Sometimes you wish you could run away and vanish in the woods. But then you think of the mosquitoes there and change your mind. You try your might to hate this city. Given your circumstances, that seems like it should be easy feat.
And just when you thought that hatred was finally one aspect of your wretched life you were in control of, come the rains of Mumbai. They may drench every last cell in your body, but they literally wash your pain away. They may be a nuisance for the commute, but the sound of the rains thrashing against your window pane when you get up in the morning makes them worth the trouble. The smell of wet earth when the first drop of heaven falls on it justifies the flood in the streets when the 2 zilliionth one does. A long drive on a rain soaked road with your windshields down beats the hell out of the world’s biggest air conditioned car any day. Most usefully, “Unfortunately, I cannot make it to work today because the Western Line is down due to rains”. The perfect crime.
I sit in office, at 6.30 pm on another day in the monsoon of Mumbai, overloaded with work, yet finding time to type this. How, you ask? When your work begins downstream from some marvels of management, a large part of your job description involves sitting around and daydreaming. Today, my subject of choice is to see whether, if I concentrate hard enough, I can set some chosen people on fire with my mind. For those interested in the results, I am still working on it.
Moving on from my spontaneous-combustion-ridden-daydreams, official work timings are over and my day has only just begun. A long day at that. Yet something is keeping me alive, keeping the sarcasm pumping in my veins. A raindrop lingers on a leaf on the tree outside my office-space window. The daylight fades from the canvas of the world before my eyes. A soaked sparrow lands on the branch, delivering the drop to its brethren on the sidewalk below. My eyes usually look across the street at SIES College, usually swarming with students constantly pre-occupied with everything besides academics. (Much intentional eavesdropping has led us to the conclusion that “her hair” is the most popular topic among girls. And “anything that gives me an excuse to touch the giggly girl’s arm accidentally” is by far the favorite with our men.) Cars meant for the German autobahn occupy and unsurprisingly cause traffic jams in this suburban street. An infinite number of people expertly trace their way through the jam, the giggles, and one another to fill the bustling, noisy picture I so despise.
Today however, things are a little different. The kids are finding it difficult, albeit not impossible, to communicate across umbrellas. There is still a jam, but the flood has taken credit this time. The infinite passersby carefully navigate their tracks dodging the puddles and the slush. A woman heading home after work with two tiny raincoats trotting in her wake. A boy carrying a kettle of hot masala chai, presumably to deliver transitory caffeinated relief to under-utilized human resources like myself. Two pink umbrellas, trying hard to keep step, probably discussing “her wet hair”. People are not blurs to me today. I can actually follow the trajectory of one raincoat I pick long enough to imagine its story. The sadist in me finds this morbidly funny. Something has finally managed to slow down that famous pace of Mumbai. I realize, now, why people-gazing is the city’s favorite sport.
The sight of the rain-washed landscape introduces me to these colours. I realize I never knew they lay concealed beneath the daily black and brown. I shake myself out of my rainy reverie and make a mental note to be more careful the next time I look out at the city of Mumbai and daydream. I could use not falling in love with it.