Friday, January 16, 2009

Linking Road, Yeeks...

(Empty stretch along Linking Road, before the shops open. I noticed the wires hang bulbless before the shops. Obviously, the bulbs are removed when the shops shut, to prevent theft!!)

I used to live in Bandra for a long time, on St Paul Road, off Hill Road, in a dilapidated bungalow (which continues to crumble as I occasionally pass it now). My spouse-to-be and I were there as PGs. Yes, I belonged to that rare tradition-breakers (for middle-class, I am talking about) who had a live-in relationship before it became permanent. And it was NOT all that wild thing Indians think live-in relationships are: usually it is rather a mundane convenience, commerical convenience too: since both of us worked on shifts we hardly even saw each other:) But like I said, in Mumbai, though all my immediate colleagues and middle-classly clerks and office staff knew of it, nobody made a song and dance of it. Nobody treated me like a fallen woman or whatever it is they say about such `bold' women in our country:) Which is why Mumbai was so liberating for me, from stifling Chennai which, despite its intense pretense at insularity, can be rather nosey about such things. But apparently these days rooms/flats are difficult to find, for live-in couples. Which goes to make my point, Mumbai is becoming boring and stuffy, like the rest of India.

Now to come to Linking Road specifically. Even those days when I was wide-eyed new to Mumbai I never did much of shopping around Linking Road. I found/ find things there on the pavements, pretty tacky. Unlike some `wow', `I-must-have-that' moments you get in Colaba or even Hill Road (not so often, that stab, these days). I remember reading a while back that there was some nasty eve-teasing moments when the shop-keepers were caught ragging the girls from the schools near by. So, I don't have a great liking for that stretch.

But somehow my kid got into her pretty head she must visit a particular shop for a particular pair of shorts that her particular friend had. And so there we were, before the shoppers took over the pavements. We located the shop: I explained to my kid that most of the stuff on the rack at that particular shop with that particular appeal to her particular friend seemed like discards!! So we sauntered off sadly from there and went to another shop, off KFC. She liked a top on the mannequin. And the boys undressed the mannequin. And then, till my kid tried on the top and we left, say ten-15 mins, the shop-keepers deliberately did not dress that topless mannequin. Their behavior indicated that they had slipped into a crude moment: they were walking around it, fingering the mannequin. And though one could not come outright and say this was eve-teasing at its worst, something like that was happening. At around eleven am or so, and with few women still out on their sprees, you could be in the minority in that male-dominated space. Not a pleasant experience at all. My innocent kid did not notice. But I felt that sort of capped my Linking Road experience. And convinced me that it has nothing of appeal to me, before, now or ever.

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