The Pros & Cons of House Arrest

I just spent most of the past 32 hours under house arrest. When Bal Thakeray, the founder and chief of the ethnocentric, right-wing Hindu nationalist Shiv Sena political party died of natural causes yesterday afternoon, the entire city shut down. No shops were open, no rickshaws were allowed to run, everything was cancelled. This was mainly out of fear that his followers (who have a history of violence) would take extreme actions in their mourning but it was also a weird form of respect for the immense power that this man has wielded over the state of Maharashtra, and ultimately, the nation of India, for the past 50some years.

Bal Thackeray

We were ordered not to leave our homes. Friends stayed at whichever friends’ house was closest by when the news hit. I kept peeking out the window to see if I could hear any riots or see any men wearing orange (Shiv Sena colors). It was particularly important for our area to stay inside since Bal Thakeray’s house is about a 5 minute rickshaw ride away.

Funeral procession from Bal Thackeray’s home to Shivaji Park

Surprisingly, what ensued was not violence but an odd peace that temporarily halted our bustling city. There was no one on the streets, no honking, no commerce, no nothing. For those of you who have been here, you can understand how hard that is to imagine.

Here is my list of pros and cons of this experience:

Pros

  1. Experienced the reality of life in India—in which things can change in an instant for the oddest of reasons
  2. Had lots of free time since everything I had planned to do outside the apartment was cancelled
  3. With said newfound free time did yoga, Skyped with friends and familiy, cleaned my room, and studied Hindi
  4. Ate a banana, chocolate, peanut butter toasted sandwich—the only snack I could make with what we had on hand but a mighty good one!

Cons

  1. Experienced the reality of life in India—in which things can change in an instant for the oddest of reasons
  2. Missed out on a party at my boss’ house, volleyball, and an acoustic Bombay Bicycle Club concert.
  3. Didn’t get to buy a bed…which since I will be out of town the next three weekends means I may be sleeping on a mattress on the floor that much longer.
  4. Checked Facebook so many times I got bored of it

What I started out as a fearful attempt to save our lives ended up just being a quiet—albeit stir crazy—weekend at home.

Sensing things were finally safe enough to venture out this evening, my roommate and I went on a long walk. Things were so quiet I could have cartwheeled through the intersections I normally have to dash through to avoid getting run over. We walked along the breezy boardwalk and traveled all the way to one of Anu’s favorite restaurants that was covertly selling takeout. The wait was far too long (that’s what what happens when you’re one of the only open restaurants in Mumbai!) so we walked back and placed an order at a favorite pizza place instead. Just as we were finishing our walk and entering our building, we heard our doorbell ring. Pizza time!

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2 thoughts on “The Pros & Cons of House Arrest

  1. I’m glad that you got some time to relax and are safe! I’m sure this is an experience you will remember forever! Thanks for sharing the oddity of it with us! We wil miss you at our usual Thanksgiving rendezvous, so Happy Thanksgiving to you, no matter how far away you are! <3, Amanda

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