Dance away with Mumbai
January 1, 1970
The grandeur city
“The thing about Mumbai is you go five yards and all of human existence is revealed” – Julian Sands
Ask any Indian about Mumbai and you can watch him mumble for words. So as an amateur travel-writer I decided to start my newly-instituted endeavor with a place that is (or was) to closely 1/4th of the population in India. The place is Bombay (as the Britishers called it) which was later changed to Mumbai in 1995. I moved here two years back and I still come across people who religiously refuse to call it Mumbai, because apparently there is a feeling attached to citing this city as Bombay (Cliché-alert).
How Mumbai irks!
The moment you get down at the airport or any major railway station you’ll get to see what the hue and cry is all about; even more so, you’ll start detesting the place at first, the minute people start pushing you (which will be quite frequent, kindly make your peace with that). Mumbai, being Mumbai will never give anybody the liberty to pause and scrutinize its raw artistry, ESPECIALLY during the dreaded office hours. So if you’ve come here, thinking you’ll get to stop over huge, lush gardens then you’ve come to the wrong place. If you’ve come here thinking you’ll get to listen to the cuckoos singing, I’m sorry to break your bubble but you have come to the wrong place!
So why exactly would anyone want to live in a city that is swarming with people and that offer no peace?
That is because, no matter what cult we’re from, we would at least once in our life, want to sense what it is like to live in a world that offers an adrenaline rush 24/7, what it is like to live on a constant brink. The buzz with which this city moves is as captivating as captivating could get and it has something to offer for all breeds of people. So shifting your base from a placid berth to this place would certainly come as a cultural shock, as it did to me. I found this place smothering to say the least; but there have been times when it was Mumbai’s presence that hushed the restlessness in me.
The sea, evening walks at Marine drive, an occasional stroll at Juhu, has time and again kicked the homesickness out of me.
The calmness that monsoon brings to this city seems like a scene straight out of a serene romantic movie. Maybe that is why, any Mumbaikar would straight-off, very nostalgically, relate to the phrase – “Mumbai ki baarish” (Mumbai rains); and with its onset all the hustle and haste seems to come into an impasse.
Why Mumbai is impossible to ignore
One of the main reasons why Mumbai lures people is because it is home to the glitzy world of Bollywood, and the one thing that will get an Indian pumping is Bollywood. The industry produces more than 500 films a year, a number that would give the biggest of Hollywood directors/producers fidgety nights. The kind of life that is attached with this foxy, flashy industry is something that dreams are made of. If you meet 5 souls in Mumbai, approximately 2 of them must’ve moved here as an aspiring actor or model and that is the kind of craze this industry entices.
Now, everyone who thinks they can act may or may not end up as an actor. So irrespective of the fact whether or not they’ve achieved their “dream” of becoming an actor, they stay put. Maybe that is why Mumbai is never short of man-power. It’s a place where you’ll find all sorts of people doing all sorts of work which they did not even intend to do in the first place. You come here with a dream and if you achieve that, good for you; if you don’t, fret not- the options that this city has to offer will spoil you for good. Also, Mumbai offers a place for all your tantrums and moods. So if you feel marvelously rich, the city will lure you into having a dinner at the swankiest restaurant it can offer and if you haven’t got much money on you, she will make sure you don’t go to sleep on an empty-stomach.
India is a country where, all kinds and categories of spices are made and we are pretty much pacified by the authentic Indian dishes, which have been passed over for generations. Here is where, Mumbai begs to differ. Along with the obvious traditional, authentic Indian cuisine, this place will offer grubs that have been modernized. This city is THE PLACE to be if you’re not one of those people who cannot chew spicy Indian food, albeit can’t resist it. You’ll find a well-suited businessman, getting out of his ritzy car just to grab a bite of vada-pav (a well-known dish which is made is made of bread with a small cutlet of fried spicy potatoes in-between) and laterally you’ll find a group of young undergraduates checking into an up-beat, flashy restaurant.
Any city in this world is never short of crimes and neither is Mumbai; but there has been times when I have reached home unusually late at night but I was never made to feel dolorous. My concerns for my own safety were intermittently shooed away by the people of this very city; I’ve been places, but this city, very dynamically comes off as unapologetic about the way it is; maybe that is why this wonderland looks so captivating.
Ahmedabad (my hometown) will forever have a special place in my heart, but it will always be Mumbai that has shaped me in the way I am right now. When I first moved in, I despised this place and there have been times when I’ve jargoned about Mumbai; but it was only after certain experiences did I realize that I would’ve never been the same, had I shifted somewhere else. You literally, cannot take Mumbai out of anyone and that is why I would very proudly declare that Mumbai is never short of surprises. I say this dictum, and I, would personally swear by it.