• Roopa Raveendran-Menon

Dubai metro tales

Long time ago while climbing up the filthy steps of Kurla station swarming with an odd mixture of smells, sweat and faces, I thought of lines from T. S. Eliot’s poem Wasteland. ‘A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many, I had not thought death had undone so many.’

The whole reference jolted me. Kurla with its slush filled platforms and muck strapped staircases was the last place for me or anyone to get any kind of lyrical inspiration.

Years later, standing in one of the custom made grandeur and artificial perfection of one of the Dubai metro stations I had none of these poetic visions. By the time I calmly ascended the squeaky clean, air conditioned train and sat on the comfortably cushioned seats, my expat mind tried to stifle those nostalgia sniffles. Of those days when I used to jump into the local trains, jostle my way through the stench of crab and fish baskets, mouldy umbrellas, and of course people.

I suddenly longed for the local train treats- oranges slapped with red chilli powder that burst in your mouth in a hot, sweet flavor, pink fleshed guavas, crispy and cool, spicy and tangy bhelpuris. And with the soft, swish of homesickness, all the debris that heaped on the train floors such as orange peels, peanut skins, coriander twigs and other unmentionable items that I loathed then had suddenly turned into beloved nuances and quirks worthy to reminiscence and mope over. At that moment, to my horror, I had turned into a version of my cousin who during her 2 year stay in Amsterdam had missed home so much that she watched several re runs of Sunny Deol Paji’s forgettable flick ‘Champion’ and other mind numbing Bollywood offerings while choking back memories of Juhu chowpatty chaats and desi mitti ki khushboo.

Sooner than later, the military precision of Dubai’s stress free and luxurious life style catches up, and one fine day you learn to wake up to your new life, having safely docketed away all the wistfulness and passion of your erstwhile Mumbai life to some unknown realm that only returns when one steps foot on Indian soil or watches a Salman Khan flick. And little by little Dubai starts to grow on you and it becomes your new Mumbai as you feverishly stash away new memories and experiences to create your next nostalgia folder.


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