December 06, 2008


On a South Bombay street one evening earlier this week, I found myself next to a red car that had stopped. It was double parked, thus effectively blocking half the available road space there. A thickset young woman got out of the back and started walking towards the strip of shops -- clothing, lingerie, icecream, fruit, fast food -- a few dozen yards down the road, leaving car there with her driver.

A traffic cop on duty there stopped her and asked what she was doing, indicating that she could not park the car there. In reply, she pointed across the street, to a car double parked there. The traffic cop said, we're going to remove that guy too. You can't park here.

I walked ahead, and then remembered something for which I had to cross the street about where this lady had stopped. When I got back there, both double parked cars were gone in search of parking spots. The woman, however, still stood there, now pointing across the street to a driver standing with his (single-parked) car.

You move your car, she shouted at him. I have to park mine there. The driver, when I got there, was shouting back: why should I move?

He looked at me, gave me a baffled smile and shrugged in wonder. I felt the wonder too.

In front of the fast food place down the road, there's a large crowd on the pavement eating everything from icecream to pani-puri to burgers. There's also another young woman, carrying a baby on her hip. She reaches into the overflowing trash can, roots around in there. She finds two large half-eaten sandwiches, adjusts the baby's position and starts feeding him.

A day later, kid's sixth birthday party in an upscale Bombay neighbourhood. 70+ kids on a large lawn, in dainty gowns and daintier shoes. Mothers in hip-hugging jeans with jewelled butterflies down the legs, dads on their phones. Large transparent inflatable ball which kids get into and it's rolled around the lawn. One of those large inflated devices which dozens of kids clamber onto and jump and climb and shriek in delight. Face painters, tattoo artists. Queue in front of the food table, where there's idli, vada, dosai and noodles; birthday cake and drinks on another table. Large backdrop with images of Snow White and various other Disney characters. Thumping loud music of indeterminate provenance, though one seemed to consist of the word "suicidal" repeated over and over. Bright lights, balloons, fountains, photographers, each handover of a backpresent captured for posterity on video.

Less than a week after the end of a terror attack on my city, I stop to think: my city is back.


Update: My apologies, I forgot the most obvious sign of all that my city is back. Less than a week after a terror attack is defeated, what do we find a senior state politician, a once-CM, doing? Working on measures to improve security? Meeting victims? Attending a memorial function for dead and injured policemen? Addressing the city's palpable anger with politicians in general?

Forget it, bub. Instead, because he wasn't chosen to become CM, he's lashing out at everyone he can.

Oh sure, my city is back.

1 comment:

Kalyan Karmakar said...

The Rane incident has been the saddest fodder to the cynics in us