Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Trouser Story

Last year my uncle and aunt from Mumbai paid a visit to Bangalore to meet us while they were on their way to Kerala. My uncle and aunt presented me with a cloth for trouser and shirt. For the past one year the cloth was lying at my sister's house as I was not at all interested in the long process of carrying the cloth to the tailor shop, giving measurement and then again wait for days to get it stitched.
Last week, my wife insisted me to get the cloth stitched so that I can wear it on Onam. So I collected the cloth from my sister house.As it has been a long long time since I have given any cloth for stitching, I inquired my old roommate about the best available tailor shop near our area. He recommended a tailor shop next to our street.
The next day afternoon, I went to the tailor shop. The shop was small and resembled the typical indian street tailor shop with four to five tailoring machines, the usual smell of cloth cuttings, a few posters of 'Vimal', 'Raymond' etc, a glass shelf with stitched trousers and shirts. The tailor greeted me with a smile and collected the cloth from me.....took measurements.....made a receipt....gave a delivery date.
I went to collect my dress on the delivery date mentioned by tailor. He asked to me to come the next day as a little more work is left. I went to him the next day and again he asked for a little more time as the work on it was yet to finish. I was not at all in a desperate need of the dress, so I came back.
To avoid hearing the same excuse I went to collect after 3 days, tailor saab was having his lunch..I waited patiently for him to finish his lunch, he took the receipt from me and went inside to bring my dress. He was searched in the shelf, under the heap of clothes lying under his table. He could get my shirt but he was searching for the trousers. After 15 minutes of search, he came to face me with a deep expression and hesitatingly informed me that my trouser has been by mistake got excahnged with somebody else. I rememberd the dialogue from an old doordarshan serial "Mere saath hi aisa kyon hota hai". He asked to check back the next day so that he can find that person and collect my trouser from him.

The next fifth visit to the soon as I stopped my bike in front of his shop, he came outside and said that he could not find that person. He then suggested that we can go to a cloth showroom where I can select a new cloth piece and he will pay for the cloth and get it stitched. So both of us went to a cloth shop and the tailor paid for the new cloth and got it stitched for me.

So this Onam I have been gifted a trouser from a tailor :-)). It might be the first time happening for three people : First is Mr. Somebody who is wearing the trouser stitched according to my measurement. Second is the tailor who had to purchase a cloth for me. Third is myself, the one who is wearing a trouser gifted by the tailor. Life is realllllly unpredictable.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Close Up

Abbas Kiarostami's Close-up (1990) is the real life story of a poor and unemployed Iranian man named Sabzian who is infatuated with the world of film. One day, while riding the bus, an older woman (Mrs Ahankhah) sitting next to him notices that he is holding a book on film script in his hand. The script is of 'The Cyclist' by the renowned director Mohsen Makhmalbaf. The woman, too, is a lover of cinema. In fact, her whole family is. The woman and Sabzian start talking about the script . Rather than tell Mrs Ahankhah where he purchased the book, he claims that he is the author. The fellow has an uncanny resemblance to Mr. Makhmalbaf himself. He pretends to be Makhmalbaf--because he does look like Makhmalbaf and, more importantly, he feels like Makhmalbaf.
What follows is the story of how the character insinuates himself into a middle-class family's life over a period of time, even holding acting lessons with them and having ongoing discussions on cinema, until they slowly start to realize he is an impostor and call the police. We the audience catch up to him and to the family after the fact. Our antihero has already done his time in jail, where Mr. Kiarostami first interviewed him. The director then proceeds to reenact the affair from its beginning to end.
No professional actors are involved. Each person--the main character, the family members, the newspaper reporter who originally broke the story, the policemen who were sent from the local police station to pick up the pretender--plays himself or herself. The story and the views of both Sabzian and Ahankhah family member is told in flashback. I really liked the natural face of Sabzian. Almost all the scenes are unforgettable. some of the noteworthy scenes are :
**The scene where Sabzian is travelling in the bus and when the old woman asks him why a director of his stature must use public transportation, leaving Sabzian (alias Makhmalbaf) to explain that he is trying to get new ideas for his new film.
** The scene in the end when Sabzian's lie is caught and is forced to patiently wait for the arrival of Mr. Farazmad (News Reporter) and a pair of police officers. He sits there and looks through the window and see that the reporter and the police is comming to catch him. Sabzian fully expects his moment of capture.
** Another scene is where the taxi driver is waiting outside the house of Ahankhah for the reporter and the police to arrest and bring Sabzian. While waiting the taxi driver picks up some flowers from the roadside and there is a discarded empty tin lying beside. He kicks that tin and it rolls over the road making a sound. I somehow liked the shot with the tin rolling over the empty road and the fading away of the sound. Brilliant!!
** Another noteworth scene is the falling of tearful Sabzian into the arms of Makhmalbaf after the trial. Makhmalbaf asks, "Do you prefer being Makhmalbaf or Sabzian?" Sabzian replies, "I'm tired of being me." Makhmalbaf's encounter with Sabzian is recorded with faulty audio equipment. Sabzian sits on the back of Makhmalbaf's motorbike and both ride to the Ahankhah's house. The conversation between them cuts in and out.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Bye Bye Hrishida

"Babu moshai!!!!zindagi aur maut to uparwale ke hath mein hai jahapanah!! ise na to aap badal sakte hain na main..Hum sab to rangmanch ki kathputliyan hain...jinki dor uparwale ki ungliyon mein bandhi hain...kab, kaun, kaisa uthega..yeh koi nahin bata sakta....ha ha ha ha ha"
(Rajesh Khanna in Anand)
Check this nice post on Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s movies.

Sunday, August 27, 2006


Watched 'Rashomon' again for the nth time :-). Rashomon is story telling at its best. These 90 minutes unfold wonderfully and leave you wondering of what you have seen. The genius of "Rashomon" is that all of the flashbacks are both true and false. As in 12 Angry Men, here too the Director makes the viewers to create their own conclusion after watching this movie. So I bet that all the viewers would have a different version or understanding of this film.

Rashomon (1950) struck the world of film like a thunderbolt. Directed by Kurosawa in the early years of his career, before he was hailed as a master. It went on to win several awards including the Academy award for best foreign language film. I read in some article that before filming this movie when Akira kurosawa gave the script to his assistant directors, they were unable to understand the story. Rashomon is essentially repetitive as the 'same' tale is told four times, but you never get bored of seeing it again and again. The narrative is that strong and the performances are top notch.

The movie begins with a heavy rain (One of the best rain picturisation I have ever watched. I will be writing about the best rain picturised scenes in my future post). A wood-cutter, a priest and a villager take shelter under the ruined Rashomon gate during thea heavy downpour. They talk about the trial of a murder case that was held in the court on that day. A samurai has been murdered and his wife raped and a local bandit is suspected. the woodcutter and the priest introduces the flashbacks in which the bandit admits that he had killed the man for his wife, and then narrates the incidents that had happened. Later, the wife comes and tells her own version of the story which differs from the bandit's version in many ways. Then, the dead man speaks through a mediator and tells the third version of the story. Which is the correct one?

When the villager is updated with all these three stories, the wood-cutter comes up with a fourth version of the story. He had been a witness to the entire incident but hadn’t told the court about it since he didn’t want to involve in the proceedings. Soon, we come to know that the wood-cutter's story is also not complete. We cannot make out who is lying and what is the truth.

Kurosowa's screenplay is the real gift and the same method is adopted by many writer/directors in movieworld for e.g. 'the usual suspects', 'courage under fire' etc. The cinematography by Kazuo Miyagawa is excellent. The beautiful capturing of the rain and the scene where the woodcutter walks through the forest with an axe and the camera follows him with the sun playing a light and shade web through the leaves of the forest is amazing.

Rashomon is one of the greatest films ever made, by all means. My being a movie craze has a lot to do with this movie and even today each time this subject and the treatment of this movie appears fresh.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006




Tuesday, August 22, 2006

12 Angry Men

Twelve Angry Men (1957).. I watched this movie yesterday and now I wish I had seen it sooner. It is that good. It is there in all the best top 25 movie list. This was television-trained director Sidney Lumet's first feature film - a low-budget ($350,000) film shot in only 17 days from a screenplay by Reginald Rose, who based his script on his own teleplay of the same name.

Within the confines of a hot and angry room 12 jurors debate, argue and sweat it out to decide the guilt or innocence of a teenager accused of murdering his father. This film is almost entirely set in one room for 90 or so minutes, as the valiant dozen play cat and mouse with the accused's life. In the begining of the movie, 11 jurors concludes that the boy is guilty and should be punished but one juror (Henry Fonda) votes against and stands with the boy for not guilty. He forces the other men to slowly reconsider and review the shaky case (and eyewitness testimony) against the endangered defendant. Heated discussions, the formation of alliances, the frequent re-evaluation and changing of opinions, votes and certainties, and the revelation of personal experiences, insults and outbursts fill the jury room. One can feel the heat and anger in the movie because the Director has very cleverly set the environment, take for example..the only fan in the room does not work, the windows of the room are jammed, the sweat soaked shirt, the heated discussion. after around 45 minutes of the movie, the rain comes and the director uses it to cool the entire atmosphere.

It has no flashbacks, narration, or subtitles. The camera is essentially locked in the enclosed room with the deliberating jurors for 90 of the film's 95 minutes, and the film is basically shot in real-time in an actual jury room. The acting is magnificent; the 12 actors are essentially the movie. None of the jurors are named, and they don't formally introduce themselves to each other. Jurors are labeled with numbers based on their jury numbers and seats at a conference table in the jury room. The character remains in our mind by their seating places long after the movie is over.

The movie shows the 'imperfections' in the judicial system. The system tells us that though the system is imperfect but still justice can be achieved.

I would rate this movie 10/10. (Remake of this movie was made in hindi by Basu chatterjee. The film name was 'Ek ruka jua faisla').

Thursday, August 17, 2006


Excerpt from Ram Gopal Varma interview with Anuradha Sengupta in CNNIBN.
Anuradha Sengupta:Dharavi was the first place that you visited when you came to Mumbai, isn’t it?
Ram Gopal Varma: Yes. It looked to me as if there was just no space. The whole thing is under one roof. I was fascinated that so many people can actually live in such a congested place. Science tells you about hygiene and space and I have seen people in trains with kids barely five or six months old, crawling just about four feet away from trains that are running in full speed. These sights defy your imagination completely.
Anuradha Sengupta: Though you have experimented with genres, your specialty remains violent films based on cops and criminals. You have given a genre to Hindi cinema that it can call it’s own. Do you agree?
Ram Gopal Varma: Right from my teens, I have been influenced by this kind of cinema. I was a huge fan of James Hadley Chase, Fredrick Forsyth and Godfather. Godfather has been the most influential book in my life. This is one of the reasons that I chose the subject of cops and criminals for most of my films.
Secondly, I was a kind of toughie in college when I was doing my engineering. I am not saying that I was into gang fights and things like that but I used to have always had this illusion that I was a tough guy.
So I think there I got to know the mindset of people who live by violence. I made my first film Shiva when I had just got out of the college. So the experiences I have had while in college and the real life characters that I came across inspired me to create the same in that film.

Anuradha Sengupta: So does that mean that the central character Shiva which was played by Nagarjuna was actually autobiographical?
Ram Gopal Varma: Not exactly autobiographical but yes, there was a guy I knew who was a lot like that. But the real character had many negative shades, which I cut out to create its reel-character. I edited him. The underworld fascinated me because of the organizational complexity and people being a part of it. My first thought of Satya was a famous person being shot dead. Someone who I was with at that time, a producer, told me about the gentlemen’s recounting details before he was shot dead at around 10 am.
Anuradha Sengupta: Are you referring to the T-Series head, Gulshan Kumar?
Ram Gopal Varma: Yes. I kept thinking in my mind as to what that killer must have been doing before he killed him? Being a filmmaker I was thinking of those inter-cuts.
Did he wake up early that morning? Did he ask his mother to wake him up? Did he have his breakfast before he kill him? Or he had it after he killed him?
These were the questions popping up funnily in my head. Then I realized that you always hear about these killers either when they have killed someone or after they are dead. But what is it that they do in between? I started reading magazines and articles that were based on these criminals. It was interesting to see that the criminals arrested with their faces hidden behind black clothes had really thin arms. They did not even look like the proto-type gangsters that you see in films like Agneepath.

Anuradha Sengupta: Is it the psyche of a guy who commits violence that draws your interests?
Ram Gopal Varma: I definitely am not interested in simple people. I have a child-like fascination towards things larger-than-life. I like power. I have always wanted to be powerful; I like women to be sexy and so on.

Anuradha Sengupta: So you believe in ‘basic instincts’.
Ram Gopal Varma: Yes, you can call them ‘basic instincts’. My hero would essentially be like the one in Sarkar or Shiva. I look at this from an altogether different angle because the characters that I’m dealing with intimidate me.
My intelligence is to suck the audience and their psyche into my films. I want them to feel what the character is going through in the film. For example, in Satya when people call it a realistic film I wonder how do they know its real? They don’t know anything about underworld neither do I. It’s not so much about the realism in the depiction of the underworld. I think they connect to the character’s realism. When Bhikhu Matre comes home and his wife nags him, they connect to that emotion. It is because of the same emotion that when he goes out and kills someone, it seems real.
Anuradha Sengupta: What is your take on crime and the criminal mind? We are standing at the Juhu’s Centaur hotel, the place where one of those bombs went off in 1993. What is your take on these things?
Ram Gopal Varma: Lot of people say that I seem to be empathetic towards criminals. The way I portray their characters in my films, it seems there is so much of life in it.
But the point is to understand a person’s mind and his psyche where it is coming from.
I see everybody from human angle does not mean that I’m empathizing with criminals. Seeing everything in terms of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ is a very superficial way of looking at things.
I am a very non-violent kind of person in real life. I can’t even stand the sight of someone bleeding. I am scared of injections; I hate the very sight of blood. I can’t even see somebody getting slapped.

Anuradha Sengupta: Then please explain how have you gone through all those violence based films that you have made?
Ram Gopal Varma: I guess, because I fear violence so much, I understand it more than anyone else. Even while shooting, in rare times when we have to use blood, I shut my eyes completely.
I can’t see it. But I have also heard that a similar person, Adolf Hitler, the Nazi chief could not stand the very sight of blood.
Anuradha Sengupta: Why are you always taking chances, revisiting old themes and making out-of-league films? Why are you being this ‘dog with a bone’ that you can’t let it go? Ram Gopal Varma: I guess that gives me a high. Like this film Sholay that I have always loved all these years. I have seen it 27 times and I remember every dialogue and every frame in that film.

Anuradha Sengupta: What is the most riveting dialogue from that film?
Ram Gopal Varma: De jitne gali de sakta hai Thakur is perhaps my favourite one. As long as you are in control of the situation and have the guts to bear the consequences of what you are doing, you can do anything. Somewhere that line symbolizes my ideology.
My well wishers are worried because they think that I might not be able to create a remake of Sholay matching up to the same standard of the original film.
While my enemies are tense because they fear that I might create history with its remake. So, I think moré or less everyone is tense about this project.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


Yesterday was my brother-in-law and my cousin brother's birthday and we celebrated it over a dinner at a multicuisine restaurant on the outer ring road in Marathahalli called 'The Harbour'.

The first thing that strikes you is the real sailing boat placed in the front of the restaurant. (I later read in an article that the boat was brought all the way from Karwar). As soon as you enter the hotel, you get to see a lighthouse. There are no floorings, only sand (the sands were also brought all the way from Karwar beach). The sound of the roaring waves which play incessantly on the surrounding sound system made us feel as if we were at the seashore. There are seating indoor as well as outdoor. Indoors is nothing but with a roof top, with hurricane lamps hanging from roofs and the walls have posters of different sailing vessels with a brief note on each of them. I could not read them as we were in mood of celebration.

The menu card has a large variety of items consisting of Indian, Goan, mangolorean, chinese cuisine. We all had a tough time deciding what to order. Some of the names went like Naked Fish fry, egg drop soup, hakka chilli chicken, Xacuti Chicken, and lot of other items. We ordered a variety of dishes like chicken wanton soup, fish tandoori, chicken hyderabadi, paratha, naan, oolta tava paratha, and the others I dont remember the names :-).

The harbour is not so much about the food as an evening out - you can go a long drive, have fun and have good food.

The Harbour at # 54/7, Devarabisanahalli, Marathahalli Outer Ring Road, Bangalore 560078. Or call 32925544/32934041.

Thursday, August 10, 2006


Last night I watched Deepa Mehta's Water, a very good movie got stuck because of cheap, dirty Indian politicians. The local politicians did not let Deepa Mehta shoot the move in Varanasi and did lot of hoo ha…but finally the movie completed but it could not get released in India…not even Music too….. Ms. Mehta was not able to resurrect “Water” until four years later, and only then in neighboring Sri Lanka, where she shot under a fake title, “Full Moon,” so as not attract attention.
The movie is all about Widows and how do they live…the story takes back to 1938…starting with a very touching scene…
The family is going somewhere in a cart, the kid is enjoying in her own world, someone is trying hard to keep one old person alive…the kid has no idea about what was happening, she was happy with her sugarcane…
After sometime…her dad comes and tells her…”You are Widow now”…the kid surprisingly asks him “For how much time?”
This was one of the touching scenes of the movie and then the movie adds array of touching and shocking facts which we never knew…The girl Chuiya is sent to widow house to stay with other widows…the world where Widows do not have life…they starve for food, they cannot enjoy with other people…and they turn to prostitution…
The movie throws light on exploitation of widows by rich brahmin people….the movie also tries to show the love between Narayan (who is educated) and Kalyani (who is widow)…but the main aim of the movie was to show the exploitation on widows by other they were dragged to prostitution….
I found this movie perfect from all point of view, music (only songs) by A.R.Rahman was just too good, the background score of the movie was also very good….
The movie was shot very well..I just loved the colors and great cinematography…just amazing…On the acting part, the Kid Sarala who acted the role of Chuiya is toooooooooooooo good. I read somewhere that, Ms. Mehta auditioned 50 girls but chose Sarala, an 8-year-old from a tiny village on the Sri Lanka coast who had never before acted.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Nokia Care sucks !

"It takes years to get a customer, and seconds to loose one"

Nokia customer care centre at Infantry Road, Bangalore stands tall amidst the other customer care centres.You want to know why? Read on....

To start Nokia being the number 1 in India, most of the bakras purchase Nokia fones. The Services. Wow! Nothing to speak about it. The best description about their care is **BullShit**.

Let me explain my experience with them On the 10-July-2006 (Tuesday), the ill-fated day, I get properly drenched till the second layer of my skin while driving to my office from home. I reach office and find my mobile totally wet and non-functional. As per my friends suggestion I open up my mobile and keep it for drying but later also I find that my mobile is totally dead.

On the 12-July (Thursday), I went to the Nokia authorised customer care centre at Infantry Road, Bangalore. The security at the ground floor asked me to go to the first floor. I entered into the first floor at around 7.15 pm. The security at the reception gave me a token number. The room had a partition with a glass. On one side there was three rows of chairs for the customers to wait and on the other side of the glass was the customer support executives sitting with a computer on their table and calling the token number sequentially via the electronic machine. There were four counters but only two counters were having the executives. I waited patiently for my token number to be announced. After a long wait of around 45 minutes, my token number was called. I went to the counter and gave my mobile and explained the problem. The executive sitting was also a mallu guy and he gave the million dollar smile and said that they cannot guarantee of making it serviceable (I remembered the usual dialogue in bollywood movies "Ab upparwala hi kuch kar sakta hai"). He made a job sheet and said that they will carry out the initial inspection and inform me about it within 5 days. There will be a service fee of Rs 56/- irrespective of whether the instument works or not. I agreed for everything and came back home with a positive hope.

For the next 5 days I waited patiently for a phone call from the customer support but to my disappointment, I did not receive any call. They had mentioned a toll free number that was not at all working. There is another mobile number that was mentioned on the jobsheet which did not exist at all. I then tried the website to track the status of my mobile, but the site was also down.

On 24-July morning at 11.00 am I went directly to the customer care centre. I went directly to the first floor and I was surprised to see the crowd there. There was nobody to guide me where I had to contact and inquire about my handset. I went to the security guard and he asked me to check with the cashier. I noticed that instead of two male customer support executives as on the other day, three female executives were at the counter. Anyhow I went in and met the lady at the cashier counter, without looking at me she just took the jobsheet from me and started going through her records. She checked three register and asked me to go to the second floor which is their stores and despatch section.

Climbing the stairs I entered the second floor. The security guard at the door asked me to get a token from downstairs. I went to first floor to collect token but they informed that I had to collect a different token from the ground floor. I came down and the lady sitting at the counter ground floor (For your information the counter is nothing but two chairs and a table with computer and a printer occupied by two female representatives under the staircase) verified something over her computer and gave me a token. Token number 62. Our of curiousity I asked her if my handset has been repaired, she replied that you need to check at the second floor.

I went to second floor and again waited there for another half an hour for my number to be called. I saw that many annoyed customers were shouting at the counter. My number was then displayed on the electronic machine and I rushed to the counter. A lady at counter took the jobsheet from me and and handed it over to another assistant. I was eagerly waiting to hear about the status of my mobile phone but to my surprise for 20 minutes I was kept standing at the counter. I did not ask or loose my patience with the representative as many other customers were already on that job. After half an hour the assistant handed over my jobsheet and told me poiltely that the mobile is not ready and I can collect it the next day at 11.30am. I was this what they call world class customer service. I asked the person if there is any scope of getting the mobile repaired. And the reply that I received would have made anybody faint. He said "Sir, the person who is incharge of repairing your mobile is on leave today, and we are unable to locate the instrument". I did not speak a word and came out of the place.

25th July morning 11.00 am , I again went to the office. By now I was well aware of the formalities, I took the token from the counter, went to the despatch section waited for another 45 minutes for my token number to be called. My token number was called....went to the counter...gave the jobsheet....she gave that to another assistant.....after around 15 minutes my mobile came to the counter...the representative told me with a gentle smile that "Sir, this mobile cannot be repaired as everything is destroyed and is beyond repair". He made me sign on some register and papers and asked me to pay Rs 56/- at cashier counter and collect the mobile. I have to go to the cashier pay the cash & return to the despatch section & pick my mobile! And I was really surprised to find that cashier counter is on the other floor from the despatch section!! Oh My! Why would their be a cashier unless you need to pay to take your mobile from despatch section? But still cashier is faaaaaaaaaaaaar way from the despatch section. Pathetic design.

Upon reaching cashier, I was not surprised to find that nobody existed there. Well, Nokia has given me enough surprises to last a life time. After sometime the lady cashier came to the counter, I paid the service fee. She gave the print command on her computer for the receipt of fee and here comes the next surprise..PRINTER IS NOT WORKING..She did try some simple methods to start the printer but it was continously getting struck. At last she wrote something on the jobsheet and asked me to show this at despatch section to collect my instrument. I went to the despatch section, showed the jobsheet and got my non-functional, dead instrument. (I remember the scene from the bollywood movie 'Saraansh' where anupam kher tries to get his son's dead body from the airport authorities). At last after wasting many hours of my life I could get my Nokia phone back...My friends asked me why I did not shout and blast on them? Becoz there was....
.......this lady who had been standing (*like a punished school gal*) near the executive for over 5hrs
..........this guy over there had been holding his laptop & his Nokia N90 mobile from before I came in
..........this fatty out here has been waiting to find out where has here mobile battery vanished
.........this old man standing next to me having trouble in finding out atleast some entity to hear his complaint
..........three guys who are comming for the 4th time to get a replacement for their Nokia 6600 that had software problems within a week of its purchase
.......a college going student who was continously asking why nobody is available at the customer support number mentioned on the jobsheet
........and all the helpless guys who had bought the Nokia mobile and were waiting patiently outside the counter for their token number to be called.

In short, Nokia Care sucks.....

Sunday, August 06, 2006

"At 8:15 AM on August 6, 1945 . . ."

Yesterday was the 61st anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and, three days later, Nagasaki.
On August 6, 1945, a United States Air Force B-29 aircraft, called the "Enola Gay", dropped the "Little Boy" atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan.
It was the first atomic bomb ever used in war. It ended up killing between 130,000 to 150,000 people.
The bomb leveled Hiroshima to the ground. It exploded with the force of 12,000 tons of TNT. The heat from the explosion exceeded 50 million degrees Fahrenheit at the center of the fireball.
The US decision to drop Atomic Bomb is still debated upon. Check out this interesting article 'The Hiroshima Myth'.
Below is an article excerpt from the Net.

The Peace Museum in Hiroshima presents its anti-nuclear message with all the subtlety of a sledge-hammer. Any attempt at describing the visual and mental experience of walking through it would fall well short . There are scale models of the city as it stood at 8 AM on August 6, 1945 and what remained when the last fire burned itself out. There are pictures and video of the damage both to the buildings and inhabitants of Hiroshima.

What follows are some examples of the descriptive text accompanying the exhibits. Re-reading them now, I am struck by the reduced impact of these statements when taken out of the context of the museum.

Japan's military situation in the Pacific War worsened in 1945. Imperial headquarters foresaw that the Japanese mainland would become a battlefield and called for "100 million deaths with honour."

President Truman's national address on August 7, 1945:
"The basic power of the universe has been harnessed for war by the United States. The force from which the sun draws its powers has been loosed against those who brought war to the Far East."

Three factors probably lead to the hasty deployment of the atomic bomb just days after the first successful test:

In forcing Japanese capitulation the US averted the high cost of lives likely to accompany a conventional assault of Japan
  • At Yalta in 1945, Stalin promised a Soviet presence in the Pacific war. The US secured its political presence by forcing Japan's surrender before Soviet involvement.
  • Measure the effectiveness of the bomb as a weapon.
  • By August 1945 most Japanese cities had been destroyed by air raids. Hiroshima was unusually spared. It's choice as the primary target of attacks was probably determined by:

    • The size and shape of the city was suited to A-bomb power and since there was no existing damage, assessing effectiveness of the bomb would be relatively easy.
    • Despite being previously spared as an air-raid target, Hiroshima was an important city with high concentrations of troops, military hardware, industry and it was a transportation hub.

    On August 10 the Japanese government formally protested the new bomb, claiming it to be a cruel, inhuman weapon that violated international law.

    Those who survived called the A-bomb 'pika don'. 'Pika' referred to the flash of light. 'Don' was an onomatopoeic reference to the tremendous sound.

    On a charred wall at Fukuromachi Elementary school, about 500 meters from the hypocentre, people scrawled news and messages in chalk. In addition, small message boards were setup at the ruins of burnt houses telling of family members who had died or where survivors were taking refuge.

    On or about August 8, a Japanese study team discovered that film in a hospital x-ray room had been exposed. From this evidence, the Japanese government deduced that the new bomb was atomic.

    During September and October of the year, another team of Japanese scientists surveyed residual radiation. The documentary film they produced during their study was confiscated by the occupation forces and taken to the US. It was finally returned to Hiroshima in 1973.

    In October 1945, US soldiers and scientists surveyed and measured what was called the A-bomb effect. The complete results of that study have yet to be made public.

    The atomic bomb that exploded 580 meters above Hiroshima was powered by splitting 855 grams of uranium. The energy released was equivalent to 15,000 tons of TNT.

    The splitting of uranium nuclei generated both initial radiation (gamma rays and neutrons) and residual radiation. The neutron radiation lasted a brief instant. The initial gamma rays remained at dangerous levels for approximately 20 seconds. Residual radiation consisted of gamma and beta rays emitted over an extended period.

    The bomb created a high-temperature, high-pressure fireball which grew to a diameter of approximately 410 meters one second after detonation. The fireball emitted intense thermal rays for up to three seconds and continued to glow for approximately ten seconds. The shock wave at the leading edge of the blast traveled eleven kilometers in 30 seconds.

    The super-hot fireball (several million degrees in the center) emitted thermal rays primarily as ultraviolet and visible light radiation. The temperature on the ground near the hypocenter reached 3,000 to 11,000 degrees Celsius.

    The fireball created a super-sonic shockwave and pressures of several hundred thousand atmospheres. On the ground near the hypocenter this pressure reached 35 tons per square meter. The intial shockwave was followed by winds blowing 440 meters per second.

    The following is a verse from "Flower of Summer" (Natsu no Hana), a collection of short stories by Tamik Hara (1905-1951), writer and A-bomb survivor.
    This is a human being?
    Look how the atom bomb changed it.
    Flesh swells fearfully.
    All men and women take one shape.
    The voice that trickles from swollen lips
    On the festering charred-black face
    Whispers the thin words,
    "Please, help me."
    This, this is a human being.
    This is the face of a human being.

    There were two types of residual radiation. Induced radiation resulted from the interaction of initial radiation neutrons with the materials in the ground and buildings. Fallout ("Ashes of Death") derived from fission fragments produced when the uranium atoms were split. Levels of induced radiation remained high for approximately 100 hours within 11 kilometers of the hypocenter. Radiation from fallout and fission fragments was weaker but lasted longer. Furthermore, large amounts of radioactive material fell in the "Black Rain."

    The damage done to human bodies by radiation has been referred to generally as A-bomb disease, or radiation sickness.

    Acute damage refers to symptoms that appear within four months. In addition to complications associated with burns and external injuries, common symptoms of radiation sickness include hair loss, bleeding, lowered levels of white blood cells.

    The symptoms known as after-effects began with keloids, which appeared the year after the bombing. Later, radiation produced high rates of cataracts, leukemia and various cancers. It also produced high rates of birth defects among those exposed in-utero.

    Some victims who entered the city after the bombing became sick or died from what is believed to be exposure to residual radiation.

    In and around what was known as the genbaku sebaku (A-bomb desert) the city struggled to gather enough manpower to dispose of the corpses, but many remained in view nearly two weeks after the bombing.

    Some symptoms of A-bomb disease imitate dysentary. Thus, many health care providers were surprised by what seemed to be an epidemic of dysentery spreading throughout the city and surrounding areas. Only later was the cause found to be radiation.

    After the bombing violent fires raged throughout the city, and a giant windstorm broke out. Heavy rain fell over the north-west of Hiroshima. For the first hour or two the rain fell black, discoloured by mud, dust blown up at the time of the explosion. The soot too was strongly radioactive. It killed many fish in the rivers and ponds and people who drank well water suffered from terrible diarrhea for up to three months aftwerward.

    After the A-bomb sickness had passed, healed scar tissue became thick and contracted, toughening and wrinkling the skin to form growths known as keloids. This symptom was most common during 1946-1947. Keloids developed on fifty to sixty percent of those who suffered first-degree burns within about 2 kilometers of the hypocenter. Being grotesque, painful and itchy they caused people both physical and mental suffering.

    Huge numbers of people unable to endure their injuries or burns, jumped into the river that runs in front of the A-bomb dome. Thousands of corpses were seen floating in all Hiroshimas rivers. The once majestic dome of the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall will be preserved in perpetuity on the bank of the Motoyatsu River as a mute reminder of the tragedy and concrete appeal for world peace.

    Several days after the A-bombing, many children could be seen wandering alone, or in groups, through the burnt ruins of the city. Thousands had been evacuated prior to the bombing and returned later to find that their guardians had perished. THese "A-bomb orphans" were housed in camps, but many died from the effects of radiation or acute malnutrition.

    At noon on August 15, 1945, those who had survived the war heard the Emperor's voice on the radio. "...the enemy used a cruel new bomb..." The voice, distorted by static, faded in and out, but the message was clear. Japan had surrendered unconditionally to Allied forces.
    The people of Hiroshima greeted the news with mixed emotions. Bitter at the defeat, dazed by disaster, and mourning the relatives they had lost to the atomic bomb, they were also relieved that the threat of further bombing was gone. They had been assured for years of Japan's certain victory. Now they were facing a turbulent, uncertain future.

    Hibakusha [survivors of the A-bombs] say simply, "I met with the A-bomb." Perhaps they use this expressioni because the event they "met with" defies description, an instant of massive destruction, mind-numbing death and injuries and grief of watching helplessly as family members, relatives, friends and neigbours died in agony. They also say, "It's painful even to remember." The A-bomb witnesses have overcome that pain and are passing on their experiences of that day. They feel duty bound to tell the world why nuclear weapons must never be used again.

    Sadako Sasaki, exposed to the A-bomb in Hiroshima at the age of two contracted leukemia a decade later, and in 1955 died at the age of 12. Believing that folding 1,000 paper cranes would cure her disease, Sadako folded one after another in her hospital bed. After her death, her classmates at the Nabori-machi elementary school conducted prayer meetings to console the souls of many children who were killed by the A-bomb. They also initiated a movement that lead to the Children's Peace Monument.

    Sadako's story has spread throughout the world and through it, folded paper cranes have become a symbol of peace. At the foot of the Children's Peace Monument lies a continuously replenished pile of folded cranes sent from all over the world.

    Successive mayors of Hiroshima have sent telegrams protesting every nuclear weapons test since 1968. The telegrams are sent to the countries responsible for the tests, and each expresses the fervent hope that it will be the last such telegram.

    Thursday, August 03, 2006

    Thought for the Day

    A pious man explained to his followers: It is evil to take lives and noble to save them. Each day I pledge to save a hundred lives. I drop my net in the lake and scoop out a hundred fishes. I place the fishes on the bank, where they flop and twirl. "Don't be scared," I tell those fishes. "I am saving you from drowning." Soon enough, the fishes grow calm and lie still. Yet, sad to say, I am always too late. The fishes expire. And because it is evil to waste anything, I take those dead fishes to market and I sell them for a good price. With the money I receive, I buy more nets so I can save more fishes.
    ----- Anonymous

    Web Site Counter
    Free Counters