Friday, July 28, 2006


It is apparently without irony that a bath products shop nestled in Banjara Hills calls itself by this name. Hydrobath. For all your bath needs.

So. To celebrate a year of my change of residence and to mark the anniversary of a dreadful cloudburst in Bombay in 2005, we had the rains slow us down here for a couple of days. Only they weren't the sort of dreadful pouring storms that start off when you go to sleep and rage on through the night so that when you wake up you see that there's still water thudding at the windows, the sun has been blotted out and you can't go to school - the sort you really call a downpour in Bombay? Instead, it was the sort of rain that gets the Harbour line shut down for a couple of hours. Which is to say, the 'A trio of dogs weed on our tracks! SYSTEM CRASH!' sort of rain. People from work got home after midnight, the roads refused to drain off (which can admittedly be a problem in what is essentially a hilly sort of area, especially if you don't, you know, have a drainage system or anything), and water seeped into many, many engines. It was hilarious. The bits where people fell into open drains was not so good. On the whole, however, it was a little like watching Prince George of Blackadder III being a rich, devilishly handsome young nincompoop who can't put his pants on.

I was reading some of the threads on the Bombay communities at Orkut - the Café de Flores of the Internets, only not really - with interest, especially the ones about that gul-dang spirit of the city. I was happy to notice a significant amount of participation from people who no longer live there. Sometimes I think that Bombay is really like a Hotel California, whence you can check out any time you like but never leave, and so on. But that's true of everyone and their hometown, worse luck to those Chennai natives. *ducks*

I'll tell you about what I have inherited as a daughter of the soggy blocks of the Paris of India: pedestrian rage.

People tell me, "walking out in Bombay is so chaotic, it means you will be able to handle anything after it, even hiking down those treacherous goat trails in the Andes." And now, darn. I really don't know about that. In Bombay they teach people to drive in straight lines and obey signals. No one does that in Hyderabad. Driving is really more about instinct down here. It's like a little voice in your head telling you that the traffic signals are guidelines, not rules, mwahahaha, and it would really be fun to scratch the Merc in the next lane, except it's in the same lane, because there's no lane system on Hyderabad roads, and then the Merc owner will get out and it will be Chiranjeevi, who will yell at you a bit and then take you back to his palazzo in Jubilee Hills and feed you peeled grapes. The consequences for pedestrians? A little like trying to get past the Azzurri defence of old: you just never do, AND you end up getting fouled all the same (Well, with notable exceptions).

Walking along the footpaths is even worse. People do not move. Have you ever met a Hyderabadi who told you, "I'd never live in Bombay, the pace of life is too brutal"? I'm sure such people deserve sympathy, but it won't be you giving it to them after you've spent some time trying to walk along the (tiny, sliced-off, pedestrian-rights violating) footpaths behind fifteen people of varying ages and sizes who just never seem to have to get anywhere. Sympathisers will be trying to save them from you and a meat cleaver.

If you're the sort of Bombayite who hears someone tell you, "New York is awful omgz, if you fell down dead on the footpath people would step over you!" and goes "well, duh," in a dark corner of your desensitized, emotionally arrested mind, you will need an oxygen tank and a militant regime of yoga and vegetarianism to keep you breathing after a jaunt about on these roads.

Rage, man, rage. Profane, misanthropic, pukka Bombay rage. I have it every time I have to take a walk on the wild side. Aneurysm. I end up having it also.

current musix: regina spektor - us.


  1. the Paris of India???? Noooooooo!!!
    and yoga is right - when feel a wave of pedestrian rage take deep breath and exhale slowly. Repeat till tide has passed.

  2. anonymouse2:08 pm

    Deep breathing and yoga?


  3. Anonymous8:03 pm

    ur perspective of life is more soul feeding. Ram, Chennai,

  4. @ szerelem: I swear it's called that. It was in an almanac. Just don't ask me which one.

    @ anon: Thank you, again. Of course snark will always do in place.

    @ ram: Erm, thanks, I think. In spite of the fact that you make me sound a little like a Dementor. :)