The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Anger in blind alley

Mumbai, July 13: This morning, John Cyriac who was on the Borivli local last evening is saying that he told his wife he’ll return home in the evening “Inshallah”.

Last evening, he was more defiant. “You can’t put Mumbai down,” he said, returning home after staying overnight in his merchant shipping office.

“We have to earn our livelihood and try as hard as you might but Mumbai will be Mumbai.”

Between last evening and this morning Cyriac has changed. Shock seeps into some more slowly than others. Fear and defiance, uncertainty and confidence are contrary emotions creating a new citizenry that is learning to live with conflict.

But topping all of these today is seething anger that is finding no channel. Everyone who commutes is angry with the government, the administration, the politicians, police.

Bandra, noon: Pravin Masurkar from Jogeshwari, a 35-year-old income-tax department employee, says: “Actually we do not have time to be afraid and run scared. This was not the first time it has happened in Mumbai and it won’t be the last. It is these politicians, the Congress, the Shiv Sena, sarkar toh nalayak hai (The government is useless). We have only one another.”

Andheri, 1300 hours: Saiyad Salim, 42. “I run a private taxi. I was near Matunga. I took god knows how many to Sion and KEM Hospital on Tuesday evening, maybe 15 or 16. It felt strange. Blasts happen in Kashmir and elsewhere. But it is so easy to kill us. Look at our streets, our trains.”

It is easy to bomb a train.

Manoj Sinha, a chartered accountant from Jogeshwari, says: “If you are at the doorstep, you toss your bag to me if I’m seated and I will toss it on the rack above. When you want to get off, you holler for your bag and I’ll pass it on. I don’t see your face, you don’t see mine. What if the bag you’ve given me has RDX in it'”

Mumbai has the spine to stand up. It does every time. Actually, Mumbai’s citizenry relies on itself.

“Governments are useless if they cannot protect the life of the people. I always thought that the first duty of a government is safety and security for the people,” says Kavita Menon, who runs a tutorial at Nana Chowk.

“At least that is what the political science textbook says.”

Blessed is the government that has lost its confidence to a people too pressed for time.

The pressure of earning a livelihood is so great that few here have the time to express anger.

That, and the seafront, the vastness of the waters and the mysterious ways in which one wave chases another relentlessly, all of them crashing into the breakers.

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