Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Loving La Vida Loca

Come come now
don't you know how it is
that thing called love,
it dies in busy cities.

I love cities. Having been a city girl all my life... I love their power, their fluidity. All cities are so alike in some respects and so different in some others... the millions of contrasting rich and poor of Bombay, the financial district mingling with the historical architecture in London, the nasty politics cohabiting with the strong, spirited resilience of Delhi, the sparkling clean roads and sweeping skyscrapers of Singapore... at their core, they all are about one thing, getting on with it! Matter-of-fact and in your face. They are always on the move and they have no time to idle or romance or grieve.

They don't have the idyllic pace of a village or the inertia of a small town. People bomb them, riot and kill in them, rape, thieve, kidnap, extort, threaten.... and yet the cities keep ticking. Nothing stops or slows them down, nothing fazes them, they are old, wise, hardened things who have been there and done it all and yet harbor young, hopeful hearts.

In all the cities I have been to... there is that all pervading smell of power and money. Yet the cities are not all about power and money alone. They are also about ordinary people who oil the humungous wheels of the city's machinery. They are about rags to riches stories that everybody knows of and riches to rags realities everyone forgets instantly. They are about the bourgeois, the nouveau-riche, the old money, the proletariat, the slum dweller and the pavement bummer. All of them own the cities collectively, and collectively they own each other.

I love this about the cities... their collective life, their collective labor... all of it moving together like a giant juggernaut. In the mornings when Bombay goes to work, commuting by the local trains or BEST buses or shared rickshaws or pooled cars with people of all classes, communitites, religions... packed like sardines breathing each other's air and thinking similar thoughts; I love to stand quietly in the corner of a crowded station and watch the world buzz by. In the evenings when the lights go up and cars whizz by, tired people return home and lovebirds meet to walk hand-in-hand on crowded roads, I love to stand in the middle of the busy Marine Drive, with my back to the roaring ocean, standing tall among these teeming multitudes, my arms outstretched and the wind in my hair and feel the life flowing through my body.

I love the 'aliveness' of the cities. I love to be a part of the incessant hum, the laughter and the nightlife, the fast music, fast food and fast life. I love the purposefulness of all things in it. I love the impersonal coldness and the strange relationships that city people forge. I love the slang, the attitude, the boldness, the city life... they are all a testimonial to the invincibility of the human spirit, the tangible proof of life's power and life's triumph over everything that tries to hold it down.

Oh dear no, you are mistaken...
there's love in the cities am sure.
How could lady love have forsaken
a place where dame life endures?

But this love's not that fabled kind
living fatly in cupid's cushy fence
It thrives in busy people's mind
and lives on hardy common sense.