I live in Mumbai. It’s the city that never sleeps and yes, it sees a lot of rain. Though these are the two traits that an outsider may associate Mumbai with, for me, it’s another story.
Bombay is the name I know my home by. I was 91 days old when my parents brought me to this city and since then it’s been my city. I have grown up here. I have seen the extended, humid summers, and the slight and strong winters. I have been both on house-arrest due to the showers and stuck at work during a deluge. I saw my current favorite restaurants come up and my old favorite shut down. I've seen the age old chaat walas hike their prices too! I have witnessed the widening of the roads and building of freeways. My city is filled with contradictions, some beautiful and some not so beautiful. I’m one little person among the 20-million-plus that live in the City of Dreams. And it’s a city that never ceases to surprise me.
Having said that, though, I have two struggles: 1) Visual lethargy – when I see somethings for long enough, I stop ‘seeing’ them, and 2) I get discouraged by the disparity of my city. Every time a flight lands at the Mumbai airport, I see the vast runways and the adjoining slums adorned by blue sheets as roofs.
And here’s what recently happened that made me sit up and take notice: I took a metro.
My office moved from South Mumbai to West Mumbai recently, so my travel modes have had to change too - drastically! I have started commuting by metro.
For the first few days, I was kept busy just finding my footing in the crowded train. Once I got past that hurdle, I realized I could look out the window. Like every other Mumbaikar, I started gazing. I could see the sun, shining brightly, I could see the clear skies, I could see the trees and the road below. I would laugh inside my heart as the metro would chug past the traffic jams. There was a sense of unmistakable pride - pride that I’d get to work before ‘them’.
But even as the pride wore off and habit sunk in, I started to see beauty in the chaos. Even the vehicles stuck in the traffic jam on the road started looking like cars arranged in an order for display purposes. The flaws of my city didn’t look like flaws, the chaos looked orchestrated and the sun looked like a spotlight. Everything looked different from a higher vantage point. I have started to fall in love with my city again, thanks to the metro!
And that’s exactly how we and our lives look to God, I think. Our ‘stuck’ is His display. Plus, when God looks at us through the prism of Jesus, our chaos is His beauty. Our flaws become lovely. I’m pretty sure that when God rides the metro with me every morning, He’s falling in love with me all over again. Jesus is proof.