Archive | 9:48 pm

Where The Heart Is

28 Aug

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.]