Saturday, September 25, 2010

Monsoon ebbs, heat resumes.

Mumbai is an interesting city with even its climate forming an important aspect of day to day discussions of the Mumbaikar. If you want to learn more about the monsoon that graced the city this year, just go back a few posts on my blog and read all about it. This post, though, is about the heat and sweat that follow on the heels of a refreshing rainy season. Currently, I am reading the book shown alongside. Suketu Mehta is not your average Mumbaikar. He is one of the privileged ones who got to go abroad and stay in the US of A for several years. Educating himself in Mumbai and also abroad, Suketu has retained his ties with his parent city, and, through his infinite patience and sensitivity, has managed to get stories out of the most secretive souls of the city. When he talks about the riots that ravaged Mumbai in the aftermath of the demolition of the Babri Mosque, he writes about real people who participated in these riots, including people who actually killed fellow-humans in the frenzy of the moment. If you can, you should try and get your hands on this book and read it. Suketu writes charmingly and with wit.

Going back to my favourite topic, the monsoon has almost disappeared, with the city staying dry since almost a week; in its place, the high humidity of over 80% has made comfort non-existent, and people are seen walking down the roads with lassitude and torpor.Even with the A/C on at 25 degrees, the rooms don't feel cool. Outside, it is a torture to walk. One can just about bear the heat if one is astride a two-wheeler or inside an air-conditioned car. The heat has come on almost suddenly over the last few days, and now, everyone is talking about how it is becoming more and more difficult to venture outside the house. The heat also cuts productivity and creativity. This is the main problem with the heat.

For those readers who wish to travel to Mumbai sometime, I strongly recommend the Lonely Planet Mumbai Guide. I have, for my India specific travels, always relied on the India tourist guide of the same publisher, and it has never failed me once. I used it to travel to Hyderabad, Jaipur, Bangalore/Mysore/Ooty, Chennai/Mamalapuram/Kodaikanal, Jammu and Kashmir, and even smaller places like Mahableshwar. It is one of the best resources for travel. Of course, now, with the internet making many more sources available, people are getting their info online, and even using these resources to print out illegally downloaded guides, such as the Egypt guide I downloaded a few months ago (see my Egypt tour post in an earlier blog here). Despite this, however, the LP guides are really satisfying and entertaining.

Ravi, who has commented on this entry, has suggested that I read the book shown  alongside ...


Unknown said...

Taher nice.
If you love the monsoon so much I would reccomnend you read "Chasing the monsoon" by Alexander Frater.
Good travelogue to read.

Taher Kagalwala said...

Dear Ravi,

Thanks for the suggestion. I will also add the Amazon link in the blog.

AnNaMoR said...

"Suketu Mehta is not your average Mumbaikar. He is one of the privileged ones who got to go abroad and stay in the US of A for several years." - actually, he left the city at the age of 14 and came again after 21 years. Enough time for a new generation to grow up, for a culture to take a step on the way [to progress or regress, depends], for a mind to be shaped or for perception to broaden and deepen [or the other way around, again - depends].

I bought the book last February, in a bookshop at Bombay airport - a generally well maintained place, the bookshop itself well designed and full of fiction and non-ficton from all over the world. A few customers, looking like well-dressed young intellectuals...and a family of huge cockcroaches walking briskly from 'economy and law' past 'natural sciences' towards 'guide books'.

That's Bombay - the maximum city, the 'dual' city of beauty and ugliness, of riches and humiliating poverty, of vibrant life and lonely death side by side in front of your eyes, of friendliness and cold indifference... One could go on and on.

I don't think I could live in this city and yet, there is something about it that makes me want to come again...

Anyway, the book is certainly worth recommendation.


Taher Kagalwala said...

Dear Anna,

Thank you for an in-depth comment. I have lived over a half century in this metropolis, but I think Suketu's book has revealed to me a lot of plots and sub-plots that I had not thought possible. For example, he recounts how the police tortured even the family members of the suspects in the 1993 blasts case ... made them undress in front of their own daughters, do unmentionable things to their own parents/children, make them eat sh@@, etc. I am not just annoyed, but seething with rage at the mafia that we know as "POLICE".