If you live and work in the US, but were born and raised in Mumbai, you may understand my feelings.
Death is never pretty. But, when it comes in the form of seven bombs that rip through passenger trains at rush hour in your hometown, the word 'gory' takes on new meaning.
The blasts occurred between 6 and 6.30 pm in Mumbai. Latest estimates indicate 150 dead, with several hundred injured, most of whom are critical. Train services have shut down and local telephone lines are jammed. The day may have ended, but the trauma has just begun.
As a Non-Resident Indian, this is a strange feeling. You want to help, but the only thing you can do is make a few phone calls. You want to feel sad, but you are too far away to know what it's like for an official standing in the middle of mangled bodies at dinnertime. You want to curse the 'system', but it is no longer yours to curse. In essence, you feel helpless.
I know I do.
There is nothing I can do, and it hurts. Perhaps this could have been prevented, perhaps not.
Having said that, who am I to blame anybody, considering I no longer live in my own country? I have no authority anymore to criticize the way things work in Mumbai, because I now watch events on CNN and only check rediff.com once in a while. I admit -- I can't remember the last time I saw a Hindi movie or cooked a traditional Indian meal. I live like a foreigner and do not know what is going on in my city. The only time I sit up and take notice is on a day like today.
It is sad and, perhaps, shameful. It fosters a feeling of guilt. All these feelings exploded today and made me realize that you can take a man away from his city, but you cannot take the city out of the man. I speak for myself when I say that, as an NRI, Mumbai is an integral part of who I am, regardless of where I live.
Mahatma Gandhi once said "A man is the sum of his actions, of what he has done, of what he can do, nothing else".
If there is anything you or I can do to ease the pain for Mumbai, we should. If that means taking some time off from work to call or e-mail old friends and relatives today, so be it. If that means sitting still and praying for the dead and dying, so be it. If it means recognizing the simple things we take for granted every day, so be it.
And, if it means remembering you are an Indian, and should feel India's pain (just as you have enjoyed India's nurture and education before moving to another country), so be it.
-- The author lives in New Jersey, USA.