There is a big park just a stone’s throw away from my apartment. Parks are an anomaly here…and big parks, a miracle. So it’s not a big surprise that it’s always teeming with people, morning noon or night. I am not a morning person when I am in the city…its like waking up to chaos. I like to see the chaos settling down to silence….so I like walking in the night here. Though there are still a lot of people than I would like, I don’t mind them that much. I can easily melt into the ambience, sit alone and not get bothered.
The park is round and surrounded by tall buildings all around. When you look up, you see this tiny patch of space that is the sky. Sometimes I think that’s what a frog would see looking up from the well. Sometimes I feel I am in a toy land – those tiny tall buildings covered by a glass hemisphere type of a toy – somebody shakes it and you get snowflakes.
I have not been able to shake off this surreal toy-land feeling in the past 2 years. I don’t remember seeing stars, or floating clouds or getting caught in a sudden breeze which cools your senses. There are fleeting glimpses of the moon…while traveling on a train; at the seaface the horizons are mostly smoggy to see any clouds. Now I know why most people of this city can’t live anywhere else. It’s this constant warm, fuzzy, un-real feeling that one grew up with. It’s difficult to get rid of when you are so used to it. There’s nothing to make you feel restless – no sparkling moon with the smell of approaching winter, no bright mornings with parrots chirping, no sudden drizzle after a hot muggy day. The only change in this constant exterior happens when the rain lashes down for days…then there is a sudden burst of exhilaration and energy engulfing everybody in its fold. Because that’s the only reality in the year which seeps into you and make you feel real, alive.
They say Bombay grows on you. And I will agree with that completely. Living here is like finding your own snuggly spot in a huge non-interfering joint family. When I ask people where they think I come from, they all say the same. That I am definitely not a Bombaiyya and that they have no clue which city I belong to. I have no ‘ite’ attached to me. I can belong to any and every city.
And that’s how I want it to stay.