The Taj on 3rd March 2008. My world was right. This was taken at a early morning concert - one of those pre-dawn things for which you get up at a random time, take a train with the fisher folk and get to Gateway. I gave up on the Hindustani classical concert happening at some point of time and went wandering with my camera. It was peaceful and lovely at the hour without the usual cacophony of horns.
The Taj on 26th November 2009 - this night changed how I viewed my city forever. I wrote several posts trying to understand the outrage that had been perpetuated against my city. You can find them under 'Once Was Bombay', 'The Aftermath' and finally 'Retrospection'. I read those posts and realise that the anger and outrage has disappeared under the routine of everyday life. What happened to all those people on Facebook who added themselves to various groups against terrorism? What happened to asking the government to make a difference? What happened to plain ole voting? Are we so indifferent that we think about making the difference only when an anniversary approaches?
Suddenly the newspapers are full of stories. People. Victims. Kasab - that man (I can't be logical about this I am sorry) should be hanged. The Indian government is wasting our hard earned money on someone who has no right to live. I walk into VT for the past week and I imagine him spewing his venom through his machine gun on innocent bystanders. Which God tells you it is right to blow people up and you will win your piece of heaven for this?
I am still angry, I am still hurt. I can't get over the pain I felt. I cried. I ached for my city. The HOW DARE THEY question still makes me want to hurl things in rage. All of it lies suppressed under my routine life. I made it a point to send a sms to the two guys I was drinking with that night it all started. Toto's will forever be etched in my memory because of 26/11 and all its associations. You realise that life is too short!
I didn't lose anyone during the carnage of the four days but it was as personal a loss as any for me - my city bled. Her much touted spirit was in shatters. And the people - we carried life on as before. Tommorrow's newspapers are going to carry stories about how much people cared by lighting candles...yes and we know that is going to change the world. Cynical but true no?
My city will survive long after I am gone...my apathy, indifference, pain, anger, hurt - all of it will melt into nothingness. But what will keep is the pleasure of knowing this is my home and no one will ever take that right away from me - to walk down Marine Drive at 1 am with a friend super drunk, to eat the over priced kebabs at Bade Miyan, to think about taking my parents to the Taj for their upcoming 30th wedding anniversary - all of these are affirmations that life in Bombay goes on in its own peculiar way and baaki toh 'sab chalta hi rehta hai' :)