In grillings on television these past few days, men in charge have been asked over and over: can Bombay handle something like this again? Straightfaced, they reply that it was a freak storm and that the chances of it occouring soon are next to nothing. Wrong answer, mates. Even before the storm, people could tell you that getting around in the city was tough enough. After visiting Tamil Nadu in January, I wrote about my initial feelings on how Bombay would have been unable to cope with a tragedy of that magnitude. The trash we took for granted lying around on the streets and the illegal constructions and fire hazards would come back to bite us. In hindsight, I wish I had made it a more constructive criticism instead of an emotional one. Even then, it's tough to not get emotional about what's happened lately. I'm angry about being misled. Angry that not even the state transport department, with its lengthy reach, can communicate between its branches for days. Angry that a family dear to me had to swim through potentially charged water to get home.
Even if no one is held accountable (if I hear any bozo RJ saying casually, "We are all to blame for this in some way," there will be hell.), there is some hope. Think Surat. Think of the rebuilding in Tamil Nadu. It's a clean slate, and gives everybody a chance to start afresh. We may not go all the way and make the administration efficient, but perhaps steps will be taken to ensure this never happens again. That's what we live on: hope. And that's a tragedy.