The day the Earth didn’t stand still for me

It all started when I decided to go to Victoria Terminus, now Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus, to catch my train to Madras. I have a tendency to be paranoid about trains and missing them so I left an hour before the departure time. Granted this would only give me fifteen minutes at the station but hey, I’m a seasoned passenger. I’ve travelled on more trains than most fifth graders can count. I don’t need more than that. Well, turns out I did. And that explains just what I’m doing here at the airport, trying to get the so-called wifi to work.

The damn flight’s been delayed too. Have you ever wondered about that? Why are the things you’d rather get done fast usually the one’s delayed? I could have settled for ten minutes more in the morning. Coming back to that, this thing applies there too. A very helpful suburban local came fifteen minutes late and reluctantly bore me to the station. Too late, apparently. I listened, calmly incredulous, as the lady explained to me “1041? Wo gaya”. Not a trace of emotion on her face, not a flicker of embarrassment for having flagged off a train while its most important passenger was still biting his nails on a crippled local that was happily trundling its way through Dockyard Road.

One day, I shall find the people who did this to me. I will travel from village to town to city, the smell of guilt strong in my nostrils. I shall wander across deserts and hills…and rivers, or what passes for those here, and I will reach a city of great splendour. With the memory of this railway betrayal fresh in my mind I will roam the streets, my eyes scouring the signs for the place I want. And I’ll know it when I see it, and I’ll barge in, smashing the door down, all rage and fury. And then, just as I draw myself up, just as I scream out, “I am become revenge, destroyer of rails.” in impassioned anger I’ll realise that I’m looking at a mirror.

The wifi doesn’t work either.

A new city, a new home

In the interest of those awaiting the next episode in Roshan’s life, I present: Life in Bombay.

I moved to Bombay in the first week of August after fate noticed my true desire and delayed my flight a few days, at first, and then a few weeks from the original date of mid-July. Everything came intact, so I’m now a big fan of Indigo, though I recognise it’s a sad state of affairs when that’s commendable. As for the city itself, I love it. While I’d still rather be in Madras today, I love Mumbai, it’s a goddamned metropolis. Everything here moves! There’s action! Things are getting done! Or so it seems, unless everyone enjoys riding the trains up and down all day. Unlike sleepy Chennai, where even on Mount Road, life goes along at a gentle 20km/h (if you’re lucky), in Bombay people are flying from home to work to home to bar to outside home having forgotten their keys at an incredible 100km/h. The trains are fast, the people are in a hurry, and it rains all the bloody time.

It’s been three weeks and I still haven’t seen the city fully yet. As a matter of fact, I’ve seen very little. One thing I’ve noticed about Bombay is that class discrimination is very clear here. If you’re poor you live on one side of the tracks, if you aren’t you live on the other side. Allow me to demonstrate with a photograph:

Observe, my friends, a lightly loaded Harbour Line local. Notice how it demarcates the poor man's lands.

With that in mind, I am deeply grateful that I’m on this side of the rails. And the trains themselves, beautiful things, I’m told some routes average 100km/h. Now that’s transport my friends, in style. No traffic to worry about, no two-wheelers and autos switching into your lane without warning, just a nice, uncomfortable, 7-per-square-metre standing all the way ride. Sometimes I even get a seat.

I’d tell you more, but I’m bored of typing. So I’ll give you another two photographs, the views out the living room window from the 20th floor apartment where I live:

  1. The view from out front, near the hill is Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, the nuke plant is on the other side. The sea like region out there is Vashi creek.
  2. This is the same place, except darker so you can see that there are buildings on the other side. That's New Bombay. It has its own story, the government made sure there are no slums there by pushing everyone to this side of the creek. So all the workers travel to that side every day. Clever, no?
  3. This is my room. Here's a detailed description just because some people hate that: In the background is the rest of the 'Daffodil' block, that's my bed and my pillowcase. The rest is also mine. The box between the bed and the desk is my motherboard-in-a-box from Dell, and the rest of the photo is obvious. Oh yeah, that's the chair in the foreground right.