Wednesday, July 12, 2006

I'm tired!

I'm tired of people saying "Salaam Bombay" and how 'resilient' and 'composed' this city is. Because today isn't normal - I'm feeling shaken, maybe even a tad fearful before I finally gather up enough guts to haul myself onto a train towards Bandra. And I'm angry!
Maybe 300-plus people died yesterday and people are back at work because they don't have a choice. I'm sitting in office carrying on as if nothing happened, because that is the way we are as Indians - desensitised to the level of callousness. Laughing, crying, screaming over the same pointless things all over again - starting to think about the next time I end up in bed with someone. Maybe thinking of sex is a nice diversion from what happened yesterday, keeps your mind off the mangled twisted remains strewn across the tracks at Matunga Road. Remains of people who might have travelled with you yesterday or the day before, maybe even folks who took the train with you in the morning. But we are back to a veneer of normalcy behind a facade of a smile and laughing over the same, silly jokes all over again. Make your colleagues believe that you're this stone-cold cool chap without any feelings - cold and heartless. Heck, I'll even drink a beer right now - and what is that saying about comfort foods?
But somewhere down there, you're sick to the gut. You know it despite the smiling exterior that you maintain, that you're sick and you're freaking tired. Sick that you voted a bunch of jokers into power, sick that more and more Indians must die year after year because we are supposedly a democracy and some idiot somewhere must protect his voteback and the twisted politics of secularism game that people play. Sick that there are vested interests who will sell out your country so that they can get a job somewhere. I'm sick about a lot of things today.
And now the captions on the TV channels go - 'Targeting professionals'? Hah! Quite a laugh there! I mean the government is bothered about emptying your bank account and the terrorists want you bloody dead - but you see since you and I don't add up to many votes (the terrorists and their sympatisers do however) nobody gives a shit.
The last time I cried is when I broke up with a woman I had given my heart to and she trod on it like it didn't exist and then stubbed a cigarette on it for good measure. I didn't cry yesterday, I couldn't, but I seriously wish I did. Anyway, I have a story to write and a deadline to meet, so I'll just carry on and pretend nothing happened. Nothing at all..... and I'll carry on listening to how I'm being 'resilient' and completely emotionless like I live in a silly video game.
PS : Don't mind the rant, I just needed to get it out of my system.
PPS : A friend posted some more pictures to his Flickr photostream. Not particularly pleasant for those with queasy stomachs.


Life of Pi said...

Somehow ur post feels gross.

K said...

Ya - it just was a stream of thought when I was feeling down...
I should delete it I guess.... I dunno.

thalassa_mikra said...

I can understand how it feels right now K. It's this feeling of rage that recurs everytime something like this happens and then refuses to go away. But the more I think about it, the more I'm convinced this blast has nothing to do with the policies of the Indian government.

This has Pak Army and ISI written all over it. This is a massive operation, no home grown militant movement has the wherewithal to pull this off. Not even the Kashmiri militants. If my guess is true, I wonder why they decided to strike now?

Oh, and perhaps you're in no mood to hear this out, but the last few times we had bomb blasts in this country, no Indian citizen was ever involved (Kashmiris don't count). So perhaps an indictment of Indian secularism is misplaced?

wadi.haddad said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Maybe we should take lessons from Israel...

Israel authorizes 'severe' response to abductions:

Vikas said...

Either we say Salaam Mumbai or we say why does this happen to us? Our response is not focused. The media also shows soft responses. Even the PM says "No one can make India kneel: PM". Bullshit ! Why can't we say its Pak dictatorship sponsored attack managed and well co-ordinated not without local SIMI help. Why don't we ask for Democracy in Pakistan and Congress should answer its repealing of POTA and releasing SIMI threadbare into the country?

thalassa_mikra said...

Vikas, can you name a single terrorist attack to date in which the SIMI has been involved? I just don't understand how SIMI made the transition from banned organization to terrorist organization so effortlessly.

thalassa_mikra said...

And it is really not up to us to ask for democracy in Pakistan, it is up to the citizens of Pakistan. I don't know if that would do India any good either. The democratic governments of Nawaz Sharif and Benazir were not very different in their support to militant groups based in Pakistan.

It's the timing of the attack that really puzzles me. Is Pakistan slipping out of Musharraf's control?

dancewithshadows said...

Somehow, this resilience of Mumbai slogan is not going to help us anymore. Is resilience after the bom blasts a great thing? I am not sure. Bombay was resilient after the 93 blasts too - and we haven't got any convictions yet. Perhaps a bit less resilience might help? say, people refuse to get out of their homes or travel for a week? Now that is going to have an impact, and the politicians may take some notice of it. Perhaps if we refuse to go to work after floods for some time, that would be noticed. Right now, the media sings the praises of Mumbai spirit, and it is just used as an excuse by everyone not to fix things. But then, Mumbaikars, caught up in the business of survival, have never reacted strongly to anything.

After the blasts, yesterday, BJP burnt an effigy of terrorism! Effigy of terrorism, thats a joke for sure.

On the day of the blasts, I was watching CNN-IBN and people who were watching Rajdeep kept bursting into furious incoherence every time he hept talking about our resilience. Resilience, so we can get bombed again? Be sure it will happen.

Vikas said...

Whats the difference between a Rat and a Mouse? Mikra, you tell me.

I can't pin-point someone for sure. Also, I thing that such well co-ordination is not achieved without local help. It was well planned masterminded and clockwork precision in these train blasts that is possible with local help. Is it? Even 9/11 was possible with help from local people living there for considerable period. And SIMI was formed for Islamic Education purposes but its founder, whose now in US says SIMI and its Moto being hijacked by radical elements now. News source Rediff (Its not times of india - the daily bollywood magazine)

Btw, read this:

GBO said...


Dear RAW, as you plan your hasty retaliation it is only human to go tit for tat. True, Mumbai is the financial capital of India, but please don't consider Karachi as a target. Karachi is no longer the financial capital of Pakistan - most of the money, industry, and opportunities have long departed for Lahore. As you probably know already, the capital also shifted from Karachi to Pindi and then to Islamabad. The only substantial thing that Karachi has in common with Kashmir is the letter "K." So do Kanpur, Kokatta (now that they changed it from Calcutta), Krishnanagar, Kohat, Kerala, Kashi, Kampala, Kuala Lumpur, Kazakhstan, Kathmandu, and Kathmandon't.

Did I mention that the real assholes of Pakistan almost all reside in Islamabad? This capital city is the only place in Pakistan that is more modern looking, cleaner, and more westernized than Mumbai (ignoring the thousands of burkas, hijabs, and ninja outfits). Also, while Lahore may be an attractive target, please consider that Manto Bhai has already proactively provided his sincere condolences. Both Mushy and Kasuri live somewhere in Islamabad or its environs. Thank you for your kind consideration of this humble request.


Vikas said...

FYI TM,001302390000.htm

Anonymous said...

Good to see u safe K. Take care m8.

terah745 said...

Your's not to ask.

But to do or die.

In the tracks of life.

Blown up in pieces.

Relatives mourning.

No one avenging.

Your treasured lives.

Now blown apart.

The ant you are.

A hard worker.

Working day and night.

But trampled everytime.

With no remorse.


I pray for thee.

I respect thee.

For after all the hard work.

You still manage to smile.

To a stranger ant.


Anonymous said...

Sorry about the delayed comment.

Thalissa, SIMI was always a subversive organisation. That is why it was banned in the first place. Several splinter groups sprung up when it was banned. It was primarily political pressure to not go after them in the name of secularism.

while the government and local politicians have started blaming LeT or Pak immediately, their motive is to divert attention from their own - and very serious - failures. Attention focusing on Pakistani activities has always been a favourite strategy. But in doing this, they escaped censure themselves. This has led to the growth of underground organisations linked to the SIMI. Forensics have ruled out RDX sometime ago. So now the police is uncertain about LeT involvement. Read this:

The enemy is within. There is no way this could have been executed without local support. That is obvious and everyone has acknowledged it. The politics of secularism has meant that those involved stand a very good chance of going scot free while scape goats are caught and pushed in front of courts to face death sentences. It has been done before. It will be done again. One only has to look at Uttar Pradesh. A state where communal discord is the fundamental aspect keeping the asshole Mulayam Singh Yadav in power.

I don't think R R Patil and the rest of the bunch of thugs in the Maharashtra government will do much more this time round in any case. They are secular people. So the best that Mumbai can do right now is sit tight, wait for another attack and pray they are not the ones who get hit then. In the meantime, the pimps in the Maharashtra cabinet can continue to whore the state out.

Vikas said...

Isn't it strange that investigative agencies find out RDX was not used and it can't be LeT and say its local SIMI or soemthing linked to them. Meanwhile, PM says no talks without action by Pakistan. Isn't it a way to fool people into think that Govt. is taking action meanwhile hiding the fact that actually it was Congress who set SIMI free as a part of its appeasement to politicians gettin minority votes. Now, while PM is diverting attention, I can imagine Bahu Sonia writing his next speech to the nation and the poor mollycoodled manmohan reading it out and getting a pat on the back and lollipop from bahu Sonia. Sadly, the people who pay the most tax, have to travel in local trains like stuffed like chickens in poulty trucks and they run the mosts risks to their lives. The people who pay most of the tax are scared to go to the police. While Chidu wants to create a money trail by imposing laws on ATM cash withdrawal and asking for Cash Flow Statements in tax returns; there is no cash flow statement on how hez spending our money. We read it in newspapers when DMK distributes TV sets or when Rahul Gandhi goes for Polls, we'll see our money made into congress poll program. Also, we people don't excercise franchise.

thalassa_mikra said...

So apparently if RDX is not used then LeT is not involved. Fair enough, sounds too simplistic, but we rule LeT out. That still does not prove SIMI involvement. We have evidence to eliminate A's involvement, not implicate B. Subtle difference.

And for the last time, why is it that every time something like this happens, everyone starts talking shit about secularism? If you want a non-secular state, you have a lot of glorious examples to look upto, including Iran (death sentence for Bahais) and Saudi Arabia (no entry for Jews).

Instead of asking for accountability, better security and policing, people would rather attack the separation of religion and state.

And for all those who are so impressed by Israel's example, I would happily campaign for Israeli style military service (mandatory 3 years, men and women) so that you can bust your ass scrubbing toilets in army barracks, and run around in the sun till you collapse from dehydration and hunger.

I'm serious, I really think that mandatory military service would do our armchair ranters a world of good.

Anonymous said...

Thalissa, it isn't the separation of the state and religion that is being attacked here. I was being sarcastic. There is a completely different meaning to secularism in the present administration. I should have used inverted commas perhaps ;)

Yes, elimination of the possibility of LeT being involved doesn't automatically implicate SIMI. But SIMI has had enough of a history to be a prime suspect. Much of the network has quickly dived underground. You will find plenty of news reports about that today. Ofcourse, it can be said that they've gone underground to escape arrest. But if they haven't done anything wrong, and SIMI is outlawed and they have nothing to do with it, why disappear?

The funny part is that the police only seem to be getting hold of the real innocent folks in their combing ops. The fumbling suggests they had no clue of what was going on. There is a reason SIMI is under suspicion. They've been accused of gun running, underworld, money laundering and subversive activities in general. The Bhiwandi incidents are also said to have triggered the blasts. It is all speculation, ofcourse.

K said...

Sorry, was in Ahmedabad and then Calcutta, I'll post on that matter fairly soon.
One point, I'm not going to accuse anybody out here - but this crazy politics of secularism has to stop - Bombay has become the jehadi capital of the world. These blasts were too well organised, too well planned and too well executed to be a rushed response to Bhiwandi, not 9/11 sort of three-four year long planning, but I am certain that whoever the b******* who carried out this attack must have spent at least two-three months. No-one, not even the best organised terror force (or even a military force) can execute such an attack in under a week.
Thallasa - mandatory military service? Are you serious?

thalassa_mikra said...

K, this was simply in response to to the admiring sighs that are cast towards Israel from time to time by many of our brethren. Point being, if you love Israel's policies so much, then go all the way. At least the Israeli citizens are endorsing policies which are certain to have an impact on either them or their families.

In India we have people who are armchair hawks who have absolutely nothing at stake in their rhetoric of aggression. And for the record, my grandfather was in the Indian army, and so were a couple of my uncles, so I don't want anyone to start jingoistic mudslinging on me.

But I'm partly serious as well. Many of my close friends did compulsory military service in their countries. My boyfriend served for 18 months in Greece, a friend for 2 years in Iran, another for 1 year in Germany, and another a year in Spain. All of them think of their military service years as a very valuable life experience providing lessons in discipline, physical fitness, camaraderie and work ethic.

And K, I'd have to disagree a bit. There is intelligence failure, lack of police and CBI alertness, lack of adequate preemptive action against potential trouble makers.

All this has nothing to do with the fundamental necessity of secularism in a country like India. To my mind, religious hard-wiring of the state is not even be an option. And if we make secularism our straw man to beat up every time something like this happens, we choose to ignore the very real problems of bureaucratic and police incompetence and inadequate immigration control which need to be fixed.

Anonymous said...

There has been a great deal of media analysis on the subject ranging from throughtful international coverage (NYT) to superficial breathless drivel (Malavika Sangghvi in DNA).

simran said... hackneyed headlines in mid-day. could only watch in wonder as NDTV made national headlines out of another of those tired headlines: 'Go home, Modi'.

simran said...

a friend sent this to me:

Playwright and Screenwriter Anuvab Pal recounts his experiences with the Mumbai blasts and compares them to his time in New York during 9/11.

A Certain Kind of Indian

Being in New York during 9/11 and being in Mumbai on 11th July, 2006, was very different. And also not. Some of the more harrowing (and uplifting) moments came back – the cell phones jamming; friends, enemies, well wishers et al from around the world desperately trying to get through; chaotic hospitals filled with hundreds of victims and thousands of well-meaning, confused volunteers; relatives, photos in hand, on a mad search for loved ones; photos strewn for the missing across public places; gory first-person accounts of dismemberment, media frenzy around human stories of tragedy and survival; random acts of kindness (which contrary to what Readers Digest will have you believe, is a Mumbai routine during disasters). And in homes, seated around shocking, flashing images and foolish reporting (long live Fox News , available here in 3 incarnations - NDTV, CNN-IBN and Times Now) eager discussions on a certain kind of fundamentalism (both inquisitive and accusatory).

And yet, something was different. Not from the obvious nature and form of the attacks but in how I felt about the whole thing. When I initially moved from New York , I was gregarious and curious and engaged with my environment. I would claim New York does that to you - arms you with a sense of balanced, erudite, socio-economic analysis, especially when visiting other places not like it.

As the months passed, natural expatriate processes ensued. I settled-in, lost intelligence, found logical argument absent and all argument replete with bias. I declared public transportation to be medieval, finagled a car (with driver), found most 'ordinary' people lacking in basic decorum and politesse, fashionably complained about the city's ethos at art openings drinking wine ("Mumbai trains go to and from where?", a Mumbai socialite once asked innocently about the city's commuting lifeline). I made friends with other irony-loving, complaining, foreign folk or colonial remnants and found myself comfortably enveloped in the stereotype of the Bombay, upper middle class, English-speaking elite. This meant I was haughty, feudal, dismissive (of popular Hindi speaking culture), hierarchic, rude (especially to people I perceived to be in the service classes) and totally disconnected with the everyday realities of the city.

This wonderful attitude helped me conclude that I had very little in common with average Mumbaikars – a rude, savage, illiterate, superstitious, caste-ridden, trading people. I despised things claiming to be the highlights of the place - I didn't like the romanticism with the underworld, I found dance bars and the women in them, dirty; I hated Bollywood movies; didn't read the drivel passed off as journalism in local English dailies; wasn't aware of books in local Indian languages; discovered the ideas in the local theatre to be about a 100 years behind; found Indian TV dramas laughably melodramatic and distrusted anything said to me by a fat man with a moustache using bad grammar and worse syntax (that's about 10 million people).

Clearly I had much more in common with those suffering during 9/11. After all, I watched Meet The Press with Tim Russert with gravity and belief, discussed Charlie Rose guests at West Village dinners, loved the movies of Woody Allen, devoured the novels of Philip Roth, read the New Yorker religiously. I often thought my life was Sienfeld-ian, and that New York, the cosmopolitan mix of everything, home to Mira Nair and Opus Dei, was the greatest city in the world. Like many middle class Indian immigrants, I was a self-proclaimed "democrat" because I enjoyed Clinton's articulation and because most people in Manhattan were (an immigrant's first need, over food and oxygen, is fitting in). Surely, I was more like them. A dignified, graceful educated people mourning when it was time to do so, like a dignified graceful educated people.

On 9/11, when people died, the survivors quoted poets and writers I knew. People experienced a range of mature emotions I could understand, funeral proceedings I could appreciate and would myself partake in. Everyone functioned on a higher level of intelligence - we were clever together. Surely this must be home, I thought. I was moved by moments that were expected to move and saddened by sad moments and felt and mourned. There was an assumed shared aesthetic, regardless of an actual union. At some distance and experienced alone but shared nevertheless, however cerebral.

Then I saw Mumbai and the death and blood and twisted metal. Constant footage of the kind of people I had decided to dislike, some dying, many helping. I saw scores of people near railway stations throwing open their homes for relief and shelter, thousands of low-income housewives with water along the major streets, handing them to people in cars (the same elite who scoff them). I saw thousands of Muslim men at the end of the day's prayers rushing (at the risk of arrest) to help the wounded and dead, even though the police had declared the railway tracks as cordoned-off zones. I heard from a tea vendor who lives on $2 a day deciding to run around all night serving tea to the distressed at the distinct possibility of devastating his lifelong business. I saw penniless students skipping critical examinations and cooking to feed people who couldn't get home to the suburbs. I saw beggars and homeless people carrying the wounded to hospital. I saw people who hadn't eaten for days delivering hot food to the injured. I saw people who had no business and no position to give anything, give and give more. Then, I cried. Simultaneously, I discovered this thing called a gut instinct. For years I had displayed an almost stoic, near-Scandinavian sense of restraint. I was secretly proud of this almost Western value of emotional stillness. I had never cried at any set back in my life, I had never cried at a loss of a family member. I had never cried during 9/11. But here I was, a temporary resident of a city I hate, watching a TV channel I hate, watching people I hate (and share nothing in common with), crying inexplicably for the first time and feeling the saddest moment I have ever felt.

I wondered later if this is what nationality meant. This gut instinct. A reaction wholly from the heart and free of the head. One that (no matter how many books I had read or commonalities I had shared or sophisticated opinions I had formed with a wonderful, literate, accepting nation), could come only with watching the suffering of one's own people. Whoever and wherever they may be, however different they may be.

Somehow, on 7/11 (as the media here, in some bizarre and silly correlation to the US , calls it) there is something higher at work; much more intrinsic, more knowledgeable, much more tuned into the pulse of this city. Something much angrier at India 's economic boom (Lashkar E Toiba, the Kashmiri militant wing, has denied involvement) and equally conscious of the affluence and education of those that might take a first class train along the western line.

Some may say that the first class is easiest to get on with an explosive-filled suitcase but I would still argue that with those eight bomb blasts on 11 th July a demographic was being targeted, as much as mass casualty. That demographic being the architects of modern India . Young bankers, salesmen, software engineers, print journalists, TV actors, call-center employees, web designers, ad film makers et al. I am not suggesting that these people are being targeted as individuals. The idea that they stand for is being targeted. The idea of an affluent, educated, young, skilled workforce that is the backbone of India's economic transformation

It was also about killing a certain kind of people that might send a message to certain other kinds of people like them. Perhaps this isn't true in terms of individualistic specifics but if one was to generalize, from Dadar to Borivali, all the stations at that hour carry the commuting milieu that could be the perfect representative sample (and explanation) of India's rise. A consumer class of ambitious, literate, work-driven, under-45, set of men and women with disposable income. The new middle class as the papers keep saying. Many rent, many are breaking traditional notions (and real estate frameworks) of joint family systems, many refuse arranged marriages, many are single. Many are immigrants (increasingly from around the world).

As the (new and rapidly expanding) real estate that lines and surrounds these stations suggest, they are people who are changing the very nature of India 's social ethos and thereby the nature of the city that houses them. Bandra, Khar, Santa Cruz, Andheri, Borivili are constantly evolving and advancing townships and the people who live in them are constantly evolving and advancing economically and intellectually as well. Lots of young couples live there. One can tell by civic amenities, restaurants, malls etc that keep popping up in these suburbs. The idea of south Bombay being the nerve center of the city is recently dead and city-dwellers have known this. This is information about the underlying trend within a city's pulse - recent news, often changing within a day, road gossip, stuff you overhear at bars or dinners or the Midday rag or from drivers and dabbawallahs (Mumbai's famous food delivery men).

Clearly these people who put these bombs stayed here long enough to understand trends and to feel Mumbai almost as a 20-year resident would. Could it be that these killers factored it in while planning? These bombs are much more than just a strike at the heart of Mumbai's suburbs; they are a strike at the heart of a new India. An India a lot of people under 40 are trying to create, an India their parents never knew or expected. An India busy with new corporations, new ethics and skilled labor, free of cheap religious strife or ignorant feudalism. An India with young love and unlimited energy, free of nonsense casteism and ignorant racism. A melting pot of bureaucracy-free achievement, hard work, entrepreneurial innovation and new, relentless dreams. Whoever did this, doesn't like where India is going, as a young, hopeful, confident, people.

It seems by getting on those trains the day after the attacks these same young hopeful people, (who perhaps can afford to miss a day's work though most companies recorded 90% attendance), collectively seemed to say, "Hell with you - we've got a materialistic, capitalist fun country to build because we're real tired of the old socialist one. Take your bombs and keep exploding them, we've got cell phones to buy, girls to date, malls to shop in and job interviews with multinationals which will triple our salaries. No matter what the you do Mr. Terrorist Person, we'll be out and about - the new India is here and you can't stop us".