party this time, they have way too much talent in their ranks to not do so. South Africa could very well go all the way. AB and JP are seriously good.Pakistan will be listless.West Indies will be passengers.Sri Lanka and New Zealand could surprise.England should not even bother to participate. For the founders of the format, they totally suck.

India in West Indies - 4 ODIs

Not much to say. 3-1 or 4-0 to India. The one person who can prove me wrong is a certain Mr Chanderpaul. But I am hoping that Zaheer Khan will be able to take him out cheaply. Gayle will flatter to deceive and the rest cannot make enough to keep this strong batting lineup worried.

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Saturday, January 03, 2009

Portents of 2009 - Politics

The term politics seems to have myriad definitions. The definitions that we would probably want it mean exclusively is "the activities and affairs involved in managing a state or a government" or "the profession devoted to governing a civic entity like a nation, state, etc.".

Unfortunately, however, the definition that Indian politicians prefer to impart to the term is "social relations involving intrigue to gain authority or power"at best and "devious and downright corrupt individuals accused and/or convicted of heinous crimes hellbent on stooping to the depth of hell in a shameless powergrab".

The terms honor, respect, integrity, sincerity, honesty, devotion and professionalism also seem to be uniformly missing from their lexicon. Their vacancy is filled by terms like horse-trading while the terms corruption, bribing, embezzlement and cabinet berth are highlighted, underlined and bookmarked.

Now that we have laid the base for my exalted opinion of the profession and its practitioners, I guess its time to move on to the topic of this post.

This year is an election year and henceparties desperate for power will promise the moon to the clueless electorate. Needless to say, these promises will be forgotten once the government has been formed.

Incumbent governments will make claims of achievements over their tenure. Needless to say, these claims will all be on paper, particularly newspapers, and there would be nobody in the electorate who would have benefitted from any of these claimed achievements.

And in quite a few instances, individuals, political parties, social entities affiliated, loosely in some cases, to political parties will make vague and unsubstantiated claims against their opponents. In most cases, these allegations would actually be much milder than the true acts of omission and commission committed by the person in question. But nobody will ever know, in most cases.

On the off chance that some of the truth does emerge in the media, it will be denied unabashedly vehemently and brushed off as a malicious attempt to discredit a honest and upright servant of the masses by unnamed vested interests.

This election will also be the year of the sting. This is probably the first general election in the country with so many news channels in fierce competition for viewer eyeballs. They will be on the hunt, big time, for scoops and stings. Undercover reporters will prowl all over the country, looking under all stones and in all nooks and crannies, for the big breaking news item.
In terms of the results, while its early to say, and the political landscape in India can change with one terror strike, one lost cricket match, one burnt mosque, one farmer committing suicide, one Rakhi Sawant marrying on TV, okay maybe not that but you get my point, one thing is almost certain and that is that neither the BJP nor the Congress will get a majority on their own.


I admit thats not really a Nostradamus-eque prediction and is generally accepted across the country as a fait accompli. However I will go on a limb to predict that neither the NDA nor the UPA, in their current form, will get to the magic number of 272. I would also stick my neck out and say that the NDA will be ahead, maybe only marginally but ahead nevertheless, in the race and will emerge as the single largest pre-poll alliance.

Whether the NDA goes on to form a government is a totally different matter altogether. Unfortunately what I also suspect is that the decisive factor in that decision will not be a policy issue of national importance, or a meeting of the minds with the broader national good as the objective. Instead, it would be an extremely opportunistic alliance of vested interests and hidden agendas with very small and selfish objectives.

In short, it will be business as usual in India. Come of think of it, I have not said anything great or new, have I?

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Friday, January 02, 2009

Portents of 2009 - Terrorism

I wanted to name this postlet as 'India's War on Terror' but that would be a tad presumptious. 

Considering that India has been the world's biggest victim of terror, state-sponsored and otherwise, right from the day of its Independence in 1947 and yet our successive democratically chosen governments have done nothing to ever deal with an issue that you and I would consider a threat to the very existence of the country, makes it difficult to name it that way. 

Cloaking cowardice, opportunism and
votebank-ism in the garb of Gandhian beliefs to justify 61 years of inaction is not going to make this issue go away. Calling 26/11 India's War on Terror just because a marquee hotel was attacked and the world media was broadcasting it live does not mean that India has not suffered from incidents worse in terms of casualties. 

Neither does it mean that this will be an iconic calamity along the lines of 9/11, resulting in a totally different national security paradigm resulting in the establishment of a proactive offence doctrine capable of impacting the enemy's assessment of India's weakness.

We have forgotten 26/11 faster than we forgot India's loss in the finals of the 2003 World Cup or the first round exit from the 2007 edition. Token SMS campaigns are not going to affect the polity of a nation still grappling with the Mayawati brand of politics.

So, whats the prognosis on terror, then? More attacks, many low intensity blasts all over the country designed to create fear and convey a sense of state helplessness.

Another 26/11. Not likely. That was a exhibition of capability, more for garnering sponsorship for terror and less for achieving any political objective but it extracted a huge toll and will not be repeated in a hurry. A series of seemingly random but very frequent blasts all across the country are far more effective in destablising the economy and fostering anarchy.

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Thursday, January 01, 2009

Portents of 2009 - Introduction

This is a series of postlets on what I expect to witness in the year of the Ox. Lets see how accurate it turns out to be.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Dil Se - tumne badle humse gin gin ke liye

tumne badle humse gin-gin ke liye
humne kya chaaha tha is din ke liye
tumne badle humse gin-gin ke liye

Wasl ka din aur itna mukhtasar
din gine jaate the is din ke liye
tumne badle humse gin-gin ke liye

wo nahi sunte hamari kya karen
maangte hain hum dua jinke liye 
tumne badle humse gin-gin ke liye

chaahne waalo se gar matlab nahi
aap phir paida hua kinke liye
tumne badle humse gin-gin ke liye

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Dil Se - Apne hothon par sajaana chahta hoon

apne hothon par sajaana chahta hoon
aa tujhe main gungunana chahta hoon
apne hothon par sajaana chahta hoon

koi ansoo tere daman par girakar
boond ko moti banana chahta hoon
apne hothon par sajaana chahta hoon

thak gaya main karte karte yaad tujhko
ab tujhe main yaad aana chahta hoon
apne hothon par sajaana chahta hoon

chhaa raha hai saari basti mein andhera
roshani ho ghar jalana chahta hoon
apne hothon par sajaana chahta hoon

aakhiri hichki tere zaano pe aaye
maut bhi main shayarana chahta hoon
apne hothon par sajaana chahta hoon
aa tujhe main gungunana chahta hoon
apne hothon par...

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Dil Se - Hum tere sheher mein

hum tere sheher mein aaye hain musafir ki tarah
hum tere sheher mein aaye hain musafir ki tarah
sirf ek baar mulaqaat ka mauka de de
hum tere sheher mein aaye hain musafir ki tarah
hum tere sheher mein...

meri manzil hai kahan, meri thikana hai kahan
subah tak tujhse bichchad ke mujhe jaana hai kahan
sochne ke liye ik raat ka mauka de de
hum tere sheher mein aaye hain musafir ki tarah
hum tere sheher mein...

apni ankhon mein chhupa rakhe hain jugnu maine
apni palkon pe saja rakhe hain ansoo maine
meri ankhon ko bhi barsaat ka mauka de de
hum tere sheher mein aaye hain musafir ki tarah
hum tere sheher mein...

aaj ki raat mera dard-e-muhabbat sun le
kanpkapate hue honthon ki shikayat sun le
aaj izhaar-e-khayaalat ka mauka de de
hum tere sheher mein aaye hain musafir ki tarah
hum tere sheher mein...

bhoolna tha to ye ikraar kiya hi kyun tha
bewafa tune mujhe pyaar kiya hi kyun tha
sirf do chaar sawalaat ka mauka de de
hum tere sheher mein aaye hain musafir ki tarah
hum tere sheher mein...

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Dil Se - Faasle aise bhi honge

Faasle aise bhi honge, ye kabhi socha na tha
saamne baitha tha mere, aur wo mera na tha
faasle aise bhi honge, ye kabhi socha na tha
faasle....

wo ke khusbu ki tarah, faila tha mere chaar soo
main usse mehsoos kar sakta tha, chhoo sakta na tha
faasle aise bhi honge, ye kabhi socha na tha
faasle...

raat bhar bijli ki aahat kaan mein aati rahi
jhaank kar dekha gali mein, koi bhi aaya na tha
faasle aise bhi honge, ye kabhi socha na tha
faasle...

yaad karke aur bhi takleef hoti thi adeel
bhool jaane ke siwa ab koi bhi chaara na tha
faasle aise bhi honge ye kabhi socha na tha
faasle...

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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Conversation between ISI chief and Indian Intel

Everybody and their uncle in India seems to be of the opinion that this attack was orchestrated by elements in Pakistan.

Now what exactly is our Prime Minister expecting the ISI official being summoned, earlier its chief and now one of his deputies, to say?

"Yeah, we are aware of what happened in Mumbai the other day. We have definitive intelligence about who did it, where they live in Pakistan and their sources of funding. Heck, we paid for the whole shebang, we should know!

Hear what, do what I say, get somebody to arrest me first of all for being a key member of the core team that approved this mission. Next, take this list of all key bank accounts from which money was paid, and while we are at it, this other list of all people who were involved, oh, lemme scratch our Prime Minister's name of course, and their landline, mobile & satellite phone numbers and addresses.

Oh hang on, that list that dropped off, thats the list of the next 10 operations planned for execution over the next 5 years, for which planning and training is underway in various parts of our country. Surely you don't need that yet. Even if you do, I can't disclose that information. Not part of the list of items I am supposed to assist you with.

Now if you will permit, I have to get on a teleconference with Osama, Dawood and some Lashkar folks. Its our weekly project update call so can't miss it. In case you have any further questions, contact Javed Miandad, our Strategic Head of Irritating Tactics."

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