Good morning, Bangalore!
I am partially agnostic. Now, I know it sounds like the phrase ‘partially pregnant’, which is impossible, but I have a complicated relationship with the Universe. You could say, I am not ritualistic. I don’t quite believe in the strict adherence of ‘dos and don’ts’ or the lavish pageantry that accompanies the process of praying and giving thanks to the Almighty.
My relationship with a higher power is more like a parent and child. I stomp my foot, cry, demand and cajole my favourite Gods if things are not going my way and, just as often, give thanks for the many wonderful gifts in my life. As I have grown older, my relationship with God has become mellower, and I have definitely become less demanding and more understanding. I firmly believe there must be a greater plan in place for me. It is ironical because as my kids grow older, their relationship with me has metamorphosed in exactly the same way! But that didn’t stop me from making an unreasonable demand from the heavens. I all but insisted for great weather in Mumbai where I am parked for the next two weeks. And lo and behold! It has been raining every day in muggy Mumbai, and I haven’t de-generated into a puddle of sweat! A little cajoling always helps.
There are advantages to schooling your children in strict no-nonsense Catholic schools. For eons now, the matrimonial columns have been asking for ‘soft spoken convent educated’ girls. It’s a total fallacy, because neither my daughter Alisha nor I are pliable; in fact, we and many like us are a tad bit too outspoken! We (convent-educated girls and boys) converse and write with an enviable fluency, are polite and have that certain grace of spirit which is undeniable. The direct contrast between my son (who went to a highfalutin international school) and my daughter is very evident, especially during an argument. Alisha will back down gracefully if things get ugly but Adnan will go for the jugular. A contrast, but I still wouldn’t change the either of them for all the riches of the world.
Alisha and my son-in-law, Anees, insisted I come to Mumbai to spend my birthday, and celebrate Diwali with them. Since my son is at a university in England, I jumped at their offer. Mumbai is a city that holds special memories for me, and my emotional umbilical cord is still uncut. A lot has changed, but some things are still achingly familiar. What I love most about Mumbai is the industriousness of its people and the pride they have in their city.
I went to see playwright Mahesh Dattani’s epic play, Dance like a Man, in the newly-renovated Opera House, which used to be a crumbling decrepit theatre showing old Hindi movies. The theatre that was beautiful in the early 1900s has been totally re-furbished and restored to its former glory. The stately lady, whose interiors once smelled suspiciously like an old bathroom, is now a centre for theatre and other artistic performances. A lovely café served hot coffee and snacks where everyone stood in a civilised queue. The polite staff even offered you umbrellas to shield you from the pouring rain. Immediately in my mind’s eye there was a comparison to my hometown Bangalore and what was done to the stately Opera House at the end of Brigade Road. The once landmark and heritage structure has now been turned into a ‘millennium hub’. I suppose we should be grateful that they restored the facade!
In the hallowed precincts of Opera House in Mumbai, I revelled in the company of fellow performing artistes, the lovely Lillete Dubey, Suchitra Pillai and Anant Mahadevan (all of whom I have worked with), and chatted animatedly with doyens like Dolly Thakore and Mahesh Dattani. Evolve we must, but with compassion and grace.Till next week, light and love.