It’s so easy to forget yourself and your roots in the throbbing of the world. In this socially connected, technologically advanced and visually noisy world, you get sucked into the crowd. The crowd that wants the most out of life and milks it well. Does that mean that you, sitting in that park, reading your book, no phone in sight and in no hurry to leave are aimless and under-achieving?
I don’t think so. People who take time for themselves and create the space around them to breathe have more chances of being able to collect themselves. That’s something I grew up hearing. But what happens when you live in a place that is noisy and constantly in motion?
I’m sitting in an air conditioned room in Bandra, right in the heart of Mumbai. Although I’m on the fourth floor, I can hear the traffic loud and clear as though I’m standing in the middle of it. The horns are just as shrill, the brakes just as squeaky and the soccer field outside, just as noisy. I’m wondering how anyone living in this noise can possibly attain some peace and quiet when they don’t want to stay up till 4 in the morning for it.
Peace, I am reminded, is a state of mind. You can travel the world and situate yourself in environments of quiet and serenity and you may still find yourself uncomfortable and lost. Because running away from yourself is hard. The peace that you are looking for can only come when you have accepted yourself and your reality, not when you have ignored it and shunned it from the depths of your mind and body.
So when I most want peace and quiet in this noisy city, I spend time with my grandparents and the stories they carry with them like the boxes of chocolate for my little cousins. It’s not the same as my quiet home in suburban Vancouver. But it sure is peaceful when the window is wide open and you hear the rain drops splash against the concrete and asphalt louder than the honking cars. When the coconut trees larger than life, larger than your four floor apartment building, droop heavy with rain. When you catch that one boy caught in the rainstorm in the middle of the soccer field put his arms up to the sky to feel the warm rain wash away his long day at school.
Peace in a big city like Mumbai? Not impossible.