Calvino’s “Invisible Cities” imagines a number of fictional encounters between Marco Polo and Kublai Khan, at the Mongol ruler’s court. Polo is expected to offer field reports on the cities within Khan’s vast empire as the latter attempts to work out why his empire is crumbling. Polo, who cannot speak the court’s language, only expresses himself by “drawing objects from his baggage – drums, salt fish, necklaces or warthogs’ teeth – pointing to them with gestures.”
These are my bits of drums, salt fish and necklace of warthog’s teeth of Bombay, these are my fragmented impression of Bombay.
:: The Monsoon is early this year. Bombay greets me with 30+ degrees Celsius and a heavy down pour. A welcoming relief after being cooked alive at 49.5 degrees Celsius in Jodhpur.
:: I am standing under the overhang of a local temple hiding from the rain while trying to hail an auto rickshaw. He prays wholeheartedly with the rain coming down on him, on his way somewhere, to someone.
:: There are gorgeous architectural details everywhere. Most of the buildings look half-way between coming and going, ready to collapse yet still holding on tight.
:: Dhobi Ghat, 1062 ghats where majority of the laundry for Bombay is washed. I tease Tushar, “This is what happens to your laundry when you send it out.” In defense, Tushar points to an industrial washing machine, “Look, there is a washing machine!” “Where do you think the water comes from for the machine?!”
:: Rows and row as of beautiful sweets in vibrant colors.
:: Here in Bombay, I walked into one of the most beautiful meat markets I’ve seen … more on that when I get my film back and can show you instead just tell you. Stay tuned!
:: Slums, slums and more slums. With 60% of Bombay’s population living in slums, it is something that cannot be avoided. I find myself fascinated and drawn to them. I want to know more. I want to know more about living in the slums, the slum lords, the premium you have to pay, the cost of rent, the mutant strains in the immune system one must acquire growing up in one, the order that imposes itself amongst the chaos. I WANT TO UNDERSTAND.