One day last winter, I found myself at Nariman Point around 2 am. Just being there for the first time brought me a little spark of happiness on a particularly sad day. It was the day a friend had hurt me a lot and he was sitting by me, holding my hand, trying to do anything he could to cheer me up even a little bit. It was also the day when I promised myself that I’d return again in happier times to Bombay, to Mumbai, to Nariman Point.
Sitting at Nariman point this evening, I feel like the world starts at my feet and the blurred lights in the dim distance are where my worries went to die . I’m reminded of a carefree time when my father made sure I got a window seat when we were flying to Bombay and pointed out the Queen’s necklace to me. Three rows behind the wing, that’s the seat I pick every time I fly even now. The concrete tripod rocks look like a woman spreading her legs and the crabs crawling on them only make the analogy more apt. It’s a fitting tribute to Bombay.
So many stories, so many people; it’s like the city is an audio tape permanently on fast forward. My story, the one whole month that I spent here last year has already been buried underneath many other more interesting stories that have come to be. Maybe that’s what one should do, shove the past like dust under the new carpets and walk on the carpets like there’s nothing underneath. It also makes me apprehensive. What about the friends I have today? I don’t want to lose them. This too shall pass and maybe what happens is after all for the best. (Like we dare say otherwise, helpless as we are to the vagaries of fate. Pfft.)
That couple necking oblivious to the rest of Marine Drive, the traffic police wondering whether he should interrupt them, the guy with the iPod determinedly stuck in his nest of hair, the waiter at the Military Cafe who doesn’t bat an eyelid when you ask for a third helping of the caramel custard, the Parsi aunty in her flowery frock, the liveried chauffeur in Toyota Lexus, the diamond merchant in the S- lass Merc, the guy who took us on the chariot ride from Not just jazz by the bay to Nariman point and back, the lady who let us sit at her little Teapot Cafe for hours on end, they all seem so at home here. Bombay has spread her legs for each one of them. Sometimes, you are at a place which overwhelms you so much that you wish you could share it. If you have to be there, you think you should be with someone else or not at all. Bombay is one of them.
I wish you were here.