Welcome to JP Melville's review, experience, and statement on foreign aid and the international development industry. A conservative faith in family. A love affair riding the riotous tensions between money, personal freedom, the majestic travesty of our specie's ecological footprint, and economic politics. Selected writing of both prose and poetry, anecdotal travel log to rhetorical essay, dating back from the 1980's to the present. Enjoy!

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Enfolding This Mumbai

Sleeping curled tightly on top of crumbling walls
Bundles of ragged cloth, bodies, men
Woman squatting, scrubbing, washing clothes
Sidewalk transformed as washboard
People ‑ public, private lives moulded into nakedness
no colour, colourless lives of dust and grime.

Street sides cracked curbs
Rusted railings
Muck of wash water, sewage flowing listlessly in the gutter
Surprise, two churches ‑ one Catholic, one Evangelist
A Hindu temple pressed in among peeling buildings
Discovery hidden in a nameless alley ‑ a wedding, a tent,
sense of colour splash of bright red and yellows, greens.

What a multitude
Every space packed with busyness, dwellings
Shacks and shanties, cardboard and sisal cloth
Five floor apartments, relics of the past with shuttered balconies ‑ natural air
Modern glass buildings ‑ electricity dependent
Printed paper advertisements plastered on portals, pickets, and posts
Massive billboards, crudely painted metal signs announcing
Associations for cancer victims
Associations for Islam
Associations for the young,
What a visual cacophony,
sense of colour, dull with carbon and dust.

Motion moving motorized madness
Auto rickshaws angling, accelerating, manic motorcycles manoeuvring
Round black Fiat taxis tucking, bobbing busses belching braking blocking
Transfer trains clickety clacketing, sleek sedans sliding
Transport trucks Honk OK Please;
These vehicles, old and new, thirty years apart and more,
Different flavours, different cultures, different histories,
Different sentiments, different dreams
The old, the new, the in between, cultural change, taste of time

In the whirring traffic
A pair of oxen
The driver's hand rich earthen brown
Resting against the cream speckled rumps of his beasts
Carting sugar cane, vegetables, fruit
this sense of colour, deep,
hues of scarlet tomatoes, mottled yellow bananas, white radishes tinged with pink,
green spinach fresh, lush, cool, desire.

A narcotic come over me
My eyes opened
And I saw,
Amidst otherwise black, tarry pavement, litter, concrete, and bedlam
In the swarming hive of Mumbai
Trees, vines, grasses
Some here, a patch there,
Creeping in corners, cracks, crevises
Trunks wrapped up the edges of buildings
Branches reaching into windows
Leaves caressing the coarse, dense air breathing sunlight
Exhaling soft shade,
In which neighbours chattered over preparing their household meals,
In which friends holding hands took tea together,
In which young parents dressed in their finest
Their necks surrounded in garlands of perfumed petals
Beamed with twin infants held proudly in their arms.

Two flowers:

One oblivious
Blustering, surging,
Pompous, ambitious, blind;

The other eternal
Invisible shadow, humble,
Patient, enduring, understanding, kind;

One flower while Mumbai unfolds,
One flower enfolding this Mumbai.

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