Monday, July 18, 2011

The survival instincts

Mumbai city is one of the busiest cities of the world. It is home to almost 20 million people (increasing exponentially every year) and nearly 30,000 people live in every square kilometre which is a breath taking number. So no wonder this city is the focal point of so many terror activities. The idea behind any such activity is to create a fear in the minds of the people and larger the number of minds affected, greater is the impact. And if a person thinks logically, this is the place to target if you want to send out a message and if you want your message to reach out far and wide. Well that brings us to the question of who is really the intended recipient of the messages that such attacks convey.

This is one question that I have never been able to understand completely. Are they (and I am going to use a pronoun throughout my blog and not use any provocative words to keep this least controversial) making a statement to the authoritative powers, the decision-makers of the country or is it directed towards the common man? Well, I don’t think the answer is a straight forward A or B here. Guess a bit of both is what I will settle for. The irony here is how many people who get directly affected by these blasts which are now infamously described as the “Mumbai terror attacks” (with a special wikipedia page being dedicated to each such attack) really know what is it that is happening at the global or country level that drives these operations. Again silence is the answer!

Well enough of trying to understand the larger picture. Let’s try to understand the subtleties here. What do you think goes on in the mind of every Indian citizen who might directly or indirectly get scarred by these happenings? How many families have their relatives working in this city (guess everyone has a friend or a kin working in Mumbai!!) and spend sleepless nights when they have to send their sons and daughters to pursue their career in Mumbai? It is a pain to think of the dilemma that they go through for they do not want to be the parents who act like roadblocks in the journey of a youngster’s dreams. If you ask me (I here represent the scores of people who move to Mumbai everyday because that’s where you have to be if you have to make it big in your life), I am fearless and indifferent to these attacks because that’s what happens in most of the “dream” cities of the world. Does that mean they have to think the same?

If you pity this category of people, then let me show you another set of wounded heroes. These are the people who have stayed in Mumbai all their lives, who cannot live in any other city for nothing compares to the commercial and free lifestyle that this city offers (I completely second them by the way!). These are the people who are referred to as the spirited Mumbaikars who have been through so much in their lifetime (even the younger generation has seen multiple disasters thanks to the periodic intervals in which these occur never letting them get over the last one completely…) that they have learnt it the hard way to be prepared for anything that might happen when they leave their homes in the morning for their livelihood. That is what, exactly, is the most depressing underlying fact!! Humans adapt to everything because they have to survive. And that everything is not just rains and traffic that this city is already so known for. That “everything” now includes even the traumatising experiences that they encounter time and again!

So where is the end to all this? This question is rhetorical. No amount of police can provide an exhaustive security to the 20 million people in this city because the idea itself is so out of imagination. At least, it escapes me how you can have an all-encompassing system to ensure no anti-social elements enter a city in which thousands enter everyday for a career. Mumbai is always going to be on the radar because of its biggest strength-its people- and well, the people know it as well.

Give a shot at making these people understand how dangerous this city is and try suggesting to anyone in this city to move to some other place and start a safer life there. There is hardly a soul you can convince and that’s not just because other places are also subject to the same threats. It’s just because Mumbai has a way to make people fall in love with it and after that it’s a one-side love story. You know you might end up getting hurt any day but then what’s the point in living if you haven’t lived your life to the fullest…. 


  1. I completely second you in whatever you say, Suru, especially the concluding part - the "one-side love story." My own life there is an example and it began as abysmally as it could have and yet wherever I go I will carry a part of my Mumbai-ness with me.

    You're also right about the dream cities: it happens in London, NY, Madrid etc. Do people stop residing? Has there been a dwindling of tourists? No - so why should Mumbaikars alone give up the pride of place has in their hearts and the country's map! If a chance presents itself for me to be there again, I'd definitely be there, eyes shut, regardless of what the city faces fairly regularly.

    But I do disagree on one point; rather it is a conflict in principle not spirit: it may seem difficult to give security to those many millions da, but a prelude to good security is good intelligence. I don't know much about the country's intelligence, so I cannot blame it squarely, but a lot leaves to be desired in that department.

    Lovely post. Unadorned, straight from the heart, plain but honest :)

  2. This is very well written. Its amazing how you have captured the city. I believe, very truly that, Mumbaikar is just not a word for any person living in Mumbai, its an epithet that together resembles our non-chalant spirit. And these blasts have only given more credence to this spirit called Mumbaikar!