#IAmNotNice

Another day, another attack, another hashtag.

In my 27 short years and even shorter 25-20 that I’ve been aware of the world and been able to understand it, I can count on my fingers the number of times Kashmir has not been in the news for a terror attack. Bombs, guns, terrorists, people dying, newspaper article, Indian politicians making speeches against Pakistan and the next day silence. Rinse, repeat for the next time.

For the longest time, I thought of terror attacks as a norm. As something that happened everywhere in the world and something that you could do nothing about. It was a reality of life, I thought, just like diesease and death. And then 9/11 happened, there was outrage and uproar and the usual condemnation. But it wasn’t forgotten the next day. Suddenly there were plans to tackle terrorism, to bring justice to the victims and all these things that to my 10 year old self, were unheard of. I was puzzled but I moved on. Shelving it in the back of my mind, and concentrated on more important things like Harry Potter and Pokemon.

And then London happened and it was the same as 9/11. In the meantime, the attacks in Kashmir continued with all the motions of a daily routine. To my slightly older & more aware brain, there was something slightly off. Sure, the people killed in London on that one day is a lot more than those in Kashmir on a single day but if you took the sum total, surely the number of Kashmiris we’d lost to terrorism was much more than in London or New York?

With this gnawing at my brain, I moved on with my life. Then Mumbai happened. At this point I was more than a little aware of this thing we call international relations and diplomacy. The war on terror was on but that this war was on terror that killed white people was not lost on me. With this, the cynic in me was born.

Since then there has been Boston, Kenya, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, France, Turkey and a million other places. But the pattern was the same. Attack, death, outrage but international sympathy and action only if white people are involved. For someone born in the 20th century and grown up in the 21st, apartheid, race and class were a thing of the past. The colour of your skin was just that. Nothing more. How naive!!

Today everyone is Nice. But yesterday when Burhan Wani was killed, everyone spoke about extra judicial killings. Pakistan expressed shock and concern at how India was handling things in Kashmir. Pakistan! Pakistan that gives birth to terrorists with the sole intent of creating terror in India , Pakistan whose terror policies led to the massacre of a hundred of its own children. And the world just stood by and watched. No talk of fighting terror here. Kashmiris have been dying for ages, there’s nothing new about that.

So today, I’m not going to condemn the attacks because condemnation is not going to stop them from happening again. Today, I’m not going to pray for the victims because it is the same sadistic God who let those people die. Today, I am not Nice. What I am is outraged. I am disgusted. I am appalled. I am frustrated. I am helpless….. I am human. I am hurt.  I am sad. I am scared. I am terrified.

I am certain this will happen again. My feelings won’t change that. My prays won’t. Because as long as terror is identified with as good or bad, as long as dealt with based on the colour of the skin of the victims, innocent people will continue to die. Kashmir is perhaps the saddest example of that. But it won’t be long before the entire world is.

Bangalore in a nutshell!

It’s been a week since I got back from home-sweet-home aka Bangalore. Now, as my stockpile of food from home starts to come down, the blues steadily rise. So of course, there’s a rant about Bangalore waiting to happen. Let there be no doubt that I do think Bangalore is the most awesome place in the world to live in, Bangalore traffic and pollution included. Now when you make statements like this people are always tempted to argue otherwise or expect you to prove the same. A friend of mine who happened to visit Bangalore for three days, especially had a bone to pick with me over this issue. And ever since then I’ve thought long and hard about how to explain to him the awesomeness that is Bangalore. It wasn’t until this time that it finally dawned on me what was going on.

You see, every big and famous city in the world is associated with something that makes it famous. New York has Times square, Agra the Taj Mahal, Vegas it’s casinos, Venice the canals. These places have come to symbolise these cities and are what you look forward to most when you travel there. Then there’s Bangalore. Now, we have Lalbagh, Cubbon park, Vidhan Soudha, the Bangalore palace and many other places but in the end none of these places individually or even collectively symbolise or stand for Bangalore. Bangalore doesn’t have the fast paced life of New York/Mumbai. At the same time it isn’t quiet and slow like a small village tucked away in the Himalayas/Alps. Bangalore is like a river, with ebbs and flows and you would do well to let the flow take you where it will.

Bangalore is not a traveller’s city. You will never be able to “see” Bangalore. Not because there’s nothing to see but because Bangalore is not just meant to be seen. Bangalore needs to be heard, savoured, felt, and above all, lived! You can’t put Bangalore in any mould. It will not fit. It’s not a rebellious teenager or an experimental twenty-something, a mid-life crisis waiting to happen or even a pensioner who’s seen and done it all. You can’t go looking for Bangalore in just one street, building or corner. It is all around you. It is as much UB city and Phoenix market city as it is Malleshwaram 8th cross and K R market. It is as much ITPL and Manyatha tech park as it is Lalbagh and Cubbon Park. It is as much 100 feet road Indiranagar as it is the food street in VV Puram. It is Chitra santhe, soul santhe, Kadalekai parishe and Bengaluru habba.

Bangalore is the silence and stillness in Lalbagh/Sankey tank within the chaos and traffic that surround it. It is the Benne dosa at CTR, the fish and chips at Koshys, the beer in Pecos and the Hamburger in The Only Place. It is the misty chill mornings in December and the hot sunny afternoons in May. It’s the random 5-10 minute long showers in July and the cool breeze in October.

You will be hard pressed to try to figure out Bangalore if you come as a traveller. I go back home every year for a month and I still find it hard to visit all my favourite hang outs, let alone try the new ones. Bangalore is always changing. Just as you are. And yet, it’s also the same. It finds a way to take the new and make it a part of itself without getting rid of the old. Bangalore is limitless. It cannot be confined. Believe me, they’ve tried. The first road around the city is now called the inner ring road while the city continues to expand beyond the newer outer ring road.

The truth is, you can’t put Bangalore in a nutshell. It is not the place you go to for 3 days and 2 nights and come away with a fridge magnet or a scaled model of a monument as a souvenir. You don’t come to Bangalore for a vacation, you come for life.