Sunday, November 30, 2008

Maimed Mumbai

Mumbai - the city of dreams... the golden songbird... the pot-purri of multi-cultural and multi-ethnic societies and institutions - these were some of the things that were top-of-mind recall when most of us heard the word Mumbai. But today, we also associate the city Mumbai with terror, carnage, divisive forces, fear, anguish, helplessness and anger - a complete antithesis of what Mumbai stands for. Be it Raj Thackaray and his non-secular ideologies, the intelligence failure and terror strikes, the torrential rains and inadequate infrastructure to handle it - the one common thread that binds all these is the fact that hundreds have lost their lives, livelihoods and loved ones in this mindless and irresponsible attitudes and actions of the politicians and all those we hand over the reins of the city to.

Mumbai has been reduced to a city of numbers and dates. 26th July 2005 when torrential rains brought the city to a standstill with animal carcasses and human bodies floating in the streets. Death Toll over 1000. 11th July 2006 when Mumbai train bombings with a series of seven bomb blasts that took place over a period of 11 minutes on the Subarban Railway 209 people lost their lives and over 700 were injured. In the last 15 years, the terrorists have meticulously and mercilessly targetted buses, trains, hospitals, crowded market places, historical sites like the Gateway of India and now the Taj and Oberoi-Trident, killing thousands and maiming thousands more.

There is a repeated mention of the resilient spirit of Mumbai and its unique ability of bounce back when such incidents occur. I have just oner thing to say to this - Resilience is good but amnesia is fatal! Mumbai is turning into the frog who sits in the pot of water which is gradually boiling, not realising the rising temperature and hence the danger. When it realises, it just is too late... I hope good sense prevails among the people of Mumbai in general and the country in particular - there are times of thoughts and debates and then there is the time for action - the time for action is NOW!

...when my hubby lost his bachelor's degree... and I gained my master's!!!

So finally I got married... and it feels surreal to start with - seeing 'married' status in orkut, people addressing you as 'Mrs'... people calling up and the first question they asking you is 'How's married life?'...and you suddenly 'graduate' from talking with friends on things like sports, news, career - to husbands/wives, in-laws, how much cooking do I do, how have I adjusted to the new city, how much language do I know...

And to me, even now, when I look at the marriage videos and photographs, when I hear friends and relatives reliving and narrating anecdotes on my wdding, I sometimes think - did it really happen... the elaborate wedding followed by two receptions in two cities had made it so hectic that there were times, I was doing things like a robot, most of the time oblivious of what was happening around me...

Back to the new city, we settled into the routine... Once you start living away from your family, you start realising there are so many little little things that go to make a house into a home - guests and hosts, festivals, birthdays, anniversaries, the rains and sunsines, the laughter, the tears, the fights and the making-ups, the yummy smell from the kitchen to the yucky odour of over-cooked (:-) burnt) food...

Har ghar chup chaap se yeh kehta hai ..
andar usmein kaun rehta hai?..
Chhat bataati hai, yeh kiska aasmaan hai.
Rang kehte hain, kiska yeh jahaan hai....
Kamron mein kiski kalpana jhalakti hai?...
Is farsh par nange pair kiske bacche chalte hain?...
Kaun chun chunke ise pyaar se sajaata hai?
Kaun is makaan mein apna ghar basaata hai...
Har ghar chup chaap se yeh kehta hai... ki andar usmein kaun rehta hai?

It feels no different to be married as far as day to day existence goes - the same jeans & shorts, the career, going out to work, watching late night shows, going out on the bike.... but I know what has changed for me... now, when I look at him sleeping peacefully by my side, I always start thinking whether he has taken medicine, is the A/C temp ok, will he catch a cold... when he goes out on his bike, I pray he rides safe... when he puts sindoor on my forehead every morning, I crave to see the love he has for me in his eyes... its this feeling of belongingness, of togetherness, of creating spaces without creating distances that has changed... and I like and respect that... I guess thats what marrriage is all about... much beyond the physicality of it all, it tracends to something much finer, much more deep - perhaps something called love!