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Mumbai, show me the way
July 13, 2006
I have been to all the major cities and towns of India. I have met the people, lived with them and have been fortunate enough to witness fantastic displays of the human spirit.
But I can say with no shred of doubt that no city comes close to Mumbai. It is almost as if when pushed in a corner, Mumbai ceases to be a cauldron of different races and religions and becomes one entity. It becomes a blanket, protecting the affected, shielding them against further trauma.
But one has to know that Mumbai is a city of more than 20 million people, each bringing his own share of human weaknesses and dark shades. In spite of the sheer numbers involved, it is amazing how the people in the city do all they can to make life easier when there is no hope left.
For those of us who were not affected, perhaps the footage shown was sensational. But, spare a thought for the Mumbai mom, who when all telephone lines were jammed, was watching television for news of her kid on the train back home from college.
What she sees are images of office goers and college kids strewn across railway tracks and a totally insane fascination by all newsreaders regarding the death toll. 'How many people have died? How many people have died? Mr Minister, what is the latest death toll?'
When September came five years ago, no bodies were shown in a rare display of sensitive reporting and commendable journalism. A blast in Bali or in Mumbai, of course, is different since a different race, a different culture is involved. Show them the decapitated torsos; focus on the blood stained windows of a school in Beslan. Hit them hard with the images. We have a job to do.
Salaam Mumbai. Like always, you have shown me the way. The quiet, efficient, kind and resilient manner is something we all can do well to replicate in other cities as well as within ourselves.