Independence. This term should sum it up. I don’t need a car to guide my senses. I can merely rely on incredibly affordable transportation systems. The Autorickshaws, the subways, and most of all, having things at walking distance. But really, there is a vibe. Its not the night life or anything, I’ve only ever been out here during broad day light anyway. Its the overall feeling. The fast pace. The people. Yes. The people. We, the people.
I remember once when I was in Mumbai I was bargaining for a fashion accessory that was already very cheap. The salesperson who was selling the item told me his price, in a very arrogant manner. He said that he himself was making almost no profit by selling it to me for that price. I looked at him in the eye and told him to never ever sell something like that without keeping some profit for himself and that I would never want him to give me something at his cost. I looked away. He was shocked. He was shocked that I could be ‘polite’ to him in the midst of people who would argue for hours even for a single Rupee. He immediately cut down the price. I told him that I lost interest. But now he was not going to give up. He further cut down the price till I felt stupid not buying it. Haha. He asked me my name. I said it. He said I am going to be a memorable customer. One thing I learned in India is that these local people, when dealt with in a polite and genuinly respectful manner, will almost submit themselves to you.
Toronto. I roamed the streets of Toronto in peak winter. I’ve always cursed Canadian winter. But with my mood in Toronto, I embraced this season. I never felt like that before. It was easily one of the best times of my life. I let myself go free in this city. I would occasionally pass by homeless people. I was always told to never give them money because they end up buying alcohol with it. Alcohol is taboo and I would never want the sin to be attributed to me just because I tossed a toonie to a homeless dude. But really, there were times in those winter days when I could not ignore them for the umptieth time. I felt shameless. I decided to talk to this homeless guy and even gave him money after confirming that he would not buy alcohol with that money. Perhaps he lied. I don’t know. But the point is, I gave him that money not so much out of mercy, but to embrace the gift of ‘giving’. He told me my smile looked good on me. I lived weeks on that compliment.
Where you live and who you live with makes all the difference in this world. Choose your homes wisely. Both these cities got me in touch with real people. We, the people.
This is when Mumbai and Toronto came together! My first authorickshaw drive in Toronto!