December 17, 2013 § 1 Comment
A city is a beast made of dreams; built house by house, and then home by home, slowly laid, and then cramped into little matchbox rooms where the cement holds unabridged, the promises of a tomorrow. This creature of wonder, an ensemble, of people together, almost the same, yet ever so different when you look closely, is best understood when you walk it.
Walking a city is a learning. Each step is a surprise, even if you have lived there forever. That morning you wake up to see the slight haze hang over the complexes or the walk along a promenade near the sea, you discover a crumbling building which you never knew existed or that there is an old man in your neighborhood who sits at the same spot everyday.
And then you learn a city is made of parts, an area has its own air of unique dirt and smoke, a road is full of wisdom and another full of vice, yet another lane is where you would find blinkered tourists buying their share of memorabilia. There are lakes where chirping birds saunter their days, away from the screaming horns; there are rivers filled with sewage, with kites circling over, even while crows scout from atop hoardings selling underwear, condoms or perfume.
There is food, in all shapes, tastes and hygiene. You could brave diseases or choose to obey what your mom thought you and eat from seemingly neat looking places with tampered mineral water bottles. As you walk, you can chew on that bit of fine bajji coated with oil reused and reused, or better still just watch a friend do it.
A city is an adolescent who woke up on a morn to find that she’s a teenager; a teenager who finds that she an adult. The old lady of the village, she would never be- forever left in the drive of one generation or another, spewing and spawning, breaching, growling and growing, in mind and spirit, guilty, then wont and then unaware of her past, left to dry like tanks and ponds, only to be covered by landfills, dirty roads and finally buildings of hopeless belief.
A city eats as much as it feeds. She takes away the best from those gamble all they have in hope to quench their purple dreams and feed them vanilla days of slow despondence, with taints of fading grey- uncertain virtues and decided vices, tears of ephemeral pain and fleeting joy.
A city is of the people; but not made by the people; rather by those cramped buses which carry to work, the hoards in crumpled shirts and salwars, even as the gears groan tiredly in arthritic pain. As you walk into those districts of tall and taller buildings, as you push past the crowds of the shopping streets, haggling with fate itself(of others and yours), and walk into those stations which lead into the mofussil, you can feel a pulse, sometimes strong, sometimes not so loudly, but surely of a beast who is growing, stretching her arms, ready to embrace all those would dare, maybe even a little peck on the cheek, maybe even clandestine love like those behind her parks’ bushes.
A city is best understood walked- through her broad arteries or narrow bazaars leading to temples, mosques or churches. A city is best known in the eyes of those who push and shove each other out of the way, those who push through her breaches, in as much to redefine this bit of humanity as to define her, to decorate her and in the end to berate her as they stand cramped in locals or stuck in foreign air-conditioning.
A city is a beast you grow to love, and then to hate, but in the end who will still love her. A city is your hope, as much as you are her’s, and as you walk past the shut door late at night, there is always a crow which shall cry in sleepless fright, for another day shall soon follow, to wallow, to screech, to grow, yet another day, mighty, with her own usurped grace.