Winter is usually gloomy and unfriendly. The winter of Mumbai, more so, because it is dark and foggy at dawn without the dip in mercury that one would earnestly expect.
I had expected the same stark blackness to greet me, as I stepped out at dawn today. However, an unlikely saviour emerged – the old incandescent street lamps, an omnipresent resident of the city, yet rarely appreciated or even noticed. With its bright yellow glow, it seemed to be fighting the darkness with great fervour. It even seemed majorly successful, since only a few odd dark patches and shadows remained on the streets.
My subdued spirits, were instantly lifted up. The imagination soared as I feasted upon a wonderful canvas painted by the lights of Man over the darkness of Nature.
I was being transported to deep into the past,
Into the Bombay of the British or a young Mumbai of the underworld.
The Victoria Terminus glimmered like the British Queen, fashionably late, on the way to her cocktail party. The Marine Drive, in complete exuberance, adorned with a thousand yellow pearls, could have inspired the gloomy poets to write a pleasing sonnet praising the ‘Queen’s Necklace’. The Great Arabian sea, however, turned gloomier, a hue of blue darker than usual,against the subtle golden beauty of the gardens on the Malabar Hills.
I fantasized walking right into Gregory David Robert’s Shantaram with the Afghani Gangsters leisurely smoking a cigarette outside the Cafe Leopold. The streets of Colaba would be murmuring with activity. Like me, even the peddlers and the dervishes fanatically love the bejeweled hue of the lamps, and under this shower, silently go on with their trades in a trance. Strolling in front of the Taj Mahal Palace, watching the monumental structure display its glory, shaded by moonlight and partly by European styled lamps, in the ethereal lights would flush happiness through your hearts.
Not surprisingly, A Coldplay song was playing in my head, on loop-
Look at the stars
Look how they shine for you
And everything you do
Yeah they were all yellow
Finally as I witnessed the red streaks of morning fading away my yellow lights, I was brought back to a different city; A hustling Mumbai, stopping for no one, enjoying no past glory and certainly not bothered about the quaint dusty street lamps.