Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Mumbai Blasts – a First Hand Account II

Day 2 after the devastating Blasts. Mumbai returned to normalcy. Almost. The trains were running on schedule, The same passengers, though they are little ruffled, still joking and laughing, over-crowded trains etc. Everything as usual as if these blasts were nothing but just a routine affair. But only one thing has changed. The faces that regularly met at First Class compartment. Some families will never be again the same. They lost everything in a moment.
Where is the help?
Right after the blast, within 2 minutes of it, I reached the spot. By then, fellow commuters who were in the next bogies started the rescue mission. They pulled out the injured from under the dead bodies, put them into the waiting hands and eased them to the grass and tracks. But where is the transportation? I saw an official; probably the Matunga station master, came to the site after 10-15 minutes the blast, took one look, and was on his phone. His exact words were “Idhar Bahut bada blast ho gaya hai! Mamla bahut bekhar hai. Jaldi gaadi aur police bhej do” (A big blast occurred here and the situation is worse. Send help and police immediately! Then it took another 30 minutes for the first ambulance to reach the spot. Talk about disaster management!!
Police version
It rained soon after the explosion, making rescue mission more difficult. I spoke to a policeman at the site, who was drenched in his Khaki uniform from the rains. He, a hardened policeman, too was shaking his head.
I - “Sir, How is the situation?”
Cop ; “total 7 blasts occurred and it’s total mayhem. Bloody bodies keep arriving from the trains. I have never seen something like this”
I : Why Police took so long to reach the site?
Cop; What do you think? We were sitting idle in our office and dozing off? Arre, (a popular way of addressing here in Mumbai) there were total 7 blasts and we were busy at other sites;
Point taken sir. Only at that time I was aware about the other blasts
It was once again on display; the famed resilience of Mumbai, the so called spirit of Mumbai. Total strangers were consoling the relatives of injured, People set up tables in front of their housing society distributing water and snacks. Local youths were trying to stop vehicles to put the stranded people on them so that they can go at least little closer to home. The slum dwellers rose to the occasion, first providing bed sheets as stretchers and helping in the rescue, then providing water and snacks in front of their shanties. Local Telephone booths, PCOs, let people to make calls without any charge. Just write the number on their log;
Some one called my city as the rudest in the world a couple of weeks back. Do you still dare to call it? The compassion at display was overwhelming. People lined up to donate blood in major hospitals. Is that what you call rudeness? Or may be taking a total stranger to your home and sheltering him, like those locals did!


Sirensongs: Indologist At Large said...

They always called New York and New Yorkers "rude," too - the truth is, Mumbai and NY are both business-oriented, not community-oriented, cities where people go to further their careers. Conventional "friendliness"and small talk are not priorities. However, in times of crisis they pull together and really show what they are made of. NYers showed their team spirit in a similar way after 911. Let the small townies say what they like! I've been to Mumbai many times and while I found it sweaty and perhaps overly glamour-obsessed (at least S Mumbai) I never found it rude!

newnimproved said...

I am reading a lot of tripe in the newspapers about the “resilient Mumbai spirit”.

Of course Mumbai will recover. So did NYC. So did London. So did Jerusalem. So did Madrid. So will any city.

In fact the cockroach is one of nature’s most resilient creatures and can survive even a nuclear blast. (Though I have never heard a cockroach going around saying, “Mera Gutter Mahaan.”)

Are we cockroaches?

As my dear friend and doctor extraordinaire Aashish puts it:
“I think we are so good at 'handling' anything thrown at us, just because we're much better prepared than others. Years of travelling in the local train ( Kumar Ketkar of Loksatta, correctly called them mobile concentration camps) will condition a person to adapt under any circumstances.”

Our PM and CM appealed for calm; we are calm.

Even though 200 innocent Mumbaikars lost their lives and 700 lie injured in hospitals.

Now we would like to know what are they doing?

Last week our city went down under after heavy showers and after the initial outrage at the lack of proper drainage systems, everything was back to normal.

If you saw the movie, Munich, Golda Meir immediately responds to the assassination of the Israeli athletes with Operation Wrath of God.

Operation Wrath of God, also called Operation Bayonet, was a covert operation directed by Israel and the Mossad to assassinate the terrorists who directly or indirectly perpetrated the 1972 Munich Massacre. Authorized to begin by Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir in the fall of 1972, it may have continued for more than 20 years.

We would like to know when will the government initiate our Operation Wrath of God?

Our self respect, honour, and most importantly, lives are at stake.

Your thoughts are most welcome and thank you for your time

Shinu Mathew said...

Caroline, Yes, that's the way Mumbai and most of the other cities are. It is crisis & disaster that brings out the compassion among them.
Nice post. yes it is may be time that we have a strong policy in place instead of this appeal for peace. What India is going to do when two of the jehadi's confessed the involvement of ISI (Inter service intelligence) in Mumbai blasts?
The terrorist got a boost from our exchange of prisoners during Khandahar Hijacking. And our failure to act tough against the forces-behind-the-scene.
I don't see any end to this. Not any time soon.