2009-01-25 01:00:46 UTC
By Valmiki Faleiro
?Year-end? We?re almost one-twelfth into the new year!?
This Rip van Winkle knows. But, my year-end seldom ends before this time in the
following year. I mean the festive season of joy, of visiting overseas friends who with
unscheduled ?surprise? visits upset schedules, of birthdays, wedding invites? Which
makes the ?holiday season? my busiest in the year.
The time of the year is literally a holiday for overseas friends. To escape the bitter
winters in their country of domicile, for a slice of the Goan sun and warmth of local folks.
For most of us, poor country bumpkins, it is not vacation but work as usual, save the day
of Christmas and at best a couple of days around it. But, when one is on holiday, one
perhaps presumes everyone around is also on holiday.
Not that I grudge giving overseas friends time. Provided it be factored in my schedule.
Most folks will come unannounced. To give you a ?sweet surprise.? Abroad, they would
have the door slammed on the face ? after being curtly told to phone and come. The way
it should be, because in the times we live, everyone?s day is planned, and nobody is
waiting to welcome ?surprises.?
Personally, such ?surprises? do not fascinate. They irritate. So be alerted friends ?n? foes:
phone and come!
On the eve of Republic Day, let?s turn our thoughts to those gallant men who give their
lives in defence of the nation. The numbing November terror attack in Mumbai produced
more national heroes. (Incidentally, ?Param Vir ? Our Heroes in Battle,? by Maj. General
Ian Cardozo, Roli Books, 2008, ISBN: 978-81-7436-262-9, Pgs.225, Rs.295, is very
informative and inspiring.)
The unsung heroes of Mumbai were ordinary men. Unfortunately, just as the media
stayed stuck with elite targets like the Taj and Trident hotels, with negligible coverage of
CST, Cama hospital and Girgaum junction, it was, ironically, the latter that produced the
greatest heroes of that black day.
Like the announcer at CST who, perched high above the platforms, saw what Ismail and
Kasab were doing with their AK-47s. Over the public address, he continuously advised
passengers which way to alight from trains and in which direction to run for safety. The
perplexed terror duo, seeing a rich harvest suddenly vanish, spotted the announcer and
opened fire at him. The man ducked and saved himself, but not before saving heaven
knows how many innocent lives.
Like the unarmed constable who grabbed an ancient 303 rifle from the frightened hands
of a colleague, to take on the might of two AK-47s, each discharging 150 death rounds
Like the humble generator technician at Cama, on his way down after locking dozens of
doctors and others in the hospital?s terrace, encountered Ismail and Kasab, who asked
the way to the terrace. The brave man saved those sure terrace deaths. But my greatest
were two men of the Mumbai Police at the Girgaum road block, hastily erected to halt
the terrorist duo.
Moment the commandeered Skoda hit the road divider, a constable sprang to the driver
side window and snatched the car keys, sealing any chance of Ismail and Kasab?s
getaway. As Ismail, at the wheel, opened fire at the cops and was soon wounded
mortally, Kasab crouched. Abruptly opening the side door, from the still crouched
position, Kasab fired.
He got PSI Tukaram Ombale. Despite a hail of bullets on his chest, Ombale lunged onto
Kasab, deflected the AK-47, and, as he died, gave the nation not just his life but also the
only terrorist from ten to be captured alive.
Ashok Chakra, India?s highest gallantry award, will be bestowed tomorrow on the 12
Mumbai cops who died. Honestly, men like Tukaram Ombale deserve much more?
Hats off to Lorenz Photo Studio, Margao, for the lovely wall calendar dedicated to ?Tiatr,?
the stage art form despised by upper classes. Photography was brought to Margao by
an Amar from Cortalim. Then came studios like ?Atelier Moderno Fotografo Antao,?
Mauzo and Raikar. Started by a ?Times of India? lensman in 1947, Lorenz?s 2009
calendar does the history of Goa?s photography proud. (ENDS.)
The Valmiki Faleiro weekly column at:
The above article appeared in the January 25, 2009 edition of the Herald, Goa