Thursday, December 25, 2008

Why us.....?

Why us???

The answer to that question is obvious…. and has been responded to by countless others. We know ‘why us’…. Mumbai makes an attractive target…. that’s why. But so many days later, we are still reeling... unable to come to terms with what we have been through. At least, I am not. Perhaps it is a ‘woman thing’. The female response to terror is very different from the stereotypical male one. The night Mumbai was blasted, we were at a small sitdown dinner. The men present were far slower in their reactions – which surprised me. They wanted ‘official’ confirmations that the city was under attack, when we could clearly hear the damn blasts and grenade attacks!! Most of the women sensibly followed their gut instinct, summoned chauffeurs and rushed to the safety of their homes…. to be with their loved ones, often young children, who needed them during this unprecedented crisis. The men continued to work those infernal cell phones ,checking with other men what they were doing…. staying put?? Having another drink?Or waiting for a divine signal instructing them on the next plan of action? I can tell you it was frustrating in the extreme.So, what did the women do eventually? Most of us were shouted down – the argument being, men always know best, especially under such unambiguously macho circumstances. I asked, “ But are you guys from the NSG? Have you received specialized training in guerilla warfare? Would you know what to do incase those terrorists walked in and chucked a grenade or two at our group, as we stood around in the foyer of a five star hotel, debating on the seriousness of the problem?” No answer. But several scowls.
This was a story I heard repeated by several women I spoke to in the aftermath of the attacks. Their men totally ignored the far more practical suggestions made by the ladies of the house, and spent most of the time net -working with other guys, as if they were the commandos directly in charge of rescue operations. Oh yes….. just as it happens during cricket\football\baseball matches, men watching the chilling television coverage, had all the answers and were busy giving instructions to people who couldn’t hear them in the first place!! “ What are you doing, you idiot??? Turn left…. turn left…. arrey baba, the terrorist is on the sixth floor, not the fifth. Tch tch tch…. attack from the back…. crouch, crouch… oh ho…. I knew you would miss… aim properly, yaar.” The side show was worth filming. Meanwhile, women were mobilizing support, comforting children and thinking of ways to help the wounded in hospitals. Initiating blood donation drives, collecting food and medicines, clothes, bandages and other useful articles required during emergencies. They were doing their bit, quietly and efficiently, leaving the house- bound heroes to remote control the operations from the comfort of their bedrooms! It is not my intention to ridicule male reponse to war-like situations in an urban setting…. but I can’t help noting how radically varied women’s reactions are under pressure.The big difference I believe, is that men tend to personalize crisis – it is always about them and their immediate priorities (“Oh shooooot….. there goes my meeting tomorrow…. I’ll have to reschedule my flight…. what about that conference call?”). Women rarely think of their own safety – it is their last priority. If they have children, their first concern is saving them, everything else comes next. Terror attacks have a strange way of polarizing society once the worst is over. When lady Mumbaikars go into reflective mode (now!), they tend to get mushy …. over sentimental (“ Imagine….my little Chintu was right there at the Gateway just two days earlier! My nephew’s colleague’s son-in-law escaped by God’s grace when he took an earlier train from CST that night!”). That is when our men come to the fore by allowing their rational selves to take precedence over such meaningless talk. They soberly discuss action plans and accountability. They don’t stop at lighting candles and holding hands…. they trawl cyber space, to look for stuff that shows where our intelligence failures let us down and how we can plug these loop holes in future. A distraught girlfriend called a day after she and her family were rescued by firemen nine hours into the seige from a suite at the Taj, right next to the one occupied by the terrorists. “ Had it not been for the two men with us, we’d be dead…” she said through tears. Well…. she was fortunate to be married to an ex-Naval commander who knew the military drill and insisted on his wife adhering to it.He has always been her hero – and after this experience, she has fallen in love with him all over again. Terror has its uses….. ???? You tell me!!

31 comments:

sydney said...

"Terror attacks have a strange way of polarizing society once the worst is over."

"They soberly discuss action plans and accountability."

True. We ought to find a middle ground, lying between the two extremes of stoic rationale and gushing sentimentalism. This was a very interesting post to read, where you brought to light the masculine and feminine trains of thought in reacting to such a weighty event.

On an entirely different note, Merry Christmas Shobhaa-ji. Hope you have a wonderful time with loved ones near and dear in this holiday season.

vemuri said...

this post was totally female chavonistic... yeah perhaps they are men who think of themselves and nothing else... but you were generalising it....u jus cant cant call it stereo typical.reaction like every person will his or her own thinking.... like u were telling that women will think of ways to help quietly and efficiently.... yeah i agree with you but not every women does that... i may sound male chavonistic.... but its true that every individual has his own feeling... talking about cricket is different from talking on these error attacks....

khush said...

I think it just a "guy" thing.. Men generally think over same thing with different point. Doesn't mean they are not sensible towards it.
I have personally felt my husband was more emotional and disturbed with attacks than me. Because I bought up in city where I have witnessed terrorism prior to this made me stronger emotionally to take it. My company was working both the days when I was thinking of meeting I will miss because of staying home but that doesn’t make me less emotional about what happened.
If your point is about taking women’s angle in normal house hold then it is really personal. Talking about equality each individual has to fight for existence. I would say if hubby doesn’t listen to you about match or security or bla bla bla.. shout and prove that you know as much as a guy. That goes for everyone Men or Women.
Khushboo

web design said...

nice post

prakash gowda said...

Ram Gopal Varma, in his blog when asked to respond on Shobhaa De's comment, replies: Some people make living by barking. Comment.

hitch writer said...

I dont know where this is coming from ????

How the heck can you find something male / female debates in this disaster !!! Guess the difference between the two sexes exists more in your mind than anyone else !!

Truly unbelievable

hitch writer said...

Frankly, my wife probably has better solutions than me....

Also so many bloggers that i discussed with who are females also think as good as any other male....

dhiren shah said...

BTW where is RAM GOPAL VERMA's blog ?? Link please ??

Vijay Kurhade said...

Terrorists have no religion as well do not belong to any gender as such.

Now responding to terrorism, I don’t agree Men and Women will react differently; eod some misled person disturbs your and many millions life even for a moment is hated with same intensity then be it men or women.

One of biggest issue on why our nation is such an easy target for terrorist is way our system and how common man is keeping away from participating in building or shaping it. Incident like 26/11 brings anger out of every one; some people give fiery speeches on TV and earn some publicity; everyone gets together talks tough. But in few days we forget everything and continue with our lives till such next ripple in our peaceful lives.

Possible solution is more and more educated, working class starts VOTING on election days; more and more eligible people start participating in politics; we all discuss so much about US presidential candidates, their acads, capabilities, presidential debates and how many millions specially youths in US this time has helped bring Change;
but do we really bother to have similar discussions in India.
We don’t; because we really don’t vote and don’t care who gets elected(no wonder we have so many bad politicians) then can we really blame System and Politicians every now and then when such barbaric and shameful attacks are forced on us.

Easy to blame something from outside; what is really practical, participate and contribute.

I am hoping we all will be more proactive in future since we don’t want to even dream of another 26/11; Let’s keep gender or religion out of this entire thing as its so unnecessary and waste of energy-time.

Abhisheq =] said...

Why the excessive punctuation!?!!?!?!
Its mildly annoying.

Tejaswini Desai said...

http://rgvarma.spaces.live.com/default.aspx?sa=231829594
dhiren shah this is for u.
yeah aurat to paagal he. she is a joke and srk i agree with u 200%.
she talks nonsense and worst is she gets away with it. koi kuch karo. AB, NAQUI, RGV, SRK...listening ?

Anonymous said...

i dont see the point of attacking Shobaa for her own opinion. So be it if she thinks men are less "emotional" compared to women especially during chaotic times. I do believe her sentiment , when i heard of the massacre , my heart instantly when to everyone in Mumbai.It felt very much like 9/11 , the world came together , for one cause. We grieved. But i also believe as much as the men grieved too , they spent equal time marvelling on the well planned attack. No one saw that one coming.
~Niv

Pinku said...

You seem to have ruffled quite a few feathers by those comments about men. But I do agree with you most men tend to be very dramatic and useless in times of emergencies while most women tend to be sensible.

A bbq that wouldnt light well showed it to me the other day....the men went nuts...the women quitely entered the kitchen...used the oven and stove and had the food ready to be served all under fifteen minutes.

:)

khush said...

Mam something i read after posting comment on your blog...

http://blogs.livemint.com/blogs/career/archive/2008/12/22/of-managing-families-and-organizations.aspx

I think this will make you think over your point again...

Milind Kher said...

I do not believe that the thinking of men or women has been really different as far as the Mumbai terror attacks are concerned.

The views as well as the feedback have been quite similar. They were all reacting as members of the same human race. Everybody is now thinking commonly as an Indian, perhaps the greatest coming together since the freedom struggle.Let us keep it that way.

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The Comic Project said...

I don't know if terror has its uses but at an individual level, this episode changed something in all of us. Having lived near 3 cities that have experienced terror, (NY, London, Bombay), the reaction in Bombay has been the most mature, a bit too inward looking maybe, but still fear does not seem to be the dominant emotion. I am not there, but that's what I hear from those I know.

It has also brought total strangers together, like what would happen in real life when one gets stuck in the 2005 deluge or the yearly monsoon drama. Only this has been online.

At a deeper level, it has shaken us.. no not the morchas and the "enough is enough" anger, but this is different. It just needs channeling.

And speaking of gender, my wife handled it a lot better than I did. Women seem to have that buffer somewhere, it's amazing.

Sathyanarayana said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sathyanarayana said...

At our University, Indian Society arranged candle light and silence at a Monument, we had a people from other countries,religion and faith visiting for lighting the candle, including the son of Pak Prez.
We watched the shocking live ordeal at news channels online, at one point I noticed CNN IBN- Rajdeep Sardesi asking question to British Consulate General in front of Taj, when we could still hear explosions behind-"During this war at Mumbai, Is England ready to tour India for RBS Cup in Chennai?".I have no words...

Sathyanarayana

Another Kiran In NYC said...

I know who I would like to be stuck with in a minute to minute do or die situation. My mother!

She makes the best on the spot tactical decisions with very clear priorities. I think women's brains and emotional strength and resilience are just made for dire crises. Oh and most importantly, we can multitask like champs. Probably biological, and also evolution at work.

See, women and men dont have to be the same, but men and women are equal in the sum total of our various strenghths and are perfectly complementary to each other.

Balvinder Singh said...

No Shobhaa, this is a clear biased piece of writing. In any crisis situation how one acts, depends on one's mental make up, experience of the past and may be age etc . This has certainly nothing to do with gender.

Many years back i was traveling with my family, which included my parents, my two sisters , my wife and my new born son. We were all enjoying the journey, singing and joking around, when our vehicle met with an accident with a Punjab Roadways bus coming from opposite direction. My father was very seriously injured, who had to be evacuated to the hospital. My younger sister also got a few stitches in her head. While my elder sister started crying hysterically at the top of her voice, who had no visible injury marks on her body, the most composed person was my mother who was holding my son in her lap all the time. But of course i, being the only able bodied male had to do some running around, along with the driver, arranging for first aid and taking quick decisions as to the next course of action. So at the time of crisis, it is the reflexes which take over while the brain takes a back seat.

*Aham* said...

we are overtly foolish... and we suffer from selective amnesia. We will remember DDLJ even today, amnd mouth slogans like "badi badi sheharon mein choti choti baatein hoti rehati hai" straight from DDLJ which released some light years ago, but will so comfortably forget issues like these. from being in vogue to démodé... our memories are capable of emptying the old storage to ring in the new fashionable topic.

Picture this.
Yesterday, I had been to gateway, there wwas this guy there (ekdam chikna guy) who was screaming to the media about the fact that they (his group) will see to it that our city is safe and people coming to Bombay feel safe here. exactly some half-an-hour later I was at a stall in the churchgate station subway, where I found the same bhashan wala guy siting with his friends and chit chatting and enjoying his meal... Just baaju mein, there was an american couple who were looking lost, they were trying to make sense of the menu that was on display... they didnt know what to order. The american couple stood there wondering for around 5 minutes or so... and then settled for a cup of coffee, (probably tahts what they related best with) I went upto them and asked them if I could help them out... They asked me about masala dosa and uttappam... and which one was more spicy... They were overwhelmed... and the lady told me.. " You arenot leaving without giving me a hug"...

Now, the chikna guy, looked at me and tells me good job.. I smirked and reminded him of what he was saying some 30 minutes back... He reaction was "DID I?"... Jovially, I told him, he should watch gajini its based on him...


Though we cant generalise, i feel men are more forgetful and illprepared than women... even if women lie, (mostly)they stand up to it... they are more prepared...
When men are busy masking their big fat egos with dare devil feigning preparedness, women rule the roost by being proactive.

Women cry, yes, but who said crying is a sign of weakness. Women or more decisive they could take quicker decisions in crisis. (though may take eon years for making a choise in clothes and footwear )

Good De, you used the word "stereotypical male" in this post.. I dont belong to the stereotypes... or do I... no I dont.. i feel i dont.. or do i???

:)


a man is a man is a man...
Smiles :)
harish

*Aham* said...

(ewwwww... pardon my typos... my spellings and all... i type quickly and hate cross checking :()

Babbi said...

This is when you realise just how ridiculous male hypocrisy actually is. But when its crisis, one doesn't even have time to analyse this stuff, its more of a universally accepted phenomenon. Damn that 'Macho' image, it ruins a lot a things. And somebody explicate the difference between emotional and impulsive to men : they really need a few lessons! But we have bigger problems to tackle, we'll have to leave this one behind in the priority list.

Hobo ........ ........ said...

:|

Milind Kher said...

Onh the whole, women are certainly more caring and sensitive. That is why they are very good in nurturing roles as well as relationship management.

However, as far as reacting to the Mumbai terror attacks is concerned, I believe that everybody reacted in a similar manner. There were no "male" or "female" responses, we all reacted as Indians who had been attacked and brutalized.

Waleed Adwani said...

Showbiz:

Don't be daft. Why paint the Y factor with the same brush in one stroke ?
Yes, we men have our priorities (our dosh, our beer & grub, our libidos) just as some women have theirs: their children,their parents, their homes and perhaps, as an after thought their in-laws.
I think it's cynical in the extreme to suggest women were the only ones to rally around those affected in the 26/11 carnage. True the shutter bugs went ballistic everytime a socialite butterfly or a trophy wife came visiting city hospitals carrying food and meds, blankets and the usual paraphernalia but make no mistake voluntary blood donations that week were split down the middle between the sexes.Hand on heart, I suspect there actually, were more units of blood donated by men than women not that I begrudge any woman her Good Samaritan status but I would expect the same from them. If you must differentially analyze our behaviors as male and female individuals then I think most men may have "over responded"(if there's such a thing as that) whereas most women may have "over reacted". And I don't mean the men in public office - they don't even matter.
We need to give it a rest, Shobha. Now that the assault is no longer smarting (at least for those of us not directly in the firing line) we can all of us, at a safe remove from partisanship and jingoism, start to analyse those three days of Black November. To my mind it was nothing sort of an outlandish info-tainment package delivered to your doorstep by rather a reckless and juvenile electronic media.When it came to the wire as long as we knew "I am okay you are okay" we were basically all okay loafing around on the couch remote in hand flipping channels scavenging for well, I hate saying this - " the most sensational", "the most spectacular". I hate having to ever find out turning on the TV one fine day that a co-worker or a weekend f**k buddy of mine had died in a terrorist attack. This isn't the done thing. Do we know for sure whether the families of ACP Kamte, Salaskar and Hemant Karkare were intimated about their deaths before the news tickers brought this news into our drawing, board and bedrooms ?
Surely,there has got to be a set of standards and references around ethics in mass media or are we just too enamored of "India Shining" that we don't care two hoots about it?

Noyon Jyoti Parasara said...

another mumbai concern...
the whole of india burns there are no concerns... a five star hotel burns there are lakh regrets!

not a single thought on kashmir and NE... they are regular of course

prabha said...

LET US.........

The fanatics are but a handful
Let them not hold myriads in a fistful
Let them not desecrate our realms
Let not their tentacles crush us
The fanatics are but a handful
Let us defeat them in their demented schemes
Let us diffuse their phantasms
The fanatics are but a handful
Let our discern eye when somethings amiss
Let us be wary of stealthiness
Let us kindle our
perceptions to any trivial scruples
Let not the rabid handful prevail
We have acess to bastions that the guarders have not
They alone can quell them not
Come let us all together lend a hand to snuff out the insidious
PRABHA RAYKAR

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