Tuesday, June 06, 2006
My Mumbai Visit
Bombay never fails to depress me. The beautiful women, swanky cars, high rises, the manic efficiency of day to day life somehow only tend to highlight the slums and squalor of the city which my eye cannot ignore as I am driven in its taxis and autorickshaws. The beggar children, who come up to you at every traffic signal with their trained sales pitch, if you can call it that. The city is ruthless. I am constantly amazed with how people somehow seem to not notice all that is around them, perhaps its easier to ignore. It’s almost as if everyone has invisible walls around them. Of course, what could they do? What would I do in their place?
I understand, it’s a situation borne out of necessity and not of choice. I guess there are just too many people in Mumbai than she can hold. Didn’t the Shiv Sena say something about ‘Mumbai for Mumbaikars’ or something like that? The wrong answer, but definitely, the right problem.
That’s about Mumbai, but as people, Mumbaikars are the bunch that I admire the most. I think it’s the most visitor friendly metro in India if you exclude the taxis, which run from the airport. Professionalism and discipline seems to run across the length and breadth of the city. One lingering image from this visit was the traffic policemen standing at every major cross-section on the weekend, intently watching the traffic for offenders. Medium height, spectacles, moustache, clean white shirts, khakhi trousers and the constable’s cap, notebook in hand, bike nearby. I remarked to a friend that they all of them even managed to look the same. Mumbai doesn’t deserve its citizens, just like Delhi-ites don’t deserve their city (BOCTAOE).
Watched ‘Inside Man’ at one of the theatres in South Mumbai. I think it should be essential viewing for all English movie buffs so that they could realise that its not just our Bollywood directors who manage to screw up really bad. Went to Crosswords on Sunday. Some nice titles available but overall, a bit of a downer for a guy used to the ‘Landmarks’ in Chennai. Plus they had only two measly titles on Chess available. Unforgivable. Did pick up my first book on poetry, ‘Mappings’, by Vikram Seth and so here’s one poem from the book.
So here I am again by Quaking Bridge,
Standing a moment by the water’s edge,
Hearing the water’s roar as it churns past
The ancient brewery; and I am cast
Back to December when by Quaking Bridge
I stood a moment by the water’s edge
And heard the water’s turbulence, and knew
That since no more remained that I could do
And since to think of pain itself is pain,
I should forget and not walk here again
And hear the water under Quaking Bridge
And stand in thought beside the water’s edge,
And I am here again; but why delay?
Think, and walk on, and think: but walk away.