By your leave, I digress momentarily from all things bookish to testify to recent loquacious behavior (and how much!) every time I am asked about my trip to India (mostly, Mumbai and Himachal Pradesh). My long-winded responses of incredulity stems from not being able to cognize the effects it had on me, the wonders I witnessed – wonders to me but a regular city to another. Limiting myself to Mumbai on this post, let me make it clear before progressing that I have not properly visited my own country (and state of origin – Karnataka) previously, let alone Mumbai and I am deeming this visit my first proper exploration of the identity I so glibly assert.
Iridescent Mumbai – how do I even begin to articulate the vastness of the sights and smells, the irreverence to both and the oracular mix of all this to form an almost perfect homogeneity – a Mumbai only homogeneity. The anachronistic streets and edges of the city topped off with elements of old-school tunes and dust bunnies that seemed to have survived a couple centuries at least, of post-modern and alternative countercultures, the artistic flair and exuberant personality in every locally-owned business and homes – tugged at my heartstrings with their wholesome chubby hands. I don’t think I have seen such a harmonious mix of respect and rebellion in the quirks and quiddities of a common man before. My NDTV and India Today image of India shattered from a donnybrook existence to one where art, music and friendship thrives in dirty shoes, sweaty necks and big dreams. I confess to scoffing at and questioning what I now know to exist soundly, the robust cultural life, the soundness of the Indian character, the diverse mammoth human spectrum. Even in its most fragmented and hierarchical state, the city with its hundreds of tired watch-dogs wakes up every morning, afresh, unhindered by the failures of the previous day and it’s heart continues to beat in hues of black and blue and rich gold and red. Mumbai has found yet another subscriber.