It’s true when someone said- “Mumbai is a place, Bombay is an emotion.” Something that resonates with every human staying in the city that never sleeps. A city that flashes the Queen’s necklace so gallantly. A city that runs on its own rhythm, unheard by a few; slowly paving its way into every Mumbaikars life. It’s almost like an ethereal dance; complex yet so easy.
For a novice, Mumbai may seem berserk, overwhelming! But no. It’s not. Or at least it doesn’t have to be. Through my words, I would like to strike a nostalgic chord and display Mumbai in its true light. This city holds you captive with all its vibrancy and dreamy charm. And beware, once you’re hooked, there is no space for farewell. Pretty much the melancholic feeling you get when you are traveling abroad? That longing for home, just like a child craving the Pepsi colas? Amidst all the chaos, there is an affair with the magnum city. Allow me to walk you down the memory lane. Hold your wits and enjoy the humor coming your way- also a test to see if you are a true Mumbaikar.
No, ‘Andheri’ is not called ‘Andheri’ meaning, darkness in the literal sense. It’s, in fact, one of the most affluent areas located in Suburban Mumbai. ‘Wankhede’ does not mean ‘van khade hai’ aka ‘vans are standing’. It is the home ground for every cricket fanatic in the city, also the place where the Indian Cricket Team lifted the World Cup in all its glory. ‘Hanging garden’ is not a garden where people are hanged, it is a reservoir and home to a humongous range of flora. ‘Horniman circle’ should not be mistaken for a circle of a “horny man” but is, in reality, a huge park located in the hustle-bustle of the city. A city where ‘vada la’ does not only refer to the staple food, that half the population munches on, but it also refers to ‘Wadala’, a suburban area. Where experiencing the Mumbai rains and finding a soulful connection does not mean hiding behind the facade of running to the Himalayas for the same. Where the mention of “Saki Naka” pops the question, “Is it a new Japanese restaurant in town?” Where visiting ‘Navi Mumbai’ causes one to say, “I’m jet-lagged.” Where 10 rupees can feed your belly and leave it full and spending a 1000 rupees can still leave it empty. Lastly, ‘Mumbai’ does not imply that every ‘mum’ is a ‘bai’.
More dreams are realized and extinguished in Mumbai than any other place in India, except; getting into a Virar fast train at Dadar is tougher than making the dream of getting into IITs and IIM’s come true. From just standing at the doorway when you want to want to get off a local train and allowing the crowd to maneuver you out, to spending more time traveling to reach the destination than you do at home, this city has a hypnotic effect on every soul that has had the taste of it. The infectious energy captivates all and gives them a reason to fall for the beauty of this enigmatic land. Riding a bicycle in this city is a dangerous occupation, let alone taking the pedestrian walk- now home to a mini diversified conclave of businesses. But then again, people on the streets clash with the cars and buses on the road because it’s the ‘poor man’s’ mode of transport. Every deserted corner conceals a crowd, appearing in a moment to disrupt the way of the world and disappearing almost instantaneously- accidents.
It is home to every Bollywood fanatic to experience their minimal moments of fame. The city is the epicenter of the gargantuan film industry. This industry also threw light on how half the population lives, albeit in a stereotypical fashion. I am sure everyone has sat on the famous Marine Drive and hummed the lyrics of ‘Iktara’. You allow the city to entrance you with its escapist formula of masala entertainment- where love conquers all the forces keeping lovers apart and all’s well that ends well couldn’t be truer.
This city, also known as the city that never sleeps has taught all of us subtle lessons through daily life incidents. It has taught us to be accommodating- meet the local trains. For the elite class where blowing money is a regime, buy a home in this city and you’ll land up in a fancy slum, thereby teaching us the value of hard-earned money. Being valiant is another lesson this city has taught us- despite the number of “heart attacks” its’ heart, beats with pride. A person who starts with a small dream ends up making his life- start-up firms. This city may be the only place in the world where even bus conductors motivate you by saying “chalo aage badho” meaning ‘keep moving’. In a world where everything and everyone changes, the sea is the only constant. This leaves behind a strong message that getting so involved in the rat race should not be your whole life to the extent that you do not embrace the beauty around you. Time and tide wait for no one- the city is living proof of this. You either keep moving or get mowed down. It highlights the importance of practicing minimalism because nothing is guaranteed. A city that emphasizes that people residing in shantytowns and slums are the actual foundation of the same. It gives you a feeling of togetherness without invading another’s privacy.
No matter where you go or however many curveballs life throws at you, the city air, the exuberant vibe, the enthusiastic yet daunting environment, lures you to the city of dreams, thirsty for more. To truly experience the magic of the city, you need to appreciate its lilting cadences, its harmonies of excess and restraint. The opulent architecture, the skywalks being home to innumerable street vendors, homeless, the scent of jasmine in the ladies compartment, colorful gardens, the seasoned intellectuals in libraries- it will all take you in if you let it. You’ve come searching for the city of gold, come on board, let’s adjust a little, develop a sense of equanimity and join me on this nostalgic ride.
Vocal Every Pal
(If you are a true Mumbaikar, my words will connect to your soul and flashback memories from the days gone by. I hope I did justice to it. Kindly leave in your comments and reviews and help me grow as a writer. Thank you.)