Why Mumbai should learn the art of cynicism?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

It has been one year since the fateful day of 26/11. The day that many feel changed India. This was the day when the city of Mumbai was besieged by a group of ten terrorists. One year on, it is time we do some introspection about our preparedness against such attacks. But before we do that do we actually have a space for some meaningful and rational thinking? Are we focusing on the right things? I am not sure about this fact.
Many in media and elsewhere refer to the clich├ęd phrase - “Spirit of Mumbai” and talk about the resilience of the city; the city that all time is brimming with a vitality of its own. They talk about how life in this city still moves at a rapid pace come what may. I also initially joined the bandwagon that believed this city can stand up to anything. These days, the more I hear this phrase scarier I get. I think how people in this city that has been ravaged time and again by calamity (I am referring to communal violence, bomb attacks, gang wars, floods etc) be a silent spectator. The city has become immune to all that has gone wrong and is too inert, too shy, too negative and far too impotent to find answers for its own vices. Unlike many people, who think of this city resembling life in the truest sense, I feel the city has transformed into a tomb which has been ravaged by raiders many times over. This metamorphosis has been far too depressing.
Now I have come to know what is behind this apathetic state in which the city is. It is the people of this city that have an attention span of a child. The whole city was out in streets after 26/11 with the candle marches but failed to spend 15 minutes on a holiday for voting and deciding to change whatever that has gone wrong. To top it this has happened twice (in the general elections and the state assembly elections). The south Mumbai constituency which faced the maximum brunt of the terror attacks had lowest voter turnout percentagewise. Where have all the intellectuals gone? If this is the spirit of Mumbai, I am not proud about it. It is time the city becomes more cynical than resilient.