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PHOTOS: A month after 13/7, it's business as usual

Last updated on: August 13, 2011 09:49 IST

13/7: A month later, it's business as usual

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Abhishek Mande in Mumbai

A month after three blasts ripped through south and central Mumbai's business districts, Abhishek Mande takes a tour of the blast sites.

It wasn't very long ago when I walked the streets 24 hours after the 13/7 blasts. Even as television channels and newspapers spoke extensively about the anger on the streets, the mood, I felt, was that of deep hopelessness.

Also Read: 'Blast, then media frenzy and life goes on'

Not just citizens, a sense of fatigue had overcome the policemen too -- both had given in to the reality that this would be a recurring affair. It may not come annually like the seasons or festivals, but every few years the city would be torn apart and it would be left to its citizens to gather the pieces of their lives and move on. 

An author once described the city of Varanasi as one that seemed perennially standing on the edge of extinction. 

Today, a month after the blasts, walking down the streets of Mumbai, my hometown, I got the same feeling -- one push and with a huge splash, the island city would fall into the Arabian Sea.

And yet somehow, I have a feeling, we'd probably find a way to pull it back out and simply start work all over again, like nothing ever happened.

Then, the news channels and the papers would hail the spirit of Mumbai, yet again; authors would pen novels about it and journalists would write non-fictional books. And just when we'd be settling back into our sense of complacency, yet another blast would wake us up, only temporarily of course.

There is, according to me, little or no reason to celebrate the 'spirit of Mumbai' that the media loves to tom-tom about. For it's the very 'spirit' that makes us want to return to our workplaces the very next day after such an incident, turn a blind eye to what is happening around us, admit that such events are part of living in Mumbai and get on with our lives.

A few years ago, when I was travelling in a suburban train soon after the twin blasts at Gateway of India and Zaveri Bazaar, a fellow passenger remarked rather proudly, "Unke bum khatam hongey, hamara dam nahi!" ("They will run out of bombs but our spirit won't die.")

It seemed like a great thing to say then. But eight years later (this August 25, will be the 8th anniversary of the twin blasts) it sounds plain stupid.

There is perhaps nothing heart-warming about this 'spirit'. 

If at all, the spirit of Mumbai is a heartless thing, driven solely by gods of commerce with a single-minded resolve -- to make money and keep the wheels turning.

It was this spirit that I encountered at the three blast sites I visited one month after the unfortunate incident. It was, as the popular phrase goes, 'business as usual.'

The pictures on the pages to follow will give you some idea of how Mumbai reacts to bomb blasts.

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Image: A passer-by walks past ground zero in Zaveri Bazaar. The shop with the shutter down was where the blast took place
Photographs: Abhishek Mande/Rediff.com
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13/7: A month later, it's business as usual

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Less than 20 metres away from the blast site at Zaveri Bazaar, an old employee at a goldsmith's store is busy at work. He seemed unconcerned with what was happening around him.

Photographs: Abhishek Mande/Rediff.com

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A lady haggles with a goldsmith about the design and the pricing near the blast site at Zaveri Bazaar.

Photograph: Abhishek Mande/Rediff.com

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Across the road from the Zaveri Bazaar blast site a young boy shows me the wounds he received. He tells me that the glass doors of cabinets in his shop came crashing down on him. "I ran inside the store," he says still shuddering at the thought that the bomb could have well been placed on the other side of the road.

Photograph: Abhishek Mande/Rediff.com

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An immigrant worker looks outside his window at Zaveri Bazaar. The moss-coated buildings overlook the blast site, which is referred to in local parlance as 'woh jagah' or 'that place'.

Photograph: Abhishek Mande/Rediff.com

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13/7: A month later, it's business as usual

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This ominous sign is supposed to scare off terror groups and prevent them from planting yet another bomb!

Photograph: Abhishek Mande/Rediff.com

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13/7: A month later, it's business as usual

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Like most Indians I know, the response of practically everyone I spoke with was quite standard -- 'As long as there is god to protect us, why should we be worried?'

Photograph: Abhishek Mande/Rediff.com

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The monsoon months are said to be the leanest for business in this district. However, this year, The Bombay Bullion Association is buzzing with activity, as the stock market falls freely making investors want to turn to gold and further fuelling its demand.

Photograph: Abhishek Mande/Rediff.com

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13/7: A month later, it's business as usual

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Opera House, the other blast site, seemed just as bustling as Zaveri Bazaar. The single street where the blasts took place was buzzing as diamond brokers, hundreds of them, walked around, chatted and talked to their peers.

Making the most of the opportunity, a Bharatiya Janata Party sign pays condolences to the people who were victims of the blasts.

Photograph: Abhishek Mande/Rediff.com

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The almost four dozen air conditioners that miraculously survived the blasts. Had they caught fire, I was told, the magnitude of loss would have been even more severe.

Photograph: Abhishek Mande/Redif.com

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An office-goer pauses to look around quite inadvertently at the very spot where the bomb went off. 

Photograph: Abhishek Mande/Rediff.com

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The Gujarati and Jain communities are known as much for their business acumen as they are for their seemingly insatiable appetite for sweets. 

Understandably then the Pancharatna Jalebi House always sees a steady stream of visitors throughout the day.

Photograph: Abhishek Mande/Rediff.com

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The Raobahadur SK Bole Road, near the blast site at Dadar, is busy as usual. In the backdrop is the Gol Mandir, which is lit up, presumably for the celebrations of the holy month of Shravan, which is currently underway.

Photograph: Abhishek Mande/Rediff.com

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Sonaram Chaudhari runs a hardware store just across from the Dadar blast site. He was one of the people who spoke to us soon after the blasts.

Chaudhari is back at his store seemingly oblivious to the fact that it is one month since the blasts.

Video: Abhishek Mande/Rediff.com

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Stores like this one, which is just across the road from where the blasts occurred, are open again for business. The shattered glass has been replaced; stock replenished and the store cleaned up to welcome new customers.

Photograph: Abhishek Mande/Rediff.com

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And finally, the place where the blasts at Dadar took place.

The bus stop is functioning again and the road was opened to traffic within days of the incident.

Cars whiz past, passengers wait, buses come and go but the part of the stop that was ripped remains unrepaired, as if it was always like this from the very beginning, as if nothing had happened

Photograph: Abhishek Mande/Rediff.com

 



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