Thursday, 27 November, 2008

Children of Bombay

Last afternoon my friend Rahul and I were killing time as we awaited the opening of a friend's art show in Colaba. We spoke of our hopes for the future, our dreams. I said to him something I've thought about for a few months, maybe a year now: I don't want my children to live here. In this city. Maybe even in this country.

My friend is expecting his first child, and he said to me: My wife and I had this same conversation today. But what do we do. Where do we go?'

Why did we say what we did? 

I said it because I see with my eyes and in my work, and so it comes through in my writing: in a city where the young, the able, the educated, do not have a chance, what chance will the the helpless have? Our children, our elderly parents? The animals we love?

And in Bombay, a city which is dying, I said to Rahul: where will my child study? which libraries will he or she go to? I said to him, I wanted to buy your wife a pram. But what roads will you push that pram on, which garden? There are no sidewalks in Bombay anymore. There is no clean air. People stone the dogs I feed outside my house. My neighbours say 'No Muslims.' When I landed in the city last week I thought to myself: This looks like Kabul before curfew.


  1. What happened is sad. Most of us are shaken with it. I totally relate to the worries and concern in the post. War has come a bullet closer now.

    I was just wondering, how many Americans thought of leaving the country when 9/11 happened, I don't have the answer.

  2. I agree with u Sonia.. And this terrorist attack is NOT the reason..

    Bombay has lost its soul.. every bodys running somewhere.. there is utter chaos.. people fighting in trains.. on d street, at traffic jams..

    Raods are crowded, trains are crowded, parks , beaches, temples, churches, pavements, are crowded

    there is vibrancy no doubt.. but wat kind of vibrancy..people are just scared to slow down..

    U have hit the nail on its head.. given a choice a lot of people would like to leave this city..

    this was a city of dreams .. but looks like the dream didnt turn out so well.

  3. I am from Bombay originally but in UK for 16 years. From the land of opportunity, it is now a land of corruption. Was the Navy and Coastguard sleeping? Why no curfew to protect lives when terrorists are at large. Sitting in London, it is shameful when the media describes the randomly shooting unprofessional commandoes as "dissapinting". I think it is shocking to see an amateur commando fire randomly at nariman house. How can the black cats at Tajcalmly say we could not see at night and the terrorists got away? Night vision glasses??? Not rocket science. and the hell are all the supposed stakeholders (corrupt evil politicians) thackeray, pawar, deshmukh. Disgusting and v v sad for the people of my city.
    Sarika Patel

  4. i live in the Caribbean an i watched in shock and horror as the events were reported. My heart goes out to the ppl of Mumbai and India at large. Their grief must be imeasurable. My family and I will pray for all of the lost loved ones and wishes mumbai a speedy recovery to normalcy...

  5. Homegrown terrorism is an alarming and very chilling idea. No country likes to believe that violent and armed insurgency and militancy has taken root in its backyard. Countries tend to put the matters at the back burner for as long as possible. India is ignoring the terrorists of RSS, BJP and Bajrang Dal for too long, and now it’s the time for the them to pay back. The recent attack in Mumbai sprouts from within India and is a reaction of Babri Mosque, Gujarat Massacre and scores of other terrorist attacks on Muslims across India.

    The Pakistani Spectator

  6. India’s fight against terrorism

    Another attack on India. Mumbai is bleeding again. How many more attacks, how many more corpses, how many more sacrifices will it take for our leaders to act? I am fed up; I am fed up with this government, all politicians irrespective of their party. Something needs to change and it is not politicians but us who have to do this. Mumbai attack has shown the exemplary valour of our soldiers, our police and ordinary people. The only cowards in India seem to be our great leaders who are hiding in their safe haven in Delhi. The leadership has failed and has failed again and again. Are we soft state? Yes we are and here I would like to compare the speeches of Mr. Bush after 9/11 and our own PM, Foreign minister and the Home minister.

    “Good evening. Today, our fellow citizens, our way of life, our very freedom came under attack in a series of deliberate and deadly terrorist acts.” were the opening remarks of Bush.

    “The dastardly terror attacks that took place in Mumbai last night and today leading to the loss of many precious lives and injuries to many others have deeply shocked the nation.” were our PM’s word.

    Let’s compare these opening remarks. The opening remarks of Bush made it clear that it was just not any other attack but an attack on everything US stands for-: its citizens, its way of life and its very freedom while our PM called it just a dastardly terror attack. These opening remarks show he difference in the determination.

    “These acts of mass murder were intended to frighten our nation into chaos and retreat. But they have failed; our country is strong. A great people has been moved to defend a great nation. Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shattered steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve…. Today, our nation saw evil, the very worst of human nature. And we responded with the best of America -- with the daring of our rescue workers, with the caring for strangers and neighbors who came to give blood and help in any way they could,” were the inspiring words of Mr Bush. I could not find anything inspiring in our PMs speech.
    “We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them,” was clear warning to anyone who was harbouring terrorists.
    “We will take up strongly with our neighbours that the use of their territory for launching attacks on us will not be tolerated, and that there would be a cost if suitable measures are not taken by them.” Take up? What you mean by take up. You are taking up this thing for last 30-35yrs.
    “we're going to find those evil-doers, those barbaric people who attacked our country and we're going to hold them accountable and we're going to hold the people who house them accountable. The people who think they can provide them safe havens will be held accountable. The people who feed them will be held accountable. And the Taliban must take my statement seriously.” What warning are we giving to Pakistan?
    Why should every time it is India’s responsibility to avoid conflict and reduce tension? Why our leaders are afraid of escalating tension? War is already there, we are bleeding everyday. The only anomaly is that only one side is bleeding right now. I am not ready to bleed hundred of times I am ready to take a hit but I also want to hit back. Our armed forces have shown their ability again and again. I am sure they are capable of punishing Pakistan to such an extend that they would not dare to repeat this dastardly act. But our leaders are coward they are afraid that the any conflict can escalate. We are a nuclear weapon state as Pakistan is. If Kargil did not escalate why should an attack by India. Pakistan works with an assumption that whatever it does will not be retaliated by India because international community would come in to diffuse the tension. They know whoever will act swiftly and decisively will get the advantage. Now it’s India’s turn we should act swiftly and decisively. We should take the punitive action; we should hit them fast and hard.
    Pakistan Foreign minister has promised all help in the investigation. He has also proposed to form a hot line between head of intelligence of two countries. But first let them give us 20 most wanted terrorists that have found safe haven in Pakistan. No matter what Pakistan promises unless they will give us terrorists like Maulana masood and Dawood Ibrahim we will not consider them our friends. It is time now for Pakistan to take steps to diffuse tensions.
    What kind of Democracy are we living in? The most hated home minister is still there in his office just because of one woman. I will never be able to forget that video where our home minister was clearly more concerned about his spotless attire than the people who were battling for their life because he failed to do his job.
    None of us is perfect but we learn from our past mistakes. We learn and we do not make those mistakes again. But we seem to be repeating them every time. Let’s look at the common things in most of the terrorist attacks. Most of the attacks that are happening in India are serial attacks and there is about 30mins to 1hr or more between first incident and the last. Why don’t we have a system with the help of which we can warn all the public place in a city if an incident take place any where in a city. Why can’t we have an announcement system which could announce about an incident immediately asking people to leave the market leaving their vehicles behind and stay out till police have checked out everything? Militants are also attacking the hospital nearest to the place where first attack has taken place. Are we taking this thing into consideration? Why don’t we have a NSG type force in all the state capitals and large cities? How much will it cost? We can spend millions to protect our useless leaders why can’t we spend few more to protect people who choose them? And one question I want to ask our leaders why doesn’t the most elite force of our country have night vision goggles?
    Atrocities have been inflicted on our fellow citizens. Today we will mourn the deaths but tomorrow we should avenge them.
    There is no issue bigger than security so today I take a pledge I would vote for anyone who will promise to punish those 20 terrorists even if that means a war with Pakistan or I would not vote at all.
    Jai Hind