Students' Association - CMC Vellore

Mumbai Nights...

The view from the window in my Mumbai apartment is wonderful, especially at night when the city glows like a showpiece behind a shop window. The buildings lie in the horizon all lit up... each tiny box of light offering a microscopic view into the life of the rich and the super rich soboites. I chuckle to myself when that absurd nickname comes to my mouth. SOBO stands for South Bombay...the residence of the rich and the snobbish. Mumbai's elite. Clustered in their high rise apartments living out their dreary lives with their regular visits to clubs and malls. Their lives are filled with colour, only the most expensive will do and I believe that it effectively paints over the black and the white that lies beneath. People living in small areas of space separated by their possessions, obsessed with their image. Life for them is one long dreary party where the drinks are expensive and the cost doesnt matter.Is this the reality of their life? I might never know. I wish I could become invisible and flit in through one of those boxes of light and see things for myself and decide...will I see a drunk husband who beats his wife up every night only to mend things with a gold chain for her the next day..their marriage saved probably by that fragile thread of gold? Or maybe I will be offered the view of a bored wife who neither works in an office nor at home(being amply supplied with house help...)Or maybe a heartwarming view of an old couple living their lives out alone after a lifetime of work, happy and contented to live simply though they may have it all...for now however, that mystery remains veiled and I must content myself with the view.Just below the buildings lies a dark, murky crescent of water. Hidden from my view is the Hadji Ali landmark among the many that make up this city. Though I cannot see the mosque I can make out its namesake, the juice centre...a brilliantly coloured(somewhat garish sign). The juice centre is crowded and remains crowded through the night. I find it amusing to wonder who in their right minds would stop for a juice in the middle of the night and what keeps them out of their houses (be it a furnished house in SOBO (chuckle) or a chawl in dharavi). Mumbai, however, is not for the right minded...everyone is a little mad and they have to be more than a little mad to survive in this city...Beyond this marvellous edifice to the mumbaiaites addiction to fast food (at any time of the day) lies the sea. The backwaters are still and tiny waves on the surface coalesce to form rings that spread outward at this distance. Maybe the tremors caused by the trains as they rattle and crisscross the city are responsible for this...I dont know. There are other structures along the way near the juice centre, a petrol pump, maybe a shop or two but nothing more. All that can be seen beyond, encircling the sea and curving towards the left to disappear beyond my vision is the chain of lights popularly known as the queens lights up at night and few things man made are as beautiful as the sight...The rest of my view is dominated by the road. The traffic in this city is mind numbing and on sunny days or rainy the junction(or chaurastha in hindi) is full to bursting with it. It stretches backwards as far as the eye can see. Suddenly, the signal comes to life and the traffic rushes past...this is a fleeting moment that brings to mind the bursting of a dam and the sudden, powerful rush of its floodwaters. These waters are, however, stopped only too soon by another dam, another signal.The streets are unchanged at night. The traffic rushes on till the hours or early morning and stops for a little over two hours, then the incessant rush starts and the cycle begins again...endless and renewing itself with each dawning day...

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