I’ve never lived in a world where you have to always be cautious.  It scares me.  (Lala, Spring 2010)

I was sitting in Lala’s reading chair in her room tonight, chatting with her as I do a few times a week.  She was on the floor, nestled in her beanbag, playing with her bellybutton as she has done since she was an infant.  We solve many pre-teen woes this way and I get a good share of middle school gossip.

I’m craving a trip out of Delhi, so I asked Lala if she would like to see the Golden Temple in Amritsar with me.  This is the most holy site for the Sikhs.  It’s north of Delhi on the Pakistan border.

She asked if we had to take a train and I said, yes.

No, I don’t want to go there, she said.

How about Calcutta, I offered?  We fly there.

Worse!  She declared.

And then, her kicker:  I’m trying to think of a happy place outside of Delhi that won’t get bombed.

She settled on French Polynesia.   (Save that for your lover, not your mother, I told her.)

The conversation continued:  Lala said that when she sees Indian men on the side of the road carrying a bag, it scares her. I asked her what she imagined to be inside the bag.  “Guns”.

I’m scared of terrorists. (Lala, Fall 2010)

Six months ago, after the bombing of the German bakery in Pune, the embassies here issued repeated warnings, some “imminent” of planned attacks on area markets.  I wasn’t foolish but it didn’t stop me much from my daily activity – but on weekends, when all of humanity hits the shopping centers, I did keep the kids away from the fray.  All three knew about the threats from their friends at school and they came home with the right vocabulary:  bomb, bomb, bomb.  I didn’t tell them much about the situation but they picked up the mood around here.  Drive into any hotel and your car is stopped, the hood and trunk opened, a mirror placed underneath.  Walk into the mall and you enter through a metal detector.  Everyone is frisked.  Rifle toting men dressed in fatigues patrol the perimeter of their school.

Now, with the Commonwealth Games just two weeks away, trucks of military police and security guards line the roads.

And sadly, on Sunday, gunmen opened fired on a group of tourists in old Delhi.  Two people were shot.  Hours later, blocks from the same site, a crude device exploded inside a parked car and it burst into flames.

India has a huge domestic security issue.  There’s the Indian Mujahideen, an internal Islamic terrorist organization, the Maoists who are picking off Indian paramilitary, terrorizing villages and blowing up train tracks.  And of course, you have angry citizens in Kashmir, demanding independence, opportunity, enfranchisement, equality, freedom from years of indecision.  There’s also Lashkar-e-Taiba or LeT, a militant group from Pakistan responsible for the attacks in Mumbai in November, 2008.  That same year, several markets were bombed simultaneously in Delhi by the Indian Mujahideen.

Despite all this, I have never felt unsafe here.  India is poised between doing a pretty good job maintaining security and potential tragedy.  For me, traffic and mozzies and bacteria are the greatest threat.

For Lala, fear is her terrorist.

And that breaks my heart.


Eddie’s teacher asked for a photo of him reading.  We couldn’t resist tweaking the opportunity.

This is the sort of thing that I try to ignore but simply can’t.  If you zoom in, you will see that this guy crouched on the ground is trying to soften-up the end of what appears to be a PVC pipe with a lit piece of paper.  I’m not joking when I tell you that you are looking at one of the most exclusive markets in Delhi:  Khan Market.

My cub scout.  This is the child who has refused to join any group activity but he has taken to scouting like a pig to poop.

And me, still frequenting wine club.  Jim teases me for this “unpopulist” past time.  I am reminding him from where the title of this blog came…  I will never lose the common touch.

4 thoughts on “Security”

  1. Where to start with this post?

    I remember being a child and being terrified of nuclear annihilation. I remember practicing air raid drills in elementary and middle school and it was really scary. I wonder if at a certain age, we are just more susceptible to these fears, perhaps because it is difficult to put them into the context that adults do. It is, of course, much worse to have our children in fear than to be fearful ourselves…

    Scouts rock! Owen, my older son, does not care for sports of any kind but he really enjoys scouts, especially camping. He won the pinewood derby last year and the smile was priceless!

    Wine rocks! I am convinced that it was invented by parents 😉

    Thanks for the great posts!

    1. we’re the same age. do you remember that TV movie back in the 80’s about a nuclear attack? i think the two main characters were high school students. that one really did me in. then i read Hershey’s Hiroshima and as awful as that incident was, reading the book helped because i needed to see that people survived and remembered… and this remembrance i believed was the greatest deterrence to a nuclear attack. bringing the fright to today – did you read Cormac Mccarthy’s “The Road”? It’s a tough read and powerful in its stripped prose. unlike other readers, I didn’t feel hopeful at the end. (I didn’t see the movie and don’t intend to.)

      Cheers to scouts and wine…xoxo

  2. I do empathise with your feelings about security. I try to downplay the issues and hope they wont be as hopeless as I really think they are. Of course these things could happen in any big city but then you would hope an ambulance would be able to get to you on time.No chance of that happening here and that is the bit that scares me the most. Even Ant said touch wood I never have a need for one while I am here. Love m

  3. did you see the papers after sunday’s attack? they showed photos of the police near the masjid lounging on their bench. i think one huge issue to security here is what one Indian friend just shared with me: chalti hai, or benign intervention. (unsure of the correct spelling on that. hope i got it right…)

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