Voice of Truth

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The Recent Happenings in Mumbai: A Reflection 29 November 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Aly @ 12:28 am

By now, three days after attacks were reported in Mumbai, India; most people have probably heard of the terrorist shootings and bombings there. The organization claiming responsibility was the “Deccan Mujahideen”. There were several places targeted, all in the rich areas of Mumbai especially popular with tourists.

There are three things about this attack that make me incredibly mad. The first is just that the attacks ever occurred in the first place. I cannot even describe how I feel about the people who did this. The “Deccan Mujahideen” (“Fighters of Deccan”), as they call themselves, have connections to Lashkar-e-Toiba (“Army of the Righteous”), a radical Muslim group with presence all over Asia. I did a bit of research on Lashkar-e-Toiba, and they were the people behind the 7/11 attacks in Mumbai two years ago, among many other attacks. They allegedly have strong ties to al-Qaeda and are based in Pakistan (though, of course, the Pakistani government denies these allegations). These are despicable people. They resort to terror and fear-mongering to further their agenda. I do not even know how they can hold ideology above life, but apparently, it is possible.

The second thing is the damage to the historic buildings that were targeted. The Taj Mahal hotel is 105 years old and a piece of magnificent architecture. Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus train station, formerly Victoria Terminus, was named for Queen Victoria and was built in the 1880s by the British. Besides their obvious symbolism of the West, they are icons of India herself. The Taj was on fire for many hours, and smoke was seen billowing out of the building. These buildings survived so much. They survived the British Raj, the fight to Independence, the Partition: one hundred years’ worth of troubles, and yet they are probably irreparably damaged by some idiots with explosives and AK’s.

The third thing is that they targeted the Cama hospital. According to the coverage of Indian news channel CNN-IBN, the Cama hospital is a women’s and children’s hospital. The police was able to isolate the patients into one locked ward, but somehow there was a hostage situation there. I can see the anti-West aspect of the other attacks, but this one seems particularly strange. Why would they attack a hospital? Just because it happened to be in the same area as the other targets? I do not understand. Whatever the motive, however, it still riles me up that the hospital was made a target.

Another interesting point that came to my attention is that the chief of the Anti-Terrorist Squad, Hemant Karkare, who died in the events of Wednesday, was heading an investigation into “Hindu terrorist groups” which may be responsible for bombing targeted at Muslims two years ago. It turns out that this refers to the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (“All-India Students’ Council”) and their inspiration, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (“National Volunteers’ Organization”), or the people suspected to be responsible for Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination. It seemed almost oxymoronic to me, to think about a “Hindu terror network”. One thing that has been ingrained into me for many years is that Hinduism is a religion of tolerance, that Hindus are peaceful people, that Hindus are not violent to Muslims in the way the Muslims are to Hindus.


Sorry, I just could not resist . . .

Of course, the idea is actually paradoxical: there is no real contradiction in the term “Hindu terrorist group”. While Hinduism is the religion of Gandhi and ahimsa, it is also apparently the religion of the RSS and ABVP, of the murderers of Gandhi. Apparently Muslim radicals are not the only ones to put ideology above life.

There can be no denying that these attacks are based on religion. Muslim extremists attacked Jews and specifically sought out members of two predominantly Christian nations; all of this took place in the financial center of India, the only Hindu country in the world. Whatever Lashkar-e-Toiba’s political motives (they appear to want India-Pakistan relations to deteriorate, as has already begun to occur), their ultimate goal is always to achieve worldwide Islam. From the South Asia Terrorism Portal:

The Lashkar-e-Toiba does not believe in democracy and nationalism. According to its ideology, it is the duty of every ‘Momin’ to protect and defend the interests of Muslims all over the world where Muslims are under the rule of non-Muslim in the democratic system. It has, thus chosen the path of Jihad as the suited means to achieve its goal.

This is one of the reasons that I cannot believe that religion is an overall force of good in the world. No matter how peaceful, tolerant, and nonviolent a religion claims to be, there are always those violent, perhaps radical, members who insist on taking lives. The good works with which religions shield themselves could, in reality, be achieved by any secular or non-secular organization. But there are few issues so divisive as to cause the deaths of thousands, especially in such a manner.

My mom tells me that these Hindu extremists, the RSS and the ABVP, are simply retaliating to the Muslims, who have been causing strife in India for as long as anyone can remember. I cannot see how this is any excuse. I am an Indian too, in a sense, and I cannot see how the RSS and ABVP are any better for India than al-Qaeda and Lashkar-e-Toiba and their ilk.

My dad just said something that struck me. We were discussing how some of the attackers had managed to gain employ in the Taj. He said, “This is what you get when you secularize society. They should have never hired those Pakistani Muslims [insert rant here].” I am of the exact opposite opinion. This is what you get when you desecularize society. Rather, when you never secularize to begin with. In a secular society, religious beliefs are (ideally) a private and personal thing, nothing to be forced upon others. What I see in India is a profoundly religious and perhaps, in a sense, backward society. No matter how the issue is skirted by the news media or the politicians, it seems undeniable that this is a religious issue.

Hopefully, this will be a wake-up call for India. We can only pray hope for some change.


Obligatory Thanksgiving Post or, The Ghosts of Thanksgivings Past 26 November 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Aly @ 1:08 am

As Thanksgiving is fast approaching, I feel obligated to talk about my thoughts on Thanksgiving. The whole concept of the holiday is supposed to be about reflecting on what one holds most precious in life. This is definitely a fascinating concept, and I think it is a bit sad that only the USA celebrates this holiday. The world could do with more positive thoughts.

Anyway, the appreciation of what one has idea (I just realized that “appreciate” and “precious” must have the same root word. I like it when that happens. :)) takes me back to Sunday School. For almost eight years, a local Indian community group has been supporting what is basically Hindu Sunday School. Technically, it is called “Gujarati Cultural School” because it is made up of mostly Gujaratis (the older class, my class, is totally Gujarati) and talks about Indian culture (especially as applied to life in America). I think I will save my feelings about GCS for later, but the point I wanted to make before I began rambling was that every year, around Thanksgiving, we make a little place mat. The place mats are made up of the person’s hands traced out (in the elementary school style) and in each finger is written something the person is thankful for.

I have several of these place mats lying around, and I saw them the other day. Luckily, this year, I missed the class in which we made the place mats, so that is one fewer place mat for me. I would like to put up scans of the place mats, but I am too lazy (this would involve adjourning to the desktop computer and fiddling with the scanner that I have technically never operated). However, I am not too lazy to type it all up. :) (more…)


What I Am Reading: The Color of Magic 25 November 2008

Filed under: Reading — Aly @ 12:37 am

I find that if I record stuff in some manner, I tend to feel more organized. Therefore, I am going to treat my wonderful friends (who, for some reason, seem to actually enjoy reading my blog) to even more details about my exciting life. I will accomplish this by writing about what books I am reading (this may include required reading books for school) and how I like them. Here goes.

Currently, I am reading The Color of Magic, by Terry Pratchett. It is the first novel in the Discworld series, and I have to say, this shit is amazing. It is a parody of the typical fantasy novel, and I love it (especially since I used to eat up fantasy when I was younger). It is called “Discworld” because the world is a flat disc (imagine that). It is held up by four great elephants who in turn stand upon the Great Turtle A’Tuin. The story follows Rincewind (a wizard) and his “friend” Twoflower, a tourist from the other side of the Disc. The color of magic is a mysterious color called octarine, which is the eighth color in the rainbow, visible only to those who have magical power. It has been described as “greenish-purple” (No, it’s not supposed to make sense), but I always imagine it as a golden sort of shade. Anyway, this book is pretty amazing, and I encourage everyone to read it. It is very reminiscent of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and that is definitely a good thing. :)

Oh, and I forgot to mention that this is my second read of the book. I read it over the summer, and am looking forward to getting The Light Fantastic some time soon, so I figured it would be nice to refresh. Also, shout-out to Jordan, who was the one who got this for me for my birthday in the first place. :D

UPDATE: I have finished The Color of Magic, and am hoping that I will be able to make the trip to the library today so I can have The Light Fantastic before they close before Thanksgiving, but it looks doubtful. :( I guess I will just have to stick to homework to keep me occupied.


The Chatback Chronicles: Secret Admirer 23 November 2008

Filed under: Chatback Chronicles — Aly @ 5:31 pm

For the past several weeks, there has been someone who has used the chatback badge to let me know exactly how much they like me. It has been funny in a very weird way. I mean, WEIRD. Anyway, here are all the chats I have had with them (I use “them” as a third-person singular pronoun not only when referring to people of unknown gender, but also people chatbackers because of their unknown identity, even when their gender is know–as is true in this case). The first two I e-mailed to some of my friends, but the third just occured today and I feel like posting them all so people who did not see the first two can have the context.

For those of you who have seen the first two, skip on to the third. It starts at the fifth picture. It is really quite delightful, if you are not inherently involved in the entire thing. Enjoyyyy!

EDIT: He returned, to give me one tidbit of info. See below.



‘Cause It’s Ballin’ 17 November 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Aly @ 10:35 pm

This weekend, we had another scholars’ bowl trip. It was in Tallahassee again, but this was an invitational sponsored by Rickards High School. It was pretty fun, and we ended up getting fourth place, the highest JV team. Our varsity team got second place, because they were beat by Florida High (whom our varsity had previously beaten). We were twice beaten by Chiles High. *shakes fist* It was still a really enjoyable experience; I ended up meeting people (Eli), going to Wendy’s for possibly the first time in my life, hanging out with my friends, learning a bunch, and much more. :)

One of the best parts was the memes. Probably every other sentence spoken was either “Keepin’ it negro, keepin’ it negro,” or “Why? ‘Cause it’s ballin’.” Both of these stem from Bryan’s epic Spanish video (which I have not technically seen). It was a little ridiculous how many times we ended up saying it. I also learned about the very dangerous but very rare “thirdhand smoke”. ;)

It was nice having this little slice of fun because this week is going to be crazy. >.< Wish me luck. Tomorrow, I have an AP English test and some AP European History study questions to turn in (late). Wednesday, I have part II of the English test, an AP Biology test, a French test, and a chemistry quiz (for which I will actually have to put in some effort to do well on *sigh*). Thursday, the English chart is due, and there is a pep rally seventh period *mock cheers*. Friday, there will most likely be a Pre-Calculus quiz, in addition to the chemistry quiz. Now, I must leave to finish my study questions. You know why? ‘Cause it’s ballin’. What? I am just trying to keep it negro!


More from the Desks in Room 201

Filed under: Uncategorized — Aly @ 7:12 pm

These I took myself, after being inspired by Nathan’s discovery. Enjoy.


This one says “Biology = Metal”. I do not get it, but then, I am not into metal . . .

Robo looks funny

Hahaha this is such a silly thing to write on a desk, which makes me laugh.

More pictures are on the way! :)


From the Desks in Room 201 16 November 2008

Filed under: PHS — Aly @ 6:27 pm

"Fuck til you shit"

(Courtesy of Nathan)
It is on a desk in Ms. Bidwell’s room. It is also hilariously funny. Nathan claims that the picture has everything to do with the title, but I, like Kay, am not able to decipher the picture. Anyone agree? disagree?

I am now going to try to take a picture of the pictures on the desks near where I sit.