I took an early train

Spending half a year in Mumbai had somehow led me to believe that no other city in no other part of the world could be as awake and active as Mumbai is. I had witnessed tea vendors taking their spot in front of the mall at two in the morning and I had been awestruck. I had forgotten that not very far away in a village is a farmer who is waking up under the starlight at this very hour. I had forgotten about the newspaper hawker back home who wakes up at 3, cycles to the newspaper office and by seven in the morning, he is folding and throwing papers in balconies on the fourth floor. He is awake enough to throw mine right at my face causing me to either duck or to catch it in mid air, which also gets me a “Nice One!” from him. I think he thinks it’s a game we play.

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There is a collective sadness in Mumbai. A huzun. In the building across, an old couple sits near the grilled window, sipping their tea, while their clothes on the line flutter in the wind, promising two more days until they will finally dry off. A milkman makes his rounds, playing around with his cycle bell. I play old blue songs on Saavn and we are all sad. The sun is out and it is drizzling. Don’t expect to see a rainbow, because the buildings are too high and too many and there is no terrace or open balconies where you live.

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