Every once in a while, a new word appears from nowhere, and before you know it, everybody is using it like it has been around forever. The hottest new cliche is ‘Resilient’. Which means ‘an ability to recover from misfortune’. Since Tuesday, it must have used by every Tom, Dick, and Harry; from news anchors to celebs to activists to politicians.
Bombay laid claim to this title many years ago, when it was serial bombed in response to the Babri Masjid demolition. Since then many a small incident, like the Mulund/Ghatko blasts, the Gateway blasts and now the Terrible Tuesday blasts, and the moniker is firmly Mumbai's.
Even before the pyres were lit, everybody had been falling over each other to congratulate themselves about their resilience, and how they are able to get back to work without skipping a beat. But did we really ?
Take a look at how Bombay reacted. First, the phone companies were blasted for networks getting clogged. When calls started getting through, people ensured that they and their near ones were safe, and promptly started bitching about when the trains would get working.
The fact is, bombings are very finite acts. Either you are hit, or you are safe. And once you are safe you aren't really concerned because it ain’t happening again. It is very easy to talk tough, when the enemy has already left. The much bandied 'you can't keep me down' spirit was missing just a couple of days before when the Sena held the city to ransom. Not knowing what to expect, everybody stayed indoors. Don't want to ding my car, do I ? Going for a drive on Sunday required more balls than getting on to a local train on Wednesday morning. 3 million people travel by the western railway daily. Probability of getting hit could have been the definition of zero. On Sunday night at 8:00 pm dadar wore a deserted look. There was no spirit to be seen, unless it was being consumed indoors.
In 2004 when the metro was bombed in Madrid 190 people were killed. You know what the city did ? 2 million people went on strike in Madrid (population of 3.2 million), 1.5 Million went on strike in Barcelona (population 1.6 million) saying they were not resilient. They said they wouldn't take it in their stride. Overall it is estimated that 28% of Spain's entire population protested on the streets. They wanted answers, and they wanted action. Three days later they voted the incumbent national govt. out of power, saying they wanted somebody to do something.
Here are samples of what our leaders said: In Mumbai, the top cop A.N."Pg3" Roy came out with a blinding pearl of wisdom, "These seem to be planned attacks"(source : ticker on NDTV). Planned as in not for fun? Not spontaneous? I bet the Mumbai police won't be able to set off 7 firecrackers in 7 different locations in a spread of 10 mins. The Chief Minister : "We want the world to know Mumbai is not worried about such events." Not worried ? He was right, we are resilient. When asked about intelligence failure, he said, "Let us not talk about such things today. We need time to conduct investigations." (source : front page article in Business Line, 13/07/06) Such things ? Yeah. When there are bar dancers to be hounded, why bother with terrorists.
So go on Bombay, go back to work. Pretend like nothing matters to you. After all what is 200 people out of 12 million getting blown to bits, as long as my 8:34 shows up on time the next day. Burning buses for a vandalising a statue is ok, but when it comes to bombing trains we don't mind, we need new ones anyway.
Tiger Memon is running businesses in Dubai. Miandad can track Dawood down to marry off his daughter. We don't care. The accused in the Ghatko/Mulund bombings were let off because of shoddy investigations. Does anybody remember? Or is resilience about amnesia as well? The Israelis are still arresting Nazis in Argentina, 60 years after the Holocaust. I guess they refuse to be resilient. Bloody morons. Learn to let go from Mumbai. A N Roy will get promoted. He is being praised. An enquiry will be launched. 500 muslims will be arrested. Then Medha Patkar, Shabana Azmi and Arundhati Roy will protest that minorities are being victimized.
So all my resilient Mumbaikars, I hope we get bombed again. So that we can again engage in self congratulatory forwarding of 'Dear Terrorist' emails.