Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Traversing Train Time

Traversing the history of a city
divided into twos and fours
laterally, conditionally,

histories flash past of each speck of sand
born in the once-upon-a-time sixty-six villages
as the dowry of a fair-skinned queen

nursed by wives within the fortresses
(of wealthy men building castles on opium soil)

histories now at home in small cars and big cars, homes on hilltops and homeless gutters.

This journey remembers them all.

(*) For those of you not familiar with Mumbai's history, the city - erstwhile Bombaim - was given to Henry VI as dowry when he married princess Catherine of Portugal; and hence it came into the control of the British East India Company who recognized its potential as a port and developed it thus. The rest of the city - what are now the suburbs, was once the area known as Salcette: the land of 66 villages. The main city within the fortress (Yes! there was a fort at Fort!) built by the company grew to become the major trading station it is today which grew from strength to strength upon the trade conducted by both the Empire and the native business folk. Today these business men are remembered as the forefathers of some of the great industrialists this city has produced but who, at one point in time, built their fortunes on the trade of opium. Ironic as it sounds, today's philanthropists were in fact, yesterday's drug dealers. Of course, back then the sale and comsumption of opium was perfectly legal and even lead to some very bloody wars in the Far East especially in China, but more of China that another time!

1 comment:

Rohit said...


I posted a comment on your last post, but I guess it didn't publish.

Great going. The poet in you has sprung forth!

And the way it reads, so hath the historian. :-)

Keep it up,

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