This is a note on Mumbai by Dr.Vihang Vahia sent to me by Dr.Suren Dhelia. It is the night of the blasts. I too witnessed this amazing spirit at 1.30 p.m. people were out helping those in distress. The same city that a Readers Digest survey said was among the rudest in the world!
Saalam Mumbai 2
This mail was composed within minutes after talking to Harish Shetty on Wednesday evening. It did not go through last evening and is being sent today.
I had witnessed the riots last Sunday Morning after Mrs. Thakare's bust was found to have been 'insulted!'. I was within 250 yards of the rioters. The crowd was devil personified.
Tuesday night, I walked on the very street, which was the epicenter of that massive violence and burning of a bus. The scenario on Tuesday last night was just the opposite of the Sunday morning. Hatred, violence and anger were replaced by compassion and self motivated drive to help the stranded. On the morning of that Sunday, buses were stoned, drivers hit and police abused. Last night, the very same drivers and cops were pampered with water, food, fruits, praise, word of thanks and assistance in negotiating the buses through the heavy traffic.
At a stage of my journey home, it seemed that walking home would be quicker than the vehicles reaching destination. As I was walking home, I saw a peanut vendor with a bag full of peanuts and asked him for the total value of the small packets he was filling up. He asked me why? I said I will pay if he promised to give it all away to the stranded bus, car and taxi commuters. He said he had already given away most of what he had and was in the process of giving away the rest, NO MONEY PLEASE he said. This from a poor, hand to mouth - peanut vendor of Mumbai. Hoteliers gave away meals and snacks, people were giving away packets of food and drinks. All that change was spontaneous. Residents had brought in large cans, buckets and pots chilled of water warm and cold food and fruits.
All strata, poorest of the poor, middle and the upper middle, were out there, with mobile phones for the commuters, water, milk, tea, coffee, snacks, welcome to use residential toilets of the houses along the road, boards announcing free stay and accommodation for the stranded.
I too chipped in my bit. It was essentially the spirit in the air, 'no unconscious automatic drive or motives'. Freudians would have to revisit their theories. At the V.N. Desai hospital where my cooper hospital department is temporarily relocated, 42 injured were admitted and countless injured brought in for outpatient management. Local residents were right there to console and comfort them. Offered the human warmth, food, medicines, clothes telephones and transport to those who could go home, some locals took some of the injured to their homes. Some young men got those tata and reliance phones (the land lines-wireless) to help make local, STD and ISD calls, all complimentary.
All this was simply the humanity of my fellow Mumbaikars. No leaders, no political parties, no religious bias.
Why! I ask, Why my Lord, why do citizens of My Mumbai have to have this!! What makes my fellow mumbaikar when left alone, be so different from the frenzied politically motivated mobs or respond badly to the Reader's Digest Surveyors?