City interrupted

Posted by Yashika Totlani Khanna on 5:47 PM in , , ,
I wasn’t going to write about this. To relieve the horrors of the past isn’t one of my favourite pastimes and I was hoping against hope that the country, along with its news agencies, would soon forget about it too. But turn on the tv and all you see is extensive coverage of the Jaipur blasts that rocked the city yesterday evening. The happenings are splashed all across the newspapers and anywhere I look, I see and hear more news coming in from all directions. It is still hard to believe that a series of blasts shook up the streets I have used throughout my growing up. Holed up in my house owing to a curfew in the old city, I see no better way to spend the evening than by following in the footsteps of our mighty politicians and ‘condemning’ the blasts some more myself...


A resident of Kanwar Nagar, I was in my car and fifteen minutes away from Manak Chowk when it happened. I was blocked out of my part of the city for three long hours. I had to take refuge at a friend’s house to shield myself from the six other blasts that followed the first blast. I heard the strongest of voices quiver… I saw terror in the calmest of eyes. I soothed the woes of concerned friends n family. It’s the next day and the phone calls still haven’t stopped. I saw the empty streets… and now I’m witnessing a curfew in the walled city that the officials say will not be lifted before 6pm today. SMS hospital needs O -ve blood. I can’t go because I’m under a virtual house arrest inside the walled city…

The aftermath of yesterday’s happenings could have been a lot worse. Being a Tuesday when maximum devotees throng the hanuman temple (one of the blast spots), it could have easily blown into a full-scale communal riot. The prevailing calm, on the other hand, reflects on the levelheadedness of the city that refuses to get instigated by such deliberate provocations. In fact the only apparent positive consequence of blasts anywhere in India is the rare display of unity and brotherhood amongst the people. Grief is the common thread that runs along them all and unites them in their hour of sorrow. It’s emboldening to see them join hands and stand united against the common element of terror. Unfazed and undeterred, they make an attempt to move on together.

The face of terror is ugly. One way or the other… there is no justification for killing scores of innocents out on the streets of an otherwise peaceful city. Was it the tenth anniversary of the Pokhran tests or was it just another attempt by HuJI and SIMI activists to make their presence felt, is one issue. The extent and reach of these organizations is another issue that is disturbing. Was it the Bangladesh based HuJI, the notorious LeT or some other terrorist organization? Investigations are on and time will tell. The chief minister put the death toll at 60 and the injured figure at 150. Mrs.Raje, actually in Jodhpur at the time of the blasts, even announced a compensation of 5 lacs for the dead and 1 lac for the injured. Never enough for the loss of a loved one… this is the government’s attempt to sideline the complacency in security measures that had crept in owing to a clean past of 280 years of no violence. Is anybody ever truly safe? Can we take our lives and the lives of our loved ones for granted? In the 21st century India… no we cant.

Delhi, Varanasi, Mumbai, Malegaon, Hyderabad, Lucknow, Faizabad and now Jaipur. It’s a disturbing trend that the focus of terror has shifted to even non-metros in the recent years. The official death and injury figures are still rising. The victims tales on television make the heart wrench with pain. A few minutes here and there and it could have been me… or somebody else I knew. In a country where life comes cheap and hangs by the thread… what pains the heart is the whole media cycle of extensive reporting in the first few days, brief mentions in the next and finally a complete lapse of memory thereafter. The amnesia ends when another attack lashes yet another city and brings back memories of the last event. What about learning our lessons from one incident and implementing them elsewhere? Why do we need these rude reminders about slack security to garner the attention of officials who refuse to harbour the notion that this could happen in their city? Is it not a shame that national disasters like these can still boil down to a filthy political blame games, like in Jaipur where a fleeting tv footage shows Vasundhara Raje blaming the center for lack of security arrangements? Somebody needs to own up responsibility and stringent security measures need to be implemented. Who picks up the baton, though, is a question that is not getting any easy answers.

I mock the condemnation expressed by our leaders because that is all that they seem to be doing these days. When they can easily beef up security across the country by installing CCTVs and metal detectors at busy places, approving more stringent identity checks in inter-state travels, enhancing security norms and providing increased patrolling… they consider their job done by simply expressing disapproval. (The infiltration on the borders, especially across Jammu & Kashmir, is another deranging concern…. but that is outside the scope of this article). Help and support from foreign countries is not enough and our leaders need to realize that they are as much a part of these tragedies as the aggrieved. Efforts need to be made to protect the lives of ordinary citizens like you and me. On our part, we must stay informed and be alert. Exercising caution is half the battle won.

From the twin tower tragedy in the US to the train bombings in London… every nation has had its share of terrorism. Needless loss of human life is a malady that demands immediate attention. A lot needs to be done in this regard, for there is no shame bigger than a nation’s incapacity to sustain life and make its citizens feel safe.


T20 Cricket - DLF IPL Clash of the Titans

Posted by Yashika Totlani Khanna on 10:58 PM in , , ,

The first face-off at Kotla Stadium, Delhi

Moochu Singh at the SMS Stadium, Jaipur
19th April 2008
Delhi Daredevils Vs Rajasthan Royals
Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium, Delhi
Braving a nasty traffic jam and reaching the stadium about an hour late… I’d missed most of Akshay Kumar’s stunts, the much-touted cheerleader hip-swinging and some other stunning performances. The only consolation that cheered me up was the debut of my homeland team, the Rajasthan Royals, and in the offing was a probable win that promised to make my evening woes look insignificant. Comfortably seated by 8.20pm on the chairs that my friends had (thankfully) saved for me, I was cherubic and excited about the 8.30pm commencement of the game. One look around and it became apparent that almost everybody present in my stand, and at the stadium, was rooting for the daredevils. Shrugging it off as an obvious consequence of delhi playing at its home turf, I made up my mind to cheer for the royals anyway. That kind of confidence was backed by my faith in the team and the captaincy of Australian skipper Shane Warne. Then of course my Rajasthani roots, that the three years in Delhi had failed to blur, came calling.
As scheduled, the game kicked off at exactly half past eight. With a less than enthralling opening, it became clear early on in the game that delhi definitely had an upper hand and the royals were in for a tough time. Initially at the edge of my seat, I hailed every four and six that the batsmen so sparingly blessed the few royals supporters with. As the game progressed it became clearly evident that the royals were in for a pasting and my enthusiasm, in sync with the enthusiasm of the small bunch of royals supporters in the ground, fizzled out… and though the cheering didn’t stop completely, our vigour definitely toned down.
The abysmal total of the royals at the end of the innings was hardly an inducement to stay on till 11:30 to watch the entire game, and having entered the grounds on a complimentary DDCA pass (thanks to an uncle currently in the US, owing to whose membership of the club I diligently get passes for every event at the kotla), I decided to push off and watch the rest of the match on my television over dinner. The spooky delhi roads at night also helped me take my decision of leaving the grounds at a decent hour. On reaching home, true to all speculation… the royals lost out to the daredevils in a one-sided game by 9 wickets and all my enthusiasm about my home team, and IPL per se, nose-dived. My confidence in the team was shaken and little did I know that it would take three entire matches to be won by the royals thereafter to restore my befuddled faith in the team.
Scene shifts…
11th May 2008
Rajasthan Royals Vs Delhi Daredevils
Sawai Man Singh Stadium, Jaipur
Similar setting and the same teams, the only thing different about this 33rd match of the IPL was the steady progression of the royals to reach the top slot at the tally tables. A much stronger team now under the effective captaincy of Shane Warne and the humble presence of cricketing veterans like Shane Watson… the sentiment on the ground was optimistic. This was rajasthan’s second stint with the team that had raised several questions on its genius in its opening game and the royal hit-back was more than expected. The daredevils were also comfortably placed on the charts, figuring among the top slots, playing second fiddle only to the royals.
The match started with the daredevils batting first and their slow crumbling became evident around the 15th over. Then towards the end, they picked up momentum and dazzled the crowds with a host of fours and sixes. Wrapping up the innings at a decent 156 runs, Warne’s boys had no scope to get complacent. After a weak opening and much after delivering IPL’s lowest five overs score ever, the royals recovered fast and moved on to conquer the score that delhi had set for them.
Watson showcased another brilliant performance but was eventually declared out after a mammoth 74. The team was marching towards a much-deserved victory and the crowds were clearly getting more ecstatic. The cheerleaders were going ballistic, as so were the team mascots (men masqueraded as mascots, actually). So while ‘Moochu Singh’ delighted the crowds with his early victory jigs… Mexican waves and boisterous hooting characterized the home crowd. A lot of romping and thumping later… the royals had clinched the game with a neat 3 wicket victory over the once insurmountable daredevils. This also ensured their ticket to the semi-finals. A perfect ending to a perfect saga of loss, determination and victory of arguably the best team in the IPL so far.
Just because some Rajasthan Royal’s players don’t find a mention here doesn’t mean that their efforts are overlooked or disregarded. Promising players constitute the team and each one of us supporters are continuously observing, and appreciating, their performances.
A word on T20 cricket:
Thrills, chills and state loyalties aside… my views on the T20 format of cricketing essentially remains the same. In this world of instant gratification… we get what we don’t mind spending (squandering?) money on. Paisa phek tamasha dekh. Have money… will spend on catching a four hour game that offers lots of fours and sixes here and there, glitzy fireworks, raunchy cheerleaders, celebrity endorsement, team mascots and oodles of sponsor advertising. Flashy teams are fast transforming into brands… while good cricket has taken a backseat. Teams now claim victory owing to the scores mustered up by single run-hitters alone. Previously unthinkable run-rates are being achieved and the concept of cricketing legends is being redefined. Case in point being Shane Watson, who up till now has been accredited with three of the many rajasthan wins and has been awarded the Man of the Match title an equal number of times. Does that make him the new T20 badshah? Subjective issue that only time will give an answer to. Many others like him are fast swooping their teams to easy victories and what worries me is the possible overlook of forthcoming talent, as also the gross neglect of the other maladies that might plague the team. Does that make me a purist? A pseudo-purist for sure.
Then again, my views are my views alone and can be passed off as initial hiccups that have since forever marked the beginning of great new things. I’m fully aware of the possibility that whatever is a con for me, might be a pros for somebody else. In fact I’ll refrain from brandishing the whole concept altogether because, and this is an honest confession, I quite enjoy all the T20 games myself. So here’s hoping that all my apprehensions about this format of cricket are proven wrong with the passage of time… and it does evolve to become as popular a form of game as did the ODIs (that FYI, have had their own share of misgivings at their inception way back in the 1970s). With that little bit of information in mind… lets sit back, reach for our beers and enjoy the game! Cheers!!

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