We’re waiting at a light that will take a while to turn green. To my left is Chowpatty junction and the silver-grey sea surging forth this early afternoon. The road turns upward and narrow, winding determinedly to meet old limestone havelis, banyan tree compounds and the scent of theplas at Teen Batti. In the foreground are battered boats, scraps of torn clothing and greedy pigeons feasting on somebody’s idea of religion. The beach needs a clean-up. Eighteen dustbins should do it. It wouldn’t hold a candle to Venice and I know it.
In the distance, phoenix-like, rises Cuffe Parade. The monolith of the World Trade Centre, the soaring steeple of Afghan Church, the identical pygmies of Navy Nagar that house brilliant, impoverished scientists. A lighthouse clings to the island of Colaba, just before the world’s steepest real estate crumbles away into the Arabian Sea. Marine Drive shimmers like a mirage, framing the good bay* in a tolerant Sunday mood. Honks are notably absent, siesta has spread its picnic mat.
I turn to him, my heart filled with pride. “You’d like Hong Kong,” he says casually. I look back at the view and slowly shake my head. It wouldn’t hold a candle to my home and I know it.
*[Bombay gets its name from the Portuguese Bom Bahia, meaning good bay.]
If you stand still enough, pain learns to gently lap your shores.
Yes, there’s Goa on my mind.
No, I’m not going anytime soon. 😦
Doesn’t stop me from mooning over this, though.
Credits: OJ and her Canon Powershot. And Goa, September 2007.
……you say “Chowpatty jayenge…” and they scream “BHELPURI KHAYENGE!!!” in unison. With a response time of 8 nanoseconds.
Yup, acutely Bambaiyya. And their teacher’s lovin’ it.
You mean it’s not “Good Thoughts, Good Food, Good Deeds”??
~An unconvinced Boy on his version of the three pillars of the Zoroastrian faith.
I am an immigrant. I’ve lost my way of life so many times over, there is no one pattern for me anymore. With no fixed path, or state of being, I swim in cultures as fluid as quicksilver, flow downstream with grace and ease. I switch, transform and blend into the bushes. The color of varied greens seeps into my skin, the odd greyness of new skies reflects in my wide open irises, and I soak, I suck, I imbibe. Not for me are known ways of being, familiar stones of aged houses, the reflection of neighbors down the street, ones who saw me as a mere bump in a young, taut belly. I spin in tongues, accents tumble off my shoulders. Seascapes and strange fish, I look at anew. Fresh pictures I put up of untrammeled spaces, as intimate as the montage I’ve left far behind.
I am an immigrant. I’ve known (far too) many homes. Countries, borders, hedges, airline terminals, they all nod in tandem to greet me. Acceptance, rejection, bewilderment and belonging melt into the dense, sticky core of energy that is my life. And you, settled soul who has never be-housed new shores, can only wonder at these alternative ways of grab-a-day living, where roots are replaced by peregrinating feet. There are losses, yes, and gains a-plenty. But both slip through my fingers even as I speak and my next new patch of earth awaits me.
I am an immigrant. Respectfully anointed. I may come home to old crannies, but I’ll never be wholly back. And my eyes, they’ll always be gazing into the distance. And I bear my cross willingly.