Friday, March 05, 2010

Bombay's greatest asset

It's been almost a week that I'm back to commuting 4 hours daily from Ambarnath to my office in Lower Parel.

The purpose is two pronged - one, I'd like to be the night watchman in my own house, since my parents are in Kolkata for my cousin's wedding. And two, it's not everyday that you get a sense of ownership of a 1BHK+Terrace flat, all to yourself.

The implications have been two pronged too. My meals have become irregular; the other night I drank half a litre of Maaza, before gobbling up three eggs (bad imitations of sunny sides up, they were like a solar eclipse, rather).

But I get more time to read. And peacefully too. Like I'm reading Vikram Chandra's beautifully written debut, Love and Longing in Bombay. The other day, I finished Sidin Vadukut's hilarious first novel Dork.

It's made me realise that for me, independence is perhaps the way forward. I'll work out the meals bit, but nothing beats the feeling of coming home to a house that's just your own and not being shared by another person.

That doesn't mean I'm a loner - I enjoy company and I have a good circle of friends who I hang out with - but coming home is a different thing. There are just certain things I want to do - read some chapters of a book, watch Arnab Goswami on Times Now, observe Telebrands post mid-night and - hold your breath - tune into some of the daily soap operas to find out what the nation is watching. (Don't belch. When you're in a business about consumers, you've gotta be familiar with what's tickling them.)

Still, this same independence can be a happy and non-stressful one when it is close to office. Four hours stolen from my every day in the form of a nightmarish train ride home - that is one compromise I'm unwilling to make for long.

But living alone in Bombay is fucking expensive. Unless, if you're an RJ or a model, or you have a 'white collar' job.

Shit. I must shift to Bangalore. Life's unbelievably cheaper, or so I hear. Some friends there share a bungalow for a monthly rent of Rs 11,000. We pay the same rent for 225 sq ft flat in Lower Parel.

But then, well. Bombay is Bombay.

This has been my chronic dilemma over the last two-three years. Want to shift out of Bombay, but can't think of a life outside Bombay and living with people who are not Mumbai-kars.

So maybe it's true when they say, "It's all about the people. It's all about the people."

Bombay is a city that is all about its people. It's own charms are too diffused and inflated beyond it deserves. I think those charms died in the 1950s, when the Parsis were the face of Bombay. That was some life, some charisma, some style to this city.

Since the 1960s, Bombay conjures up images of partisan politics and saffron armies, the mills and the landowners, considering the real estate El Dorado that it's become. The soul of the city is therefore, only it's people and its they who make the city tick.

There's a reason why Bombay is the commercial capital of India. So much business comes here, purely because this city has the resources to pull it off. Whether these are ill-fed resources or not, is a different question. And by now, you already know that they are ill-fed and do not enjoy a standard of living comparable to that, say, of a Chandigarh or New Delhi.

So then, here's to the people of this city. Bombay's greatest asset.

24 comments:

| Balu | said...

Ha ha housing may be relatively cheaper in Bangalore, but transportation and food is not. And pay scales are not as high as Mumbai, unless you're working in IT industry. (I heard Delhi is cheap overall) And yes, if you're in Bangalore you'll end up having Mazaa+egg meals more often as everything shuts at 11! =( Every city has it's charm, Bangalolre's used to be its greenery and climate. I'm not sure what it is anymore. After reading your post I tried thinking of what Bangalore's soul is.. unfortunately I'm not able to come up with anything. Only thing that comes to my mind is the crowded Church Street on a Saturday evening.

The Survivor said...

Very True!!

The feel that one gets in Bombay cannot be felt anywhere else.

Aye dil hai mushkil jeena yahan Zara hat ke zara bach ke, yeh hai Bombay meri jaan :)

Jishnu said...

Bombay ahhh .... The one side of it is the romantized version in the Vikram Chandras, Shantarams, Suketu Mehtas, but the other side is travelling to and fro if you're living in the suburbs taking more than 4 hrs a day!
Yet there has to be something that drives hordes of people to do the same every day for the past so many years....That charm of returning at midnight, knowing very well, that you would reach home safe without being looted by the autowallahs/ taxis makes it the place it is!

kunal said...

hey...have read couple of ur blogs.
nice articles.

Tamanna Mishra said...

Independence may be the way forward, BUT DON'T MOVE TO BANGALORE. After Bombay, this place and its people will drive you CRAZY!! Nobody wants to move a finger and auto wallahs hate you for choosing them over a hundred other autos on the road. This place is crazily lazy and rude. DON'T. MOVE. And I agree... One one side are the romanticized Suketu Mehtas and Shantarams... And then there's that crazy crowd and commuting. But Bombay's addictive!

But Bangalore is Bangalore too :) The weather is to die for and the peace here makes up for the auto drivers.

Btw.. Care to tell me where your friends pay 11K for a bungalow? I want to move too! :D

Great post, kiddo! :-)

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Anil P said...

The travelling in Bombay does eat up not just a part of one's life but also a part of one's sensibilities, and sensitivity.

One cannot be hitting the survival mode each day in surviving the train journeys without being affected by it.

But still, there might be things to do in the trains to offset this.

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Rain Girl said...

so bombay is about all about its people?

I hardly know any. No. I know no one. And bombay? I like it because of the rains. Everything else is... transitional. Like life.

Liked your blog. Good posts
:)

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