Another Tragedy

Precisely four weeks ago I burnt the ring finger of my right hand while performing a seemingly innocent act – heating a cup of tea in the microwave. Don’t ask how, these things happen very easily to me. The accident left me with a boil and two small brown spots, and shooting pain.
I would like to believe that with so many futile accidents over the course of last 28 years my threshold for pain is pretty good. But this time around I actually cried and writhed in pain, over what seemed a small burn. It took about three weeks for me to heal and my finger still has a memento from this burn. So last week when I heard of reports that my favorite part of town, Bandra was engulfed with a massive fire I was very sad. 21 people were severly injured and a lot of people, press reports say 2,000 residents, I’m sure there are more, have lost their homes. I can understand their pain, apart from recuperating physically a long struggle awaits them – the struggle to rebuild the lives of their families. The government has offered Rs. 25,000 as relief to families – is 25 K enough to rebuild everything from scratch? Maybe yes, maybe not….There are many of us who earn more than that as wages for the jobs we do, and we still grumble about how we are underpaid! What these people need is not just financial relief, what they need is relief from the real estate and land grabbing mafia. I’m sure there are many who will say that these people who build and live in slums deserve this – believe me I was one of them but that’s because I had heard only what people told me. That’s because I lived in the comfort of my second floor house, which probably was built on land grabbed from someone and some of it was illegal too (being in Ulhasnagar – the city of illegal constructions). Surely nobody loves living in a slum, they are forced to do so because nobody cares about them and they need a roof over their head. So they do what we as humans do – try to survive. They are the marginalise who have been left on the fringes, when the government focuses on building malls and high rises.
During the 26th July floods, which I had the fortune of experiencing first hand we’ve all learnt that what we need most is a well-trained crisis management team. Which we still don’t have.
Another fact that’s been bothering me most and especially now is that isn’t Bandra the land of celebrities – where the Salman’s, Shah Rukh’s, Aamir’s etc, etc, so you don’t have a film releasing now so you don’t come out to help….Some have expressed anguish on twitter. But what about getting out of your house and doing something…. Don’t tell me that you have secretly donated something and just don’t want to talk about it, because all of us know that’s bull shit.
I have a grouse with most Indian celebrities – in a country that’s crazy after filmstars and cricketers why don’t these people use their star status to do something good. So Salman gets drunk and runs over slum dwellers but he’s still being human – because he sells t-shirts and gets his best friends to walk the ramp to pay for somebody’s cancer treatment, all around the release of Dabangg and when he’s hosting Bigg Boss. Aamir joins Medha Patkar and realises that she’s protesting for something valid two weeks before the release of Rang De Basanti.
And what about Sachin Tendulkar – he needs the media when he cries about how he’s The God and the pride of India but Bandra’s municipal corporation isn’t granting him FSI. If I’m not mistaken, Sachin is a product of Bandra east and surely he’s busy making his country proud at a world cup, ironically where only 14 countries participate in, and is also making some more records. In stark contrast was Daniel Vettori of New Zealand who said that he was auctioning off some of his personal belongings and donating the proceeds to people who have been affected by the earthquake in Christchurch.
Wow, quite a journey this rambling has been from a minor fire to celebrity indifference. Six degrees of separation…
My heart goes out to everyone, who have lost more important things in the fire than Rubina Ali’s oscar trophies. And a big hug to my friend Avi Bachrani who was a volunteer in the food packets section at Bandra. It’s people like you who are the real heroes….And the real sons of soil….By the way was Raj Thackeray and the other sons of soil anywhere nearby….


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