Tuesday, December 2, 2008

mumbai, my mother

I am a runaway from mumbai. Just like I have run away from my own mother dear. Which is to mean that I don't love either any less for it.

Mumbai was the dream and nightmare rolled into one for me. I remember being frightened of the city when I shifted there post FTII. I remember sitting on the sea front at Marine Drive, looking at the tiny light holes of windows from buildings at across the deep blue water. I felt that all of us are ants, living in ant holes.

My struggle, was not very intense. I was too lost within the inner world to be too affected by the rat race. I was robbed and cheated, but I survived. The freinds from the Institute became too busy with work, and I remember saying to my mum, 'I wish I had a boyfreind,' when I had to shift from one rented apartment to another.

My relationship with Mumbai, the city changed dramatically when I met Ramesh Balsekar. Local trains were fun because they took me to his house. I remember singing, standing on the door of the train, holding the pole, the sun on my face.

I fell in love with Mumbai, however, only when I met Baba. We called him Fakruddin Baba, he sat on the wall next to Jahangir Art Gallery. Baba used to have a weighing machine on the roadside, and he charged one rupee. Adults got their weight, children got a false note with their weight written on it.

Sitting on the wall, next to Baba, sipping the constant cups of tea, and watching mumbai rush past. The elite, the artists, the working class, the drug addicts. On sundays , more children, with their mommys, walking towards Gate way of India. To see the Taj Hotel. Our own Taj mahal of Mumbai.

During one of the occasional times that I have ventured inside the coffee house, I saw Jaya Bacchan and Shah Rukh Khan. Jaya was chilling, Shah Rukh was walking. Fast, like a mumbaikar.

I wondered where Shah Rukh learnt that walk. I thought only the train catching public walked like that. Or maybe we all learnt that walk from him?

As I blog to mourne Mumbai, I just read of a bomb blast in Assam.

I have been to Assam too, once as a kid, and once to shoot a documentary film.

I wonder now, how many more bombs will blast before we become an emergency state, before we declare that we are in war - but with whom? If we war with Pakistan, how do we deal with bombs bursting in Assam?

This morning I chatted with a friend in mumbai who is hit where it hurts. Her film is released recently, and she is scared it is going to flop because people are too scared of going to theaters. I told her I will pray for your film.

And then, I got a call from my sister, who lives in mumbai. She said that a couple of terrorists may still be on the lose, so should she go for a peace rally or not? I said wait for a week, stay at home please.

If this split can happen to me sitting in Bangalore, I wonder what is happening to the spirit of mumbai? How many times can a city stand up after being raped? Doesn't she need to take a break, to heal herself?

Are there more people in temples, in meditation camps, in psychiatrist's clinics? Are the drug peddlers making more money than usual? Are estranged lovers making up? Old friends calling each other after years and years. Old people getting visits from the youngsters. The beggars getting more money in the traffic lights. I wonder if a cyclist in Bandra is singing on top of his voice? Are scriptwriters fired with imagination and writing more violent films?

If I were in mumbai now, this is what I would look for. This de-clutching from the fast walk.


Smita said...

On Friday I was standing out my office building and a big vehiclecame and parked infront of me. I know my thoughts were absurd but I thought what if a guy with a gun comes out of it?

Yest on station a guy was pulling up huge luggage my thought was what if it has bombs???

This the level at which fear is embedded now. My MIL tells me that you should move out of Mumbai. I asked which city is safe? And why should we run away?

All we can do is pray for peace & better sense to prevail

Grasshopper said...

The thing is, in spite of what they always show in films, prayer does not come automatically in times of adversity. Not if we are not used to the ritual. And only he who prays in both good times and bad is healed by prayer.
Whatever happens, don't live with fear.It is better to shift to another city than to live with fear. Knowing what little I know of you, I am sure you will find the courage to face and to overcome your insecurities.

Arvind said...

as someone wise has said, the opposite of love is fear, not hate...