Tuesday, July 25, 2006

I am Mumbai

I. Mumbai. Bombay. City of Dreams. City of Fortune. City of Commerce. City of Bollywood. City of Local Trains. City of Fashion. City of the Gateway. City of the Seven Islands. City of the Vada Pav. City of the Bindaas.

Right from the Armani clad Colaba businessman to the Koli fisherwoman in Virar, my Mumbaikar epitomises the high adrenaline urban way of life. Time never stops in my bustling streets. A minute lost is a business opportunity lost. The 15 million populace carry out their daily regimen with an unflagging, unflappable and unflinching spirit. Binding them all is my Heart, my Holy Grail - the local train. This iron beast might seem rusty and archaic, but it pumps over 6 million commuters a day. I am also blessed with paradoxes all over me. Do not be surprised if you find a slumdweller's shanty right next to a corporate bigwig's mansion. Vegetarian Hindus living next to meat eating Muslims is commonplace. I dare you to find me a peer city which can boast of a National Park right in the soul of its concrete body. I am free. I am bold. I am just waiting to be the best.

26th July, 2005. The day that bought me to a screeching halt. The day when I was left at the mercy of the rain gods. The "City of Disintegration" was born - my new alias.

I might have a huge fan following, but I could not satisfy them that day. No matter how hard I tried, I just could not fight against the apocalyptic thundershowers. I had seen it coming. I had sensed the ensuing destruction. Atleast now everyone understands my plight of being slowly buried under my own weight. Flagrant commercialization, indiscriminate construction and the huge inflow of migrants is creating a major strain on my resources. I was once tree laden but now am gradually being shorn of all that greenery. My bountiful rivers now stink of garbage and are nothing more than an open drain. I am sick and I really need a good makeover.

11th July, 2006. 6:24 pm. The moment that cringed me. The moment that left an indelible scar on my psyche. Leading many to re-christen me the "City of Terror".

Just when it seemed that it couldn't get any worse, the blasts tore through my Lifeline. It hurt where it hurts the most. My Pride. And it hurt more because I feel it was committed by one of my very own children; someone whom I had nurtured and provided solace. My freedom was taken for granted. My tolerance was tested. But at the end of the day, I feel vindicated. It surely is satisfying that I did not have to bow before such inhuman instruments.

The Sword of Damocles might seem to be hanging over my head. For the conspiracy theorists, this signifies am impending doom. It is true that there are some elements within my caretaker group who are still stuck in the Excalibur rut. No matter how hard one tries to extricate them out, they refuse to budge. These few elements are the main catalysts for my rapidly deteriorating situation. But I am someone who stands for Hope, Optimism and Spirit. And they too always stand by me. They always come to my rescue. The rains might have crippled my denizens for the day, but those very people braved the rising waters to reach out to others. The blasts might have terrorized many to run away. Instead, I could see droves of people lining outside hospitals to donate blood and soothe the injured. My tears of sadness are wiped out by such acts of humanism. I do however feel the need to convey to my caretakers that the Spirit in me cannot be relied on forever and that there is an urgent cry for change.

I do not want to sound boastful. Nor do I want to sound like Dominique Lapierre's "City of Joy". But I feel that there is an idiom I ultimately deserve after all this mayhem. The "City of Spirit".
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Submitted for an essay competition at my workplace. Not concerned about the outcome. I am simply basking in the glory of being in Mumbai's shoes.

9 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brilliant. You are good at it. Do nurture your talent further - Anup

1:43 AM  
Anonymous Alex said...

Got here from the Orkut Mumbai bloggers community.

Must say very well put and how very true!

6:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bahut mast hia beee...i think from now on i have to make sure ki yeh blog mein regularly check karu - Paritosh

10:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was an excellent essay Tejas. Sahi hai..I agree with Pari..will make it a daily routine to read ur blog :) way to go Teja..keep writing more and more, its a pleasure to read ur writings - Kukki

9:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who could know you better than poor old me... would definately make an effort to make your blog go international....rupi

9:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great piece of writing!!! That's what is called "A true spirit of Mumabaikar"
Keep Writing !!!!
K@pil

6:16 AM  
Blogger Pri said...

hmm ...im impressed...nice post really !:)
but one thing i still dont get is why do ppl say tht "survival in the true spirit of a mumbaikar" or rather thefact tht ppl glorify themselves as surviving the calamitiesfaced by the city...so they really hav a choice?? can they really stay wthout goin to work or wthout their bread n butter for days at a stretch juss cos they fear another blast comin up...its more like thrs no othr alternative but to tk life as it comes :)
n i seriously feel thtitsplain crazy the way these celeb party all nite rite after a blast or riot juss to celebrate the true spirit of mumbai---the city wch "springs bak"on its feet moments after its crisis struck...
ya right!! do they mean tosay tht mumbaikars are soo blided wth practicality tht they forget to be in touch wth their emotions...crap!its juss a matter of survival---nobody can get over a crisis, its juss a way of tryin toget "beyond"it and THAT i genuiely appreciate :)

6:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, Loved this one too...hmmn i think the best :-)
-Krishna.

10:07 AM  
Anonymous Abhishek said...

Krishna always kept recommending your blog. Now I see why. You really write well.

2:28 AM  

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