Back in the world of my dreams, called Bombay. The fan is blowing above my head. And I am sitting at a very fussy desk that is made from carved out wood. And of course everything is very different from what I had thought or what I had expected.
I thought that I had rented a big luxurious flat, but now we suddenly are living in rooms with a lonely man. I really was a bit of a disappointment. But, we’ll see. It also has something.
The man with whom we are staying, has a large flat in the centre. Far away from where I stayed last time. In Bombay, or Mumbai as it is called nowadays, there is a very big housing problem. So living in with someone seems to be normal.
Besides, he also has two ‘living in’ servants. We don’t get our own key because there is always staff around. So, all in all I do not have so much of the freedom that I am used to.
A cockroach is walking on my table, but that’s the same in New York. And it is lovely and hot. Local time is 3.30 a.m. Time to go to sleep.
26 November 1999
Still suffering a bit from the jet lag. Nameeta Premkumar, my assistant, is great. Yesterday she picked us up from the airport and brought us here. Today, we have discussed my ideas and possible strategies at length.
I am really very uncertain about where to start.
My head is still so full of Southern Africa and my Melody script, so I don’t know where to start exactly. I don’t feel in my heart yet what the basis of my research must be. East and West. Poor and rich. Friendship and betrayal. At least it has something to do with that.
I asked Nameeta to arrange two interviews for tomorrow.
After that I walked around with Paolo. To feel where we landed. To feel that I am once more in this extreme world, called Bombay. Where every car is hooting without reason. Where people who are missing parts of their bodies are lying everywhere in the streets, begging. Where the women are walking around in the brightest colours of the world. Where every dog has scabies. Where you can hardly breath because the air is so polluted. And where you have to watch out, so you won’t fall into some hole. And where I don’t know where to start looking.
I think I will need some more time before I will really have landed. And can start my new adventure.
The telephone is ringing. An invitation for dinner tonight. That’s a good start at least.
Back from dinner. It was all the way up in the north of the city. A 45 minutes drive. It was really nice, but the best part was that there was a young married couple. They got married only a month ago. A marriage that was arranged by their parents. And they had never seen each other before a month ago. And now they are together. Very vulnerable. Obviously not used to each other yet. From time to time they touch each other for a moment, very carefully. And there is so much happening between them. Things that I have actually never seen in people’s eyes before. They know that they will probably spend the rest of their lives together. They will make love, laugh and fight. They will have children. And lots of other things. Just like that, with a stranger. I feel if I come from another planet.
I am sitting at my desk again, the fan is blowing. What a day. My head is spinning because of all the impressions. And than there is my landlord, who drinks. We call him the captain. He is bugging me because he wants me to come with him to a party at the horse-racing club. Of course not, but how can you get out of something like this without insulting someone.