Comfortably Numb

I was out on the road on Wednesday evening sleeping in the car when my daughter called my wife informing her about the bomb blasts, telling her that she and her brother were safe at home and wanting to know where and how we were. We were driving in from the Eastern suburbs. It was raining mildly. The roads were reasonably clear.
I felt nothing!
My mind though was curious. I checked Google News for :bomb blasts Mumbai” and found 221 entries. The first ten were all the same; “three blasts in Zaveri Bazaar, Opera House and Dadar, 8-10 dead and many more injured.” I didn’t bother to check any more.
Just then my office at Prarthana Samaj called. My HR manager asked whether the staff could leave early and whether they could tell the existing customers to come back the next day. I said, “The blasts are over. What’s happened has happened. What sense does it make to leave early and go home? Let them finish their work…” I then added, “In any case, it’s safer for them to stay at work than be out.”
A bunch of SMSes started coming in from friends and family outside Mumbai. I created a “We are OK. Thank you” template and replied to each one. A few came from Mumbai friends and I added “And you?”
I went back to sleep.
We reached home around 9.00PM, two hours after the blasts and sat for dinner. The television was on, but all the channels had the same rubbish going on with no real information. The children had questions that we answered.
Someone sent an SMS about avoiding crowded places for the next few days and to be careful. I sent him a reply telling him to stop spreading panic.
No close friend or relative seemed to have been hurt.
We went to sleep.
The next morning I drove early into town wondering how much “nakabandi” there would be. There was none. The day progressed as usual. Customers came. Some of the staff couldn’t make, but that was because of the rains. The kids went to school.
I had to fly to Kolkata. The airport was busy as usual. The only change was a new security scanner at the last gate. I was with a senior colleague. We discussed work and other issues. The blast came up just once in our conversation in the context of how the injured were taken to the hospitals in tempos, handled in ways that perhaps added to their injuries.
Earlier in the morning, another colleague had mentioned how her husband who works in a building near Panchratna heard the blast and saw some people running on the road below.
In all of this though, there was no major reaction or panic. It wasn’t just me. All around me, people were going about with their work as if nothing had happened.
Unless we are personally affected or a friend or family member is involved, it’s as if these attacks are now part of our routine. I guess its probably because we intuitively know now that there will be one more soon…and perhaps another one…and then yet another. Blasting bombs does not seem to be difficult. And even if the perpetrators are caught, there will be more to take their place.
We’ve all changed. Some call it the “Spirit of Mumbai”. Balls! We’ve all just become…”comfortably numb!”
It’s f**** scary!

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