I woke up this morning to a text message, ” Terrorist attack in Pune just now! Bombay on high alert.” Later I checked Facebook expecting to see more news scribbled all across people’s walls.I found only a few. The attack wasn’t big and spectacular enough to capture our imagination and interest for long I guess. There was no plane flying into any tall building, no posh World heritage site under seige or even hostages. Instead what caused the attack was a small package maybe like the one displayed by the MTA in New York under the sign,’ If you See Something, Say Something’, probably a brown box tied up in string. Who knows. A well meaning waiter probably trying to do his job, touched the package and today was his last day working at the German Bakery. As of now 9 people have been reported killed and 45 injured.
A lot of talk is going on about if this is a terrorist attack or not. India has witnessed years of ‘bombs being left in packages’ type of blasts. Back then they were not termed terror attacks, just a bomb blast. Now with talks between India and Pakistan scheduled for February 25th 2010, authorities are trying to get more evidence and different departments are scrambling from New Delhi to get paper work going and official press releases prepared.
But at this time I think of the German Bakery. As an engineering student in Pune my brother used to live in Koregaon Park, 5 minutes away from German Bakery. I went there when the wooden seats and tables were literally on the road itself and the only thing that divided the open road from the sweet bakery was a bamboo like fence and a makeshift roof which sheltered us from the scorching sun. With growing popularity the owners decided to put up a bamboo wall and paint it green in keeping with all the healthy snacks and drinks they sold. A Bamboo wall is a bit like a sky roof. Nothing very imposing and barricading about it. A soft target with zenned out folks from the Osho Ashram with musical instruments and granola bars, tie and dye skirts and wooden beads. The Bamboo wall splintered into smithereens when the package went off today. Many people have lost their lives and many more have lost brothers, sisters, hope, maybe a livelihood, maybe a dream of coming to India on a spiritual journey……who knows.
If the German Bakery ever re-opens it will never have a bamboo fence again but probably a big metal door and many security guards. Bags might be searched and forget about taking a guitar inside to sing and strum. A story similar to the warm and lively Leopold Cafe in Bombay that was targeted. Terror strikes to induce cold hostility and calculated caution. Maybe that’s why India is getting hit again and again. Someone wants the ever welcoming hospitality to cow down and put up its big metal walls. But I hope it never does. Who knows.