Friday, January 04, 2008

13 Funny things you observe when you land in Bombay after a long period:

1: Bombay stinks. Literally. Bombay air has a unique aroma which is a weird mixture of spoilt trash, green chilli tadka (synonymous with vada paav), cheap country liquor, puke and food. That aroma fills up the space even before your flight lands in Bombay!. You know that you have arrived in Bombay even before getting out of flight. It actually gives you nostalgia.

2: Everything moves in a super slow motion: Everything around you (vehicles, people, and animals) moves at a super-slow speed. There is absolutely no hurry in anything they do. And timeliness is absolutely unheard of.

3: Every moment you feel as if you are going to meet with an accident: people, kids, animals, vehicles, and everything else freely roams on the road. Following lanes, not coming in a way of a driving vehicle, waiting for a proper signal and other rules are not practiced.

4: Auto rickshaws are always available at your disposal. And they somehow trace you, and they somehow know that you need a ride: they will come and stop by for a moment to see if you are interested.

5: Railway stations and streets perpetually smell of vada paav, green chilli and coriander.

6: Indians are fond of food: They talk, walk, eat, and drink food. Food is their life. Even on TV, half the channels show a food show at any given point.

7: Indians eat A LOT: I guess most of them don’t know what dieting is. Indian food is full of wrong calories and your calorie count goes haywire while eating Indian food. People like to eat a lot of food, and a lot of buttery food. A recipe is not a good one unless it has a think layer of oil on top of it.

8: Indians like to express an opinion: They talk. Wanted or unwanted, demanded or unwarranted, they talk a lot and are not hesitant a bit to express their opinions. No wonder why half the channels on TV are news channels (they are just providing a way for some people to express their views, even though mostly they are rubbish, repetitive and boring)

9: They are mobile savy: Everyone MUST have a cool mobile and everyone MUST talk loudly.

10: Spitting is a form of expression: People spit to express anger, joy, frustration, excitement, a pause in a sentence, and dominance.

11: Everyone speaks in Hindi: doesn’t matter whether you are a maharashtrian, gujju, Punjabi, sindhi, or a south Indian. Hindi is the official language of Bombay.

12: People don’t like to say “NO” to anything: they first say yes, then they think about it, then they realize that something can’t be done, and then they behave as if the conversation never happened.

13: They have profound misconceptions and beliefs, and they have no interest in rectifying them.
India Diary- 1.

India is so different now. I never imagined it would be so disturbing to be back home this time. I love my country, lets not doubt that, I am a very passionate and proud Indian. However, for the first time, I was so ashamed of we Indians. Our India is beautiful, but it is our own Indians who screw everything up.

Once upon a time, Bombay was a beautiful city. It was always crowded, always fast and pacy, but it was still very beautiful. There was an element of grace there. Places like Link Road at Bandra, bandstand, Nariman point, Gateway of India, Peddar Road and recently built malls were worth visiting at least once after coming back to Mumbai after a long time (its my 3rd visit to India). When in US of A, I always look forward to visiting these places as soon as I am back to Bombay. It takes me back to my old days and reminds me of the old memoirs I had there. Somehow these places always remained peaceful. But this time it was a different case: these places have become so crowded, dirty and filthy now that one doesn’t even feel like being there. Every corner was full of paan and tobacco stains, trash, and old construction debris occupied every possible empty space. And every place was always overly crowded as well. Earlier these malls and streets used to be reasonably less dense on weekday afternoons; NOT anymore. As a result, there is no privacy, there is always someone listening to you or staring at you. If not that, then you are forced to hear their bindaas conversations on their mobiles (and have very cheap ringtones). There is no escape. Every vehicle has very loud horns and sirens while taking a reverse.

In fact Bombay now seems so noisy that there is almost never a time when things are peaceful around you. TVs are on 24-7 in every house. Autos don’t seem to have silencers anymore. People talk at a very very high decibel level. And if that’s not sufficient, there is some construction going on somewhere in your vicinity that makes all possible thuds and noises.

And construction or not, there is so much of dust in air, that it’s almost impossible to breathe freely. Pollution levels have gone crazily high. You can see a layer of dust on almost everything you see around you. It’s almost a hopeless case. And lets not even talk about increasing population, corruption and a surge of north Indians!

I am not trying to be negative here. But I am genuinely worried about people living here. Many of them are living in substandard human condition, and they themselves don’t realize that. With so much of noise and air pollution, there is no peace of mind. I am sure that many of them are facing a depressing life situation, and it may really hurt them in a long run. The quality of life is very poor: most people work more than 12 hours a day and 6 days a week in unhelpful conditions and without proper health related precautions. I am not sure where is this situation going to lead us to. We talk about making Bombay a la Shanghai and Singapore, but I seriously doubt that. In fact its fast becoming more like a big big dumpster. I thought a lot about possible solutions to improve this condition, but felt it was totally out of control.

I wish there was a magic cleaner that would take every filth away and make my city as beautiful as it was earlier.