BootsnAll Travel Network

Back to Bombay and Beyond


So my fate brought me back to Mumbai, just a little early than anticipated.  I made my way through the uncharacteristic cold dawn air and mist on a local train towards Chembur.  A short time later I climbed the flight of steps to Ratnadeep’s door and rang the doorbell.  Surprise; I’m early!  He unexcpectedly but warmly welcomed me in, and for the next week I was at home again.    

Life in Mumbai moved very much as it did previously; full of cocktails and conversation.  One highlight was an out-door concert of western music, surreally capped off with the famous spanish Christmas song, Feliz Navidad by none other than the elderly, visually-impared yet extremely talented songwriter himself Jose Felliciano.But I could not linger there for long; I just escaped a world of comfort in Gokarna and I can’t fall into the same pitfalls of passification while my whole being is craving adventure.  The heavy heart that I have leaving only reminds me of the familiarity with having a place to call home, but the appetite for experience is pushing me towards furter exploration of India.

.   .   .

Now it is well past sunfall and I sit in the open doorway of the moving train.  My feet hang out and dangle a few feet from the motion-blurred ground.  A slight lift of my head reveals an endless stream of indefinable scenes that have power to depress as much as they can inspire.  Infinite tales of despair and arcane joy are reflected in the faces of the slum-dwelers, warmly illuminated in the orange hue of trash-fires. I can’t shake the overwhelming feeling of shame at my relatively extreme priviledge.

Yet, despite their hard life, there is something miraculous in the smiles radiating on their faces.  This un-restricted euphoria present in their smiles that I have been confounded by for some time.  While it would be absurd to say that I am depressed by any means, an unfulfilled quest for clarity that has been unintentionally spawned by this whole extreme change of life.  Maybe it is the constant traveling and neverending intense experiences that my emotions have been subject to.  Perhaps it is vast culture shocks found transisting such varied countries.  Whatever the cause, I now understand the solution.  It is something I began to grapse on the beahes of Gokarna, but something that has only now become available for me to explain in words.  A phrase in Gregory David Robert’s Shantaram (which I highly recommend!) reads: “Sometimes in India, you have to surrender before you win.”


Only a month past, a young Indian boy raised up the courage to speak to me in broken English and ask if he could throw away the crumpled up trash currently co-occupying my seat.  After a bewildered shake of my head he carelessly tossed the garbage out the window before smiling and running further down the aisle.  I wasn’t really surprised that he did it; everybody else does. The trash piles lining these tracks provides fuel for the slum-fires.  It also gives jobs to the rag pickers and serves as food for errant cows!  At that time, I thought I was free.  I almost felt it too… at least I believe I did.  Now I realise that while I had previously surrendered to my whim, I failed to completely comply with my surroundings!

Only now do I feel liberated, when I no longer cling to any prior relics from my society.  It is part of the system… toss it!  In one quick movement, I crush the baby paper chai cup in my fist and flick it to the top of a passing garbage heap.  Ah, the struggle has passed… or has it only begun?  I feel more content, but that could just be from the breeze ruffling my hair!  While I follow my own path and have previously found little trouble in adapting to life in unfamiliar situations, the journey has taken on a greater weight and liberated me in a way previously unimaginable.

I didn’t start my travels with any profound soul searching mission.  As much as pure exploration and experience were my aspirations, I never fathomed how much of it would have happened within.  As in love, the best always seems to be found when you are least searching for it it.

see all of my photos from the train to Jodhpur

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One response to “Back to Bombay and Beyond”

  1. Rick says:

    Wow…very cool.

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