Mumbai – the city that never sleeps in peace?

July 14, 2011

“I always like walking in the rain, so no one can see me crying.”

No, that’s not your ordinary Mumbai resident, the morning after three blasts rocked crowded markets Wednesday evening, killing 18 people and injuring more than 130. It’s a famous quote by Charlie Chaplin, arguably the greatest comedian the world has ever known.

But the joke is on the Mumbaikar, yet again, as torrential rains lash this coastal city in what seems like Mother Nature’s wasted effort to wash away somebody else’s sins.

People pick up the pieces and move on, not out of resilience, but a paucity of options amid a struggle for survival every day. Schools are open and the shutters are back up in most shops, even in blast-hit localities.

My wife left for her film shoot at 7 this morning, as if nothing happened. It did make me think. Many moons ago, in 1993, I stopped to help a fellow passenger who nearly fell between the local train and the tracks. I saw something similar two days later and did not even bother to stop. I couldn’t, as I had a meeting I could ill afford to miss.

The same goes for the street vendor and Mumbai’s floating population who have no option but to go back to the same spot and set up shop.

Is this because the city couldn’t care less? No, Mumbaikars seem to find solace in sticking to the beaten track. Do they sense security when they do not stray?

The usual suspects in news media have already talked up the “spirit of Mumbai” and there will probably be more who will flock to television studios by evening or lead candle-lit processions to the Gateway of India. Tokenism can wait.

A quick drive through the city and one can see police pickets and random searches and that’s about it. No militant outfit has claimed responsibility so far and India’s Home Minister P Chidambaram says “all groups hostile to India are on the radar.”

This is not the first time that India’s financial capital has been targeted and will probably not be the last. This is my fifth year in Mumbai and I’ve already seen three terror strikes — seven explosions that killed at least 174 people in packed commuter trains on July 11, 2006; the November 26, 2008 coordinated terror strikes that took away 166 lives spread across an iconic railway station, a popular cafe, a local hospital and two landmark luxury hotels and this one last evening at three crowded markets.

Does it mean we stop living? There is nothing that could have saved you or me if we were in any of those markets. And, there is nothing that should stop us from living our lives tomorrow.

This city which is home to 20 million is one that never sleeps. Which makes one believe it’s India’s Red Light district – which warmly embraces one and all, at times leaving the door ajar for even the miscreants to sneak in and wreak havoc.

India, more so Mumbai, has always been a soft target for militant strikes. For the central and state governments that are struggling to posit some semblance of authority, these blasts might be a wake-up call. Or, will it help distract from the billion-dollar scams that dominated the headlines day in and day out for more than a year?

LIVE BLOG: Blasts in Mumbai


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Blasts in Mumbai have become such a regularity that people have begun to look for mathematical patterns in them. It perhaps is a reflection of our resignation to the fact that such attacks are not going to stop anytime soon.

The blasts may divert some attention from other worries plaguing the state but it shows they have many problems for which they have no solutions yet. Worryingly though, there’s no obvious sign of work towards achieving them.

Posted by Gobblygook | Report as abusive

For those innocent victims of the dreaded Mumbai blasts e-mind-of-a-terrorist/

Posted by Nairita | Report as abusive

A strong political will is needed to deal with the problem appropriately.

Posted by ajaykhudania | Report as abusive

“For the central and state governments that are struggling to posit some semblance of authority, these blasts might be a wake-up call.”

Do they still need a wake up call? If the blasts in 1993 and the serial train blasts and 26/11 failed to awaken the slumbering elephant, one has to be an incurable optimist to think that this time will be different.

Listening to the PM’s comments about relentlessly pursuing and punishing the guilty, one wonders why he came to Mumbai to say that? He could just as well have replayed his message after 26/11. Instead of these inane statements, will someone give us figures of just how many have been successfully pursued and brought to justice and of these just how many have been punished? That would give us the true pictureof how ‘well’ this country handles terrorism.

For those who say that the terrorists will get through 1% of the time what bright quote do they have for the people of Zaveri Bazaar who have seen terrorists get through 99% of the time?

Which state will RR Patil now be made Governor of? Will he be moved to the Central Govt? Or do we just have to lump his presence here? After all we are civil society, we do not have a say in how this country should be managed, this is democracy Indian iShtyle..

Posted by DaraIndia | Report as abusive

yes mumbai has been the victim of another attack….fail to find the reason why this is happening to a beautiful city e-spirit-of-mumbai/

Posted by Nairita | Report as abusive

The city is a major location for enjoying for all kinds of eople. it is a major metropplitan city in india with diverse culture and different languahes. Many foreigners visit here. Highly recommended!

edinburgh zoo

Posted by Travelguide | Report as abusive