Loneliness in the city

“Laing examines the particular, pervasive form of loneliness in the eye of a city aswirl with humanity:

Imagine standing by a window at night, on the sixth or seventeenth or forty-third floor of a building. The city reveals itself as a set of cells, a hundred thousand windows, some darkened and some flooded with green or white or golden light. Inside, strangers swim to and fro, attending to the business of their private hours. You can see them, but you can’t reach them, and so this commonplace urban phenomenon, available in any city of the world on any night, conveys to even the most social a tremor of loneliness, its uneasy combination of separation and exposure.

You can be lonely anywhere, but there is a particular flavour to the loneliness that comes from living in a city, surrounded by millions of people. One might think this state was antithetical to urban living, to the massed presence of other human beings, and yet mere physical proximity is not enough to dispel a sense of internal isolation. It’s possible – easy, even – to feel desolate and unfrequented in oneself while living cheek by jowl with others. Cities can be lonely places, and in admitting this we see that loneliness doesn’t necessarily require physical solitude, but rather an absence or paucity of connection, closeness, kinship: an inability, for one reason or another, to find as much intimacy as is desired. Unhappy, as the dictionary has it, as a result of being without the companionship of others. Hardly any wonder, then, that it can reach its apotheosis in a crowd.”

From Brainpickings by Mary Popova

How true! In the busy city of Hong Kong I had experienced this ,standing on the twentieth floor balcony of a skyscraper. You were hemmed in by a number of high-rise buildings with their lighted windows . You could see the people inside “swim” through the light like luminous little fish in an aquarium. Each window was an aquarium of many hues and the people swam through their light in the tiny spaces, sometimes reaching the dead end of the glass wall and taking quick about turns.

You see their tangible presences but cannot reach out to them. What a splendid isolation, when you feel so alone in the midst of thousands of people. around you.

The amusing thing is that even after people descend from their glass houses on to the streets ,you still see them walk ,staring at each other from glassy eyes as if they are continuing their swim in the lighted windows.

Humans are above dogs

In response to the recent mauling death of a four-year-old, the mayor of Bucharest announced that on October 6 residents would have the opportunity to decide whether the city’s stray dogs — estimated to number about 65,000 — should be euthanized. Hundreds in favor of a cull attended a demonstration on Sunday (Sept. 8), including the victim’s grandmother, who said, “I hope for a change for the better – I don’t want to see dogs on the street anymore.” Even Romania’s president, Traian Basescu, is in favor of a law authorizing euthanasia, stating, “Humans are above dogs.”


Really? That is what humans think. What do dogs think?

The logic seems to be that  a human’s life is more precious than a dog’s life. Precious to whom is not material as there is no third party assessing the value of the lives of each species. Pending that humans consider themselves slightly higher in the rank. Human life is precious to humans. So humans make laws suited to their own beliefs furthering their survival.

Euthanasia for healthy dogs? Okay because we have to lull our human conscience into believing that killing the dogs is for their own good!

Like bombing Syria for their own good!

Density of experience

” Many visitors come to this city and fall in love with it. What I fell in love with was the density of experience here. This is a chaotic, awkward, historic, and organic city organized on a grid. Although perfect buildings, like the Chrysler Building or the Statue of Liberty, symbolize ‘I Love NY,’ it is the other ordinary buildings, spilling with hectic daily life, that hold real New York life and passion. The fact that they stand right next to the icons is what makes this city special”

Quote taken from Brain Pickings


An interesting observation by a new comer to the city of New York who chooses to own up the city by drawing its buildings. Love the precision of the words. Density of experience about a city is much more than a density of the population in it. Here the density is both horizontal and vertical, across time and space, across divergent levels of consciousness, across the sprawling collective conscious of its people. Only an artist could react  this way to a city  in terms of the experience it offers to the new comer. Especially a new comer who is in the process of owning up the city by grappling with it in drawings.

The organic nature of the city is grasped easily as a grid, in which everything is connected ,in  a chaotic, loosely organised structure. The ordinary buildings too retain their contribution to the city , standing cheek by jowl with the iconic ones.. Like what we experience in Mumbai city, where perfect buildings stand in peaceful co-existence with the drab and listless ones.