Saturday, July 15, 2006

Mumbaikar's Response....

Got the following forward from a pal
By Meenal Dighe -

What is this spirit that everyone is talking about? The spirit of taking whatever is doled out, and going on with life? what kind of a life is this?

When people got news of the blasts, so many of the comments were "This had to happen one day." This is becoming a daily affair in India" "Mumbai is always a target" !!
It's as if Mumbaikars just expect all this to happen. There will be bomb blasts in Mumbai.....occasionally in trains, BEST buses or taxis.

The Immediate reaction is "Thank God I did not go by that train today" Thank God I am working late today" ".... my friend / relative / colleague travels by those trains" " Thank God I go by Central railway !" and so on ! Basically, just the whole concept of "Not ME!"

Then everyone flipped out their mobile phones and starting making calls to find out if their near and dear ones were safe. But found the landlines and mobile networks jammed !! Blaming and cursing the phone companies, they kept on dialing number after number. When all were traced, they tried to get home by different modes of transport. But most of them got caught up in traffic jams, and sat for hours in various vehicles blaming the authorities. Few knew that the jam was caused due to people who in their haste to get home safely, broke all traffic rules and drove their vehicles like cattle !!

It was just a few young men in few places who actually got out on the roads and helped the police to control and direct traffic. And a few middle class people who went out of their way to stand on the packed roads and give biscuits and water to the people walking long long distances to get home.

It was only the poor STD booth walas who let people call home for free, to give news that they were safe. It was only the poor people living in zhopadpattis next to the railway-lines who immediately ran to rescue the passengers of the affected trains. We all saw the dead and injured being carried away from the blast site in bedsheets. Where do you think these sheets came from? They came from the same zhopadpattis whose homes (encroachments) we are all desperate to see razed to the ground.
What did people like us do? We the educated, employed in top-notch companies, moneyed people with laptops, palms, bluetooth et all ? Those of us who were in other bogies of the affected trains or on the platform and were uninjured, quickly ran out of the station as soon as we understood the situation. We caught the first bus, rickshaw ,taxi and headed home. We used our cell phones to call our family that we are safe.

Those of us who were in office decided to stay put till the chaos settled down....even if it meant staying in office that night. We saw the news on every channel, and discussed with our colleagues about the uncertainty of life. Some blamed the Police, some the Government, some Pakistan and some became philosophical and blamed all of mankind and it's deteriorating quality. Everyone gave 'gyan' of some kind.

As it got late, we ordered food, or went to some nearby restaurant. We reached home late and hugged our parents, wife, kids and thanked God once more that we were not in those ill-fated trains. Sleep came, though little disturbed.
And the next morning we packed off our kids to school, picked up our laptops and left for office bright and early. The day went off in exchanging stories, some more complaining and blaming the authorities and immersing ourself in work.
Come weekend, and we will go see another movie, check out a new restaurant and waste money at another mall !

Some dutiful companies may ask their employees to stand and observe one-minute silence in respect for the dead. Most of us will stop watching the news as we can't bear to see those gory pictures again and again. One in thousand of us may have gone to donate blood.

By next week, all will be forgotten and 'life' will go on.

Yes life, as we call it, will go on. For us. Because we did not die in those trains, we did not lose anyone or any of our limbs.

We will carry on with our daily routines and weekend masti and consider the bomb blasts as just another problem that ails mumbai. Last week it was the rains that troubled us, then the Shiv Sena outrage and this week it is the blasts. Tomorrow it may be a plane crash (when we will blame the airport authority and municipality for not tackling encroachments), or a train accident, or a stampede at a music concert or a sports stadium. It's just a part of life now, we will say.

Yet how many of us will ask ourself, "what could I have done to help on that day?" What can I do, even today?" Will any of us sue any of the phone companies for blocking communication leading to immense stress and tension to our near and dear ones? Will any of us join a morcha against the Govt to protest against their incompeteny? Will any of us offer donation or medicines or jobs to those injured? Will any of us at least join a candle-lit prayer meeting in homage to the departed? How many of us will remember to look under our seats and generally be wary of suspicious bags when we travel in trains and buses?

How many of us will vote for the same Govt again?

For the Shiv Sena people, the statue of Mrs Thakarey was sacred. It's desecration was enough to make their blood boil. Burning buses and pelting shops with stones was wrong, but at least they were agitated by something.

When will the common man's blood boil? When we appeal to terrorists to not target common man, we use the word "innocents". Are we common people truly innocent? Are we not guily of quietly waiting indoors for things to calm down and then go home with bowed head, and go to office the next day as if nothing happened? Are we not guilty of electing this useless government and tolerating it’s incompetence for years? Are we not guilty of facing tragedy after tragedy with an attitude of “chalta-hai, it’s life!” What will it take for the common man to get up and stand for himself and demand his right from corrupt officials and money-hungry politicians? Last year the rains washed away just 100, and this year the blasts disintegrated just 200 !! How many will have to die, Mumbai, before you stand up and take notice?

Whether we deserve it or not, it is always the common man who suffers.
And what can we do about it? The next time there is any such incident, how many of us will ask ourself, “What can I do to help?” How many of us will be out on the roads, guiding traffic, giving water, rescuing people, donating blood, at least shedding tears !!

It’s time we shook off this “spirit of Mumbai” that is making us unfeeling robots, going to work everyday in inhuman conditions. It’s time we read the sad stories and really let our hearts bleed for those who were affected. And then it’s time we let our blood boil in anger against everyone responsible for this.
It’s time to take action now Mumbai ! Let that be our spirit !
Jai Hind ! Jai Maharashtra!

1 comment:

Pradeep said...

Unless some drastic steps are, not just thought of by the government, but implemented with an iron hand, I doubt if we can have so much of hope.