Thursday, October 19, 2006
Bombay is fine
I landed in Bombay mid-day. Swirl, sweat, sharpen my reflexes to include all directions and now am installed in Colaba (south Bombay): at Bentley's Hotel and this internet cafe. With linolium partitions, still air and fellows like ashu_guddu1 it seeking a partner in matrimony (on-line) beside me, it's all coming back to me.
I'd worried from Dad's reports - from the world's actually - that India might have changed beyond recognition. That, improbably, the route in from Chattrapathi Shivaji International Airport - generally as good a re-immersion into India as one can hope for - might somehow have been rendered tidy and India's fullsome chaos contained and spirited elsewhere. This happened in Bangkok, arriving into Beijing. The world's cities (except New York City by way of Queens), are quite good at air-brushing your first impression.
No worries. Though the route's tidier, sprung with more billboards and congested with more cars with window-up-AC; still there are amidst it all bullocks, goats, rickshaws and papaya vendor carts.
Many fewer squatters on the route's edges, and ragged-wrapped hovels, but still the ladies squatted to sweep dust with twigs, a road-workers baby suspended in a bit of cloth from a tree branch, a garland for everything and everyone.
Marigolds and firecrackers and door-to-door chappal vendors and the immaculate ladies in saris and their male counterpart: the pressed gentlemen on black bikes in snow white lungis and well-creased topis.
Signs of ahead-moving from my taxi window appeared good vs. deadening - the portal-sponsored potted palms on the medians, a road with lines and lanes, though my driver used only hand signals.
The boys who sell books through car windows were touting:
Blink ("by the author of Tipping Point, madam")
Inheritance of Loss,
The World is Flat
Something by (on?) Musharraf
How Opal Mehta got Kissed...
And it's hot as Bombay's so freakishly good at being seeringly hot. Heat-haze so thick you can't make out one end of the Queen's Causway from the other. Watch sweat trickle down the neck of my sidarjhi driver (I've chosen - some sweltering cheapness - to save @ Rs. 200 and not take an AC cab).
Tomorrow and saturday morning in Bombay then Cochin by Saturday eve.
Let the sourcing, and looking, begin.