The sharply accented dialect of Hyderabadi Hinglish fills the dead night’s air. The clink of a toast pierces the chatter as the privileged youth of Hyderabad celebrate life and love. India. The originator, the inventor, the whorehouse for love and life. A place where love can be found on the boom box of two scraggly men, sitting on broken steps, gleefully singing along of taking his imaginary lover to a land far away. “Lejaaingee Lejaaingee, dilvalee dhulunia lejaingee!”  Love can be found under the soles of your shoes, stepping on photos of Salmaan Khan charming one more woman with his gorgeous smile. Love can be found in the shake of a servant’s head, as he smiles in acceptance and appreciation of your simple hello. Love is simple. Nothing is necessary but love.
I gaze upon the small woman as she bundles her child up and swiftly boards the moving bus, naked feet, pierced nose, pearly white teeth. She sits next to an old man at the front, leaning slightly so as not to be rude or promiscuous, of which I am not sure. The bus rattles along, lacking of any true definition of safety but filled with the warmth of security. She’s thrown from one side of the bus, stumbling over herself and falling to the ground. Ten concerned hands impulsively reach to help her up. Moments later each impassive face stares longingly into the distance, for a better day to come but quite satisfied with the today’s work passed.
I run up to the rooftop of the guest house to catch a glimpse of the city, bouncing off each low wall to see what the other may bring. I throw my head back to the sky and I’m jolted back 15 years, holding a spool and scampering behind my elder cousins, watching the kites as they dip and soar, rippling in the air, tails flapping wildly in the spiced wind, hands happily bleeding from the glass studded yarn. The skill, the excitement, the camaraderie. It had been so long since I’d let that memory sweep me over and engulf me in its perfection of innocent happiness. I swooned in its reminiscence a few moments longer before letting it slip away.
My eyes plunged downwards below the horizon, delving deeper and deeper into the abyss of this wonderful city, as they settled upon an entire world apart from that of my blissful dreams. Rows and rows of concrete huts, covered with tin foil and cloth held down with large rocks line the ground below me. Saris draped over every bare rod, women walking skillfully as they balance large silver matkas on their shoulders containing water that will last them the week. The small compound filled with cows and their dung sends me a whiff of familiar air; the pungent smell of India. My eyes and heart are transfixed into a state of oblivion. Is this India?
Which India is the real India? Which India is going to be my India. Which India will I let into my heart, sweep me off my feet, and dance all night with? Which India will choose me, take my hand, guide me through the crowded streets, and force me to get lost in her imperfect perfection?

5 Comments Add yours

  1. NKW says:

    this is very honest, evocative. a little naive? i think so, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. dare i recommend the latest collection of essays (listening to grasshopers: fieldnotes on democracy) by arundhati roy?

  2. Saurav J says:

    To find the real India, probably you would need to find your true self. Our interpretations generally are very subjective and we need to ask the right questions to get the right answers. And guess what,our questions may differ completely 🙂
    We are a complex nation – multicultural, multi ethnic, multi lingual, multi xyz. Coupled with huge disparities of income, varied lifestyles, many languages, a package that would be difficult to find anywhere in the world. Despite all her complexities lies a beautiful undercurrent, the force which binds us all.
    For me the real India is internal not external. It’s the smile on the face of the lady doing her balancing act draped in a Sari despite the surging temperature. It’s the freedom of the cows who know people mean no harm, its the magic,motivation and yearning for life which you see amongst the people who reside in rows and rows of concrete huts.
    Look within, the real India is right there!

  3. krishna says:

    I don’t know where you are residing when you wrote this post. Based on one place which you have seen here, may be you have drawn some conclusions. But, I Would suggest you to spend some time traveling deep into Indian Villages which will probably give you an insight on Which India is real India.
    As you are in Hyderabad, Travel to West/East Godavari Regions(in Andhra Pradesh) and visit the Villages over there. May be you find there the similar kind of women and huts(Which you described in your post) but the climate, atmosphere, greenery around, will sweep your heart, take you into some another wonderful world wherein you will interact with climate and nothing else. Hopefully it will also answer yours Question “Which India is the real India?”
    Finally. You are not going to find India in Metro’s and the areas surrounding metros. You need to travel quite far from here, deep into the Indian villages to find REAL INDIA !

  4. krishna says:

    In Between I’m not able to click on the Check box “Notify me of follow-up comments via email” option here. When i click on it, its redirecting me to home page instead of a tick mark into check box. Don’t know I’m the only one facing this problem here or everyone else too. Do fix this issue if something wrong. 🙂

  5. Gauri says:

    was this piece written specifically to try to make me move back?? it really makes me miss India in general, and Shabnam in particular!
    love you, loved it, both beautiful my dear. miss you tons.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *