December 21, 2008

Black, Yellow, and Shades of White

Passing me the change he owed me, the taxi driver smiled as he said, “Janglala aag laglyavar sukhya barobar oley pan jaltey.” Hearing him use the Marathi proverb I broke into a smile as I prepared to open the door to step out of his taxi. Translated from the Marathi it reads, “Once the jungle catches fire, even the wet burns away with the dry.”

I opened the rear door, thanked him and got out before pushing the door shut. It was the morning of the 26th of November, a little over three weeks ago. Behind me cars honked on their way past vehicles parked to the side of the road, narrowing it further to a point where only one vehicle could pass at a time. The impatient among the drivers honked to warn oncoming vehicles of their right to way.

Set back from the narrow lane the corner tea stall operating out of a makeshift shop was up and running while women in nightgowns swept the floor clean in front of their doorways. At a turn in the road behind me taxi drivers stood talking by their taxis even as they kept an eye out for potential passengers.

Early mornings are languid affairs in the many bylanes that section off city’s neighbourhoods. Long before residents descend from their apartments a working underclass comprising vegetable vendors, milkmen, sweepers, newspaper vendors, and taxi drivers among others rouse the city to life even as black and yellow taxis, their engines warming to life from the slumber of the night before, rumble the morning stillness as people ready for office. A quick cup of tea prepares taxi drivers for the long day ahead. The sight of a taxi driver in khakis leaning against the bonnet of his taxi awaiting passengers is a trademark Bombay morning scene.


Behind me an elderly man in a worn banian (cotton vest) wiped the windshield clean before bending over the bonnet of the sturdy Premier Padmini, the preferred choice of Bombay taxi drivers. Dipping the cloth rag in a bucket of water he reached over the roof and gave it quick swipes, back and forth. Then he emptied the bucket to the side of the lane.

While the taxi got a scrub the taxi driver settled in for an early morning read on the pavement, his back to a tree.


A product of PAL (Premier Automobiles Limited) formerly owned by the Walchand Hirachand Group that used to assemble Fiat’s Fiat 1100 series of cars beginning 1950s, the Premier Padmini, also known as Padmini Premier, debuted in India in the year 1962 as the Fiat 1100-D, and barring some modifications in the years that followed it came to be known as the Padmini Premier, in time becoming as much an icon of the city of Bombay as the Taj. The last of the Padmini Premiers rolled out in 1998 and like with many things in the city time moved firmly to overtake this black and yellow identity of the city.

The reassuring sound of the taxi door settling back on its hinges is an event by itself, signaling as it does the start of a working day. Unlike most days spent in the silence of the backseat today was different. Though there was no foreboding of the event that was to kick the city in its teeth later that night, none in the air and none in the gentle demeanour of the Maharashtrian cab driver, there must have been much on his mind as he left me chewing on the Marathi proverb he flung my way like a boxer might throw a punch at the stroke of the bell.

As I crossed the road I reflected on his feelings for many of his fellow cabbies who were slated to lose their taxis to the rule the city had passed to ‘phase out’ taxis older than 25 years. Only a little over a week remained for the rule to come into force. But little did we know that morning that in a little over a week from now the city of Bombay would begin to lose more than just a few thousands of Premier Padminis.

From the time I had stepped into his taxi, a Premier Padmini 1992 Model, the Maharashtrian taxi driver, originally from Kolhapur, quickly spelt out his stand on the rule. “If the taxi is functioning well and also now that almost all of them have converted to CNG, why should they be banned from the roads?” A rolled-up copy of Maharashtra Times lay wedged between the rearview mirror and the roof.

Drawing an analogy with the human body, he said, “If one is not keeping well then only the affected part is treated, isn’t it?” I nodded. Then he told me of how “only the papers go for passing” while the taxis merrily criss cross the city instead of showing up at the Road Transport Office. “Often the taxis are not even checked for their (driving) ‘condition’ before issuing their ‘passing’, only the papers reach the RTO, not the taxis.” He had one eye on the road as he spoke of how some cabbies wouldn’t be bothered to present their taxis for the yearly ‘passing’ at the RTO if they knew it is easier to pass the papers along by making available some ‘consideration’ to the officials. He reserved his ire and curses for the ‘three star’ officers who wouldn’t be bothered so long as they ‘earned’ their keep from the taxi drivers.

“If the door doesn’t close properly, or if the headlights are poor, the body is rusted, or the engine smokes then don’t pass the vehicle na. Let the driver get it fixed before allowing it back on the road,” he continued. “Even I would love to have a Skoda instead of driving this one. But where is the money. To go for a new vehicle now will cost a lot of money and most drivers can’t afford to feed their family well.”


I sat listening quietly as we passed traffic on our way, slowing down to let early morning shoppers at the vegetable market cross the road. He spoke in Marathi. As he shifted gears to take a turn into one of the lanes he said, “Why should age be a factor, and not performance? So now they (government) think nothing of dumping all vehicles older than 25 years even if they’re running on CNG and functioning smoothly. They’re throwing everything away, the good and the bad.”

Once the jungle catches fire, even the wet burns away with the dry.

Later that night the terrorists struck Bombay in a coordinated assault aimed at killing as many innocents as they could get hold of.

Then the news anchors announced that the terrorists were Muslim, and that they came from Pakistan.

I stayed home the next day, Thursday. Much of Mumbai did. I doubt if it was because the city was afraid of the terrorists. If I know the city well it had to be because no one wanted to get stuck in the middle of nowhere should the terrorist strikes throw the public transport haywire, leaving people stranded with no way to get home.


On Friday I left for the office early in the morning passing an elderly Muslim woman selling sundry items on the railway foot-bridge. Spread on a blue plastic sheet were colourful combs, safety pins, and envelopes. The last of the terrorists were still engaged in a battle with the security forces that morning at the Taj. The presence of hundreds of hostages had made the entire operation arduous. The religious dimension the terrorists brought to the attack turned the mood in the city palpably.

I hailed a passing taxi sporting an old registration number plate. This is an old taxi I thought, probably older than twenty five years and its days on the city roads must be numbered. It is funny how the seemingly inconsequential occupies the mind when there’re pressing matters forcing the conscious to take note of and reflect on. Thoughts tend to localize when demands made of them are global in nature. In the moment I took to slide into the backseat of the taxi the morning Sun kicked up a ruckus in Usman’s hennaed beard, turning it into an angry fluff of deep orange and setting off his wrinkles.


Usman, the elderly Muslim taxi driver, came to Bombay from Gujarat in 1957 when he was “still young”, working odd jobs before taking to driving a taxi. “It’s been years now that I have been driving this taxi,” he was to tell me later that morning.

Usman backed up his taxi before turning onto the highway. There were only a few people on the streets and it was not difficult to imagine why. Since the night of 26/11 television channels were falling over each other to beam live ‘exclusive’ footage of the unfolding attacks and even as I got into Usman’s old taxi that Friday morning television was beaming live the counter-terrorism effort underway at the Taj. It was in it final stages.

Bahut bura ho raha hai, bahut bura hua,” I said to him. (What is happening is bad, and what happened was bad). It was more an intonation within earshot as in exhaling a knot of emotion than directed at anyone in particular, driven more by the need to share a feeling with another than to start a conversation around the comment.


Yeh koi insaniyat hai,” he shot back at me (Is this humanity?) before continuing, “Nirdoshon ne kya bhigada tha kisika?” (What had the innocent victims harmed anything of anyone). A palpable disgust took hold of Usman as he flailed his arms in the little space the taxi afforded him, venting his anger at the terrorists who shared his religion, his voice shaking, and eyes wide open. With old age the voice can quiver when rage takes hold of it. A quivering voice even if an angry one can project little menace, compensating instead with flailing arms projecting the anger in the arc the hand describes. Usman looked to be nearing seventy.

Usman was probably aware of the intense scrutiny the Muslim community is undergoing, reinforced as much by similar fanaticism countries across the world have faced from the community as by the slew of terrorist attacks emanating from elements within their brotherhood in India, for he declared forcefully, “We (Muslims) ourselves say that they (the Islamist terrorists who attacked Mumbai) must be shot,” mimicking the pulling of the trigger as he spat the words with vehemence before continuing, “They should be hunted down.” A tubelight holder affixed to the roof of his taxi sported colours of the Indian flag. As the taxi hit a pothole the Koranic notation that hung from the rear view mirror jumped and swayed before steadying.

I ask him if the elders in his community have any say in what is preached in Mosques and taught in Madrassas. He lowered his voice, turning to look at me even as he kept his attention on the road, and said, “Talim bahar se milta hai. Bahar se,” (They receive their education – indoctrination here – outside, as in from beyond Indian borders), before repeating, “Bahar se. Bahar jaatey hai, talim wahan milta hai.” (They – the students – travel abroad, and they get their education – indoctrination in this context – there).

“They (those terrorizing in the name of Islam) bring us (Muslims) a bad name,” Usman said. I kept silent in the time he spoke. In the confines of an old taxi the warm air came to acquire a purple welt from the lashing an outraged Muslim man meted out on the morning the death toll in the waterfront attack inflicted by terrorists from Pakistan climbed steadily towards 200.

Watching Usman negotiate the crowd from the backseat and the quiet dignity he brought to the ethos of the street I could well imagine the ‘going away’ of a certain stolidity his generation brought to the city, bringing their ‘shades of grey’ to populate the black and white.

The average Bombay cabbie, especially the one who has lived in the city for a long time, is not easily hassled. He will not talk much, listening quietly while you speak, occasionally nodding, and other times silent, rarely acknowledging what you might have to say. And when he speaks it will be to nod in agreement with your assertion whatever it maybe, while keeping an eye out for jaywalkers on the busy road. Chances are he will own an old taxi and know every lane that goes anywhere in Bombay. Elderly cabbies are more likely to own the older of the Padmini Premiers. The ubiquitous yellow and black taxis and their elderly drivers are an underlying narrative of the lanes that intersect and connect city lives. In phasing out Padmini Premiers older than twenty five years a certain dignity the elder among the generation of Bombay cabbies brought to the city street could soon be a thing of the past.

I listened to Usman in silence. Another time we might have discussed the impending deadline issued to city cabs on the wrong side of 25 years. Another time I might have asked Usman if his taxi would be affected by the ruling as most likely it was. But these were extraordinary times. Another time Usman along with fellow taxi drivers might have organized himself for relief from the ruling. In all probability it must have been on the cards. But the terrorist strike will have changed all that. There was little else that occupied the mind, including Usman’s as I soon found out.

“They (the terrorists) don’t think of their parents? Their relatives, and all those left behind?” Usman said, his voice rising, exasperated at the thought of how the parents must feel to lose their children thus, at least some parents if not most.

Then he spoke of the brotherhood his community shared with other communities (notably the Hindus) in the city over the years, priding in their ability to afford ‘protection’ to the relatively ‘less prone to using violence, meeker, and god-fearing’ Hindus.

“In the neighbourhood we (Muslims) used to tell them (Hindus) to tell us if anyone gave them trouble and we would deal with it,” Usman said, his voice expanding even as he lamented, “and look what it has come to now (suspicion against his whole community). Every one of us is now lumped with the terrorists!”

Everyone! Yes, everyone!

Once the jungle catches fire, even the wet burns away with the dry.

42 comments:

bobbie said...

One of the saddest results of the terrorism is just what you describe - that all Muslims are now suspect in the eyes of so many people. So many innocent people suffer, even when they are nowhere near the violence.
My greatest wish is for Peace in our world.

ugich konitari said...

What a great narrative. I felt like I was along for the ride in the Fiat taxi, where the doors need to be yanked shut, and the sound made by the acceleration after changing gears, has a very old world innocent charm to it. Like Usmanbhai.

You know. They go on and on about the Taj and Trident. But what will be difficult to rebuild is the trust in the minds of folks like Usmanbhai and the other taxi driver. .....

Fire Byrd said...

WOW! Thank you for stoping by so I could read this. You write wonderfully. I was with you in the city as you went about the journey.
I love the fact that the global community is shrinking so that I can here about how other people live in the world. So that even if there are terrorists around there is also hope for education amongst others about how we can live in harmony together as we realise that we all really want the same thing, to live in peace and provide for our families and have enough to feed ourselves and them.
peace and blessings

pRiyA said...

fascinating posts and pictures. thank you for dropping by.
:-)

ugich konitari said...

Hi,

there s an award waiting for you Here........Merry Christmas & a Happy new Year

Karine said...

Your words have described a meal of Bombay: tangible tastes and textures, flaws and perfections. I found it fascinating.

Thank you for stopping by my blog.

Sarah Laurence said...

Anil, I love how you slow down to think about taxi drivers in a big city. A taxi, to most urbanites, is what you wave down in an extreme hurry. You’ve given face, personality and life to the drivers.

I felt the 9/11 attack personally because it was my city, my hometown, even if I’d moved away. You must have felt that too after the Bombay attack and more so living through it. It will take a long time to heal. That image stays with me – the wet burning jungle. There is promise of re-growth after the horrible blaze.

~vagabond~ said...

I loved the narration of this post. You provided an interesting perspective of the 26/11 tragedy through your casual conversation with Usmanbhai. Very well written...and thanks for providing us photos of Usmanbhai too :)

bindu said...

Very true. It's sad how innocent muslims have to keep reassuring everyone as to where they stand on this, and keep proving their innocence.

Granny J said...

Thank you for another of your ever thoughtful pictures of life in troubled times.

kenju said...

Anil, you could write the phone book and I would read it hungrily.

Anil P said...

Bobbie: Yes, that indeed is a problem.

Considering the feedback I keep getting from people I speak to this could be alleviated to a large extent if 'man on the street' views could be brought to the fore instead of merely highlighting the extreme views of mullahs in the media. And also to communicate a sense that the Muslim community recognises there is a problem within and are working to sort it out rather than assigning 'reasons' justifying the atacks, mostly spouted by the radicals. More so because to all this there's this history of brutal invasions of India by Persians and Afgans, stretching back centuries. All of which make for a powder keg atmosphere.

Ugich Konitari: Thank you. I've come to like these Fiat taxis, especially the rugged, bare-bones feel they bring to the ride. Bridging trust can only happen at a people to people level.

Fire Byrd: Thank you. It's a pleasure to have you read the posts.

Web 2.0 is helping the community shrink in ways Web 1.0 could not. Sharing experiences and being able to relate to them even if it is of an unfamiliar milieu creates a sense of belonging, shrinking distances all the more.

Priya: Thank you.

Ugich Konitari: Thanks a ton. I really appreciate this gesture. This made my day :)

Karine: Thank you, it's a pleasure indeed.

Sarah Laurence: Thank you, Sarah. Truth be told, a few of the taxi drivers, especially the middle-aged and the elderly among them, are accomplished raconteurs, and it can be great fun sitting back and listening to them. Most times they can sense a ready ear.

Yes, it will take time to heal, more so for those who lost their loved ones to the senseless butchery. Cities recover, and in time this event too will be woven into the fabric that holds this city together like any 'coming together in pain' usually does, a fabric that is at once colourful and optimistic even while it beats to a melancholy tone from time to time.

As this generation passes on this event will acquire a faraway feel to it, faraway even if palpable.

Vagabond: Thank you. :)

Bindu: Yes, it can get to be a strain, more so for all those Muslims who have nothing to do with this, who don't share with the perpetrators any of these motivations to violence except the religion. It is a heavy cross the moderate among them have to bear, like Usman for instance.

Granny J: Thank you. If anything, writing about it can be cathartic, to a degree that is.

Kenju: Thank you. I can't help smiling after reading your comment. Thanks for the encouragement and the kind words. :)

Mridula said...

Anil, it must have been even more difficult to be in Mumbai at that time, even though it is difficult anywhere. And Kenju said it the best!

megha punater said...

what an amazing post,yes its sad that the innocent muslims have to face the fire.
i loved the photos as usual ,am so hooked on to the way you write.
keep writing :)

megha punater said...

loved your post on the kalaghoda festival.

Priyamvada_K said...

Anil,
You have a way of describing a scene that makes it slowly unfold before the readers' eyes. The last line was poignant.

True, incident after incident after 9/11 makes the innocent of the community too, to look suspect.

I am glad you visited my blog - I could find yours. The pictures are beautiful, too (I saw your Navaratri post).

Priya.

Anil P said...

Mridula: Yes, it is. I suppose the way it dragged out, and the wanton nature to the massacre, and the television coverage all contributed to it.

Thank you :)

Megha Punater: I really wish the innocents among the Muslims do not have to face such suspicion. Many of them just want to be left alone to live their lives just as anyone else would want to, and I've met some wonderful characters among them.

As for suspicion certain kind of suspicion derives its basis from the insecurity another feels vis-a-vis his own security, thus making it all pervasive and difficult to fight.

But I do hope sanity prevails. It is important that it does.

Thank you. It's indeed a pleasure to know you enjoy my posts :)

Priyamvada K: Thank you. Yes, the last line is so true. It is a Marathi proverb a taxi driver told me in quite another context the day the Mumbai attacks took place.

I agree. In dealing with the innocents it is important to see through the prism of humanity as opposed to religion.

It's only that repeated acts of terrorism have made it all the more difficult in the national conciousness, and the politicians are not helping much with the situation either.

Serendipity said...

Anil, there are so many things I LOVE about ALL your posts.

They focus on tiny, inconsequential little details that put things in a different perspective. The photos make a seemingly regular day look like a potrait ... good stuff.

Lori ann said...

This is so sad to me. I saw this biased mentality work first hand on good friends of mine after 9/11. Muslim friends. They felt so scrutinized in the small town they lived in, they felt forced to move, to a big city and hope for annonimity. But how to explain to the children, mine and theirs, the reason. It's not the religion, its not even the people, its just some. And so just like you said, the wet burns away with the dry. Such a beautifully written post. You are so gifted Anil.

SloganMurugan said...

Powerful. And moving.

Lakshmi said...

your post evokes so many reactions and emotions, that Im at a loss to express it..we need more such posts..thanks Anil.

Jeanne said...

I always love visiting for the glimpse it gives into your world. It seems that those who do these terrible things don't care that they hurt more than just their intended target. Everyone needs to be reminded that every face is not the face of evil.

Adi said...

I shouldn't have read your post... i was missing bombay earlier... NOW i can't stand to stay away... Bangalore doesn't quite measure up....

VERY Well written post though :D It was a treat to read :D

N said...

touching post. i love the way u relate it all to a simple proverb. where everyone has exhausted their views on this issue, your to-the-point narration was very effective.

Coffee Messiah said...

What a great looking cab (inside). Do all cabs look like that inside?

Always a few, making hard on the many, when it comes to violence and labels on people.

Tea on the run, I like it.

And yes, your narration is always top notch!

Have you written a book? If so, I'd surely enjoy reading it! ; )

Cheers from the usa ; )

meghu said...

nice post. had a similar experience on 6th decemeber, the day of the big protest at the taj. except my cabbie was really talkative. he had some really interesting things to say. thats why i love this city. everyone has street smarts, an opinion and is articulate to boot. :)

Rob (Inukshuk Adventure) said...

What a wonderfully written post. Thanks for sharing a look at the Mumbai that the relentless Live TV News doesn't care to see.

Anil P said...

Serendipity: Thank you :) This makes all the effort worth it.

Just as there is a drama in every waking moment, there's a moment to every waking drama.

Lori Ann: Insecurity driven by a fear for safety hardens suspicions.

I can well imagine what it must have been for your friends to be looked at in suspicion. All the more reason for the rest of the community to stand up to the tyrants within. The battle will need to be won from within.

Thank you.

SloganMurugan: Thank you.

Lakshmi: Thank you, Lakshmi. It's satisfying to know the post touches a chord in you.

Jeanne: Thank you. Yes, not every face is evil.

It's a privilege to be able to share with you an insight into my part of the world.

Adi: Thank you :)

N: That proverb is so true, like most proverbs are. Thank you.

Coffee Messiah: Most of the Bombay cabs look like this from the inside. Some are well kept, others worn from use. There're deities, incense sticks, stickers, at times sayings written on the dashboard.

The Padmini Premier is a sturdy vehicle, reinforced by its no frills construction. Not much by way of luxury but comfortable nonetheless.

In India tea is available all the while and everywhere. So 'tea on the run' is a given, at times availability of tea on the roadside is an excuse to stop for one so that one may take in the local sights.

Thank you for your appreciation of the writing. It's a pleasure to be able to have you 'accompany' on many of these journeys, and satisfying to be able to get 'a sense of place' across in the narratives.

It's great to know that. Yes, it was a long time ago. It was a different time, a different outlook, a different theme, a different writing approach.

Meghu: If not for opinions how will any urban tale become an urban legend :)

Rob: Thank you, Rob. Live TV tends to look for drama in the noise. And by the time the quiet takes over television will have gone somewhere else.

Kaustubh said...

I did expect a post on Bombay attack from you and here it was! Made me silent for a while....

Shantanu said...

Another great post! I remember the first time I came to Bombay (I was in the North during those years) and finding the taxis strangely small; until then, all the taxis I had seen were Ambassadors. I guess, every community, religion, or even a state suffers for the sins of its individuals. Fair or unfair is of course debatable.

bobbie said...

I was just thinking of you when your Christmas wish arrived. Thank you.

I wish you happiness and love and a peaceful Christmas and New Year.

bobbie said...

Please forgive me, Anil. I believe I just wished you a happy Christmas. I do not know that you are Christian. Whatever your religious faith, whenever your high holy days, I wish you joy, love and peace.

Reader Wil said...

Very well written and interesting to know how the man in the street vents his ideas about terrorisme. Unfortunately he isn't important enough to make a difference. Islam gets a bad name by the way this religion deals with for instance women. In our western countries women are free to do what they want. As free as men are. In many muslim countries women have a dress code and if they are raped and report this to the police they run the risk of being flogged or stoned. Women are often treated as third rate citizens. Circumcision for women is in many African countries compulsory, like forced marriages.All unheard of in countries with a Christian tradition. I was treated as an inferior person in some of those countries, but I don't accept that, because I have never been used to this. And I never will.

Anil P said...

Kaustubh: Thanks.

Shantanu: Actually I wish there were Ambassadors on the roads. I didn't get to travel in them much except once in a while. Compared to an Ambassador you'll surely have found the Padmini Premier.

I believe Calcutta has a lot of Ambassadors on the streets like there are Padmini Premiers here.

Bobbie: Thank you for the Christmas Wishes.

I'm not a Christian but having grown up in India I've been exposed to all religions growing up, participating in their festivities every once in a while, even visiting their places of worship. And Christmas is a wonderful festival to experience.

Reader Wil: I agree. There're certain aspects to the faith that needs to be flexible with certain things.

Any crtical debate within a religion can be difficult if the religion is not open to debate, more so when the threat of violence is held out as in the Blasphemy law and the like.

Where religion and the state mesh together actively as opposed to a symbolic role the country will make it difficult for minorities to live and practice their own faith.

bluehues said...

you are always walkng with your camera arent you?

interesting post.. am learning mumbai with you. didnt know about the rule for 25 years old taxis... touching conversations... it was a long post,yet i managed to read everything.

http://reluctantmemsahib.wordpress.com said...

Anil, i am so pleased that you stopped by mine so that i could find yours. i love your descriptions - and your photos - of Bombay. My mother was born in the city. I have always longed to visit and never made it. your entries are small and real tasters of a place i still hope to get to. thank you. RM

Reader Wil said...

Thank you for your answer. I was afraid I was to harsh, but I am always angry when I think of the disrespect I was treated with. I myself try to treat everybody with respect.
I agree with you that politics and relion should be kept separated. This is the case in my country, although one Christian party likes to lay down certain rules on us, which are too strict for most of us. Such rules will never be excecuted.

aadesanya said...

You did a great job with this very interesting documentary. I enjoyed it very much. It's sad what is happening around the world, but we have to keep the faith, stay strong and work for the greater purpose. Nice work!

Regards Ade!

Sara said...

A very thoughtful and beautifully written piece, Anil. Thank you for sharing your impressions during that troubling event. Of course, over here, all we see is what those news agencies, tripping all over themselves to bring live coverage, show us, sadly. I like that you delve into the hearts...where each of us lives. In our hearts, we humans are not all that different and we ought to be able to befriend each other if given the chance and if the extreme ideologies were out of the way.

Thank you for your poetic comment on my blog "in the hearts will details that astound be found, always," which could be used to describe mankind's heart as well as the hearts of flowers I think.

Anil P said...

Bluehues: You might say so :)

The '25 year' rule threw a spanner in the wheels for many a taxi driver. It's not easy for a taxi driver making ends meet, more so in a competitive atmosphere.

Reluctant Memsahib: Thank you. It's a pleasure to know you liked the descriptions.

It's interesting to learn that your mother was born in Bombay. If you could tell me where in Bombay she grew up I might be able to send you a picture of the locality if possible.

Bombay is a city to visit even if it is in some senses a bundle of contradictions. In each Bombay contradiction is to be found a meaning unique to that contradiction.

Reader Wil: You weren't harsh at all with your observation. It's important that we move beyond political correctness if we are to confront certain insidious thinking that serves to harm the rest of us or threatens to.

I do agree that any exclusivity enforced by the threat of violence, an unfortunate characteristic of Islamic invasions/conquests of olden times, at least so in India, can be detrimental to multi-cultural societies, leaving festering sores behind, reinforced and prolonged by current happenings.

It is all the more necessary that coercive aspects of the faith should not be brought to bear in the governing of the State.

I feel tolerance is no longer merely a virtue, it is a necessity of the times.

Aadesanya: Thank you.

Yes, it is sad. I do hope that it spares the innocent and the tolerant among the Muslim community, and that the horrific event should not tar all of the community with the same brush.

Sara: Thank you, Sara. It's a pleasure indeed to know you liked reading this post.

I agree. Connecting hearts is about connecting to a common heritage, that of humanity.

Ms.N said...

hey Anil!

ur post just reminds me of one taxiwallah we recently took in marine drive. We needed to go to NCPA, and the guy refused to go anywhere near the oberoi, triden... he gave us a huge narrative : " we innocent taxi guys dont check what people bring with them. these terrorists dump their whatever and leave and it blows up some unsuspecting poor chap like me"...

yes, some times it is nice listening to these chaps... nuggets not found elsewhere i suppose!

Anil P said...

Ms. N: The fear was palpable in the days following the 26/11 attack.

Taxi drivers usually have original perspectives on life, city, and life in the city.