Wonder what it is with seas and oceans! They evoke a multitude of emotions, ranging from thrill, to a sense of calm all the while exuding a sense of power. But then maybe it's just me and that intense link I have forged with a sea while growing up, that make me see a sea and throw me into a different plane altogether, and at some level it is the play of nostalgia that paints an emerald green seascape in my mind,complete with gulls and waves and sand arches as well!
Try as I might, I cannot fully describe the plethora of emotion that a huge water body like the sea manages to bring out. Sitting by a window 30 stories above sea level,everything looks tiny, even towering pines and luscious cherry trees. Men look like ants scurrying about on snaky roads. The only thing that looks grand and magnanimous from up above is the majestic sea that spans out way beyond the horizon. But then again, wasn't the concept of the horizon something the sea created? The point where the sea and sky appear to meet? For me the ocean has a humbling effect, implying that no matter how high one gets, there is something larger, more mysterious out there that man can never hope to conquer and that greatness has to be respected. Another key element though is that no matter how great the ocean is in terms of its raw power, symbolically it always appears calm, and never ruffled. Aware of his greatness, but never lets it show.
Growing up in a city by the sea, he was always the patient listener and I have had intense telepathic conversations with the sea. Breathing in the salty air, listening to the splashing waves talk back to me, have the balmy wind ruffle my hair, somehow the sea became my go-to guy for everything. So much so, that when I had to move to a land locked place, with no water body, I did go to say a rather poignant goodbye much to the amusement of an accompanying friend. Standing in the waves as the sea sucked the sand beneath my feet, I felt that the sea was teaching me to hold my ground even if the very ground beneath my feet were not stable. He also seemed to tell me that I might believe that I am standing tall, but there is only transient sand beneath my feet, and standing tall might be just relative.
And today, when I got a whiff of the salty air in a land far far away, by an ocean thousands of miles away from my old friend, the Arabian Sea, I felt as if I was back in his balmy waters, talking to him again. And that was when I realized that the real confidant was my city. If not for Mumbai, I might never have befriended the sea. If not for the life she offers, one where I'd push myself beyond my limits, take my chances, stay focused and see no boundaries, a life tinged with the din of local trains, honking motorists, people forever in a hurry to reach their Ithaca, I might never have longed for a solace in the sea. And I might never have formed an instant connection with a sea that is emerald green as against the grey of the Arabian Sea.
And as if to reinforce my realization, the sky grew cloudy, and far in the distance I could hear the same old familiar sounds of Mumbai, I could feel the smell of wet mud from fresh monsoon showers mixed with the smell of roasted corn on the cob on coal fires, all telling me that no matter where I went, or what I did, I would take with me the inherent traits of being a Bambaiyya as also the heart-to-heart talks I've had with the sea. And I said to myself, people may call Mumbai indifferent and insensitive, but if you listen keenly, she does talk to you, like she did to me by the Chesapeake Bay!