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Mumbai is no more what it was
This is all about what Mumbai was and what it has become now. This is the feeling of millions of Indians who feel that we have lost our lovely Mumbai. The first time I felt a change in the nature of the city was after the Babri Masjid demolition.
THIS IS not only my story but also that of many Indians who have similar feelings. The Mumbai what I saw was a very different Mumbai. When I first went to Bombay as a teenager for a holiday, I felt it was a different country. My hometown was conservative, didn’t have coffee shops, restaurants, discos and had no embargo against anyone. Bombay seemed so open, Marathi ‘manus’ so friendly, and more than anything else, it was a fun place. Once, when I was taken to the Gateway of India near Taj Mahal Hotel, I saw for the first time the open sea, I saw Taj Mahal Hotel. I had never seen such a huge building before. It was beautiful. I felt I had reached heaven. There was a disco, the arty crowd and minor film stars mingled easily with people. There was no fear, big buildings and so many people not only from India but other parts of the world.

I travelled frequently to Bombay. As an Indian I can speak Hindi, Urdu and English. There was no controversy about language, and I found ‘Bombaiya’ Hindi interesting. I remember thinking that this is possible only in Bombay. If you are not very rich, it doesn’t matter you can afford housing in the suburbs. Travelling a long distance in crowded local trains and buses was also fun. Mumbai was safe. The horror of what is happened at the Taj Mahal and Oberoi Hotels is particularly heart-breaking for me. My connection with the city continued because of my frequent trips there. Mumbai was a multi-culture city. People from all parts of the country worked there. Nobody thought about the regional divisions. Most of us loved the city, loved our jobs, loved the tension of delivering results. It was such a professional city. Nobody bothered about your background, where you came from or who your parents were. You were what you were.

Truly, the first time I felt a change in the nature of the city was after the Babri Masjid demolition.

My friends suddenly withdrew into themselves. It didn’t make any difference to our relationship, but they started thinking more seriously about their religion, their future, and their children’s future. Some friends who had never talked about religion before, started raising this issue. Soon, came the Bombay blasts and then the retaliatory attacks when the some local party workers went on a rampage. Suddenly, there was a communal divide. Hindu friends became protective of their Muslim colleagues. Muslim friends became slightly suspicious.

In 2006, there were the serial blasts in the Mumbai suburban trains, the lifeline of the city. It happened on a rainy evening when the middle-class professionals were returning home. The commuters are a community by themselves. As they spend such long hours in the trains, they make friends, save sitting places for others, form singing groups, share snacks, and make life as comfortable as possible. Even after that particular horror, Mumbai did come back to normal, picked itself together, and went back to business. But then politics has started rearing its ugly head ever so often in Mumbai. The Malegaon blasts, the Marathi ‘manoos’ campaign, all ruined the spirit of Mumbai. They started to divide Mumbai by language, by caste, by region and by language. How much beating can the city take?

The monsters who are behind this attack seem to understand very well that if they break Mumbai, they break India. When I think of who is responsible for this, only one thing comes into my mind and it is cheap politics, followed by cheap politician. We want our Mumbai, our beautiful country back….

The terrorist entered India to trigger the violence. They shot innocent people and penetrate our coastal defense system without difficulty. They shattered the domestic security system. They have attacked religious and public places. They have put bombs in Railways without any problem. At the end government will do nothing but make promises and announcements and condole the deaths of victims. How many times will we suffer? The Mumbai incident was not the first time and previous experience shows that is not going to be the last. After the terror attack they will start blaming each other rather than think about public safety. The deputy CM said: “It happens in a big city”.

The politicians have Z+ security which is regularly reviewed. No one thinks about public security. When we will get Z+ security? The public is frightened to move out. We have always terror in our minds. Enough is enough. Don’t label us that we are resilient. Now we need answers….

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