Tarini is at a birthday (ice skating followed by lunch) and Kumud, Mira and I are at the mall where eleven year old Tarini is to be picked up post lunch.
The newspapers have been filled with articles on the increasingly expensive tastes of Mumbai's youngsters. Rs. 5000 in spending money per month is par for the course, the youth are becoming major targets for the luxury brands and leading restaurants. Children complain of feeling "unconfident" (sic) if their clothes don't carry a label.
Went to Nagpur on work two weeks ago, a so called tier 2 Indian city. Nagpur is much cleaner than it used to be, thanks to an energetic commissioner who knocked the place into shape. "I now feel reluctant to throw my banana peels on the street", a customer professed, "and hang on to it until I get to the office". My colleague laughed and said that people faced no such inhibitions in Mumbai.
We drove 100 km outside of Nagpur, where life is still very rustic, basic and poor. People had lighting, but that was about it. Our visit was to a steel factory in the middle of nowhere that provided employment to 1000 people.
Mira talked the other day about the personification of cars. "My friends always talk about their 'car being late', 'the car not being able to find parking', all examples according to our budding scholar of the "personification of the car". Her mother (and my wife) piped up to say that the more relevant issue was the fact that the drivers are considered irrelevant and of no consequence, and certainly of less relevance than the Marutis or Hondas that they drive. Please read White Tiger by Aravind Adiga. I haven't ready it, Kumud has, so I feel like I've read it. By the way, I similarly feel that I have read:
Cutting for Stone, by Abraham Varghese
The Finkler Question, by Howard Jacobson
Beatrice and Virgil, by Yann Martel
The Sense of an Ending, by Julian Barnes, and not to forget
The River of Smoke, by Amitav Ghosh
I'm still struggling (just a little) with Wolf Hall, another 100 pages to go.
Anyway, the relevant point about the drivers is of course their de-personification, more so than the personification of a piece of Korean engineering.
It’s 12.07 a.m., time for bed. Raja, one of the two mongrels dogs belonging to the compound, is barking at passersby. Raja was banned from his spot with the guards downstairs because he apparently bit one of the rag pickers. Rag picking is an organized trade in Mumbai I’ll have you know.
Raja has since started living with the guard of the other building in our compound, a half completed structure under litigation due to a dispute with the owners of our compound. He still comes to say hello to us when we walk Rustom, but has stopped tagging along for the walk. He has also by the way, made friends with the rag picker.
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.