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Old 25th August 2005, 21:58   #1
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Default final words on 26/07?

26/07 is now a day in history - but for many of us it's much more personal. i knew 2 people (1 directly and 1 indirectly) who died in that tragedy - both from kalina...property loss and other stuff is less to crib about - after all, there is insurance.

so i put down my thoughts a few days ago - and i sent letters to the mumbai mirror, toi, mid-day - as i've done before on various topics - but these letters have never been published - maybe they don't agree, maybe they don't like my tone -whatever...

i think - the biggest mistake is yet to be made - as a survivor of the wwII holocaust once said - the biggest mistake that human beings can make is to forget what happened.

anyway - here's what i wrote - peace.

Fiddlers All…

As the dust of 26/07 settles, and Mumbai grinds itself back to normalcy – a few thoughts on the sorry state of affairs that will sooner or later engulf us and bring us everlasting misery.

The government:

While no one needs to know again how bad the government and the authorities really are, let me just say that coupled with the power lobby – of builders and developers, we have now a machinery of complete corruption and ineptitude, which is, by far the worst kind of nightmare imaginable for the citizens of this country.

We the press:

In a situation of having a government as bad as we have above, the most important role must be played by the media – because they have the power to galvanize, educate and inform the masses. Yet, the media’s attention span is terribly short – after all, only ‘hot’ news sells, at least in the minds of the trp rating mba s, so old news is stale news – no matter how important and how crucial.

We report frivolity and gossip and make it prime time and interesting. As I write this on a Sunday, Aug 212005, when reading the newspaper is an essential part of the morning, the headlines of TOI read ‘Sunjay deserted me, Karishma tells HC’! This from the highest rated and most widely respected English newspaper the country has to offer! A supplement is devoted to the useless shenanigans of the glamour brigade – when any one of them shakes their lace-covered fanny, the press is there to photograph and report the event in its entire splendor.

Let’s see a similar supplement being devoted regularly to the things that matter, the issues that dictate our lives and the problems of the city. Why is it when an NGO / or an activist begs for the media to report a story, all they can get is a few lines of space in an obscure part of the newspaper, while the current state of Karishma Kapoor’s life gets headlines in the Sunday TOI? Our press will report important news only for the day – while KK’s divorce settlement will be followed and reported avidly for the next 5 years. Let reporters go out in the field and report about the corruption, the inefficiency, and the problems that we face. Let’s expose the shameless ministers and the cheaters and the liars, and let’s praise the ‘real’ heroes and the people who fight for this city.

Are we a responsible press, or just a pandering shameless fiddler, talking shop, as the city burns in the hell that it has lit for itself?

We the people:

Sure, the BMC has never cleaned up the plastic from the gutters, but who the hell put them there in the first place? Unfortunately, we Indians are culturally and socially challenged. I expected that some lessons would have been learnt from the 26/07 disaster – and at least people would have had some sense knocked into them. But even today as I walk along the streets where I live, people are littering and messing up – the plastic bag is back on the streets and we are back to building our plastic bubble.

Our culture dictates our quality of life – and it is evident how things can go terribly wrong, when we do not do things right everyday. Everyday, we cut traffic signals and disobey rules like we own the roads – and it was evident how bad that became in a disaster that was 26/07. I mean, who gave some motorists the right to cross the divider and travel on the other side of the road – causing kilometers of jammed traffic on the western express highway that didn’t clear for more than 2 days. Who gave hundreds of people the right to throw plastic bags in the gutters and litter the streets everyday, so that drains don’t work effectively and the flood waters came back to drown scores of people and destroy crores of property.

Who gives people the right to do this? What have we been taught in school and by our parents and peers? It’s worse, when one sees the guy in his posh, manicured car rolling down the window and throwing a Pepsi bottle on the road, breaking the signal and talking gaily on his mobile phone…I mean we may forgive the auto rickshaw driver, for perhaps, he didn’t go to school and may have had a troubled life and no good peers – but what about the other thousands in their santros and optras?

No Hope:

I hoped there was hope, but there is none – we are back to square one, The press, the people, the government and the authorities are all to blame…Our fathers and forefathers left us a city of nightmares, made us socially and culturally retarded and messed up our lives. Now it’s out turn to leave this same legacy to our children. Maybe, in the event of another natural disaster, our children will realize how bad their fathers were, and how they inherited such a miserable life. But maybe, they won’t have to wait for a natural disaster. They will see this misery soon, as epidemics become a norm, as diseases take over, as corruption prevents us from getting anything done – and as we die in an ambulance stuck in a traffic jam, waiting to get to a hospital.

Divine Intervention:

The bible has this – in the Passover, where the first born male of every non-conforming household was killed by the hand of the avenging angel – of course similar stories would exist in every other holy book. More likely, divine intervention will come to us as the face of nature’s fury. 26/07 was just a gentle warning, an unpleasant breeze. The storm will follow soon – and in this storm, the only hope is that all the guilty should be punished. Perhaps the first born of every politician, every news paper editor, every man who threw the plastic bag in the gutter and every driver who skips traffic signals must die too. Only then, when this disaster becomes so personal to all, will we wake up. Only then, will we be able to rise from this mire and filth, and only then, will our children smile at us and say ‘Dad, Thank You’ instead of ‘Dad, F**k You’
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Old 26th August 2005, 12:31   #2
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My condolences on your loss, cream.

Maybe you are right. Maybe it will take something truly cataclysmic for us to change the way we think and act. Maybe this was just a nudge. Maybe the nudge wasn't enough...

I look around Bangalore today, and I shudder. Much as I love my city, it is dying. Official apathy is only matched by the pathetic infrastructure. The much-hyped software industry doesn't do squat to help anyone. We pay the highest indirect taxes. And one heavy rain, it'll all come crashing down. I am well and truly afraid.
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Old 26th August 2005, 16:07   #3
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I agree with everything you wrote cream...especially the irresponsible way in which the media operates. But that problem is not just limited to our indian newspapers and Tv channels. Worldwide its the same story. But then, is it entirely the media's fault? Unfortunately, more people would want to spend their sunday morning reading about Karishma's married life than get depressed by seeing pictures of dead bodies on the roads. Reality has a harsh side and most of us want to be ignorant about the harsh side.

I too was going to start a thread about the non-material losses of team-bhpians on that fateful day. But then i realised that the thread would only serve to bring back bitter memories so decided to scrap the idea.
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Old 26th August 2005, 16:27   #4
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Cream... sorry for your loss dude..
I can say only one thing about your article... BRAVO...
So what if the papers dont have the guts to print what you wrote... methinks they are all CHICKEN and thats why they dont want to go ahead and print the truith about what happened.
The complete apathy shown by the press about 26/7 disgusts me...
I only hope that some reporter somewhere has the BA**S to print the truith once in a while...but then again I think that would be wishing for too much
Once again... Brilliantly written.
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Old 26th August 2005, 16:31   #5
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Nice write up Rajiv. Why dont you try and set up a blog or send it to rediff.
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Old 26th August 2005, 16:46   #6
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Written from the heart. and it shows.

I really don't see a way out of this hole that Mumbai has dug itself into. Only radical changes and harsh decisions can have any effect now, but there is no-one willing to stick his neck out and make those decisions. And even if someone tries, it's chopped off before he gets to finish his sentence.

It sickens me to look around our city at times, what it was and what it has become. To get a quick refresher, just watch an old hindi movie where they show someone driving down Marine Drive. Look at it then and see it now. That goes for the state of each and every area of our lives.

There is no quality of life left in this city. There are no open spaces. There are no concrete plans that actually think more than 2 years into the future. There are only evironment ministers who think the solution to mumbai's financial problems is to sell off every open space left in the city and construct high-rises on it. Where do they find these people? Isn't there any self respect left in this friggin country or is the only purpose of our thousands of babu's is to make it throught he next election with his seat intact and maybe a few hundred crores hidden somewhere.

I'm just so sick of it all...
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Old 26th August 2005, 17:04   #7
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I dont know how things are abroad, but what you wrote, Cream, is exactly what's in my mind too. Nobody cares and everyone forgets, short-sighted you see. As for the media, it's a business these days and hence, profit is all that counts. So, damn the people and their lives. The media is slowly inculcating the impression that 'news' is actually what happens at a Page3 party or Karisma's life. Really sad!

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Old 26th August 2005, 17:10   #8
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Excellent write up ...
Well to tackle all this now there is a Mumbai wide ban on plastic bags ... And i guess this is really curtail the problem if not solve it completely ...
I too have gotten into something that will help India with the Plastic issue ... Gonna create products for packaging out of recycled News prints and Waste Cartons... Its a complete regeneration process and hope the the Manufacturers/Consumers will end up paying a little more than Thermocol/EPS and Plastic to preserve the EARTH that we live and thrive on ...
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Old 26th August 2005, 18:38   #9
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Very sorry to hear about your loss, cream. I agree with you whole heartedly.
My office, which is in Khar East suffered extensive damage due to the floods. Why did the water accumulate? The answer is simple. The gutters were blocked due to waste being thrown in them. Gutters are meant to drain out water, not used as garbage cans. So have our people learnt anything from this experience? The answer is a resounding "NO"! Just one look at the drains is enough to make the healthiest man sick. Plastics, metals, woods and organic wastes are all dumped in them..... not a pretty sight!
When will our people learn?
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Old 26th August 2005, 20:28   #10
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Originally Posted by cream
I hoped there was hope, but there is none – we are back to square one,
Hey soundman, you know this, I know this and possibly all the members here, know this.
This thread like any other general issue thread will have a natural death soon.
The reason why your write up never gets published is very simple. We are all in our own way, very selfish.
Despite reading headlines on film stars’ divorce, we continue to nurture TOI’s, growth.
As you said plastic bags are back on the streets and we are back to building our plastic bubble.
We will disobey traffic rule because it suits us.
We will talk about these with our friends, with our family members in social gatherings and for the lack of it, on mobile phones while driving.

I know I’m sounding very cut and dry but these are the hard facts.
My sincere condolences.

A nice piece of writing soundman.
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Old 26th August 2005, 23:44   #11
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yup guys,

thanks for the replies -

i think we need to all start with ourselves...never underestimate the 'power of 1'. then we start educating / coaxing our near and dear ones - today all my family, my friends and my employess (all 4 of them) know they musn't throw plastic bags, wrappers or any such thing on the streets - they'll never coax me to cut a signal and follow everbody else who's disobeying the rule.

i have lost many 'friends' who don't get this right - and gained many who agree with me...

let's all pray for the strength to start doing the right thing ourselves.

typeOnegative - that's a good idea, i'll try to send this stuff to some of the internet sites...they'll surely be more responsive

evo6 - good going on the new material - keep us posted, esp me thru pm if necessary. plastic is an essential part of our speaker packaging industry - hoping for a good alternative.
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Old 27th August 2005, 00:27   #12
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Excellent write up cream . You have given it a lot of thought before putting it down in words.

I really pity the media and the publications who refused to publish this . Instead of putting stories of harsh reality, all they can put in are Page 3 stories and stories about who is seeing who.

Coming back to the topic, its all seems like a big joke when the Govt claims to make Mumbai another Shanghai. That isnt going to happen, not in a million years. This place is going from bad to worse and unless the typical mentality of the people here change, its hopeless. Its not just about the recent floods but the whole scenario in Mumbai which is disturbing. For eg. an insane guy comes and stabs two girls in the midst of a crowd and no one does anything but just look on . I mean a crowd of over a 100 people is enough to overpower one fellow. Instead they wait till its over and start clicking away to glory not even caring for the life lost. What "Spirit of Mumbai" are we talking here? Nonsense

Leave Shanghai, damn it first get the basics straight. I really dont see any light at the end of the tunnel for this city. We pay taxes through our noses and what do we get? Absolutely nothing.

A line from a comedy show I saw the other day

"Hamare neta is desh mein khaate (eating) hain, isliye unke videsh mein khaate(bank accounts) hain"

Funny but true


Last edited by Dippy : 27th August 2005 at 00:30.
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Old 27th August 2005, 02:45   #13
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Very true.Believe in every word you wrote Cream.Excellent write-up.

But i do not blame the Government entirely.Its also the people's fault.Tell me how many Indians have civic sense???? Just a handful.
They spit,throw garbage on the roads infact even ****!!!!!! How disgusting can it get???
The roads are in a pathetic condition after the rains,and nothing has been done about that.
What about the people who are still homeless???
The Auto companies are providing free servicing,but what about the rip-off hidden costs involved???
Heck,even the media has forgotten about the entire incident.Try focussing on articles of a lay man cleaning up his house,and not about Preity and Shahrukh sweeping the streets for a mere 15mins.All show-off!!!
The common Indian man just wants to be a spectator to each and every event,but nobody is willing to sort it.

Our poilticians would be more than welcome to have another 26/7.Another 1000 crores filling up thier pockets!!!!

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Old 27th August 2005, 06:41   #14
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Cream, my hearty condolences. I know this was straight from your heart and words out of experiencing someone's loss.

As for Mumbai, you can term this as the begining of the end. Who has cared about environmental sciences in this city? The concretization, pollution, the filth around...Can't bravely imagine what the city will be after 7-8 years. People need to realise certain basics of nature and science, if not the uneducated, the literate ones, the babus, the officials. If you give s**t to the environment, you'll get back the same. That's no science that we cannot understand, its simple logic.

Lastly, the ire of nature is such that it spares NO ONE!!! If only some selfish people at the top understand this and act accordingly to save themselves atleast from it, thats all I hope.
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Old 27th August 2005, 12:38   #15
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Beautiful write-up, man.
Seriously lament the state of affairs in my erstwhile "homecity".
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