08 June 2012

Breathless in Bombay


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A city so beautiful yet ugly, empty yet full, slow yet fast... breathing yet so breathless..
You don't have to be born in Bombay to be a Bombaywala... cos its not a place but a way of life..

A great discovery of a book and an author - Breathless in Bombay by Murzban F. Shroff. You can feel his love for this city and its people. I can imagine him sitting in the window of his house seeing the lives passing by and reading their minds and imagining their thoughts to build these stories. The characters so real so genuine - they breathe Bombay in and out. They are old and ageing Parsis leaving in their dilapidated property at the mercy of the landlords and contractors, they are middle aged gossiping women of an era of youth and scandal, poor laborers or Dhobis making their living and supporting their families in changing times, they are cheating husbands and wives and their dilemmas and revenge, they are petty businessmen or a massagewalla at Chowpatty Beach, they are stories of horse driven Victoria and termite infested walls, of rainy monsoons and flooded roads, of aspiring artists and failed relationships.

My favorite story was ‘A different bhel’ – there was something about it, something dark but real, the way we discuss daily news of deaths and murders, shake our heads at the plight of others but are least affected by them as outsiders - in real we only relish the spicy details of another’s misery.

Each story is a piece of a web or a maze which together creates a city like Bombay – a city with no space to live but gives you ample space to life. As you strive to breathe – the city leaves you breathless and in awe..        

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