Tuesday, August 12, 2014


I'm in a profession where fitness & good looks hold much weightage, though nothing is more paramount than the obvious presence of that elusive creature called talent, whether inbred or cultivated. In a city like Mumbai, where every second person is looking for that one (or maybe two, three, four) big break(s) in television, film, radio or performing arts, one is often surrounded by well-chiselled (and sometimes way too plastic) bodies (and personalities). I could never have fathomed that muscles were ever meant to attain that Greek God-ish proportions, where biceps are bigger than a human head or that fitness automatically paved the way to good looks & a natural sense of well-being. It is but natural to want to be better equipped out of that desire or of competition. It requires immense dedication, focus & a farewell-to-arms to plenty of distractions. Back in Dental school, the frenzied preparations of my peers would literally jolt me into working harder , and the same continues today when it comes to the various things that I do. As a Dentist-to-be, I handled academics, practicals as well as internal politics without falling by the wayside. It was mentally & physically demanding and I conquered them all! But fitness? Ah.. Now that is the arch nemesis in my story.

Don't get me wrong. I feel AWESOME after a good workout, some Yoga, a dance routine or a good ol' jog! The body structure feels good, clothes fall better on you, your skin & hair become radiant, stamina levels for shoot & live performances race up: I could go on & on. And as cliched & oft-heard as it sounds, the pain is always worth it (well, almost always). But I have ditschy lovers who refuse to let me go - FOOD & SLEEP! Theirs is the leash from a delectable hell that refuses to let me fly.

It's irony aplenty; everytime I look at a fit body I don't go "Damn! I gotta work harder to be like that". Instead, I say "Damn! That's one (chomp chomp) helluva task (chomp chomp chomp). Gotta get there someday (glug glug glug burp!!!)"

Sigh! I'll never get there, will I?


Picture Courtesy : www.worldtop7.com
One of the first things you'll hear as a new immigrant in Mumbai, even before the "Maya Nagari" cliche will most probably be "Once you've lived in this city, you can't or won't live anywhere else." And true to form, I've heard this since my childhood when I'd visit my grandmother here, up to 2007 when I set up base in this big, bad city with my own dreams in tow. 

But as the years have gone by, I've failed to find that love & lust for the city that many swore on their mothers I would (peace be upon their mothers). Perhaps the city is not to be my muse, and I neither its master nor its slave.

Then again, I hear such wonderful stories from & of people who've lived their entire lives in this city and realise that the dictum is more a romanticised memory of a bygone era when this megapolis really was something else. I vividly remember lovely childhood vignettes of Dadar by my friend Sidd Coutto. My buddy & co-actor Anand Tiwari has a treasure trove of Bombay stories. I've visited friends' & relatives' ancestral homes & bungalows in Mumbai and experienced first hand the history & character bursting through their every line, crack & beam. Heck, I have personally witnessed the growth of the city over the years, first through the innocent eyes of a child & then a cynical view of an adult. And yet, when I return to the ruins of the rest of the crumbling city, I find it very hard to peer at Mumbai with a rose-tinted perspective. I rant about the pitfalls of the city more than I'd like to admit. Yet, I cannot take it when it comes from an outsider; as if I alone have the right to declare how ridiculous this city is.

The Mumbai of today is safer & boasts of deliverance from many social ills & restrictions. It is a free, modern city; a veritable utopia amidst dystopia. But for old times' sake, I wish some Bombay would seep back into Mumbai. Because the suburbs of Mumbai is a city, but the old city of Bombay is a person. I would like to meet that person more often, have tea together, talk about a romantic yesterday and the day before. Perhaps then, yes then, I too would fall blindly & hopelessly in love with that person, this city.