As a child, I loved long drives. I’d sit in the back seat of our Corolla, looking out the window, feeling liberated as the wind caressed my face and played with my hair. We’d cruise along Bahrain’s sunbaked highways, the cassette player serenading us. Though fully aware of neatly trimmed bushes and tall lampposts punctuating the seemingly never-ending divider, and forming a mirage, I’d get lost in my own world. It was here that I’d find myself in ways that I never could otherwise.
After all these years, road trips continue to nourish my higher self, if I may. I recently took one such trip; I’d tagged along with him to one of Mumbai’s busiest industrial areas. We were inching forward in chock-a-block traffic when a young man, no more than 35, caught my attention. He was running from one vehicle to another, wearing close to broken rubber slippers and holding a red plastic tub. Mercury rising and six wheelers belching smoke didn’t help his situation. I saw him get rejected multiple times before he struck a deal; a quick exchange of a fresh, green cucumber for cash and he was off to seek another parched soul, victim to Bombay’s merciless summer.
Road trips – my path to self-actualization – and what the last one I took taught me.
How much trouble some people take to earn life’s basic necessities that many of us take for granted! We see young and even old Bahraini men selling water at street lights ever so often. Parking lots are always milling with the expat car cleaner looking to make a quick buck. Fruit sellers, local and expat, selling watermelons on roadsides are another example. May be we can’t help them all but we sure can make a difference to at least one of them. How are you going to change a life today? Have a think and I will too, but before that, please excuse me while I beckon to the charming chai waalaah (tea boy) selling garam chai (hot cups of tea) at the dhaabaa (local/street café).
Melissa Nazareth, lived in Bahrain for almost 3 decades before moving to Bombay. In her columns titled ‘BAH-BOM-BAH’ (Bahrain-Bombay-Bahrain), she shares her most interesting experiences, hoping to make the world a better place one word at a time.