Travelogue (Part II) – Yeh hai Bombay meri jaan

Part I of the series can be accessed here

In Part II of this series, Raza Rumi travels to India’s thriving megapolis with a media delegation

After a whirlwind Delhi tour, the Pakistani media persons set off for a fleeting visit to Mumbai. If I am not mistaken, ours was the first big delegation to this megapolis that crossed the contemporary fault line between India and Pakistan. Less than a dozen zealot-mercenaries terrorized Mumbai twenty months ago, and now the issue of terrorism has derailed the formal Indo-Pakistan talks.

This was not a very comfortable journey. Not that we were not looked after by our hosts. It was a well-organized tour. But the overdose of Mumbai mantra in Delhi had rattled some of us. What happened there in November 2008 was ghastly and inhuman; and Ajmal Kasab’s nationality stirred public opinion like never before. Thanks to a belligerent media and live telecast of terrorism (almost to the point of glorifying it) the result was what the jihadis had hoped for. Jingoism flourishes in such odd climes and the Mumbai hangover, as we all found, is a potent reality in India.

Within the delegation, I underwent a strange sensation – of a remote, awkward connectedness with the place. Twenty years ago, as an apolitical and naive student I had arrived in Bombay to see my friends from the London School of Economics. This was a ten day long trip, which I shall not forget for many reasons. I found a cosmopolitan buzz, abject poverty and immense human bonding then. I stayed in a building where Bollywood’s long-lasting diva Helen lived, and met scores of young men and women who looked the same but adhered to a different lifestyle. Continue reading “Travelogue (Part II) – Yeh hai Bombay meri jaan”