I *heart* Bombay (and well..Boston)

I'm urban..in the way other people are mountain-people or tunafish junkies. I love city life...something about dreary concrete blocks and grumpy people totally gets my juices flowing. Ergo, this will be a blog about me, my two favourite cities (Bombay and Boston), my addiction to Vietnamese coffee and my views on Gregorian chant and it's efficacy in curing some types of tympannic membrane rupture. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Ooh Aah Ouch!

The Iron Maiden of Nuremberg.

A torture device par excellence in Germany in the Middle Ages. Now found at that peculiar institution that doubles as a gay man's temple, church,mosque and synagogue rolled into one. The Gym.

Well, not the Iron Maiden itself (though a certain instructor at the Gold's Gym in Bandra could very much qualify for that moniker) But all the assorted torture devices that I've been put through in the last week that I've been "gymming".

I finally succumbed to the lure of attractive hotties parading on St. John's road everyday and walked in with them one afternoon last week. I signed up, forked over a huge chunk of change and err...went shopping! After all, I need working out clothes...

Time to gym. Err.. just what is locker room protocol in India? In the US, everyone just lets everything hang out...which has lead to many traumatic sightings of obese, elderly men with teeny weenies in my past. In "des", I see a lot of the ol' "Indian man changing undies under a towel" bit. First you hop about on one leg, then on the other - all the while clutching at the towel around your waist for dear life. Anyway, I picked a dark corner (My abs aren't at peak "look at me" potential yet) and changed into what seemed like way too much gear. I mean, who needs a wristband anyway?

I'm assigned a trainer who looks like a pitbull. Seriously. He has no neck and about 200 inches of chest. And a high pitched voice. I try not to laugh at how silly this tableau is and concentrate as he tells me in Marathi what I'm supposed to do to look like him someday (He decides I'm Marathi and will only converse with me in that language inspite of me struggling with translations for "I'm dying here" and "Please turn the fucking treadmill off"). He measures me up and says I need a couple of inches here and there and I'd look just like him. Whatever. I'm about 50 inches down on getting arms like him. He must be either blind or a very good motivator. I settle for blind cause here I am with my shirt off and he won't even comment on it...let alone ask me to join him for a protein shake at the juice bar.

10 minutes later and I'm huffing and puffing on a treadmill. I don't think I've ever run in one place since 1998. I wonder if this is a good time to bring up the fact I have asthma and my inhaler is in the locker room. I decide against it when I realize the only Marathi word for disease I know is that for "smallpox". After all, I don't need guys in head-to-toe bio-hazard equipment escorting me out of Gold's Gym..it's hard enough attracting the boys in the first place! I concentrate on what's playing on the TV above my head. It's some show on cooking what looks like eggplant. Is that really a help? I mean watching people make food at a gym? It's hard to follow what's happening with no sound. It's even harder to concentrate when you're running on #8 with an incline of 3. Damn. I should have jogged Zig Zag Road instead of settling for the flat Carter's promenade! My thighs ache.

Free weight time! I flex looking at myself in the mirror. Then I catch sight of a long-nosed Punjabi hottie looking at me and sniggering. I look away embarassed (Note to self: Only work out in non-cruisy hours) Aim High! Isn't that what my teachers always taught me? I plan on aiming high now. Go straight for the heavy weights. OK....the first set isn't too bad. The second set? I already am regretting my choice. Am I even gonna get to the third set? My arms are on fire. My chest seems to have caved in. The trainer stops by. "Sampla ka?" he asks me ("Are you done yet?") "Ho" I lie. I stagger to the water cooler and down about 10 cups of cold water. I wonder if it's OK to cry at the gym.

Crawl my way to the shower and realize I'm now too weak to turn the faucet on. I feel like I've had every single spike of the Iron maiden impale my soft, yielding body. My trainer walks into the adjoining cubicle. I forgive him all his machinations to get me to do more when I realize he has an arse only Michelangelo could appreciate. Sigh. Now I know why I'm going to continue working out even though I'm detesting it after my first day itself. Cause with an arse like that, I could conquer the world.

I exit the gym and head to KFC. 2 Zinger burgers down and I'm about ready for a third. I'm guilty already.

Current Music:
Namak - Omkara

An awesome movie and an awesome song. Probably one of the only "item" numbers I truly like.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

After a couple of weeks of the horrors that visited my city (floods, a riot and then terrible terrorism), I’m about ready to call it quits and leave this city that I love. Bombay has always been the city I call home, wherever I may live in the world. I’ve been able to identify a Bombaywallah just from his attitude and personality..and it’s just that attitude and personality I’ve loved. The brash, inventive, exciting, purposeful energy that drives people in this great city is just what gives me the energy and motivation to live in what is otherwise a very stressful urban environment.The bomb blasts that ripped through trains in my city have done what the riots in 1992 and the blasts of 1993 haven’t been able to do to me. Perhaps I was young then and just didn’t understand the significance of just waht was happeneing. All of a sudden, in 2006, at age 29, I’m confronted by the fact that I may just never come back home one night..or have a member of my family just vanish from this earth one evening. And that scares me. Scares me enough to want to leave and move somewhere. I talked about this with Irshad the day after the blasts. He’s young, ambitious and Bombay is JUST where someone like him should live and prosper. And even he had doubts about whether this is where he’d want to settle down, raise a family and get older.

I have similar doubts. I suppose I’ve always had them even while I was planning on coming back here from Boston. Now it’s just crystallizing into a plan. This is NOT where I want to grow older.I don’t see Bombay as somewhere I can have my white picket fence, 2.3 children and black lab. Heck, I don’t see Bombay as somewhere I can have a great date - let alone a relationship! “If you change yourself, then the terrorists would have won” is what we hear every second person saying. But you know what? I’m scared of dying. There’s tons of things I want to do, want to accomplish. Where’s my magnum opus? Where’s my work of art? Where’s the kids I want to bring into my family? Where’s the man I want to spend the rest of my life with? I may just not come home tommorrow if the terrorists have their way. And that scares me.

Suddenly, a quiet life in an American suburb doesn’t look so bad. Suddenly ,my dreams of living in Israel for a year look untenable. I just want to feel safe. I just want my loved ones - family and friends to be safe as well. Since we can’t be the change we wish to see, I don’t see any other option but to leave. Perhaps then the concerned authorities will realize they need to do something to prevent their best and brightest from fleeing. Why should I agree to live in a (let’s be honest here - all romanticizing aside) crumbling city that is rift with communal and economic stresses? Why should i have to wade through knee-deep water every time it rains? Why should I be afraid to ride public transport?

Frankly, I’m just too old to deal with this shit anymore. That sense of adventure has now morphed into a sense of not wanting to deal with stress anymore. The philospohy that I use for relationships is now a philosophy I use in my day to day life. Minimize stress and drama.

What am I doing about it? Seriously looking to move - that’s a start. I’m giving myself 6 months. By then, I hope to have a ticket to somewhere in my hand. Sad but true.

I love my Bombay…but from a distance.