Friday, December 12, 2008

The Monster In The Mirror

I usually cover nothing but music here at For The Sake Of The Song, but that doesn´t mean I haven´t got any other interests. Far from it. Football (got my ticket for tomorrow´s edition of El Clásico... yes!), literature, movies, travel... And politics. And that´s what I´m on about tonight. Do not fear though, there´s a fitting soundtrack attached as well.

The recent Mumbai terror attacks must have shocked everybody, but I was kinda surprised to find how hard this catastrophe hit me, staying glued to the telly and surfing the web for days on end to check on how events unfolded. I´m usually quite cool in situations like these, but what happened in the city formerly known as Bombay had about the same impact on me as 9/11. Reason is probably that I´ve lived in that (cliche alert!) ´huge and fascinating country full of contradictions´ for five months in 2007, and stayed in quite a few Taj Group hotels (although not in the targeted Mumbai one) as well over the past few years.

When it was all over, I was waiting for someone who would put things in a broad perspective. That took awhile, but tonight I finally stumbled on a remarkably insightful piece by Arundhati Roy in British newspaper The Guardian, covering all I was hoping for and more. The Indian writer and activist, who won the prestigious Booker Prize in ´97 for the excellent The God Of Small Things, asks all the right questions in her well-informed article, and even manages to give a few answers, which is no mean feat.

Here´s a fitting excerpt. "Eventually the killers died and died hard, all but one. (Perhaps, in the chaos, some escaped. We may never know.) Throughout the standoff the terrorists made no demands and expressed no desire to negotiate. Their purpose was to kill people and inflict as much damage as they could before they were killed themselves. They left us completely bewildered. When we say "nothing can justify terrorism", what most of us mean is that nothing can justify the taking of human life. We say this because we respect life, because we think it's precious. So what are we to make of those who care nothing for life, not even their own? The truth is that we have no idea what to make of them, because we can sense that even before they've died, they've journeyed to another world where we cannot reach them."

The article ends thus: "The only way to contain (it would be naïve to say end) terrorism is to look at the monster in the mirror. We're standing at a fork in the road. One sign says Justice, the other Civil War. There's no third sign and there's no going back. Choose."

Read the complete article on the Guardian site here. And while you´re at it, here´s a fitting soundtrack, complete with songs from two of my fave singers from Pakistan (Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, the king of qawwali) and India (Lata Mangeshkar, the Indian nightingale).

The Damned - Born To Kill MP3
Julian Cope - All The Blowing-Themselves-Up Motherfuckers MP3
Psychedelic Furs - India MP3
Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan - Data Ke Ghulamon Ko MP3
Lata Mangeshkar - Kabhi Kabhi Bezuban Parbat Boltein Hain MP3


HowMarvellous said...

Hi - a fine post; I like your Pakistan choices, nice to hear something I wouldn't normally come across - thanks.

ib said...

I like the songs from Pakistan, too. The others are a given. Nice post.

ewingsc said...

Arundhati Roy Video can be found here

and here