“The city boiled with money, rent and property values had never been higher, and in garment industry it was widely held that fashion had never been so fashionable. New restaurants opened every hour.”
This is what Salman Rushdie wrote in the first para of his famous novel “Fury”. Reading this second time forced me to reflect on it with reference to India, particularly Ludhiana, and the city I presently reside in- opted to or forced to make my permanent home. But ‘opted or forced’ both seem inadequate or inappropriate words – it was, probably, a sheer chance, just a coincidence that I made a small house in this city. It has always been known as the financial capital of Punjab, a state that once led the entire nation in every sphere of life – agriculture, industry, education, economy, sports and above all, safety, security and value based life! Women could travel alone at midnight without any fear! A state known as the granary of the nation with teeming millions forced to sleep empty stomach. It still produces a lot of grain but despite feeding hungry millions, it seems inadequate to satiate the vanity of its native inhabitants who are forced to commit suicide or fly overseas!
And now my city is perfect reflection of the New York described by Rushdie. It boils with money (along with urchins looking for food from the garbage dumps). Rents and property values are sky high – in fact beyond the wildest imagination of thousands still without a roof over their heads; garment industry is actually designing threads for the ladies to showcase their cuts and curves. Fashion or ultra-fashion so to say – in backward journey, going to the wild roots. And new restaurants opening everywhere and anywhere, where food items are christened exotically to impress the youth and upper crust ladies who can barely spell their names!
Yes, this all is going on in the city which I now proclaim as my city. This goes on along with religious places mushrooming in every nook and corner of the city (and becoming palatial in a matter of months); this goes on along with old men with beautiful turbans on their heads, flowing grey beards and swords hung over and under their white robes, and also bald fat priest with sacred thread hung around their bare pot bellies preaching the contentment, sobriety and what not to the lesser mortals!
A little common sense enlightens us that the cause of devastating hurricanes and tornados is the difference between the air pressures at two places. The bigger the difference the more furious the devastation and destruction! With ever increasing gap between the haves and have-nots (who have already been pushed to the wall), I wonder whether this is not the time pregnant with thousands of furies to strike?