Friday, July 14, 2006

Too Close for Comfort

A few days ago, on July 11th, there were 7 bomb blasts in Mumbai – all on the local trains. They were all set to go off around the same time in the first class men’s compartment on different trains. The death toll is currently 190 and rising…

This is not the first time something like this has happened. Since I moved to Mumbai in 2000, there have been other such incidents as well. But this time, it felt more real than ever before…

To start with, Jai was on the train before the one that had the bomb. He caught the train that left Churchgate at 5.40 p.m and the bomb was on the 5.44 p.m. train. In fact, he considered waiting for the next train since the 5.40 was pretty crowded but he was late for a meeting with our architect so he decided to brave the crowds anyway. That was how close it was - especially since Jai travels by the men’s first class compartment. It really made me think of the blasts as more than just another terrorist attack. It made me think of the men who died yesterday. They left home yesterday morning as if it was just another day. Families said goodbye to their fathers, brothers and sons, not knowing that this would be the last time that they would see them. And we could have been one of those families… that’s what makes these blasts seem so real to me.

My maid’s daughter still hasn’t come home. She had gone to Borivili for work yesterday and that was the last they heard of her. The chances are that she is okay since the casualties are mostly male. But she does not have a mobile phone and they have not been able to contact her. They have gone to Borivili to look for her – I hope they find her safe and sound. I tried putting myself in her shoes and it was just too scary. The thought that I might have no idea where or how Ayaan was in a situation like this is just beyond thinking about… that’s what makes these blasts seem so real to me.

We were away at the new house, but our current house is pretty close to the station. My mom and the maid actually heard the blasts. Ayaan and my mother were actually close enough to two of the blasts to hear them… that’s what makes these blasts seem so real to me.

We are all fine (thankfully) – just a little shaken. But in true Mumbai spirit, we are not letting it get us down. The trains are up and working and Jai insisted on going by train today – he refused to be cowed down by these acts of terror. I made it to office too and the traffic on the roads was almost as jammed as it usually is. Never say die, life as usual and all of that.

Rohini Haldea


Entropy said...

Hey Guys,
In response to Rohini's post (on her blog, not ours), someone commented on the Pink Floyd number 'Shine on you crazy diamond' being apt for the city of Mumbai. and for Syd Barrett, the writer of the song who passed away recently. Interesting enough for me to hunt out the lyrics. Shan't pretend to understand them totally, but I thought they were interesting enough to forward.

Shine on you crazy diamond

Remember when you were young, you shone like the sun.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
Now theres a look in your eyes, like black holes in the sky.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
You were caught on the crossfire of childhood and stardom, blown on the
Steel breeze.
Come on you target for faraway laughter, come on you stranger, you legend,
You martyr, and shine!

You reached for the secret too soon, you cried for the moon.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
Threatened by shadows at night, and exposed in the light.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
Well you wore out your welcome with random precision, rode on the
Steel breeze.
Come on you raver, you seer of visions, come on you painter, you piper,
You prisoner, and shine!

Entropy said...

That's a very morbid thought.

In the grand scheme of things, Syd Barrett was a loser who drugged himself to lunacy. The news of his death was a reminder of wasted talent - I sincerely hope that Mumbai has a brighter future.


the_outsider said...


I came across your blog only recently.
I got the news of the attack on Mumbai and Syd Barrett's death at around the same time.
The song got stuck in my head immediately.
I went home and listened to it and somehow the 'Shine on you crazy diamond' that day seemed like a call to Mumbai to keep shining on.

The Crazy Diamonds reminded me of Marine Drive and the queen's necklace.
'Remember when you were young' reminded me of the glorious days of early Mumbai, the wide roads, the imported cars, the neon lights, the grand movie lifestyle it really shone like the sun.

Parts of the song to me sounded very ominous - 'target of faraway laughter' ,
'caught in the crossfire', 'threatened by shadows at night'
'blown on the Steel Breeze' to me captured the images of the trains blown up and stopped dead on the cold steel tracks.

Come on you raver, you seer of visions, come on you painter, you piper,
You prisoner, and shine
seemed to say think about this great city with all the people - the ravers, the visionaries, the artists, the musicians who are now taken prisoner by this horrible creed of Violence.
Come on and let's all do whatever it takes to fight the people who do these kinds of things and let the diamond shine forth as brilliantly as ever.