Archive for August, 2005


August 10th, 2005

9 th August 2005


I am back at the promenade today. As I am crossing from the road to reach to the promenade, I become aware that the promenade and the busy road are two worlds which exist simultaneously. Both the worlds are completely different and yet, they exist side by side. As I sit on the promenade wall, I watch the traffic movement and the timing of every signal. There is such regularity and continuity on the road. The cars pass by at regular intervals and the traffic signals operate at regular intervals with the cars coming to a halt. There is a kind of order which operates on the roads. While on the promenade, the order is of a different kind, not governed by traffic signals. There is no chaos even, but a subtle order. There is some kind of self regulation which produces order for the promenade and the people as a whole. I find this very interesting.


Time operates in a different way on the road and in a different way on the promenade. I cannot make much statements about this as of now, but I need to watch more carefully to come up with any observations.


As I sit on the promenade, somehow my love affair with this city begins once again. I spot Kinjal, younger sister of my once-upon-a-time college buddy. “I come here to jog regularly. See how much weight I have put on,” Kinjal tells me. After a while, she sets off. First she walks, then she does a bit of warm-up and finally, she is off jogging! As I watch her go away, I think of the fact that the space of the promenade is a regularity in some people’s lives. It is becoming a regularity in my life as I visit each day and make observations (and conclusions). It is a regular feature of the golden haired sexy lady who jogs with her dog regularly. It is a regular feature for Mr. Thakkar. Similarly, the railway station is a regular feature in a lot of people’s everyday lives. Yet, there is, I am certain, a distinct distinction between the regularity of the promenade space and the regularity of the railway station space in people’s life – and maybe that distinction is a matter of both time and space and also speed. At this point, I am wondering whether spaces become boring for people. What does the promenade space mean for people who live on Marine Drive ? Are they fed up of it? Similarly, is Mr. Thakkar fed up of the promenade now that he has been coming here since 1985? What about the old people who congregate regularly at the promenade? Is the space boring for them? What brings in boredom? I think this is an interesting line of investigation which I would like to indulge in apart from other questions which I have.


I start watching people again. There is a young gal who is trying hard to pull the leash and get her dog to follow her. I think her weight is beyond that of the huge doggy! It looks funny. There is another man with a somber look on his face who is walking with his doggy. There is the sexy golden haired lady who is socializing with some people along with her doggy.


Amidst all of this, there is a little girl of about six years, in a pram. She is being ferried around by a man and a woman. She has weak bones and is lying in a paralysed manner in the pram. Her eyes are set on the road and of her head which is clumsily placed, it seems that her brains are still working and she is processing something. I am not certain about her condition but practically everyone sitting on the promenade wall, watching her, is filled with pity and fear simultaneously – pity at her condition and fear of what if this happens to each one of them. The mind is such an entity and in the city, I believe that the mind takes on a different character, conditioned by elements of space and time. (Now, maybe I am obsessive space-ialist and time-ologist!)


I continue watching, my sense of focus somewhat lost. I am myself feeling lost, again trying to acquaint myself with the space of the promenade. I see a girl walking by and I am sure I know her, except that she is much thinner than I knew she was. I shout out to her and she is surprised. We start chatting, having met after a couple of years. “What are you doing here?” she asks me. I reply and put the same question before her. “I have also come here for purposes of research. Earlier, when I used to wear skimpy clothes and come to the promenade, no one bothered to look at me. But now, after the rape incident, I see that everyone is watching me. Things have changed.” I listen to her. We continue chatting, catching up on news, stories and gossips. After a point, we are both quiet. “Look there,” she points out to me, “There is a little boy there, peeing before the tree. Should I start boo-booing him or just let it be?” she asked. “Let it be,” I replied, watching keenly, “the little fellow seems to be enjoying himself and the experience.” And truly, he was happily peeing away, savouring each moment of the experience. For that instant, my mind wandered to the fact of nakedness and civilization. Back in Uruli Kanchan, when we women had to shed out clothes for treatment purposes, everyone would be hesitant, as if shedding clothes meant exposing something deeper than the body. Nakedness is condemned and here is this little fellow who cannot care and why should he? I think he shouldn’t. We have anyway created enough discriminations in our society!


My friend and I decide to move after a while. It was an interesting day at the promenade today.





August 10th, 2005

8 th August 2005


Today I went to Marine Drive after several days, nearly two months and I was beginning to acquaint myself with the place again. There are now steel boards on the promenade explaining “Promenade Rules” which include not feeding birds, no cycling or riding on the promenade, no sitting on the tetrapods and rocks, and some more which I cannot remember right now. Among the rules, no cycling on the promenade struck me most because earlier, I had seen parents, especially fathers, teaching their little sonny boys to ride their new cycles on the promenade. The promenade is a special place and space for parenting, particularly for men. I wonder who has framed these rules and with what objectives and aims in mind. Will these rules change the nature of the space of the promenade? It is Intercontinental Hotel which sponsors these boards. Perhaps then, the theory that the four grand hotels of the area viz., Intercontinental, Hilton, Ambassador and Marine Plaza, moved out the hawkers on the promenade, maybe true. Further down, as I walked towards Land’s End , I found a huge board stating how photography and film shooting on the promenade and on streets and pavements of the ‘A’ Ward was prohibited without permission from the Municipal Ward Office and Corporation. The board was over-towering, intimidating and disgusting. I began to wonder then what is the role of the state, if any, with respect to public spaces? What is the role of the public with respect to public spaces? Is the role of the local public greater than that of the visiting publics? I wonder …


I have strange feelings on the promenade today. I am here as a visiting public myself, more than as a researcher. Having come back from medical treatment, my mind is full of thoughts of health and at some level, I am struck by depression. I am walking around the promenade, watching people and yet, immersed in my own thoughts. As I look at people walking around the promenade, I think that everybody excepting me is healthy and fine. The sea is only adding to my depression.


The promenade is slightly empty today. Perhaps it is because of the fact that there was a gush of heavy rains only a while ago which may have caused the publics to move out. At one point, I sit down and wonder if the rains of Terrible Tuesday did anything to the promenade. But there is no story that I can read of the rains here. Everything seems fine, normal. ‘Normal’ is such a consoling word! Hawkers are there. People I used to see regularly are there. I have not seen Shah Rukh and Santosh Yadav today and I wonder whether the rains have harmed them in some way. I am getting eager to see Santosh Yadav. Somehow, I feel that a glance of him will give me a sense of familiarity with this space and put me in the right mood. His presence is very important to me for now! Then, is it the people who make the space or the space which makes the people???


As I am sitting on the promenade, the thought “spaces have stories to tell” continuously strikes me. I don’t why this is happening. Have stories do spaces have to tell? How are these stories imagined? Do spaces lead us to imaginations? Weird!


It is beginning to get dark and I decide that I have to move now. As I walk to the crossing, I suddenly catch a glimpse of Santosh Yadav. I am exhilarated. Familiarity returns!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



I head back home via VT Station. As I get off number 138 bus, I decide that today I have to place an inquiry about Arjun bhai at VT because it has been months since I have seen him. I run upto the two boys who are selling socks in his place. “Where is Arjun bhai?” I ask them. “He has gone to his village,” one of them tells me. My heart sinks and I ask, “Is he not going to come back?” “Oh yes, he will,” the boy tells me, “But why are you asking?” he questions me with surprise. “Oh, just like that,” I tell him, regaining my smiles again. Perhaps then, spaces become converted into people for me after a point in time!





August 7th, 2005

While It Rained, It Dawned On Me …


While it rained heavily in Mumbai, I was sitting oblivious, throughout, in a Naturopathy Ashram at Uruli Kanchan called Nisargopchar. Life is an interesting story of twists and turns. About two months ago, I contracted various illnesses including fever, cough, cold, an injury, a stomach bug, etc. I began doctor shopping in the hope of obtaining some relief and cure. But nothing came to my aid. About a month ago, I decided to go off on a weekend nature trek. During the course of the trek, my coughing increased severely. A friend advised me on taking the juice of a Himalayan plant which is known to spew out cough from the lungs. On taking the juice, my stomach began to activate on its own and I felt as if my dormant digestive system had begun working again. I spoke with my friend about this. We began talking about illness and disease at length. He mentioned to me how his mother, who suffering from myasthenia gravis, was wrongly diagnosed by the doctor as suffering from tuberculosis and was then put on tuberculosis drugs. Consequently, her condition worsened and two months later, the doctors realized that she was actually not suffering from tuberculosis. “I have heard of several cases like this where doctors look at symptoms and put patients on tuberculosis drugs only to find out that the patient is not actually suffering from tuberculosis. Doctors have become specialists instead of viewing the body as an integral whole,” my friend began to say, “They look at the skin problem as only a skin problem instead of examining whether something is wrong somewhere else. Then, the course of conventional medicine is to treat the skin problem externally, usually by suppressing the problem.”


I began to research on my own sickness and discovered that I was suffering from a condition known as Candida. The world of the Internet revealed to me that doctors do not even acknowledge Candida as a problem. The symptoms are totally unrelated and the usual procedure is to go doctor shopping since there are multiple problems. In fact, the intake of antibiotics only increases the condition. Candida is caused when the Candida bacteria in the stomach begins to form pods. This occurs due to excessive intake of sugars, white bread, yeast (bakery) products and these days, mainly due to over-chlorination of waters by the municipal corporation. It appears that 80% of the world’s population suffers from Candida, with women being more susceptible to this condition. The only cure to Candida is dietary control.


The first step for me then was to stop all antibiotics and go in for a complete detoxification. Therefore, I decided in favour of the Nature Cure Ashram at Uruli Kanchan. At the Ashram, the treatment is mainly in the form of helping to restore the body balance through removal of toxins which have accumulated in the body. Nature Cure believes that we each have an innate body intelligence and that the body is a wonderful mechanism which can heal by itself when allowed to through dietary restrictions, fasting and adequate rest. While at the Ashram, as I read several old books on Nature Cure and observed the method of treatment, what interestingly became obvious was the ‘ myth ’ of the ‘ germ theory ’ of disease as first propagated by Louis Pasteur and now, widely accepted in the medical community and among the masses. The germ theory of disease leads us to believe that the body is but a poor host to germs floating externally in the atmosphere. The human being is but a sorry victim to these deadly germs. What the theory fails to account is the fact that not all diseases are caused by germs, cancer for instance! Nature Cure believes, and here I quote Harry Benjamin, is that disease is caused owing to accumulation of toxins in the body. These toxins accumulate over a period of time and depending on your body’s constitution, the toxic matter may be deposited in either the lungs or the heart or the throat or the back, etc. We just give different names to different diseases, but the basic cause of disease lies in faulty lifestyle habits including faulty diet and inadequate rest to the body including the digestive system and other mechanisms in the body.


I was particularly interested in the ‘germ theory’ of disease because it is so widely prevalent that to believe that germs are not necessarily the cause of disease is too difficult to accept in our current paradigm. We think of germs and associate them with certain populations including the ‘hawkers, slum dwellers, pavement dwellers,’ etc. These are germ spreading populations. And I wonder why we do not think of food consumed in hotels and restaurants as not germ propagating or disease causing for that matter.


The other interesting thing which came to my notice during my stay at the Ashram was the amount of State Control in terms of medicine and medical treatment. The drug industry is huge and its basis lies in greater belief in germs and the germ theory. Modern medicine has allowed us to subjugate our body intelligence and suppress signs of body’s throwing out of toxins as ‘disease’. Thus, in case of fever and common cold, when the body is attempting to throw out accumulated mucus and toxins from the system, we resort to medicines to suppress the unwell condition, thus leading the body to deposit the toxins elsewhere, causing greater harm. State Control appears in the case of ‘ the state’s benevolence ’ in giving treatment. It appears that vaccines and vaccination only harm the body more than helping it. I was appalled when I came back and read that our supreme government, apart from deciding on terrorism and terrorists (which is another suspicious matter altogether), is now deciding on what we should eat – the banning of the sale of any non-iodized salt. Did we ever seek to question whether we truly require the amount of iodine that is ‘given’ to us in the salt sold in the market? What are our body’s requirements?


I am now beginning to become skeptical of medical research that is being published. I’d rather make independent inquiries apart from popular theories floating in the market. I am also beginning to re-examine debates on medical patents and the flow of public tax money in medical research. Wouldn’t it be better if a segment of that money is utilized in making available rich and pesticide-free fruits and vegetables to the population? What alternatives are available to us? Can we think differently?