This appeared in Mumbai Mirror today.....
Mumbai : Survivor City
I am not a mushy person. But Mumbai makes me mushy. Unashamedly so. I wish I could provide an apt translation for the word ‘mushy’ in Marathi / Telegu / Hindi / Punjabi / Bengali / Tamil / Gujarati etc. etc. But that would just kill this delicate emotion called love. That’s the funny thing about language – any language. It has its own rhythm , it’s own specificity and its own terrible beauty. You use and interpret it at your own peril. As I discovered last week. Without revisiting the aftermath of what followed my innocuous tweet, one thing I did realize very swiftly: Mumbai arouses deep and abiding passions. Nobody can remain indifferent to this gloriously insane city. Mumbai touches the life of anyone and everyone who has been lucky enough to live here – even briefly. Mumbai transforms you in a way that few other cities do. It is a magnet and a serpent. It can save and destroy. Nurture and reject. Caress or bite. Mumbai is Mumbai. Unique, arrogant but also enormously, almost ridiculously compassionate.
And nobody owns Mumbai.
So, it’s a bit silly for anybody to get proprietorial and possessive about Mumbai. Mumbai is her own woman. Fierce , strong, indestructible and proud. Any attempt to capture her, can only lead to frustration for the captors. This is what makes Mumbai so desirable, so seductive. Mumbai is unambiguously today. There is her riotously colourful past . And there will be an unpredictable but exciting future. But it is in the present that Mumbai lives, breathes and thrives. And when that present is violated, Mumbai bleeds and cries. It has happened during innumerable attacks on her in the past. Terrorists have ripped her apart, limb by limb. But she has always managed to pick herself up and walk again – head held high. No crutches. No subsidies. No help. Mumbai is the Ultimate Survivor. Which is another reason why Mumbai attracts real life survivors from across India. They come to her to heal, learn, get up and get on. Most prosper beyond their wildest dreams. Those who don’t, still love her. They don’t blame Mumbai for their failure, they blame themselves. Yes, Mumbai can be harsh and unforgiving. No, Mumbai is not for losers.More importantly, Mumbai is not for opportunists, either. Try and exploit her goodness and see what happens. Try and cheat Mumbai of her dues, and she in turn, will rebuff and crush you.
Unfortunately, we are recklessly testing Mumbai’s vast reserve of patience. We are foolishly taunting her tolerance. We are challenging her supreme position. And we are hoping Mumbai will overlook our crassness, our uncouth behavior, our insults and abuse. We are hoping that Mumbai will not notice the brash and aggressive attempts to grab every inch of her and sell it bit by bit to the highest bidder.
Mumbai is the heart beat of Maharashtra. But she is on life support systems right now. Mumbai is in the ICU with nobody really looking after her rapidly deteriorating condition. There is organ failure. And worse. Mumbai may die of a broken heart, unable to cope with the abject neglect and indifference displayed towards her by those who claim to love her. Those who want to possess her. Those who falsely believe Mumbai belongs exclusively to them and them alone.
Mumbai is like our ailing, unselfish mother, who refuses to complain or demand help. We can either ignore her desperate state. Or do something to save her. By behaving like passive bystanders waiting for the heart monitor to give us the bad news, we are as guilty as those negligent doctors refusing her a blood transfusion when she needs it the most. The same heartless lot who is prepared to make money out of systematically selling each of her organs from the cadaver.
It is time to tell them to leave Mumbai alone.Our Mumbai is not for sale.