First Rains: Third Time Lucky

On the first day-time early evening drizzle in Bombay, as I walked briskly in the solitude of the mob from Horniman Circle to Churchgate, I couldn't resist the spontaneous urge to take in the lightly brighter version of the city through the wide panes of a BEST AC bus. Albeit, the journey would eat a full hour and a half extra into my evening, but the wish was to embark upon a secret recap and relive nostalgia of a route I lumbered upon often during my very first stint in Maxcity was overwhelming. Like swimming or cycling or any other learned synchronised body movement, this memory demanded to surface that evening last week. And then this thought came surging: some things never change.

Perhaps never is too harsh a word. Perhaps these things take their syrupy sweet time, more like, to relent to the elements. And these things I speak of could be a shrub of pale pink Champak flowers outside a modern landmark in Worli, or the mellow erosion on the side wall of a bicentennial edifice in Mahim. Then again, it could just be the square-faced, bushy moustachioed sev-puriwala who hasn't budged an inch from his spot right outside your first home on Pedder Road along its undulations. The signboards of old housing colonies with moss growing over them, flourish on the first paint, immune to its chemicals, adequately dried by the briny mist wafting from the sea nearby – perhaps even consumed and digested – an ironic testimony of their depletion.They all stay put – in denial of the world around them that moves and moves on.
In this city of fleeting glory, 15-minute fame, fast-expiry attention spans, and a pace highly governed by money, even new-age smokescreens find a way to keep loyalists and convert more:some through the spiel of heritage, others resort to synthetic calisthenics.

The wrinkles may iron out; the blotches erase, but in the face of constant influx, what do the old do? Some battle it out,some cash in, some play passive spectators. The last allow the new to pass – like a Monday-to-Friday fad – knowing the clouds must clear for ominous blue skies to materialise.

On this journey, there will be dispute, indecisiveness, and doldrums. Pulling the shutters down and letting fungus ease the demolition or looking smart and allowing a swift execution is then a personal choice and a tactical one respectively. The former earns respect, wrath and mirth, the latter, reverence, mockery and disgust. A commotion of reactions for a plethora of emotions. And from the chaos arises a pattern clear as an engineer’s drawing. Detailing not just contours but also virtual tours; elucidating the details and the drastic anomalies.

The chaos becomes the pattern.The design begins to throw up a design, and follow a routine, a process, a cycle. And then his cycle becomes that thing. That thing that seldom changes? Or takes what seems like forever to undergo any noticeable transformation.

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