London Is Burning: Reportage on the London Riots from a Seasoned Veteran

Saw this poster on the way to the bus stop. I don’t know how looting a bunch of Footlockers and Curry’s is a Revolution.

Last night was finally calm in London, if not elsewhere.

The stores closed at around 4 and there was essentially a curfew from 6 onwards.

Riots make me feel a sudden wave of nostalgia for Bombay, with all those good ol’ riots over that orange fool Bal Thackeray. Except there didn’t seem to be much looting. Just general lynching and praying. The savvy London teens don’t riot unless there’s some booty involved.

I remember the whole day in school being one of intense anticipation. Suddenly someone’s parent would come to pick them half way through the school day. A hush descended on our classroom, followed by whispered speculation as soon as the teacher left the class room to escort the lucky pupil out to waiting peon/parents.

So exciting! Maybe MY parents will be next! Please please let me be next!

I loved the riots – our school would always close early.

Well I loved anything that got me out of school. Riots, monsoon floods, jaundice.

This morning, at 6 ‘o’ clock, crowds of upstanding citizens waving brooms were diligently sweeping the streets in certain badly hit areas, trying to restore some semblance of order.

Islington had no real trouble, unlike Hackney where all hell broke on Monday night.

The ex came home in a state of rage and in true Punjabi style wanted to do a murder. Let’s get a gun. I wish I was Hitler. (I paraphrase, there was more. It was highly entertaining.)

We then seriously debated what things we’d rescue from our burning house. (If a mob were to suddenly attack us, say, and burn down the flat)

I decided on my drawings and laptop. Alas, all my lovingly collected books would burn. I didn’t even consider the Sandmans until now in fact. Instead in my minds eyes all the spoils of my hard-won eBay auctions were going up in flames. 400 Barbara Cartlands! Hai hai!

The ex concurred. Laptop would be best. What about bags and clothes? Hmm maybe one bag. (designer, of course)

Jewelry! How could we forget! How un-Indian of us!

The ex then decided to pre-empt the burning down of our flat (even though the rioting was miles away) by suggesting we pack a suitcase. Just in case.

I told the ex by all means to pack the suitcase. I also suggested we start digging out a nuclear bunker. We’re on the ground floor after all.

I’m berated for having so little feeling and no foresight. We must be prepared!

The ex was shocked that I wasn’t working myself up more over this riot business.

I find it hard to emote when there really is nothing I can do in any practical way. It’s not like I can go out there and fight a mob. I have arms like little limp twigs.

Then the ex sat down to cheerfully facebook other irate people and happily the suitcase/bunker plan was forgotten.

PS – I’m pleased to report that many London Punjabis were ready and waiting for mobs to DARE attack their neighborhood and corner stores.


I feel indirectly and unreasonably proud.

The ex, if you don’t know, is a Punjabi. I doubt the Parsees would do anything other than cower behind the couch.

The mob sensibly kept away from the corner shops.

No mob would be so fool hardy as to attack the Punjabis.

In any case, the recreational looters seem to favour Footlockers and Electronic shops.


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