Monday, January 12, 2009

Kolhapuri chappals... and a quiet Bandra

I went to Bandra today to meet an old friend, to take a trip down nostalgia, to revisit haunts where my heart skipped a beat... Nothing's changed. I didn't notice anything new.Yet, I found myself shunning the place and the memories. I muttered to myself, that without the jocund company of friends, Bandra drives me crazy and to tears.

I went to my old favorite stall that sells Kolhapuri chappals. It is this unique stall that isn't lost in the commonness of the Linking Road stalls. It stands separately near Metro shoes. It doesn't have a name, yet it has it's own identity. You can't miss it. I've been coming here for close to 15 years now; initially in accordance with my shopaholic teenage sister, later on my own adventures.

I love the stall. It retains its old world style and design and yet has some new, funky ones. It is nothing but a hutment on the road selling footwear - yet there is this alluring charm to it. Owned by an old Muslim chap who wasn't sitting on his small stool when I was there; his young sons were manning the stall.

Muslims. I came by Bandra station at 5 p.m.. Usually, the mosque there is blaring the evening prayers in a nasal twang that would put Himmesh to shame. (I hope I spelt his numerologically inspired name correctly). Yes, nothing changed. Yet, a lot was different.

There was a subdued character in the air around. Bandra station and Linking road are crazy places to be around in the evening. Yet there seemed to be some order and hitherto never-seen decorum. Crowds weren't thronging at Linking - and there is always a crowd of young girls there even on Monday afternoon.

Something has changed about Mumbai. It is deceptive, only a seasoned resident can detect it. I didn't initially, then I had a glint of suspicion and the more I think about it, the more convinced I am.

People seem to be wary of lingering around for too long. Either that, or young kids really have jobs or colleges that they're attending. The latter idea though, seems highly unlikely to me.

My hometown doesn't seem to enjoy frivolous and idle activities the way it used to. New Year's celebrations were not enjoyed with the same gusto as before. The city is still mourning, still recovering from the shock of being violated. I will be going to the city tomorrow, near the Taj. I am still debating if I want to pay homage; but I argue that it might be superficial and hypocritical. I am still debating.

Baltimore entices me because if offers me quiet even in a crowd. My hometown seems to be luring me with the same idea. Although I'd love of the idea of Mumbai becoming quieter, this pregnant silence is seriously deafening... and heart-wrenching.

There is sadness at home... and there is sadness at home.

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