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Thursday, 14 July 2011

Enter Mumbai at your own risk- This is a twilight zone

It had been a long and tiring day and I was returning home by AC bus. It was raining heavily outside, but I was comfortable by the window seat. Having skipped my lunch, I was thinking of ordering delicious dinner from KFC as soon as I reached home. The thought of dinner delighted me; I shut my eyes and listened to the music plugged to my ears. Periodically I opened my eyes to look at the woman sitting opposite me. I started to admire the henna tattooed on her hands as she finger-chatted on her Blackberry; I was tempted to remove a picture of her decorated doodled hands curled around the mobile, it made beautiful composition, but was not sure if I could. What if she was annoyed? What if she snatched my camera? I put away my thought back into my sleeve and continued to enjoy the conversation and the music on FM radio.


Suddenly I was distracted by the conversation on radio. The speaker off-handed mentioned that there had been a blast somewhere in Mumbai and said not to panic, it could be just a rumor but he would report as soon as he got some more information. I was not sure if I had heard him right because the very next moment the music continued to play. I look around in the bus to see if anybody else was listening to the radio. The woman opposite me was continuously talking on the phone. I put off the radio and went online on my BB. There was much activity on twitter and they all were talking about serial bomb blasts. I let out a soft scream “Oh my God!, there had been a Bomb Blast” The woman opposite me heard me and started a conversation with me. She informed me that she too had received a call from her family and that there have been three blasts in the gap of ten minutes, “Dadar kabootarkhana, Opera house Panchratanna and JaveriBhazar” the three most crowded areas of Mumbai.

She made few more calls to her family members and to her children asking them to stay indoors and that she was on her way. It had stopped raining but there was too much traffic jam. I started receiving messages and SMSs from my family and friends inquiring about my safety and asking me to call them back when I reached home.

I reached home, safe and secure, ordered dinner and sat down to watch the news on TV.

That’s when the pain sets in.


Helpless Mumbaikars stranded on the roads, with no clue of what they had wronged. The news spoke of the bomb blasts at the crowded areas, about injured people being rushed off to hospitals, some limbs chopped into pieces flown into different directions, and angry people on the streets. The whole stretch of road was bloody. The bomb blast was triggered by a timer and nobody had seen it implanted there? On crowded streets of Mumbai, nobody had noticed the bomb being implanted on a scooter at Javeri Bazar, on the top of the bus-stop at Opera house or under the tiles on the road at Dadar. People went on with their business unaware of the danger being built up and terrorist were successful in their destructive and inhuman act.


Over the years, say many analysts, the state's authority has been eroded as a nexus of greedy politicians; a thriving underworld, unscrupulous property developers and a discredited police force seem to have been ruling the roost, undermining institutions. The most commonly peddled narrative is that by attacking its much touted financial and entertainment capital, you deal a body blow to India and get global media attention. Source
 From TV news to FB discussions to Twitterati, all had the same voice -tones of anger and disgust of not doing enough to make Mumbai a safer place, or being subjected to repeated attacks  and cry for help to find some solutions.

I was really touched by Mumbaikar’s unity last night, people were offering their house to stay to those stranded on road, offering lifts in their empty cars, tweeting away to offer their help, while the telephone lines were jammed there was lots of activity at twitterati.


Within 30 minutes of the explosions, twiteratti began circulating a Google spreadsheet with important numbers and information. As time went by people who wished to help, (be it by providing transport or a place to stay, by making calls/finding out information on behalf of people or by providing blood) began adding their names and contact details to the list. The hashtags #here2help and #needhelp began trending in India, with other twitter users trying to match requests for help with offers to help in various areas. Others trawled the #here2help tweet stream and updated the Google spreadsheet. Source


While the officials tried to figure out who is behind these blasts, the life goes on, and today is the another day, its raining heavily again, people are back to work commuting in crowded trains, although they are not sure this time if they will return home safely at the end of the day, life move on. School going children are interviewed randomly and into the camera they scream “We are not afraid, we are not afraid at all….” although the fear rings in undertones behind every smiling face.

4 comments:

  1. God!!!! You know what I felt when I saw the news.. it was like going DOWN a roller coster, heart sinking all the time in helplessness...... When will this end??!!
    (PS: Glad to know you are OK, Pushy)

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  2. Thanks Pal, I am fine and truly blessed by my loved ones :)) yeah, we all in Mumbai need relief from all these madness but it goes on and on......... :((

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  3. The fear which we all attempt to mask so well is palpable at many levels, isn't it? :(

    ReplyDelete
  4. so very true, it is indeed, thank u, Corinne how u been? :))

    ReplyDelete

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