30 November, 2008

A City ravaged but alive

Note: It's a rant, yeah, its a rant. I could try and collect my thoughts in order to make a more factual and informed post later. But I cannot guarantee it.  

In some strange way, I suppose, it is just as well that the terrorists chose Bombay and not some other Indian city. At least, Bombay knows how to take misfortune and is capable of bouncing back.  
 -Vir Sanghvi

 And so true it is. The citizens of Mumbai have faced more terror attacks than any major city in India. And yet, the very next day, they go back to their offices, and their jobs, knowing that the life of a city depends upon them. So much so, in fact, that it has driven some commentators to wonder whether Mumbai has a heart at all.

 But today, to me, Mumbai feels different. No one could walk into a cafe in my city and shoot with an automatic rifle. No one could walk into the busiest, most beloved railway station in the city and shoot people at will. No one could put two world-famous hotels under siege for more than a day. And no coul'ved thought of disrupting Mumbai's life armed with enough ammunition to kill thousands, and not expected to be stopped.

 But all that has happened. Clearly, there has been an intelligence failure.Some people have not done their jobs at protecting their country. And yet, even while fighting with terrorists armed with automatic rifles, our city's policemen have managed to save Mumbai. Our commandos have managed to rescue most of the people still alive after the first hour. They did not shy away from their jobs.

 I was at TIFR that night, which is pretty close to Colaba, and pretty close to the sea. I was too scared to sleep alone in my usual lair at TIFR that night. I could not take my eyes off the news. Just that day, I had been to Colaba market. The next morning, I barely controlled puking when I saw photos of the carnage at VT. How am I ever supposed to feel safe again?

 I know that the intelligence must have woken up by now. They need to learn, that is for sure. I do not know the answers, I do not know the questions. But I know what my mind tells me: If India is to feel safe again, we need to do something. Something about terror in India, something about it's home in Pakistan, and something about it's heart in the misguided preachings of mullahs. And if that is not done, everyone of us is to blame. For not doing enough, for not knowing enough, and for not speaking aloud enough.

 What is the solution? I do not know. But I do know that India is a different country from this weekend. We are not going to be attacked like this. We will not go down without a fight. We will get you if you attack us. We will not shed innocents' blood, but we will not let the guilty go. I cherish my right to live. And so does India. 

 Endnote: I am sorry for the really rant-y post, but it just came out. It is my genuine emotion. If you want insight, you can go to Vir Sanghvi, Amit Varma, or my friend Amar . I am just an ordinary citizen, and all I know is: my feelings must be heard. And I must be informed, prepared, and yes, safe.


  1. Thank you. I didn't want facts. I'm tired of analysis.

    What this incident has done to me, is make me pro-Richard Dawkins i.e. anti-religious.

  2. I can understand the outburst, sitting in a far flung suburb glued to the TV, I cannot imagine how people close to the scene of the tragedy must have felt when they saw the drama that was unfolding in their neighbourhood. What has dawned upon the populace is that the only thing terrorists are afraid of is a united city that can slice them in half if it make the right demands to the bastards who currently hold the reigns of the country, instead of oppressing those who come here to make a living.

  3. Rahul and Anne,
    Though your rave and rant is dry and even dry-eyed unlike the screaming electronic media that's gone ballistic lately or the print media that's suffering from overkill, I felt reverberations. I have spent lovely times at Colaba, when a music-lover jazz-crazy pal was alive, Richard Menezes who had the persuasive skills to turn an Udipi joint to play non-stop jazz, right behind Taj hotel. Spent many lovely evenings there for years, with beer, and jazz. It would feel horrid now to go and re-visit the place, so much has change....
    Wish you good luck.

  4. i really don't know what to say to you except take care :)