Sitting up on a regular night, just hours away from my final exam of the second last term here on campus, my friend studying beside me answers his phone. He steps out to talk to his girlfriend for a minute and almost immediately comes back in.
"There's been another bomb blast in Bombay"
It doesn't hit you too hard at first. Preliminary reports suggest that the blast and the shootouts were a result of a gang war in the seaside metropolis. Fine. Let those bastards kill themselves. You feel sorry for those caught in the wake, but at least it wasn't a terrorist attack.
An hour later and your walking towards the night canteen to take a small chai & sutta break from all that contract law and what not. "At least it's not a terrorist attack" you repeat aloud to your friend. And then you step into the mess and see the live footage.
India is a country like no other. The sheer range of everything; monetary, social, geographical, cultural, linguistics; boggles the mind. A wise person once commented that man is happy because he believes he will be soon. This cannot be more true of anyplace than it is here. Despite all the flaws, the failings, the loopholes, the muck in the systems and laws in place, we do manage to carry on, always thinking that things will get better, soon.
This applies to terrorism as well. The country has a poor track record in this field, by any measure. The numbers just keep on increasing. Yet we fail to actually do anything about it. Every time a cycle explodes or a briefcase erupts, we denounce the act and then carry on. We contract extra security guards for a week, a month, put up a brave show, and then carry on; hoping that someone will do something about it.
Last night's attacks were unlike anything the country has seen before. From bombs in crowded lanes in Delhi, we have graduated to shopping complexes, five-star hotels and acclaimed pubs. Terrorism, it would seem, is catching up with the globalization express. It's not about killing people anymore, though the culprits are becoming alarmingly adept at this as well. It's about the sheer terror. "No place is safe", my friend mailed me. It's almost as if the terrorists have plastered signs across our television sets that say "You cannot hide. We will get you. Eventually." We all watched on television and heard on the radio, the reports streaming in about the climbing death toll, the rising number of attacks, the situation unfolding before our eyes and in our heads like a cheap patriotic film. For the first time, we saw the Taj beside the Gateway of India crowned with a halo of fire and smoke and scenes of people rushing to safety amidst exploding grenades.
In all this, we, the people of India, are mere spectators. We stand helplessly, clutching cups of tea and cell phones on automatic redial, watching, waiting. For not the first time in my life, I was just another face in the crowd. Not knowing what to do.
I cant believe the news today
Oh I cant close my eyes and make it go away
How long how long must we sing this song
How long how long
The Oil Circus
6 months ago