He called me the gatekeeper of the great suburban conscience of Mumbai.
Am I? Each time I write something serious about the city, I’m reminded of a friend bitching about the ultra-intellectual types who eat at McDonalds and come out and talk about the poor people in the country. Am I one of them? Does the city give you a choice, surrounded as you are with surreal constrasts?
Here’s something I spotted a couple of weeks ago in the wee hours of the morning. Presumably the store is one of the many designer boutiques that dot the fashionable area of Juhu. Do they know that at night, their porch turns into a bedroom? Perhaps they do, considering our man has a pseudo-four-poster bed with a mosquito net tied into corners. And the faithful guard lies in waiting, a few feet away.
In the middle of this melancholic week, I don’t find cheer even in my favorite streetside philosophers. Today’s autorickshaw spotting reminds me that this city runs on money, money, money.
Maal hain to mohabbat hain (If you’ve got money, you’ve got love)
If you’re wondering what the word ‘surreal’ means outside of a Dali painting, you know where to look it up, now. What’s left for me to say?
I don’t know what ‘Ramsha’ means but I was struck by the embedded Hindu reference in conjunction with a license plate that imaginatively draws out the ‘786’ in the its number. For those not in the know, this is supposed to be a holy/lucky number for Muslims.
And there’s the inevitable romance embedded in the decor of course. Except of course the ‘Love is Life’ philosophy etched right where a lot of people are apt to put up their feet. Unless this guy is following the common Indian ploy of putting up socially sacrosanct images (usually religious symbols) to prevent people from dirtying the place. Smart.
Long, bumpy rides in Mumbai’s bylanes bring you face to face with some terribly amusing sights.
Pssst….for those of you who can’t read in the Mumbai smog, it says,