Lucifer in Mumbai

Babui / Arjun

2008 November 29th, Sat.
Brooklyn, New York
Mumbai, city of such wealth,
And of such poverty!
Today, the jet-set here have felt
A new anxiety.
And yet, when we have sorted through
The bodies bathed in red,
How many workers will we view
Among the ones now dead?
Be it from bombers in the sky,
Or gunmen treading earth,
It is the poorer ones, who die
The most, yet leave no dearth.
And even when he seeks out those
In Oberoi and Taj, *
The gunman, with his bullets, mows
The lowly of the Raj.
The ones, who went from Mumbai slum
To earn their few rupees,
Lie murdered. Who will forward come
To help their families?
Now death unites the ones, who were
By birth and wealth divided.
For just a day, has Lucifer
All privileges voided.
And she, who partied at the clubs,
And swam in bluest pool,
Now lies, and rusting shoulder rubs
With maid, as fires cool.
The firemen came, at last, to quench
Those fires that long had raged.
And now, we smell the awful stench
Of corpses that have aged.
Whence came those ones, so zealot eyed,
With guns that spewed out death?
They did not know, the ones who died,
In Mumbai’s horror met.
* The Oberoi and Taj are names of famous hotels in Bombay.
The Taj is in a historic building by the sea-front. The Oberoi is
in a modern one, and is part of a chain, with branches in major
Indian cities as well as elsewhere.
Unusual interview, on CNN, with the materialistic “guru” and physician, Deepak Chopra, regarding the recent horror in Mumbai (Bombay).
Video CNN – Deepak Chopra on Mumbai Attacks
Video CNN – Farid Zakaria on Mumbai Attacks
Tariq Ali in Counter Punch on Mumbai Attacks
Bangladesh Open Source Intelligence Monitors
Stills and videos from Mumbai

Author: Shahidul Alam

Time Magazine Person of the Year 2018. A photographer, writer, curator and activist, Shahidul Alam obtained a PhD in chemistry before switching to photography. His seminal work “The Struggle for Democracy” contributed to the removal of General Ershad. Former president of the Bangladesh Photographic Society, Alam set up the Drik agency, Chobi Mela festival and Pathshala, South Asian Media Institute, considered one of the finest schools of photography in the world. Shown in MOMA New York, Centre Georges Pompidou, Royal Albert Hall and Tate Modern, Alam has been guest curator of Whitechapel Gallery, Winterthur Gallery and Musee de Quai Branly. His awards include Mother Jones, Shilpakala Award and Lifetime Achievement Award at the Dali International Festival of Photography. Speaker at Harvard, Stanford, UCLA, Oxford and Cambridge universities, TEDx, POPTech and National Geographic, Alam chaired the international jury of the prestigious World Press Photo contest. Honorary Fellow of Royal Photographic Society, Alam is visiting professor of Sunderland University in UK and advisory board member of National Geographic Society. John Morris, the former picture editor of Life Magazine describes his book “My journey as a witness”, (listed in “Best Photo Books of 2011” by American Photo), as “The most important book ever written by a photographer.”

3 thoughts on “Lucifer in Mumbai”

  1. The zealot eyed are non other than inhabitants of troubled India. Where there are, as you read this, seven provinces in a state of prolonged and persistent insurgency.
    State sponsored zealotry in practise is India’s renowned artist, M F Hussain, being denied the right to stay in India. Not satisfied with just that, now his film has been scratched from the ongoing Goa Film Festival.
    Cricket pitches being dug up, Christian Nuns being raped and burnt, missionaries being burned after being locked in their cars, churches turning to ashes. Muslim minority populations of Gujrat and Bombay targetted with death or destruction.
    Shining india IS BURNING INDIA – BURNING IN THE PYRE OF ITS INTOLERANCE.. The fig leaf of democracy is slipping.

  2. Sent by emailL
    Something has bothered me as I have been watching the TV channels. Everyone is stationed outside Taj and a little bit the Oberoi but we hardly get a glimpse of the VT station and the victims there. The first 51 victims were there.I spoke to someone who has not been able to get his relatives body out for 15 hours. His relative was a bhelpuriwallah.
    Our media is making invisible the poor once again. I wish someone had spoken of the terror of monetary superiority in a city that puts on display plenty of it. It is intimidating to even watch the Bombay people invited to comment on TV-they know each others names, the all speak fluent English, they all were lunching and dining on a regular basis at these places, they say they want all politicians to stay out. That is very dangerous, because the politicians are the only link that the poor have with governance and if politicians are weakened , so is our democracy. It seems that the trend in thinking among the bold and beautifil is that if uniformed people have to protect the lifestyles of the elite, so be it.
    There was absolutely no introspection of why these targets.As always, the intelligence of the terrorists is ignored, their will to counter the hegemony of wealth and power.There are many factors at play and it would be too patronizing to write off the terrorists as any one simple thing and to reduce the dynamic of the bombings to money and by implication envy, blind instinct, poverty, etc? .
    More backlash is expected and the promise of vendettas will deafen the ears of calm and peace.

    Ruchira Gupta,
    President, Apne Aap Women Worldwide,
    D-56 Anand Niketan,
    New Delhi-21,

  3. Very moving poem. Having travelled in India 3rd class in 1970, later visited and also lived in Chennai, my heart goes out to the Belpuri wallah, and all those coming in to do the dirty work of the mega rich. The women who clean, those waiting with rickshaws and taxis – all having hit the jackpot in their humble jobs – sustaining whole families, whilst the wealthy look down on them, still don’t enable them or their children opportunities for literacy and numeracy – and thinking this is the pauper’s natural birthright by caste. If one dares shake this status quo in one’s own little way, the megabuck chatterers are up in arms. I experienced this 1st hand when I tried to teach my driver to read, so it would help him improve his job opportunities. It breaks my heart. If the mega rich spent less on their ridiculous fashions and absurd jewellry – took a leaf or two out of the devout Jain’s life philosophy, it would be a far better place. Try emulating the english Quakers who did untold good works – and many were wealthy – not the corrupt Holly Bollywood values.

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