Mumbai is an example of how it’s possible in the 21st century to visit a city where you can remain blissfully ignorant of The Other India while cheerily making a note to self about how much you just love the Fiat taxis smells, low roofs, analog meters, and all. And it’s a coastal city, which means breezes and vistas of the ocean that my friend Q would say he could just stare at for hours. From many perspectives, Mumbai is where it’s at if you’re going to live in India.
The most pleasurable moments of my visit, however, were the mornings spent in Michael and Angeline’s enclosed veranda. Angeline did a wonderful job of filling out the space with plants, and to a person who can sum up his experiences with plants as more or less a list of botanical casualties, this was an impressive feat. The sun blocked out most of the other noises of the city, and it’s unusual that you find peaceful places like that in an Indian metropolis. The truest enjoyment, too, was in slowing down life for some moments. I found myself wanting to work part-time, wanting to read just one book, wanting to nap, wake, and then nap again. I wanted a desk to write on. Strange song lines came into my head, like, “You’re the only star in the film I never made,” but didn’t bother me in the slightest.
I like nostalgia, maybe too much.
Unsurprisingly, weekends like these pass far too quickly. Sunday plans for strolling, snapping and shopping fell by the wayside in the face of summer drinks at the Breach Candy Club. The club has changed greatly since my previous visit in 2001. For the better: the menu (wood-burning pizza ovens should be required everywhere), and still retaining the annoying: Europeans need to recommend you for membership. The saltwater swimming pool in the shape of pre-partition India remains enjoyable, and we were joined by a number of friends we had seen the night before.
Which brings me to the picture that best sums up the Mumbai Saturday night this go round. A charity ball. Horrendous food. Free drinks (why did I drink crap Indian wine? Still can’t explain that decision). A fairly entertaining table of British Petroleum types — no I’m not lying — who were gracious enough to fit the stereotypes in amusing ways. All this combined to remind that when you are among good friends the world manages to right itself, if only for a little while. You know what I’m trying to say. So a small picture from the evening. Sorry Sanjay, at least I’ll hold off making this my desktop wallpaper…until you’re famous, that is.