The Day After: It’s Not Over As Yet

Mumbai awoke this morning (for those who did manage to sleep) to reports of commandos being dropped from helicopters onto the critical locations under attack. There was also a mention that the Taj Mahal hotel was secure but that’s something we heard around midnight yesterday too and it turned out to be a hasty (and inaccurate) wire, since there was still firing coming out from there. Several hostages from Nariman House were either rescued or managed to escape during the course of the night. The media, while hanging around desperately for soundbytes and real news manages to catch a glimpse at the most of the action and tries to piece some sense of it, often going in the wrong direction.

Later this morning, there was a sudden buzz that a fresh round of firing had opened at C.S.T. station and that hostages had been taken. This turned out to be a false rumour. Apparantly someone had heard some noise that sounded to them like gunfire and panicked.

Just ten minutes back, I heard what sounded like a blast. I jumped but I ignored it. Two minutes later it was followed by another one. I looked up to see if anyone else had heard it. Apparantly no one else had. I was just debating whether to go back to my desk (in one corner of the office so I could have been the only one to hear it, being closest) or tell someone (and risk starting another panic wave). Upstairs someone else had heard it too and called us to check it out. We raced to the terrace, hearts thundering. It turned out to be nothing more than the daily workers going about their deed at the construction site next door. Whhhewwwww.

Yes, I’m very jumpy. I’ve been proud to be a Mumbaiker and faced bandhs, riots, bomb blasts, train explosions, bus stoning incidents, hostile weather conditions and various acts of local violence. All this and I got up matter-of-factly and went to work the next day, paying no more heed to my anxious relatives than I did to the nuisances of daily traffic. But this is different. Living in what seems to be unending terror, watching my own mind lose rationale and turn what it sees into wild fears is horrible.

And I’m angry. Very angry, on behalf of my city, the country if I may say so. This time, I swear, I don’t want to display the resilient Mumbai spirit. I just want to feel safe in my own home, goddammit! And that Mumbai is home to its largest tax-paying population seems to be no concern for the powers-that-be.

All through this horrific Thursday, while the city held its collective breath,
…while an unknown number of citizens were held prisoner by a small bunch of AK47-toting, RDX-weilding terrorists,
…while firemen battled the flames atop the Taj dome
…while commandos walked into certain danger
…while the police stood vigil and supportive, with nothing more to shield them than their khaki uniforms
…while mediapersons hovered around every location that could potentially turn dangerous (and got shot at as well) trying to make some sense of what was happening
…while hundreds of civilians hovered around, desperate for some news of their loved ones trapped within

…..while Mumbai’s heart stopped beating, what did our leaders do?

They presented a ‘dignified, unified front’ by condescending to agree with each other on condemning these blasts.
They performed the supreme sacrifice of having to tolerate each other’s company in travelling together to the city for a brief trip to show their faces to a few hospitals.
And they gave a speech or two.

The bitterest irony for me was when, towards evening the media, obviously running short of things to say, started airing ads as well. Right after our Prime Minister’s (highly insipid and uninspiring) speech, we heard the strains of ‘Pappu can’t dance sala’ modified to a demand to vote. Vote for whom?

I don’t quite know how to end this yet. The end isn’t in sight as yet. Last heard, the sanitising operation is still on at the attacked location. My colleagues who left early seem to have gotten home safe. But rumours are still rife. And the city is still holding its breath. We need life support systems, not resilient spirit anymore.

7 Comments so far

  1. vikas03 on November 28th, 2008 @ 7:36 pm

    Everybody has seen the mumbaikar’s spirit, even after so much pain they were always eager to help anyone, and it did not make sense whether he/she was a maharastharaian or not, because all of us as individuals were always united in blood & spirit as a true indian and let not even RAJ THACKREY like goonda’s divide us, as they will always be few in number’s like terrorists but are there to just spread panic and make us believe that the other person hates us, which was never so.
    we have already killed many of our talented boys/girls by brandishing them as north indians or else .
    let us all put a stop to this and unite against these local and outside goonda’s .
    Jai Bharat
    Jai Hind

    with regards
    vikas batra

  2. Global Voices Online » Mumbai and Terror: The Day After (pingback) on November 28th, 2008 @ 8:21 pm

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  3. arZan (arzan) on November 28th, 2008 @ 9:20 pm

    Ideasmith….well said.

    I think its time that the people in charge…the asshole politicians are taken to task. They are supposed to protect and run the country however they are cowering behind the scenes. Where the terrorists came from is far less important than the fact that they got in.

  4. hardcorerss on November 28th, 2008 @ 9:40 pm

    I know it is not good to say this that"we deserve it ".
    Look at this statement more carefully.

    Point 1:
    We had people travelling from Navi Mumbai by Cars that were stolen in New Mumbai and they went to Gujrat and planted those Bombs.

    Why don’t we have some checks and control points to sort out,who is coming and going. Today in Europe there is no border but the checking is uptodate.

    Point 2:
    We had Bomb Attacks and SIMI was identified as the main culprit. Instead of going behind SIMI and wiping it out. We sat down and heard many political parties who said dont let SIMI be called a Terrorist group!

    Had we chased SIMI and had we wiped it out, the terror attacks in mumbai could have been avoided.

    Point 3:
    RDX landed in mumbai in 1993, recently a channel showed that they had come by boat unchecked and had been able to land on the sea shore without any questions. Our Government did not take action against the channel or did not even bother to comment on what the channel said. This means we kept quiet, despite evidence that the sea route was weak.
    The Navy, The Coast Guard, The Nation slept.
    Today, we have woken up to this !

    Point 4:
    No national identity cards ! still.

    Point 5:
    We deserve to living securly, but the local level police is so corrupt that they are only looking for money. We accept it. We accept that corruption is a integral part of our life. Here is where the above comment "We deserve it" has meaning and comes to life, like an electricity wire of 1000 volts, we needed to be jolted and we have been. Now what ?
    Shall we continue to DOZE?

  5. freeindia on November 28th, 2008 @ 10:32 pm


    Am a first time blogger. These dastardly attacks over the last 2-3 days compelled me to air my views.

    Mumbai has borne the brunt of several terror attacks over the years – serial bomb blasts, train blasts, riots & now this. All of us salute the spirit of Mumbai & our ability to get back up on our feet. I salute this too. However, it makes me think – why does this end as soon as these attacks are over, why don’t we plan to make our city safer & impregnable?

    Let me today suggest a 3 year security tax on all Mumbaikars – a security tax that pays to improve our infrastructure – smart cameras across the city to monitor susipicious movements, cameras in public transport, better armed vests for our security team, better intelligence infrastructure, control rooms & I can go on…..

    I would say why not? – don’t we pay for our income, wealth, capital gains, sales tax, customs duty so why not levy a tax to ensure safety and security for our familes and children?

    Also, this time let us remember what happened and get more and more vigilant and make a resolve to ensure that these acts do not happen on Indian soil again…..

    My heart goes out to the kin of all those who died, blessings to our commandoes, & may God heal those who are injured…..Amen

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