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Saturday, 29 November 2008

Mission unaccomplished….Mumbaikar spirit is still alive……

Now that this madness is almost over, I am thinking about how safe is my city of Mumbai? I have known such firing and violence in Hollywood and Bollywood movies and also on TV news channels when they show war torn countries like Iraq and Israel, Afghanistan and even Kashmir, but Mumbai? No, it can’t be Mumbai! This is unthinkable. This is the place where I have lived most part of my life. Many times, I have returned home alone late nights. I have always boasted about Mumbai being the safest city to live. But now, I am not sure. I get calls and sms from my friends and relative from distant countries asking me if I am safe. Yes, I am safe; I live in a suburb which is far from South Mumbai. There is silence here. The roads are deserted on the first day, because, everybody is glued to TV and afraid to go out, but knowing the Mumbai spirit, it is not possible for any Mumbaikar to be trapped into their house for too long, so by evening, when I am tired of watching TV, I go to Carter road, the nearest sea-side promenade and I meet many people there, basking in the sea breeze and sharing notes, discussing security and cursing politicians Most part of the day, I stayed glued to the TV, watching the commotion as the action unfolds. This is happening just few miles away from my home. There are many people out there. Policemen, fire fighters and commandos, who are trying save the people, trapped in those hotels. There are reporters and cameramen reporting the latest updates. The terrorist had arrived in Mumbai by boat, they made no demands. They just went berserk, throwing bombs, killing people randomly, asking British and Americans for their passports. Their plan was to destroy the symbol of economy strength of Mumbai. They came with the intention of reducing Taj Hotel to rubble, they had enough ammunition (we are told) and they were asked to destroy as much as could they could, till their last breath but they were not expecting early resistance. I am thankful to our Police, army and fire fighters who risked their lives and tried to end it sooner than they had expected. Nevertheless, the resistance went on for more than 60 hours. They had so much ammunition stored in the hotel and nobody knew anything about it? How they were able to smuggle dangerous bombs of this much magnitude into Mumbai? Was nobody watching? We are not even sure about the number of terrorist that have entered the country or how many of them are still hiding in Mumbai? Is it really over? How will I protect myself if one of them knocks on my door? I am really confused. To get some solace, I go on net to read what my other bloggers friends have to say. I keep watching TV periodically (can’t watch it for too long) and then go on net to read more on Ryze and Facebook and have been seeing/reading the anger on every face. But one thing I am sure is that Mumbaikar spirit is unbroken. When asked if they would visit Taj Hotel any time in future, everybody answers are in affirmative that they will always go and will never be afraid. People have come out on the street with candles in their hand to show their solidarity. People in Mumbai have made a pledge. They will take time to be a Mumbaikar rather than parasites that live off its resources. They will no more look the other way when unscrupulous politicians and crass media barons offend their sense of civility. They will turn up to vote. They will really, really care about the people whom they share this city with. No more fighting over Marathi Manoos or Bihari autowallah, or a Muslim neighbors. Mumbaite will stick to each other through thick and thin. They will watch their city border as responsible citizens and will not allow their Mumbai to burn, not for any reason at all. Mumbaikars have pledged to live in harmony and make this a secure place like it always was, before that bomb blast of 1993. Peace and security will return. Mumbaikars are sure of that.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Can cold and cough really kill….

And now that I am Mumbai, in my home town, after such a long gap, I thought I would start enjoying myself…but nature has some other plans for me.. The change in weather has played tricks on me.. It was too cold out there in Spain and it is too hot here back home…and my body first shrinks and shivers in Spain in cold then expands and bleeds with sweat in the heat of Mumbai and then is confused and then attacks me with flu, cough and cold, my great nightly companions, keeping me awake all night. But I am lucky. In Mumbai, we have doctor in every lane, every alternate building will allow a doctor to open their clinic in a garage. We can try one doctor for a day or two, and if you are not feeling better, you can change the doctor with no questions asked. In Spain, it was different. For ordinary sickness such as cold and flu, you can either visit a pharmacy, who will examine you and prescribe a medicine or you visit an expensive private clinic. There are hospitals too, but there are long queues there and doctors may or may not report to work. Private clinic are so expensive that you will not visit him more than once. So, coming back to my illness, it has extended over ten days now and I have tried all the remedies, changed two doctors and popped N number of pills. I have tried salt water gargle, honey brewed with ginger, sanitized my bedroom with sun and Dettol. Tried every remedy to cure myself, but this stubborn illness will not leave my domain. Will it really kill me? I hope not.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Back in Mumbai

And I was feeling good. Well. At least that’s what I felt when I heard the wheel of the plane rumbling down the runway. But the moment the door opened, I was greeted by the warm, polluted, smoky air. The airport smelt of phenol (ugh!) and the arrival lounge…..well…there is no arrival lounge to talk about. There were thousands of people standing behind the iron dividers, out on the street, all craning their necks to look for a familiar face, wiping their brow and kicking the sand under their feet. The Mumbai airport is under renovation for quite sometime now and there are unfinished constructions everywhere with small hills of sands and stones. The car was parked way too far and my nephew who came to the airport to receive me was quite frustrated and in a very bad humour. On my walk towards to the car park, I saw woman fall down on the debris of sand and stones, that were carelessly scattered every where on the road. Then there were some religious group people welcoming an Indian child star, who had returned with merit and made his family proud. they doted on him, welcoming him with the garlands of fresh flowers and an aarti. Further up, towards the car park, there were group of beggars requesting charity in foreign currency. That’s Mumbai for me. Are we cursed to be born in Mumbai? Why cannot we have cleanliness and comfort on Mumbai streets? Is it too much to ask for?

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