Before any opinion be published, context be established.
1. I live in extreme north Bombay. Birds are still twittering here.
2. The terrorist attacks did not directly affect my physical existential environment.
What Life Has Been Like
1. Dismayed, anguished, worried, concerned, and glued to the television.
2. Hopeful that things will pass over into history ASAP.
3. Apathetic to a certain extent after a while because scabs don’t feel pain as much as skin. Our skins have been long burnt by past attacks on our psyche.
4. Wondering if I had been a citizen of a different country would things HAVE been different?
5. What happens in the future?
People I Know Personally Affected by the Attacks
1. P: Was in Colaba in Henry Tham’s and walked past Leopolds (Leo’s to us) at 9 15 and then kept under secure arrest at Henry Tham for protection from the terrorist mayhem. She plans to put in her papers on Monday and take a fresh view of life and do things she didn’t do that she wanted to do.
2. My cousin H’s friend: Shot in the chest and dead at Leo’s from a group of 9 of which 4 sustained only injuries. The 9th died.
3. S: Left Leo’s at 9 and reached home to find out what had happened 30 mins after she did.
4. A’s friend who stays in NCPA: Reported the sounds of constant bullet fire through the day. All were huddled up in one room daring not to peep out.
5. Bro’s office: All his colleagues, who work right behind Express Towers (Air India Building) were sealed in and only allowed to leave 10 at a time. They spent at least 36 hours holed up at work. I am sure they have stories to tell about bullets.
As for me, I was riding back home on a train from Raipur on the morning of the 27th when I got the following message from J:
“Mumbai is burning and like a warzone. Gun battle on at Taj. Proceed with extreme caution.”
Not really exciting at 4 am in the morning inside a train. GPRS told me about CST being closed to traffic and about firing at the station. We took the 4 40 locals home. We reached home safe without incident. The only high point of the morning was the cop jeep parked outside the Mulund station, all 4 of them asleep. I burst out laughing. Terrorists really cannot hope for more. So no one ever heard of shifts and chai in the IPS.
Most people I know are feeling more or less the same amounts of anguish, pain, fear, appall, etc. Of late though there has been an upsurge of negative sentiment against politicians. Popular topics include:
1. The President’s speech
Apparently it was so lacklustre, everyone is convinced he was half asleep and super unperturbed. At a time of extreme crisis, he didn’t even display the agony of a person bitten by a mosquito. Also, where is the aggression, we say? The country needs assurance from its leadership. But everyone lacks vision. What are we doing as a junta? Nothing. What can be a solution? A SWAT team? A crisis management program, increased security, and enough of the sentiment about how Mumbai can take any beating and come back. To quote the media slogan flouted on every frame of live news feed, Enough is Enough.
2. One of my friends who has studied crisis communication management says that research proves the following:
Under stress the human mind has space for 27 words in the head and a very short attention span. A message sent out in such a situation would ideally consist of a. Compassion. b. Reassurance. c. Optimism
Our country sucks at the kind of inconsistent message every media channel sends out.
3. There is yet another person who thinks a lot of the things shown on the television are a scam. He went to the outside of the Oberoi and hung out with the press reporters and got back the inside story. He has ideas that if published on this blog can lead to my lynching so I will hope he puts them up himself.
Finally, What I Really Want to Know
1. Statistics including
– A head count of guests at both hotels and residents at Nariman House.
– How these heads have been accounted for.
– The REAL death toll.
2. Assurance that the city police has upped security in other areas in the city to ensure that a phase 2 of attacks isn’t waiting in ambush for Monday morning. What’s the guarantee that the terrorists went all in to all the venues. If I were to plan a multi-venue event, I wouldn’t do it without an external coordination team.
Sadly, we went for a film last night, and drove around our suburb, which incidently, happens to be the last in Mumbai going north. Yet, I saw 3 sleepy constables who didn’t give 2 shits about anybody passing by. We drove past deliberately slow with our windows rolled up, no one stopped us. No barricades. In fact, I didn’t see any sense of abnormal out there. The only thing that was tangible by its volume was the pall that has descended on the public in general. The groups of boys gathered outside paan tapris were all non boisterous and talking in low voices. (Yes, I did roll down my windows then.)
I don’t give a fuck what the politicians say. I stopped judging people by speeches long ago. Action counts. So far, my 28 year old brain has come to terms with the fact that we are riding a regressive train of extremely slow speed as far as action in this country is concerned. So I’ll just pray for the souls of the departed.