Lost in the Crowd…
It’s about 9 on a hot evening as I make my way from work to catch the bus that will take me back to my apartment on the other side of town. My throat’s been pretty sore since I moved here. I’ve no idea why, and I’ve given up trying to get my voice back. I’ve avoided my favourite drink for as long as I could, but what the hell, the throat hasn’t gotten better anyway! I open my can of Pepsi to its familiar fizz & gulp some down. My ipod drowns out the noises of the road with some Arctic Monkeys. I watch, as the traffic moves past me in a constant blur, and soon I’m caught up in its intricacies, in the boy speeding on his bike to God knows where, in the middle aged man going home slowly on his rather old scooter, in the lady buying her kids ice cream.
My bus rolls in; I get in & grab a window seat. That seat is essential. I suppose I’ll never grow up, I still fight for the window seat. And as has been every city that I’ve lived in, this city’s different from all the others.
This city’s Hyderabad.
The first thing that struck me as my train chugged in was the language. A South Indian, I was born and brought up in the North. Hindi comes naturally to me, but Hyderabadi Hindi is a cultural symbol in itself. The mishmash of Urdu, Sanskrit, Hindi & Telugu is an absolute delight to listen to, & very very infectious. By the end of my first week, I was saying “Ho” & “Nako” impulsively. If you don’t understand, they mean Yes & No respectively!
In my second week here, we had a store visit, and I slept off blissfully on the bus, crossed my stop and found myself in the confines of Hyderabad’s famed Old City, where the iconic Charminar stands. I felt like I’d been transported back in a Time Machine. All the signs are in Urdu, everyone is in the traditional Islamic garb of Kurtas & Purdahs, and the only eateries I can see around me are for Naans & of course, Tandoori cuisine. I had to catch another bus back home, but before I did, I had a glass of what they call Falooda here. I swear they must have it in Heaven; it was one of the best things I ever tasted!
I look out from my window & I see the swarm of humanity that is Hyderabad, where it almost impossible to discern an individual from another. If I’m not conscious, my mind will not even try. The people I see will be drowned out as noise, they would not even register. I would dismiss them as part of the picture, just another brush stroke on the tapestry!
And so would all of you!
But that’s so wrong. That’s not the way we should look.
Every person out there has a story. This guy must have people waiting for him at home. She could have her children waiting for their mother. His grandkids could be waiting for their grandpa to bring them sweets. This guy could be buying those flowers for his wife. How many people are out there, how many dreams, aspirations & lives are woven in that single frame I see out the window? Every person out there is so important and irreplaceable, as I’m. As you are.
My stop appears. I get down & walk home, stopping to throw the can in the dustbin. Pepsi has been among the few constants in my life, along with books, my ipod & cricket. They’ve been with me through my journey, and this leg of it has brought me to Hyderabad.
This is me, this is my story. You know part of it, of one guy in this huge city. I walk on to cross the road and am immediately engulfed by a huge horde coming from both sides. I merge into the multitude, and you can’t see me anymore.
I’m a small town boy in the big city, and for the moment, I truly am, lost in the crowd…!