The Death of a City

Social Commentary

The Death of a City

Illustration: Sushant Ahire / Arré


ast night, I watched Road to Perdition again. Tom Hanks (Sullivan, the hit man) is fleeing with his son, driving on clean roads of the American Midwest, toward his death. The movie is set in the 1920s, nearly a hundred years ago, and in quite another millennium. The roads are straight; they are endless. They do not go through bathrooms or skirt public water taps. The snow is neatly piled up on either side of the roads like white waves that curve and fall. The car keeps moving and I am feeling bad for the killer because he is Tom Hanks and a father.

America is where it is today because of its interstate roads. They are built for a nation on the move. Gangsters and cops, businessmen and vagabonds, they all are free to steer toward their indeterminate destinations. Good roads facilitate the pursuit of happiness. That’s a pursuit not easily carried out in Bombay, where I have returned after a longish spell of absence.