Thursday, July 13, 2006

Salaam Bombay (Mumbai)!


MUMBAI: 'The spirit of Mumbai' isn't just a pretty phrase - it's a realitythat comes to the fore every time the city is struck by disaster. And it wasout in full force on 11/7.

Good Samaritans came in every shape and size on Tuesday evening - themuch-reviled slum dwellers living near the railway tracks, fellow commuters,local residents' groups and passersby, who without a second thought rushedto the help of victims.Slum dwellers were the first to run towards the local trains ripped apart inthe blasts.

Tearing through burning debris, people pulled out survivors,fashioned makeshift stretchers out of bedsheets and carted off the injuredto the nearest hospital in autorickshaws and taxis.On the choked roads, strangers were giving lifts to stranded commuters. One of our journalists on his way from the Bandra-Kurla Complex to Andheri saw heartening scenes of car owners, truck and bus drivers offering people aride.

On a road in Andheri, two women, without a moment's hesitation, got on to acomplete stranger's motorbike when he offered to drop them home.Outside many hospitals and blood banks, people were queuing up to donateblood for the injured. Fellow commuters came to the aid of persons strandedon railway platforms and desperately trying to call up relatives and friendsover the jammed phone networks.

"A man offered me his phone to call my mother and refused to accept anymoney," said Neha Nainkani (16), a college student who was stuck at MumbaiCentral.Residents' groups in Mahim, Bandra and Borivli arranged for water and foodfor people walking all the way home.

The indomitable spirit of the city had set the pace once more. What can we say but Salaam Mumbai?


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