Friday, March 12, 2004

Same Hell, Different Day

The Gods seemed to have chosen the perfect weather to reflect the mood on the streets of Madrid on this Damp, Dreary Day. However not even lightning storms could stop the city from gathering together tonight as a show of unity against terrorism. All shops and offices will close early in order to allow for employees to join in the nationwide demonstrations.

Meanwhile in an absurd way the same old routine struggles on, trying to deny that anything ever happened. But it is very hard to escape yesterdays terror. Living at the end of a bus route my daily complaint is how the drivers scurry off in packs for an expresso and an ogle at the girls. This morning however each driver sat silently behind his wheel staring only into space. Nor were we passengers in any hurry to hop on.

I later passed through the station where the trains such as those attacked are being diverted. Looking down on a platform I watched a lady board and then moments later jump off again in tears unable to face her journey. Each train can carry up to 1000 passengers during morning rush hour. This morning less than one in five seats were occupied. A friend told me how she couldn t help thinking that each of those empty seats around her was left vacant by yesterdays victims.

In an office cafeteria where people normallly speak in whispers I could not hear myself think. All around me exhausted looking people were punctuating their angry speech with their fingers and thumping tables as emphasis. My most timid students who rarely open their mouths were arguing emotionally over solutions, policies and culprits. It seemed as if they they had all undergone radical personality changes. At every table it was the exact same topic. There was no escape.

Tonight I too will go to the demonstrations. The government have sponsored television adverts encouraging people to Stand in Soldarity with the Victims, Behind the Constitution, and Against Terrorism.