Friday, May 9, 2008

Lady Bombay

I’m so thoroughly bored of Bombay; it makes my head spin and my limbs numb with exhaustion. They call this the city of dreams, a place brimming with excitement and adventure that will constantly keep you on your toes and keep you guessing. What total utter rubbish! I have been back for a little over six months and the memorable moments have been few and far in between. The most exciting that has happened to me since I have gotten back is sharing a cab ride with a transsexual hooker in Colaba; in retrospect it wasn’t all that exhilarating either. Thanks to her, I now understand the small shady alley’s of South Bombay with a lot more intimacy and depth, which I lacked before, but to be honest, I was too damn chicken shit to actually utilize the moment to its full potential. I was so damn freaked out; I hunched low in my seat and tried to disappear into the seat cushions as the rather fetching transsexual openly and unabashedly trolled for customers, staring into cabs and peeking at dilapidated hotels. I was so afraid of being recognized, like anyone one would really even know who I am? I had been in the country for less than two months, a different picture from my childhood days. I should have played along and let my curiosity take over, after all it’s not like everyday that I get to share cabs with prostitutes. She looked so fetching, with shapely ankles and long muscular legs. Her straight, silky, brown wig sure had me fooled for a while. She looked like a polished, young urbanite ready to have a good time on a Friday. I guess I should have paid more attention and noted that there was something awkward about her gait; she was uncomfortable in her ultra tight skirt that clung to her legs like second skin. She pulled it down at least twice in the short distance from the station to the cab. For an unguarded second or two she even dared to swallow, her bobbing Adam’s apple giving away her secret, it was a hot sticky evening, I’m sure her throat must have been parched with thirst, I know mine was.
I was completely fascinated, totally in awe of this might magnificent creature. My right hand shook with nervous excitement, it always does when I am thrilled. To me,
she was like a character that had stepped out of the pages of “Maximum City”, a miniscule part of the large, undignified so called underbelly of this gigantic city. She lived a dangerous, seductive, gripping life, amongst the pimps and the hookers and the druggies, the men and women that inhabit the streets of Bombay after they are abandoned by the civilized world. She lived a life that I wasn’t born into, a life that I had only experienced through books and movies. My middle class, suburban, Maharastrian upbringing has kept me somewhat sheltered from some of the harsher realities of life and this city.
For all the talk about crime, gangs, underworld, drugs, whores, pimps, cops, rapes and murders that is associated with this city, in all my years of living here I hadn’t met a single one of them…until now. Not that they didn’t exist, they are very much a part of the same city that I inhabit, breathing the very same air that I do, most probably drinking the very same germ infested municipality water, which I meticulously boil every morning, but for obvious reasons, under the very same smog polluted Bombay sky, we live such different lives that our paths never ever crossed.
In spite of the odds being against us ever meeting, here we were traveling in the same cab, to almost the same distance, but for very different reasons. I wanted to strike up a conversation, yet no words escaped my throat. For the first time in my life I felt truly intimidated by a person that was oblivious to my presence. She obviously had more pressing issues on her mind. My hunched, nervous self in the back seat held very little significance to her, I was just another unidentifiable face, which makes up this city that she would forget all too soon. To me she was Lady Bombay, grandiose and powerful cascading with sadness and neglect, at the brink of deterioration. This is what I had returned for.
In a diverse and varied city like Bombay, if one is thirsting for interesting encounters and reminiscing about long cab rides with transvestites four months later, you know there is a problem. Maybe I am just not all that fun, adventurous or interesting or maybe it is so that fun and adventure eludes me like the bubonic plague, whatever maybe the case, my mind is absolutely numb with boredom. People are just not built for stagnation, well not me anyway. This whole nine to five crap job, crap home, crap food, crap friends and crap relationships may actually appeal to someone but not me. I want to live a whirlwind life where one moment vastly differs from the next, providing a fresh perspective on the most mundane things. May I never, ever loose the power to see life just a little crocked, this I sincerely pray for?
Sometimes it is hard to see things skewed when everything is so damn straight around you. I wonder when my next, big adventure will begin, when Lady Bombay will once again shower upon me the blessing of an unexpected encounter, and well minus the fat cab fare.