Locating Blagojevich: A Nation of Shopkeepers?

image by Zina Saunders

Prices Slashed!
“To found a great empire for the sole purpose of raising up a people of customers may at first sight appear a project fit only for a nation of shopkeepers. It is, however, a project altogether unfit for a nation of shopkeepers; but extremely fit for a nation whose government is influenced by shopkeepers.”–Adam Smith
Well, Adam did try and warn them but who was listening? They took on board his free market theories and jettisoned the cautions he issued. Blagojevich was the eventuality. Zina Saunders captures the moment brilliantly in this irreverend cartoon.

Making sense of the Mayhem in Mumbai


Dec 3, Cartoonscape, The Hindu

I was always more of a Dilliwalli (Delhi woman) than a Mumbaikar though Bombay was just an overnight train ride from the city I grew up in—Ahmedabad—and we frequently visited my cousins who lived in that monstrous metropolis. Today all Indian cities seem equally monstrous to me sprawling over the landscape spewing noxious fumes and toxic trash, dwarfing the insect-like citizens who inhabit them.

For the last twenty years I’ve lived in Kingston, Jamaica, another monstrous city, a miniature one in proportion to its Indian counterparts of course. Still there were many things about the mayhem in Mumbai that I could relate to as being part of a common trend we find ourselves in as citizens of postcolonial nations that haven’t exactly distinguished themselves in independence. Where were the safeguards one expects the authorities to put in place in cities threatened by warring gangs or ‘terrorists’?

For instance exactly two weeks ago there were 3-4 attempted break-ins/robberies in my Kingston neighbourhood. Ever since a colleague and resident of the area was murdered in his house last year there’s been an increase in security guards on the compound. Unfortunately this hasn’t significantly deterred robbers and thieves from plaguing the area.

If I hadn’t heard about the incidents via my helper and a passer-by on the evening of the attacks I wouldn’t have known that anything had happened. Neither the security company to whom we pay millions every year nor the University from whom we rent these premises considered it necessary to send out a bulletin informing all residents of what had happened, exactly where and under what circumstances, so the rest of us could take all necessary precautions.

I was glad then to be invited to a ‘security meeting’ on December 2nd where I thought I could express my concern and find out more about what exactly had happened. The session was also to discuss putting together some kind of neighbourhood watch to thwart/repel any further such attempts to part us from our earthly possessions.

The meeting turned out to be a farce; apparently I knew more (via the yamvine) about the various attempted burglaries than most people there, including the President of our Association. When people started turning to me for information and the campus police started giving us inane advice on keeping our handbags and jewellery out of sight of windows and doors I suddenly found myself thinking: I wonder if this is how and why the terror attacks in Mumbai happened?

I mean here we are living in Kingston (not Lausanne or Dubai), with an escalating crime rate and Christmas approaching and no one seems seized with a sense of urgency about how to organize and protect ourselves in the face of utter apathy and inertia on the part of the authorities concerned.

Officials in Mumbai it turns out were warned of impending attacks and suspicious activities by everyone from local fishermen to the US government. In spite of this security measures at both hotels and the main train station in Mumbai were downgraded the week before the attacks. Three very senior police officers were killed in the first few hours of what turned out to be an almost three-day siege. According to news reports corruption in the tendering process for police equipment resulted in faulty and substandard ‘bullet-proof’ vests being issued to police personnel; the vests were incapable of repelling bullets even from a hand gun much less an automatic weapon like an AK 47.

‘Mumbaikars’, or residents of Mumbai, reacted with anger and disbelief in the wake of the attacks. Politicians have come in for heavy criticism especially after the Chief Minister, Vilasrao Deshmukh, toured the Taj in the company of prominent Bollywood director, Ram Gopal Verma. A number of political leaders including Deshmukh, his Deputy, the Home Minister and the Head of Security have since been forced to resign.

An SMS text addressed to film directors made the rounds saying “A humble appeal to Mahesh Bhatt, Ram Gopal Verma, Sanjay Gupta, Rahul Dholakia and Apoorva Lakhia, Sirs, what’s happening in our beloved Bombay is terrifying and sad. Don’t insult us by thinking of making a ‘realistic’ film glorifying or capitalising on this situation. God please save our country from such terrorism and such filmmakers.”

Further South the Chief Minister of Kerala, V S Achutanandan, belatedly tried to pay a condolence call on the Bangalore home of the parents of one of the heroes of the Mumbai attacks, slain National Security Guard (NSG) commando Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan. The Major’s grief-stricken father refused to let the CM enter his residence prompting the Minister to make the gratuitously callous comment that had it not been the home of Major Unnikrishnan not even a dog would have wanted to enter it. Public outrage was so great that after initially refusing to apologize the Chief Minister lost face when he was forced to do so to pacify the citizenry.

The Mumbai siege uncovered unexpected heroes such as the seven South African bodyguards who were at the Taj providing protection for cricketers playing in the Indian Premier League tournament. They helped lead 120 hostages to safety armed only with knives and meat cleavers, even carrying a traumatised 80-year-old woman in a chair down 25 flights of stairs.

As Shobha De, Mumbai’s celebrity writer and blogger commented:

“The grand, old Taj could not provide the Marcos (’Marcos’ is short for “Marine Commandos, an elite special operations unit of the Indian Navy,) with a map of the premises – they were sent in cold – while the terrorists possessed a detailed floor plan all along…There was also a spectacular lack of co- ordination during the entire operation, especially during the first few crucial hours, when all the people involved seemed to be bumbling along without clear directions from one central body. We still don’t know whose orders were being followed, nor who was in command throughout. It became equally obvious that neither the city, nor the hotels have a crisis management programme in place that provides an immediate plan of action in an emergency. Look at how efficiently and swiftly the South African body guards swung into action … and saved so many lives. There was discipline and arduous training behind the drill they followed. Our brave men used their hearts, when minds were needed far more.”

Meanwhile the Hindustan Times reported that the government had “threatened action against television channels repeatedly broadcasting scenes of the Mumbai terror attack saying it may evoke strong sentiments among those affected by it.” The directive ordered that ‘Gory scenes should not shown, tragedy should not be replayed’ for fear of “the terrorists feeling that their operation was successful”.

According to the Hindustan Times the advisory stipulated that “News coverage pertaining to the event should project that India is not demoralised and has risen despite all terrorist attacks as normalcy has been restored. News coverage should project that India is a global power which has full support of the international community”.

Why is it that nations always try to save face before saving lives? Why do politicians instinctively do the wrong thing in the face of disaster, trying to maximize photo ops and free publicity rather than provide meaningful intervention? Why do the authorities always wait for disaster to strike before putting in place the necessary safeguards? These questions are as relevant in Kingston as they were in Mumbai…

26/11–Mumbai Murmurs


There is a lot to be said about the shocking series of events in Mumbai that finally–too late–drew to a bloody and violent close. I may eventually get around to articulating my own views on the subject but for now I offer a collage of quotes from a range of sources, all from the blogosphere, mostly the Indian blogosphere. I think they convey more eloquently than I ever could the confusion and complex disquiet Indians of every stripe, colour and creed are experiencing in the wake of 26/11.

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Tab, The Calgary Sun

What has struck me forcibly from watching the news unfold on CNN and the BBC and from the blogs and other online sources I’ve read are the numerous accounts of selfless and gallant behaviour from subordinate staff at the hotels and restaurants. Look even at Chabad House where the two-year old child of the hapless Jewish Rabbi and his wife was rescued by his Ayah who apparently faced down all obstacles in her path, escaping to safety with her tiny charge.

In two of the accounts that follow, Sonia Faleiro and Amit Varma, a pair of prominent Mumbai authors, both express their gratitude to a security guard who scooped them and their friends back into the hotel from the street when all hell started to break loose there, and the hotel staff who put them up for the night refusing to accept payment the next day. Shobha De, the writer and socialite, tells why the Taj, built by Jamshedji Tata “to let the British know that there can be a magnificent hotel built by Indians, for Indians” is important to her. A man named Patel is almost inarticulate with rage over the callousness of news coverage on all channels, whether Indian or foreign while Dhiren explains why he never liked the Taj Palace. A Sri Lankan gives Indians cogent advice from that country’s decades long problem with ‘terrorism’. On an economic and financial note Danusgram warns that the loud sucking sound we hear “is the sound of the big vacuum cleaner sucking the jobs you guys took from American back to this country.” Taken all together these comments allow a multifaceted perspective from which to view the recent mayhem in Mumbai.

November 29, 2008 2:09 PM
HOBO said…
I cried a lot and switched off the Television.

November 29, 2008 2:30 PM
hitch writer said…
Should we say Wake up India ….
One of the biggest problems with our country is we tolerate a bit too much….

Thursday, November 27, 2008
Sonia Faleiro [This excerpt and the one following by Amit Varma are twin versions of the same series of events by writers who were together that fateful evening around the corner from the Taj Hotel]

Children of Bombay
And then we attended the exhibition and to celebrate Nyela’s wonderful success we went to Indigo Deli in Colaba, a restaurant which is behind the Gateway of India, behind the iconic Taj Hotel. An hour later a man stepped out of the deli and terrorists shot him dead. Terrorists stormed the Taj, they took hostages, they killed people, they set the dome on fire, blood poured down the stairs.

The Deli was full so we walked down the street and turned left to the Gordon House, a boutique hotel where the guests speak in iPhone’s and teenagers wear suits. We ate stir fry and drank campari and then we said, where now?

We stepped out of the hotel and bullets rang in the air, people screamed, a tidal wave raced down the street and the security guard said ‘Inside! Madam, Inside NOW!’

We ran inside and I messaged my friend Chandrahas. ‘Encounter. We’re staying in for now.’ We thought then it was a gang war, and it would end soon and Rahul and I looked at one another and we thought: This is what we’re bringing our children into the world for.

Even then though there was no fear, only worry and stress. This is Bombay we said to ourselves, we fear no gangs, they are part of our bloodstream.

…When dawn broke, we walked down through the empty hotel, front door barred with chains and locks. Outside the street was silent, and I thought I smelt smoke in the air…The security guard, a tall thin Sikh gentleman, who had ushered us back into the hotel when the shooting started, was walking down the street with a friend. His shift had ended. I went up to him, and shook his hand. It felt amazing. ‘You saved our lives,’ I said to him. ‘You didn’t have to. We had paid our bill, we were leaving, not entering the hotel. We weren’t your responsibility.’ He smiled at me, the smile of a little boy. ‘Thank you, madam,’ he said.

This too is Bombay, I thought to myself. A city where a stranger who owes you nothing will do anything, everything for you.

27 November, 2008
From The India Uncut Blog
Published by Amit Varma

A Night Out In Mumbai (Updated)

This is turning out to be one crazy night. A friend of mine had an opening of her art exhibition a few hours ago, so we ventured to South Bombay for that. We attended the exhibition, sipped the litchee juice, nibbled on party snacks, and then six of us headed out for dinner. First we tried Indigo Deli, which is a couple of hundred metres from the Taj. We were told there would be a 25-minute wait. So we headed to All Stir Fry, the restaurant in the Gordon House Hotel in a lane down from there. They told us we’d have to wait 20 minutes. We stepped out again, and as we did so, we heard gunshots, and saw people running towards us from the left side.

One of the hotel employees rushed out and told us to get back in. “There must have been an encounter,” he said. “Get back in, you’ll be safe inside.”

We followed him in. We waited in the lounge-bar upstairs for a while. The big screen there was showing cricket. India won. Then someone changed the channel.

That’s when we realised that this was much more than a random police encounter, or a couple of gunshots. We heard that terrorists with AK-47s had opened fire outside Leopold’s, the pub down the road. We heard there was firing elsewhere in the city as well, including in the Taj. We watched transfixed, and as the apparent scale of the incidents grew, we realised we couldn’t go home. We asked if they had a room vacant; they did, so we settled in, switched on the TV, and watched in horror.

…I was on Larry King Live on CNN about three hours ago. They called me and asked me to be on the show as an eyewitness, at which I protested that I hadn’t actually seen anything, I was merely in the vicinity. But they’d read what I wrote in this post earlier, and they wanted me to talk about that. So I agreed, and came on briefly. King asked me if I’d actually seen any terrorists—I felt guilty that I couldn’t offer him any dope there.

Deepak Chopra was also on the show, speculating that the attacks had taken place because terrorists were worried about Barack Obama’s friendly overtures to Muslims. (I know: WTF?) That sounded pretty ridiculous to me, but such theories are a consequence of our tendency as a species to want to give gyan. A media pundit, especially, feels compelled to have a narrative for everything. Everything must be explicable, and television expects instant analysis.

…The kind folk at the Gordon House Hotel did three important things for us last night. One, they ushered us in when the gunshots began, assuring us that we’d be safer inside than outside. Two, they got us a room for the night, and extra mattresses and so on. Three, in the morning, they refused to accept payment for the room, insisting that we were their guests and this was their duty.

We left them a hefty tip out of gratitude, but I’m still in disbelief about their kindness. I often complain about the poor service in the hospitality industry in India, but never again about All Stir Fry or the Gordon House Hotel. What guys!

Friday, November 28, 2008
Shobha De [India’s most glamorous writing socialite]

Cry, my beloved city

The sight of the Taj burning, is the one that will remain forever etched on my mind – a ghastly and tragic reminder of this city’s vulnerability…. and also it’s grandeur. That is where I was courted, got married. The place I consider my second home. Taj is family. That is where my daughter is getting married ten days from now… or that was the dream…. the plan. Till last night. Today, that beloved heritage building – Mumbai’s pride and joy – is a monument to death and destruction. The Taj has always been an inspiring emblem of India’s defiance and glory when it was built in 1903 by a great son of Mumbai, Sir Jamshedji Tata, to let the British know that there can be a magnificent hotel built by Indians, for Indians. As I watched the flames engulfing the top floor, my tears flowed for those incredibly brave men and women from the hospitality industry who performed such a stupendous job, along with the others, in saving as many lives as possible. The terrorists picked their targets well – by hitting Mumbai’s most-loved symbols of wealth and prosperity, cosmopolitanism and progress, they succeeded in their mission of demonstrating to the world just how simple it is to attack iconic institutions and hold a teeming metropolis to ransom. Yes. My daughter will get married. And yes,the ceremony will be at the Taj — burnt…. but not bowed. We will always love it. Terrorists may destroy a structure. But our souls are our own.

2008-11-29 11:41:47
Dhiren said:
I hated that hotel, twice i had gone there as a kid and twice my mother and i had arguments about etiquettes needed in such hotels…. i was always not suauve….

But some how all those emotions aside, the day Taj re-opens i would surely want to go there… and stay there, lets not allow these terrorists to terrorise us….

November 27th, 2008 at 2:01 am
Patel:
Well Done Media.. Like CNN IBN. They covers Full STORY. I have just watched the CNN IBN live on their website. They show the open firing, the injured people taken to the hospital.

BUT,…B..U..T, How the hell you are covering it. For covering the NEWS, these shameless people put the camera over the HEAD of Military people, who are helping out the proces… Pushing those Military/police people and making more work for them. Reporters are Rushing to the Injured People.. Just to take a Picture of they injury? Like They are a Monument?

If you see one of the footage, in which they show the terrorist are firing from the Police van. In the end of the footage, one person got injured on his hand and he was running here & there for help. The camera person sits besides him and covers this NEWS. Camera man moves this other hand, which is supporting the injured hand and try to Cover the FUll BLOODY HAND in his NEWS.

So, What is more important… NEWS Covering for the People sitting at HOME OR Helping the GUY suffering infront of You?

November 27th, 2008 at 9:20 am
hetfleisch helmut alb.:
we are verry sad,about the situations you country has now.verry verry sorry to all the people of india and mombai.strange world.i hope your touristbussines-will not be toucht to mutch.sad sad sad. Helmut

November 27th, 2008 at 10:17 am
Sunita Parida:
Shame on the Religion of Terrorism……….This is to all the terrorists and Jihadis …………please stay away from this lovely peaceful world……if you want to go to heaven then kill yourself and do the needful….but do not try to kill the innocent people…
VOICE OF INDIA AND THE WORLD

November 28th, 2008 at 11:44 am
Aparna:
I might as well go ahead and accuse CNN-IBN of aiding the terror-mongers. Its 5:00 PM in India and CNN_IBN has George Koshy reporting LIVE on the grenade launch by the NSG at the Taj in such details and focussing their camera images at the target and the NSG launcher that such information can be of help to no one except the terrorists and possibly harmful to the security or the public.

November 28th, 2008 at 14:37 pm
Ruhie:
Zee news has a foreign news edition, they had a news piece on the mumbai terror attacks, to my horror they sensationalised the news, used pre-recorded gun shots noise and, kept using as back ground sounds…bang-bang-bang-bang…disgusting, stop making a mockery out of it, absolutely ridiculous!

November 28th, 2008 at 15:37 pm
Rakiah:
these British and American news channels have shown in this crisis, how they see “non-british” and “non-american” as, they have shown that if you are not an american or british then we dont give a damn about you! I mean, the tragedy happened in India didnt it? then why in the world are they concerned about its impacts on the American and British people. why arent they showing the Indian aspect; the ones who lost everything!

November 28th, 2008 at 15:43 pm
Madhulika:
Many ppl here in chennai are not able to catch the news as the tv s are not available due to continous rainfall for over 3 days .
I m actually catchin all the news on CNN , where there is live tv and its from there that i found live news on CNN-IBN
So actually CNN-IBN themselves do not have a live tv and i thank CNN international here

November 28th, 2008 at 16:24 pm
NKM:
To see what is happening in India today is to look in the rear view mirror of what we did wrong in Sri Lanka. When we suffered terrorist attacks, we blamed it on foreign interference, namely India. India does the same today: the Prime Minister in a televised message blamed a “group based outside the country”. Both countries have failed to realize that the root of the problem is not outside our shores; the problem lies within. Messages from the Indian public are scrolled continuously on NDTV, most of them blaming the government for inadequate security and calling for a severe crackdown on terrorism (as if they weren’t already trying all this time). Not one message asked the question: “what drove these Indians to do this to other Indians?” …

So here’s a word of advice from a Sri Lankan to our big neighbour. Don’t go down the path we have taken. Don’t be tempted to sacrifice the freedom of another for your own safety. Be smarter than us. Look within and find the disease that is causing this fever called terrorism. For now, your terrorists seem to be ad hoc groups of lethal young men. With every attack in your country a new terrorist group with a new label takes credit. That’s how it starts. The day will come when a determined and motivated leader manages to coalesce the many fingers of extremism into a hard-hitting fist, with an ideology as compelling as it is evil. When that happens, you will pay a price in blood and sorrow for generations to come. We know this because we have seen it all before.

November 28th, 2008 at 19:52 pm
danusgram:
Message to all of you over there hear that sound that is the sound of the big vacuum cleaner sucking the jobs you guys took from American back to this country. No corporation is going to use your country for workers it is too dangerous and yes that is our concern as these are american concerns not Indian in so you can stop attacking the Americsn news media they have go report this based on our investments there. Say bye bye to your outsourcing scheme….that has hurt so many American families

November 28th, 2008 at 23:42 pm
Karen P:
Some American’s are just idiots. There are many people who do not hold Indians responsible for taking American’s jobs. Do not listen to the idiot posting prior.

We feel for you and your country, just like you felt for us when we were under attack.

Stop using this attack as a way to spew hateful talk and creating more resentment to American’s worldwide.

We are so sorry that extremism has once again hit your shores.

Anonymous said…

INDIA – A Sitting DUCK

The news telecasts for the past three days have been like watching Hollywood thrillers and Bollywood action flicks unfold at different places. The only unfortunate part is that the heroes did not emerge without any damage to innocent civilian lives.
…Expectedly, the quotes from the political class were hopeless & spineless. One cannot help compare an extempore inspiring speech by Mr. Obama with a totally damp squid speech by our PM. What was needed was an extempore and heart felled speech peppered with bold talk. This would have helped warm the cockles of the heart of a worried nation. As usual the politicians pointed fingers towards Pakistan? Does it matter who did it? First we don’t do anything to prevent these kinds of attacks from happening but are ready to point fingers right away. Does pointing fingers get protection for your country? Why not focus on getting things organized at the scene of crime. Let a politicians family member be in those hotels, then see how organized the fight becomes. We have had so many bombings in India that we should have been prepared. But who will tell these politicians. Now all we would see will be the visuals of those coward politicians lining up to meet the families of the dead- promising to make them martyrs, giving false promises of not sparing the terrorists, announcing compensation packages, etc.

Mumbai on the fly

Taj Palace Hotel and Gateway to India

I don’t know what the protocols are here but i thought you all might like to eavesdrop on this Indian conversation about the tragic and yet to be concluded events in Mumbai. Nikhil is the son of an old friend and schoolmate. He’s a designer and I have a rich relationship with him via Facebook from where i clipped this conversation. At the end of this thread is an excerpt from and link to one of my favourite bloggers anywhere, Domain Maximus. Named Sidin Vadukut when not in the blogosphere he lives in Mumbai and has an amazing post on the last normal hours at the Taj because he was there interviewing an Israeli CEO approximately two hours before it all began. And personally i think the main targets of these attacks were the Israelis who were in Mumbai for trade talks…so read on.

From Facebook at 8.15 am Jamaican time:

N. ..It is high time India stops sending missions to the moon and starts focusing on national security.4 hours ago


VR at 3:32am November 28
inappropriate man.

N at 4:19am November 28

this is inapproproate and your counter strike CS: mumbai comment was appropriate. What da?

SS at 4:24am November 28
science has its place and so does defense. They’re unrelated..stop comparing the two.

N at 4:35am November 28
It’s important to get priorities right in the life of a nation. Cool, kudos to the science. Where is the defence? It’s like a half baked pie.

N at 4:36am November 28
And for that matter. I would rather have my taxes cut for defense and the militaryand their families than the moon. So there.

A at 4:38am November 28
your taxes will be cut nonetheless……even if they are sending shit to the moon…or giving the terrorists a safe passage….u are paying
VR at 4:47am November 28
I dunno how to explain to you how wrong you are in so many ways.

N at 4:48am November 28
Let’s just say you’re suffering from NOT IN MY BACKYARD syndrome.

N at 4:49am November 28
it’s called NIMBY by the way. Sounds cool doesn’t it? Just like CS: Mumbai.

S at 4:51am November 28
Agree with you N…not with what your friends have to say 😦
SS at 5:02am November 28
nikhil…why don’t you name one country where terrorist attacks have been prevented by cutting costs on other things? You call me a maaru but you’re acting like one right now..you’ll have to pay taxed regardless..!! I honestly don’t think its that easy to prevent such attacks, however strong the defense, on the contrary I think the army and the hotel staff have tried their level best to get the hostages out. its really not the time to blame..
VR at 5:17am November 28
i was just trying to be funny, you are just being crass. That’s all i have to say.

N
at 5:29am November 28
I was just hoping to be serious, you are just misunderstanding it and being venkat. That’s all i have to say. Come on man.


VR at 8:48am November 28
I’m in Mumbai. You’re in Delhi. Go figure. I have had enough.

and from Domain Maximus:

The lobby is not as busy as usual. As I wait, a suitably socialite looking woman speeds down the lobby followed by an older woman who reassures her that “It is okay to wear shorts here baby!”

I recognize no one except for a Mr. Wickmann. (My memory may not be precise on this.) I know his name because of the quaint and subtle way in which the Taj summons people waiting in the lobby. Someone walks around with a little whiteboard, with a name on it, stuck on top of a stick There are two small bells on the stick which jangle as it is carried about. Around 6:20 or so someone comes looking for a Wickmann. Wickmann is a tall, white-haired man with spectacles. The staff member escorts him away somewhere.

The publicist picks me up around 6:35 PM from the lobby and we walk down the corridor that connects the new Taj to the old one. To me that walk is the shiniest part of the Taj. The windows and floors and lights all combine to make it this shimmering tube of light. I noticed little of the walk, though, as the publicist made small talk about the global economy and recession and what our paper thought and so on. In fact the only thing I did notice was a show window. It was empty except for a bottle of Dom Perignon on a little stand in the corner. At the time I thought it was a very poor display for Dom Perignon.

We went up the lift to the sixth floor of the heritage building and then took a left, over a flight of stairs to the CEO’s suite in the corner. I was too strung up for the interview to notice the wooden barristers and ornamentation of the corridors of the old Taj.

Our interview started late but lasted for just over an hour. She spoke about her life in the industry, her weekend pastimes, the Indian market and how she once served in the Israeli army. Then it turns out that she has dual citizenzhip: Israeli-British. I quietly admire the cosmopolitanism of it all and then sip on a black coffee. She offers a few hotel chocolates and biscuits but I refuse.

We get up after I switch off the audio recorder and exchange business cards. We shake hands and then she tells me that she’s off to meet a few local business associates for dinner. We share some small-talk and then I finally leave after a short but interesting interview.

For the rest of this post click here

Taj Palace at Mumbai by aratib.
Photo of Taj by night by Aratib.

Mumbai…

I mean when you think about it hotels are quite vulnerable. i’ve yet to enter one with a metal detector and guests are constantly arriving with suitcases which could be full of anything, guns, weapons, bombs–y’know??

Just spoke with my parents who live in Bangalore. they mentioned that there is speculation that the target could have been a group or groups of Israelis who arrived in Mumbay for trade-related meetings.

The following is taken from Sajaforum, in turn arrived at from Sepia Mutiny:

MUMBAI ATTACKS: Terrorists attack Mumbai + webcasts

[If you are an editor looking for a freelancer in Mumbai, PLEASE CLICK HERE to see the listing of freelancers in South Asia]

UPDATED 7:20 p.m.

Here is how you can follow the attacks right now.

Follow thousands of twitter feeds on Mumbai here. Hundreds of new feeds are coming up every minute. Refresh to see new feeds.

CNN-IBN has been tracking the attacks all along. Click here to see their coverage.

You can watch the live coverage here.

Here is how some of the local blogs are covering this:

Mumbai Metblogs

India Uncut

Global Voices Online

if you go to Sajaforum you can get links to the various media mentioned above…

Oddly Sure and Banksy Redux: Cool Runnings All the Way


Just to let you know that despite the global financial meltdown and the downfall of another wall–Wall Street–WE ARE NOT IN PANIC MODE in Jamaica. Don’t worry, be happy, Audley Shaw, our Finance Minister seems to be saying. Are things snowballing? You think we have a snowball’s chance in hell of making it? Fret not, remember our prowess at bobsledding? We will survive man! Think positive! NO! NO! Not HIV Positive! Positive! Positive!

In every life we have some trouble
When you worry you make it double
Don’t worry, be happy……

Bobby McFerrin got the idea for his song from the oft-repeated saying of an Indian mystic, Meher Baba, whose most famous utterance apparently was, Don’t worry, be happy…just thought you’d like to know–

And speaking of the downfall of another wall my young friend Peter Dean Rickards (The Afflicted One) has struck again. The man who ‘outed’ Banksy last year is now giving away a piece of wall that the graffiti superstar left his tag on when he visited Kingston some years ago. Not only that–he’s selling 10 photos of the wall being taken down for US$100,000 on eBay. If you buy all 10 you’ll be the proud owner of the ex-Mona Pub wall as well…check it out.

The Afflicted Yard: The Rock from firstjamaica on Vimeo.

JAMAICA LAND WE LOVE

Greetings from Guangzhou everyone. i’ll be back next week. in the meantime here’s a poem by Dingo to hold you…

JAMAICA LAND WE LOVE

I woulda cuss some claat if it coulda draw attention to Jamaica land we love
An if dem neva start charge artiste fe it….
I woulda cuss some claat if it coulda draw attention to Jamaica land we love.
Jamaica land we love hobbling along on three flats and de-spair
this gearbox stuck in reverse is so….. “anti-forward”.
So I’m in this bourgeois café, listening to her bourgeois bullshit
An she goin on an on about her last trip to Europe an I’m perplexed
because she keep referring to us as “dem” , keep referring to us as “dem”
an mi confused cause I not sure who she calling “these people”.
An I figure she mean the ones catapulted from oppressed wombs to suck struggle at the nipple.
who with little conviction hold lengthy debates with their stomachs about the ills of overeating,
who no hear say slavery done so nuff a dem still a work fi nuttin,
who’ve been given bran new highways, so now di homeless can live in style,
In Jamaica land we love.

Where the middle class who have hit the oil slick on the mobility pole
Would start another demonstration if they hadn’t so effectively removed their feet.
Right now dem couldn’t galvanize……
Zinc fences used to mek me nervous one o’clock ina di morning,
this bwoy from country a blaze the streets of Kingston
from Bay Farm to Vineyard Town to Arnette
where roadblocks to prevent drivebys would meet wid the zinc fences to discuss mi fate.
Towering over me like coliseum walls, but with less romance to it.
Concealing, conniving, threatening, an sometimes if you search hard enough inside helplessness
u find calm, even content if you realize the ghetto is not a physical place
an if it is, it probably start uptown
where some big pickney take time a crayon di whole flag black.
And we suffer these leaders and dance wildly to the beat of their inconsistent snares.
Upright treacherous vipers with forked tongues
which facilitate the use of both sides of the mouth,
sponsoring the tools of tribalism as they posture and piss on tyres.
Shattered ambitions conspiring with hardened backs
and servile minds to start personal revolutions
and a fist still a raise an a bell still a ring an a tune still a sing
say common people like you an me will be builders for eternity
an me nah feel da vibe deh y’nuh rasta.
And commissions of enquiry are needed to find the burial spots of,
former commissions of enquiry
Because we understand dat di bigger heads is loyal to them friends.
But is Jamaica, and justice is limber
and truth is just a empty word written in blood on the still trembling walls of a portmore dwelling,
and our heaviest burden is still our legacy of silent acceptance, in Jamaica land we love.

Home of the church,
where one can easily be ambushed by a “Praying Mantis” decked in a Joseph like coat
but with trick pockets,
concealing the tools of the trade: confusion, grand wizardry and placebo effects.
Dark solicitous eyes weighing truths with immigration intensity
in vicarious contempt, like jealous jeanies.
Can’t save those in the hospitals but at night become tent healers
cockroach feelers sensing naivety of prey
an salvation did always make good company for despair, here, in Jamaica land we love.

A defiant air now seeps from cockpit hills, caressing the knees of maypole dancers
and bounces colorful expression off the tongues of ample bosomed coronation vendors
firing and glazing the vision of Garvey into a collective spirit, and lord, we got to keep on moving.
And somewhere along that thick line between information technology
and the coconut brush is where u will find me
romancing her majesty to lamplight, an celebrating the freedom of weed expressionism,
in Jamaica land we love
Still an enchanting isle, whose seemingly tethered sun still sets on breathtakingly beautiful beaches,
though survival can be a cataract.
in Jamaica land we love.

DINGO