I have decided to take my return to India a second time as a first-hand evaluation of where I see myself: physically, personally and professionally. Until now, I have just been led where my parents decided or where my educational pursuits landed me. I have seen my perspectives change remarkably as now the responsibility for my life and my decisions lie with me.
It sure has been intimidating to see how the city I called mine, Mumbai, doesn’t really accept me…and can even crush me to despair. Human life is not valued and I have failed to see any personal bonding between people, beyond a measure. Maybe this is more a ‘city’ phenomena that even relationships ultimately come down to business. A rat race it is, for sure.
Daily life is a struggle in Mumbai. A 15 km stretch of drive took me 3 hours. I felt sorry for the people crammed in BEST buses still struggling to make it home at 10 pm on Friday. TGIF?!!! Does that concept exist for the common man? Not that this is new to me…I have been there, done it before. However, increasingly I feel the futility and lack of productivity of such activity. How do you retain the ‘LIFE’ in your life?
And this mad rush is to make a decent living as inflation sky-rockets. Never thought I would be affected by what ‘aadha kilo tamatar’ or ‘ek plate idli costs’. Increasingly, I have been able to digest 'these' only when I convert the prices to US dollars! Don’t even mention housing costs. Even as I ponder over my sustainability in such conditions, the rich-poor divide has increased to proportions that may rip the society apart.
Not all’s done for though!!! The simplicity of daily life, relationships and communication quite literally color any hovering grey clouds. In the midst of the traffic mayhem, I did spot a couple relishing Matka Kulfi off the road, as it rained incessantly. Seeing friends laughing and chitchatting on their way to Ganpati Mandir late on Tuesday might brought back fond memories. Guess a lot can be said for the simple pleasures and the sweet nothingness of life. The power of local networks you develop is reassuring too-it was heartwarming to see everyone from the jhaaduwali, electrician, cable wala, and bhajiwala delighted to see us back after a year; and for the sandwich wala to remember my preferences: ‘butter nahi, chatni kam’!!!
The ‘sugar and spice’ of this all makes me wonder- where exactly is my home; where should I choose to belong? The saying ‘home is where the heart is’ acquired a new meaning for me. I have come to believe that home is where you find constructive, engaging and satisfying work; and unwavering companionship-no matter the circumstances. City, living conditions, money and so forth are secondary. They help, but rewarding work and a support system can help adjust expectations towards being incredibly happy. I guess those are what I am out to seek…don’t know yet if I am still ‘in transit’ or if I have reached.