Saturday, October 15, 2005

A cock crows in Bombay...


Was having a bath this morning when I heard, of all things … a cock crowing. I actually stopped scrubbing myself and listened to it - those few seconds that it spoke to the world, and it felt so good and homely to hear that kakra kraaaa kraaaa kraaaa. Been a long time since I heard that sound and it was very welcome. (While I’m about it let me explain at this point, that in the age of the modern shower, I still mostly stick to my “bucket bath” – which I find more economical in terms of water usage and also more comfortable somehow.)

Back to the countryside sounds I started describing - these are not unknown even in a big city like Bombay. When Samuel visited us a few years ago, he mentioned that in some ways Bombay was like a village. Sometimes you look out of the window and you see a couple of goats prancing on the rocks or chickens wandering about the compound and of course any number of stray dogs jumping and running around, playing with each other.

The other day, looking out of the window I saw two creatures that from far off looked like seals, swimming in the sea. I thought to myself, seals? Where did they come from? I kept watching them and when they swam up ashore it turned out they were two black dogs enjoying an evening dip. They turned right round and swam back into the sea, and then once again paddled towards the shore. They were having SUCH a good time going back and forth!!

So yes, in many ways, Bombay retains that village atmosphere. We have supermarkets and side by side, those little grocers from whom you buy bread, snacks and soft drinks. Your local chemist/ bhaji walla/ beer store owner knows you by name and is always willing to send up medicines or vegetables or beer if you’re not in a mood to go fetch it yourself. There are parts of the city which retain that laidback atmosphere which almost lull you to sleep.

But there is the other side too. The chaos and madness and traffic and pollution. I become so aware of “the other side” when I sit down at the computer, mailing friends half way across the globe, marvelling at the role that technology plays in this transatlantic communication. I wonder though, if I had to give up one or other aspect of life completely, if I were asked to “choose” (Ok theoretical question, but nonetheless it occurred to me this morning) what would I give up? And I think I am clear about it. The part to do with technology. For what it’s worth I’d retain the roosters and goats and dogs swimming in the sea, and the grocer down the road. Life anyway wouldn’t be worth much without the down to earth feel of it all.

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