back in bombay. the city that is falling apart, every single moment. it is strange to see things from an outsider’s pov. everything that you seemed to enjoy and accept as a part of everyday life suddenly seems nerve-wracking and disturbing. the fact that everything around you is so out of whack, and people go around pretending to believe that is how it is, and will be. well, the dilemma continues…
v-day was great! spent time with close friends, drank a bit of wine and bacardi white rum, had coffee at our favourite cyclewalla anna. this man is a boon to drunks and late night snackers. he is seen on a cycle with a steel tank full of hot milk and water tied to the carrier of his cycle, with an endless supply of coffee, tea, idlis, cigarettes and almost everything anyone might require at supposedly ungodly hours. we have been having coffee with him for close to ten years now, and he recognised me the moment i appeared in front of him. he asked me where i had been, and i told him i’ve been to london, and he gave an all-knowing look and made strong milky sweet dark coffee for us with his trademark mixing technique. anna is one of the very few people who support owls like us, having to pay a share of his earnings to asshole policemen, just so that they don’t lift his cycle off.
heard a lot about slumdog from friends who have seen it, both in london and here. people from outside think it is brilliant, and are worried about the beggar mafia. people here think it is ‘poverty porn.’ well, for someone like me who has grown up with having to see beggars everywhere, it is just another ‘salaam bombay.’ brilliant film, that by mira nair. i haven’t seen it yet, but i am sure it will evoke the same feelings that mira’s film did, albeit with a positive outcome towards the end. salaam bombay was inspired by trauffaut’s 400 blows, and ends in desperation, the very stark truth that nothing will ever change. things will be as bleak as depicted in the film. a reality that we in bombay, this huge pot of desire and despair, have been conditioned to turn a blind eye to. what the audience and the so-called critics have to accept that slumdog is a film made by a foreigner FOR a foreign audience, and hence it will show things that someone from outside sees at first glance and is struck by as radically different and interesting. call it poverty porn if you wish, but the fact is that we, the people from bombay, have seen this porn all around us, and are immune to it. so much so that we need someone from outside to show us how it is. it is in fact a shame for us to have someone show us our filth, while living in it all these years. that is something we need to think about.
managed to see DEV D. reminded me of baz luhrman’s romeo+juliet. fantastic treatment of a very old story. surprisingly, even this film was seen as a bastardisation of the much-loved tragic hero devdas. i cannot understand this hypocrisy. on one hand you have women and men screwing around in all possible social circles, and on the other, you appreciate devdas in his original traditional form. and then again, you hate and derise someone who shows you the truth about drugs and sex and relationships. i guess that is a part of the indian psyche – to deny the blatant and in your face reality, and to seek enjoyment and release in dreams which might be light years from the truth that stares at you with tear-stained eyes, asking for retribution.
that kind of sums up my first two weeks back home. will post more as i taste life as i knew it, and as it is now.
p.s. please read ‘the time traveler’s wife’ by audrey niffenneger.