Hello, I’m back home.
To Mumbai, this ever reverberating construction site of a city. A place where it’s not unusual to hear the claustrophobic cry of cardiac ambulances trapped in fierce traffic clots; a surreal zone where everyone communicates through film songs — most recently, during the parliamentary debate, it was the media (Singh is King; Pappu can’t dance…but he can vote).
Linked in: Bandra to Worli in less than 20 minutes? I’ll believe it when it happens. Photograph: Ashesh Shah / Mint
After three months of travelling round the world, I’ve crash-landed back into my old life. It’s a place where nothing has changed. And yet everything has.
Sure, Mumbai’s got a new after-hours attraction — the cables on the Bandra-Worli Sea Link. And the latest prime time entertainment involves coaxing African spiders to crawl over the lips and eyes of top models. But the folks who run this once great city are still as clueless as they were three months ago. I read in The Indian Express that one government official visited London and now wants a local Madame Tussauds (the quality of idea generation hasn’t changed in three months), only for heroes relevant to Maharashtra, of course. It will be a tourist magnet, the gent believes.
The good news is I don’t have to waste any time catching up on all the brilliant Hindi movies I missed. Friends say there weren’t any.
The economy’s gone from high growth, low inflation to low growth, high inflation. When I left, you were talking about your bonuses, now you’re only discussing cost cuts. They say the traffic has reduced as people strive valiantly to save petrol, but it still takes me 40 minutes from my home in Bandra to my office in Dadar.
Events at home continue to occur at a more brutal pace than Gotham City (and BTW, it took me days to recover from the new Batman and I’m convinced Heath Ledger never did).
Just after I returned, the government had a near miss, some strangely-named MPs flashed more than the annual salary of the entire, tax-paying Lounge team in Parliament, give or take a few lakhs. This was followed closely by the serial bomb blasts in Bangalore. Then 17 more in Gujarat. And who knows what else by the time you read this. It’s actually the reason I chose to be a journalist in India in the 1990s rather than continue in the US where national newspapers endlessly debated gun control, abortion and Hillary Clinton’s health policy.
And what of me? How does it feel to drag myself away from the last, lingering wisps of New Zealand’s Kaikoura, South Africa’s Kruger and those glorious, glorious days on Costa Rica’s beaches just to focus on what you’re going to read in next week’s Lounge?
Don’t ask, is all I will say now.
I’m lucky I have a talented and supportive team who, though they were insanely envious of my trip, are glad to have me back. And I’m glad the husband and I decided to spend all that money on a mind-altering world trip rather than waste it buying stocks. My remaining investments in the market have halved.
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