Saturday, October 29, 2005

Delhi

I should be happy today, it's S's birthday, and we have guests coming over in a few hours, but I'm sad. I woke up this morning to news of the bomb blasts in Delhi. I checked news websites, online streaming news videos, and it looked pretty bad. I was happy to know that my family and friends are safe, though I haven't checked on all of them (especially one friend who lives very close to one of the blast sites). It's too late for me to call Delhi (it's the middle of night there), so I'll wait till evening to call up.

I check an online forum dedicated to discussion on issues around South Asia, and someone had started a thread on the Delhi blasts. There was some sympathy for the victims, but some of the members merely speculated if the blasts will now take attention away from the earthquake victims in Kashmir. Damn it, conniving, devious, attention-seeking Delhi. Charred bodies, broken limbs, so they can turn sympathy away from the Kashmiri earthquake victims. Never mind the large Kashmiri diaspora, Hindu or Muslim, that calls the city home. The frantic SMSes that flit across the screen from Kashmiris asking their loved ones in Delhi to call back home and assure them of their safety. I thought the idea of India is shared grief. But apparently Delhi's suffering distracts too much from suffering elewhere.

And then, the story that went around the Indian blgworld, of one blogger's effort to save an accident victim in the face of unparalleled barbarity that apparently the city of Delhi throws up effortlessly. And the comments on the story, berating the heartless, inhuman bleak little place that I once called home. And I experienced shock at the devastating narrative, and then incredulity as it refused to match up with my experiential map of the city. Pieces refused to fit and yet, it was hard to question a tale told with such conviction.

And then today, I was watching NDTV news online, and they played a video taken by a British tourist couple in Paharganj moments after the blast, that showed people using all means possible, cars, rickshaws, little wooden carts used to carry goods in the narrow lanes and bare hands to rush the victims to medical assistance. An overwhelming rush of amateur do-gooders, galvanized by the situation, united in collective misery. I was reassured, I had a solid piece of evidence to throw back at the skeptics, to show that there were yet people who wouldn't leave other human beings to perish on the streets. Blogger whom I'm too disgusted to name, you owe my city an apology.

As for Delhi, it moves on, as it always has. Sacked, pillaged, looted, torched and bombed. Yet on and on.

31 Comments:

Blogger www.gypsynan.blogspot.com said...

which blog was it?
And I hope your family and loved ones and acaquaintances are safe.
Take care.

6:33 PM  
Blogger Adagio For Strings said...

Hi TM,

Was about to leave you a msg earlier asking if every1 was ok. Glad to know the same. Your post was very touching. I cant get over this incident. Seems so much harder to now that I am far away. I almost feel guilty - Guilty by abstaining to act. I wish I could do something - anything. Oooops but this is your blog not mine, let me not get carried away :). Could you send the link for the discussion group you talk about and the blogs you mentioned.

-Me

8:44 PM  
Blogger thalassa_mikra said...

Hi Gypsy, thank you so much for your wishes. As far as I know, none of my family or acquaintances have been injured.

Adagio, everyone I know is alright so far. Hope everyone you know is ok. I feel the same. But during the tsunami, earthquake and now the blast, the most heartening thing to witness is the spirit of the people of the subcontinent, strangers acting together to save lives. Makes you feel very optimistic about the place.

9:03 PM  
Blogger Adagio For Strings said...

Yes but fat lot of good that optimism has done for us. I think people were optimistic at the time the emergency ended. They were also hopeful at the time of independence.
Ufff! Again getting carried away and sounding cynical when I am not really feeling it (cynical that is).
Everyone is fine though. Although still to get in touch with some people.

9:34 PM  
Blogger MAHARAJADHIRAJ said...

Am fine Mikra. Also overwhelmed by the immense dignity of Delhiites. Was at a ghazal concert where Shiela Dikshit was the chief guest. She obviously couldn't make it but the concert went off beautifully.

12:03 AM  
Blogger AB said...

Hey whose blog was it? Curious. I thought after the Tsunami and the earthquake, these people would realise that they don't need to put in extra effort to crap up lives. Mother Nature is there.

1:33 AM  
Blogger Gaurang said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2:32 AM  
Blogger Gaurang said...

I think she meant this blog post

2:33 AM  
Blogger anthony said...

I don't know where we have come to, where it will end. They will never win, and neither shall we. If only our leaders could really do something..

3:08 AM  
Blogger Hiren said...

Being from Delhi, I feel that that was quite a moving post. There should not be any competition with earthquake victims. Hope things return to normal.

3:16 AM  
Blogger thalassa_mikra said...

Dhiraj, am glad you enjoyed the concert. Who sang? Yes, we've learnt to shrug and move on, we're that resilient.

AB, that's very true. And the timing just goes to show that if you are a fanatic bent on perpetuating violence, even the most basic tenets of your religion cease to mattter.

Gaurang, thanks :).

Anthony, that's what worries me. Terrorism of this sort is a relatively recent phenomenon (I guess the earliest documented ones are Zionist and LTTE terrorists). Who knows how long we wait before we figure out effective ways to deal with it.

Hiren, thanks. My thoughts as well. It is very heartwrenching to deal with the reality of the earthquake, and then to read thoughtless comments about how the blasts would take attention away from the earthquake.

9:46 AM  
Anonymous Sanity Starved said...

Hey Thalassa,

A very Happy Birthday to S :-) Hope things are fine at your end.
Take care.

1:42 PM  
Blogger MAHARAJADHIRAJ said...

Rita Ganguly, she's a disciple of the awesomely amazing Begum Akhtar. Actually, the occasion was her death anniversary.

6:57 PM  
Blogger thalassa_mikra said...

Pidus, thank you so much for your wishes. I'll pass them along!

Dhiraj, you are so lucky!! I adore Rita Ganguly's voice, "Aap ki yaad aati rahi" is one of my most favourite songs ever. Have you heard her sing "Ze haal-e-miskin" by Amir Khusro? Oh, did she sing these two songs? She seems to have modelled herself a bit on her mentor, wahi naaz-o-andaz.

7:32 PM  
Blogger MAHARAJADHIRAJ said...

She didn't do much singing... but the kids she's been training for the last few years were amazing. And yup she does like to model herself on her guru.

1:53 AM  
Blogger anthony said...

Happy Diwali Thalassa

tony

2:27 AM  
Blogger Raccoon said...

Very nice...humans do have an undying spirit to crawl back into normality. Indians, more so, I guess..! and yeah...I think the amount of compassion shown was just awesome..I had even friends who I thought were flaky...going to hospitals to donate blood...and damn..I hope they dont reach here and read this comment...:-D

2:47 AM  
Blogger Mridula said...

I agree with you that a blogger has gone overboard with the picture painted of the city of Delhi. But did you see this?

http://clearway.blogspot.com/2005/10/indians-diwali-and-messageboard.html

7:59 AM  
Blogger eeesh! said...

tm,
there were people who went about furiously serving tea to everyone who was searching for their loved ones in the heap of dead bodies. there were autowallas who were ferrying victims all night from RML to Safdarjung. There were thelawallas using there thelas as stretchers. And the Diwali Bazaars opened on Sunday. At both SN and Paharganj.

Happens only in our Dilli, my friend. No other city could come close.

11:07 AM  
Blogger thalassa_mikra said...

Anthony, thank you! And a very happy Diwali to you too.

Pranav, kudos to your friends! Sometimes we don't realize the spirit lurking underneath unless situations like these occur.

Mridula, overboard is a very, very mild term. I would call her an outright liar. What she said is outlandish, highly improbable, and extremely damaging. I don't have words to describe how outraged I felt.

Thanks for the link. Don't interpret it as apathy. I grew up in Delhi in the 1980s and 1990s and we had to deal with a much greater frequency of bombings. People have learnt to deal with things by not wallowing in self-pity, but moving on with their lives.

Eeesh, those stories are amazing. I've seen first hand that kind of compassion and generosity on many occasions. But I'm sure everywhere, human beings can find it within themselves to find the spirit to go the extra mile to help others. Not just in Dilli. But yet, I feel so proud when I hear that this is what ordinary people did in my city.

11:48 AM  
Blogger eM said...

Gosh, you've said all I wanted to and couldn't coz I was so pissed off, and then some :)
Thanks for this post, I'm linking it to mine.

12:17 PM  
Blogger thalassa_mikra said...

eM thanks so much for the link. I loved your post too, it was so heartfelt!

12:56 PM  
Blogger Quizman said...

Thalassa,

Wasn't it Chaaya Ganguly who sang "Aapki yaad"?

With regard to "Zehaal-e-miskin", the album "The Genius of Amir Khusrau" had the following:
1. Dohe - Ustad Ghulam Mustafa Khan
2. Bandish - Sudha Malhotra, Dilraj Kaur, Krishna Kalle et al
3. Sawangeet - same as above
4. Ghazal - Mukesh & Sudha Malhotra (in Persian & Brijbhasha - Zehaal e miskin)
5. Tarana in Raga Darbari- Kankana Banerjee
6. Mukarniyan - Vani Jairam and Krishna Kalle
7. Khayal in Raga Zilaf - Pandit Jasraj
8. Khayal in Raga Yaman Kalyan - Pandit Pratap Narayan & Kankana Banerjee
9. Qual (mun kunto maula) - Shankar Shambhu Qawaal
10. Rang (Aaj rang hai he maa)- Shankar Shambhu Qawaal
11. Dohe - Ustad Ghulam Mustafa Khan

Can't recall Rita Ganguly in that one either. Did she have a version of that song as well?

3:16 PM  
Blogger thalassa_mikra said...

Oh dear! Quizman, you are so right!

I was confused between the two. Of course I was referring to Chhaya Ganguly. And it is Chhaya Ganguly who sings "Ze haal-e-miskin" in the Husn-e-Jaana CD (by Music Today) where music is composed by Muzaffar Ali.

It's amazing but I got the two completely mixed up. I was referring to Chhaya for the music, and Rita for the "naaz-o-andaaz".

Thank you so much for correcting me.

3:42 PM  
Blogger Quizman said...

Hey, it could happen. I love the Husn-e-Jaana album.

Btw, your error is understandable. But this morphing of two different Ravis is funny.

10:21 AM  
Anonymous vague said...

A long comment just lost in cyberspace, so here's a quick second attempt:

I love Delhi. I really do. it is home for me, and always will be.
But it would be hypocritical of me to say that it is full of well meaning good natured helpful friendly people. Too often Delhi breaks my heart with its callousness, more often than it warms it with humanity. Post-blast stories reaffirm my faith more in humanity, in our reslience, rather than in an intrinsic Delhi nature.

Something like a bomb blast or disaster is likely to bring people together, brings out character, selflessness and beauty- the tragedy binds us because we know that we have been attacked or hurt as a people, a community, a city.
On a daily basis, things are woefully different, and it is the one thing that depresses me about Delhi every so often.

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