It's been awhile since I came here myself, time to dust out the cobwebs formed due to disuse. More importantly, make some noise and resettle myself so that I don't feel like an alien in my own space.
I have come armed with a pail and gardening gloves to weed out the straggler creepers that have set up home in this little sanctuary of mine. I guess I must blame the monsoons in India, it makes such a wonderful breeding ground for anything unwanted..
My very very black laptop bag that was left unused in my room after I landed in Kochi, turned a unholy shade of sickly gray in just a week. I didn't need microscopic vision to see monsoon fungus spreading all across it..
Kochi seemed to grow old in the months that I had been away. Strangely I have never felt that when I visited from Mumbai or other cities where I lived for most part of my adult life. I wonder if I sound like a rambler. Hear me out. There's something poignant about going back to your hometown that have always been coloured in with your fond memories.
The problem is the disenchantment is sharper. The city not only has to make peace with crumbling infrastructure but also the heavy burden of living up to our expectations. As I made my way to the Marine Drive and the Boat Jetty in Kochi, I wondered how I never noticed how rundown it had become over the years.
The tall buildings look ugly and squat, the colour run off in channels, leaving mildewed trails. Those 'big showrooms' with 'impressive stuff' look like figments of my imagination. The swanky malls and brands apart, little supermarket chains like Varkeys that gave Kochi its maiden taste of having the choice to decide your product preferences was all about, lay deserted. Heard they are shutting down. Many shops that I frequented as a child are no more. They either gave up the space for road widening or folded up as people queued up at newer shops.
The Children's Park and Subhash Park of my weekend memories look like emaciated old ladies, unable to keep their spine straight, overrun with weeds. I saw kids still swinging on rusty swings, parents standing by uncomfortably, for the concrete benches had green puddles of stagnated water. The main attraction - the 'huge fountain' at the entrance looks like a sorry runt of an excuse. Ma used to sit there, waiting for us - children - to exhaust ourselves, before letting us make a mess of cone icecreams - dribbling it all over the pretty frocks. Now I look at those ugly orange cones and I cannot fathom how I thought they were 'the bestest in the world!'
Did my city grow old or did I grow out of it? It reeks of uncaring authorities and no sense of civic pride in keeping it pretty. Where do the taxes go? I have seen 20 monsoons there before I upped and left. Did I never notice the apathy or has it just creeped in now?
Maybe a city goes to seed just like our personal spaces go to seed. Disuse, abandonment, uncared for existence - black words but maybe my memory is at fault here. When I sit miles away, I see only the things I want to see, remember it the way that is convenient for me. The rest are tossed into the drawer of things I don't need. I don't know when my city found its way into that drawer.
What's the point of this lament? Perhaps, I should begin the weeding and the clearing of cobwebs in my head first. Let's begin here. Clean up my little cyberspace apartment, light up some candles and mull it over.. Moreover, the famed English summer is in hiding, its dreary and cold. Maybe that's adding grist to the 'rumination' mills. :)