Apres le deluge...

>> Tuesday, 25 January 2011

My sister's text, 4.50pm Monday 24th January: 'Am sure you've been sent loads of texts already, but just checking...'


My reply a few minutes later read: 'About what?'

That's how it works, you see. In this age of instant information my sister in the west of England knew about the bomb at Domodedovo Airport on Monday afternoon before I did. You think, when you see these events on the news that everybody in the vicinity must know about it. That panic must spread like ripples on the surface of a pond, that whole cities must be lost in confusion and fear, and individual citizens must be too scared to set foot outside their front door.

As ever, real life isn't like that.

When I first moved to London twenty-cough years ago, the IRA was mid mainland-UK terror campaign. Whilst not frequent, the bombings of the city centre were regular enough to give one pause, and to make elderly relatives ask questions about whether it was the right place for me to live. And yet business continued (with the exception of the installation of 'the ring of steel' around the City and increased security measures at certain landmarks) pretty much as normal. Well, it had to; London was the capital of the UK, after all.

I'm sure that that is what will happen in Moscow after this attack; certainly it did after the metro bombings last Spring when commuters were back in the tunnels during evening rush hour, only hours after two suicide bombers struck in the morning of the same day.

The Russians are a resiliant nation - after the upheavals of the last 100 years or so they would have to be - and a fairly stoic one. Certainly they don't waste much time complaining about issues that would have most soft-bellied Westerners (myself included) heading for the hills; they just shoulder the burden and walk on. I'm not sure, mind you, how much of that is out of necessity; the opportunities for a Russian to influence anything other than their own day to day life (and sometimes not even that) are slim. Many don't even bother to vote, arguing that since the outcome is pre-decided in most cases there really is no point*.

*Disclaimer; That's not to say that this point of view is correct, by the way; merely that that is what some Russians believe... (PM glances nervously over her shoulder...)

Of course there is outrage here at this latest terrorist attack, it's not simply water off a duck's back. Today is an official day of mourning for the victims at Domodedovo, and both the president (Medvedev) and the prime minister (Putin) have been quoted taking the hardline on their response. Heads have already rolled both at the airport and in the security services due to the lax approach to enforcing procedures which, if they had been followed, might not have stopped the attack happening but may have ensured it happened in a slightly less busy area.

None of which, however, begins to tackle what it is commonly believed to be the root cause of this and similar terrorist activity; the current situation in the North Caucasaus. And whilst that remains unaddressed, many Russians believe such atrocities will simply continue, and live their lives in the hope that it doesn't affect them directly.

But then, isn't that pretty much the same the world over?


Note: thanks to everyone who checked here and on Twitter to make sure the family and I are OK. We are.


10 comments:

PippaD aka Mummy 26 January 2011 at 11:25  

Glad that you are okay and I think that making life go on is the only way that a lot of people can deal with events such as this. We have to focus on what we can do not what we can't do.

Milla 26 January 2011 at 15:01  

very true. My mother's a complete news hound (bro a journo) so between them they've got tabs on the world. I get ludicrously excited to be a day or 2 behind. But I did think of you when I heard about the bomb - a day or 2 before you did!

nappy valley girl 26 January 2011 at 15:11  

There was an item on the news here about a cab driver in Moscow who was there and carried on working straight afterwards. Gives a whole new meaning to the term Keep calm and carry on.

I am so glad you're all OK - my heart was in my mouth when I read that story and I knew you had been away for the weekend....

Expat mum 26 January 2011 at 20:31  

AH yes, London in the IRA days. My ten foot office window was bang opposite Selfridges main door. The street was probably cordoned off at least once a week because of bomb threats. Got to the point where I didn't even bother to move away from the window!

Iota 26 January 2011 at 20:32  

I remember how life just went on, in my London years, in spite of the bombings. I did have a big panicky moment once, when a tourist asked me to watch his large backpack and disappeared off into the gents before I could say no. That was an anxious few minutes till he returned.

The human spirit is very resilient.

Potty Mummy 27 January 2011 at 07:53  

Thanks Pippa!

Milla - well, it wasn't really a day... (hangs head in shame)

NVG, I'm hoping he wasn't one of the cab drivers who charged £600 for a £40 trip into Moscow after the bombing... (and yes, *apparently* that did happen)

EPM, oh those exciting pre-kid days, eh?

Iota yes it is. (And I would have been panicking too!)

DD 27 January 2011 at 13:31  

I remember hearing the Harrods bomb go off. I was in Oxford Street at the time. I'd never heard a bomb before but it was unmistakeable, we all knew what had happened. And, after a second, we all carried on with our lives. Grisly thing, terrorism. Very glad you're ok.

Mwa 29 January 2011 at 21:56  

First thing I thought of when I heard of the bomb was you. But I reckoned the odds etc... Glad you're all well though.

I liked this Russian guy they interviewed for Belgian TV. He was standing in the arrivals hall hours after the attack, just going about his business and he wasn't concerned at all. He just said "Lightning doesn't strike in the same place twice."

Nicola 30 January 2011 at 20:52  

Hello love - my first thought when I heard the news was "Potty Mummy!!" Glad you are ok. Phew.

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