Thursday, August 7, 2014

Love and Longing in Bombay


In fact it happened in the reverse order . The longing came first. Longing for the familiar ways, weather , food and landscape . Everything in Mumbai looked and smelled  and sounded so different , so difficult and so unfamiliar . There was an urge to run back to the comfort zone  . Absence of home and  family made it worse . Even the hubbub of work could not calm me down. My usual fascination  for unknown and unfamiliar suddenly  sounded so foolish. But then I had to stay on. This bravado finally paid off. The love did come gradually.
When I first saw my would-be-house I was filled with so much of panic. How will I survive without a patch of  green, balcony, terrace , garage etc ? Despite all assurance that by Mumbai standards  it was sheer luxury to have a sea facing apartment in that area, I was upset.   On my way back,  I started observing the houses in Mumbai . Except for the filthy rich and the lucky old residents ,  almost everyone was living in a cramped space . In fact I should have felt better after comparing my lot with others…but I didn’t. It was always the sense of what I used to have in other places which coloured my perspective . With all reservations and weepy faces,  finally the house- to-be turned into home . Things changed overnight. Now the absence of all so familiar aspects do not bother any longer. It is difficult not to feel blessed when the sea breeze fills up my house or when I watch small boats sailing in not so gentle sea and the monsoon clouds gathering above. The love finally came.


The city traffic made me cry . Unexpected rains, unexpected jams and the must-to cross  narrow lanes just after the swanky expressways made me feel so homesick . There were lovely sights en-route, but I missed them. My mind was too set on the shortcomings . Surprisingly, now when I travel from one end of the city to another  bad traffic or narrow lanes do not  bother me that much as I am looking out for beautiful old buildings, waiting for the turn after which the sea front will appear again and marvel at the zest of the city. It is amazing how the city sustain this energy despite adverse weather, overpopulation and other related limitations. It is equally amazing how such creativity, such passion for life, such brilliance comes out of this cramped and congested city . How the city adjust itself for lack of personal space, privacy inside small apartments and need to be always on move for the work.

Deep below the  impersonal professionalism and fast pace of life , there were also wonderfully warm people . People who accept you with your differences , do not question your ways, do not encroach on your thoughts and let you be. And despite all odds, busy life schedules and maddening pace there is always a kind word , a helping hand and a silent understanding of adjusting you . It is so wonderful to find that people around me are patient enough to let me settle down at my speed. They do not force me to adopt their ways . They do not even preach . They just gesture you to come on board . How can one not fall for an offer given with such sincerity .

The city will grow on me eventually , I guess.