Bombay from the Rooftops


I look out over the smattering of grey-black-white rooftops all neatly structured and placed side-by-side and not messily overlapping each other. Birds that are mere black dots in the sky fly from one rooftop to another – as if giving each a perfunctory kiss and smugly flying away again with no promises of commitment.

The entangled confusing cable wires stretched across the skyline and the dusty antennas lay still with potent possibilities. A raven-black obnoxious looking crow rudely perches himself next to a thoughtful sparrow, and looks at the quiet thing with a blank stare.

The last time I was in this city, the black and yellow cabs were Fiats. This time they were Santro Zings smartly power-steering their way around the traffic. Elections are coming. The city is full of posters with pithy slogans but I observed that they were not stuck over the very same places where they were forbidden to with a “Do Not Put Stickers Here”. The slogans are meant to rouse the unassuming public against one party or another. Will the results really be different this time? The public can only wonder when they see three men who are hard-to-love but even harder-to-read going against each other.

What gives a city its character?

Is it the culture that evolves, fades, and shapes itself anew with changing trends? Is it the people, half of who are nostalgic about the old that is trapped and frozen in time in colonial architecture; or the other half who are forever eager to fashion a city skyline in the colors of their ambition. Or is it that person who would tell you his story in soft mellow tones during one confused twilight?

From the Bandra-Worli sea link to the National Centre of Performing Arts to the Jehangir Art Gallery to the Pali Village Cafe set in a garage to the Siddhi Vinayak Temple and Mount St Mary church and Haji Ali to the many artsy-kitschy boutiques dotting the streets and alleys of Hill Road and the calm elegance of Carter Road and the star craze in front of Shahrukh Khan’s house at Bandstand …. Bombay dazzles and charms you like no other city I have known in India.

Cities welcomes you but yet know how to keep you at an arm’s distance.

Bombay has a buzz and a vibe to it that plays hide and seek with you. Tickles you in all the right places.

Standing on Juhu beach under the warm Sunday sun with people around me rushing into the muddy water, eating chaat, or just simply sitting around talking and creating vague designs in the sand … I somehow felt complete. It’s just this connection I share with this city. It never lets me down. Whether alone or in a crowd, I always feel complete.

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