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the graceless city

Mumbai.
city of dreams.
city of refugees.
the camp city of private soldiers, who paste dreams made by private soldiers who came before them on their foreheads, and forge ahead. they maime, rape, throw at the city, extract returns in hope of enriching their real home; never knowing that mumbai won't let you leave you this soon having used her. they had removed their humanity like old clothes on the border of the city. they enter naked into the jungle.

grimy serpents run on her back incessantly. little pesky soldiers pull up their sleeves, ball up the fists and fight to get inside the serpent. the door, that is always open seems like evanescent port to untold riches, to them. the ever open door, indeed is a port. a port through which the human transforms into a wild hog who just got untethered. once inside, they again transform into guilt ridden, gaze avoiding crabs. walking sideways. its only after getting out of the serpents, do they inhale some air, not fresh, but air nevertheless, and for that brief moment they are human, before transforming again into the rabbit at the court of queen of hearts.

on their war path, they refuse to acknowledge the misery around them. they put on black shades in hope that having done so, they will only see sky scrapers and not the little urchin tugging at their pants to give out that 2 rupee coin in your hand.

they don't get choked with the sight of utter destitution all around them. they have put on masks against the plague of sight of poverty.
(i had written 2 posts one after another depicting the misery of the city. i decided to wait until i can write something happy, i felt i am cribbing too much. but i can't help it. the destitution all around me is just too over powering. its suffocating. its not natural. people who say mumbai is a city of dreams and opportunities are idiots. it might be that too, but primarily its a city bursting at its seams, dying, and all it has is obscene excesses and obscene poverty.)

i don't complain about the facelessness of the soldiers. its million private wars people are fighting, one can't have a character while fighting.

there's this beautiful line in one of the episodes of 'prison break'. the guy says something to the effect.. 'you still have hope... you have no grace'. implying that grace is state of contentment where one has achieved all he had to in a way that lets him keep his head held high and now the sureness of a life well lived is reflected in the person.. his grace.

mumbai can never have grace. its people won't let it.

Comments

AS said…
hey!

I love the style of ur writing, the words and their combinations to convey the meaning ..... keep writing :)
Anonymous said…
is grace in the eye of the beholder? you know, like beauty is? :-)
I understand where you are coming from. but the destitute, scury rat existance is actually an improvement! thats what people come here. to better their lives. to find their fortune. hows that for sad?
and the city is not going anywhere. its feeding well. more people. more money. more stories. like a cancerous tumor if you have to draw parallels between her and death.

-- Anonymous for kicks
Ajinkya said…
what is 'better'? to be lost in an unreal hope while killing the very real humanity. one should always know the cost he is paying for what he wants. there is no account of costs in this city. the cost to humanity. the cost to environment. to cost to the country even.
Anonymous said…
I dont know for sure, but you have lived in this city, right? why did you come? that was "better" for you. even if you weren't a destitute, you surely constituted the crowd and the system that excretes this filth of a human existence.
for some "better" is being alive. having some chance of survival. may be help out the people they leave behind.
Imagine how hollow and "philosophy-of-a-full-stomach" your call for poetic justice must sound to the "humans" who dwell in the swamps below your flat. would they quit this city and "hope of prosperity" for its lack of grace. (Hope being the punch word). would the idea even be communicated to them?
Its a jungle out there man. being hunted and slaughtered is bad. but only if you are the pray. for the some its livelihood. and for others its natgeo show....

-- Anonymous for kicks
Ajinkya said…
exactly!
:)
Its graceless. when did i talk about the reasons behind it being graceless?
Even jungles with real animals have some semblance of morality, of charity, of rules of engagement. where is that in mumbai?
perhaps in moments of desperation, these qualities are momentarily forgotten. but mumbai is a beast that is forever on a treadmill.


In my singular personal view, where i am now a member of a privileged class and being a selfish person (or individualistic or whatever), I think I afforded a choice of leaving mumbai. many don't. they stay back. For me, affording is not just my cost of living, but cost of giving back to the place that lets me make it my home as well. I want to be able to afford that too.. but the sheer desperation that mumbai is choc-a-bloc filled with, used to give me nightmares, the helplessness of not doing anything about it (or rather the sheer cost that that would entail) would fill me with dread. hence i was outta there. I hate loans. I didn't want to let this huge loan sit on me. I have my dues to Nasik anyways. must go there and do something worthwhile later. But Mumbai would have been too big a burden to me.

Its gotten that big a burden cuz this un-equal jungle has sprung up there. Un-equal, devoid of morals, corrupt.

Actually you took a wrong metaphor. its not a jungle out there.. that would be a disrespect to nature's sanctuaries.
Mumbai is at a never ending war-field. aliens come here with little regards of the place the war is fought on. they fight for existence and prosperity, without thinking of the place its fought at. its not their home..
City of refugees.
Anonymous said…
you give too much credit to the jungles....
and this nasik place (where you are at now I assume), are you paying your dues there? and does this "local" payment really mean anything? wont you still have nightmares of "what you have seen and done nothing about" going on and on and on....
I am not challenging you to defend yourself or your position. a clear picture is all i seek...

-- Anonymous for kicks
Ajinkya said…
I am in Hyderabad these days actually. (hmm, at these rate am heading for credit burst I think. :P )

I won't have nightmares if i don't have to confront the reality of desperation everyday.
Places like Nasik, Hyderabad aren't degraded yet like Mumbai is where a armpit-laced whiff of air is all that you have for hawa. There is no overwhelming desire here, like in mumbai to leave your dungeon of suburbs for Marine drive, to feel for once the free winds untouched yet with crowds, sewers, degradation owing to no sanitation facility for half the population.

These non mumbai cities, might have poverty but I don't have to side step them every time I have to eat my lunch here.
Anonymous said…
you give too much credit to the jungles....
and this nasik place (where you are at now I assume), are you paying your dues there? and does this "local" payment really mean anything? wont you still have nightmares of "what you have seen and done nothing about" going on and on and on....
I am not challenging you to defend yourself or your position. a clear picture is all i seek...

-- Anonymous for kicks
Ajinkya said…
exactly!
:)
Its graceless. when did i talk about the reasons behind it being graceless?
Even jungles with real animals have some semblance of morality, of charity, of rules of engagement. where is that in mumbai?
perhaps in moments of desperation, these qualities are momentarily forgotten. but mumbai is a beast that is forever on a treadmill.


In my singular personal view, where i am now a member of a privileged class and being a selfish person (or individualistic or whatever), I think I afforded a choice of leaving mumbai. many don't. they stay back. For me, affording is not just my cost of living, but cost of giving back to the place that lets me make it my home as well. I want to be able to afford that too.. but the sheer desperation that mumbai is choc-a-bloc filled with, used to give me nightmares, the helplessness of not doing anything about it (or rather the sheer cost that that would entail) would fill me with dread. hence i was outta there. I hate loans. I didn't want to let this huge loan sit on me. I have my dues to Nasik anyways. must go there and do something worthwhile later. But Mumbai would have been too big a burden to me.

Its gotten that big a burden cuz this un-equal jungle has sprung up there. Un-equal, devoid of morals, corrupt.

Actually you took a wrong metaphor. its not a jungle out there.. that would be a disrespect to nature's sanctuaries.
Mumbai is at a never ending war-field. aliens come here with little regards of the place the war is fought on. they fight for existence and prosperity, without thinking of the place its fought at. its not their home..
City of refugees.

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