10:57 PM

I’ve never ever been grounded, I never abused my parents authority to deserve it and yet this is the situation I find myself in this weekend, but not grounded because I disobeyed my parents, nope, I had to move to India to experience on several occasions what a “Bandh” or shut down is.
It usually happen only because some political extremists enforce a reign of terror regarding an issue or another.
I got the Kannada activist bandh that left me without cable TV a few years back in Bangalore, they were contesting a border between Maharashtra and and Karnataka, then Bangalore was on lockdown in 2006 because actor Raj Kumar’s death triggered riots, when we were in Navi Mumbai the Shiv Sena called for a Bandh to protest petrol price hikes in the State, and this weekend it’s the same party that has completely thrown my Sunday out of whack…the reason? Their veneered leader died at the ripe age of 86!

The news went out on Saturday, DH hurried home from office to catch one of the last auto still on duty before Mumbai became a ghost town. Shops shut down, some voluntarily, but many because some party goondas made them to. The problem with the Shiv Sena is that they can’t tolerate anybody having a different opinion and take on life, so basically they want to mourn their leader, and so should the rest of the State of Maharashtra, and the best way to ensure it is done is to terrorize shop keepers in staying closed, and citizen to fear going out, pelting buses with stones being one of their tactic…nope we have no choice but “respect” a leader that despised the majority of people living in Mumbai for not being from the State of Maharashtra! Mumbai he claimed belong to maharati people, preferably Hindu as well, so all other faith people should be taken out, North, South and East Indians too, they are polluting the city, they are stealing jobs from the locals. His goons spread terror, resorted to violence to punish those who publicly stated another opinion and today was no different.
Some buses have been reported to have been pelted with stones, the city lived in fear of the guy and shut down, cable TV operator blocked all entertainment channel…Bal Thackeray is dead, you can’t watch silly TV, you MUST mourn, too bad if you are Muslim, Christian or North Indian, if you won’t mourn, then at least the bandh acts as a punishment for you guys to be making a living in the city that should belong to Maharati people and them only.

Today was the only day off in DH’s week, we had a massive list of groceries to tackle, hoped to start visiting some flats for our plans of shifting, but nope we couldn’t do it, we don’t care for the guy, he despises DH’s kind for being North Indian, probably would want me out for being Swiss and argh daring to give birth to a mixed child in Bangalore, so for us, the bandh was punishment. We had no fruits no vegetables left, just a little milk, and no soy milk for my lactose intolerant daughter. No bread either. I baked one using imported yeast I used to contaminate local flour (ha ha take this!), DH made Maggi Noodles and that was it. We have Tata sky, so we could watch fun TV, and by the evening DH went on a hunting expedition to find sustenance after we learned our supermarket would be closed until Tuesday, as apparently a whole day of being locked at home was not enough, after all it seems God himself died so we should at least renounce fresh produce for 2 days. Schools will remain closed on Monday (educating people is certainly not a priority), DH hasn’t received words from his office going on the bandh wagon, but if he can’t get an Auto, he won’t go because it will not do good to be out in a city where a political party of highly xenophobe nature is mourning…certainly not in a car with plates from the State of Karnataka and a driving license issued in the State of Uttar Pradesh!

Meanwhile Ishita will have to do without her soy milk, we found none, I made emergency supply of rice milk, using the last cup of brown rice I had in my pantry in an effort to keep some nutritious food into her…she refused to drink it, was upset at the lack of “bleh” as she calls soy milk…and how do you explain to a 3 year old she can’t get it because an 86 year old disturbing man died and has his followers ensuring we should all pay attention to him? How do I explain that to my daughter who I swore once I would want her to be proud of an India without corruption and divisive policy?

Right now I am mad for being grounded, like the sulky teenager who broke the rule, except, I didn’t do anything to deserve being grounded. Mad to have some goons decide I should mourn a guy that made no secret of admiring Hitler…


  1. A Merican Punjaban PI7:14 AM

    While it's not nearly as big of an issue, I remember how Bandh's made a ghost town out of Amritsar. This is something unheard of in the US. People living in fear to the point they don't leave their homes, open their stores or even try to earn money. This organization threatened peoples lives directly. Without money they can't feed their families. They can't pay their bills. To think of a city the size of Mumbai being empty is difficult.

    Poor Ishi. I feel bad for her because she doesn't understand.

  2. The only crowd was at the funeral procession, the rest of the city was in silence, that was quite surreal actually, no horns, no cars, just people out inside the complex playing in the park, that was about it, in many way this silence reminded me of What every Sundays in Switzerland is like, exept that people can plan back home, we know Sundays are closed. DH's office is open every other Saturday and this was the case this week, so we had only Sunday to get things done and couldn't the only grocery store nearby has very limited supplies and the pharmacy that sell frozen and refrigerated things next to it is closed every Sunday.

    I feel horrible for Ishita, she can't understand a thing, to her it's just that her soy milk is missing, she hated the rice milk, went to bed hungry, woke up crying for soy milk this morning. I would give her cow milk if it wasn't for the fact it makes her tummy hurt. And I am angry because she should not have to understand what these ridiculous bandhs are all about, they should not exist...I respect those who want to mourn that guy, it's their choice, but they should not shove their opinion down everybody's throat and make a whole city live in fear of earning their daily bread. Ironically many of the small marathi shop keepers had to forgo earning any money that day, forced to do so by a party that claims they have their best interest at heart :-(

  3. Supriya Kulkarni12:17 PM

    Hi Cyn, I have been reading your blog for a while. I was born and raised in Mumbai and I live in Washington D.C and work in the area of global poverty. It makes me very sad when a city shuts down like that. Theres so much I can say on this topic .. My mom tried to go meet a relative in a hospital but could not because of the bandh,, I pray some day this situation would change.

  4. Oh My God I am so angry to hear your mom could not even go visit a relative in hospital! This Bandh was by far the most ridiculous I've ever seen. Fortunately despite the hints that Monday would be a bandh day things are normal again, Autos and taxis are on the road again, the supermarket I called the evening before that told me thwy would remain closed on Monday was open, I got my daughter's beloved soy milk and she is a happy camper again.
    For us it was inconvenient not having any groceries and fresh produce in the house, but I just can't begin to imagine what it must have been like to all the auto drivers, and shop keepers that lost over a day of earning, I am pissed off for them, because the very governement and system that should take care of them fails them everytime someone declares a bandh and enforce said bandh with threats and put fear int he heart of people. I hope my daughter will get to grow up in an India that will see the end of such occurance really.

  5. Supriya Kulkarni2:00 PM

    Amen to that Cyn. I dream of such a Mumbai and India too :) I am glad Ishi got her share of soy milk and glad to hear the bandh is not on for the day.I am so glad you addressed this issue so well on your blog.Ironically enough , I happen to be marathi. It makes me all the more sad to think of the situation there.

    Btw I am curious to know if you are from a French speaking part of Switzerland.:)Je parle assez bien la langue :)

    Did you read the news article that discusses the nature of meat eaters in a primary school text book in a northern Indian state. I can send you the link if you wish. This article made me incredibly sad.....
    On a cheerful note, I love your post on commercialization and Christmas decorations.. I visited a town in Michigan that has 365 days of Xmas and I never wanted to leave. For Diwali I baked a indo - american fusion pastry and it turned out nice, if you want I can send you the recipe

  6. Oui je viens de la region francophone :-) Je suis nee et est grandis a Geneve.

    I read a blurb concerning that article, apparently meat eaters are criminals and sex offenders? I just don't get how that kind of statement can be found into a school book, this is baffling :-(

    I'd be very interested in knowing your recipe being the foodie that I am :-)
    November is going pretty fast, I need to finish my daughter's advent calendar so it can be ready for December. I love December even more now that I can share the traditions I grew up with with my daughter.

  7. Nima Laud1:06 PM

    I agree with your views. This is symptomatic of what is happening in the country in general at present.

    In a democracy there should be space for different opinions, and for civilized dialogue if you disagree with each other. However, any dissent nowadays is taken as 'anti-patriotic' and the person persecuted.
    It seems like politicians have become so thin-skinned that the slightest criticism (deserved or not) insults them and they must punish the critic.

    Such a mindset is hard on the people,one must be flexible and free to think, but this is precisely what an insecure political class fears. I remember reading a quote by Thomas Jefferson, the American president who was the principal author of the Declaration of Independence, who stated "When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. When the government fears the people, there is liberty".

    Any sane and secure government does not fear its people, but welcomes criticism, but you must have a fair and just government for this to occur.

    This is rather a long response, but it always bothers me when such things occur, and I think of time and money wasted, with those people suffering the most who can afford it the least. Sad situation.

  8. exactly, and I like that quote from Jefferson, it is oh so true. another one that comes to my mind is Voltaire's whcih said something along the line of "I disagree with you but I will fight my darnest for you to have a right to think so" To me it embodies the freedom of speech idea, we can't all agree and we all have rights to different opinions and views, but it becomes disturbing when some feel they have to opress and tyranize those who don't think the same. Sadly I see far too much of that happening in India, a country that is supposed to be a democracy.

    I am so sorry for all those who could not make a living and needed it the most during that bandh. I could see in the auto driver's eyes on Monday that they were very glad to be back on the road, their daily bread depends on their ability to work on a daily wage basis, I just don;t want to imagine how much it must have costed them to keep off the road.

  9. Hélène7:07 PM

    Hey at least you got to see more of your DH :)

  10. True :-) there is a silver lining there at least


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