Life sometimes meets us in a full circle. I remember going to Stockholm many years ago and calling up the hotel, late into the night, asking them where the water bottles were at. They quietly reminded me that, in Stockholm, one could drink tap water, of course. A few years later, I went to Bangkok and was totally disturbed by having to haggle for prices for my tuk-tuk rides. At all these times, I was living in India and used to a 24 million city. It felt usual to have a huge population, tap water issues and bargaining that came with the territory. Travel meant something different.
I’ve now been living outside of India for a while, and landed in Mexico City for a short couple of days. We couldn’t drink tap water and the traffic was crazy. But the only thing I noticed was that just like their weather, the people were warm. They were eager to please, had time to chit-chat and handmade art had suddenly become affordable. I spoke to my mother and physically, achingly missed India.
FRiDOM in a city of crazy
It made me wonder what it meant to be a developing city in today’s time. Was GDP an indicator of happiness? Why were people so happy in Bhutan? What did freedom mean? How many more countries would I need to see before I shipped myself back to Ghalib’s backyard?
Mexico city is often considered dangerous, but I practically live in Detroit and have moved from Delhi. Like that little kid in Lion talking with Nawazuddin, I can smell danger. It didn’t take much practice and I could suddenly jay-walk without the fear of being hit. I was a part of the morning vastness.
When you grow up in a city of over 20 million, you know how to respond to crazy. It remains buried, inside of you.