As the city’s diamond hub at Opera House reopened on Saturday, the streets teemed with traders both nervous and anxious. From missing traders and brokers, to shattered mangled offices and friends with bandages over their heads and faces — the streets around Pancharatna Towers slowly came to life as merchants tried adjusting to a changed world, counting their losses.
As Bharatbhai Shah, 50, entered his workplace on Saturday morning for the first time after the blasts, he saw his desk on the floor, surrounded by shattered glass. His office is metres away from the blast site.
“I usually leave office by 6-6.30pm and then wait till about 6.55pm at the chaiwallah opposite the blast site. On Wednesday, I left at 5pm. I dread to think what could have happened,” he said.
Said another trader, “Now that we have finally opened, we are trying to get used to a life without the our colleagues. It would be different to live in an environment where fear has replaced the trust that we had.”
For many, the losses weren’t just about casualties from within the trader community.
Many were making inquiries about their favourite snack stall owners. “The Chhapan bhog brothers, for instance, were a favourite here. Both the brothers lost their lives in the blast,” said Shah.
Egged by rumours of explosive being placed on a motorbike at Opera House, many traders decided to ‘crack down’ on parked bikes by pushing them to the ground.