Talk to me, dear teenager, you awesome 16-year-old, child adult, social media czar, downloader of every kind of app, selfie expert -- I need to get into your head, under your skin, without treading on your privacy. So you've just finished your ICSE, you’re on the brink of college and the threshold of adulthood. Hormones raging, holidays beckoning, happiness personified. In the coolest city, the world is yours to conquer. You'll soon be able to drink, drive (well legally at least, and please, not that the same time). No more boring school uniforms, you can wear those designer clothes into the college canteen. You want to soak in the fresh air of Mumbai, an era that your parents talked to you about -- those good old days in the city -- open-air rock shows at Rang Bhavan, all-night partying, bindaas Bombay, where most things worked, nothing really pissed you off, and 'live and let live' was the philosophy.
Illustration / Amit Bandre
And while a part of you finds your ‘peeps’ old fashioned, do you feel that while landmarks in the city haven’t changed, the landscape definitely has?
So you walk down Marine Drive with the boyfriend, the Queen’s Necklace replete with LED lights, aware that a stuffy policeman can appear from anywhere, ready to enforce ‘love jihad’.
So, you go to all those fabulous restaurants that the city is now so famous for. Versatile world cuisine -- Japanese, Chinese, Italian… but wait, some spoilsports have banned beef. So Chilly Beef, Carpaccio and Chateaubriand steaks, all gone in one fell swoop, not because of the cruelty to cows but commanding votes. Someone’s deciding what you can eat.
You’ve bought tickets for Jerry Seinfeld, a chance to see the great stand-up comedian, and then Bombay bureaucracy kicks in. Parking issues. No dude, you can’t be serious, you’re thinking. But yes, the ‘panga’ is parking.
You read about statues being built in the sea, when the repairing of roads should be the priority. But you’re powerless to do anything.
Talk to me, oh awesome teenager. How do you feel, as you relish each new step towards a state where ‘bans’ rule?
There’s even the chance of being arrested for an anti-government Facebook post.
Look at your Class 11 UP brother who spent two nights in the slammer for an FB comment against Azam Khan.
So everything is an app to you now. You live in a time of hashtags and Google maps. But what’s the point of Internet progression when infrastructure-wise we’ve regressed to the point of no return.
Where moral decay masquerades as modernism.
You’re 16, a romantic idealist, the world is your oyster --
But what is this India you’re growing up in, kiddo?
Not quite a dictatorship. But diktats coming at you day after day.
Are you going to bury your face in your Samsung?
Or create an app for change?
At least a hashtag that says, #giveustheBombaythatwas.
Rahul da Cunha is an adman, theatre director/playwright, photographer and traveller. Reach him at rahuldacunha62 @gmail.com
The views expressed in this column are the individual’s and don’t represent those of the paper.