Saturday, July 16, 2011

Why Mumbai? Why not....?

This is me with my girls at the premiere of Vaibhavi Merchant's energetic musical, "The Taj Express," on sunday. Great editing can take a mediocre play \ movie \ book to the next level. That's what I told Vaibhavi whose work I do admire. And that's what I'd tell Zoya Akhtar if I ever run into her.


This appeared in the Asian Age today...

Why Mumbai? Why not….?

Horror of horrors!Mumbaikars actually stayed away from work, the morning after the latest bomb blasts. Yup, those devastating ones on wednesday that ripped out the city’s gut. In case you are saying , “Oh really? How come? We always thought nothing stopped the people of Mumbai from going to work…. not even bomb blasts,” you’d be spot on. Nothing does! The only reason for mass absenteeism on Thursday morning was simple – water logging on train tracks! Imagine the irony of it all. Hundreds of commuters remained absent from work, not out of a sense of fear that there could be more blasts, but because they were stranded at suburban stations.Had it been a clear day, you bet downtown offices would have been as crammed as always. That’s Mumbai. Never say die! Even when death stares you in the face. As death did on the 13th of July when three blasts exploded in crowded areas during peak hours. Over 20 people were killed in approximately 12 minutes. The death toll is bound to go up. But at the time of writing 21 was the official figure. 20, 21 or 200… does it really matter? We in Mumbai are supposed to smile philosophically and ‘move on’. Why? Because we are ‘so resilient’. Because we ‘must work’. Because the ‘spirit of Mumbai’ is so amazing. All of this is accurate. But it is of zero comfort. We have reached a stage where the old anger has been replaced by revulsion. We watch the faces of politicians preaching across channels, advising us to ‘stay calm’. And we want to puke. Contempt for authority is a dangerous tool, especially in democracies. The time has come for citizens to demonstrate their own asli people power and demand answers from those in authority. This has happened across the Arab world, and it can (should!) happen here. The writing is on the wall. Ignore the hitherto suppressed wrath and ire of the people of this metropolis, and invite terrible retribution. An Arab Spring could rapidly turn into a Mumbai Monsoon, with a raging flood of protests that could flatten those who continue to mete out shabby treatment to the citizens of the City of Gold.
As always, it was the man and woman on the street who rose to the challenge and mobilized help within minutes of the blasts. Social networking sites were over loaded with posts and tweets offering any and every kind of assistance. The generosity, the spontaneity of several online communities, was not just commendable, but stupendous. People set up help lines, info lines, hot lines, and reached out to complete strangers without the slightest hesitation. Whether it was medical help or car rides, places to crash out for the night or hot meals for the hungry, people were going the extra mile to comfort fellow citizens. Contrast this outpouring of genuine care to the total indifference of netas like R.R.Patil, Maharashtra’s notorious Home Minister, who was largely untraceable and invisible post-blasts. Fortunately, the new bloke, Prithviraj Chavan did show up at the affected sites to speak briefly to the media. But what did the chief minister say? Oh… he trotted out predictable platitudes about terrorists striking at the heart of India etc. Having said his piece, he was bundled into a waiting car and that was it. But at least he had the brains to turn up . Contrast his gesture with Vilasrao Deshmukh’s ( who can forget his casual stroll through the corridors of the bombed out Taj Palace Hotel, after 26 \11 accompanied by his movie star son and a dodgy film maker?). And let me not forget our cops. This time they arrived swiftly enough, swinging their lathis and swaggering around the carnage, looking suitably grim. The top cop assumed an air of ‘I mean business’ but failed to convince anybody that he indeed did. After an unimpressive walkabout, the internet was flooded with sardonic comments about these keepers of the city’s law and order, notably by a blogger called Pranav Gandhi who described R.R.Patil’s job as ‘the best job in the world’ ( no responsibility, no work… but a secure berth in the cabinet, that too with the same portfolio!).
I am convinced there is something seriously wrong with us, the people of Mumbai. We are the ‘most attacked’ city on earth… and we accept this dubious ‘honour’ passively, like it is a part of our collective destiny to be frequently bombed. This is not stoicism, it is not resignation, and it most certainly isn’t resilience ( how I hate that word). So what is it? I’d call it stupidity. Plain stupidity. We think we are being heroic when we react like this when, in fact, we are being foolish. Utterly foolish. We do nothing about this sorry state of affairs and carry on like blasts are ‘normal’. Like blasts ‘happen’. Like we are supposed to sit back and accept attacks, chanting ‘Hey, this is Mumbai!’ It is because of this very idiotic attitude that terrorists love us! They can’t get enough of the city. And they are going to keep bombing us. You know why? Because they can. While we brag, ‘‘Mumbai rocks! People are so jealous of us. Look at our glittering city. Look at our billionaires. Look at the gold and diamonds in our stores! Come on, who wouldn’t want a piece of this action? Who wouldn’t want to destroy Mumbai?”, they attack! Yes, we really are that dumb. We refuse to hold anybody responsible. We refuse to make anybody answerable. We refuse to protest . What do we do instead? We show off! We get back to business as usual within hours of an attack and boast about it to the world. As if it’s something to be deliriously proud of. But hello! The facts are slightly different. Mumbai is attacked over and over again for the simple reason that it is POSSIBLE! It is ridiculously easy. Anybody can walk in with a couple of bombs and trigger them off – no problem. It can happen tomorrow morning…. even tonight. That’s how exposed and vulnerable Mumbai remains. Frankly, we are asking for it. We deserve it. If that sounds harsh – sorry! It’s the truth. The terrorists know this, too. They take advantage of Mumbai’s nakedness. They laugh. They mock.Nobody is in charge here – not even the cops…. so long as the city’s VVIPs are well protected, the aam aadmi doesn’t matter. The bad guys are well aware of Mumbai’s weaknesses…. of Mumbai’s impotence… it’s powerlessness to deal with calamities… emergencies… crises. Even after this Black Wednesday, we continue to grin, shrug and say, “Zindagi na Milegi Dobara.”
Party on, guys! Tomorrow is another day…if it comes!


Hakimuddin Liliyawala said...
need ur thoughts on this article

NAT said...


On the night of 18th June 2011, I was on the way to the International airport to pick up my sister and her hubby.
At Andheri west 200 meters from the station there was a naka bundhi, and I slowed down as I spotted it from a distance. Within a flash there was a motorbike who was on my right and at good speed. He almost touched me as he made a U turn and went back the wrong way, as he spotted the cops. He had his helmet on, and he was too fast for me to see his face or note his license number. I was shocked myself, as he could have been hurt.
While moving through the so called checking... I stopped and informed 4 different policemen, from hawaldhars to Inspectors. I thought at least one of them would chase the guy and find out why he was in such a hurry, and wanting to avoid the cops, and took that chance of getting hit by me, as he took the wrong U turn.

I was disappointed, but not surprised as we can see the results. It has happened before at Cuffe Parade.
I state that this guy may not have been a terrorist, by why not find out the reason for him running away from the temporary check post. I guess it is their duty, or do they want to catch the rogues on their laps.
I do not blame the cops for these terrorists acts, as it is not easy to control the population in Mumbai. However, whatever and whenever they do their duty, they should put in at least 50% effort.


Just a few thoughts....Oh my beloved mumbai!!My heart bleeds for you, as you are raped time and again by anyone who has you in their sight. Our people in the government are nothing but a bunch of Eunuchs who just watch your helpless sight. You bleed and pain but everyone just watches your sorry plight.I think its time for its sons to rise up to their might and give back a deserving fight!

Vishal said...

Couldnt agree more with u. The city is alwyays on the edge and we are a soft target. time to say,Don't mess with Mumbaikars.
Btw, what do you make of this F****** idiot Rahul Gandhi who made such insensitive comments on the day of blast. If he has a minimum of dignity, he must apologise to the people of Mumbai and India at large,

goodluck said...

There are more bloody idiots who want to gain by fishing in troubled waters. For them this is a god given opportunity. Would they really like peace at all? Until and unless they get elected, they will be enjoying this spectacle of mayhem. While innocents have to suffer.

Parthasarathi Dittakavi said...

I sincerely agree with the views expressed by Shobha. I don't like the media's comment of 'Life is back to normal in Mumbai ' after every terror attack .People are forced to come on to the roads whether they fear for their lives or not as it is the question of their livelihood. Politicians cannot take it for granted that they will bear the pain forever they will make them answerable for every death sooner or later

goodluck said...

You look anorexic. What is your weight?

speakyourheart said...

Dear shobha,
Is there anything we can do abt it...if u have anything in mind then let us know and we will join I agree to every word u said..

चंद्रमौलेश्वर प्रसाद said...

stopping mumbai? Bombs cannot but water can :)

Tintu said...

The world does not care about Indian Citizens because the Indian Government does not care about it's own people. It has refused to take any action against Pakistan time and time again. The US will never lift a finger against Pakistan because the Indian Government has never taken any action against Pakistan.

Tsomo85 said...

Shobha looking stunning with your daughters! Good looking family! Can't wait to see ZNMD!

Pooja Rathore said...

whatever happened in mumbai is very sad it hurt you are right when u said "nothing has changed and perhaps nothing will".
I am a Bangalorean have not witnessed any bomb blasts in the city but your question is right why mumbai? makes sense why they are targeting mumbai as most blasts have taken place in mumbai . one more observance by you that mumbaikars dont protest requires serious contemplation you r right its like somebody is hurting you and you are taking the hurt because you have the endurance for taking it why not use the same power to fight against the netas who have taken us for granted we are paying them tax to protect us they better do their jobs or get ready to be fired.who knows this fight for saving ourlives might open some path or lead to resolution we never thought of.
It is clear the Govt of India has failed to tackle the issue of terrorism ,why not take help from other countries who have succesfully tackled or atleast controlled the attacks , we have the money if we dont have the brains then hire some from outside and do that needs to be done to save precious lives!
Gang of Beautiful girls all of seem to be having nice time may your happiness ,joy and the sacred bond you share remain stong forever Amen!

Sujata Rajpal said...

Life in India is Bhagwaan bhorose ; we in India need God more than any other country. The frequency with which our country is attacked, chote mote blasts no longer send a shiver down the spine, it is part of life like power cuts, traffic jams . Slowly we will get used to bomb blasts the way we get used to other things in life like paying bribes for getting seats in nursery schools, street dogs we will get used to terrorist attacks also .. we almost are.

Mona said...

Mumbai invites attacks with its indifferent attitude. What more, ppl have started viewing such attacks as 'collateral damage' to 'events' like Osama encounter.

And then...the most sasti cheez in India is Human life, they being so many all around the country. A few less is viewed as a 'relief' from the overcrowding of overcrowded places like Mumbai!

The unsure ascetic said...

Mam, why aren't your daughters in Bollywood?

malini said...

As you rightly put it, we are plain "stupid". Its not only Mumbai, mumbai happens to be an easy target and the most vulnerable target due to its wealth and enormous population which keeps growing everyday. Its like this with every other city of India, we keep our villages bad, so people move out to towns and cities, and whats the result, cities choke.

Thats just one problem, someone spoke about ram bharose, which is very true, we get use to everything, like in south they say, swalpa adjust madkoli, thoda adjust kar lo.. so the terrorists keep attacking and they know, nothing anyway happens, Did they hang Kasab? did they still give us some results, saying yes we have found out who did this, what are we going to do in the future, nothing absoulutely. this is what 20 innocent lives went, just like tat, and it will keep happening, Till we keep letting it happen.

Divya Virmani said...

Ms. De, Couldn't agree with you more! Infact, while reading I could sense the anger you have in your heart and how you poured it out in your blog. Ditto for each and every one of the reader. Each time I write an article, it's mandatory to bash up our system. I wonder if we'll get to write something good about them in this lifetime???

sathyavanan said...


Ayesha Tivari said...

Thanks for posting it's interesting one.. keep more sharing here..

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