Jul 15, 2011

Are you safe?

What is it about bomb blasts that make people call up family and friends to check if they are "safe"?

It cannot just be the thought that "something" may have "happenned" to them. I mean, you are walking down the road one fine day, enjoying the drizzle (or if you are like me, cursing the rains), some idiot whose father has too much cash and not enough parenting skills comes zipping in his trendy car and before you (or he) realize, pop! Or you could be sitting at your dining table, smacking your lips in anticipation of that wonderful smelling dinner, and pop! All I am saying is, there are multiple ways of kicking the bucket, and most of the bucket-kicking happens without warning. Or as the news channels report, "dhamake ka purv soochna nahi thi". Yes, next time, they will give 21 day notice. As per Sec 171 of the Companies Act, 1956. Or maybe, we can consult the numerologist who helpfully utters AFTER the blast "the last attack was on 26th, this one is on 13th. They favour multiples of 13. Unlucky number. Next attack will be 39th of the month". Sorry, but no more rants against the media. They are all idiots anyways.

It doesn't even make sense. On an average, 3500 people die on Mumbai's local train tracks every year. In case you are bad at Math, which most of you engineering nerds won't be, is about 10 a day. Give or take a few. Most die from crossing tracks, choosing convenience over safety. Some idiots from travelling on the roof, seeking thrills or maybe escaping crowds. But a few unfortunate ones fall off, or get knocked down by poles too close to the tracks. No one bats an eyelid. Except maybe for the "on duty station hamal and safai karamchari" who are "kripaya" called to the "station master's karyalay" by the loud and mostly incoherent announcer. And maybe the railway policeman, who has one more form to fill and one more case to file. Statistically, I am much more likely to go 'pop' while boarding a train in Mumbai than from some blast placed by brainwashed idiots. But you don't call people every time they board a local train to ask "all safe?", nor do you report to your loved ones "all well", every time you successfully make it alive from Borivali to Churchgate.   (Er, you do? In which case, I am not talking to you, you obsessive fool. I am talking to the normal people. Like me. Who call up home once a week. And then wonder what is there to say?)

I guess it has something to do with the 'drama' of a blast. I mean, you don't see it everyday. Not yet at least. Thankfully. No PM or CM comes to visit you if you fall off a train. Thankfully. No Barkha Dutt goes to your crying mom and asks "Aap ko kaise lag raha hai?". Thankfully. Wait. I shall not rant about the media. Repeat. I shall not rant against the media. Repeat. I SHALL NOT RANT AGAINST THE MEDIA. Unending loop with blaring music. As some writer who wrote a memory book whose name I have forgotten wrote, "a slap in the face" is more memorable than, well, something more mundane which I forgot. A bomb blast is a slap in the face. It stings.

I guess, although I hope not, it is also about people's need to reaffirm themselves. "I am safe. My family is safe. My friends too. Thank God. We are lucky. Blessed, even". I can just about tolerate such people. What I cannot stand, are those idiots who come the next day with an anecdote about themselves / their friend / sister / neighbour, who had a close shave with the incident, and 'miraculously' escaped. Inevitably this happens. After every bomb blast in this city, and believe me, I have miraculously survived quite a few, there is at least one smug asshole believing that 'God' saved him. The fact that 10 other people died and hundreds are in the hospital don't seem to bother him. If anything, it serves to accentuate his feeling of being blessed. "Imagine, 10 people died! And I was 5 minutes away from this place. I am going to Siddhivinayak this week to thank the Lord". Much as I try to push the thought away, silly as the atheist in me feels tapping my cheeks religiously with my hands while I think it, I sincerely hope that the next time they bomb, and much as our government may assure us they won't but they will, I sincerely hope they take you out. You are blessed enough to belong to Heaven. Planet Earth is too low a place for someone like you.

The other species I cannot stand are the ones who suddenly wake up from their slumber, get infected with Anna-itis and shout, "The Government should do something. This cannot go on." Er, do what? Come up with something specific. At least think how you will contribute. For now, you sound as silly as our ministers who "strongly condemn" these attacks. Yeah, the terrorists were looking for your approval and are now weeping copiously from being "strongly condemned". And more, they are very afraid after you have said that "this will not be tolerated." Strange, my Hindi teacher in III standard said the same thing, and still the naughty students never kept quiet. At least, she had a cane in her hand. A cane to hit with, not one to lean on while walking.

Ok. End of Rant.

Disclosure: I was one of the idiots who did check up on a few people and ask if they are "safe". Call it stupidity, call it peer pressure, call it being emotional rather than being rational. After all, I am no robot. Only a fan of the movie.

PS: There was one saving grace. People volunteered to help. Did something. Salute to those who did.


  1. Anonymous7:52 PM

    well,i agree with you on most points,except-
    calling somone to inquire is more of a considerate gesture.
    saving yourself or being saved belongs to an intricate web-strand of karma-something that one can never comprehend fully.painful and untimely death is scary,even if the notion of mortality is acceptable.
    running a country is no mean feat.

  2. Anonymous7:53 PM

    rants are supposed to be cathartic.
    didn't want to comment but could not restrain myself.

  3. Anonymous7:17 AM

    media goofs up big time.

    you in Mumbai?

  4. Anonymous5:45 PM


  5. @ Anon 1:
    I didn't say it isn't considerate. All I am saying is, it isn't logical. I won't comment on the karma-something, it is almost like saying the people who did die almost asked for it because of their "past sins"...
    and the country can run itself, if only the politicians can get out of the way!

    @ Anon 2:
    This rant was, at least to me :)

    @ Anon 3:
    And Yes.

    @ Anon 4:
    Very nice.

  6. Loved your post script :P
    Ok. I liked the entire post.

  7. @srk Trying to place what is it with you and the word "engineering nerds"?
    Do you actually believe each engineer is a nerd? or that nerds are almost always engineers?

    I have seen my fair share of non-nerdy people during my engineering education ( probably explains why I get touchy about this ;) )

    Now that my rant is over, the post makes a lot of sense. Even I am a culprit of the "are you safe" syndrome. Except that instead of calling up people and speaking to them in person, nowadays Facebook/sms and the latest google+ (circles?) rule the roost. As long as you have checked your circle, you have done your 'duty'

    P.S. I do not have a google+ account nor do I intend to have one.

  8. @ Ashwin:
    Thanks. And looks like you have enough free time to browse through archives. Welcome!

    @ DesiNRI:
    What's with me and engineers? Well, quite a long made-up history, but I like to take some pot shots at them :)

  9. Anonymous10:19 AM

    btw,what else irks you about people?

  10. @ Anon:
    You'll have to wait for my next rant to find out.

  11. Your basic premise of 10 people dying on Mumbai tracks everyday on average and our near ones could be among them is almost wrong, because 100% of the people I know and care about in Mumbai do not travel on roof of the train or even are not stupid enuf to lean to be hit by electric poles. Call me elitist :) That is why we call up near & dear ones after bomb blast coz there is no way to avoid one, even if u r super-smart!