I was always proud of the fact that no matter what, Mumbai never changes itself; that resilience is its best attribute; that even after it had seen the most horrible sights, it moves on as if nothing has happened; that life here does not pause and take time off to think. Like the innumerable people taking a morning walk on the Marine Drive, it just goes ahead.
Every year the monsoon drowns half of the city, but it lives through it anyways. Even though the bombs ripped apart the local trains, it still continues to be Mumbai’s major lifeline. Within days of an open terrorist attack, Mumbai was back to normal. The Taj was burnt but it still is what it was – the crown of Mumbai. However, this fairy tale does come to an end here.
In spite of numerous campaigns, silent march pasts, candle light vigils, and thousands of boards, posters and advertisements urging people to vote, to stop being a silent observer to all the wrongs happening around, to have their say in the governance, Mumbai did not change much. As the Nation went for another General Election, Mumbai reported a pathetic turn out of voters who had come to exercise their franchise. And in a flash, all that seemed so good about Mumbai suddenly looks like its worst nightmare.
Mumbai has learnt to live through good times and bad. In other words, Mumbai has become indifferent. Mumbai does not stop and question. In other words, Mumbai does not care. Mumbai has become resilient. In other words, Mumbai has stopped hoping for the better. Mumbai does not change. In other words, Mumbai has stopped growing.
It has become a trend in Mumbai – If you cannot help it, find someone to blame for it. And everyday Mumbai wakes up to this truth. For every complaint, they have someone to blame for and in the worst case The Government if they find none. However, the same people do not mind wasting away their only chance to make a difference. Behind the air conditioned walls of their houses and their chauffeured vehicles, behind the urge to rise above others and to survive in stifling competition, behind partying and socializing, lies the priority of deciding the future of Mumbai. The same fingers that push enough buttons everyday to earn their livelihood in one way or the other, sadly forget to push one button on the EVM on the D-day. And the result is another four years of following the same trend – If you cannot help it, find someone to blame for it.
It’s time Mumbai decides to change – to stop being resilient; to stop taking everything in its stride and to move ahead; to ask questions; to revolt when necessary; to stand up and take accountability for what is happening around; to get the right people elected to the right post; to vote.
A question easily asked is, “What difference will it make?” The answer is rather simple. “You are not in a bad system. You are the system. So unless you have decided to do something about it, nothing actually can be done about it.” Let’s mean it when we call Mumbai, ‘AMCHI MUMBAI’.
At 3 A.M, early on a Thursday morning, five hours into the gun-battle that was to shake the entire nation, it was everything but good for someone inside the Taj Hotel, Mumbai when the telephone on the reception desk rang. The receptionist answered, “The Taj Group of Hotels. Good morning.” Later she said in a press conference that she was only doing her duty. May be she was. Or may be she was sending a reminder to the entire population of Mumbai – It’s time we do ours!