The few images I have seen over the past 3 weeks that I’ve been here, give me an impression of a city that had no time to cope up with the sudden growth it has witnessed. Like a child in some fantasy movie who takes a magic potion and wakes up the next day to find out that he has outgrown all his clothes. Real estate was the magic potion in this case.
Venture for a 5 minute walk around and you see all the signs.
There are huge, tall buildings, adjacent to each other, jostling for space. Right in front there are vast empty fields, occasionally camped on in by the gypsy types, probably waiting for their turn to be transformed. The roads are busy. High end cars zooming past at speeds only they are capable of, stealthily. But, very often, they have to wait and line up for that noisy rickety tractor probably headed to utilize the fields that remain. And justify the latter part of this place’s name. Cows, bulls and the odd dog posing a threat is a common sight too, but that is common to almost the entire country.
Then there are the malls. Huge ones, and still newer ones coming up. Right in front of them are makeshift shanties, with hay roof covering, the ones that don’t present a pretty sight in rains. Or present no sight at all, come strong winds. Some of them serve alcohol, but not the ones you would generally associate with such places. There are huge billboards with Jack Daniels or Absolut Vodka printed over them, and luxurious cars parked in front.
There are traffic jams of scary proportions, just when the office hours get over. The problem is compounded by the Delhi Metro detours, which promise you a better and faster commute if you suffer till the time they are completed. These are the snapshot images that get published in newspapers and government sponsored advertisements that brag about India’s development. Tall cranes stationed over piles of building materials, engineers in yellow helmets manning over things, long iron rods projecting out of round and stout concrete columns. Look closely and you’ll find a mile long queue of impatient honking cars in the background. Just out of Mumbai which is in the ‘block-roads-and-build-flyovers’ phase, I always seem to be caught at wrong end of development.
How’s job? Well, like most others, only with a much smaller smile on the face the first of every month. It takes some getting used to, one day you’re waking up 5 minutes before the lecture, dragging your dirty, stained jeans and ragged, stinking tee out of a heap and putting them on for class, with a noisy chappal to accompany. The next day you’re required to get up an hour before office time, shave, comb, put on ironed shirt and trousers and a tie along with uncomfortable formal black shoes. Every day when I go through this routine, this ‘The Who’ snippet plays into my mind:
You think we look pretty good together
You think my shoes are made of leather
But I'm a substitute for another guy
I look pretty tall but my heels are high
The simple things you see are all complicated
I look pretty young, but I'm just back-dated, yeah
These days, I’m beginning to find out the importance of weekends.