Rahul Da Cunha: Bomb Bomb Shakala-laka!


Illustration/Uday Mohite

So, dear reader, this is not a funny column. Well, it's tragic-comedy. Think of me as a modern-day Nostradamus meets Mr Bean. Not that I predict events or inadvertently cause havoc… but I do leave behind destruction, often, in places I visit. Let me explain what I mean:

I've been in the UK watching plays at the WestEnd. The day I return, Friday to be precise, a bomb goes in the London Underground, at a train station I passed through every day. It has been that way for 10 years now — sometimes minutes, sometimes a week after returning from a city I have visited, it experiences a train bomb, a tsunami, a tremor, a takeover by the people, or a terrorist attack.

I'd like to say it started with 10/11, the day after the towers came down, but that would be lying. But, two days after I returned from Sri Lanka, in 2004, the tsunami destroyed its shoreline.

A week later, in Jaipur, the Pink City, driving around the market, I had barely stepped onto the flight back to Mumbai when a bomb went off in the same place I had been. Six months later, a play had taken me to Hyderabad, within an hour of landing home, the capital of Andhra Pradesh experienced riots.
By now I was on a roll.

Cut to January 2011, I set my sets on the Middle East. Egypt had been beckoning for some time. So, photographer buddy Prashant Godbole and I, armed with our Canons, headed to Cairo. Eighty million people living in total harmony. We hung around Tahrir Square, soaking in the hurly-burly of Egyptian madness. In the news, we saw, Tunisia had erupted. The Spring Awakening had just begun. But, we figured, we're so far away in Egypt, no problem here and flew back to India.

A week later, the Nile nation had gone berserk. Its capital city had exploded with collective anger. Truly, we never saw it coming. Cairo was quiet, and then boom, from out of nowhere, the people took to the streets, anti-Hosni-Mubarak agitations rent the air. We'd missed the revolution by a week. The city square, where we'd spent so many chilled afternoons, had 70,000 angry Cairenes.

Turkey is like a second home. Istanbul, actually, is a city nestled between Europe and Asia. This was my repeated destination of choice. Another city centre — Taksim Square. I had spent more man-hours in this space than even our Gateway of India. Even had a favourite hotel, one side faced the square, and the other, the Bosphorus. Once again after I returned to India, in a few days, the Turkish people spilled onto the streets, rebelling against the government in the city square, tear gas going off.

And there's been no let up. A friend and I were set to go to Burma a few years later. Changed our minds and went to Laos instead. An earthquake hit the southern tip of Yangon that same day.

I'm thinking I might say put in Mumbai, for a bit. After all, what revolution can happen here, except a Rs 90,000 crore Bullet train. And Kangana Ranaut.

Rahul da Cunha is an adman, theatre director/playwright, photographer and traveller. Reach him at rahuldacunha62@gmail.com

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