It’s been 8 weeks since we have moved to Mumbai and the gap between life in San Francisco and Mumbai gets wider with every passing day. Yes, hard to believe….. or maybe not. I don’t know. I just feel like life in this city is quite tough and I still find it very, very surreal that I have left San Francisco, left a life of fun and comfort, for this place, this maddening place I am trying to make my home.
I’ll give you an example: When I was back in the US, everyone kept telling me, you are gonna be so lucky! You will have your own maid, you won’t have to clean the house or do laundry, blah blah blah. And I was excited about that and felt that there was a silver lining to my cloud of sadness. However, 8 weeks into living here and I realize that having a maid is more hassle than a luxury. It’s like I have to manage my schedule around her because she cannot come in the mornings, if she is late she won’t bother letting you know (even though she has her own cell phone), sometimes she will show up much later than her expected time and not bat an eye, and so on. So, now I have decided to “make up” or give her a fake schedule so that she realizes that I really cannot accommodate her timings any more and that she will now have to accommodate mine, as it should be.
We are two days from Diwali and I am told that the sounds of the firecrackers are going to deafening to the extreme. I am already getting a taste of this noise pollution because people are lighting crackers as of today, but it seems quite sparse. When I was living in Mumbai in the late nineties, every time it was Diwali, I’d have a mushroom cloud of dust and smoke in my living room and bedrooms for at least 3 hours in the late evening as the people of the neighborhood (both rich and poor, educated and uneducated, civilized and uncivilized) got together to burn away their money and to kill their neighbors’ lungs. Now, by 6 pm, I shut all my windows so I do not have this cloud coming in, although my suspicion is that it will find a way to seep into the crooks and crevices of this old, old house.
I am learning, with time, that India is a great teacher and sometimes, a ruthless one. I have yet to see anything “motherly” about my Mother India. I am trying to be tolerant of the extremities of this city right from the weather, to people’s attitudes, to the levels of corruption, to the levels of education….. the list is endless. Perhaps this image most aptly illustrates how I feel…..
Yup! I’m feeling pretty cracked and broken right now…..kinda disillusioned by this city where there is so much chaos and dysfunction. By the way, this is the state of many of the manholes that are supposed to be monitored by the water department of Mumbai. This image is one in a hundred I have seen in the last few weeks. And what’s even more hilarious is that this gaping manhole is in front of one of the city’s most old and renowned restaurants. A city of extremes!