August 30, 2008
Mumbai Diary part-1
Its been a long time now that I had been planning a visit to the commercial capital, but one reason or the other always came in as a stumbling block and I could never make it.But this time there was nothing that could foil our plan except the rains in Mumbai that did create a bit of dilemma. But once I knew it wasn't worth a concern, I packed my bags and set out to Mumbai along with my parents for a week long tour with lots of dreams and happiness.
I had heard a hell lot about Mumbai, had seen marine drive and Chowpathi beach in a number of movies. I had heard about the rush in suburban local trains, slums at Dharawi, and ofcourse the Bollywood. The adrenaline was running high once I landed at the Panvel station at 5 in the morning. The eagerness to explore the place was growing steadily within me. I was happy to see the suburban local waiting to shoot out from the platform, I had seen this train only in television, watching it in front of my eyes was an entirely different experience. My dad's friend came to pick us from the station and we moved to our hotel.
We refreshed ourselves, took our breakfasts and were prepared to start our endeavor. Since we were just in after an 18 hour long journey, we preferred to stick ourselves to the shopping areas in and around Vaashi. We moved out to one of the shopping malls that was near to our hotel. The big 4 storeyed structure had an imposing look and it reflected the suburban culture. I entered the mall and it seemed like a very big Colosseum. But I have to admit shopping malls have never fascinated me. Even this one, I felt as another "Forum" or "Spencer's", some pizza huts, posh shopping hubs and a multiplex at the top floor. You can't blame anyone for the high prices for things at the mall, it isn't easy to get a shop for rent in such malls at a cheap rate and also the branded materials are costly( "Costly" being a relative term, what appears costly to me might be cheap to you depending on the financial circumstances). We got into an electronics shop and bought a digital camera. Then we just strolled across the mall; Even though it was a working day, there were enough people in the mall, many beautiful faces, many jankos, wired and coloured hairs.
We had lunch from a neighboring restaurant and then moved to our rooms for an afternoon nap. In the evening, we got out to explore Vaashi and came across some more gigantic shopping malls. We got into "Palm beach Galleria" (I hope I spelled it right). The weekend was just beginning and a large crowd had already built up in the mall. There wasn't a corner at the place that wasn't illuminated, it was all lights and chandeliers. I wonder if the luxury I saw at the mall had been decremented atleast by a pinch and if all malls around do the same , then the city could have easily cut down the 5 hour powercut. But I know, everyone knows, a small number of people can never even think of cutting down their luxuries for the sake of a vast majority. People remain divided physically and mentally.
Finally we returned back to the hotel. My first day was good, but not great. I felt some kind of gloominess growing within me. As I already told, shopping malls never fascinated me. I got out of my room and moved to the terrace.Even though it was night, the city lights shattered the tranquility of darkness.. The palm beach road with its lights appeared as a golden necklace. Not far away, I could see a small tent and a small light, probably a kerosene lamp or a similar crude source of light. I could see a lady with a small baby in her hand and I guess there wer many more people in the tent. I think they were workers who were staying near by. I wonder how they manage to live among these luxuries and posh life. Its not just about fighting to survive, but its about fighting the ego within them, curbing the dreams within them, its about convincing themselves that they would never know what a shopping mall is, what a digicam is, what a plantain fried cake is . They have no other way but to keep struggling for their lives and dream that they would have a better meal tomorrow, nothing more. I moved back to my bed, turned off my lights and closed my eyes, I was making a vague attempt to sleep. This was the day I saw the two extremes of life. At one place, I could see a child yelling at her mom as he was being forced to feed on a piece of some cake; at the other end, at one of the traffic blocks were we were trapped, I could see a small baby lying on the hands of a hardly thirteen year old girl crying for some water or food. I had seen such scenes in television, but this wasn't an emotional drama, thiswas real, witnessing it in front of my eyes is an entirely different experience, a painful one.
at 5:03 PM