A tryst with destiny: Remembering #7/11 #MumbaiSerialTrainBlasts


It was 4 o’cl when I reached Pune Station. I scampered and wriggled my way amidst the motley crowd, stomping my feet upstairs at the booking hall. I waited for another 30 minutes before I walked to the ticket window and asked the gentleman, one ticket second class Mumbai, excited to board one of the trains I normally travel by, Deccan Queen-the favorite or Pragati Express.

I removed my wallet from the jeans pocket and flipped the money out before placing it back inside, making an exit away from the ticket counter, almost leaving the guy speechless. I didn’t know what got over me and cursed myself on my way out of the station. I felt like turning back and going to the railway station but finally paid the bus ticket to Mumbai. I was kicking myself for behaving so weird, which I normally never do.

It was Tuesday evening, July 2006, the same day blast occurred in seven trains in Mumbai. The bus entered the outskirt of Mumbai and I was enjoying the scenery, past TISS and RK studio at Chembur when a guy, accompanying his mother received a call on his cell. It was his father. “What! Train blast in Mumbai.” Everyone in the bus heard him and sent a tizzy of sort when his mom said, “Mumbai mein kya ho raha hai (What’s happening in Mumbai?” I asked the guy and he told bomb has been planted in seven trains in the city.

COojvfVUEAAl8mX

I got scared, wondering what will happen now since I gotta check in the hotel and knowing the history in the city after every terror strike, staying in a hotel would be quite a task. I shared my concern with the guy who was sitting on the opposite seat with his mom. We exchanged numbers and he asked to give a call in case of any problem, prodded by his mother. The bus driver was unwilling to drop passengers to Dadar, fearing of riots and tense situation looming in the city. Despite protests, the bus stopped all passengers at Sion. Immediately, I called home and friends, to inform that I am alright and there is nothing to worry. But, woe betide me as all phone networks were jammed. I lit a cigarette and stood, waiting for the BEST Bus, to come that will ferry me to Dadar.

At the right moment, a car stopped near the bus stop and we were asked to get inside since they will ferry us to our destination.  The coupled removed their car from the garage and was trying to help stranded passengers. That’s what I like about the city and yes, it’s ‘The Spirit of Mumbai.’ Read the related post here.

I was dropped at Mumbai and saw a bus to Mumbai Central in front of us in the traffic at Dadar. The helpful couple asked me, if I’ll be alright and hopped out, not without thanking them, storming inside the moving vehicle. Tried calling Adi but his phone was jammed. Only then, I remember my Parsi relative-I am not a Parsi-Parveen aunty and when I entered the colony, someone stopped me, asking where I was going. I told him, meeting Parveen aunty. I walked up the wooden stairs and Parveen aunty opened the door. I said, “Vishal.”

Aunty just came back to Mumbai in the morning after London holidays in the morning and told me that I was lucky. I stayed over and she ordered chicken fried rice and we had dinner together. Early morning, aunty woke me up, saying sorry but she received a bad news. Her nephew is missing and was hurrying to the hospital to find out. Her nephew was working in London and came back to Mumbai a short while ago. His wife has just delivered a baby. It tears the heart apart and didn’t know what to say. Had quick shower and breakfast before wishing courage to aunty.

I bought a copy of Mid-Day before taking a cab to Churchgate, walked at Marine Drive and sipping beer at Not Just Jazz by the Bay. I was depressed during the day, reading the newspaper on how many lives were lost and gleaning through the pictures. During the evening, I boarded the empty local on the way back to Mumbai Central where I checked at a hotel. Adi called and came to me, telling how horde of relatives came to stay at his house on the day of the blast. He took me home, the next day. We traveled on his bike in the city, wondering how the blast rocked Mumbai but the city stood firm on its feet in no time. This is Mumbai and nothing on earth can deter the city, its spirit. It was back to normal life, cars honking and swerving their way, the crowd always in a rush, lifeline in the city ‘locals’ and couples sitting at Marine Drive.

Post script: Like a friend shared with me yesterday as we harked back to the fateful day on July 11, it was all destiny and luck. The initial plan was to travel by train to Dadar and from there take a local to Chruchgate, like I normally do. Unbelievable! The post doesn’t seek to cast a comment on the court judgement on Tuesday, nine years later but go back to the day where I experienced kindness and came face to face with fate.

Remembering  #7/11

V

Advertisements

26 thoughts on “A tryst with destiny: Remembering #7/11 #MumbaiSerialTrainBlasts

  1. I agree with you – as a Mumbaikar, every time someone leaves the home, I wonder if they’ll come back because terror has no timetable and no bias. I have faced this fear when my girls were going to school, studying in college, going for movies and even just hanging out on Marine Drive….. The papers have made the terror organisers of these blasts appear like victims rather than victimisers. Sure they have families too but what about those families whose lives have changed for ever thanks to their planned destructive acts?

    • Hey Belly, unfortunately yeah, so many lives lost but I don’t wanna cast a judgement. I wanted to share my date with fate and how the inner voice changed my decision on that day. Thanks for airing your views.

      • It’s so true. It’s a harsh reality when Mumbaikar leave home, there is no guarantee that they will be back home. I guess, it makes the citizens immune. Please feel free to air your concern and that’s how we got to know each other’s view points and learn:)

  2. Good write up Vishal. You obviously had a lucky escape. Mumbai is a great city to live in indeed. I remember I used to work in Mumbai Mirror those days. Times Group was organising buses and taxies to take their employees home that night. It looked like that might happen after midnight. I didnt want to wait till so late and remember taking an empty train home from CST to Sion after 10 pm. Trains were running smoothly despite the terrible blasts. Mumbai Meri Jaan!!!

    • I vividly remember the day and indeed, a lucky escape from fate. That’s what I like with Mumbai, how one gets on the track with trains running back to normal. Oh! It’s an amazing place and the judgement sent flash pan of memory.

  3. Hey buddy, so glad you had a lucky escape that day. But feel so sad about that day and all such gruesome events where so many innocent lives are lost and many more affected. Those times, where the world used to be a beautiful peaceful place to live in, are unfortunately long gone.

    • It was depressing Leena and can never forget that day when Mumbaikars came together as one, distributing food and water, helping each other. A big slap to haters. Sad to see lives lost like that. It’s Karma I feel how some unknown force dissuaded me to take the train. A close brush, indeed.

    • It was scary, Indrani and was in the bus, wondering what’s happening to the city that was boiling under terror. But, touched how Mumbaikars came together, distributing water and food to passengers trapped. The city came alive.

    • It’s so real Rajlakshmi, the way things came so close, right at the ticket counter to the bus and a samaritan couple came to help. Didn’t realIze that I would have a close brush and my angel who played havoc with the mind:)

  4. it’s a sad incident that happened and so many followed after that too… I remember every detail so well 😦 scary and really sad…
    and just see the way the city bounces back… isn’t that amazing?

    • It’s an incident that I shall never forget, not that it was face to face. But the death and injured. Yeah, was lucky. That’s Mumbai who gets back on its feet. Mumbai nagariya:)

  5. OH WOW!! You know how we share the love to that city of ours, Vishal, my friend… So no wonder, your post brought tears in my eyes… sadness, anger, life love… Wonderful moving write up!

    • It’s an incredible city and we both agree, Eli. Mumbai teaches us a lot every single day and as I harked back to those days, I feel like coming back soon. I wrote it exactly the way I witnessed and what moves me to tears how the city and its people pick the thread, gets moving so swiftly.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s