14th April – Let’s add one more year to my chapter of staying away from family, shall we? Celebrating new years in a country with few close friends, that’s what I have been doing for seven years now. It hasn’t been easy and it probably never will.
I have written about the city where I grew up and expressed my love for it just a few days back. Hope you have read that. Well if you haven’t then here is the link:
It’s M today on #AToZChallenge and because I am a little emotional, I have decided to talk about Mumbai – the city of dreams. So it is going to be LONG post 😀 It’s funny because Mumbai was never in my dreams and I am yet to figure out why my fate has got me here.
I used to come to Mumbai so often with my backpack during college days and one day I just didn’t board that train back to Bangalore. And it’s just been two years since I moved to Mumbai, kicking and screaming like any other person who is madly in love with this place. I’m much closer to calling this city home than I ever thought I’d be. Mumbai has its pros and cons. What it also has is an endless layer of mystery and intrigue, which reveals itself to you very slowly, over time, if you learn how to look.
Sweat, struggle and success, these three words aptly describe Mumbai. From glistening skyline to growing slums, from flamboyant malls to fashion street, Mumbai – The Bollywood City has everything that makes it real and lively. One thing Mumbai has taught me is to Never give up on life.
While I was busy traveling from one corner of the city to the other by public transport – on roads below the new Mumbai Metro line, in an auto rickshaw, in the local train, in a cab; I didn’t realize that I had fallen in love with the madness of the city. I don’t think I can live anywhere else than Mumbai if I have to choose a place in India itself. Mumbai, I must say, has some of the best public transport in India – and despite the insane crowds, it’s unbelievable how totally chilled out everyone is and how polite people are.
There are sleepless, sparkling eyes all around, which are still not tired of dreaming their favorite dreams and of course, the fast moving life. Whether it’s a business tycoon or a small roadside Vada Pav vendor, nobody has time for anyone. Whether it’s day or night you’ll always find people in a hurry for office or a date, after all they don’t have time.
Whether you’re in the city of Mumbai for a few hours due to a layover, or you’re a full-time tourist here to soak in the sights, smells and sounds of Bombay, or you just moved in here a couple of months ago for a job but got sucked into maximum city too fast, too soon or you’ve lived here all your life, this one’s for you.
This fast city seems to stop at sea shore.When I stand facing the sea, feeling the sea breeze cut through my body, I feel the time has stopped, I can hear my heartbeat, I feel alive.
Even when you think you’re in the thick of sky-high buildings and mind-numbing traffic, around the corner, the road turns and the sky opens up and you’ll see it- the baked blue waters of Bombay; ever rising, ever receding. What better place to sit by the sea than Marine Drive?
And of course, Bombay Rains – You can love ’em, you can hate ’em, but you simply can’t do without ’em!
Walk around Chor bazaar where you’ll find roads filled with stolen things from people’s lives and homes, antique lamps, frames, books, letters and bottles. Do some digging inside the small shops and you’ll be surprised by the vintage and antique things they have.
You MUST have Paav Bhaaji (extra butter) and Vada Pav (extra chutney) and gorge on these lip-smacking street delights. Finish with a kaala-khatta gola for the perfect meal.
Head to one of the little cafes, and pour over a book or have a chat with a friend over some hot chai, bun muska and khaari and shrewsberry biscuits. Mumbai’s Parsi Cafe culture is not to be missed.
To really get a sense of daily life in Mumbai, take a deep breath and ride the Mumbai locals; second class at rush hour in the morning, for the daring. It’s packed till people are overflowing out, it’s loud and it’s hectic- and yet, the people you’ll meet, the stories you’ll hear and the songs you’ll be surrounded by will leave you with a real memory.
Bandra Worli Sea Link
The Bandra-Worli sea-link is truly a modern day architectural marvel, that helps the choked traffic of Bombay by diverting a large part of it on a high-speed, six-lanes expressway over the sea. It’s clean, it’s fast, no stopping, no two-wheelers, no people on foot, no photography. Driving down the sea-link can only be described as exhilarating.
It has been more than 35 years that the Prithvi theatre in Juhu has served as a launchpad for several of Bollywood’s big names. You’ll notice you’re around a different crowd, as people lounge around in the cafe outside sipping cutting chai and discussing books, movies and art. On a good day, you might even spot the who’s who of Bollywood like the Kapoor family or Naseeruddin Shah!
P.S. This pic is of Prithvi Cafe ( Shouldn’t miss that one too )
Bandra is a true delight when it comes to exploring Mumbai. The long winding road, with narrow allows and up-hill lanes with old school houses and uncles in suspenders reading the newspaper in the sun. Right from the Afghan church in the city to the suburbs, there are amazing churches that you can spot. There’s color and personality with a rich flavor of Mumbai’s history in this area of Mumbai.
Whether the city is on red alert, or after a bomb blast, the life here goes on. The best part of the people here is there smile. I think that’s the only thing that keeps them moving. The lovely old couples at Marine drives, feeling the sea breeze holding each other’s hands. The young couples sitting in silence after a hectic week and work load, sharing one cup of coffee, feeling each other hand and sorting out their life problems, some teasing each other, some arguing on a silly matter, some just sitting and feel each other’s presence. Children who find happiness in playing with sand, the sea fascinate them. That priceless smile on their face after they are done with making a sand castle.
Being such a popular city, it is but obvious that Mumbai is inhabited with people of all religions and cultures. Hence, all the possible festivals are celebrated with great enthusiasm all throughout the year.
If that’s not enough, when you come back home, you’ll view your life differently. By the way, I stay in Bombay – I refuse to call it Mumbai, to me it will always remain Bombay.
Image Credits : https://www.instagram.com/streets.of.mumbai/
P.S. Thank you Gaurav Nemani for always looking out for me and Manish Pandey – for everything that you are 🙂