July 13, 2011

Mumbai Devastated:

Taj Mahal Hotel Attack

This was an article written by me just after the 26th November attack on Mumbai. Today, not much has changed. The anger remains, the tut, tut, tuts are the same, the reactions are the same. I don't even have to add anything to my article which I had written almost 3 years ago. :'-(

Today, almost 2 days after the terrorists held Mumbai City to ransom, one can feel a sense of gloom in the air. As the motor bike moves through scantily crowded roads towards the highway, the first thing that came to mind was to turn back into the safe haven of home. What has happened to me? I’m a Mumbaikar.
I have jogged in its streets, played cricket in its lanes, I’m a Mumbaikar; I’m resilient; I have the spirit of Bombay in my blood. How can I feel like this? The ‘Spirit of Bombay’, ‘Resilience’, ‘Bouncing back’, are terms which seem so irrelevant today, these words sound so ‘unMumbaikar’. What has happened to my Mumbai? It breaks my heart to see things today which one does not usually associate with Mumbai. Hotel Taj Mahal

Why is there an eerie silence on the roads today? Why have the people stopped honking unnecessarily? Why is there no traffic jam on the roads? Hey, why is that traffic cop not taking a bribe from that guy who broke the signal? Why are the cops manning the check posts and the nakabandi not looking mean anymore? Why is the local panwallah not his chirpy self today? What has happened to my Mumbai today?

Was this attack supposed to be a wake up call for Mumbai? But don’t they say that Mumbai never sleeps? Or was it all just a way of romanticizing the city? Were we not asleep all this while? How does one explain all this? So many people have used and abused Mumbai, so many people have managed to traumatize Mumbai, so many people…
Be it some insane politician like Raj Thackeray or Bal Thackeray before him, or the local police, or the underworld, or the terrorists, Mumbai has always been used and abused. They say Mumbai will bounce back as usual. Mumbai has a spirit, it is said. But does this give them the liberty to take Mumbai for granted?

‘Stay calm’, ‘We have to be united’, ‘We will look into the matter’, ‘We give our heartfelt condolences to the dead’, ‘We will treat these terrorists as terrorists’, ‘These things happen in a big city’, ‘We will talk to Pakistan’- all these statements were heard over the last 2 days from various people, politicians mostly, to which I have this to say,
‘No, we will not stay calm’,

‘No we will not be united for the simple reason that we have always been united-Who are you to assume that we are divided?’
‘We know what the matter is, sir. We do not need an explanation’,

‘Thank you sir, for treating terrorists as terrorists- now we know why they have so much courage to enter the city at will and bomb it from time to time- they know they will be treated like a hero who will be allowed to meet relatives and given home food because if you don’t then there are people from the human right associations who will make sure that they are treated like heroes.’

‘Yes, Mr Politician, these things happen in a big city and probably will continue to happen especially if the city is continued to be governed by people like you.’

‘Thank you, but no thank you, sir. We do not want you to ‘talk’, we want you to show some guts. We have been talking and talking and talking and look what we have achieved. We do not want more buses or trains or anyone coming from Pakistan or someone going from here to Pakistan.

We need action. Isn’t there anyone in this country’s leaders who have the guts and intelligence to counter this problem? Then why don’t you please contact Mr Bush from America because whatever one may say about that country and his policies and decisions but today after 9/11, there has been not even a single incident of such an attack. The people there feel safe, dear sir, safe.’

We do not want to be called a sissy country. We do not want to be a soft target for terrorists just because the people in power are gutless and heartless who can think of only votes, votes and more votes so that they can squeeze the citizens for 5 more years. I heard some politician was also contemplating whether they should be having a party meeting to discuss if they want to call for a bandh in the city. Imagine!

Enough, Enough, Enough!

Today no one can understand Mumbai more than the people who have lived here all their lives. No one can understand Mumbai as much as the people who knew it as Bombay. We have taken shit from all and sundry. But not anymore.

I want my Bombay back. Yes, Bombay- not Mumbai or any other name that the politicians want to force me to accept for my beloved city. Would you accept it, Mr Thackeray if tomorrow people start calling you ‘Kalu Yadav’? Terrorist attack in Mumbai

No, you wouldn’t accept it. Think about it. That’s exactly how ridiculous the name change for Bombay is too.
I want to call my city Bombay and no one can stop me.

I want my Bombay back. Not the one where people honk without a reason, not the Bombay where traffic cops take a bribe for an offence, not a Bombay where the roads have always been bad since I was not even born, not a Bombay which is taken for granted by its politicians and terrorist abettors. Maybe this IS a wake up call for Bombay, maybe this IS a blessing in disguise, maybe this is what will bring about change in the city, maybe this IS what was required by India as a whole to open their eyes and look into the mirror and ask questions to itself- maybe this IS what was required to ‘awaken’ Bombay.

Bombay has been finally put to sleep by the terrorists. Hope it does not put it to rest in the coming future.
Time to wake up Bombay.


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