Of Cabbages and Kings

November 28, 2008


Filed under: Across the Universe — Tags: , , , — Chinmayi @ 6:46 pm

The last 48 hours have been difficult. I have been calling relatives and emailing colleagues, emailing even people who are in touch with people who were near all the violence to see whether everyone is okay. The selfish relief that my friends and family and their friends and family appear to be fine is difficult to supress. It is however miniscule in the face of the horror and nausea that washes over me when I think about how around 150 violent murders have taken place over the last 48 hours. 

For regular updates:










http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/nov/28/mumbai-city-terror-attack-india (Suketu Mehta)




The last link has some information on the list of casualties.


November 26, 2008

Mumbai attacked

Filed under: Across the Universe, Personal — Tags: , , , — Chinmayi @ 9:09 pm

This seems to be a week for violence. Bombay is under attack as I sit in this faraway country and look up the next day’s reading material. The Hilton – which is brightly lit all night – looks tired and decrepit and has the army and the police swarming all over it. Arrogant powerful business-people are now frightened hostages huddled inside. People hurrying home after a long day’s work have died and their relatives cannot get to them because it is too dangerous.

A crowded raiway station, three (possibly four) of the most exclusive hotels and a busy central shopping avenue have been attacked. Machine guns and grenades seem to be flying about, there is blood splashed on the sidewalk and the most powerful and resilient city in my country is terrified and falling apart. A man that heads the firm that I used work at managed to escape from one of the hotels under attack. My friends are confined at their offices because to leave would mean to walk straight into restricted areas and gunfire. 

Tonight I will pray. That this madness stops. That more people are not hurt. That the retaliation is not worse than the attack. That the cycle of violence stops here and Bombay has time to heal as it has so many times before today.

August 8, 2008

Bombay – city of contrasts

Filed under: Across the Universe, Random musing — Tags: , , , , — Chinmayi @ 8:37 pm

If you spend a day, just a beautiful winter day on Marine Drive in Bombay, you will fall in love with the city as I did three years ago. Stay a little longer and you will find that your fascination for the energy, magic and irrepressible growth of the city will be mingled with the deep-seated horror for the apathy and cruelty that is part of daily life in Bombay.

My first night in Bombay was also at Marine Drive, the beautiful and expensive golden seaside strip where every apartment is worth at least a crore even if it is unpainted, ramshackle and crumbling. If you sit with your back to the sea and your face to the road, you will see the most glamourous cars in India pass by. And if you wait until the city goes to sleep (and this will happen well past midnight), you will find an alarming abundance of bodies stretched out on the sidewalk of the road. You will find them stretched out in the apartment complexes that line that road, in front of the all the expensive cars that are parked inside, arising groggily when they hear a car start and interrupting their much needed rest so that the owner of a vehicle which costs over ten times what they are likely to earn in their entire lives may go out and get some ice-cream late at night without running them over. If you take an elevator up to one of the apartments – the ones which are worth over a crore – you will find that the corridor on every floor has people stretched out and asleep on it. In the morning all the sleeping bodies vanish (except perhaps for the occasional drunk) and Marine Drive is sunlight and humming again.

This is almost insignificant in comparison to other parts of Bombay. Parts where children peddle drugs and huge trafficking rings flourish. Gigantic slums and terrible living conditions.

The International Herald Tribune carries a description of the contrasts of Bombay which is definitely worth a read. An excerpt:

Step outside, and you see sedans reeking of new affluence. Sleeping inside are drivers, many of them asleep because they work 20-hour shifts, waking up at 6 a.m. to catch a train, taking the boss to and from work, then to his dinner, then to drinks, then dropping him home at 1 a.m. and taking a taxi back to the tenements.

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