I have been to “Bombay” as a guest so many times and like a good guest whatever the host (read Bombay) offered me I appreciated with no complaints, no judgements; May be a little remark here and there, few opinions but nothing of significance.
But the day i came here with my bags packed looking for some space in this city to absorb me as much more than a guest, what and for how long I didn’t know, suddenly I started to comment, pinpoint things and make judgements about the city.
My first sneak to the city was through the window of Rajdhani Express and my first few remarks were “Who colours their house, sorry flats aka building, orange?”, “Is there anything more to the city than buildings and flats?”
But living here for 2 years now, I do know what is more to Mumbai than what just the first look at the city tells you.
Mumbai is a weird city, little confusing too. She is chameleon-changes colors, roles, tastes and so much more.
This is a city where you will see at one moment a lady fighting at the top of her voice in crude Marathi (or any other language) with a fisherwoman in train over why her fish basket touched her arm and another moment the same lady, when her boss rings her up, speaks sophisticated English in just the perfect tone. Though this split personality in almost everyone here gives me shock waves but that’s called adaptiveness and the city trains you in this even without you realising it. So remember never judge a mumbaite by the face value.
Mumbai is contradictory in terms of how it looks. Whenever you go to south bombay have a good day, awesome food even with lots of work- it feels it’s not that bad being in mumbai. Life is good but the moment you walk through the stinky, filthy lanes of suburbs of mumbai, you get confused as to what you think about Mumbai. You doubt if this is the city they call “City of Dreams”, “Mayanagri”.
Mumbai is a see-saw when it comes to how it makes you feel. It doesn’t embrace you or gives you a warm welcome. Neither it will form judgements about you nor will it entertain any of your judgements about people. Everyone minds their own business so should you. It is open for all irrespective of caste, nationality, track record. You have to earn everything you get here – money, space, power, relationships.
If you want to get recognition, this is the city to be because the opportunities galore. Just walk through the walls between what you want and what you dare to do and the city will give you more than you ever expected. At the same time if you want to get lost into oblivion, this is the place coz there is so much happening here, everyday millions find a new self and hundreds lose their hope. Who the hell cares what you are upto. But as they say “with your friend, you lose your self-centeredness, your enemy puts you back in yourself. Your friend sympathises with you and makes you believe in matter. Your enemy makes you feel helpless and takes you to the spirit.” Mumbai is the enemy that bares your weakness and challenges your spirit. It’s your call if you want to fight to victory or shun in darkness.
All said and done, it’s the city that knows all your secrets. It is the only one who has seen you through the full circle, through troughs and peaks. It knows your journey from a beginner to a pro, from a spoiled brat to “I can handle it myself”, from “I know it all” to “Let’s see how I can help”, from being a delicate darling to a dare devil. It knows how much you have cried, how much you have bled through the rough patches. It knows the nights you have spent alone with tears. It knows how you have collected yourself through the struggles not because you were strong but because it never left you with any other option.
And so it intermittently gives you some little joys of life too… But if you tread through it, it will rightfully give you what you deserve. And trust me, the rewards the city gives you make everything worthwhile.
It gives you an amazing sense of independence. It is intoxicating and empowering. And if you wanna enjoy the freedom, the city poses no restrictions. No concept of someone giving you a “Pick and Drop” service, no place where you need a guy to be with you, no time when you can’t step out alone. No one stares at you no matter what you wear, say or do. It’s a life that gives you your own sense of self. And you may not realise it because it’s very naturally permeated into the fabric of the city. Just try paying a trip to any other part of the city and you will see how parts of your wings are clipped and u will suddenly realise “It’s not Mumbai”.
And if you ask me I would never trade this experience for anything in this world.
Mumbai is non-discriminating but still is unique to each one who spends time with her. So you can’t get the love for mumbai like an off-the shelf product. You can’t appreciate it listening to others’ story. You won’t take them if I tell you word by word what and how things will unfold for you.
You are going to live it yourself, step by step, each tiny freckle of your journey is tailor made just for you for your “exclusive” story in the Mumbai Story.