When the news on television goes to repeat mode at midnight and suggests that there will be nothing new to tell until such time when various Ministers will arrive in Mumbai tomorrow morning to visit different hospitals and to make assurances to its people on all available platforms...
When everyone who delivers information goes to sleep along with the administrators and leaders who have flights to catch at the break of dawn so that they reach in time to be the first to give and get the bite...
When the injured are left to deal with their pain in institutions that don't match up to the standards that the tax payer who parts with his hard earned income deserves...
And when the dead are left to lie still, next to their wailing loved ones...
I can't help but remember 26/11... 2008.

I can't help but recall the 72 hours of seige which was laid upon us by a terror which had the freedom to attack us and leave us hurt and shattered because of our powerlessness against all those whom we chose, whom we voted and whom we crowned...
All those who frittered away their time in making money and playing politics while the blood of Mumbai flowed on the unkempt streets of the wet city...

I get reminded of that insane need to do something about it which drove us on a road trip to New Delhi from Mumbai over four days with stops in Ahmedabad, Udaipur and Jaipur to garner support and to eventually meet the Prime Minister and present to him an ultimatum that if reforms and various policies to secure the state were not brought in force within a targeted timeline, a civil society uprising would be inevitable and unavoidable.

While we were on the way to New Delhi, a terrified Government of India which felt attacked by its people had proffered their young ones to the podiums and made them deliver impassioned speeches in parliament about how as the new breed, they were not going to stand for systemic delays.
Rahul Gandhi, Milind Deora, Omar Abdullah and all, collectively and individually urged young India and a wasted generation above them, to diffuse their anger and nurse their hurt because now that the worst was over, it was reform, reform and more reform.
We experienced India change on the ground as we travelled from city to city through villages.
Or so we thought.

When we reached New Delhi and when we were followed by the entire Indian News Media to Jantar Mantar where we sat on a Dharna and insisted that we were not going to budge until we had got an appointment with the Prime Minister and presented to him our grievances, a delegation from the PMO arrived and assured us a meeting and took four of us away to meet him deliberately tearing us away from the telecast of our demands across all media which was live by the hour.
Meanwhile another couple of plainclothes men from the PMO spread themselves out amidst the media and diverted its attention towards some inane announcements which dispersed it, while the chosen four were taken on a joyride in a Gypsy across Rashtrapati Bhavan and India Gate and given assurances that the PM was waiting to meet them and would be free in a few minutes.
The four of us were Nutan Bajaj, Aroona Bhat, Alyque Padamsee and myself.

Once the hype had died down, we were brought back to Jantar Mantar and told that the PM was in Srinagar and could not meet us.
By then it was cold and eerie on a dark winter evening in the first week of December and tomorrow was another day.
We returned to Mumbai via Pushkar and felt cheated but helpless.
In many citizens forums thereafter, many politicians appeared to reassure junta that the Government of India meant business henceforth and there was no reason to worry, as the elected leaders were commited to perform.

Thereafter I, as well as every other Mumbaikar, experienced horrendous traffic snarls every other day, at the end of which pot bellied cops yawned and chatted past the naka bandi's they conducted at every nook and cranny of the city.
I never really believed that the potties were capable of catching the culprits who held the city at ransom and on the edge of endless high alerts, but blinded myself like every other citizen of the city, into feeling reassured that they were doing their job.
I must admit that I was yet to know, when I like the rest of Mumbai also fell for the impressive camouflaged jeeps that patroled what I call the mean streets, and what they call sensitive areas, that what terrorized me was not exactly what would scare the terrorists.

Then came this evening today, and I found myself falling into a routine.
I followed reflex action and called my immediate near and dear ones at first to find out if they were all safe, and then began informing our relatives in the rest of the world, that we were fine.
It seemed customary and a like a job one was used to doing.

I did think that there is a marked improvement in the way the media as well as Government officials were handling the situation without spreading panic and alarm, but was shocked at myself for falling prey to such a feeling because truth hit me when I realized that even they were fatigued and exhausted and too used to doing the same thing over and over again

Finally, as we watched the news, neither moved, nor shocked but rather immune to the images that seemed as unaffected as me, despite blood splattered unavoidably on the lenses of the camera's that captured them, texts sprang messages to friends across the board to find out if everyone had escaped the wrath of human terror.
This was not Gods way of teaching this world a lesson anymore, this was neither an earthquake that led to a tsunami, nor a cloudburst that trapped Mumbai in a sea of water, but this was what has now become the accepted way of the politics of our times.

Today was just another rainy day when terror had struck and we were fortunate for not having been at the chosen places where explosions had taken place, which as a matter of fact were also predictable, therefore none of us, nor those who mattered to us, were injured or dead.
We never were...

Ministers and officials came on screen and spoke rehearsed lines and public anger captured by media seemed contrived. 
Most people on the streets knew what to say as they had seen others do the same at many instances since 1993.
When my friend Ashoo from Chandigarh called to ask me what was going on, I told her that I also only knew as much as she did, because we were both watching what was happening in Mumbai, on the same news channels and following relatively the same feed on facebook, twitter and now Google + as well.
I heard myself tell her that we were all trapped in a box and that was how life was going to be for a long time to come.

So here I am, as numbers stand still at 21 dead, 113 injured, well past midnight, unable to sleep but neither angry nor agitated.
Unaffected, I write this piece, because I already know what everyone who appears on live debate and print is going to say right till the end of this week... 
Everyone from police to government officials, from politicians to media men, from ministers in power to those in opposition.