Tales From Abroad: The 2006 Mumbai Train Bombings

By Nash Wills, Staff Writer

“Can you keep this anonymous? Because whatever I did in this, it was just something good I did for society…out of respect for other people.”

In my time here at Thunderbird, I have had the pleasure of meeting some amazing people and all of them have lived riveting lives with stories to prove it. For purposes of this article and at the request of the storyteller, the person who originally told me this story will simply be referred to as Mr. Q throughout this piece.

Photo courtesy of www.dnaindia.com
Photo courtesy of www.dnaindia.com

On July 11, 2006, during after-work rush hour, a series of seven bomb blasts that took place over an eleven minute period of time lit up the western line of the suburban train network—the backbone of the city’s transportation network—in Mumbai, India. The bombings were catastrophic, killing 209 people and injuring around 700 more. In the aftermath, with much of the city in chaos and shock, there were many brave volunteers who stepped up and saved the day. One of those volunteers currently attends Thunderbird and can be found eating in the commons, hanging out at the pub, or studying at the library on any normal day.

Mr. Q was born and raised in Mumbai. On July 11th, the day of the bombings, he was 18 years old and was just hanging out at home when he found out about the event on the news. Immediately, and without having any reservations to the contrary, Mr. Q and his friends scrambled together any food, water, and milk that they could gather, got in their cars (there were eight total), and went out to the front lines in order to help those who had been directly affected by the blasts. They started giving rides to people and helping out with directing traffic, doing anything that they could in order to efficiently move people away from the afflicted area and towards the working buses and trains so that they could get home to their loved ones. “The whole city came together—that’s what they call the Mumbai spirit, the spirit of Mumbai.”

Photo Courtesy of news247online.com
Photo Courtesy of news247online.com

During the entire time, there was one man in particular that struck Mr. Q. Having known that his brother and a friend had taken the train where one of the bombs had gone off, this man assumed the worst and was found by Mr. Q in tears, barely able to move, let alone speak. Through mumbled speech, Mr. Q was able to discern the name of a hospital in which the man suspected that his brother would be. Acting quickly, Mr. Q took the man to the hospital where he subsequently checked the records to find no mention of the brother. The friend had not been so lucky though, and, having not made it out, had passed out in one of the trains. Later on, Mr. Q would find out that, due to rush hour, the two men had been unable to get on the same train car. In a seemingly cruel twist of fate, whereas the brother had gotten on the back car, his friend had been separated and was forced to move to the front car where the bomb was located. When the man who Mr. Q was helping out found out about this news he collapsed in anguish. It would not be until six months later that Mr. Q would get a chance to speak to both this man and his brother again, both of whom reached out to Mr. Q in order to thank him. For Mr. Q, the horrible event was “something that reassured my faith in the city and in humanity. During times like those people don’t think, just help.”

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