Wednesday, July 12, 2006

That indomitable Mumbaikar spirit

Ay dil hai mushkil jeena yahan
Zara hat ke, zara bach ke,
Yeh hai Bambai meri jaan
Well, life slowly comes back to normal in the megapolis. The folks at Western Railways worked through the night to get the line ready for the morning commute (though it seems, long-distance trains to and from the city are still out). Where yesterday murder and mayhem spread, trains now zip past, ferrying the millions to work.

I called a friend. He was already in his office at Nariman Point at 10:00 am. This after having returned home at midnight, after a four hour drive home to Bandra on the clogged roads. That indomitable Mumbaikar spirit. Life goes on. Salaam Bombay. At least for now, the one fear that many had, that those a**holes in the Shiv Sena would use this to stoke communal (i.e. sectarian) violence, has not materialized.

I've avoided the TV today, but have instead been scouring the blogosphere.

Dilip D'Souza walked along the train tracks from Bandra to Mahim yesterday. Lots of first hand accounts of terror. Shinu Mathew (yes, one t. He's Keralite, of course), the Mumbai Marauder, was on one of the ill-fated trains, and gives a horrific account of what he witnessed. A Flickr group with photos of the carnage has sprung up. [View at your own risk.]

Who was responsible? All speculation points to the Kashmiri militant outfit, Lashkar-e-taiba, even as they deny any role.

Some in the right-wing blogosphere in the West have just seemed to have realized that India has been a terrorist target for decades. Curious Gawker fisks one of these bloggers. And to all such attempts, I say, shut-the-frac-up.

The same goes, even louder and stronger, to all desi politicians. Keep your fracking mouth shut and go donate blood. And Sharad Pawar actually had something sensible to say to VIP visitors: stay away, please.

Bombay's legendary suburban trains take centerstage. They ferry some four to six million people. Every day. One can always tell a resident Mumbaikar from visitors (and former residents such as yours truly) by their ability to navigate the trains. At rush hour, I simply cannot do this anymore. I've grown soft. I did ride from Andheri to Churchgage (that too on the Fast track) a couple of weeks back. But that was at noon. On a Saturday. In First Class. Hari Sreenivasan of ABC gives a good introduction to the Bombay trains. And in this Feb. 2002 piece in the NYT, Somni Sengupta writes eloquently about life on the trains. Metroblogging Mumbai has links to home videos of the train rides. Perhaps one of the most lyrical descriptions of the trains comes from Suketu Mehta, author of the bestselling Maximum City.
If you are late for work in Mumbai and reach the station just as the train is leaving the platform, don't despair. You can run up to the packed compartments and find many hands unfolding like petals to pull you on board. And while you will probably have to hang on to the door frame with your fingertips, you are still grateful for the empathy of your fellow passengers, already packed tighter than cattle, their shirts drenched with sweat in the badly ventilated compartment. They know that your boss might yell at you or cut your pay if you miss this train. And at the moment of contact, they do not know if the hand reaching for theirs belongs to a Hindu or a Muslim or a Christian or a Brahmin or an Untouchable. Come on board, they say. We'll adjust.
He quoted this bit in an online chat yesterday for the Washington Post.

Atanu Dey has a novel (if quirky) idea on how to get the ruling class to do something about terrorism. Public flogging of politicians. Dream on. It does have a very crude sort of appeal though. [And as the comments point out, it's absurd to say that Sonia Gandhi has not been affected by terrorism. She lost her husband and her mother-in-law to terrorists. She has been a lot more affected than Mr. Dey, I'd say.]

Christian leaders condemn attacks: Bishop Bosco Penha, Apostolic Administrator of Bombay. CBCI.

For lots and lots of links and stories, visit the various big blog portals that I'd mentioned in the post yesterday, below.

And keep praying.

[The verses at the beginning of the post are from a famous Hindi movie song, sung by the legendary playback singer, Mohammed Rafi. A loose translation. "Oh my heart, it's difficult to live here. Be careful! Step aside! This is Bombay, my love." "Meri jaan" literally means, "my life.")]

1 comment:

Konkani Catholics said...

Thanks for the flickr photos link. You might be interested in checking out a Google map view of the blast locations.