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I've never had a great history with traveling to Mumbai. This time doesn't seem to be different. I'm sitting at a friend's place in Byculla, relatively isolated from the incidents of yesterday and today, but tense nevertheless.

The standoff has not progressed much. The army and NSG still surround the Trident and Oberoi. We're getting conflicting reports on Taj. 24/7 media is beginning to wear on me; I can't pull my eyes away and yet, the repeating images and obnoxious reporters are straining my nerves.

Worried about the long-term repurcussions. We are a soft nation. One of the liabilities of being an open society. But, we could do better with our security measures. And yet, we cannot do much about the underlying problems. Surrounded as we are by basketcases, we neither want to take on the cauldron of problems that is Pakistan nor can we ignore it.

I believe this won't be like the last times. Many more Indians are vested in Mumbai than in the past. Yet, I can't help feeling we are culturally flawed as well. We are too complacent. Too exhausted. Too weared down by something.

I was in the Atrium mall in Worli the other day. The guards asked me to open my bag; I opened the central pocket and the guard waved me inside. Never mind the metal detector had gone off. Never mind my bag had more than one pocket.

Sab chalega has traded places with kuche nahi chalega. When are we going to learn?

"At a moment of obvious peril, America decided to place its fate in the hands of a man who had been born to an idealistic white teenage mother and the charismatic African grad student who abandoned them — a man who grew up without money, talked his way into good schools, worked his way up through the pitiless world of Chicago politics to the U.S. Senate and now the White House in a stunningly short period. That achievement, compared with those of the Bushes or the Kennedys or the Roosevelts or the Adamses or any of the other American princes who were born into power or bred to it, represents such a radical departure from the norm that it finally brings meaning to the promise taught from kindergarten: "Anyone can grow up to be President." Time Magazine

There is some unearthly talent there. And we're unlikely to see something so historic in the U.S. in our lifetime again.

...and he is elected President. A lot sooner than I expected and by a wide margin in electoral votes. Amazing night tonight. I wish I had bought tickets to the rally in Chicago. Over a million are expected to turn up.

I wonder what is going through Obama's mind right now. And McCain's. I doubt if the former is going to have much time to celebrate. I wonder what lessons the latter will take away.

This election has brought a lot of upsets, but that reflects the times. Financial institutions, once considered the bastion of America's economic strength, have disappeared overnight. Others are adopting more conservative business models. The economy is delevering. Consumption is falling and a recession is inevitable, if it has not begun already. Have we learnt anything new about how the world works with this crisis? Not much. We've seen "irrational exuberance" before. Bubbles come and go. Investors invest irresponsibly. People consume irresponsibly.

I see Reverend Jackson cry. He ran for President himself once. This must be a vindication of some sort for him.

McCain is talking about the historic nature of this election. I think he is surprised by the turnout among blacks. I don't like his pigeonholing Obama's victory as a victory for African-Americans. His voice is visibly shaken. In another time, I would have voted for him. He is certainly a man of integrity in a way Bush could never hope to be. And the crowd appreciates it too. "We love John", they chant. There is no doubt though that his party didn't stand a chance at this election without him. He reached across party lines; his appeal to the independents went a long way to balance the lemming path Bush, Rove and co. have set his party on.

I also wonder what Bush will do tomorrow, knowing that his era is over. We cry over Fuld walking away with millions in severance. Isn't it ironic that we reelected a man responsible for trillions wasted in an escalation of committment? A democracy is much like a public financial institution these days. Ownership is diluted, responsibility is thin, and accountability is non-existent. Here's hoping to a more educated and activist democracy. I have to go - Obama is speaking.

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