Mumbai: the Illegitimate Indian child of a Portuguese-English wedding, and yet the most Indian of Indian cities. It’s like the spice in every bite. The beauty of life in this city is that every person, place, event leaves a lesson that you can take forward in life. The one that isn’t applicable to this city alone; It’s kinda like life. It treats you like you perceive it. It’s a teacher, a friend, a rude shock and yet the city of dreams. It’ s a cluttered city where you seldom find yourself alone. Each day you learn. Sometimes you breathe until you learn to live. That’s what makes this city so special!
Growing up I would hear people say, Paris and Rome are “pseudo” romantic cities. While I beg to differ, Mumbai seems to top them all. In what is considered a rather conservative society, romance seems to slip into everything… The music, the movies, the weddings, the smell of incense, the blossoming of the champa trees, the stories of Krishna and Radha in the silk fabric. A stroll along the Marine Lines…now known as Queen’s Necklace makes me fall in love for this place all over again…!!!
Mumbai is like a conundrum , in just a lap of few meters you can experience two different worlds which are just opposite to each other. This place is a perfect example of symbiotic relationship between have and have not , from jhuggis to multistoried buildings , from temples to Mosques , the cart pullers to the Armani clad people zipping in their BMWs.
Mumbai is not my city, but definitely it is my kind of city, though one core thing of Mumbai of which I would never prefer to be part of it…. because if I would have lived in Mumbai, I would have been one of those 7.5 million passengers commuting daily in Suburban Railway…!!! Everything you see well organised on railway platforms turns to sudden chaos and confusion as soon as the train arrives. The number of people standing on the platform seems to quadruple in just a few seconds, and suddenly it is overcrowded. At this moment, there are two flows of people that deeply hate each other: those getting on and those getting off; absolute enemies who seek opposite and irreconcilable goals. You could decide to stay away from the battle and just wait for the next train. But then you would rather give up because the same scene repeats every couple of minutes when a new train calls.
Where the battle is the harshest, is actually inside the flows. Whether you are in the getting-on flow or the getting-off flow, not only is the other flow your enemy, but competitiveness within your own flow might very well leave you behind. It is incredible how these friendly women who were smiling at you, five seconds ago, now mutate into hysterical and forceful wrestlers. Anything goes. Low blows are permitted. They kick your feet, they pull your hair, they scratch your face. And you say nothing, as all you want is to get on that bloody train with your whole body, your belongings and, if possible, even your shoes. Hardly a few seconds after, the train starts speeding again, while three or four women are still jumping in. There are a few seconds of stupor, everybody breathe in and struggle realizing that they have made it. Then all settles. Slowly, life gets back to normal. The two friends continue their lively conversation. The woman with the smartphone goes on chatting on Whatsapp. The one with the nuts starts nibbling again. And all those women are charming and smiling again, as if the absolute schizophrenic interlude had never happened…. 😀
But what makes Mumbai apart is its endurance to survive despite all odds .It is changing and evolving every nano second. From secluded to crowded beaches , street to gourmet food , chor bazar to designer labels , chawls to sprawling bungalows, Mumbai has a bit of everything for every soul. Last but not least, it’s a city, that will envelope you and carry you with such zest, fervor, hospitality and love, you will not want to leave. It is not meant for people who love the calm and peace of the countryside, but it is the best place to visit if you want to have the experience of your lifetime.