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Mumbai Monologue

Mumbai, or Bombay, as I like to call the city (much to the displeasure of the Shiv Sena), is truly a city of dreams. Coming this from a hardcore Delhite, I myself cannot believe these words. The sight of the Bombay from the top fills in a breath of anticipation, of excitement and worry for the obvious reasons. One cannot measure the welcome of this city. Several visits to Bombay, and still I feel differently about the city each time I land here.

My favorite part of the city is the crowd here. For an independent and strong-headed person like me, this city stands perfect in its juxtaposition. It consumes you completely, shields you and yet offering complete extinction. Though it wasn’t a love at first sight. And it could not have been. Bombay grows on you gradually. Unfolds all its colors inch by inch.

My first landing seemed almost like a plane crash in the slums of Bombay, cutting the air in the middle of civilization. That should have prepared me of what was going to come. The flight landed. I stepped out only to be greeted by a rush of air so hot and humid that it was a challenge to breathe. The mad rush of people, cars and taxis as I left the airport (something I never witnessed in Delhi and strangely enough, reminded me of Kolkata). The buses full to bursting, people swaying from one side to another, elbowing to make space for their bodies. And it is a scene worth experiencing in the local trains. It is as though a mob of strong-armed people wobbling you from the point you enter the train, in zigzag lines, till you throw yourself out.

 

If this is not intimidating, then what is? The city nearly crushed me - literally and metaphorically, and the idea of living in Bombay for two years seemed like a masochist one. But I took my chances. Glad I did, because no matter how much the city tries to pressurize you, that one moment of cool breeze at Nariman point, the towering skyline in the distance and the salty smell in the air makes you forget everything. So soothing that you just want to close your eyes, melt on the floor and not wake up.

 I have had my share of fun and happiness in Bombay. The enchanting architecture of buildings in Colaba, the Colonial (read Victorian) anatomy of the south Bombay takes you back to literature. So-Bo does not seem a part of Bombay; neither does Hiranandani (because it looks phony and un-Bombay like). The clocked building of CST station, the colonial police head quarters, gateway of India, absolutely not-the-usual Taj hotel, the Iranian food, everything consumes your mind. My friends keep asking me if I had fallen in love with the city yet. And as a true Dilliwala I deny it every time, pointing out to the traffic, the crowd and the capability of the city to come to a standstill at any hour of the day or night. But secretly I have agreed that that is the spirit of Bombay. Its real asset. I have not seen any other city accommodating so many people, not comfortably, but unobjectionably. And still continues to receive many like me who want to try their luck.

 It’s not just Bollywood that attracts public to Bombay. No, it’s the zeal of Bombay, its we-don’t-butt into your life frame that keeps you rolling every day. There is no need for a cosmetic surgery (in metaphorical sense of course). You roll in however you want to and whenever you want to. One is never disappointed in this city. At odd hours in the night you might be taking a stroll at bandstand in Bandra and hear some crazy, drunk fan shouting I Love You Shah Rukh or I Love You Salmaan outside their house. Or maybe a noisy bike race from Carter Road till I don’t know where.

 When I returned back to Delhi, I was totally overwhelmed with what Bombay had to show me. What I miss the most about it? The nights at Marine Drive, sipping rum mixed with chai to keep me warm while it drizzled. Ahh! Joys of life away from home in the city that barely lets you sleep.

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