I woke up to the news channels airing footage shot hours ago, of the MNS chief being escorted into the police van at Ratnagiri and a few fancy-looking maps showing blinking dots in the areas of Borivili, Andheri, Dadar and Worli.
Violence has erupted in parts of the city.
…the TV anchor informed me over my breakfast. And..
MNS workers have been protesting the arrest. This comes in the light of the weekend attack on the railway examination centers to protest under-representation of Maharashtrians in the test.
I was still yawning, glued to the television as I was. And then I snapped the set shut, got ready and left for work.
The roads were not empty. They were the way a civilised, metropolitan city’s roads should be. Vehicles running at least 2 feet from each other in parallel lanes, a few stray pedestrians crossing only during the traffic signals, short signal wait-times, no undue honking. My normal 45-minute commute took all of 20 minutes. Thank you Mr.Thackeray for giving us one day of normal commuting.
People came into work. But of course. No, I’m not going to go on about the resilient spirit of Mumbaikers, our courage, our bravery etc. I’m no braver than the next person. All I am, is practical. Between floods, riots, bandhs, public transport strikes, communal clashes, infrastructure breakdowns and politico arrests, I have a job to do. And every day brings a new reason to not go to work. Yet, we do. That’s not courage, it’s just acceptance of the way things are.
From the last time this happened, I figured the media was just creating a hullaballoo as usual. No one who goes out in this city everyday really believes the news channels anymore (and certainly not a certain Dilli-based channel which thinks that Mumbai starts and ends at Churchgate and that Tardeo and Juhu are far-flung railway stations). Sure enough, come evening and I had a smooth commute back home as well. No, I did not spot any blood on the streets, no slapped-around taxi drivers, I did not get pelted with stones and the city seemed no scarder than usual.
If anything, the highlights of the day were how people chose to deal with the chaos. My Little Lord received the following email from HR:
Due Unstable environment with regards to Raj Thackeray arrest, management has decided that all associates can leave by 4.00pm.
With Warm Regards,
Tue, Oct 21, 2008 at 4:11 PM
My colleagues were far more prompt and shot off the following (very convincing) mail:
There is a slight issue here at the Mumbai office. Due to some political issues there is absolute civil unrest and the city is at the brink of riots breaking out. The team will need to rush home. Im not sure if we’d be able to make it to the call today.
* So I’m jaded and cynical. Go read the full story here.