December 5, 2008

Why Do They Attack Particular Cities | Terrorist Attacks on Mumbai

Mumbai: A Divided City
I was in New York, not in Mumbai when terror struck that city over the past few days… I was in New York on 9-11 when terror struck New York, standing right next to Seven World Trade Center and still feel the terrifying vibrations under my feet when the first tower collapsed. I am separated by vast seas and muted grief from Mumbai but the events I watched live on my laptop and TV made me feel as I did on 9-11. Mumbai and New York are separated by the silence of that grief and the unspoken words: we feel the pain.

I am an architect in New York, and a world citizen with close ties to Mumbai. I belong to the same human tribe that inhabits this planet and calls one city home versus the others. We all have that dubious relationship with the city, others and ours. At times that relationship is a love affair and at other times, it is reproachful. I understand very well why that may be so, however, am at a loss when the latter is taken to extremes and cities are targeted for violence and are wounded. I understand, cities are symbolic of their political, social and economic structures and Mumbai is not an exception. Like every other city, Mumbai has its shortcomings, inequities and chaos. But it also has its vibrancy due to those dichotomies that produce tense dynamics. Then, there is the global context that defines Mumbai and New York like many other cities as ‘targets’, as sites of atrocities. On one hand, we as humans are better connected than ever before in the history of mankind, however, events like these reminds us of how far apart we are from each other.

Mumbai is a divided city, so is the world.

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