The other day I saw the “I AM MUMBAI” video splayed all over my Twitter timeline. I wondered why people were suddenly revisiting a decade-old song. I clicked on the video half-expecting a rap song. Instead what hit me was the stark reality of living in this city.
A writer yells, almost seeking attention, “They burnt my books.” There is intense pain in his eyes but nobody seems to really care. There is indifference, some curiosity, but general nonchalance.
An agitated mother screams in frustration, “Jo dudh hamare ghar mein aata hai, us mein gutter ka paani mila hota hai.” People turn to locate the source of this angered voice but again nobody seems to care. But the engagement stops right there.
A few urchins grab hold of the microphone and protest, “Hamara bistar yeh table se bhi chhota hai. Humko hafte mein do baar hi kuch khane to milta hai.” People merely look up from what they are doing, maybe get a little discomfited. But no outrage nothing.
And then my favorite vignette. A young professional barks into the microphone, blocking a politician’s vehicle, “This city is my home. Yeh mere baap ka ghar hain. Samjhe aap! And I will not have your political posts dirty the walls of my home.” But they lunged for him and went after him while people watched with utter nonchalance. Or was it helplessness?
I interpreted these four vignettes as being symbolic of what this city has degenerated into and its anguish. Only upon subsequent reading did I come across this: “Divided by dates, and united by the slogan … explores four noteworthy stories covered by Mumbai Mirror in the last one-and-a half-years.” (Read the complete article here: Mumbai Mirror speaks louder).
Nothing I saw in the video shocked me. There was nothing I didn’t already know. While I didn’t quite associate the writer character with Rohinton Mistry, I remembered the sense of betrayal I felt when Mumbai University took off Mistry’s “Such A Long Journey” upon the insistence of a young political scion.
I sense the helplessness in that mother. My heart goes out to those street urchins. And I can totally empathize with the anger in that young professional. But I think on most days, disgust surpasses anger. Maybe, anger is passé. Maybe, it’s just another futile emotion.
I care little about the brand associated with the video. I haven’t picked up a copy of Mumbai Mirror in years and don’t intend to now. But I think I will watch this video often, if only to get disgusted and lull myself out of my spoilt, cozy lifestyle.