Walk down a crowded street in the thick of this city. Walk through the cobbles, the dirt, the garbage, the dambar and the grime. Look up. left. right. below. scan the tops of domes, and parapets, and sulabh shauchalays and the charred end of a cigarette smoking on a metal drain cover, thrown there by a detective who had to hurriedly start his car on account of his subject disappearing into an irani restaurant, her beau in tow. Stare at the shops, the signs, the people. Get a 30 rupee foot massage (with some con treatment thrown in for free – doesn’t matter if you don’t have it bhaisaab,prevention is better than eating apple a day. and after all sir, ghar ki murgi daal barabar) outside Rani baag, or better still get your ears cleaned with a specialist outside Aazad maidan.
Smell the incense fumes near masjid, tast the attar in the air woven into the gaze of kohl lined eyes looking towards the maw of a dust filled skyline. Spit twice on the side of the road, because a black cat crossed the street in front of you, and now you have to cut his journey (he cut yours). pay the pandu because jugaad is in your blood, and flows out like hari patti. drink chai with an urchin outside a Lodha township, and snatch away the 50 cyclostyled sheets the xerox guy sold him for 2 ruppees.
take the lamp of your curiosity and shine into the crevices of this dark secret that is Bombay. Go down on her and listen to her moan. Insert the jargon of your broken argument into the serpentine logic of a dream replayed every evening between the shengdana wala’s smoke filled nods and his friend, the panwallah’s nondescript transactions. They sit in cahoorts with the gola waala, who tries to seduce the cinnamon stick girl Chameli selling marigolds at the signal.
discover the city like a jigsaw puzzle. allow it to take you by the roots of your hair and thrash you about like a mango fly too light to ride the wind. Sonder through the city.
grab a story by the scruff of its neck and haul it before you. take it through the third degree. or don’t. depends on how you are feeling. because the city won’t care either way. or it might. maybe a little too much.
sulk at the sun. or the traffic. or the empty streets, or the 3 am cigarette vacuum.
it doesn’t matter. whatever you want to do. whatever itch you want to scratch. bombay’s there. She understands and hands you a sharp enough object. not sharp enough for blood. but just enough.
to scratch the itch.