Thursday, 4 December, 2008

Mumbai Manoos

I have always suspected that Mumbai is nothing but a glorified transit-camp-casino in the minds of its dwellers. People dream, land up here and at the back of their minds, home is somewhere far away. The migrants have land to till and to go back to. The middle class yearn for their ‘native’. And the rich, well they will always have multiple homes of convenience. Till of course, the city makes you an addict. To the opportunities. To the pace of life. To the comfort and the freedom of not being judged constantly.

The indiscriminate firing in Mumbai on 26.11.08 undid the work of all the political parties trying to divide vote banks on caste and regional lines. It brought Mumbai residents (or as I would like to call them, the Mumbai Manoos) together like never before. The attack wasn’t localized to trains or the buses. Random people – CEOs and the 5 Star rich, Omelet Pav sellers, train travelers and western tourists were among the people caught unawares.

The Mumbai Manoos - all the people who work, live and dare to call this city their home - are out on the streets and demanding some concrete action, demanding security and a better life in their ‘working home’. Well the city is (inefficiently) built for work not for a comfortable life.

The middle and upper middle class of these Mumbai Manoos, generally immune to most things, have been galvanized into action, as the huge gathering on 03.12.08 at the Gateway of India proves. More rallies have been planned. Voices are being raised. The hawks are out, demanding an attack as an answer to this seemingly proxy war emanating from Pakistani soil. The live telecasts and a bit of prodding by the newscasters has done its bit no doubt. Asking questions, as someone rightly said, that should have been asked by our politicians to the Pakistanis.

The people in power treat the city like the natives of the Amazon rainforests do. Slash and burn, extract their pound of flesh, make the most out of their years in power before getting booted out.

One can only hope that the sense of outrage and the ownership of the Mumbai Manoos lingers on and reaches the thick-skinned, Gordon Gecko-esque politicians. Like Prannoy Roy put it, enough is enough.

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