August 24, 2010: When I first arrived in Mumbai, I felt like Arthur Philip, first Governor of Australia. He had been rushed from the Subcontinent of the new colony he would establish. A group of convicts, but in his notes he preferred to call them colonists.
For all my knowledge of Indias richy and wealthy history, my fist site – descending through drenching clouds was Davari, 80,000 families multileveled
terraced dilapidation. As I looked from the glass window from the aircraft gangway I was hit by dreams and contrasting reality.
Like governor Phiip, his new life arriving in what is now Sydney’s northern beaches met with fleeting contact of the Guringai people. Small pox decimated, by 1790 half were the dead, their decaying bodies and skeletons littereed where exquisite yachts now play.
First impressions scarred hstory into a myth of a dying people, add this the misuse of Darwin and you have a recipe of softening the dying pillow of a people forgotten on thee city outskirts. Where legislation, such as the laws banning exploitative enslaving people to Opium, were used to control Indiginous Australians barely even recognised in the constitution.
Constitutionally India did much better. Three years after Independance, India’s Connstitution gave equal rights too all irrespective of religion, sex or caste.
But as Darvaris image reminded me, there is a difference between the ideals of Bharat and reality.
Of course there are vast differences.
As I step out from departures there are twenty million people at the doorstep. Nearly Australias entire population a group of reclaimed islands smaller than the size of Sydney.
Arthur Philip snatched instead glimpses of a people he could not understand. To Britian, India atleast had architecture, one of the guideposts of what Europeans considered civilization. Britian sort to cnquer India while offering a grudging respect.
I will reserve my judgement and stay open. I want to experience the country as it is – un-mediated by well meaning Indian friends.
Already my land lady has threatened to throw me out pictures of slums are found on my Facebook. Others want to show me the shopping centres and malls.
I sense there are many who want to enjoy India’s new middle class, but keep low wage underclass from sharing in their fortune.
I have seen many beauties in this wonderful flood prone city. It’s Vibrant Sea-Link , Beech front coffee shops, congested roads, pavement dwellers excite and frighten me.
I will wait and see.
I dont want to be ruled by first impressions.
Maybe I’m not like Governor Philip at all. Perhaps I’m more like Governor King. Kin had an Anglo-Indian wife.