Thursday, May 13, 2010


Sometimes, I travel to the ad agency where I work part-time via a little neighbourhood called Amboli in Andheri. It is a place where many of the residents are Catholics, and it's a place where things seems to slow down of their own accord.

My auto-rickshaw, which hurtles down the manic Andheri roads when it is not fuming at traffic jams, trots with leisured ease down the winding paver-blocked Amboli roads. The sun seems softer, the shops seems sleepier, the air seems gentler. There's a playground where somebody has thoughtfully hosed down the grass-less field, so that the kids can play without the swirling dust choking them. There's a street-corner flower-shop, where a maxi-wearing young lady with flowers in her hair deftly weaves myriad garlands. There are gaggles of goats and sheep by the roadside - some leaping out to surprise the auto-driver, some chewing cud casually. And there are numerous wooden or concrete crosses with the legend I.N.R.I (Jesus of Nazareth, King - Rex - of Jews; in Hebrew script, I and J looks the same).

This benign spirit seems to guard and cosset lilting lulled-down Amboli from the heat and dust of Andheri - with its buzzy busy-ness and reckless skyscrapers and frantic shops. Amboli houses are small, dilapidated, sloping-roofed shanties, or four/five storeyed small-townish apartment blocks.

That place has a character of its own - a stubborn refusal to blend in with the rest of the faceless, multi-storeyed, swanky-malls-dirty-roads urban desertscape of the rest of Andheri.

It's anyone's guess how long this oasis will hold out. Deserts have a habit of taking over everything around it.