I was forwarded a “Dear Terrorist” mail where, for the umpteenth time, it was reiterated that cowardly acts of terrorism will not break the back of Bombay.
As usual there were the usual secular statements:
We are not Hindus and Muslims or Gujaratis and Marathis or Punjabis and Bengalis. Nor do we distinguish ourselves as owners or workers, government employees or private employees. WE ARE Indians.
To be frank I have not seen this in evidence after the Babri Masjid riots. It has always been made clear where a person stands with respect to caste and religion. Granted that speaking in a purely business sense the only relation for a Mumbaikar is that of a supplier and a customer. However that does not mean that everything is calm in the depths.
Personal incidents to make me worry:
Many people (unamed of course) have pointed out time and again that all Muslims are Pakistani lovers. How can a city be secular if this is the feeling of the common man?
Many people have commented about the birth rate of the poorer Muslims in Bombay. I always thought that this was unfortunate as it made their life even more difficult. However these people who make such comments are trying to prove that if we do not fight for Hindutva we will be overcome by numbers.
Every community and religious group in the city is looking out for itself. Any piece of work which offends either a Muslim group, a Hindu group or a Catholic group (how much ever small these groups may be) is sure to be banned.
Fanatical groups like SiMI, the Shiv Sena, VHP etc. all have big followings in the city
I walked down East Byculla during Shivaji Jayanthi. Nothing happened – just a normal walk. However when I spoke about it later the reactions I got made it seem as if I had done something really brave by walking in a predominantly Muslim neighbourhood during Shivaji Jayanti.
The minute there is any matter which has a religious overtone Mumbai is sure that it will be brought to a halt by one group or the other.
To sum it, in the past decade I have always felt that I am a Malayali Hindu in Bombay. Furthermore there is a feeling of being safe because we make a sizeable majority. It is constricting. At no time do I remotely feel Indian – ever.
This is not to take away from the many who really do not acre. However it is really not as hunky-dory as people make it out to be. The divisions of caste, community and religion run deep in Bombay. The only saving grace is that in times of natural or manmade disasters the human side does come out.