After nine stright days at work, I finally have two off. They're right in the middle of the week - Wednesday and Thursday - but I can accept that. I'm relieved, more than overjoyed, because two days off in succession is a rare experience. It's not something I've felt often since university. I don't know what I'm going to do, though.
As a kid, the weekend was a pretty simple concept: you played till your toes stank. Now it's more complex. Is it called 'relaxation' and 'recharging' or 'simply a waste of time'? Will the world stop if I put my feet up for a while? Even worse, will my world come to a grinding halt? These questions had then been put on hold for two days. Thus, in an uber-relaxed frame of mind, I went out for dinner.
The roads had been repaired recently, and the yellow sidelines and white dashed lane-dividers were a pleasantly surprising new addition. It could mean the beginning of lane discipline in Bombay. As I waited at a red light, a woman wearing a tattered saree approached and raised an outstretched palm outside my window. If I don't look at her, she'll go away, I thought. She had my attention when she tapped at the window, leaving smudge marks on the squeaky-clean window with every tap.
It always happens. In one way or another, for all the precautions you take, for everything you prepare, there's a virus in the system of Mumbai that will, in its own little way, make you question what you're doing. Not in a malicious way, but in a straightforward one, asking, "did you prepare for this eventuality"? It makes you feel helpless, small, and philosophical. I wonder if all big cities make people feel this way.
At dinner, the conversation veered towards money in cricket, and money in cricket writing. Big difference. The guest suggested Singapore, where he lived. His three kids nodded. Ofcourse they would. They were homesick. He had had a tough time starting a venture in India, but had finally understood how it all took place.
"Stay here for twenty years, and it'll take five off your life." he said. His solution included a relocation to Perth. Or Singapore. Whichever helped make life more comfortable. A red lobster, tentacles and all, appeared between us. In India, he continued, I would work like a donkey for half the standard international wage.
It's true, there's no money here. I thought of all the reasons I wanted to be in bombay, and money wasn't one. Love, culture, freedom to do whatever I want, and the small matter that cricket had a massive following here were reasons. Then there was something else as well. Something that woman did when she smudged the windows. With each dull knock at the window, she told me that my contentment was an illusion. It was nice to know that.
The guest said he'd wait for my reply.