Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Home is where the heart is?

I'm back home for the 2nd time in 3 years that I've been away. This is a short stay, mainly to get some paperwork done and to attend the weddings of all my remaining single friends.

It's been 3 days and already reminiscent of my last trip, I have such conflicting thoughts about being back. I think my earlier rose tinted love affair with Mumbai which I documented over the last 5 years in my blog has certainly been under strain. For my city that once felt determined, purposeful and had the never-say-die attitude, it now feels like its shouting a quiet cry for help. In the one year since I visited last, there are newer buildings and mall-extensions, more dug up roads and in-progress construction than ever before. Mumbai is creaking under the burden of its people, infrastructure, pollution and chaos.

It boggles my mind, how a beautiful, city bejeweled with a sea coast so magically calming could fall prey to corrupt politics and short sighted profit driven planning. Mumbai is growing taller by the day, with building after building engulfing each other in height, but where is the on-ground infrastructure to support it? We've become desensitized to bad roads, sloppy construction, slums, trash cans - what's left? Is there a cause we're dedicated enough to work towards?

Last evening as I took a cab home from Bandra, I was in the 'opposite' direction of traffic - i.e. headed against the office traffic, south bound. YET, I felt paralyzed by all my senses being overwhelmed by the simultaneous assault of the noise, pollution, humidity, people. I realized I was behaving like one of 'those' people, the kind I swore I would never become. The one's who live away for a short while and suddenly become too good for their own city. The ones who talk and look different and pooh-pooh on the city they grew up in. Sitting in that cab, holding a handkerchief to my nose, waiting with bated breath to just reach the calm of home, I knew something inside me had changed. I saw a different life, in another country, and it gave me perspective. On what life can be. on what it should be, or could be. And that saddens me.. knowing my country and my city are on the fast track to both, immense progress but also self destruction.

Something is going to, and will boil over. The people or the infrastructure. One of the two will give way, at some point. One of the two will give up on Mumbai, and trying to make it a better place. I don't know where life will take me and where I will be, but I already know in my heart of hearts that the Mumbai I hold close to my heart is in the past, I love the city I knew growing up and not the city it is now. 

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