Black Friday

Newspaper articles are short, objective and matter-of-fact. But, the problem is that for big events I can’t see the big picture by just the news. I had followed the 1993 Bombay serial bomb blasts through the newspaper. But, since the blasts and the later investigation findings took months and the trials took years to finish, I was left with a hazy picture by the end. Earlier this year I heard about the movie Black Friday: The Shocking Truth Behind The ’93 Bombay Blasts and decided to read the book on which it is based. Black Friday: The True Story Of The Bombay Bomb Blasts is written by by S. Hussain Zaidi.

On the noon of 12 March 1993, 10 explosions rocked Bombay killing 257 people and injuring 713. It was a revenge planned for the Babri Masjid demolition and the riots that followed. In 1992, Dawood Ibrahim and Tiger Memon, two underworld dons who straddle Mumbai and Dubai decided to organize a hitback for the demolition. Dawood helps to smuggle in the large quantity of RDX and detonators required for the plan. Tiger takes care of hatching a plan to unleash terror, choosing suitable men, motivating them for a jihad and sends them to Pakistan for training. After they’re back the plan is put into motion on that fateful day. Tiger Memom leaves India with his family a day before the blasts. Over the next few days and months, the Bombay police are left to clear the debris, defuse the unexploded bombs and figure out who orchestrated the plan. Here they are helped by a lot of lucky clues. The Bollywood nexus with mafia is also exposed. It is pretty clear that Pakistan lent lots of support with training the people in their terrorist camps and supplying the explosives. The two perpetrators Dawood and Tiger are found but they are today living freely in Karachi.

Hussain Zaidi is a reporter for Mid-Day. The book is a result of 4 years of research and is completely non-fictional. It covers in detail the events that led to the blasts and the investigations which followed. Though the writing is amateurish, the pace is quick and the book was un-put-downable. A good read.

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The Little Prince

Recently I read this children’s book called The Little Prince. Written and beautifully illustrated by the French aviator Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry, it is a fable that deals with life. (Don’t they all?!) The story is inspired by a near death experience that the author had when his plane crash-landed in the Sahara. The narrator in the book is the author and he recounts how he met a Little Prince when his plane went down in the desert. Slowly he learns about the life of this Prince who is an alien from a small asteroid. The Prince recounts his story of meeting 6 different men on different asteroids. He then visits Earth where meets a fox. Through the fox the Prince learns a lot of things about life.

Though the book is aimed at kids, I doubt most of them will realize the profound truths hidden in it. The 6 kinds of men the Prince meets are (probably) the humanity typified into 6 kinds. The fox imparts a bit of wisdom about dealing with life to the Prince which is neat. The book is tiny and should not take more than a couple of hours to read. The cool thing about a book borrowed from the library is the history and marginalia it comes with. My copy had all the important quotes underlined, so I had it easy going through it a second time.

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Some quotes from the book:

Fox to the Prince: “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

Fox to the Prince about the rose he tended to: “It is the time you have spent on your rose that makes your rose so important”.

Prince to narrator when they are searching for water in the desert: “What makes the desert beautiful, is that somewhere it hides a well.”

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