Tuesday, August 12, 2008

6 Months

On the 12th of February Anando and I woke up a little earlier than usual, brushed our teeth for the last time at the tiny sink a little larger than my cooking wok, packed up the linen we had used for our last night in Bombay and wandered through the house to make sure we had packed everything. The packers had removed all the cartons the previous day. As we talked from one room to another, our voices echoed in a suddenly empty house. The early morning of a hazy day made it necessary to turn on the lights. The lit-up apartment that had been home ever since we got married suddenly looked unfamiliar. The ugly furniture from the landlord, which we'd camouflaged with our own stuff, stood out starkly - reminding me how unattractive I'd first found it. Over time I had got used to it, like I take in my stride scars from chicken pox and bicycle crashes.

I locked our door and left, remembering when we had excitedly walked in 3 weeks after the wedding, to call it our home. When we took our suitcases down to the taxi, a normal day was just starting in the building. The bathroom singer across the shaft was massacring a popular song as usual as I switched off the lights one last time. Kids were getting ready for school. The tiny grocery near our gate was stocking its wares for the day. And we turned away from it all and came away to Dubai.

6 months later - the shiny new apartment we rent here is home. We chose all the furniture, so it's all our fault if people don't like it. We can't blame a landlord like we used to in Bombay! We have a routine. We know some of our neighbours. Family have visited and warmed up our guest room. Friends have come and partied at our place, smoked on the balcony, admired the view. I have cleaned every corner of the kitchen and swept the house - a distinct assertion of ownership as far as I am concerned. Plants have agreed to flourish indoors (ahem...most plants. shhhh!).

All I'm trying to say is : it's been six months. In which I have ceased to complain about missing India because I have met innumerable people who have left behind much more. Lebanese and Iraqis whose countries are in flames. Afghanis who sweat it out here to support large families back home and haven't gone back in 5 years. Sri Lankans who clean other people's homes so that they can feed a home back in Colombo. Filipinos who will never find work in Manila because there just aren't that many jobs. Bangladeshis who are trying to escape poverty. Pakistanis and Indians who construct buildings so that the tin roofed house back home doesn't disintegrate. Taxi drivers, beauty parlor girls, maids, nurses, waiters, labourers...all of whom are in this gilded cage called Dubai. They rail against it because it holds them by the power of salary. They criticise it because it exploits their weakness for money to grow stronger, because the city is as big as the dreams of the people toiling to create it. They hate it because it is shiny and new whereas all they love and have left behind is dusty and ancient. But they all carry on like worker ants. Because of what they have left behind. Because they are responsible for it. Because they want the best for it. Because they have a chance to change it for the better.

19 comments:

OrangeJammies said...

I suppose congratulations are in order? Not so much for surviving 6 months but for rapidly gaining insight into your environment and appreciating what you have. But then again, girl, we wouldn't expect anything else from you. You're a sunflower you are. :-)

suku said...

I second OJ....

Congratulations! its already 6 months? wow! Yet another beautifully written piece. Its incredible the perspective we gain in our interactions with people.

Also , way to go with the plants!!!

Thinking Cramps said...

OJ: Thanks. I guess nothing but sunflowers would survive here - it's that "bloomin" sunny!

Suku: 6 months yay! And I still can't believe the plants are alive. I need to transfer them into bigger pots now. Whether it's kids or plants - pots have a lot to do with helping them grow!!

Arunoday said...

I loved this piece. Must spare a thought for all those sacrificing so much back home and toiling to make Dubai shine the way it does. Lets hope this shine rubs onto their simple houses back home. The thoughts you describe are so real, but they've become even more real through your writing. Keep it up.

Pragyan said...

Hi Gouri: Congrats on your new place! It's been a long time since I came to your blog. Will blogroll it this time. I got a lump in my throat on your description of the last day in your house in Mumbai. :( We are likely to move soon..ever since we have been married we have been in the present house..so you can imagine all the memories!! Sorry for the long comment :)

Thinking Cramps said...

Hi Pragyan: All the best for the move and thanks for the kind words. And by the way, my name isn't Gouri, it's Anamika :)

dipali said...

Lovely post, Anamika. Happy insightful six months to you:)

Anonymous said...

very well said. we have options that so many people can only dream of.

gauri (gouri?!)

Thinking Cramps said...

Dipali: Thanks. Did you go to Delhi to visit your mother?

Anon/Gauri/Gouri: Ma'am is that you?

Reflections said...

Hmmm...can emphatise with u. I absolutely hated Dubai for the 1st 2 yrs of my life after my carefree life in B'lore. The I adjusted...oh how I adjusted. Now when we talk of moving back, i'm not so sure. I've settled down, got adjusted to the better standard of living;-P.
Like u said, most of them have a hard life out here but if they compared it to what they had in their home country, this measures up better.

Good Post:-)

dipali said...

Yes, I'll post soon!

Distar said...

Hi Anamika! Found your blog and it's fun to read your writing- you had such a talent for writing from way back when.
Look fwd to reading more.

Goofy Mumma said...

Wow, I can so relate to this, I have just completed four months in Sharjah now, and though I feel this is a better life, than what Bombay had to offer, I miss that city in my own way. :)
You write beautifully. Loved the part about you leaving your home in Bombay, more than the house, its the memories and sentiments attached to it I guess.

D said...

I've never shifted houses in the same city forget about moving to another country. And I think the idea of making a strange place home is such a learning experience. You get to meet new people, find your way about in a new city, learn things about its people, culture, practices. And finally to accept it all and call it home.

Thinking Cramps said...

Reflections: So you're in Dubai too?? Maybe we can meet and swap notes sometime! :)


Distar: It's been 11 years since I last saw you - and now we're catching up on each other's lives through our blogs!! Strange. Catch you on Facebook!

Goofy Mumma: Yes, it's a huge adjustment, particularly compared to Bombay, na? Still, glad you've settled in. Welcome to my blog!

D: wow. You're my opposite. I've shifted houses about 19 times, moved schools 4 times, changed countries 8 times, and cities about 12 times!!! So I quite envy you your comfort zone. But yes, I think I am a product of all those moves, and I didn't turn out so bad :) Thanks for commenting.

Goofy Mumma said...

Love your blog. Just wish you would post more often. I have blogrolled you quite a while back.
Settled in? Yes in someways and no in others. I had been in my last home for three and half years and had really made it my own, cannot really do that here so soon. But yes, I am happy that I am with my family, and so a certain amount of being settled is a must I guess. What I miss most here is the lack of abundant public transport, what a drastic change after Bombay my God!

the mad momma said...

what a lovely post anna.... so you.

Thinking Cramps said...

Goofy Mumma: Oh yes - public transport in Bombay was so amazing. And I was in Bandra - with its ever-present autos. Sighhh....Have rediscovered buses here though.

MM: Arre, sackcloth and strappy shoes! Where have you been? Thanks for the comment.

Tharini said...

Lovely thoughts. Lovelier way to express them. And as MM said....soooo you! The you I have come to know through your writing.

It also put me back some 10 years back into my life when I was still in Bahrain...and remember having these feelings of empathy towards all these people who struggle for that monthly paycheck. But I guess....life goes on. And we are so lucky for every bit of it!