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October 3rd, 2005

27 th September 2005


I am back at Marine Drive today. I am quite well-dressed today. I was supposed to go out, but that programme was cancelled. I decided to wear the same outfit and accessories and walk at Marine Drive .


My Cell Phone and I: Earlier, when I used to sit and observe people jogging and walking at Marine Drive , I would notice the marked use of cell phones. Joggers and walkers would either be listening to music through their cell phones or they would be talking with someone through their cell phones.

These days, when I walk back and forth at Marine Drive , I use my cell phone constantly. I am chatting with someone or the other on my phone. And I find that I am not much removed from the publics and practices.

If joggers are not talking on their cell phones, they are walking with partners / friends they have developed in the course of jogging.

I wonder then, whether it is difficult to walk alone, in silence. Is noise a very essential part of our existence in the city? Are silences very tormenting? Is quiet disquieting? What happens in cities?


Myself and Others: I was walking towards the Lands’ End at Marine Drive . Suddenly someone tapped me on my shoulder. I turned around. It was S. S was my senior in college. He jogs frequently at Marine Drive . You could say he is more of a runner with his own periods of regularity and irregularity. About three to four months, I initiated a conversation with him in an effort to interview him and to understand his experience of space at the promenade.

Today he tapped my shoulder while running and indicated that he wants to talk to me after he has finished running upto Lands’ End. He returned back and started chatting with me. “I noticed you from behind and thought it was you. I said to myself – here is someone who has been missing from Marine Drive for sometime. Where were you?” I told him about my illness and therefore my inability to be at the promenade. We started talking about work – what he was doing and my new job and my intention to quit it.

He expressed concerns for my health as if he were truly concerned – pretensions that we wear in the city. “Yeah, you have lost a lot of weight and you are looking different,” he remarked. “We should catch up,” he said to me. I assumed that ‘catch up’ meant the promise to do the interview which has not yet happened. But S had a different idea in mind. “Let’s go to a Lounge Bar this Saturday.” In my own mind, I laughed aloud. I was reading his attraction towards me. I agreed to go to the Lounge Bar with him, knowing fully well that I would cancel the programme at the last minute because I am not interested in going to a Lounge Bar or for that matter anywhere else with him.

We departed. He kept running along the promenade. Then he began exercising on the sea wall. But I was not interested in pretensions and impressions.

As I walked along the promenade that evening, I questioned the very notions of community that I have been fantasizing and romanticizing about all this while. I questioned class – what is the difference between S and Manoj Kumar? I questioned gender and gender discrimination / reservations / equality in the city? I questioned myself and my research practices. I questioned insecurities, loneliness and the self as each exist in the city – entwined, enmeshed, side by side, besides, insides, inside each other. What happens in cities?


Santosh Yadav and I: I was chatting with my sister on the cell phone and walking. Just at the promenade, opposite Hilton Towers , I saw Manoj Kumar with his sing-chana peti . He was about to cross the road. It seemed to me like he was packing his bags for the evening and shutting shop. I decided to stop talking on the phone and ‘catch up’ with him. “I am wrapping up business for the evening. Now I will go to the other side to help my brother who has set up a bhel-puri stall,” he said to me. “Life is very difficult now at the promenade. The police does not let you do business here after 8 PM. I am thinking of wrapping up my business and going back to the village. I will set up a shop there with two and a half lakh rupees and I will be well off.”

Chaliye , have some peanuts today,” he said, starting to fill up a packet for me. I started to offer him money. “Let there at least be one day when you don’t pay me for the peanuts,” he insisted. I refused, more out of the fear that I wanted to maintain boundaries with him. “If you insist on paying, just give me one rupee,” he said finally. I ultimately gave him two rupees. Then he remarked, “What you are wearing in your neck is beautiful.” He was talking about the little necklace I had adorned. I became conscious and said to him, “Oh yes, thanks. I have made this myself.” I was lying. And I was lying because I did not want to reveal my monetary riches – I wanted to be at his level and interact with him through that level. But I realized that there will always be a difference, not so much in a monetary sense but in a cultural sense. He could be richer than me in terms of monetary possessions, but in terms of culture, I will always be ‘high class’! What happens in cities?


Myself and My Vulnerabilities: Perhaps after the Manoj Kumar incident, my vulnerabilities as a woman will be there for a while. I don’t know whether I should call them vulnerabilities or fears. There are times when I feel I should be dressed as plain Jane when I go about with field work because people’s perceptions and impressions of me would be different then. And then there are those times when I ask myself why should I not be myself and dress the way I like when I am doing field work. Would things be different if I was male? What happens in cities?


  1. October 3rd, 2005 at 02:27 | #1

    Is noise a very essential part of our existence in the city?

    I think we have the need to not feel alone. And noise in some way gives us company. Whenever I am alone at home, I generally keep the TV on, coz the company of the noise makes me feel less lonely.

  2. October 3rd, 2005 at 08:11 | #2

    Wierd. This world is full of wierd people and this site is no exception. There are so many idle blogs which have been written just for the sake of being written and which have got responses by the score and here’s a blog which has something deeper than just the surface and all it gets…

    Went through most of what you have written and i couldnt help but feel like adding to it, though i know i cant. And besides, i aint too sure how acceptable would my barging in be. But one thing’s for sure, i’m gonna enjoy going through this blog in the days to come.

    P.S. More than noise, or even sight for that matter, i like my imagination do the living for me.