To Bombay

by Devanshu Mehta

Bombay. A most fascinating place.

We may be told- ad nauseum- that it was formerly called Bombay. It is still Bombay to me when I speak (or write) English, and Mumbai when I speak Gujarati or Hindi. It is what it is- official name changes change nothing.

And it has been bombed. Seven times within the half hour. Again.

“Amardeep Singh”:http://www.lehigh.edu/~amsp/2006/07/bombay-blasts.html has some great links about that provide perspective and links to take action now.

“Suketu Mehta”:http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/discussion/2006/07/11/DI2006071100620.html talks about the issues at hand at the Washington Post. He is the author of “Maximum City”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0375703403/galaxyfaraway/ which is the second greatest book I have read on Bombay. The best, of course, is “Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0140132708/galaxyfaraway/102-8769303-4742567.

And the Washington Post asks just the right question: “How Much can India Endure?”:http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/07/11/AR2006071101205.html

But — and here’s the crux of the matter — how long can India, Indians and the Singh government withstand the constant pressure from militant groups before they have to react? By any measure of international diplomacy, they’ve already been extraordinarily patient; compare their restraint with Israel’s response to the kidnapping of its soldier or to the U.S. and Japanese responses to North Korea’s missile tests.

My friend Rahul, at his blog writes in outrage, at the lack of anything but empty words from the people in power.

And I write this and quote poetry.

The people yes
The people will live on.
The learning and blundering people will live on.
They will be tricked and sold and again sold
And go back to the nourishing earth for rootholds,
The people so peculiar in renewal and comeback,
You can’t laugh off their capacity to take it.
The mammoth rests between his cyclonic dramas.

The people so often sleepy, weary, enigmatic,
is a vast huddle with many units saying:
“I earn my living.
I make enough to get by
and it takes all my time.
If I had more time
I could do more for myself
and maybe for others.
I could read and study
and talk things over
and find out about things.
It takes time.
I wish I had the time.”

The people is a tragic and comic two-face: hero and hoodlum:
phantom and gorilla twisting to moan with a gargoyle mouth:
“They buy me and sell me…it’s a game…sometime I’ll break loose…”

- *Carl Sandburg* from *The People, Yes*

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