It’s 6.58 in the morning and we’re in Bangalore, at my parents' home. I overslept, a lapse brought on by my cold. Life starts early in the Tiwari household. Kumud, Mira and Tarini are still asleep. Forgive them Father, for they are weak, not aware of the benefits that banging doors at 5.30 a.m. brings to your health.
From my vantage point on the sofa I see people running past in the early morning, getting exercise. There's no running for me today, 2013 is all set to go out with a whimper.
What I like about this imperfect city in which we live year round, Bombay, is the effort by some to reclaim the city, to try and establish order and cleanliness where there was little or none. On a recent cycling trip on a Sunday morning Mira and I rode through parts of Horniman Circle, past Yazdani Bakery where we picked up some fresh bread and onwards to Ballard Estate. What we saw were beautiful buildings in various states of refurbishment. Small pleasures such as those make up for a lot.
The Aam Aadmi Party did finally come to power in Delhi. It's early days but governance has suddenly become a topic. Propriety seems to be back in fashion. Lal Bathis, the hated read lights on the cars of members of Government, Parliament and other national institutions are being banned. The Chief Minister drove to his first day at work in a $10,000 Maruti Suzuki.
What would the effect of good governance be on our city?
2014 will hopefully bring an uptick in the global economy. The US is doing better, Europe appears to be out of the woods. India will face elections but one way or the other governance will be front and central. It may be too early to say, but the days of horse trading pols are hopefully numbered.
It’s 8.15 a.m. and I’m jogging around the lawns of the Bombay Gym. The winter sun is rising over Bombay, casting the lawns of the Bombay gymkhana in a mellow light. The grass is wet with dew. Two men are doing their round of surya namaskars at the end of their daily workout with a fixed band of men and women.
A few weeks ago a fire swept aside the hutments and the meager and miserable belongings of slum dwellers living in a slum bordering our otherwise tony neighborhood. The huts had been built on stilts over mangroves that surround much of Bombay. How do you replace that which was illegal to begin with? The inhabitants marked off what was left of their plots, now a mushy area of mud, with pieces of string.
Mira and her school’s fellow student council members helped raise money to buy the affected children new school bags and school supplies.
State elections in four states resulted in the opposition BJP gaining or regaining power and an upstart political party, AAP (the Common Man’s Party) set to form the Government in Delhi. The arrival of this new party, on an anti corruption platform, so unsettled the ruling classes that the Lokpal Bill, an piece of anti corruption legislation stuck in a parliamentary holding pattern for 45 years (!) was tabled and passed in less than a week.
The newspaper today has a report on a young police inspector who just passed out of his training college at Nashik and who had taken up his first posting in a small town in Maharashtra. The Anti Corruption Bureau "caught him red handed accepting a Rs. 20,000 bribe”.
Our brethren from 'abroad', Indians living in the US and the UK, have started descending on Bombay. The twang at the Gym has changed, hand carried bottles of mineral water surface again. As they arrive the local glitterati gets set to leave. Conversation in the locker room turns to everyone’s holiday plans for Christmas and New Year, Thailand, Singapore, Dubai.
We've been enjoying an unusual bonanza of museum exhibits here in Bombay. Flemish paintings and the 'Cyrus Cylinder', a cylinder with cuneiform writing extolling the virtues of Cyrus, the Persian emperor who conquered Babylon.
For most parts of the country winter is the best time of year and we too are intent on enjoying the mild warmth. Let's see what sprouts of renewal 2014 brings.
Btw, the banner photo was taken from our holiday home outside of San Gimignano at 6.20 am. What light! It lasted all of five minutes.