Dear Bombay: A love letter to a ghost city

Bambai Meri jaan

Soso
Human Parts

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Dear Bombay,

It has been a year and I am not loving it. The city of dreams that stays awake at all times, that runs but doesn’t walk, that leaps but doesn’t trot, that outpaces time and does not stop — living here has been the biggest learning lesson till my short time on this odd planet Earth. It has been a wake-up call, Bombay.

While millions cluster in your streets in search of fame, power, money and a reason to be remembered, I have lost my will to live. Living as futile as is never appeared so, until I started working in this city. On one hand, I see people rushing in, a bustling CST, every Monday traffic seemingly worse off than the last, and every day I see dreams getting crushed in the cemented skyscrapers raising the real estate prices in their wake.

How ironic, the seat of Bollywood, new art and culture, is the banking hub of India. Anybody aware would know that bankers can kill imagination by a glance and here independent media is supposed to be housed.

Credits: Sohom Das

But this was not Bombay. If you travel the streets of Colaba, you can still see ghosts of the past lurking here and there; in the middle-class co-operatives of Dadar, in the delicious gallis (lanes)of MD Ali Rd, and quirky corners of Andheri too at times. But there is no spontaneity left, nothing stands if can not be sold. The ancient CPI has been erased with vociferous bigoted capitalists and pockets of created liberals.

Imagining Saddat Hasan Manto visiting his dear Bombay now and wondering if she had died with his departure. Thinking of Ashok Kumar staring at the Bollywood industry and Raj Kapoor looking at his descendants. JRD Tata looking at NMACC. The union workers looking at BKC lit until 9 p.m. and the warriors looking at Ghatkopar and Kandivali. Does all development come at a cost?

Did all benefit from the per capita GDP you boast of? Do all have homes in the booming real estate market? Can Dalal Street claim it has uplifted all? A dying city, I feel you are now; maybe dead already living as a zombie somehow, shining the last beacon of light by engulfing all that is human and good.

I’m too romantic to fit in this corporate jungle, but this ‘Paapi pet’ and my evergreen bad decision-making skills are to blame. It’s Mumbai now, choosing to benefit a few and projecting all somehow; it has little life, fabricated passion, and constructed dreams layering the vibrancy somehow.

I still think the city has hope but I feel bad for the people who made this city; not all changes are welcome, and not all age gracefully. Once a beauty, this city stands hollow washed by the Arabian, desperately searching for her soul, buried deep somewhere waiting to return to the city it once belonged.

Dear Mumbai,

Let Bombay live again.

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Soso
Human Parts

Sending my words to the battleground..