in grammatical terms, that would be a climax. a figure of speech that depicts a forward moving chronological turn of events. like ‘i came i saw i conquered.’
point is, i have recently been to bombay after a year. and i realised that distance really helps to evaluate a situation / person / place from a much better perspective. when you are close to something you love, you tend not to notice the faults. you tend to accept everything as part of life, and internalise the excuse that that’s how it’s been for ages. and it is not going to change.
i always argued with shashank when he used to complain about everything when he had returned from oslo. bombay this bombay that crowdshitpisssweatsmoke everything. we used to do the usual ‘sala firangi’ teasing. but then, i felt the same when i came back. seeing the city from an outsider’s point of view made me realise just how much is so wrong with the place.
the one thing that hit me the most was the incessant honking! terrible traffic sense. crowd and pollution had never been issues. the honking grated on my nerves more than anything. to add to that, i met a school friend who came to pick me in his new car. i am not exaggerating when i say this, but he was honking every fifteen seconds. as if his horn had some superpower to clear the road of any vehicles and humans. i did not mind the loud music from some latest hind film, but my patience was finally broken when he was stuck behind a rickshaw picking passengers. his palm automatically got attached to the horn and it let out a PPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPP which lasted till the moment the passengers got in hurriedly and the rickshaw moved ahead. by then, i had managed to slap his hand hard enough to let the noise stop.
his logic behind the use of the car horn is this –
“you should let them know they are making a mistake by driving slow / stopping in front of me. if i honk regularly and constantly, they will get irritated and move faster.”
another thing that i saw was how the resources are crumbling under pressure of migrants. i am not in favour of any political party, nor do i speak with a sons-of-the-soil agenda in mind. it is just the sheer number of people crammed everywhere. earlier, i used to feel proud of the numbers – SUPER DENSE CRUSH LOAD in the trains, x number of people per square meter and so on and so forth. now, it is just frighteningly sad. i fear everyone is just going to fall off the edges of the city. it will burst very soon, like a boil on the neck in the middle of summer, filled with the body’s refuse, oozing out into the sea like sewage from a million slums and buildings.
having lived on a very tight budget in london, everything appeared to be too expensive. i was telling myself not to convert, just as i was when i first came to the uk. a 140 rupee chicken chilly at mondegar would have hardly come to two pounds. but it was one bloody hundred and forty rupees!!!
i felt oddly claustrophobic in a mall, but i managed the morning and evening traffic on my train journeys. i just despised the fact that everyone was trying too hard to be someone else.
i hate the fact that things have gone to the point of no return in the city. there is this fear, a subdued feeling of something terrible waiting to happen. which did at the taj anyway. the politicians have reinvented the british art of divide and rule. everyone is busy tearing at the flesh of the city, clamouring for the fleshier bits. all through my time back home, i was tired and sweaty and irritated and lazy. and when the time came back to get back, i hated it too.
and all i managed to do was complain.
what went wrong is we accepted things as they were, as if this is the way it was supposed to be. it is bombay. it will be crowded and dirty and polluted and smell of millions of slumdwellers shitting on the street every single day. every single day, we cursed the crowd in the train, cursed the summer and the fucking fan not working. every day, we stood on dadar station platform 3, bought mid-day, saw the naked girls on page 3, read the horoscope, bought awful wada pav and limbu juice. and when the train came, we fought tooth and nail for a few inches. rubbing our tired bodies against strangers like emotionless lovers.
every day, we killed the city with our very own hands. and then we cried when the taj went up in smoke, cried for the baby who did not have milk for three days, for the policemen who died. we did nothing but sit at home and watch barkha dutt give us shit news, and silently accepted SONY advertising handycams in the middle of the news. because that’s how it is. that’s how it has been. and will be.
we curse democracy. we say it hasn’t worked. but then, we are just spitting in our own faces; defecating in our own hands, and throwing it in the fan.
sitting here, in london, this tirade from me might seem like armchair anguish. but then, anguish is necessary. despair is needed. hate is needed. because it is a feeling and can be channeled positively.
indifference is feeling nothing, and is worse than hate.