Mumbai Musing (3): Spirit of Mumbai

Hope you guys are enjoying my collections ya memories on Mumbai where I wanna narrate small incidents and experiences that remained etched in my memories forever. Let’s travel to 2006 when I was traveling to Mumbai and bombs planted in Seven trains between 11 minutes at the peak hours where some 190 people died. It’s the day I witnessed why people hail the resilience of Mumbai as a city and where ordinary citizens huddled together to show The Spirit of Mumbai. It command respect and I am very proud of the city and it’s people.

It was a Tuesday. I took the bus around 3.30 at Pune Station, en route, to Mumbai. In fact, something strange happened on that day when mayhem struck which reinforced my belief in Karma. I walked to the booking counter at Pune Station where I almost asked the guy at the counter for the train journey to Mumbai but had a change of heart at the last minute. In fact, I was in two minds and decided to go by bus. The initial plan was board the train and once I reach the city, take a local ride to Churchgate. I couldn’t say I was saved but just imagine the chaos of getting down and trying to catch a local line which wouldn’t be running.

We were in the bus and opposite to me, a guy and his mother was travelling. It was 6.25 something and we reached Chembur as the bus just passed through RK Studio. The guy was speaking on the phone and he suddenly jolted and shouted, ‘What blast?’ His mom looked around and expressed disbelief, ‘Yeh Kya ho Raha hai Mumbai mein (what’s happening in the city). I was anxious and spoke to the guy and he told bombs were planted in seven trains. I was suddenly worried knowing well that it local trains and buses will be suspended, cabs will be reluctant to ferry passengers and the blast might trigger riots in the city. I exchanged numbers with the guy and he told me if there is anything, let me know. I also gave him the number of my friend whom I was supposed to meet the next day for safety concern.

The bus was supposed to drop us at Dadar but left all passengers at Sion station since they fear riots and all. I felt stranded and tried calling my parents and Adi, the friend I was supposed to meet. The mobile phone was not working and tried telephone booth. No luck! Phone lines were jammed. I felt stranded and the best option was to wait for the BEST buses. As we were waiting, a car occupied by a middle age couple halted and offered to drop people to their destinations. The couple removed the car from their garage and were helping people since the city was in tension. It was my first brush with the goodwill of the people of Mumbai who offered to help people selflessly. They dropped me at Dadar and asked if I’ll be okay but I insisted that I’ll take a bus to Mumbai Central.

I was clueless where to go but I suddenly remembered a Parsi aunty and took the jam-packed bus to reach Mumbai Central. I knocked on the door and asked if she can let me in for a day. She welcomed me and ordered noodle for dinner. She told me, ‘You were scared. Don’t worry. You are lucky since I reached Mumbai in the morning. I was traveling in England.’

The next day, she woke me up early since her nephew died in the blast. I called my friend and he got me checked in a cheap hotel nearby. The next day was terrible when I read newspaper headlines and it’s depressing to see so many people dying. But, at the same time, I was proud reading report how the localites went out of their way to help pull dead bodies in the crushed trains, railway tracks to help carry them to hospitals. They also provided snacks and water bottles to stranded passengers in buses and trains. Isn’t it amazing? I mean, people in the city are always in a rush, have no time for each other but when tragedy strikes, the people unite. This is the strength of the city. It’s like fingers come together and become a clenched fist.

I was supposed to go to the university for inquiry but didn’t go since I felt so bad about the whole tragedy. I took the cab to Marine Drive for a walk and went to have some beer at Not Just Jazz by the Bay. I needed a beer badly since I was down, reading the death of so many people. In the evening, I walked at Marine Drive and enjoyed the sea breeze. The monsoon just started and it rained heavily. I took the train from Churchgate to Mumbai Central, telling ki it’ stupid not to commute coz blasts can happen anywhere. Danger lurks everywhere, road accident, pressure cooker and what’s not.



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