14 July, 2006

Allergic to "limping back to normalcy"

Although I salute the much-touted Mumbaikar spirit, I’m getting sick of seeing the phrase “limping back to normalcy” in the papers every two months. Why is it that Mumbai has to limit itself to limping back all the time, when we have the potential to be running? We always seem to be recovering from riots, floods, and bombs. We always seem to be running our little individual lives around these ego-massaging events orchestrated or mismanaged by the big boys in the city: Mr. Thackeray, Mr. Ibrahim, the great BMC, and the current hot topic, the LeT.

I have been at the receiving end of the warmth and generosity of the average Mumbai-ite, and have been grateful to no end. I’ve done my bit by offering the same to anyone who needs help in times like these. I’ve had my share of wondering what has happened to the lives, houses and families of my siblings, friends, relatives and colleagues, as has everyone else I know. And we’re all tired of it. But what do we do the next day? We get up, go to work, travel by train, watch the rain anxiously in case water levels are rising, and try to limp back to normalcy. The tragedy of a few days ago becomes a topic of much discussion, but that’s all it remains. The thing is, I know when I do it, its not strength, its not determination to show terrorists that we can move on; it’s the need to get to work, meet that deadline, and collect that paycheck. It’s the same thing that drives all of us at the end of the day.

So, my point is, why are we glorifying the spirit and the resilience of our city, when it’s the same spirit that is allowing us all to feel like martyrs and leave it at that? Our Press avidly covers human interest stories after any disaster, which is fair enough, considering that it might actually work in thawing our numbed sensitivity to tragedy but that works as a reactive measure, when NGOs and compensation come in to help. What kind of proactive measures are we taking? Nothing. There’s no point waiting for the authorities, because we have proof every day of the effective measures they talk about taking. Maybe its time we take matters into our own hands.

If we spent all that newspaper space in questioning the motives and characters of the big boys, if we worked up some feelings of indignation in the public, I think we’d be a force to reckon with. Or are we worried that we might find the said newspaper office torched or ransacked the next day by the saffron Vaanar Sena?


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