Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Ek saal baad ...
25th September 2006, I reached Mumbai. It has been a year since then. I won’t say that I never felt time ticking by. There were days of all kinds - some too fast and some too slow, but yes, yesterday when it occurred to me that it has been a year of living ‘alone’, well yes, it did look quick.
Yesterday I told a friend about the first anniversary, and he suggested that I write about it. I thought it was a good idea, but now when I am beginning to write, I don’t know what to write. Shall I talk about the changes in my life over the last one year – but then I thought who will be interested to know that? Shall I write about Bombay and living alone – then I wondered if it is of any significance. So I have finally decided to write a bit of everything – the way I always do – random thoughts of an insane mind.
This is not the first time I have been away from home (I have been in a hostel in a college in Bangalore for 4yrs), but this is the first time that I am staying all by myself in an apartment fending for myself. I would like to say that Mumbai is a place for singles. I think it has a lot to offer. First and foremost, Mumbai is safe. It is safe for a woman to take an auto ride as late as 1 or 2 am. For most women in Delhi or now even Bangalore, this is a distant dream. Mumbai is forever busy – it is truly a city which never sleeps. You will find people of all ages in public places – the beach, restaurants, pubs, coffee shops, joggers parks at all times. I have also noticed that the concept of taking leisure/fitness walks in joggers parks or by the beach is common here. People here are more liberal – at least in most parts of Mumbai – maybe because they are too busy in their own lives that they do not bother much.
A very dear friend, tuples, once shared that he has noticed that cities which have a port generally have open societies and have a mix of cultures – because it is a port, interestingly, Bombay fits in that rule. But I wonder how Chennai is like. I haven’t stayed there but neither have I heard great stuff about that place – at least I have heard that it is not a place for north Indians. I however am not a part of the popular South Indian – North Indian rivalry. I could somehow never relate to it. Not that I have never been treated disrespectfully by the locals of Bangalore. Apart from facing a couple of atrocities arising truly out of communal hatred, I have never conceived other incidents to be rising out of favoritisms. And I believe we should come out of this Tit for Tat business, after all reforms and social work begins from home. Coming back to the issue of displaying favoritisms, in Mumbai, it has not even happened once – in fact I have seen people are kind towards people from other cities. I remember, I had once got into a no entry lane (I did not know I was doing that for I did not notice any sign which said it was a one way), when the traffic cops stopped me and although they conned me of 100 bucks, but were very polite with me – especially after checking out my DL which was issued in Delhi. The golden rule "Goodness in return of goodness" taught by our elders when we were young, kind of works here most of the time. The success rate here is higher is all I want to say :)
Coming to the people, in Mumbai you can wear whatever you wish to and travel relatively safer in a Public transport. In this respect, Bangalore and Delhi are equally bad. In Bangalore the culture is not too open and they have distinctly different styles, for instance, girls wear a bindi even if they are wearing a totally western outfit like a trouser or a pair of jeans. In Mumbai you can wear string tops, halter necks, short skirts .. anything you feel like and you are quite safe. I realized that it is safe to move around like this particularly when I saw other women wear these kinds of outfits and traveling in the very essential local trains.
Another remarkable thing that I noticed about the people in Mumbai which is contrary to people of other cities, is the way men behave with women. Not once but many a times, when I could not manage to squeeze my way into a ladies compartment and had to force myself into a general compartment, I have noticed that the men are very courteous towards women. They make sure you are not sandwiched between them and they try their best to make space for you – had it been Delhi, I am sure the men would try to fall on top of you and leave no opportunity to make some body contact.
Mumbai is nice, except for its never ending rains, killing traffic and travel time issues. I must admit that it is a big put off – the roads, the pot holes, the unruly traffic, the unclean surroundings, the very less civic sense in people, the ‘make as much money as you can’ attitude (which is comparable to delhi), the obscene disparity between the rich and the poor.. But then again nothing is perfect.
Living alone has taught me a lot as I keep saying. Form my childhood I wanted to do things for the less fortunate. As a child I saw my mother do a lot of social service thru Deepanwita (the trust formed in memory of my lovely sister), and I used to keep helping her off and on. But never did I do anything by myself. Staying alone and angel eyes (an initiative of a few compassionate and responsible individuals in TechM), helped me get a start. And since December last year, there has been no looking back. There is a different kind of peace and happiness when you can make someone smile, even it were for a moment. There is no comparison what so ever.
Have already talked of what it is like on a personal front to be in solitude, so wont talk of it again.
Last year when I decided to move out of Delhi, I did not know how long I would stay in Mumbai, in fact I thought I would be back in a year’s time. It’s been a year now, and I have no plans of going back. Anyway, as Bryan Adams best selling album was called, it has been ’So far so good’.