Nietzsche once imagined an 80,000-year-old man, who’s character was very fluid and metamorphosed easily, who could have various individuals in him. This malleable identity is there in old bridges and dead immortal poets. Between a beginningless beginning and an endless end, each of us is a bridge rhythm in time.
Rumi, too, was considered to be a bridge, a place for cultures and religions especially to merge and enjoy each other. Just like Bollywood and cricket are the bridges between the two warring neighbours. I say keep the faith. As faith is the only bridge between where we are and where we want to go: Sigh. This is an excerpt from one of my columns called Bridges.
It was a very happy, philosophical and a positive article. I never thought a bridge will be a cause of melancholy. The incident, which happened last Friday can only make one sad and ponder whether we are living on the edge. Sitting inside an overcrowded bubble, which bursts now and then, and still there’s no solid realisation. I have named this column, Bridges: Part 2.
It was in the year 2007, when I used to walk on that most-talked-about, unfortunate Elphinstone station bridge. I was staying at King Edward Memorial Hospital at Lower Parel. MBBS students’ hostel. My friend Dr Siddharth Kapathia had adopted me for a month before I cracked an audition and was sent to MICA Ahmedabad for radio training. But talking about that ill-fated bridge, I always thought that I was walking through an explosion whenever I took a local train and walked on that bridge back to my hostel. And that was 10 years ago. In 2017, I’m sure the burden would’ve gotten 200 per cent more. The bridge was overused, the funds to repair and revamp were sanctioned, but not allocated. The red tapism and lackadaisical attitude of the people in the system has cost us more than 23 lives. Some say it was a mere slipping incident, which triggered a stampede. Whatever said and done, the incident was highly unfortunate and needs to be taken as a lesson.
Urbanisation is like a tsunami, which is hitting our nation with rapid force. Seventy per cent of our nation dwells in the rural area or small towns. I, as an actor, as an individual, represent this 70 per cent of our nation. I’m from a small town, most of my hit films are small town stories.
I really need to understand how big cities are getting claustrophobic for us. There’s no space. The density of population in our nation is highly lopsided. Mumbai, Chennai, and Kolkata are among the top eight most-densely-populated cities in the world.
The right to the city is far more than the individual liberty to thoroughly use urban amenities and resources: It is the right to change ourselves by changing the city. It is a common, rather than an individual right since this transition inevitably depends upon the exercise of a collective power to reshape the process of urbanisation. The freedom to make and remake our cities and ourselves is one of our most important, yet most neglected human rights. Yes, we need to reshape ourselves. Empower ourselves to take part in this rapid transformation. Before boarding that Japanese bullet train, which was announced on September 14 — I remember the date as that’s my birth date, but that’s besides the point — the main point is, we need to clear this mess. Improve our local trains, stations and bridges before we go overboard with a bullet train and other lofty ambitions.
This content was originally published here.