Thursday, February 10, 2011

Bombay - Safe City You Say?

The last few days have been hell. I had enough time to get home, eat dinner, and fall on the bed, after the nightly prayers, of course. "The family that prays together, stays together," has been a motto my dad followed, and I too, follow it, in his footsteps. A few words of thanks and grace ends my day, as also it does begin it.

I write here about the bad overcrowding, the crowds inside trains, the incidents of violence. My novel is about violence in a seeming peaceful city - Bombay. The well-placed people living in "gated communities" who drive cars and are in safe jobs like banking, mutual funds, government services, will vouch that its a safe city. But people like me who work odd hours and travel odd places have seen the reverse. There is silent sullen violence waiting to happen in Bombay. Be warned!

And so it happened in broad daylight in the building next to where I work. The gangsters (or, to be politically correct, the assailants) entered the office, were stopped by the bodyguards of a businessman, where they opened fire. The bullets hit a bodyguard and he collapsed. By this time the neighbouring office employees were alerted and made a big commotion. The assailants escaped.

The man lay there bleeding. I saw a fat man through the window, his huge torso soaked in blood, being given water to drink. (That's the wrong thing to do to a man who is bleeding. Water thins the blood leading to more bleeding.) By now a crowd has gathered, a crowd called "public" here. They are kind and offer all sorts of help. He is lifted into a car. I learn later that he died on the way to the hospital.

It's still broad daylight and this death in daylight has upset me. How can anyone walk into an office and pump bullets into a person? How can anyone drive into a busy commercial area full of offices and shoot somebody? Still, I feel, Bombay isn't a safe city notwithstanding what people living in "gated communities" and driving cars and holidaying in Paris would say. In spite of having all sorts of bureaucratic controls, we wink at security and access control. We take these things lightly, in fact, we are frivolous about our own safety, which we shouldn't take too lightly in these troubled times.

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