Am reading Suketu Mehta’s Maximum City at the moment, and a 100 pages in, it is a fascinating read. Will write in detail when I’m done with the book, but one passage in particular reminded me of riots in Karachi.
On the Shiv Sena attacking the BCCI office in Bombay:
“The vandals are young men, who, after working twelve-hour days as peons in some office where they endure humiliation and even a slap or two from men who are richer and less Maharashtrian than they are, take the train home. Inside the train, they bathe in perspiration; the air is fetid with sweat and farts. When they get home to the slum, their mothers and their fathers and their grandmothers will ask them what income they have brought home. Such a man lives with a constant sense of his own powerlessness, except when he is part of a mob, part of a contingent of seventy patriots fighting for the country’s honor, walking unmolested into movie theaters, posh apartments, and the offices of the cricket lords of the country, smashing trophies, beating up important people who drive fine cars. All the accumulated insults, rebukes and disappointments of life in a decaying megalopolis come out in a cathartic release of anger. It’s okay to be angry in a crowd; the crowd feeds on your anger, digests it, nourishes your rage as your rage nourishes it. All of a sudden you feel powerful. You can take on anybody. It is not their city anymore, it is your city.
You own this city by right of your anger. “