One of the downsides of being well cared for here in Bombay is that no one will allow themselves to let you pass even a moment of discomfort. Whatever I need to do – cabs are called, drivers summoned, and I cram my too-tall frame into a too-small space and a jarring, noisy, stop-start adventure through the streets begins. I miss walking, cycling, running, getting by on my own steam. “too far“, “too dangerous“, “what??” is the reply to each of those.
After a particularly long day sweating in one car after another, knowing that I could have walked the 5km home in a hour and taking that same time to be driven, I said “I’m taking the stairs.” But here is the lift, come on. “I’M TAKING THE STAIRS.”
So, the steps go by, two by two, and then one by one, flight by flight. The stairs are more used for storage than access; bags of cement, an old toilet, stacks of wood, unidentified items that surely must be rubbish. The ground drops away 5th floor, 10th floor, 15th floor. The walls, though barely two or three years old, are thickly stained with paan
that has been spat by the workers. I see the entryways to the apartments; there is a Rainforest Cafe wannabe, here is Failed Funky, now I see Religious Wreck. The 18th floor comes at last.
My legs ache, at last.