When you drive into the city of Bombay, everything around you suddenly assumed a grayer shade. If it is the monsoon, then the filthy water on the roadsides take bad to way worse.
But thats not even the worse part. Because you are sitting in your air conditioned car, and the outside seems no more than watching a movie that makes you cringe. No direct impact. And then you open your door and almost instantly a thin layer of sweat glistens your entire body. Like the tiny pores suddenly explode open just to breathe. Your temples are wet, your back feels sticky and the burning smell of the city surrounds you.
Thats when you really know you have arrived in Bombay. It is only then that Bombay comes out of an image of a window to become a part of your reality.
And strangely, when this happens, Bombay begins to look less and less uglier. When you are walking your way through the hoards of, equally sweaty, people, your focus is on avoiding to hit them. Looking at the dog five feet away taking a bump two feet away from a person sleeping on the road is not on your priority or conscience. You become the pulse of the city; you feed of and give back to the energy of the city.
I guess, this reaction comes from the book I am reading called ‘Maximum City’ by Suketu Mehta. Obviously, this book is about Bombay and its innumerable facets. And while I understand the pragmatic issues of governance, town-planning and sanitation that he raises, I find the undue cynicism of an author living in plush New York highly redundant. The point is that not only does Bombay survive, it thrives. The fantastic part is that it thrives despite of all these short-comings. Someone wants pulp for fiction, look there to find out why it survives, instead of stating the obvious.