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September 18th, 2005

13 th September 2005


This evening, I am at Marine Drive again. Nowadays, more than a researcher, I am a self-discipliner as well as a walker on the promenade. I keep walking, also in an attempt to feel the atmosphere and experience space. Observing other people’s practices and experiences of space is interesting. But as a researcher, I cannot be removed from the audience for I am as much a participant and practitioner as everyone else. No holier than thou legacies here!


I am walking along the promenade. It is 7 PM and darkness has taken over light. It is wonderful to be walking, and yet, the experience of observation and observing is different because of insufficient light. What is the relationship between light and space?


As I am walking, I am certain about how at different points at the promenade, the space has different characteristics. Space of the promenade is not a linear, homogenous space. It is many spaces which become one only due to perception. The space opposite Marine Plaza Hotel is completely different from that opposite Hilton Towers – the former is pure isolation and even a bit repulsive while the latter is vibrant and full of people. The way people use spaces in these areas also seems to be determined by light. I am now certain that there is a strong relationship between light and space.


Lovers and couples are in intimate contact with each other at every point. Again, spaces where couples are intimate are spaces where there are lots of people as well as spaces where there are not lots of people. Intimacy creates its own space amidst crowds and this is a fascinating experience – how personal space operates within the realm of public space!!! As I walk up and down, I feel the vibes of intimacy. It seems like a cosy atmosphere to walk around in. The private security guards are also not interfering in the spaces of affection and love. I am not sure how they feel about this, but I am wondering how these emotions and affections displayed in public influence the character of the city per se. I have no moral issues with kissing in public and displaying affections in public. Yet, what irks the moral brigade? Perhaps Marine Drive continues to be a symbol of freedom in this city – freedom, which makes this city very, very special!


Manoj Kumar : Manoj Kumar is present this evening as well. He is again sitting on the sea wall. Seems like he is without business even today. He tells me that he was participating in Ganpati festivities yesterday. “I really enjoyed myself in the middle of the sea. I can swim. Swimming is good fun.” He asks me whether I go to Delhi or not. I tell him that I was in Delhi very recently. “ Delhi is a different city,” he starts to say, “ Dilli dilwalon ki, Bambai paisewalon ki ( Delhi is a city of the large-hearted while Bombay is the city of the moneyed!)” and we start laughing. Manoj Kumar was recently in Jammu, participating in the Vaishno Devi festival. He seems to be a man with a lot of faith in gods and goddesses. “I tell you, Vaishno devi fulfills all our desires. She has healing powers. A physically challenged child left at her doorstep overnight is cured the next day morning. It is when the Mata calls that her devotees have the opportunity to go to Vaishno Devi.” As Manoj Kumar speaks to me, I question the practices of religion and faith among people. Religion is a sensitive issue, a matter of the private domain. It becomes an exciting and volatile issue when in the public. Religion is that anchor which leads you towards spirituality. Spirituality is that state where you leave behind the anchor of religion. Spirituality is a state where the boundaries of inward and outward begin to diminish. In everyday life, religion plays a critical role. I am yet to understand the nuances of everyday religious practices. All I can conclude right now is that among the middle-class and regular office-goers, religion seems to provide a sense of security – a sense of regularity which in turn provides a structure to everyday life and therefore security.

I walk up and down the promenade. Sometimes I unconsciously ignore Manoj Kumar’s presence on the sea wall. Sometimes, I just smile as I pass by him. There are times when I want to be alone on the promenade. But a community is gradually developing and as the depth increases, I am sure that questions about relationships, and issues in relationships will arise. And then it will be upto me to decide whether I choose to resolve these issues or avoid them.

Ultimately, one difficulty and one insight surface this evening itself. Manoj Kumar asks for my phone number because he wants a job. I don’t want to give my cell phone number because I am yet to develop trust in him. I am not sure if my phone number is safe in his hands because he appears to have tendencies towards mischief. But I am intrigued that he wants a job. He says that business has become difficult because surveillance is strict. This hampers business. Therefore he wants a job. I am surprised but at the same time this is an important insight. Bombay has been a city of enterprise. It is the freedom to establish trade, through legal and illegal networks, through tactics and subversions, influence and power, that have made this city special. Enterprise has the character of innovation, risk and fulfillment of dreams which then lends to the spirit of the city. But from what Manoj Kumar has said today, it appears that the spirit of enterprise is reducing in this city because conditions of freedom are decreasing and government intervention is increasing. Multinationals are establishing in this city – we are now thinking in terms of big businesses, bigger structures, but perhaps this has a drastic impact on the local relationships and local interactions. Taking people away from enterprise and pushing them towards jobs is like enslaving people. And if people are slaves to jobs, what then becomes of the spirit of the city? And, whoever said that jobs provide security …


The evening closes on this insight!


  1. September 19th, 2005 at 03:49 | #1

    yes i guess i am a well treated slave. but then being well treated may not be slavery. will it?