Friday, January 22, 2010

Bombay ki hawa..3

There is a wanderer inside all of us, searching for that elusive something. We give it names like love, money, fame, lust, dreams, goals..but try as you may, it is difficult to express that one word. Even the most focussed and determined soul will find it difficult to do so. The problem is most of us, including yours truly do not know what we really want and a bulk of our lives go in searching for that elusive Godot. Those who do not participate in this search, content themselves by just existing,but some of us manage to live a bit of our lives this way. Sometimes even before we know it, time whizzes past like water draining through our fingers, leaving us limp and lost.

Many years ago, when I first set foot in Bombay , I thought I got what I wanted. I also presumed that I knew what I wanted. A career in journalism, a sense of independence and an escape from cloistered life is all that I looked for then. Armed with a happy go lucky attitude, an inquisitive mind for a new challenge, a desire to seek a new experience , I landed in Mumbai, nervous and excited at the same time.
And around me was a collage of several minds all looking towards a new unchartered destiny. But one thing that separated me from my classmates was that I didnt share their fierce competitiveness . Their cut throatness shook me, their overpowering confidence unnerved me as I waited for my chance for a group discussion. I was confident in my own way and unlike my aggressive classmates, I let my assertiveness speak for myself. I wasnt the dark horse, but many told me later that I was like a chameleon, which could change colours..may be that instinct stood by me in later years.

Today I shut my eyes and the group discussion in the wide classroom came to my mind. We were a medley of girls from different states and were as parochial as we could get. The Bengalis stood their ground together, dominating the conversation at one end, the Punjabis at the other end. There were a few Tamilians, Malayalis with the Marathis and almost every single state was represented in the aspiration list. Yet no one could fit into the description called demure. The group discussion was the second round after the examinations and one needed to pass this before graduating to the personal interview session.

We could hear them though the door was shut.There was no room for articulation, only voices trying to shout over the other to put the other down. The judges smiled whenever someone raised their voice to form an opinion. It was important that we all spoke, it was even more important that we spoke our minds ..I got through that day despite the fact that I articulated my thoughts without necessarily interrupting someone..the topic by itself was not so important, it was your communication and your attitude that was given due importance..you either had it or you didnt.

It was also the first time that a naive madrasi learnt and experience a new word in the English language - a word that most of today's 21 year olds wear on their sleeve, a word that I grasped while standing in the verandah of my yet to be classroom , a word that I will hear again and again throughout my career and a word that changed connotations many times - ATTITUDE. If Madras shaped it vaguely , Bombay fine tuned it for me .And in my quest , this attitude gave me company, letting me live my life, while changing gears, while taking major decisions, while hitting my lowest lows, while being dumped, while dumping people..This has been one constant companion, no matter which shore Ive landed in . But today in Bangalore, I seem to have left it somewhere by the wayside and my quest has now multiplied two fold..oh ! how I miss that Bombay ki hawa..

3 comments:

Aaarti said...

1st- was there an earlier post with same title or did i hallucinate it?

2nd- :) Attitude is one thing that def stands by us... comes with us thru life's journey!! Bby sure seems to have had quite an effect on u... :))

rebecca b said...

this speaks to me in such an intense way
i love it !

Lakshmi said...

Aarti - u cant survive without it

rebecca -thanks :)