Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Gateway to Bombay

We got back last week. Chatted with the airline staff as we waited to get off the plane.

"How is the city now?" Were you in Bombay on that day?" " Hope your colleagues were safe"

She answered, "The city was back on its feet the very next day, almost. I dont know if that is good or bad."

VT Station, that glorious building that is the real gateway to the city was attacked. I remembered the photo clicked during the '92-'93 riots. The platform was filled with thousands of people trying to escape from the violence that was unleashed on the city.A family sat on their luggage, fatigue and fear on their faces.

Sitting far away from my city I see the latest photo- a policeman leading away a man, hunched with old age, to safety. The floor was covered with pools of blood and bundles of abandoned luggage.

Another beautiful building opposite the Gateway was in flames everytime we refreshed the online news page.

The shiny hotel five minutes away from George's office and facing my dad's old office was under attack too. I used to visit my dad's cabin and get a perfect view of the brilliant blue swimming pool.

My first beer, away from home, with a prof who took us drinking after a very succesful seminar, was at mondegar or leopold- i forget-

The route that the gunmen took from VT to metro via cama hospital- my short cut from college to the station when I was in a rush. Past the giant printing press room at the TOI. There was a time when one could peep in.

We have come back to a rash of fierce, angry emails, messages, posts, articles by friends blasting the media, especially the tv journalists. Luckily we were far removed from the minute by minute speculation, rumour mongering hysteria that passed off as news reporting.

All we could do was imagine the lanes, the buildings, the fear, the paralysis... and all we could do was look on in horror at the face of a podgy young adult walking almost casually with an AK 47 on those very roads and lanes that we strolled on when we were in college- young adults swaggering along. 12 days later they have a name, a nationality for him. They tell us that he wants to write a letter to his parents explaining things.

Sitting in London it did not matter if that boy was from Bombay, Karachi or London - he could be from any of those cities.


farinaz said...

i'm glad you're back!!
i carry on with my day as normal, as my mind turns the cube of images, articles, words in my head ... how, why, .... whether it matters or not ... drums incessantly in me.
my bombay.
leopold: travis took me there first, ... in 1987!
... Taj ... the Nalanda bookshop...
the florists shop ...
... cousin of my 8th floor neighbours missing, found dead, shot five times.
those who lived, told of how they fainted, or pretended to be dead, stayed still for 12 hours ... now in the press ... the next bout of training camps will be sure to teach "make sure you go back and get those who might be pretending dead!"
what if we were there, as we often are.
the police going in with revolvers against m-9s. bravery which deserves serious recognition!
i'm glad you're back.
i'm glad you're safe!
it was through your comment on fb that i even knew this was happening.
Thanksgiving Day!!

dipali said...

Glad to have you back. Do write about your travels.
Its difficult to see places you have grown up with as the scenes of carnage. I wish, perhaps foolishly, that such scenes don't unfold ever again.