This has been another terrible year. Even before the invasion of Mumbai several hundred people had been killed and injured in terror attacks. Yet, let us recall that the attacks on Jaipur, Ahmedabad, New Delhi and Guwahati did not succeed in setting off chains of retaliatory violence of the sort that would almost certainly have resulted ten or fifteen years ago.The question now is: will the November invasion of Mumbai change this? When commentators repeat the metaphor of 9/11 they are in effect pushing the Indian government to mount a comparable response. If they succeed in doing this the consequences are sure to be equally disastrous. The very power of the 9/11 metaphor blinds us to the possibility that there might be other, more productive analogies for the November invasion of Mumbai. One such is the Madrid train bombings of March 11, 2004, which led to a comparable number of casualties and created a similar sense of shock and grief. If 9/11 is a metaphor for one kind of reaction to terror, then 11-M (as it is known in Spanish) should serve as shorthand for a different kind of response: one that emphasises vigilance, patience, and careful police work in coordination with neighbouring countries.I wish I had written that. Instead, the attack on Mumbai, along with all the rest of the political mess in the world, just makes me want to bury my head under the covers.
I'm going back to crocheting potholders. Which is why I'll never be Amitav Ghosh.