A new day, the same Bombay, unbeaten, indomitable. Shrugging off the wounds received yesterday, Bombay has risen yet again. Bombayites are unable to take a holiday today and have had to go to offices, which refused to remain closed. On the way, they have had the opportunity yet again to smell the wonderful body-odour of their fellow citizens on train services that have refused to remain shut.
The morning after the devastating blasts on the Western railway line, life is back to normal for the ever-resilient Mumbaikars.
Train services are running normally and people are not hesitating to take the local trains to work.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh has said the blasts will not affect the routine functioning of the city and schools, colleges and offices would run as usual.
Mumbai residents are sending out a clear message that the city will not be cowed down by terror. Incidentally, none of the political parties have called a bandh.
The injured are being treated at Lilavati, Cooper, Hinduja, KEM, Bhabha and Nanavati hospitals.
Most significantly, the Western Railway line, where all the seven blasts took place, is functioning. The Western Railway began its suburban services at different places almost four hours after the serial bomb blasts in its trains.
Train services between Churchgate, Mahalaxmi; Bandra, Andheri and Goregaon, Vasai have resumed.
The Municipal Corporation has announced that there will be no charges for funeral services.
Despite the long history of sporadic violence, Mumbai has always picked itself up by its bootstraps and marched off to work as soon as the trains started working again. Our ability to jeer at misfortune is attributed in the Indian press to the “spirit of Bombay,” which is variously described as “indomitable,” “never say die” and “undying.” But our spirit has been saluted so frequently of late, all the praise was beginning to annoy me.
Before I left the office Tuesday evening, I finished a magazine article complaining that this illogical faith in Bombay’s innate resilience had the unfortunate consequence of absolving the city’s administrators of the responsibility of actually fixing our problems. No matter how bad things get, they seem to suggest, we have an infinite capacity to cope.
Soon after hearing about the blasts, I made my way to the local hospital to see if they needed blood donations. It had been less than an hour since the first explosion, but I’d been beaten to it by nearly 200 people.
When the volunteers found that the authorities had adequate supplies of blood, they waited patiently to help carry victims into the wards. Others stood over shocked survivors, fanning them with newspapers and helping them contact relatives.
Stories of exceptional selflessness have flooded in all evening. One came from my friend Aarti, who was in one of the trains on which a bomb went off. As she jumped out of her compartment, she saw streams of slum dwellers from the bleak shanties along the tracks rushing toward the train with bed sheets. They knew that there would be no stretchers to be found and were offering their threadbare cottons to be used as hammocks to carry victims away.
Perhaps the newspapers have it right after all. An anguished night has fallen over Mumbai, but when the city eventually sleeps it will do so secure in the knowledge that its spirit is unbroken, that it is, exactly like the myth has it, indomitable and undying.
I encourage people reading this blog to use one of the symbols above in solidarity with the victims of the coordinated bomb blasts in Mumbai yesterday. You could use the images as a badge, display it at work or home, or on your blog (if you have one). The first one translates to: Today, I too am a Mumbaikar.
Let us also resolve to stay united in the face of the challenges we face ahead and lets we defeat the designs of the terrorists in the days and months to come.
The God-hating, life-hating, leeches have attacked my city again. And they used my faith, again, to justify their act. I hope they are caught and die a terrible death.
I, as a Bombayite, a Mumbaikar, an Indian, and also as a Muslim, invite Muslims all over the world to wake up and smell the godless stench of death that Islam has become and the way it is inflicted on people around the globe everyday - from Khar to Karbala, Mumbai to Madrid, Bhayandar to Bakuba, Nala Sopara to New York. Is this what our religion has become? A bringer of death. A stinking hatred of life, liberty and diversity. A treasonous ideology which will hurt the very democracies that give it freedom to exist.
But they underestimate Bombay. My city, the pearl of the Arabian sea, will shake this heinous crime yet again and rise again tomorrow bruised but never beaten, and be, yet again, the hope personified to millions of its residents.
In the meanwhile, I will ask myself yet again the question: Is this really the faith I grew up with?
Varanasi bombings: A wake-up call for Indian Muslims
07 March 2006
Muslim terrorists bombed Sankatmochan shrine in Varanasi and the Varanasi Cantonment railway station. It is time now for all right-thinking Muslims to stop hiding behind knee-jerk comments like "Islam is a religion of peace" and raise their voices loudly and forcefully against the disease of extremism that exists in our faith.
I wish the story ended there and I could tell you that all religions have their knuckle-heads and the majority of Indian Muslims are the peaceful, patriotic kind. Most of us are patriotic and forceful defendants of this country. But there are many who are not. And they not only inspire the knuckle-heads who helped plan these latest terrorist attacks, but also malign the name of Islam and Indian Muslims by who they are and what they do.
This terrorist bombing will just be the latest atrocity committed in the name of Islam if we don't get off our collective butts and get rid of corrupt, ignorant bastards who are the public face of Indian Muslims today.
PS: Just so you know:
I don't agree with the inference that the above-mentioned site draws. But I also can't disagree with the facts it states.
I was uneasy, nervous. It was first day of Bansari's school. The two year old child was clinging to me; holding my finger tightly and crying. She was not ready to leave me. I tried my best to tell her goodies about the school. But for her I was the world. When we entered in the school, there were many children like Bansari with both their parents. While Bansari had just me... a single widowed weak parent.
We all were waiting outside the ground, where the children were playing before they would go inside to their classes. I saw a very beautiful lady wearing a nice bright coloured Punjabi suit, comfortable, confident and relaxed. While I was in a pale coloured un-ironed kurta. She smiled at me and I smiled back. She said "your child is very beautiful". I wanted to ask her for some tips on how to send a child to school without making her cry. Her daughter Almaz was carefree and playing. While Bansari was still crying. That was really painful for me.
When the time came to send them to class and leave them with the teachers, I made Bansari sit near Almaz and left without looking back. I almost ran out. Now it was me who was crying. I was peeping from window to see what was she was doing. She was crying too. The pain was very transparent. The beautiful lady who talked to me earlier came over to me. She was Pinky, Almaz's mother. She was a bit surprised about why I was crying so much. She asked me "why are you alone? Where is your husband?" That was all. I burst out into tears. I said "I'm a widow. I don't have a husband. He died when Bansari was one month old" She felt sorry for me... Yes that was all I was looking for. Sorry, Sympathy and Pity. I was so much used to sorries, sympathies and oh my gods" She consoled me and I felt good.
That was one phase of my life. When I was a widow. My husband had passed away when I was 24, leaving his one month old daughter in my hands to face the world, struggling, depending on my parents and my brother for each decision about Bansari and myself.
Days went by. Bansari was going to school by auto rickshaw now. I would drop her in the vehicle leaving her crying. This was a routine and I had no solution. I never had any solution.
One day Bansari missed the auto rickshaw and I had to go to school to leave her in my scooter. She was crying as usual. She insisted that I leave her at the school's kitchen. I was baffled but took her to kitchen hurriedly. I was getting late for work. She went and sat on a chair. I wasn’t very comfortable leaving her there but I had to leave immediately and had no time to go talk to the teacher. I found the cooks walking around. I called one of the elderly cook and requested him to look after Bansari. His reply horrified me. He said, "Don't worry madam; she always sits here in the kitchen. Because she doesn't like to play with other children" I sank down. My body went weak. But I had no other option at that time so I left her there and left for my job. While riding my two-wheeler, though, I had a few thoughts in my mind. Somehow I was not feeling weak any more. I was getting the strength to take a decision for myself. I rode my vehicle fast. A decision was made that day.
I came back in the evening from work. Bansari snuggled with me as usual, forgetting her school phobia, forgetting the world. For the first time, I hugged her without fear without any compassion. I took a shower and took out my old pair of jeans and a red coloured t-shirt. I could see some surprise in the child's eyes. But she was surely feeling good about what she was seeing. I took her and tried to look out in the lobby if any neighbours were there. To my relief there was no one. I took Bansari for a ride on the scooter. I could see that she was happy and to my surprise, I was happy too! I was me. Swayam . This was our first ride of Freedom. A joy of Freedom.
There was no looking back then. I think I gave a re-birth to Bansari that day. She is thirteen now. If I had not done that, I was only a selfish.. mourning for my late husband and just not coming out of the shell. But today I'm proud of myself. I have understood the meaning of my existence, my identity, my potentials and my capabilities. I have a choice to decide. I have choice to do what I want. I even have some green eyes staring at me for having gotten myself the freedom I have. I could have never seen all these unless I had Bansari in front of me growing up as another independent individual. A totally different individual. Totally different from me. But still a part me. Her achievements say it all. We are proud owners of her collection of certificates in different fields - academics, singing, general knowledge, dance and computers. Moreover, I have parents who come to me now asking for tips on how to raise a child like Bansari. My discovery. My proud creation and re-creation. A reason to smile. I call Bansari as "my source and my force to live"
I often meet Pinky in school. We both complement each other on our outfits. And I never forget to thank her. She asked me once "Are you the same Swayam ?" I said "No I'm not the same Swayam . I have discovered myself into a new Swayam"
Ever since I was a young child I wanted to be a boy. I would climb trees, play football, shout, yell and act like a boy. As I grew up, my body matured into that of a woman and I soon came to realize that not only was I not a boy, I would never, ever understand what it would be like to be one, never enjoy the priveleges, the respect which comes of being male, never see the undeniable fallacies of being male either.
And surprisingly enough, I am not upset about that. Anymore.
I wont deny that I was, once upon a time, plenty angry for being born a woman. For stewing in silence as I watched people around me fawn over boys, ignoring the girls. For angrily denouncing all women as pale, afraid little creatures unable to take control of their own lives. I believed that i would only be able to do what I wanted to do if I was a male.
But now I realize that it is this sort of self-defeating attitude which continues to spur the male-dominated society we live in. It is this belief, that only men are capable of building a society which has pushed women kind into the background. I've realized that you don't need to be a man to do anything! Anyone can do anything. All it requires is COURAGE!
Courage to break out of this self-imposed prison then women have inflicted on themselves. Courage to shake of societal restrictions and do what we want to do the way we think we should do it. Courage, to throw away the shackles restricting us from taking over the world and go ahead and bloody do it!
And for that, we first need to get comfortable with our identity. For we are women, born with women parts: breasts and vaginas and uteruses. But why should we let that stop us from reaching our full potential, whatever it might be? Why do we have to be male to do so?
Society may still believe that a woman should do as she is told, that she has no voice, that she is nothing but a brood mare. Things might be changing but it is still a fact that when children come into the picture, it is the woman's duty to take care of it. Women still have to juggle home and professional lives, a lot more than men will ever have to. But if women and men are equal, then why should women have to go through all the hassles of building a career when men don't?
I've realized that now, when I am finally comfortable with the fact of being a woman, comfortable with the fact that I am going to have to work much more than any man to gain the respect I deserve, comfortable with the fact that slowly, surely, I'm going to make my way to the top. Without being a man.
Look at me. Look at my face, my body, my hands, my legs. Here's what I am. A WOMAN! And I'm not ashamed of being so!
After weeks, of hearing Muslims behave in the most abominally un-Islamic of ways, its exhilirating to read something like this. I am not an emotional guy, but this brought tears to my eyes. A madarassa with a novelty. Its primarily for women. And. It trains it's students to use computers. In this particular story, a handicapped woman, with no hands.
This story is about the best traditions of Islam - the thirst for knowledge, the never-say-die spirit, the courage to withstand peer-pressure (in this case, the pressure of other Muslims) and do what is right, and the courage to innovate.
Sounds so far removed from what Muslims and Islam are today. But these are the principles of Islam that I was brought up with. To be sure, this madarassa may be a minority of one. But today it has given me the reason to be proud to be a Muslim again.
Here's the story
Starting Up the Ladder, From Below the Bottom Rung
By HELENE COOPER Published: March 2, 2006
It's hard not to notice Abida Parvin as soon as you walk into the small room that serves as a computer training center for girls and women in an annex to, of all things, a madrasa in the heart of Jafrabad, one of this city's teeming Muslim neighborhoods.
She has no arms because of a careless bus driver who ran over her in 1998. She has no money — the $400 she received from the state as compensation for her missing limbs is long gone, used to help support her mother and six sisters.
What she does have is determination, though whether that alone will enable her to eventually land a job in a call or data center remains to be seen. Leaning back in a wooden chair in front of her computer in the training center of Madrasa Babul Uloom, Abida, 21 years old, uses her toes to tap out letters on the keyboard. Her right foot coordinates the computer mouse.
"Look," she says. "I'm learning how to use PowerPoint."
The world of Washington Congressional subcommittee hearings about lost jobs, and Ohio campaign speeches in which American presidential candidates complain about companies that outsource jobs to India, is as remote to Abida as the concept of workers' compensation. In her world, women who lose their arms in traffic accidents have far more limited choices.
Even the bottom-rung occupations like prostitution and panhandling aren't really available. The brothels in Mumbai and Calcutta don't want handicapped women, and it's hard to panhandle when you don't have hands.
So Abida is hoping to be hired to do computer work. She hopes that DataMation Foundation, the Indian company that runs the training center, will be able to place her with one of its clients — maybe Microsoft or MCI, or some other American or European company looking for cheap workers in India.
Abida Parvin is one of the few Muslim women in India who have managed to find a place to learn the skills they need to find jobs. Madrasas usually concentrate on religious teachings, and are traditionally for boys, not girls or women. The mullah of Madrasa Babul Uloom, Maulana Zafaruddin Ahmad, is considered a renegade in some circles here. Not even his own community is sure of what to make of his decision to open a school for female students.
"People are always coming here, wanting to know what's going on," says the mullah's son, Daud Khan. "Unfortunately, there are set minds. But the woman is the center of the family, and if the girl is educated, the whole family is transformed."
The training center was set up in 2002, after riots in India's Gujarat State. Humans rights groups say nearly 2,000 people died, most of them Muslim. The riots started after 59 Hindu activists were burned to death in a train coach just off a railway station, reportedly by a Muslim mob. Hundreds of Muslim women were raped in retaliation, and many were also butchered. Scores of organizations started holding seminars and panel discussions about the role of Muslim women in Indian society. (India has the world's second-largest Muslim population, at 150 million.)
In that environment, opening a training center for female students at a madrasa didn't cause quite the explosion in Muslim society that it normally might have. Yet four years later, "there's still nowhere like this place anywhere in India," says Guddi Khanam, one of the trainers at the center. Indeed, there are few madrasas like this one anywhere.
Standing just inside the doorway of Abida's classroom, Guddi Khanam surveys her students, some nine in all. They must overcome restrictions in their own homes and religion and society before they can even aspire to low-wage jobs that are prized because they may eventually lead to work at the call centers and textile factories that so frighten American politicians thousands of miles away. Their chances are further restricted by the hours they can work — DataMation officials say all female workers' shifts must end at 3 p.m. because some have been raped going home late at night. The mullah whose openness makes their slim chances possible is as remote to them as the wizard of Oz. The girls don't go into the madrasa proper, where hundreds of boys sleep, eat, learn the Koran and expound on the teachings of Islam.
And yet, Abida Parvin comes every day. She sits in the same wooden chair, right underneath the sign on the wall that says, "Allah is our Lord, Mohammad is our Commander, Quran is our Constitution." She looks at the sign, and smiles slightly. Then she goes back to her PowerPoint study guide, her toes tapping away on the keyboard.
Some of the sharpest minds and bravest spirits of our time have come together to publish a manifesto against Islamism, the new face of global totalitarianism.
Blogs from all over the world are republishing the document as a show of solidarity.
Here it is...
MANIFESTO: Together facing the new totalitarianism
After having overcome fascism, Nazism, and Stalinism, the world now faces a new totalitarian global threat: Islamism.
We, writers, journalists, intellectuals, call for resistance to religious totalitarianism and for the promotion of freedom, equal opportunity and secular values for all.
The recent events, which occurred after the publication of drawings of Muhammed in European newspapers, have revealed the necessity of the struggle for these universal values. This struggle will not be won by arms, but in the ideological field. It is not a clash of civilisations nor an antagonism of West and East that we are witnessing, but a global struggle that confronts democrats and theocrats.
Like all totalitarianisms, Islamism is nurtured by fears and frustrations. The hate preachers bet on these feelings in order to form battalions destined to impose a liberticidal and unegalitarian world. But we clearly and firmly state: nothing, not even despair, justifies the choice of obscurantism, totalitarianism and hatred. Islamism is a reactionary ideology which kills equality, freedom and secularism wherever it is present. Its success can only lead to a world of domination: man's domination of woman, the Islamists' domination of all the others. To counter this, we must assure universal rights to oppressed or discriminated people.
We reject "cultural relativism", which consists in accepting that men and women of Muslim culture should be deprived of the right to equality, freedom and secular values in the name of respect for cultures and traditions. We refuse to renounce our critical spirit out of fear of being accused of "Islamophobia", an unfortunate concept which confuses criticism of Islam as a religion with stigmatisation of its believers.
We plead for the universality of freedom of expression, so that a critical spirit may be exercised on all continents, against all abuses and all dogmas.
We appeal to democrats and free spirits of all countries that our century should be one of Enlightenment, not of obscurantism.