Thursday, November 27, 2008

A sad state of affairs

I've been following the news on Mumbai since a coworker informed me of the attacks. Poor guy was awaken from his sleep by anxious loved ones around 2AM just when the horror began. Lucky for me no one I know was directly affected but my concern lies with the victims nevertheless.

2 months into my new job I've learned to embrace India's culture more than I had expected working with our clients and agency partners. Through research and exposure, I know the population's general likes and dislikes, the various languages they speak, their enthusiasm for food and music, and the other little things that one can and most likely will forget during times like these when we're really all the same: alert, frightened and ever hopeful.

Those of us who aren't in the scene probably can't imagine what it's like for the people in Mumbai right now, but it's worth noting who they are. We know of the victims who are tourists; some who had chosen to spend Thanksgiving there and others who just wanted a piece of Incredible India. We know there are also those who live and breathe Mumbai, the same people who were going about their everyday lives doing their everyday things in their everyday city.

To describe the latter, I've pulled a beautifully written snippet from Suketu Mehta's book "Maximum City: Mumbai Lost and Found” published by the New York Times:

“Look at the hands from the trains.”

If you are late for work in the morning in Bombay, and you reach the station just as the train is leaving the platform, you can run up to the packed compartments and you will find many hands stretching out to grab you on board, unfolding outwards from the train like petals. As you run alongside the train, you will be picked up and some tiny space will be made for your feet on the edge of the compartment. The rest is up to you; you will probably have to hang on with your fingertips on the door frame, being careful not to lean out too far lest you get decapitated by a pole placed too close to the tracks. But consider what has happened: your fellow-passengers, already packed tighter than cattle are legally allowed to be, their shirts already drenched in sweat in the badly ventilated compartment, having stood like this for hours, retain an empathy for you, know that your boss might yell at you or cut your pay if you miss this train, and will make space where none exists to take one more person with them. And at the moment of contact, they do not know if the hand that is reaching for theirs belongs to a Hindu or Muslim or Christian or Brahmin or untouchable, or whether you were born in this city or arrived only this morning, or whether you live in Malabar Hill or Jogeshwari, whether you’re from Bombay or Mumbai or New York. All they know is that you’re trying to get to work in the city of gold, and that’s enough. Come on board, they say. We’ll adjust.

~~ Hope all is well by now ~~

1 comment:

Sue said...

It's really sad what happened. Our prayers go to the victims and their families.