The City of Lost Souls

I walk back down this path
I see a city torn down
I look at the pain underneath
And slowly touch the heavy ground

The old man who sleeps by the road
He smiles in blatant rage
He has seen you here forever ago
Flaunting your golden age

You wonder what story he’d tell
What past he lived
You wonder if he ever took what was his
From a world with nothing to give.

The city is in shackles
Of some silent pain
Most of us on the streets are dying
Some of us are insane

Where would I hide in dark of the night
Where would I go
I have come far from nowhere
In this city of lost souls

Ramblings…

I haven’t been here for a while. And well it has almost been as if I were cheating on someone. Like this book that stares you through from the corner of the eye and then jeers away the moment you turn around. So here’s starting with an apology to the mirror, I have been living far away from you for a lack of emotion.
But for the first time in many years, I do not have a feeling of extreme. No joy, no real sorrow. I am just trudging along an existence. I have made new friends, rejoined the old and through it all one thing remains – my renewed faith in life. Oh, Great! Now  I sound like I have come right out of an Elizabeth Gilbert book. But this is not a claim to being a romantic (I saw that in my mirror a long time ago)
This is just a diary entry that everyone should write once in a while to remind themselves of the beautiful people around them. A few days ago this cousin of mine left her humble origins at my dad’s village in Kerala behind to do her masters at one of most prestigious arts college in Chennai. Her neighborhood at the village wasn’t exactly the most conducive environment for studying; in fact the biggest ambition in the family was perhaps to go work in Palakkad (the nearest town). For girls, in particular, the ambition starts and ends at a marriage.
The education system in Kerala doesn’t really help the undergraduates if they want to leave the state. My cousin’s biggest fear is not being able to understand her class as even though she studied in an English medium Arts college in Trissur, the classes were mostly in Malayalam.
But despite of all of this, she is here. She is scared, is tentative about the course but nonetheless she is here. I feel proud, scared and this incessant need to constantly call her up to check on her and I wonder did my elder sister ever feel that anxious for me? Perhaps she did and never showed it or perhaps even better she had such belief in me that she knew I’d do well wherever I’d go.
Sisterhood is difficult, because you aren’t allowed to be as clingy as say a mother to her child and yet you can’t help but worry about the little girl or boy who walked in your shadows all your life and then one day decided to step up to the sun. The feeling was till now unknown to me for I was the little girl in the picture. But the past few days have been pretty different.
I often wonder had I been in my cousin’s place would I have had the drive to be anywhere close to where she is. To be driven when the whole world around you is asking (sometimes begging!) you to succeed is easy. But to look for greatness when you are really surrounded by none is the biggest challenge. This one is a tribute to my little warrior! Hope she prevails the big bad city!

Maximum City

There are people writing books, some who choose to spam inboxes. I, for one, am speechless. Mostly because of the confidentiality agreement we signed at the start of the internship. But what is not confidential is my view of the city. It’s been a year in Mumbai and I am almost attached to it by now. I say almost because attachment with anything is always fleeting for me.  India has a sense of poetry so deeply imbibed in its core that every city seems like a verse but Mumbai, Mumbai is a poem in itself.
Yes, the infrastructure is awful and yes, rains add about 45 minutes to your travel time. But face it, no other city would treat you like its guest every single day. You don’t really belong here, but the city makes you feel at home. It’s a weird middle path between the two emotions. One of excitement over visiting the city for the first time, and other of standing up for the city in front of the critics as if it were your own.
In no other city would being a writer fetch you this many brownie points, and no other city treats its artists with such love and respect. Public transport in Mumbai provides me with that which Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai couldn’t provide – safety! And those who are now going to go up in arms about how Chennai/Bangalore is safe for women, just know that I have indeed lived in these cities and know what safety means and they do not provide it.
Mumbai was once rated the rudest city, clearly, the majority of people who took the survey were rude Delhiites who for some reason just cannot digest the fact that despite of the amazing infrastructure, people still rate their city tad lower than Mumbai. Here is the reason to that, there is no scare of leering men in Mumbai, no scare of the policemen ending up harassing you more if you complain to them, there is no running home at 10 PM scared of venturing out post 11, and most importantly, there is no rudeness likes of which are found on the streets of CP. I have had more number of strangers help me out in Mumbai than in Delhi, Bangalore or Chennai.
Now don’t get me wrong in my heart of hearts I am still that rude Delhiite who tries to (in vain) to find faults with the maximum city. But as my beloved city of Djinns is slowly turning into a true face of capitalistic selfishness, I find peace in the independence Mumbai has given me, an independence that evaded me at the capital. This is the only city where I don’t care whether I have company to watch a play or not, I just go anyway. A city that embraces you the most when you are alone is in its true nature the best gift to civilization.
Be it the walk down Marine drive, or a quiet evening at the Worli sea face, the million malls across the city or the classiness of NCPA or Prithvi, the city lets you live in constant entertainment. Even a daily ride back from the office to the hostel is full of eventful surprises. The city brings out the best and the worst in people both at the same time. It is close to the dark underbellies of slums and yet lives ruthlessly for the rich. Mumbai in its heart of hearts is what a capitalistic society should be about. A society that automatically in spirit, heals itself and grows everyday in its worth, in its value and in its life.