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Greed Is God

Greed Is God

September 25, 2012

On why Bombay is now London is what Bombay was.

I spent the first twenty-six years of my life in India—the spiritual epicentre of this planet or so the west may have us believe. I left to cure my wanderlust and over the years fell into that age-old NRI rhythm of returning home for annual holidays to renew family ties, touching base with the playing fields of Bombay—the city where I grew up and which has most influenced my writing. Each year I am struck anew by the change. Over dinner table with my parents, at lunch at the brand new Thai restaurant with friends, on the annual new-year’s eve trip to Goa with siblings, the inevitable topic that dominates every conversation is how to make money on the stock market, how to make your money appreciate by booking apartments off plan and then selling on appreciation, how to build assets in order to start a new business to make more money to buy another get it! Greed is God and it is well and truly alive, here and now, in the transcendental East.

On the other side, back in London, the hot topic of discussion as always is how to leave the city for the countryside, how to travel, to downsize in order to find true meaning in life, how to eject out of the day job to pursue that elusive passionate dream of doing what one truly loves. In fact I have come to the conclusion that the true reason behind the real estate obsession in the UK is to sell up and make money in order to start a yoga centre in Spain, or perhaps to go on that retreat to the ashram of Amma – the hugging saint or to find the funds to retrain as a life coach. Perhaps you are like my friend Neil, a reformed junkie turned tarot card reader or Nina, who gave up her day job to become a NLP therapist, or like me who hopes to find a way to keep the bills paid – miraculously – so as to write full time? Now you know why we are surrounded by psychics in this city. For we all want a seer who can look into the future and assure us that there will be a time when we can find ourselves, it’s not all in vain, for the west is the new east is the west.

Many Londoners laugh in disbelief when I tell them that I live here because it is peaceful, has a slower pace and is not as overwhelming as many of the cities in the East. All through the year, I am never too far from a green space in this city and I find as I grow older that nature plays a very important role in nourishing my soul. Then come year-end, I land in the crowded, heaving, megapolis of my birth city and all my eight senses flare open. It’s an over-the-top assault of touch, taste, seeing, hearing, wanting, breathing, living, loving and longing. All my childhood angst pours over me slipping down my back in a perspiration of delight. I can feel the pores on my skin burst open as I relive the experiences which made me and new churning, seething prose is squeezed out of me. It is then I realise that I am fortunate to have my feet in the East and my soul in the West. I can reach for the economy quotient in the reality of Bombay—the city which is the seat of the universal goddess of wealth and of my own goddess of words, the currency capital of the new world; I am brave too, to search for my emotional quotient, in the intangible, connected spirit of London — the Mind Body Spirit centre of this universe which is at the heart of some strange awakening movement; where so many of us are on the quest for that elusive something.

Do you agree? What has been your experience of the west is the new east phenomenon? Do write in and let me know.

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  • Shovon Chowdhury
    Shovon Chowdhury
    27.09.12 04:50 PM
    Delhi's pretty green, actually. We live across the road from the Deer Park, and it's magic.
  • Laxmi
    26.09.12 07:26 PM
    @C.Suresh, you are right, the Metro's don't personify India. But drawing from personal experience and as a product of big cities my entire life, its the London - Bombay contrast that is my every-day reality :)
  • Laxmi
    26.09.12 07:25 PM
    @Pooja Vir how true when you say: My spirituality and my greed travel with me no matter where I go!
  • Pooja Vir
    Pooja Vir
    25.09.12 11:20 PM
    India has not changed; some of the things that some people do have. London hasn't changed; some of the conversations that new visitors are starting have. My spirituality and my greed travel with me no matter where I go. How much easier would life be if I can let a city take that over for me?
  • Govardhan Giridass
    Govardhan Giridass
    25.09.12 11:09 PM
    Looks like old Harry is full of hate. No wonder he is spewing bile. Never fear Harry, the eternal sleep is just around the corner. Then you can spew from Hell, which I sincerely hope is in the form of a combination of Bombay and London for you, the cities that chewed you up and spat you out...
    25.09.12 10:37 PM
    What it is about both of this cities people like I will never understand. I hate both place with passion even tho london was my childhood home for 20 years. I just detest the place. What does these cities have that other places don't. They are overcrowded, dirty, chaotic, poluted and expensive and overrated by some writters and what is more to it then that? You can write great things about it but end of the day it's still polishing turd if you ask me. Period.

    I do understand when you said that most Londoner prefer country side. It would have be more accepting if you had said that your soul is trapped in hell called London.
  • Joseph James
    Joseph James
    25.09.12 08:13 PM
    "East is east, and west is west, and never the twain shall meet." How right Kipling was! When west comes to east, east goes to west.

    It isn't surprising that West which hasn't had a tase of true spirituality and mysticism turns to east, 'the spiritual epicentre'; and east which has had a surfeit of asceticism craves for some of the occidental affluence.
    The American poet, Emily Dickinson, put it succinctly when she said, 'Success is counted sweetest by those who ne'er succeed'.

    A though-provoking post!
  • Akanksha Dureja
    Akanksha Dureja
    25.09.12 02:37 PM
    Loved reading this:) The contrast is what makes both the worlds so similar!
  • C. Suresh
    C. Suresh
    25.09.12 12:50 PM
    Ahem! The grass is always greener on the other side, is it not? So the East now thinks that the erstwhile Western values are good and the West thinks the vice versa :)

    Btw, I really do not know whether the values of Indian metros are indeed the current values across India.
  • Anupam
    25.09.12 10:22 AM
    Loved this. Especially your avid pursuance of your passion and the characterization of places that influence you en route to it.
  • JoNi
    25.09.12 10:03 AM
    I love the part on how the West became more spiritual and the East more greed. That's not 100% true but there is truth in it, that's quite funny. I did the path in the other way, from Paris to Bangalore... in order to find a different way of life, more exciting :)

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