Tag Archives: 26/11

Celebrity Speak – Socialite Activists

Film-maker Fahad Samar’s inside take on socialite sentiments 6 weeks after 26/11.

fahadThe palpable outrage that most South Bombay socialites felt after the terror attacks in November last year resulted in some serious soul searching, politician bashing, sms messaging, Facebook emailing, group marching and candle burning.  After all this was not just another attack on Mumbai but an assault on two sacred social citadels -the Taj and Oberoi hotels which almost all socialites worth their Birkins immediately claimed as their “second home” in heartfelt columns and media interviews.

In the aftermath of the attacks, as Mumbai mourned and all celebrations were cancelled, it seemed that the party pages would be temporarily bereft of social events and scantily clad celebrities to feature. But our intrepid and ever resourceful socialites rose admirably to the occasion and vied with one another to organize protest marches and candlelight vigils at the Taj whilst graciously allowing unglamorous, proletarian activists like Teesta Setalvad the opportunity to express solidarity with those who perished at CST. And thus, overnight, we witnessed the birth of the Socialite Activist -a carefully coiffured creature with a bleeding heart created solely for the benefit of Page 3.  Beauties with a purpose, as it were.

These noble fashionistas mobilized all their media contacts and milked the moment with consummate flair- all dressed in creaseless white shirts, designer jeans and oversized goggles. They came to shed a tear, light a candle and nostalgically wax eloquent about the Camembert soufflé at the Zodiac and the Black Cod Miso at Wasabi.

The cynics wondered how long it would be before the South Bombay glitterati abandoned these aforementioned protest activities and reverted to doing what they actually did best- Socialising. A full six weeks after the attacks, it seems that the anger has altogether abated and it’s back to business as usual on the party circuit.

It began slowly but surely as these divas started tentatively foraying to art openings and cultural events. Gradually, discreet sorties were undertaken to weddings and parties at friend’s homes and then when it seemed it was okay to be seen in public, the beautiful people began frequenting Indigo and Olive, although never in large groups. They secretly cursed Alyque Padamsee whilst publicly applauding his decision to cancel his annual Xmas eve party. So tedious to find another media covered event at such short notice, nah? And since seen celebrating New Year in Mumbai would be considered in extremely poor taste the jet set slipped out of the city and headed to Goa where they repeatedly raised toasts to the spirit of Mumbai.

They were however sorely betrayed by their patron saint, the King of Good Times, who had decided to cancel his annual New Year bash at Kingfisher Villa. Scores of South Bombay beauties suddenly found they had no high profile event to attend on New Years Eve and therefore decided to publicly proclaim that they were in no mood to celebrate this year. The activist spark in the shrewd socialite was suddenly rekindled. Having returned to Mumbai in January and found that the Taj and Oberoi had reopened for business, the Socialite Activists had every reason to celebrate-they could now frolic with impunity whilst pretending to make a statement of solidarity.

Partying was never such sweet sorrow.

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Filed under 26/11 Terrorism, Page 3, Random Thoughts, Rich & Restless, Strange But True

Really Rakhi?

Rakhi Sawant

Rakhi Sawant

Meanwhile the inncorrigible item girl Rakhi Sawant (in all her wisdom) has announced, “Had they air-dropped me from a helicopter in their rescue operation, I would have danced in skimpy clothes and seduced all the terrorist inside and would have killed them one-by-one. I know, eventually they will also kill me, but I do not mind dying for my country.”

Clearly Rakhi you’ve been dropped before.

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Filed under 26/11 Terrorism, Juicy Gossip, Page 3

The New Face of Terror.

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I cannot believe this boy is capable of such hideousness.
How did we get here? What is this world?
His face doesn’t leave my mind 😦

I am stunned that the boy-terror Azam Amir Kasav (above) is still alive.

On the night of Wednesday-Thursday Azam and his colleague opened fire at CST before creating havoc at Metro and then moving on to Girgaum Chowpatty in a stolen Skoda, and where they were intercepted by a team from the Gamdevi police station . Azam shot dead assistant police inspector Tukaram Umbale.

But in that encounter Azam’s colleague was killed and he himself was injured. He pretended to be dead giving rise to the news that two terrorists had been killed. However as the ‘bodies’ were being taken to Nair Hospital, the accompanying cops figured that one of the men was breathing.

According to sources, the casualty ward of Nair hospital was evacuated and the Anti-Terror Squad moved in to interrogate him. Azam who was tight-lipped initially, cracked upon seeing the mutilated body of his colleague and pleaded with the medical staff at Nair to save his life. “I do not want to die,” he reportedly said. “Please put me on saline.”

He is 21 and has cracked under pressure after a bullet was removed from his hand and 50 hours into this saga, revealing a plot to reduce the Taj to rubble and do a “9/11.” He speaks fluent English and was born in Pakistan, he says he was instructed to kill kill kill till his last breath..

How awful is it that I look at him and do not hate him? I feel like we could reason with him, that he is “just like us.” Is it because he speaks English? He has a decent haircut? He’s dressed like me? I would not feel the same sympathy for someone who looked the part of a terrorist spewing religious rhetoric as I have become accustomed to imagining.

I don’t know what this means. Or what it says about me.

I don’t know how I cannot connect him with the evil he has caused. I have first hand accounts of him laughing as he gunned down innocent men, women and children. I know what he has done.

But I wonder… Does he do this for 70 virgins in heaven? No. Can’t be. I think he’s angry, just like us and thinks he’s doing something about it. I shudder to think how many people of his faith will relate to him if I almost do…

I cannot believe this boy is capable of such hideousness.
How did we get here? What is this world?
His face doesn’t leave my mind 😦

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26/11

Me

Me

Today I can’t bring myself to wax eloquent about the “who’s who” and “wear’s what” of Mumbai glitterati.
Today I need to tell you like it is.

What started out as an average Wednesday in Mumbai (laced with just enough excitement for an evening of disco salsa with new friends) quickly spiralled into a night of total terror as I watched my Mumbai burn. I had plans to meet my friend for drinks at Dragonfly which happens to be bang opposite the lobby of the Trident Oberoi. Ironically, I had suggested we meet in the hotel lobby at 9:45pm since it would be easier for his cabby to find. By what feels like much more than a stroke of luck I happened to arrive early and decided to head up to Dragonfly instead and told him to stop and call me when he took the “INOX left.” Literally 30 seconds after he stepped out of his taxi we heard (what I immediately assumed to be fireworks) and saw sparks flying around the main entrance to the Oberoi lobby. (I recall my brain trying to rationalize this odd display cricket celebrations? perhaps a prank?) and I blurted out, “Haha it’s either fire works or gunshots, either way maybe we should go upstairs!”

The next 20 minutes were spent learning disco moves with the good natured salsa crew I’ve been raving about (with even more reason now.) Even two tremors later (apparently the grenades that set the Oberoi ablaze) we couldn’t possibly have imagined what was really going down. I think it only really hit me when the owner of the club told me “I have bullet proof glass, come I show you.” And whisked me away to the adjoining restaurant and pointed at a freshly lodged bullet in one of the tall glass windows. From this point on the night is a blur of frantic phone calls, SMS updates, angry reminders of “keep-away-from-the-glass, please!”, phone-battery lows (or woes) news-channel surfing, friendly sniffer-dogs, tablecloth blankets, and two failed attempts to leave. We watched stunned, reports flooded in of explosion after explosion and the death toll kept rising as this mindless conspiracy unravelled itself.

I don’t think I will ever be able to erase the memory of the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel dome engulfed in flames or the agonizingly young and bitter face of an AK47 wielding terrorist. Even now, the chilling realisation that I remain unharmed while so many lives have been erased in an instant humbles me. At 5:00am when we finally made our way home, full of trepidation and fear dawn brought us an eerie sense of calm as oblivious joggers made their daily trek up marine drive while the battle ragged on less then a kilometer away.

I don’t know if this qualifies as insensitive or resilient, but I do know this; in times of crisis, when we need it most, a motley crew of Mumbaikers will always pull out all the stops and  show you the love. Thank you Pankhil, Shaneen, Derek, Anshul, Avan, Kaytee, Shyaam, Swati, Sahiba, Nasir, Tarana, Diana, Magalie, Aalia, Andrew, the generous guys who dropped us home, and the life-saver girl with the phone charger (I still have it!) I feel like I lost a little faith but gained a lot of friends.

One Spirit, One Love, One Mumbai.

Listen to my reports for The Take Away:

Updates on Mumbai Terror Attacks
Mumbai: sifting facts from rumors
Mumbai: how India responds

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