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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!




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