‘Desparately Seeking Mumbai’
by Maria Abraham
(The Week. March 26, 2000)
Citizens of this city of excesses seems to be on a new
mission. Searching for something beyond stocks, status and
shimmer. For a span of eight days there was a different kind of glow
over the city — a halo of spirituality. The Sankaracharya of Kanchi,
Mata Amritanandamayi, Mata Nirmala Devi and the Dalai Lama blessed
the city with their presence. While the Sankaracharya inspired the
nuclear scientists, Nirmala Devi advised IAS officers. But it was
the Dalai Lama who evoked a surprising response. The elite and the
weel-heeled of the city stood in the sweltering heat for four hours
just to fight their way into the auditorium where he was to speak.
Models, actresses, politicians, businessmen all nudged and shoved,
waving VIP passes. Meanwhile, the endearing figure in maroon
robes and rubber slippers, was doing the rounds of a special
exhibition. It was truly amazing to see people's reactions.
Awe, reverence, adoration and uncontrollable tears. The Dalai Lama,
apparently oblivious to all the commotion, went around laughing
and joking and missing nothing. He paused before a photograph,
puzzled. He bent his head to the right and then to the left and said,
'I have to stand on my head to see this right.' The picture was
upside down by mistake and he noticed it among the dozens of others.