Saturday, November 29, 2008

If there is paradise on earth....IT IS HERE....

I've had enough! I don't want to hear any more of the attacks on Mumbai. I don't want to hear how it was one of the worst terrorist assaults. I don't want to know how it is "India's 9/11" or how my hep countrymen might address it as "11/26" soon. We don't even follow the "mm/dd" way in our regular speech but what the heck, it's American! I don't want to know how heroic the NSG, MARCO, firemen or cops were. I don't want to hear survivor tales. I DON'T!!!

Maybe I'm an ostrich. I want to sink my head into the sand and believe that nothing is wrong with the world because I can't see the oncoming train speeding to mow me down. Leave me be.

But such won't be the case. I'll still have newspapers screaming, my newsroom buzzing with talks, the darned news channels with their horribly annoying stories and those text messages that have changed from "Are you ok" to "Where were you and what were you doing".

What am I to do? I choose to shove my earphones deep and play my music loud but I think I'm missing the grenade explosions and gunshots that was my "heavy metal" for two days.

Are we going to grow up? Are we going to acknowledge our own need to not be masochists? We don't live in a country like that, I'm sorry. I don't think I myself am that way.

I was asked if I was scared being on Ground Zero. No, I wasn't scared and I had many many more of the fraternity being fearless out there too. But I was angry. With every explosion and every round of bullets fired, I was filled with rage and a hope to see a mutilated, bullet torn body of a Pathani clad young boy.

Yes, I typecast. The Versace wearing, fluent English speaking terrorist is not my idea of a miscreant. I went to the extent of saying, "Burn the Mozzis (a term I've taken best care to never use and a phrase I regret now)".

I guess I am (with due "respect" to my countrymen, let me not give in to the massive temptation of generalising) a vindictive monster. Help me God! Please do, because I can't bear to see myself this way but I can't accept anyone tearing down my paradise either.

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I want to salute the ones who lost their lives but I can't bear to think of them. What did they give their lives for? For us? For the city's safety? Why? Why Mr. Karkare? Why Mr. Amte? Why Mr. Salaskar? Why Major Unni?

We will not learn, don't you see? We are dyslexic! We will not learn to respect. We will mourn, yes. We will cry, yes. But we will never respect. And now I'll generalise because I don't care anymore.

I felt useless, impotent and utterly small when I received calls on Wednesday the 26th of people asking me if I was ok. I didn’t report to work that day. Know why? Because I didn't feel like.

I felt worse on Thursday morning when I had the option to stay home but headed to work just to satisfy my journalistic ego. I was to stay put at my desk and DO NOTHING. The stock markets were closed! I had nothing to do as my city burnt in my backyard.

And when I eventually reached the two hotels, there was little revelation. The fourth estate had turned the whole thing into another TRP grabbing exercise. There were onlookers galore. Some even having the audacity of saying, "Yaar, mazaa aa gaya. Ye to sirf filmon mein dekha hai".

A certain celebrated scribe from one of the leading TV channels was seen cooling heels while the NSG head and police commissioner made statements to the press. Another news channel proudly aired a "conversation" the terrorists had with them. They declared with even more pride that the militants are from Hyderabad while at the same time other news channels aired that the Intelligence Bureau said that the terrorists had come from Karachi. Where is the credibility if this is journalism?

The administration in a press conference lauded the media for having adhered to requests of not airing live pictures and thus compromising on the troops' movements. The spokesperson clearly made an exception, "Except for one channel, I appreciate the media’s work". That "one channel" refused to compromise and continued to broadcast live pictures till the very end of the operation.. Kudos, such must be the stubbornness of a journalist! Who gives a fuck, right? The administration be damned, the operation be damned, the people who are out there 200 meters in front of your cameras so that you could report in safety be damned!!! Where is humanity and trust if I'm to believe that journalists are humans too and not capitalist robotic motherfuckers?

Yes, yes journalists are humans. I saw it first hand as I saw two cameramen from rival channels almost break into a fist fight under extreme pressure and frustration. "Hey! We need to report it too. Share the list!", "You can have it when I have reported. Mind your own fucking business", I heard! We get angry, we are humans.

Yes, we are humans. "Saale, peeche hat", said a journalist and pulled away a relative of a hostage waiting outside Trident. We get frustrated, we get angry, we misbehave, we are unapologetic, we are humans!

What do we learn? What do we show you, the one who went down to the bullets of a bunch of maniacs? What do we tell we learnt to you, the ones who were shot just because you happened to be the wrong one at the wrong place at the wrong time? What do we tell you?

Our leaders agreed that the whole crisis won’t be turned into a political tamasha and it was heartening to see a certain L K Advani actually speaking in tandem with the PM. How do you stop the new age Iron Man Modi from not checking for a moment and blaming the administration before even enquiring about the whole situation? How about deputy CM, the no-nonsense Patil doing a SRK saying "Bade bade shehron mein aise hadse hote rehte hai"?

One Mr. Gopinath Munde arrived for his evening stroll at the Taj on Friday night. While the media rushed to him for a statement, he refused and yelled to the camera guys, "Lights band karo". His minions solved the mystery to indicate how the lights would attract attention and Munde would be made target. Sure thing!!!! Run Munde, run like the wind!!

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Much will be spoken of the "Spirit of Mumbai" and the city's resilience. And then some will also be said of the insensitivity that such resilience might reflect. I refuse to take sides because I agree with both arguments.

Yes, Mumbai is probably one of the most resilient cities in the country. But then think again of the number of such crises the city has been subject to and being the "financial capital" of the country, forget just the city, India can't afford Mumbai coming to a standstill.

People have to move on and sadly or not, of all things Mumbaikars may or not have learnt from the many wounds inflicted, they sure have learnt to get up in the morning, get into a local train and then get to work.

Maybe we have become insensitive…maybe we have not.

I have a habit. I tend to doze off sitting idle in anything that moves. This habit shows most in my daily 4 hour journey to work and back in the local trains. My friends have clicked pictures, cracked wise ones of/at me snoring in the train.

In my snoozy state, I tend to fall or lean over the person next to me. And if that person is not known to me (which is the case most times), I get an angry shove, an irritated stare and some heated words sometimes.

Thursday morning, I fell asleep as usual and when the train reached CST, I realised I was resting my head on the shoulder of another passenger. I woke up embarrassed and apologised. I didn't expect and will not forget what happened next. He looked at me and gave me one of the most beautiful smiles that could break on anybody’s face before saying, "It's ok!"

It's ok, Mumbai, it's ok!!

My Mumbai, my home, my most beautiful city in the whole world needs a shoulder to rest and I cannot be enough proud to say there are over 10 million shoulders that would be gladly lent.

I love you, Mumbai!


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All things bright and Biprorshee

2 comments:

Blessen said...

beautiful!

pankaj said...

beautiful indeed!! my brother in mumbai is always contrasting mumbai's liberalism, non judgementalness, cordiality. with back home in Punjab.