Our last stop, before the airport, was Bunny’s apartment.
The neighbourhood reminded me of another I had spent my school years in. That was another city, at another time, but the elements were common and, as this view showed, enduring: a street with small shops bearing colourfully painted signboards, with green trees faded by layers of dust, with plainly-dressed middle-class people walking about, with kids playing on the street and retreating to the footpath when a vehicle passed, with partly rusted iron gates displaying a ‘No Parking Vehicle in Front of the Gate’ sign, with motorbikes, scooters and cars parked where space permitted. Bunny led us first to some shops, to buy groceries (from Kirana stores where you asked the storekeeper behind a counter for things you needed, instead of walking up aisles collecting items they wanted you to buy) and to pick up laundry (across the counter, at ‘Super Laundry’).
I remember little about the apartment. My vision is clouded by the list of titles on her large bookshelf I found myself scanning, without shame, in an obsessive manner and in ignorance of my host and Bips. Every now and then, when I pulled out a title from the shelf, Bunny would comment on the work and its author, and go on to recommend this or that related work in the same or related genre, by that author or another one. (If you detect a hint of exaggeration in this, set the thought aside. Her recent post about the challenges of organizing a large bookshelf speaks volumes on her appetite, curiosity and range.)
Chai and snacks were served. We discussed books and authors. Soon, too soon, it was time to leave. So the weekend ended the way it had begun, with a visit that captured the essence of this Mumbai trip: an appetiser, an experience that only scratched the surface and left me longing for more.