When I was a student, I invited a boyfriend to share a romantic sunrise on the beach with me. I always liked the cleanness of mornings. In Mumbai, it starts early but it’s still sparse enough for every waking creature to give the other space, physical and emotional. Mornings are the closest to peaceful richness (as opposed to exhausted incompletion of late nights). And beaches have always felt like home.
We sat on the sand and talked and waited. It was nearly 9am when the prickling on the back of my neck made me turn around. There was the sun behind us, high above buildings. I realised, feeling very foolish, that Mumbai is on the western coast of the country. The sun doesn’t rise over the sea in Mumbai; it sets.
Sunsets are a reminder of things unfinished, an alarm bell that it’s getting late, the mosquitoes start biting and traffic piling up. I didn’t enjoy sunsets. It bothered me for a long time after that my favourite time and favorite place didn’t coincide.
Over the next few years, I fell into the Mumbaiker rhythm of chasing jobs, deadlines and corporate goals. I spent my favorite part of the day in crowded trains, busy roads, bustling lanes. I was able to visit my favorite place rarely if ever, and only amid a lot of crowd with the residual noise & garbage.
I have since started making an effort to visit the beach more often. I’ve learnt to tune out noise, managed to make these solo trips in safety and minimal intrusion. They’re never in the early morning.
But then, I also found beauty in the fresh sunlight on a broken window pane. I found inspiration on day breaking over a defunct textile mill. Sunrises are great wherever they happen because they signal a fresh start. Wherever you are, whoever you are. It made me realise sunsets aren’t sad. The sun must set if it is to rise again.
And you know both sunsets and sunrises are illusions, tricks of light & planetary movement. The sun isn’t going anywhere. We are. And it’s never too far away. Just a few hours from the next sunrise or sunset.
It makes me appreciative of my island city, just the way it is.