Thursday, September 06, 2007

Aamchi Mumbai!

Yup! Being born and brought up in “Saddi Dilli”, I was always a die-hard fan of Delhi and was convinced no city could ever match up to it. Until I packed my bags and settled down in Mumbai. “Aamchi Mumbai”. Yes, this is one endearing thing about this city – there are scores of people who step into the city everyday in hopes of fulfilling their many dreams, and whether they make it a part of themselves or not, Mumbai makes very single one of her inhabitants her own.

The lush greenery of the Western Ghats. The feeble sunshine. The balmy sea breeze which makes the face and skin salty in a matter of seconds. The relentless rainfall, sometimes a harmless drizzle, sometimes a dangerous storm. The black water filled clouds forever enveloping the vast skies. The high-rise buildings right next to the sprawling slums. The fast paced lives and slow moving queues. The sheer volumes of people squeezed into a local. The vada pav/pani puri stalls at every nukkad. The huge movie hoardings all over the city. Couples making out at the Band Stand rocks. The charm of the antique buses, buildings and horse carriages in Town, the street shops and caf├ęs full of foreigners in Colaba. The throngs of people and flights of pigeons at Gateway of India. The tetra hedrons at Nariman Point. The Maalish-walas at Chowpatty beach. HUGE malls and hyper marts, bigger and fancier than anything you could find abroad. People selling all and sundry in locals. No balcony space in matchbox-sized houses. Weird and funny names of crossings and roads, like Hornyman Chowk! Freedom to travel even late nights without fear. Strangers going out of their way to help you. Creamy waves splashing around your feet at Juhu beach. Long queues and huge crowds waiting for hours outside celebrity houses at weekends for just one glance. Brightly lit streets filled with people even in the dead of the night. The narrow gullis. The underworld undercurrents: people still reeling form the aftermath of the blasts and riots. Breathing polluted air while traveling by road. Traffic signals every few feet with hours of waiting time. Moral police like Shiv Sena. The fun and fervor during Gokulashtami and Ganesh Chaturthi. Old ladies chatting with buddies, people sharing foods and doing bhajans on their way back home in the local. ‘Malad’, ‘Bhayandar’, ‘Panvel’, ‘Bandra’, ‘Navi Mumbai’ written at the back of EVERY taxi. The hilly topography of Powai. The din of Bhendi Bazaar. People hanging out from the doors of the locals, enjoying the breeze on their face. Unimaginable levels of honesty in people everywhere around. Respect for women. No matter how close the destination, no travel times less than an hour. Fancy lights and music systems in autos. Fisherwomen and Bai’s dressed in traditional sarees and jewellery. The Page 3 parties and events, frequented by the Who’s who of the social circuit. The Dabbawalas with Six Sigma operational efficiency. The bindaas attitude and awesome slangs of Marathi. More Gujju bhais, Parsis and Sindhis found than their own hometowns. City flooded every time it rains a little too much! The beautiful roads of Aarey colony. Heights of professionalism and bureaucracy at the same time. Lost faces in the crowds of those who come from across the country to become stars. The everyday struggle for one square meal. The unending opportunities to earn money. The unbreakable spirit of the Mumbaikars…

I could just go on and on and on. There is so much to discover and experience in this amazing city. It has been 3 months since I stepped on the SantaCruz Airport, and there has been no looking back ever since. I feel so at home already that I almost don’t miss Delhi! It’s been a few months since I first called this city home, and I cannot wait to spend the rest of my life here! Everyday I learn something new about the city, its lifestyle, and its people. Though I will always be a Delhite at heart, Mumbai is my life! Three Cheers to Aamchi Mumbai… It’s Rocking!!