Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thoughts for Mumbai

After returning from India on October 22 I meant to resume my long neglected blog. During my six week stay there I had limited access to internet and a time schedule that did not permit entries. Now, I am sad to resume under these very unfortunate circumstances.

The horror, terror, death and destruction that innocent people in Mumbai have suffered is really beyond my comprehension—specifically, that compartment in my mind that cannot understand any senseless act of violence. During this holiday weekend of thanks, I have felt very, very sad for a country that I am enamored with, for all its fantastic facets and human faults.

I am sad for all the hardworking people taking the train home—and never making it. I am sad for the untold innocents who died doing their daily jobs. I have had the pleasure and privilege of staying at Oberoi Hotels. They are beautiful places that employ intelligent, kind, and handsome young people. Some of them are now dead. I also spent a special evening at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, a gloriously ornate structure where I saw the famous travel writer Paul Theroux give a lecture, partly about a country he loved—India. Now the scene of a horrible massacre.

During my short stay in Mumbai I found it to be a fascinating city with its Portuguese and British influence. I looked on as businessmen watched the LED readout during their lunchtime in the financial center of this massive country. I read the weekly entertainment publication, full of cultural events and listing establishments touting their rich and vibrant nightlife. I walked by brilliantly colored posters advertising Bollywood movies. It was a city I wanted to visit again.

I think about the poor, ubiquitous vendors selling oversized, phallic-shaped balloons in bright orange, yellow and red. (I couldn't quite understand why they choose this particular retail vehicle, but it didn't matter). They sold the balloons for just a few rupees. I hope they are safe. I think about the man in the Colaba neighborhood where I marveled over his cart of mineral specimens. He then pulled out special pieces from underneath the cart wrapped in newspaper. I bought three fine specimens from him. I hope he is safe. I hope the man I bought fried snacks from in the narrow streets of the lunch-serving dhaba-wallahs is safe. And to all the taxi drivers who drive beat up black and yellow Fiats throughout the grueling traffic in the city—I hope you are safe, too.

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