Bombay Dreams

How times have changed.

I have spent some of my teenage years in Bombay, none of this Mumbai bussiness for me. My memories are for Bombay.

It was not the best or the happiest period of my life. I was seperated from my parents and was living with people I didnt know very much. We lived in an area which was near the sea. The smell of the sea and the pungent whiff of fish is still with me. The noise and shouts of fishermen. And the women.strongly built and in the typical way they wore their sarees. Tucked between the legs to look like a pantaloon and just as practical. They would balance the huge wicker baskets on their heads and shout very loudly. At anything and anybody.It was not untill I came to the UK that I understood the true meaing of fish wives!

Bombay is a city of dreams. It is the home of the massive film industry. In those days there was no television in that country. The only entertainment was films and their music. Poor rickshaw wallahs and the laboureres, who worked all day every day very hard. Will save the few rupees required, to sit in a darkened cinema hall and lose themselves. For three hours or so, in a colourful tale of love and riches. And will come out blinking in the harsh day light. A bit relaxed and more able to face the hardships of every day life.

I remember that Bombay,where people came from all across the country. Young run aways with a dream of becoming film stars. Some accompnied with ambitious parents and some just on their own. Bombay as a city was like a melting pot. Where all the regional languages were spoken, and the mixture of them had produced a new dailect,known as Bombay speak.

I visited the city last year. When after our tour of the golden triangle of Delhi and Agra we stayed in Bombay for two days before flying back home. We were stayaing at Hilton in Nariman point. A very posh area of the city. Our room over looked the sea, and the area was teeming with shining multi storyed buildings. Offices and bussineses. The hotel had every luxury you could dream of, ncluding a whole dining area called Frangipani suite. Which was surrounded wth the trees of that name, and their intensly fragrant flowers. Sitting among them and sipping my cocktail, I marvelled at the progress India has made.

The area was clear of the poor, or their huts,they were tucked away in a different area, so as not to offend the senses of the visiting rich. I tried to remember my unhappy and poor past, and found that I could not bring my memories to connect with this gleaming ,thriving city.

And today seeing the carnage on the streets of that city, I can not associate myself at all with the city or the people responsable.

Indians are known to be mild mannered and timid, disorganised and chaotic. When did they become such organised killers? With such expensive weapons and the training to use them?

Am shocked, humiliated and I can not recognise this new face of the country I was born in.

Is this the price of progress ?

How sad to think that India has arrived in the current century of voilence and bloodshed.


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