March 19, 2005

Rally through the city

The antiwar rally began at Bombay's historic August Kranti Maidan, and when it got going it stretched for a good 150 metres. We strolled down to Nana Chowk, over the Grant Road Bridge and east from there through the congested, throbbing heart of this city. There is a certain refreshing quality to this, despite the cause: the slogan-shouting, the leaflet-distributing, the simple feeling of solidarity with a few hundred people as you walk on the street, as you look about you at what this city is all about.

There, the Alfred theatre, apparently run, or started, by an old Irish woman. That one, and a few others here, the last few theatres in Bombay which still have hand-painted film posters -- in their lurid colours, impossibly rosy cheeks and slightly distorted faces, so much more interesting than the photo-reproductions that have taken over that particular industry. The innumerable guest houses in ancient buildings on either side, men and women leaning out from far above to look down at us from beautifully carved balconies, and hello, that balcony doesn't even have a floor! Lucky nobody stands on it... The huge flashy clothing store that, someone says, is doing its best to evict the tenants from the chawl that's right alongside. Someone whispers, "There were even some murders!"

I look over at the store, trying to imagine someone from there making his way up into the chawls with a pickaxe or whatever else might have been an implement of murder. Did he wear that orange outfit as he went?

The life on the pavements, the sheer energy in the crowds.

Even if a gangster-politician is somewhere up ahead, joining in at the front of our procession to make his political capital for the day -- even so, this rally gives me the charge these rallies always do. Not least because they let me look at this city in ways I so rarely manage.

It frustrates me, it annoys me, it is perverse -- but something about this city is lodged somewhere deep in my soul. And I hope I never lose it.

8 comments:

Rick T Hunter said...

Dilip said: It frustrates me, it annoys me, it is perverse -- but something about this city is lodged somewhere deep in my soul. And I hope I never lose it.

:-)

Amen to that...

k.r.a.k.t.i.k said...

Totally ... and perhaps, also, its trains ... they're as integral a part of Mumbai as anything else if you ask me - I can't resist a start-to-finish ride anytime I'm there :-D

Sriram said...

I'm confused. Is there some war going on in India that I don't know about? Why are people in Mumbai taking to the streets? What are they going to do next - write to their congressmen?

I oppose wars myself, especially the ongoing bogus ones, but I can't help but think there must be other productive things for these people to do. If (say) Belgium had a war with Congo, would people in Mumbai protest? I doubt it. When Saddam invaded Kuwait, were there protests? Anti-Americanism (as justified as that is) is not the same as anti-war. Let us call a spade a spade - it was an anti-american protest.

Another think that I find funny (but Dilip will disagree) is that these protesters are usually the same people who believe in central, "planned" systems where people are forced to do things against their will for the "common good".

To me, invading a country to impose democracy and deliberately making life hard for car owner in Mumbai are one and the same. The only difference is the scale.

Leaving people alone, for some reason, is the hardest thing for do-gooders to do. Applies to imperialist nations and central planning statists.

Dilip D'Souza said...

Sriram, I'm confused. Is there some new law that says anti-Americanism is illegal? Or that people must not protest things they see as unjust?

(After all, the BJP's faithful have held demonstrations protesting the Modi visa rejection, railing against the US, and I see nothing wrong with them protesting that way).

I missed the connection between the protest I mentioned and central planning. I also missed the equivalence between invasions of nations and making life hard for car owners in Mumbai. Were these the things that you found funny? Don't worry, I'm laughing.

Finally, leaving people alone, you said. Good point. Why not leave them alone to make their protests then?

Quizman said...

Sriram,

I'm waiting for a day when the Indian left protests against Chinese genocide in Tibet, North Korean genocide in their own country, Arab atrocity in Darfur among others.

Yes, you hit the nail on the head. Anti-war = Anti-Americanism.

Dilip D'Souza said...

Quizman: here's a thought for you. You set tests for people (whether left or anyone else), you'll be waiting a long time.

Because nobody jumps through hoops solely because you hold them up. Also because test-setters are too busy holding up hoops to notice anything else.

On that cryptic note...

Sriram said...

I know Dilip has moved on to other topics, but I am amazed how much he has misinterpreted my comments. I never said people should not protest; people are free to do what they want. I am not the one wishing government would interfere and make things right.

My two points were:
1 . The rally was anti-american, not anti-war. An acknowledgement would have shown grace.
2 . Leftists always want the force of government to coerce people into doing their bidding, but US uses the same "might is right" principle, it is somehow wrong.

Dilip D'Souza said...

I know Dilip has moved on to other topics...

No I haven't. I rarely do.

...I am amazed how much he has misinterpreted my comments.

Really? Where's the misinterpretation?

The rally was anti-american, not anti-war. An acknowledgement would have shown grace.

How do you know? Were you there? I was.

I'm all for grace, but why should I acknowledge something I don't believe to be true?

Leftists always want the force of government to coerce people into doing their bidding, but US uses the same "might is right" principle, it is somehow wrong.

But whoever does it, is it right or is it wrong? I'm for nobody coercing anyone to do their bidding, I have contempt for the "might is right" principle. Now what?

Also, I still don't see the connection between invading nations and making life harder for car owners in Mumbai. Would you care to explain?