August 25, 2007, First week of the fall semester. In a computer lab in downtown Brooklyn, four of us roommates were huddled around a monitor watching in horror at live reports of twin blasts in Hyderabad at Lumbini Park and Gokul Chat and of similar bombs being defused at Dilsukhnagar when a fifth friend rushed towards us excitedly, ” Mama vinnava ? Mana Hyderabad lo bomb blasts ata ? Twin blasts in twin Cities raa ! ” The Chinese student sitting next to us overheard (and understood) only ‘bomb blasts’ and (literally) fell from his chair. He got up worriedly and in quick bursts, “Bomb blasts? What? Where?”
February 21, 2013, Last day for submission of 2012 TPS reports at work. Gujju colleague jogs up to me as I’m walking to my cubicle ” Sidji Hyderabd mein abhi abhi bomb blasts huye hain..apko maloom hai ?” Dazed and caught off guard I fire up my browser right away. At the same time my phone buzzes with a text from a dear friend “Tumhare folks all ok?”
I abandon my browser and speed dial home anxiously. After a long ring Dad picks up, “Whatshup?” “Where are you guys?” “At home doing puja. Whatshup ? ” “Bomb blasts at Dilsukhnagar was calling to check on you guys.” “Acha. All is ok. Your Mom and I are here only. Don’t worry. We will go and watch news now. Click”
I text her back “All OK on our end. Tumhare folks all OK ? ” “Haan sab teek hai but I’m anxious.”
Dilsukhnagar has always been a special place for me. Be it the hours spent cramming EAMCET questions at Narayana Junior College, wandering its many by-lanes hopping from movie theaters to cybercafes, eating curry puffs at Tipsy Topsy and our embark point for family trips to Shirdi.
November 21, 2002 Ten people were injured, some of them grievously, when a powerful bomb planted in a scooter exploded close to the Sai Baba temple at Dilsukhnagar. I was in the vicinity a few hours before this incident. Hyderabad has had a history of bomb blasts.
My response to all acts of terror has been a standard drill : Call up parents & family to make sure all is ok, read up obsessively about the event, watch what the Pols say, form opinions in my head, forget, move on.
Today too I am heading down this very path when I pause to wonder when my “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!” moment will occur. Why don’t I feel the pain? Is it because of no casualty from my family? Is it because I am far away from India? Is it because I have no hope in our Pols.? Is it enough if I condemn and express my concern? Whom should I outrage against? Is it lack of empathy? Sab chalta hai?
What should my response be towards an act of terror?
I remember a PSA on DD Metro from my childhood (similar to this) about not to touch unattended packages. It is still announced in all railway stations.
Post 9/11 the NYC Transit System initiated the widely visible “ If You See Something, Say Something ” campaign. The message is a harrowing reminder to people of events that have passed and how a watchful person can maybe stop a catastrophe *
I am not aware if we have a comparable national level anti-terror campaign; after the many acts of terror inflicted on us; It is only proper we get behind this effort. We did that with our war on Polio and the results have been amazing.