Tuesday, 11 September 2012

The smell of Struggle

There's probably nothing better than waking up on a bright sunny day and taking a deep breath of the fresh morning air. Smells great, doesn't it? On some days (especially for those of us still enrolled in the education system), that first breath is probably the most crucial, sending some much needed oxygen to our heads before another busy day.

Spongebob knows what it's all about.

However, things aren't as lovely on this side of the planet. When you first land in Bombay (or any Indian city, I'm told) the first thing you notice before anything else is the air. The sheer weight of it can bring you to your knees. Many people associate the smell to be that of sweat, or perhaps less appealing forms of body waste. Comedian Russell Peters once described getting off a plane in Bombay as receiving "an overwhelming blast of shit-smell". However, the more time you spend here, you realize that the air encompasses the city like a blanket, and more than the smell, you become aware of just how intrusive it is. 

While it may become increasingly apparent that some roads smell fairer than others, while some smell like death itself (public latrines, yeesh), the underlining fact is that Bombay has it's characteristic smell, unattainable in any other part of the world. Anyone living abroad who has spent more than a few years here will agree with me when I say that the smell of Bombay brings forth a rush of nostalgia (and some nausea) whenever we happen to chance upon it.

This, my dear reader is the smell of struggle. The city of Bombay itself embodies the word 'struggle' and to be a resident of Bombay is to become one with the human struggle. Whether you're a businessman or beggar, a policeman or pilot, there is simply no way for you to live in this city without having to rough it out. Compromises and adjustments become routine, and when you finally settle in, you become extremely conscious of the struggle happening around you; that there is a greater agenda at work than yours or mine. For me, the smell of struggle is what keeps me going, driving me closer to my goals (and away from public toilets).

For worth it's worth, there's more to take away from the smell of Bombay then just olfactory damage. There's a life lesson in there somewhere, if you are willing to find it. If not, well, then just breathe in the smell of struggle and take solace in the fact that you are not alone. :)


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