Monday, 3 March 2014

Home or Away? - A Place in the Sun

Hi Honey, I'm home! And oh, I see you've knocked up a brand new international airport while I've been away. Oooooh, Chhatrapati Shivaji, look at you all gussied up with your glass walls and natural lighting like a big, proper airport but hang on a minute, what's this?

CARPET! CARPET! CARPET! CARPET! Migraine inducing purple and orange swirls, as far as the eye can see. I haven't slept a wink all night, I've had nothing but five small bottles of white wine to sustain me and now this?   

Not only is it enough to pop the eyeballs out of your head but it also gobbles up wheels, making my nippy Samsonite a dead weight. I swear it'd be easier to drag a dead body the length of Juhu Beach than to cross this carpet from A to B with a clinking carry-on full of Duty-Free. Forty million passengers a year are going to be cursing the numpty who said: "I know, why don't we have carpet instead of normal airport floor?" as they lug their stuff through this shag-pile soup. #I'm just sayin'.

Personally, the top two things I look for in an airport are 1. A Mulberry Store and 2. A smooth surface upon which to glide luggage.

(I haven't seen the first yet but I've only been in Arrivals - Epic fail on the second) 

That said, other than THE CARPET (I'm shouting 'cos it's loud) a big thumbs-up for Mumbai's shiny new airport. It's a substantial improvement on the last.                      
At Baggage Reclaim I got chatting to an earnest young American in the city for the very first time. "So what are you doing here?" I asked.

"I'm a magician, here to teach tricks to the children of sex workers." His reply.

So deft was the elevation of my eyebrow that I think he missed it. Mind you, if I'd have held up both eyebrows with my middle fingers, I think he would have missed that too. He was EVER SO earnest and I am a b-yatch. A joke formed in the darkest part of my brain but I quickly swallowed it down. I've only been back five minutes and the madness has started. 

Day Two in this fine city and I nipped across the road to the foot spa for a three-way with two lovely Thai boys who stretched me out on a rack, one pulling my hair while the other cracked my toes. I was home for breakfast before 11am (ladies fingers and a coconut) with the Mumbai Mirror (natch)

My highlights of today's news:

1. A water pipe has burst in a place called Seepz. 
2. A policeman by the name of PI Pimple is in trouble for being lazy and neglecting his duties. 

There is obvs a lot of other heavy stuff going on but snippets like this amuse me all day. Now I'm feeling guilty about Mr Magic, at least he's doing something, if only pulling rabbits out of hats, not just sniggering at the papers and having three-ways like me. I would like to get down to Kamathipura to offer my services at Kranti, a fantastic NGO which helps the daughters of sex workers find their place in the world. They are looking for folk to help with homework etc but need a six month commitment which I cannot give because of my comings and goings. 

For the past nine months I have been supervising building works at my house in Hunton, Kent. I wore the same clothes everyday and stopped everything at 3.40 pm to watch 'Home or Away? - A Place in the Sun' on More 4. In this show, a couple who cannot decide whether they want to live in the UK or somewhere abroad look at properties in the UK and abroad, usually France, Spain or Florida. I have yet to see an episode where the couple can't make up their minds whether to live in Kent or Mumbai. 

Fortunately, that decision has been made for me. I live in both and life could not be more different in each.

Last week in Hunton:

1. Went to Tesco to get kippers

2. Painted window frame

3. Went for walk

This week in Mumbai:

1. Dined under stars (and flight path) in beach restaurant rammed with with Bollywood A-listers

2. Sat down in the road outside HSBC Juhu crying in frustration after staff told me I didn't exist (despite banking with them for the past five years)

3. Played Mah Jong at a five-star (only because best Mumbai friend had gone away on a black buck safari) with three women, each from a different continent, whooping them at every game (All the while wearing LK Bennett killer heels - I only wear wellies or slippers in Hunton)

4. Martin Scorsese was in town 

5. Joined Om-chanting class

I honestly couldn't tell you which life I prefer. Each one helps me to better appreciate the other. Last week in Hunton, I opened the window in the dead of night to listen to the silence, broken only by the hoot of an owl. The sky was velvety black and the only light, the moon. I missed my husband Mick, four thousand miles away in Mumbai.
My dawg (who lives with me when I'm in Hunton)
the view

But now, one week later, here I am in the Maximum City. I can hear drilling, wailing, banging, honking, barking, shouting, whirring and drumming. The noise never stops, it goes on all night and is relentless. Mick sleeps through it, as he always does, while I pace the flat like a demented thing seeking peace. The lights are off and the curtains are drawn but the electric yellow light seeps in under doors and through gaps. I don't sleep much here but I read a lot more.
Our other place (at night)
The other view

The quiet of Kent is a welcome respite from this madness but this madness is also a welcome respite from the quiet of Kent.

Thing is, I don't feel I belong in either.