~ On Assignment: Bloomberg, The Day After Mumbai Blasts ~

I didn’t sleep much the night three bombs went off in Mumbai. Not out of fear for myself but concern for the many vulnerable people that make this city home. The majority of whom sleep in slums, shanties or on the street. The Times of India’s July 14th headline exclaimed: YET AGAIN. In two words the paper seemed to sum up public sentiment. They are tired, angry and frustrated and, I imagine, mostly because they feel so vulnerable. But that is what makes Mumbai a marvel. The sheer vulnerability of 12.5 million people. Foreigners who settle here speak of it as an energy, a pace which they have never felt before. They consider the West to be stagnant and not malleable to new venues or opportunities. They see India as the new “Wild West,” an untamed beast, with an undeniable allure. And Mumbai, falls into a separate category altogether. The city allows everyone in with open arms. The city doesn’t judge who you are or where you came from or even why you are here. The city may not be able to take care of you but it will challenge your survival instincts, eventually making you feel at home. The heart-breaking beauty of the city lies in the vulnerability of the people. The day following the bomb blasts, I went to work along with mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, and friends. I was on assignment to see how Mumbaikers were reacting to the tragedy. In Zaveri Bazar, a jewelry market where one of the blasts occurred, people filled the narrow lanes, even as the heavens unleashed torrential rains. Shop keepers didn’t open their businesses but still come to work, for them it is routine not resilience that brings them back. For them this is their life, their identity, they carved this niche for themselves and staying home wasn’t an option. Women on the trains didn’t call into work to see if they should come in, they just did what they do everyday. I am constantly humbled at Mumbai’s willingness to bare its soul to me, a native foreigner. The people are asking for the government to be allowed to share their vulnerability without living in fear. My hope is that they will be heard.

To see more images go to GETTY, THE NEW YORKER, or MUMBAI BOSS.

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