Bombay Blasts

Posted August 26th, 2003 by Deepa and filed in Personal
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The two blasts that rocked Bombay yesterday brought back the memories of the earlier series of blasts in March ’93. Bombay was just recovering from the horror of the riots that took place in January 1993. Schools had been closed for over two weeks during the riots and after two months people were just getting over the riots and its terror . Parents had just about stopped escorting their children to school. (As 10th standard students we were spared the indignity of parents having to drop us to school every day !)

It was during our SSC exam that the bomb blasts happened. I had just come home after the day’s exam and was having a well-deserved glass of “nimbu pani” from my mother, who was on leave to “help” me cope with the stress of exams. In other words, my mother, ever the opportunist, made my exams an ideal excuse for bunking office. It was at that time when we heard a loud blast. There didn’t seem to be any reason for firecrackers at that point of time, so we were not sure what to make of that blast. Reports soon poured in via the phone and TV that there had been a series of blasts at different points in Bombay within a short time. Rumors were rampant….we heard stories of regular workers at the stock exchange, who stepped out for some reason and thus were fortunate to escape being killed and others who were at the site of the blasts by accident or on a rare visit were killed or injured and yet others who by a quirk of fate missed one blast but was killed in another location. Tension was in the air, the riots were just over and everybody feared another possible breakout of communal violence. Of course at that point of time,I was equally worried about my next day’s exam. I was disgusted when my geography exam was postponed to the end eventually extending my exams by one more day.

But those blasts changed the attitude of the average Bombayite ( it was Bombayite then and not Mumbaikar!!) ..if only for a short while. Of course the change was not a drastic one and it was not even a very obvious change but you knew that behind the “bindaas” attitude that everyone sported, people were worried. The media for once did a good job of boosting the morale of the people. There were hoardings all over the city describing how the blood banks were full about an hour after the accident and how several Hindus helped Muslims and vice versa. Next day, the news showed clippings of the local trains which were as packed with people as before as Bombayites got back to their regular routines snubbing the terrorists in their attempt to disrupt their existence. There were spot interviews of some random people in the crowd who declared that they will not allow any such incident to upset their lives…We were all proud Bombayites then,,,scared , worried but proud!!

Everybody was a bit wary, those days after the blast. In the ladies compartment in the train, women smiled awkwardly at each other before peeking below their seats. At railway stations public announcements warned the people against any unattended objects or suspicious person. Buses were stopped mid route when people discovered a small box or parcel accidentally left by previous passengers. I remember my friend Priyanka unknowingly dropping a packet ( it contained Veg Manchurian ) at Bombay central station and then to our amazement finding it there ( on the platform steps) when we retraced our paths 15 minutes later. Inspite of the crowd ,nobody had even touched or stamped the bag.

Slowly things reverted back to the old state. People stopped checking below their seats, unfamiliar objects were bypassed calmly without calling the cops, petty thieves even dared to pick some of them up…. The bandhs stopped, politicians found new issues to blame Pakistan and the opposition. The terror and worry seemed a thing of the past

And now it seems like it is a repeat performance of the whole scenario…Several killed, and still more injured. Political parties do what they are best in doing : blame everyone else. A few weeks later all this will settle down. Headlines will be dominated by some other news . People in Bombay will get back to their busy lives , will still hail a cab without thinking of this incident and will still take their evening walk near the Gateway of India.
As they say….this too shall pass.

Books :

Standing in the Rainbow by Fannie Flagg : Life in a small town in middle America, with all its quirky residents and their everyday troubles and happiness . The book deals from 1946 to present . All her characters are distinct and interesting and the book itself is a happy book that makes you smile as you read thru and leaves you feeling happy and cheerful and as Fannie Flagg would say with a smile in your voice!

The Bridegroom by Ha jin : Short stories, based on Chinese people in China. Most of the stories have very predictable endings but each of them are very different from each other. It was interesting to note that most of the prejudices, and the so called traditional values were so similar between India and China.

Movies

Prem Deewane : I loved the movie when I saw it the first time. I always wanted to see it later to see whether I would find it equally good years later. And yes I still was laughing at the antics of “college ke Laila –Majnu” . The flashback was a bit irritating and but If you want mindless funny entertainment I recommend this movie.

Teen Deewarein : Great movie and amazing performances. Juhi Chawla and Naseer were wonderful but Nagesh Kukoneer matches their performance with his role as a middle class Hyderabadi accountant. I especially noted his accent that seemed to be quite authentic and without the Amru accent which was evident in Hyderabad blues and to an extent even in Rockford. Each of the three prisoners had different characters and what is more maintained their characters throughout the movie.
But regarding the story and especially the climax , it seemed very familiar…as though I have read a similar story somewhere else. Anybody have any ideas?

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