Numbed by terrorist attacks twice in less than three years, Mumbai woke up on a rainy Thursday morning and got on with life a day after bomb blasts in three crowded commercial centres killed 17 people and injured 133.
Children lugged their bags to school and commuters made their way to work on trains, buses and cars, while housewives struggled with their bags and umbrellas to shop at the city’s markets.
“You can’t live in this city if you can’t deal with incidents like these," said Girish Jethva, 41, who works at a diamond merchant’s office at Opera House, where the deadliest of the explosions took place, killing 10 people.
“This is a fast city,” said Jethva, who was a few feet away from the blast and spent most of Wednesday evening at hospitals helping the injured.
“You don’t have the luxury of taking time off to deal with traumas. You have to keep going.”
In between getting on with life, many Mumbaikars, like Jethva, also spared time to help, by escorting the injured to hospitals or by donating blood. Social networking sites were also flooded with offers of help.
Shobhabai, 62, who lives close to the blast site in Dadar, made her way as usual to south Mumbai, where she works as a domestic help for a fund manager.
“The terrorists are clearly not achieving what they want, which is to disrupt our lives,” said the fund manager, who missed being trapped in the Taj Mahal hotel by half an hour on 26/11 and did not want to be named.
“India is a country of more than one billion people. Terrorists can’t stop such a huge economy from growing.”
Nilanjana Dey, 24, a public relations executive, who went to work at her Fort office, said her train was emptier than usual, but probably because of the heavy rains. “Unlike after 26/11, no one was talking about Wednesday’s blasts,” she said. “At the office, we did talk about the blasts, but for the most part, we just went about our work.”
But beneath the humdrum activity, optimism and sympathy ran currents of anger, gloom and some fear.
“If I have to go to the court and argue a case the day after a terror attack, I will,” said Haresh Jagtiani, 65, a senior advocate. “I have clients and am accountable to them. I have no option but to bounce back. But how do you expect someone whose legs and arms were blown off to bounce back?”
He pointed out that though the city has been a soft target for terror attacks for years, it still doesn’t have a world-class forensic lab. “And our disaster management is a disaster in itself,” he added.