For me, Bombay will always mean the sea.


Yes.

A sea of all that is new and varied. A sea of people. A sea of experiences. A sea of smiles and a sea of people coming and going by constantly. Sometimes, these people last and sometimes they don’t. But for me, Bombay always means change and constancy in one solid, paradoxical pack.

So, I had a good 10 days in Bombay. Apart from hitting the joints I love the most and sweating like I was dissolving (this is not a whine – I love sultry weather), I met a few interesting people, among them a completely undignified dog called Dara. For a shih tzu he’s remarkably quiet. And that still doesn’t give him an air of being a dog. He needs lessons to be one! All he gets excited about is the bell ringing. Also, he’s a slut. He’ll go snuggle with anyone as long as they let him sit with him touching their thigh or hip or whatever’s the body part that’s currently facing his old face.

I also had the chance to see my friend Anita who gifted me something precious while I lived in Bombay. A wonderful way to get people together. On any odd day, she’d just sms a random bunch of people giving details of a film, theatre and timings and within an hour everyone would get back with their responses and she’d head out and get tickets. This, in a city where everyone says “You know, we should get together more often,” and meet a year later, was a wonderful way to get a whole bunch of people together to get them to have a good time. Sometimes, the movies would be rotten and Anita would be the only person enjoying it or getting into some involved discussion about it and sometimes we’d all leave the theatre completely enthralled and satisfied. More often than not, depending on the show we were getting in for, a few of us would end up getting dinner, go for drink and sometimes, disappointingly, head to our individual commitments.

But it NEVER stopped being fun. I don’t know how many of us actually came for the film and how many just for something to do on an otherwise regular evening. There was also the prospect of meeting someone interesting in the group. And you would think people would make a fuss about getting to Wadala or Andheri or places like that from where all of us lived but come 10:30 and there’d be a joyous Anita, tickets in hand, and incessant messages to late comers whose tickets would be left at the door.

It was simple, effective and great way for people to just get together every once in a while and enjoy themselves. She still does it once in a while I think but mostly someone else has taken over the role of active movie-goers’ gatherer.

Keep it going, Ants.

*****

It was nice to be among friends who either completely forgot that I was pregnant (Hi, Suresh!) or who constantly fussed around me because I was (Hi, Shri, Neeta!). Touching the bump, feeling for baby, asking me all sorts of involved questions that I had no answer to. Somewhere in my head, my primary identity is still of an individual. Not of a mommy to be or a wife or a whatever else I should be. Which is why I suppose it’s a wonderful surprise, a tremendous joy when complete strangers take extra care to be nice to you — a cab driver who drives carefully without being told, a completely strange woman (who, I admit guiltily, I was observing and making mean comments about her clothes in my head) who wishes me all the best.

Of course, then there’s this lovable bunch who decides to smoke up while I contently have to find a smokeless spot in the house so they don’t get in my way. It’s not so much that they were smoking up without me. I think it was more that I couldn’t even take a single drag! Oh well, baby joy is a little more lasting than grass high, I always say.

*****

I am alarmed at the amount of people I’ve met and heard from in the past week who have been divorced/going through one/contemplating one. About 20 people in the gap of five days. And mostly women. Hell, ALL women. I didn’t meet a single guy who was getting out of a marriage.

I don’t know what to think, primarily because of the fact that after my own divorce, I’ve found something I treasure deeply, with someone who has given me all that I could want from another person and a relationship. But the other reason is also that it is just bewildering to see myself in so many of these women. All getting married when they aren’t ready and then that world crashing around them.

Having said that, I have truly found that the best way to make a marriage last happily is to do it at least twice. It could be marriage-divorce-marriage or just live in really long with the significant other (which is a marriage anyway) and then move on if it doesn’t work. Honestly, the wealth of experience that living with a person you are in love with gives you is something else entirely. And it’s not just brands of toothpaste and picking up wet towels off the bed.

*****

What does it take a person to say that he or she is by no means a happy person? What kind of deep self-knowledge or misconception or deep pain (or self-pity, perhaps) does it take for a person to say that she or he is unhappy? I read someone like that. I don’t know the person but she states very matter of factly on her blog that she is ‘by no means a happy person’.

I think this is an astonishing confession. In a world where it’s absolutely essential that you come across as happy and positive, in a world where most of us develop a psyche that demands happiness of us or at least a pretence of it, how does someone put it out there that she is an unhappy person?

Our jobs demand we be happy, positive — it is only then, they say, that you can be a good worker. Our parents demand our happiness, if only so that they can be happy. Our friends demand we be happy; they’ll lend you a shoulder to cry on for a bit — after that friends usually try and avoid you because they don’t want to be stuck with an unhappy whiney person or they tell you straight out to get on with life and stop feeling bad for yourself. Why, we ourselves demand happiness of ourselves — isn’t that why we look for people, jobs, vacations and clothes, a host of other things that makes us happy?

So in a world where there is such great pressure to be happy, is it liberating to say one is unhappy?

Besides, from what people tell me and from my limited experience, isn’t being happy a choice you make? Yes, there are those irrepressible among us who will be happy no matter what (thank god) and there are those who will, in the face of great tragedy and pain, will make a conscious effort to choose happiness over feeling miserable. But is it always possible to choose?

*****

Thanks to youtube and Savita (Hi, Savita!) I found the ek anek video. It brings such glorious memories of my childhood summers spent in India. I remember each line, each lyric, each rhythm, each sketch of that video.

*****

Josef Fritzl. I don’t know what to think of him. I am disgusted, aghast, puzzled, hurt for his family and filled with rage. But I still don’t know how it all happened. All I hope is he gets his due and more in prison.

3 thoughts on “For me, Bombay will always mean the sea.

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