Monday, July 17, 2006

Outline of the weekend ...

[The Gateway of India, Bombay]


Well, Friday I rode the train to South Bombay and went to the Prayer for Peace, then wandered around Churchgage/Marine Drive before heading back. Saturday, I went to the dargah at Haji Ali (what an experience!), and also the Prince of Wales Museum, before heading to spend a fun evening of libations and victuals with friends in Bandra. Sunday, I spent with cousin and fam. before going to Mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Name, and then, again, hanging out with friends in Bandra. This morning I ended up speaking to a couple of classes of seminarians at the Archdiocesan Seminary and spent the bulk of the day catching up with a Jesuit friend who teaches there.

Most of the above will be blogged about over the next few days. So, programming for the immediate future: All Bombay, all the time! :)

I've been voraciously devouring Suketu Mehta's Maximum City. It's fascinating, well written and captivating. It's an amazing window into the multiple worlds that co-exist and intersect in Bombay, in some kind of a twisted, hellish, terpischorean pantomime. For a bit I felt incredible sadness, that as an upperclass South Bombayite I never really delved into these worlds. But, I guess, one does, witting or not, simply by living here.

Ironically enough, I was reading the chapters on the 1993 blasts and the 1992-93 riots, while the 737-800 taxied to the runway. I was so engrossed that I didn't know we were ready to go until the engines spooled up to that deafening roar of the thousands of pounds of thrust that will get this aluminum beast into the sky. They gentleman next to me had his eyes shut tight, hands folded together. In a few seconds we took to the air, passing over the Western Express Highway and the Western Railway tracks, Bombay's wounded life line, and the green patch marking Juhu aerodrome clearly visible. As the flaps retracted, the Arabian Sea appeared with the great metropolis, strung out on either side of the aircraft. The northwestern suburbs a vast concrete mass disappearing under the clouds to the right, with a thin fringe of sand separating them from the sea. To the left, the curves of this seductive city -- Mahim Bay, Worli Bay and barely visible in the haze, Haji Ali Bay, leading to the claw like peninsulae at the tip of the island, that form South Bombay.

I am strangely emotional, I'm not sure why. Maybe because on this visit I really focused on and thought about my ties to this city, and its place in my own pretty scattered geography.

The 737 banks to the north. The buildings of Versova gleam, and the green of Madh and Manori appear, before vanishing underneath the cloud cover. The aluminum beast shudders and bucks as it rides the turbulent air.

The gentleman next to me keeps his eyes closed for most of the flight.

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