Friday, November 27, 2009

Box of memories

Last night was the anniversary of the first day of the Bombay attacks. Most of you know I went to cover the story for PBS -- I reached Bombay on Day 3, after the major operations were over, and stayed for the next week, talking to people and sussing out the security situation. It was heartbreaking.

Been a year, and I've been revisiting those days in my head. It makes me so sad.

So, imagine my surprise, when I opened the Indian Express this morning -- to find the lead article called "The Vanished Moment" asking why show of grief by the "middle class" is pushing to "replicate -- artificially, inaccurately, in miniature, and in bad taste -- the trappings of America's grief?"
I'm sure not what sort of show of grief would be deemed appropriate by the columnist and others who may share his view. Perhaps, since we are Indian and not America, we must always beat our chests and sob uncontrollably? Perhaps, since we are Indian and used to violence, we should not try and be this affected by an event that should ideally bounce off us? Perhaps we need to apologize that the Bombay attacks affect a demographic that has easy access to the news media and therefore dominate the news?

We have not had the hysteria that surfaced in America, the columnist argued, so why are we trying to be America by holding vigils? Are we going to do this for every attack? Must our grief be a "cheap knockoff"?

I, for one, am deeply offended. Say what you will about TV channels cashing in our collective urban grief, but to chide people for showing their solidarity with victims, survivors, the buildings, the city and for showing up to make themselves feel better is rubbish. Perhaps if we could all write national columns, people wouldn't need to take to the streets to express themselves.

I never thought you'd have to be present at the scene of a massacre to feel sympathy, but I might just be proven wrong today. To call emotions still unresolved from that attack "synthetic" is awful. Have a heart.

India is not America. 26/11 is not 9/11. I think we know that.

Don't tell us to get over it. YOU get over it.

PS - You blame the country for comparing the Bombay terror attacks to the attacks on the Twin Towers in New York. In your article, you have compared "genuine collective emotion" for Bombay with grief for Princess Diana's death.


PPS- I was told many years ago to lock my idealism in a box because that's the only way I will succeed in life. I beg to differ.

14 comments:

Dantedownunder said...

"Perhaps if we could all write national columns, people wouldn't need to take to the streets to express themselves." ... you've made your point.

mahima said...

Ha- when I see people agreeing with the sentiment, I can't help but wonder (a) I didn't get it (b) I'm too sentimental (c) people who say it doesn't matter are the ones who really don't give a f*** (d) they think TV coverage is all there is.

aaaa. forget it.

I'm starting to write my blog again. It drives me crazy when I don't!!!

Roy said...

what strikes me is the lack of continued emotion. where does this solidarity go everyday and why are issues of national security and babri(currently) raised on the anniversaries of the tragedies

egg style said...

Idealism boxed in wouldn’t be idealism if it weren’t restless to burst out.

That said, with reference to the article you mention about the first anniversary of 26/11, subjecting the Indian response to some test of pop psychoanalysis is quite unnecessary, as you observe (even if the newspaper columnist’s point about the ‘humiliation’ of a 60-hour ordeal is piquant), just as endless arguments over the relative merits of memorialisationism vs let-it-go-down-the-Ganga-ism, or Chabad Lubavitch’s Zionism vs anti-Zionism, are futile in the face of what we know and what matters:

1) The 26/11 attacks were an ineffable blow of an enormity that just cannot be dismissed, regardless of all qualifiers. Innocents are innocents, period.
2) The Karkare-Kamte-Salaskar trio of cops did humanity proud through exemplary integrity & courage that is worthy of commemoration.
3) Mumbaikars showed a heartening fraternalism that had everyone feel “Hum bul-bule hain iski, yeh gulistaan hamaara”
4) Deterring attacks necessitates the frustration of the attackers’ divisive goals by behaving exactly so: with integrity & unity. India tested is not India entrapped, which is what puts the country ahead.

And yeah, a blog does matter, so blog abstinence is pretty pointless

mahima said...

where does it go? well i think people get back to their own lives and assume the ones in charge of national security are actually doing their jobs..

blog does matter? hehe. good to knw :)

IR said...

hopefully you will blog more often on national/ political issues ,

my question is are we any safer than we were on 25/11/08 ? i mean , of course we feel sad just as we do , when inncoent people are killed by naxals ?

but so much noise on tv , do we know this is not going to happen again ?

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IR said...

post post ? there is so much happening , are off blogging ?

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