Aug 4, 2005

The 'Spirit of Mumbai'

There must be something seriously wrong with me. This is the conclusion that I have arrived at after failing to grasp the meaning of this magnificent and oft-heard expression. Not that it was through any lacking of effort on my part. Unlike my impatient and rigid friends (hi loky) or cousins (reading this koushik?), I had really tried for the last 7 years or so. The media, my wife, colleagues, neighbors all did their bit to educate me. They gave me examples, incidents, stories and facts that they said demonstrated this wonderful phenomenon. [4 pages deleted]. (I had started out giving examples but got slightly carried away).

Sometimes, when I have a quiet moment, sitting immobile in a bus in Sakinaka junction, waiting for the signal to turn green, watching at the rows of men squatting at the roadside with their dicks hanging out; at these times i sometimes wonder. Are Mumbaikars laughing at the expense of the rest of the world? Maybe this Spirit of Mumbai thing is the biggest hoax in the history of mankind, perpetrated by its 13 million people. Like when we were in college, after seeing a movie that was mind bogglingly bad, we used to tell all our friends about how great it was so that they would also suffer as we had suffered. Maybe these guys go home and have a huge laugh when they see people like us wading neck deep in water or paying 4 million bucks for a pigeon hole where the view comprises of a slum housing 14ooo people. I would love this to be correct explanation - at least it’s better than the alternative thought.

The alternative is scarier than any Stephen King novel i have read till date. Sometimes, late at night, when i am lying down and listening to the honking horns, the latest Hindi movie song blaring in someone's car stereo, smelling the fresh smells of shit and raw fish wafting in somehow through the closed window - sometimes in moments like this i break out into cold sweat thinking of the alternative explanation. 'Is it possible that these guys actually believe in this Spirit of Mumbai thing?' It’s a scary thought. Like those 70's zombie movies in which a group of guys visit a town where people are becoming zombies one by one and finally its just this boy and girl left and they are running running running while the entire town is closing in on them, amongst them their friends, people they grew up with, now with snarling mouths and vacant eyes, closer closer closer…until finally the guy collapses and gives up, too exhausted to run anymore, cut to a long shot and the crowd falls on him.


I don’t want to feel proud of the fact that I love this hell and no one can make me hate it. I don’t want to shout out to the world ‘come on!! Give me more of your shit! I can take more and more and more’. I don’t want to be so spirited, so tough, so happening. I am just a weak, decadent, self-indulgent man who wants to spend the remaining years with some semblance of peace and dignity. I don’t want to be part of a 13 million member family, I do not deserve to part of this brotherhood and solidarity.

Somebody help me. Somebody throw me out of this utopia into the big bad world outside. Please.


kaushik said...

There is a whole lot of things that i want to say after reading this... and it threatens to be bigger than this blog.. I wish I didnt have a deadline today..

I must write about my urban insulation theory .. but in my blog

Well Opu, I can be your comrade in arm, ready to rescue you to this place called Bangalore which is very fast and very furiously (in true mumbai style) is becoming another sample of muck shit.. but atleast here we (oh! from when did I start considering myself as a Bangalorean) dont pride about the unflinching Bangalore spirit against rain, earthquake, tsunami...

I sometimes feel that Mumbai is lucky that it goes thru these blasts, riots or even this flooding (am I talking of a village or a a city). Atleast they come into headlines and outsiders forget the shit the place has become.

More recently Calcutta used to boast of the Bengalee spirit.. and nothing much..

Mumbaikars nee Bombayaites! Its now happening to you guys.. Bad news is that even Calcutta is slowly moving on from just celebrating the Bengalee spirit.....

Loki said...

Whats the first thing you see when you get to Aamchi Mumbai ! SHIT… loads of it, traffic jams, crowd, conmen, whores, filth, that you’d have never seen before.

Well, my dear Apu, you are fighting against the impossible. Let the Bombayites live with there spirits, because they have nowhere to go. I was once told by a colleague from Bombay that there is no city like this. When I asked him what he was comparing with, he named a few cities like Delhi, Bangalore, etc. Later I got to know that he had never been to another city outside Maharashtra in his 27 years. Most people in Bombay live in this dilemma for their entire lives, what an irony!

In my 4 years that I have lived in Bombay, I have kind of seen a lot. My day used to start by driving to office (tried the fastest mode of commuting for a while, but couldn’t withstand being packed like sardines!). Oh! What a drive man! In the 30 min of drive everyday, I was fortunate to see around 20 dicks, kilos of organic shit oozing out of peoples butts. With all windows rolled up, one hand used to be on the steering and the other one covering my nose. You dare not tell me that hey go and live in a better locality; I was living in the most happening part of the suburbs – LOKHANDWALA. Try getting 5 km away from this place and you are screwed for good 40-45 min.

Before I moved to Bombay, I had heard that the infrastructure is being improved at a frantic pace. 52 flyovers constructed in 1 year to get rid of traffic jams. AWESOME! Flyovers! Do these guys understand what a flyover is? Well yes these 52 bridges were made but it could only get you from one jam to another a little faster.

Weekends used to be great once in a while, since we were to drive to TOWN to meet up with friends living there. The 35 km drive was like driving in the fast lane, time taken – merely 140 min.

They say this city never sleeps! And doesn’t let anyone sleep. Give me a break! I need some sleep. I guess floods, riots, bomb blasts, etc are the only ways these happening guys can get some sleep.

Well, there’s no way that I can help you. Help yourself! Get out of here fast! Actually there’s another option – Happening ho jao!!!

Angshu said...

Well, while at Bangkok you were absolutely fidgety about getting back to this very happening city! The thought of getting back to seeing real dicks and savoring the truly authentic and inimitable avatar of the desi burger (our very own Vada Pao) was no match to the sing-song of the ladyboys and the simple fare burger we used to have after our nocturnal "cultural activities"!