I’ve just returned from a short and sweet holiday in Goa. But there’s something about Mumbai that makes you change your mindset the moment you return after a break.
The mind switches from a calm and relaxed state to an aggressive one. The ‘Don’t mess with me’ attitude takes over. With all due respect to the people who love this city, this makes people self-absorbed.
Invariably, it’s either the ‘be pushed’ or ‘push back’ attitude that exists in this city. That’s the survival instinct, right from the time you land in the city and have to deal with cabbies who want to make an extra buck and the rude traffic cops.
I was loading my luggage in my car, when a cop kept blowing a whistle into my driver’s face, asking him to hurry up. Now how does blowing the whistle help me lift a heavy bag faster? It only adds to the noise pollution and to the stress levels.
It’s my fantasy to lead a peaceful life, away from the hustle and bustle that we call Mumbai. Every time I travel to another place, my mind immediately makes notes of the quality of life.
After speaking to my friends, I discover that almost all of us harbour such fantasies. Our environment has shaped our thinking. And unfortunately, life in this metro hardens you. It makes you lose contact with yourself. Your ambition is given shape by the expectations of this city, not by what would really make you happy, because in this city, even something as basic as owning your own house is a big dream that remains unfulfilled for many. Or it takes away 20 years of your life, which forces you to stick to your job.
So the rat race to even get the basics gets increasingly difficult. And no, the argument cannot rest by us saying that Manhattan or any other major city is the same. Because, it isn’t. Better roads, better infrastructure and cleaner air make life better there.
At any cost
Some of my friends who have just moved to Mumbai from other towns, are adorably naive. When I meet them a year later, I realise that the city has changed them.
Their language and attitude change drastically. The naivete is replaced by a certain street smartness. At times, I feel sorry for them but then I accept the fact that they’ve learnt that success, is the only element that this city respects. The purpose of our life is to find happiness. But living in this city seems like a never-ending detour to ‘destination happiness’. So the question is — “Will we never be happy?”