|sent from: Bombay, India. destination: Venice, California, USA|
The plane lands. The ground outside is brown and dry. Stepping off the plane is like stepping into an over; the heat is wonderful. Chaos in the baggage hall, people ignoring the posted signs prohibiting smoking, pushing in line, loudly talking. We get into a car, and instantly he is honking at whatever’s ahead of him. It is new, but welcoming. The heat seems to make everyone more aggressive and alive. As we leave the city I see children and adults standing on the side of the road, relieving themselves. The air is pungent. I know I am in… Spain, as a child in the early 1980s.
As different as Spain and India are, many times Bombay triggers a sense memory of Madrid 30+ years ago. I found it frightening, exhilarating, but it was familiar, it was home. Today Madrid is much more mannered, less out-of-control, cleaner, “nicer” in so many ways, less scary, but also a little less interesting.
Already I see change in Bombay since the first time I visited 4 years ago. It is cleaner, less abrasive. I can see it cleaned up in 30 years time, a nicer city, probably by most metrics, but perhaps something exciting might be lost as well.