Today, as I write this, is the 26/11 “day”. There has been a gradual media build-up over the last week, culminating in today’s intense newspaper focus. I presume this is true of the television networks as well, but I no longer bother watching. The print media is full of interviews, post-mortems, analyses, etc, among which, are a few articles comparing the “then and now” scenarios. How then a lot of us were angry, motivated and ready for action. And how now, all of that seems to have dissipated.
I have taken this little time off in the middle of my working day to think and introspect. The door is shut with “do not disturb” orders, the cell phone is offline and the landline is off the hook.
I was in Barcelona that day. I woke up at midnight to go to the loo and saw the smoking Taj on CNN on an in-loo television set. I called home and got the rest of the story. Though the company had decided to let its employees take the day off, we proudly kept all our set-ups open; there was seething anger and this was our way of answering the terrorists back and not letting terrorism win and cow us down.
I didn’t join any group or cause. Though, I didn’t know anyone directly who had died, we all knew someone who had lost a friend or family; during those days, most of us would have willingly given an arm and a leg to help and change things. Most people I knew were angry, especially at the politicians but more at the “system’ itself.
A month later, a British friend wanted to see the “sites” and we took him to see Leopold and the Taj. These areas were teeming with tourists.
Then came the elections, where even though some candidates tried to capitalize on this incident, nothing much really happened. Voting rates were pathetic. I didn’t vote as well.
And life went on.
A grueling 12 hour daily schedule, the commute, the social responsibilities, the kids, meetings, conferences, domestic and international travels…all of these eventually pushed all the November angst aside. The media in the meantime moved on to other issues as well; swine flu, elections, Koda and Shilpa Shetty’s wedding.
The only reminders were the irritants; the inability to use Arthur Road because of Kasab’s trial and the added security at the hotels.
Today’s newspaper coverage has brought back a little of that November angst, but it is highly muted. The blatant use of this occasion for self-promotion hasn’t helped the cause much. And the mudslinging among the police officers as well as between them and the politicians, which seems to have reached a crescendo today, has just made things worse. And I know that I am not the sole person in the city thinking along these lines… in fact, most people I know seem to be in the same boat as me.
Does that make us insensitive boors? Are we self-centered, insular creatures? Is this a typical Mumbai problem, or is this what happens universally, after events as shocking as these? During those rare moments where I am able to be with myself, without being disturbed by people, phones and email, I wonder…are our daily lives so filled with tasks that we forget to feel and act on those feelings? What is right? What should we be doing? Was a world without a “to do list” and where the word “multitasking” didn’t exist, a better one for empathy and caring?
I don’t know. Do you?