Wednesday, July 26, 2006

postcard from j: a deluge of memories

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Someone forwarded these pictures of the deluge last year! No, this is not to depress you, but to serve as a reminder of what we Mumbaikars have had to deal with - crumbling infrastructure, insensitive governance and a beaten spirit.

We can't blame Nature's wrath for everything, can we? Let's be sensitive to our surroundings now. Contribute to a clean and green Mumbai for us and our children. You don't have to join politics to make a difference. Just remembering NOT to spit out of the train/bus window, teaching your child (and adults too) NOT to throw that sweet wrapper carelessly on the streets, and by NOT being blind to our fellow citizens.

Live and let Mumbai live!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

postcard from j: surviving 7/11

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Sunday mornings usually mean waking up late, followed by a leisurely breakfast and devouring the newspapers. Today also started off the same way. Until the newspapers happened.

Suketu Mehta’s guest column in Sunday Mid-Day moistened my eyes. I feel like weeping uncontrollably. The past two weeks have been hard for Bombay – my city, the city of dreams. But whose dreams are we talking about? Last night, my friend Minella delivered a healthy baby boy weighing 3.5 kilos. What kind of a future are we bequeathing him? Is this the city that he can be proud of living in? Will he grow up as a carefree kid playing gully cricket without the imminent fear of terrorism looming large?

We haven’t mourned for our dead. We moved on, thanks to our famed ‘spirit’. I haven’t grieved at all; that’s why I have this sick feeling in my stomach and now I want everyone to really mourn not only for the 190-odd people who have died in the serial bomb blasts but also for the city of Bombay (or Mumbai). The people here have no choice but to get up the next day, say a prayer and head to work. After all, most of us still have to feed our families. We still have to commute in inhuman conditions, still slog for long hours to earn a pittance, still hope to return home safe and sound, still pay taxes to an irresponsible government. And still say “Mumbai meri jaan…”

Insurance companies want to make policies costlier as Bombay’s “becoming more dangerous”. Real estate prices don’t seem to believe in gravity. The cost of living here is not in keeping with the standard of living. A colleague, who will be a father soon, wonders why did he ever leave Dubai to return to Bombay. Young people are ready to dismiss this great city and call it names. Someone I know remarked that “Bombay is somehow becoming like this cheap whore who can be screwed by any passing sadist....”. Sad, but true. 12-year-old Harsha Malaney asks in her essay “…whatever happened to ‘conscience’?” What answers do we have for our children? What about those who can’t just pack and leave?

I grieve today for the victims, for the injured and for their families. A work week doesn’t grant you the time and opportunity to grieve. Please don’t salute our spirit because our spirit is long dead and buried. The soul of this city had been consigned to the flames years ago – I don’t know when it started but we are ‘death-in-progress’. And even though I am an optimist, I don’t see us rising from the ashes. We are just too tired, too scared and too resigned to our collective fates.

I may have joked a million times about ‘dying single’ due to a dearth of intelligent men. But today I know for a fact that I am dying single. Who knows, I may find my prospective soul mate in one of our local trains only to discover that one or both of us will never return home to the other.

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