Thursday, May 24, 2012
A Paradox called “Mumbai”
As a nostalgic traveler, I’ve seen so many places where people live their lives to the fullest, and love the place that they live in. I tried a lot to curb myself from writing about Mumbai because there are millions of people who stay here and are attached to this city and my liking or disliking towards this place wouldn’t matter much to them. I am writing this just because I wanted to let out my thoughts and I don’t think so that, my mind is a cozy graveyard to bury them. This is just what I felt about this place in two days when I saw two sides of life in the same place; whether you call it diversity or discrimination, there is a new belief that has emerged out; “Unity is in Eccentricity!”
I’d come here along with my fellow Micans to attend a grand event called “Portfolio Night” that was held at Four Seasons Hotel in Mumbai. We all had dreams to get hired by the best ad agency and subsequently most of the dreams did come true. Some of my friends got more than 2 job offers and I feel so contended that I too got one. The most satisfying part of the event was when I met Prasoon Joshi! It was a déjà vu for me to meet him and though he didn’t like my “academic” ads, he did appreciate my rough ideas that were not printed. He quoted me an incident. There was a small kid he met and he saw that the kid was drawing clouds and painting them in green. When he asked the kid why he painted it with green, the kid replied, “because I like green!” he couldn’t argue with the kid anymore. He told me the same thing; “listen to everyone, take advice from everyone, but in the end, do what you like!” I was doing the same thing till date, but when I heard the ‘same thing’ from a person whom I considered to be my ‘advertising’ role model, my perspective changed completely.
He advised me to use more of my ‘poetic’ skills in advertising and relate it with my real life experiences with people. For some reason, I felt that we had something in common and that was ‘poetry!’ He told me that poetry is an eye through which you see different facets of life. All the money that my father paid to do this course, I felt that it truly paid off! I’d a view then, but now I have a vision, I have a direction and I surely have a sensational exclusive experience of meeting him and shaking hands with him which I’ll never forget. I didn’t try to be more desperate and click a photo with him for my facebook uploads, but I’ve captured some insights from him that is more than sufficient to make myself a better performer at work. I also met another great advertising contemporary, R. Balki who had to tell almost the same thing, “Whatever you do from your heart, is THE ORIGINAL work!” He was the head of the hosting agency and wasn’t much into my work, but the least amount of time he dedicated to look at my work, was worth a day’s time for me to replenish my lost ideas.
The discussion with all the participants ended quite soon and I was looking at my friends; those who were so much tensed, so much worried about this one day, all of them had a smile of achievement on their faces. It wasn’t just another “Glorious” interview sessions with the CD’s directly, but it was an eye-opener to most of us. Those who were happy partying with Blender’s Pride, Signature, Fuel; all of them were left unleashed in a bar filled with Jack Daniels, Black Label, Absolut in the house and everything was for FREE (though we paid the registration)! It was quite difficult for us to cope up with the contrasting hospitality, but we enjoyed the transcendence anyway.
Next day was another flipside that we got to see about Mumbai. All our friends decided to go to the beach and Juhu was the nearest to us. It was not that desirable time because we were a bit procrastinating in going there and we reached the beach after the sunset. Nevertheless, the sea itself was inspiring enough to make me take the camera out of my pocket. Everytime I click some pictures, the freshness of the subjects around, amuses me. There was a dark grey ocean that was roaring and the waves were shaving the shores lazily. People were filled in huge numbers even on weekdays at this twilight hour; some old couples who were holding their hands firmly and reminiscing together; some new couples who were holding everything apart from hands and enjoying themselves not giving a damn who’s watching them; some couples who aren’t quite sure yet what to do, but still sitting together and eating like gluttons near the chat hawkers; some families that have come just to play along with their children on the sea-side and most of the other youngsters who don’t have anything great in life to do, come over there and watch others; and one slimy part of those youngsters included me too! I was observing people and their observation about other people.
I thought that the poor people here are genuinely poor and they need money, more than sympathy, but as they say, “sapno ki nagri” (city of dreams) is more of “maya nagri” (city of illusions)! Everything that you see is not what you see actually! I saw the people clicking pictures and giving absurd poses, I saw a hawker being arrested just for not being able to pay the ‘hafta’ (tax); I saw people throwing paper-plates all over the place, I saw a small kid of a beggar making paper-plates of the same trash; I saw people playing football on the beach, I saw a beggar who didn’t have either hands or legs watching the game and smiling; I saw people rushing into their air-conditioned cars, I saw a man who stood with a pole with paper-fans and trying to sell them to children; I saw Pomeranians being taken out for a ‘royal’ stroll on the beach, I saw a street dog being asphalted to death and its mother was shedding those cryptic tears on the busy streets of “The city that never sleeps!” It tugs my heart everytime I remember that sight. Those speechless creatures have done no harm to any filthy rich people and these dogs won’t even matter to them, yet they get killed by the very avoiders. How paradoxical life those humans live and how paradoxical death do these animals die everyday, is still a puzzle.
I met an auto-rickshaw driver who was kind enough to take us to our place honestly and he was cordial enough to start a conversation. He told us about himself and his 27 year long struggle in Mumbai. People come to Mumbai to earn more money, but they never know how much they need to spend for that single dream. Rich people make it quick because they have money, but people like him, whose life and career is not that exceptional in the eyes of “Commercial World” have to put their mind and body, heart and soul together to get one single work done. He mentioned one incident that shook all the colleagues who were traveling in that rickshaw with him. One of his fellow auto-driver was once resting in his auto at midnight near Hyper-City and a drunken girl rammed into his auto and several other autos that killed 4 of them on the spot. For most of us, we might feel that such accidents happen every now and then. Hence, no such importance is given to such cases, but 4 lives are lost for no damn reason and yet it stands unnoticed and justified quite easily.
I saw a kitten walking under a bridge on the busy streets of Irla and I didn’t see who was around. I just took it and held it in my hands for a while. I do not know how did it feel, but it was very quiet, lying calmly in my arms without making any fuss and tearing my clothes apart with its tiny paw. I felt to adopt it and take it home along with me. I could have taken it, but I never knew for sure that it was an orphan. I didn’t want to kidnap a kitten and ask for a ransom from the cat I never knew. Even if I wanted something really important, what would I’ve asked? Its signature on the adoption letter? Its purr? I had nothing to gain from it. I was just left with a helpless state-of-mind of not being able to do anything.
All that I’ve seen in these two days was just a microscopic view in the grit of sands of time. There is a bigger story that has an epic to describe to the coming generations and I am definitely not going to be there to listen to the “Completed” version of it. The love for this city by the people staying here will never die, the apathy towards development of morality will never die, the riches of this place will never die, and the city will never die though the people in it do. The sea will always remain the best friend by its side and will always absorb all the shit that it gives. I am inspired by this city to be a better writer, but equally infected by this city because of its plastic emotions.