Tuesday, July 11, 2006

On Terrible Tuesday...

I do feel helpless very often.

I remember most distinctly that I felt helpless when:

(a) In my second grade, a burly son of a navy sepoy named Sunil ground a seven year old self to the dust on my first day in a new school.

(b) A equally burly sixteen-year-old classmate of mine (a veteran of several failures, in his 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th grades respectively) slapped me accross the face, and threatened me with even more greivous harm if I ever talked to his 'girlfriend', ever again. My repeated attempts to point out to him that his supposed girlfriend had never spoken to him, and had at several occassions in the past, asseverated that she did not wish to ever speak to him, merely seemed to enrage him more (and impel him towards ever escalating threats, culminating in a loudly vociferated threat to murder me, and bury the pieces under the cricket pitch).

But all this is beside the point. I am merely being the flippant, vapid and irreflective flippertygibbet that several people hold me out to be. I can notice that the attention of my normally attentive readers is drifting away.

I can imagine an egg, remarking irritably to the crumpet at the next screen,

'Siddhu is such an arsehole. He never seems to be able to come to the point.'

The crumpet would, then, give a loud snort of assent, and say, 'Yeah, the idiot's trying to be flippant on terrible Tuesday. For the love of Zsa Zsa Gabor, I thought he had something important to say about the catastrophic events in Mumbai.'

The egg would probably go on to make some uncharitable remark along the lines of how he wouldn't be particularly surprised if I had thought that Terrible Tuesday was the name of a lesbian romantic comedy starring Kiera Knightley and Jennifer Aniston (Come to think of it, a movie of this nature could be just what the doctor ordered for blokes with erectile dysfunction. Though the pharmaceutical firm that manufactures Viagra would not be amused on contemplating their sales charts afterward.).

But I know exactly what Terrible Tuesday is. It was as I expended a balmy Edinburgh afternoon on vapidness and irreflectivity that my phone rang. It was my friend asking me if I'd heard of what had happened in Mumbai. The poor chap had been unable to get through to his parents.

I felt like a coolie would have, if when taking his mid-afternoon walk through the rainforest he happened to chance upon a tiger who had definitive ideas of using him for a seven-course lunch. I immediately hung up, and began to try getting through to my uncle who lives in Mumbai.

I could not get through. A call home revealed that neither my parents nor my grandmother were having any luck either. With each successive try, my desperation grew. In order to figure out what exactly was happening, I tottered into a pub, and asked the bartender brokenly to switch to BBC news.

But they were all watching the news already - mouths wide open. As I kept trying, a sympathetic-looking man next to me asked me a stupid question; so stupid, in fact, that I would not have been surprised if he were an American in disguise.

'Who on earth could have done this in India of all places, mate?'

Since I wasn't feeling particularly sunny, and did not feel at all like humouring this retard with a detailed explanation of India's geopolitical climate, I merely told him that it was an incredibly stupid question.

For a second, he was taken aback. And then he spoke, almost in a whisper, 'Do you mean...it's Al Qaeda?'

I thought of contradicting him, and telling him of the Lashkar-e-Toiba. But I could not get myself to. I merely nodded my head.

Little did I know that the man was in reality absolutely correct. It was Al Goddamn Qaeda alright!

Cut to: A few hours on

After having finally got through to my uncle and having reassured myself, I watched NDTV in a state of complete shock. I felt more helpless than I ever had in my entire life - sitting 10,000 miles away as my country burned!

As I browsed around, I stumbled upon http://mumbaihelp.blogspot.com, a blog created by a bunch of intrepid young lads in Mumbai, expressly for the purpose of assisting Mumbaikars.

It was there that I found a certain person desperately trying to get through to his father. The chap had requested for assistance from others who could try. I decided to abandon my feeling of helplessness, and do what little I could, ensconsced in a comfortable chair in Edinburgh.

And I managed to get through to the chap's da.

The feeling of having contributed to helping my country when it was in distress is a joyous feeling indeed. I feel proud that, today, of all days, I chose to wear the tee shirt with the national anthem emblazoned on it.

I felt even more proud that there were so many stepping forward to help their fellow beings in this hour of need. So without attempting to sound ridiculously corny, I would like to leave whatever readers have stuck with me to this point with a few words spoken by Winston Churchill more than sixty years ago to Britons during the Second World War.

'...we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our land, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender!'

Jai Hind!

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