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After the Mumbai killings

November 29, 2008
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A little off topic perhaps, but after the horrific killings in the past days in Mumbai, the world’s most populous city, I thought I’d post this extract from Maximum City: Bombay Lost And Found by Suketu Mehta:

If you are late for work in Bombay, and reach the station just as the train is leaving the platform, you can run up to the packed compartments and you will find many hands stretching out to grab you on board, unfolding outward from the train like petals. As you run alongside you will be picked up, and some tiny space will be made for your feet on the edge of the open doorway. The rest is up to you; you will probably have to hang onto the door frame with your fingertips, being careful not to lean out too far lest you get decapitated by a pole placed too close to the tracks. But consider what has happened: your fellow passengers, already packed tighter than cattle are leagally allowed to be, their shirts drenched in sweat in the badly ventilated compartment, having stood like this for hours, retain an empathy for you, know that your boss might yell at you or cut your pay if you miss this train and will make space where none exists to take one more person with them. And at that moment of contact, they do not know if the hand that is reaching for theirs belongs to a Hindu or Muslim or Christian or Brahmin or untouchable or whether you were born in this city or arrived only this morning or whether you live in Malabar Hill or Jogeshwari; whether you are from Bombay or Mumbai or New York. All they know is that you are trying to get to the city of gold, and that is enough. Come on board, they say.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. December 5, 2008 4:15 pm

    I am quite touched by your admiration for the empathy of Bombayites. Indeed it is very perceptive of you. As a non-Bombayite Indian I can vouch for Bombay being the most Indian of any other city. Bombay is the envy and pride of all Indians – envy by non-Bombayites and pride of Bobayites.

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