It's been a really rough July for Mumbai's working class. The month started with heavy showers that flooded the streets and partially crippled the city. Many office goers who live in the suburbs and work in 'town' (South Mumbai) got stranded after work and couldn't go home. However, absenteeism was surprisingly low during the weeklong floods in the city. Last weekend, some mischief makers had the bright idea of decorating the statue of a local politico's wife (Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray), with a garland of slippers. Shiv Sena supporters were quite upset and protested by burning a few buses and shutting down stores. The city was on edge all Saturday as memories of previous riots kept people at home.
When I learnt about the bomb blasts on Tuesday evening, I thought this would be a body blow on the city's teflon like spirit. I expected Mumbai to be semi-closed on Wednesday. As I rode in my taxi-cab to work, I observed that life had already sprung back to normal in Mumbai. All the local corner stores were open. The silver haired lady who has been selling bananas outside my apartment building for the last 15 years was at her usual place plying her trade. Little kids were running around the streets chasing imaginary balls and dodging traffic. It was as if the tragedy had never happened. Intrigued, I turned to the cabbie and asked him how he felt about the bomb blasts. He pondered for a second and then he explained, 'Sir, if your time comes, you can do nothing to avoid it'. There was no anger, just a resigned acceptance how powerless man can be against his destiny. At work, I met a couple of colleagues who are regulars on the affected trains and usually travel at the same hour when the blasts took place. They had been working late that fateful evening and inadvertently escaped the tragedy. Next morning, they were back on those very same trains commuting to work. One of them explained that he has no choice but to take the train since buses take forever and cabs are way to expensive at Rs 400 ($8.70) per trip. Not surprisingly, the trains were running packed as soon as they resumed their normal schedules.