Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The Heroes Series - Part I

The Heroes: We The People

It was absolutely not my intention to start this series on such a note... But such is fate...

And I shall start off with this series with a prayer and a salute to the people of Jammu & Kashmir and Mumbai...

As we all know by now, J&K and Mumbai were rocked by a total of 12 blasts in one day. These blasts were targetted at innocent tourists and civilians travelling by the only means of transport available to them: the Mumbai Rail. It was an act perpetrated by a set of people who probably do not understand the meaning of the word humanity.

But, we must not give them (the terrorists) too much importance, which is what they seek and instead focus on the heroic efforts of the common man on the streets.

I am sorry since I haven't been able to follow the J&K tragedy in depth, though I came to know that certain Bengali families were torn apart by the acts... Our prayers go out to the kin and may God be with them...

I have been following the Mumbai tragedy though and I would like to commend the people of Mumbai and the city itself for rising to the occasion as always and showing that beneath its curt and rate demeanour, lies a heart of gold. Amidst heart rending tales of loss and woe, were also tales of the common man rising above himself/herself and demonstrating a stomach for a grizzly sight and the heart of a champion...

I think one of the good things that the Shiv Sena did was give us the term "Mumbaikar". A lot of people have called the comeback of Mumbaikars as a forced one since thats their only option, but only one who has lived and breathed here will understand the sentiments of a Mumbaikar... And I am proud to say: Mee Mumbaikar...

We have time and again been forced to live under the cover of fear without any thought of the consequences... There have been bombings starting with the 1993 serial blasts, the Gateway and Zaveri Bazar blasts, the Mulund blasts, the Ghatkopar blasts uptill yesterday... Lives have been lost, families have been torn apart (remember how the Gateway blasts left a family of 5 children orphan), but somehow, we Mumbaikars take it stoically and move on tomorrow as if nothing happened today...

I salute this Spirit of Mumbai...

But in this mood of self-congratulations, let us not forget that we live in a society where security is at a premium and hence, we cannot afford to be apathetic... Showing a kind face, feeding strangers, helping strangers with lifts, money etc is indeed a noble deed... But one must not forget the circumstances that gave rise to this...

Tomorrow, we must not forget that innocent lives were lost... Yesterday, our esteemed PM and Home Minister and others gave very diplomatic statements... But diplomacy only takes us this far... I believe that it is now time to hold these elected representatives responsible and ask them why they havent torn down the network that is behind such repeated attacks...

We The People must rise as one to show that we exist in this society... I don't say that we must adopt violent means... Instead we must adopt non-violent means to show that we are a part of the fabric of this nation only, but we refuse to be treated as nobody and without a voice...

I plan to goto a temple on the 11th of each month as long as I can and offer prayers and a small flower in memory of the thousands of my countrymen who have lost their lives... I don't know how you may choose to do it... But it is my request that please do something... Let us show the world that we are a mature nation... We have the famous SPIRIT to bounce back, but we are not apathetic...

I remember a Marathi phrase that I learnt in school and I believe that it is apt for any aspect of our lives... It says: "Mee Moden Pann Vaaknaar Nahi..." (I may bend, but I will never break...)

There is a hero inside each one of us... Let her/him never break...

Jai Hind...

P.S: Let us salute the Mumbaikars who have worked incesantly to provide as much information as possible, called up people on behalf of people... at this link: http://mumbaihelp.blogspot.com/ . This site is for helping in case of emergencies and not a speak-out site. So please act accordingly.

4 comments:

Anshum said...

"Mee Moden Pann Vaaknaar Nahi..."

This one line embodies the spirit of Mumbai ... Let us keep our chins up in this time of need and support the victims of the blasts in whichever way we can...

Sandy said...

Ur post gave me a lot more information than the CNN channels out here.
USA is self centered ,, neither do they care for international news nor do
they give importance to international sports like soccer. Shitty Baseball
has reruns and they barely ever show soccer. When will they realize that USA Is
full of international people who do love sports like soccer and wimbledon?Sigh

Neway coming back to ur post, Kudos Naru! The spirit of Mumbai nicely summed up in
one post. But still the govt needs to get off its arse and kick corruption outta the system.
These kinda of terrorist attacks take months often years of planning and shud be stopped
at the roots, instead of ending up in us Mumbaikar piking ur chunks of flesh off the streets!

Anshum said...

I have collected a few articles that best reflect the spirit of Mumbai....

Rude city? You bet, says Mumbaikar Jerry Pinto in defence of a metropolis too busy to mind its manners but always ready to help when trouble comes

Reader's Digest, which interests itself in these things, tells us that Mumbai is the rudest city in the world. This is also the magazine that carried a story saying that global warming might be good for us.

I swear, they did this in May, when my cousins in Nagpur were reporting that the city was burning up at 52 degrees centigrade.

I come not to praise Mumbai, however. I come to ask whether the Reader's Digest editors really mean it when they say that New York is the politest city in the world? What is it to be polite? In London, a terribly polite city by my experience, a young woman refused to lend her scarf to be used as a tourniquet when a man was stabbed on the bus. He bled to death. I am sure, the young woman said, "I'm sorry but it's an expensive scarf." The person who asked for the scarf probably said, "Right. Cheers." Meanwhile, the blood pulsed on from the dying man's neck.

In Mumbai, my mother once was forced to go to a public hospital with a torn-up leg. In front of her, the poor waited in the way that the poor wait, endlessly, patiently, quietly. When she joined the line, they all assessed their need, assessed hers and stepped out of the way wordlessly. She went to the top of the line, protesting quietly all the way. She did not bleed to death. Perhaps, she even forgot to thank all those people. Perhaps, they did not expect to be thanked.

But since no one seems to have bothered about definitions, let's dump them too. Perhaps it is polite to be a city like New York where all the shop assistants say thank you and please and the doormen are ready to open the door for you but there are 55,000 violent crimes a year. And that represents a 10-year low. Perhaps Mumbai with its 122 murders in six months must be significantly ruder but less lethal.

But are we rude?



Sudhir Mishra
Filmmaker


" My dominant image for Mumbai. I'm standing outside Mahalaxmi railway station, it starts to rain. A man comes out with an umbrella and starts to walk away. He notices another man getting wet, he pauses, and in an unspoken way invites him under the umbrella. Then they see me, and I get under as well. That's Bombay. Three men sharing an umbrella, all getting wet. There's less space under the umbrella now — too many people, too little infrastructure, but people are still sharing it. "


Yes, we are rude. We are almost always rude. Cities are always rude. We are the only city in the country. Delhi is a bunch of villages held together by the politics of power and some nice roads. Chennai is a self-satisfied town which wants to be known for its culture. Bangalore looked like it might well grow up to be a city but now that it's got the opportunity to do it, it's choking itself to death. Calcutta had its moment of glory in the 19th century when they built lots of mansions and factories and set up the kind of intellectual atmosphere of a Cambridge debating society. Then they lost it, the Bangla babus and settled into making funny kurtas for their men to wear and selling Bankuda horses to the rest of the country.

Yes, we are rude. We don't have time for that. We're too busy dragging the rest of you into some semblance of wealth. We're too busy earning the money that runs the country. We're too busy paying for the Delhi and Kolkata Metros. We're too busy earning the money to pay the 75 percent of the income tax paid by the country. In Kolkata, they don't earn money. In Bangalore, they know how to hide it cyberwise. In Delhi, everyone's a farmer with agricultural income that's tax free.



Sarayu Srivastava
Writer


" I think of Mumbai as a very cold but sensuous woman — it all depends on how you warm her up. In this city every kindness begets more kindness. Delhi's eyes literally undress you. Mumbai sees you first as a person then a woman. People do tend to keep their distance here, but if you try and do something nice, a sudden sensitive humanness peeps out. It's hardship city — it gets by on humour. "


Land-starved Mumbai? The 14 million of us, we dream of the kind of space that young couples have in Delhi. We'd like a barsati too. We won't get it. But we'll work hard at it. The shop assistant who doesn't thank you probably goes home to his 'side business' and puts in another two or three hours. This could be anything from making papads to selling insurance to giving private tuition. It leaves him with very little time or inclination to say thank you.

But when trouble comes, he will do what he can. In the cataclysmic floods of last year, the average person did what the government could not. They threw open their homes. They left the security of dry land and waded into the water to rescue children. They formed human chains to take people off the buses. They made tea and snacks and gave it to people. Contrast that to the way Americans behaved when Hurricane Katrina struck. People went on the rampage. They shot at each other, even at their rescuers. They assaulted each other. They looted abandoned homes. In Mumbai, no violence was reported. No violence happened. Ask me, I walked home. Ask my sister, she walked home too. Together, we covered a distance of 30 kilometres that day and we only saw people helping each other, people offering support and solidarity.



Milind Deora
Politician

" My idea of Bombay? A waiter serving in the Taj — during the day he might be serving Bill Gates and he'll carry himself with aplomb, be as cosmopolitan as anyone. At night he'll be taking the train to Dharavi, return to his slum, put on his lungi and baniyan, help his old parents, help wash dishes, and watch TV. You can be everything at the same time in Bombay. It's like that old Sinatra song — if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. "


One of the most compelling images in Suketu Mehta's essay which Naresh Fernandes and I included in our anthology, Bombay Meri Jaan: Writings on Mumbai (Penguin India, 2003) … but read on:

If you are late for work in Bombay, and reach the station just as the train is leaving the platform, you can run up to the packed compartments and you will find many hands stretching out to grab you on board, unfolding outward from the train like petals. As you run alongside you will be picked up, and some tiny space will be made for your feet on the edge of the open doorway. The rest is up to you; you will probably have to hang on the door frame with your fingertips, being careful not to lean out too far lest you get decapitated by a pole placed too close to the tracks. But consider what has happened. Your fellow passengers, already packed tighter than cattle are legally allowed to be, their shirts already drenched in sweat in the badly ventilated compartment, having stood like this for hours, retain an empathy for you, know that you boss might yell at you or cut your pay if you miss this train, and will make space where none exists, to take one more person with them. And at the moment of contact, they do not know if the hand that is reaching theirs belongs to a Hindu or Muslim or Christian or Brahmin or untouchable or whether you were born in the city or arrived only this morning or whether you live in Malabar Hill or Jogeshwari; whether you are from Bombay or Mumbai or New York. All they know is that you're trying to get to the city of gold, and that's enough. Come on board, they say. We'll adjust.

Maverick said...

@anshum: brilliant man... i dont know how long it took u to put together those articles, but all of us reading it are a little better off for it... thanks bro...

@sandy: true man... we need action now... there was this debate on ndtv tonight that ended in a stalemate... lets hope...