Millennium Post

Oh, Bombayitis!

Oh, Bombayitis!
Bombay (to me, it shall always remain so), the city of a million (if not more) dreams. Bombay, the city of a million screams. Bombay, the city of a million promises. Bombay, the city of a million broken dreams.

I got my first taste of the city when I was about 16.

An impressionable age, many would say. To me, it was a pain, of the worst kind. All my friends, in junior college, were cooler than I was. Actually, they were cool. I wasn’t. Anyway, I got through the nightmare, and was relieved when it ended with my father’s transfer to Delhi. I was back in school. No discrimination on the basis of clothes, hairstyles et al. Plus, Ma had allowed me to wax my legs. So, I was presentable now, if one could ignore the bushy eyebrows. Post high school, I went to Miranda House to study Economics. After graduating (with a lot of difficulty), I moved to Pune to study Journalism. Where? Symbiosis University. Why? I don’t know still. But, I am bloody glad I did. Not because I spent “my best years in SIMC”, as most of my batch mates feel. But, because I got to know a Bombay that I’d never seen, heard of or, read about.

I met addicts for the first time. Some were addicted to the high life, some to their work, a lot of them were hooked onto marijuana, but, most of them were high on one common thing- chasing a dream. And, not one dream, mind you. Dreams. Lots of them. From the small-time DVD vendor who dreams of, one day, directing his own film, to a high brow, SoBo homemaker who dreams of being as slim as Queenie Singh, and having a husband like Waluscha Robinson’s. I know a girl who’s a bartender.

Svelte, charming little thing, she’s auditioned, and met with moderate success, for almost every single game show that’s ever been aired on Indian television. Is it the money? No. Her gigs earn her handsome dough. Is it the challenge? Hell no! What could possibly be more challenging than playing with fire and alcohol with drunken men around you? It is the lure of instant fame. Who doesn’t want some?  From Rakhi Sawant and her Swayamvar, to Priyanka Chopra and her alleged liaison with Gerard Butler. Everybody worth his salt craves instant glory. I don’t blame them. It’s the city. Bombay is the culprit.

Bombay is a silent killer. It kills innocence, it smothers emotions, it flushes out romance, it murders mediocrity, and buries lakhs of dreams. To survive Bombay, one needs more than just a house and money. To combat a killer, one needs to be a killer. At least, be able to fight like one. Bombay is like a giant tidal wave. If you let it ride you over, you’ll drown. You must know, or learn how to ride it. Enough of literature has been devoted to Bombay and its charms. A lot has been written about what lies beneath that glamorous façade. Yet, we fall prey to it. And, once you’re here you cannot go back the same person.

You either stand your ground, and battle it out or, you go back a battered, beaten soul. The choice is yours, though it isn’t an easy one. I once knew a Delhi boy. A fairly talented guy, he’d dropped out of college, and come to Bombay to pursue his dream of turning filmmaker. Last I saw him, he was wearing a torn t-shirt, surviving on 2 eggs and 4-5 joints a day, looking for shelter. He’d been thrown out of the house by his flat-mate. And, this was about 8 months back. I haven’t heard from him since.

Bombayitis, the killer flu, deadlier than any other (swine/ bird/ goat/ etc). And, there are no antibiotics or, vaccine to kill it. Just our minds and souls to tame it.

Malini Banerjee is a snotty single child, mountain junkie, playback singer, Austen addict and dreams of singing alongside Buddy Guy
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