City of hope or despair?

Bombay no longer a city of hope? asked a couple of people at this blog after reading Once was Bombay?. To me, Bombay will always be the city of hope (not so sure about Mumbai though, if you know what I mean)… Where people come to make a living – whether from Bihar to be a coolie at Bombay Central or from UP to drive a taxi or from Gajraula to be a film-star… where between Mahalakshmi and Siddhi Vinayak – and Haji Ali, people believe that the gods ensure they who come to this city rarely go away disappointed….

And here Uma writes about the collapse and decline of the city (with interesting links as usual within the posts – do read End of the Mumbai dream by Samar Halarnkar)….

The city evolves, says Dheepak – meaning the old must make way for the new…. But if this is progress, then leave us alone, I say…

Once was Bombay?

Scene : Juhu at 8 p.m. last friday – self with friend from Bangalore – trying to get a cab. As one cabbie after the other refused to take us – and were rude to top that – (as our destination was fairly close by) – my friend said, what is happening to bombay? I can’t believe this is Bombay!

What is happening to Bombay? This is the city that I have grown to love in the past eight years that I have been working and living here – although I have lived in Bangalore and London in short spells in this while, I have returned to Bombay each time feeling happy to be back “home”…

And now, everything that I held dear about the city (all the myths?), I see being shattered one after the other…

Bombay has always been considered one of the the safest places in India – especially for women – and now, who can point fingers at Delhi any longer?

Power cuts used to be unheard of earlier – and now residential areas in any case swelter in summer with the frequent power shut downs; Bombay says hello darkness to billboards too…

And for me the last straw was when I went to ‘town’ (I live in vashi, alright?) last weekend and found the second hand pavement book shops had all but disappeared. Part of the ‘cleaning up’ of Bombay… ironically these shops were missing earlier too during the Kala Ghoda and Mumbai festival – why, these shops are (sadly, were) as much part of Bombay’s heritage as any British era building

I used to think living in Bombay spoils you for life in any other place… no longer? Slowly for me this city is turning into Mumbai… ‘Morality’ before all else!

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Once was Bombay is the name of a book by Pinky Virani

Private beaches

There is a program on Discovery Travel and Living called Top Secret beaches – well, I just found some of my own – we started with all intentions of driving to Goa – but ended up at other beaches on the way – all of them beautiful and mostly quiet – secluded enough to be your own private top secret one….

The first stop was at Harihareshwar – a small temple town by the sea…

View from the top

Sunrise

Then Ganpatiphule – the sand dunes of Ganpati – crowded just around the temple area but very quiet as you walk away to find your own space… And Ratnagiri – of mangoes and the Burmese connection – if you have read Amitav Ghosh’s The Glass Palace – and spectacular views of the sea crashing against the rocks – from the ruined fort…

Ratnagiri

And the best at last – Tarkarli – Maharashtra tourism’s proud discovery – Tarkarli is fine sand, clear waters, lazing on hammocks, millions of stars on the sky at night – and lots of seafood for those so inclined… and boat rides on the backwaters – coconut trees, enough blues and greens to compete with god’s own colours… and the backwaters leading to more private beaches….

Tarkarli

MTDC has cottages on the beach – and I mean right on the beach – expect no great service but great views and you will be happy there…

More photographs on flickr…. do have a look sometime…

Cosmo on the railway platform

I was away this weekend in a small town on the Andhra Pradesh – Karnataka border – one of those thousands of towns across India racked by identity crisis – literally, as the journey takes you across AP and Karnataka in turns every few minutes (this happened to me in MP – UP too) – now you see boards in Kannada and now in Telugu and now again in both AND Urdu too!

Anyway, the point is that as I was waiting for the train to arrive at the sation (on my way back to Bombay yesterday), I browsed through the small book stall on the platform. This guy did not have any newspapers in English – Telugu, Kannada, Tamil and Urdu, yes, but English, no.

Neither did he seem to have any English magazines – when he proudly dug out one for me – the latest issue of Cosmopolitan! Obviously small town rural India’s priorities too centre around ‘eight ways to keep your man hot’ (or whatever, now that summer is here).

I am still trying to understand this – and while on this, will a Hindi edition of Cosmo sell as well?

From Delhi…

Been in Delhi the last few days – haven’t been blogging regularly… Have been so spoilt as a Bombaiya, am still trying to come to terms with the work culture in Delhi (or total lack of it)…

Spent my first day in Delhi riding in a cab all day with Night Queen stickered on both the front and rear glass. Still musing on what the cab does for an alternate source of income…

Spotted : on a sign-board in Janakpuri in West Delhi : DO NOT BEG TO THE BEGGARS. Ok, whatever you say !

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