May 6, 2009

My Visit to a Metro

It has been so long, since I last wrote, I was even beginning to wonder, would I feel like penning my thoughts? But the nice thing about writing is, it is like riding a bicycle. Once you are back, it is as if you never left it.

I recently went to Bombay or Mumbai as they now call it, after a span of a number of years. The initial thoughts were, how would one feel going back to a place, that you know actually is your home, but technically not your home. You never go there, but at the end of the day, one knows, that is the only place in the world that will welcome you with open arms.

The trip was memorable in more ways than one. The first feeling as I landed down the tarmac looking at all the settlements around me, made me wonder, will things ever change. As one comes out of the plane, the feeling intensifies. No matter that the Airport today is probably 50 times better than what it was. No matter that things today are more organized than they ever were 10 years ago. But the amazing thing was, once you come out of the Airport and smell the air, it is like you never left home. Nostalgia hits you and hits you hard. The feeling that this is your place, your home, your country, your people, is so overwhelming that you do not look at the faults that survive in the surroundings. The happiness that surrounds you, upon your return is so over whelming, that for a moment, there is no better place than the one that you are currently standing in.

As I spend my days, one sees life as can exist in no other place. People, care for no other but themselves, all with their own purpose in life. It could be just to earn enough to eat twice a day, it could be to make a million tonight. They care a damn about the person next door, no one has time to stop, but cometh a problem, they are more than your family.

Fly down the runway to an International airport, you see on your way down, the biggest slum in the world. Come out of the Airport, and you see Mercedes's, BMW's waiting to receive people. Walk a few yards, you see a person with the barest of clothes, with the least amount of bones that you have ever seen, hardly able to stand, asking for food. Walk into a Cartier showroom, buy a ring for a million bucks, walk out the store, bang outside is a wada pav stall, selling each for 10 bucks. Drive down the roads, people walking across from every where, rickshaws coming from every possible angle, it simply does not stop.

Settlements next to palatial bungalows, beggars outside posh houses, No one knows any one, yet every one knows someone. People don't make enough, yet every restaurant is packed. You live in a one room apartment, but your identity is where your apartment is. South Bombay is HS, the suburbs LS, irrespective of what you have. Come the time to enjoy a Pav bhaji, or a juice at Haji Ali, the gap simply disappears as you see both the rich and the poor rubbing shoulders with each other.

Does it have a culture, does it have a glorious past. Maybe not as much as the other states in India do. It is a collage of cultures, of lifestyles, of beliefs, of religions, and it simply imbibes them all, creating a unique blend that can simply not be replicated any where in the world. It never stops, it never runs, it is simply on the move. It accepts you when ever you come, it lets you go, whenever you want to.. Once it becomes a part of you, you can simply never let it go.

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