Mad over Mumbai

“There is something about Mumbai, the colors of the city, culture, the pace of its people and the way the city has evolved over time. Mumbai is a city full of life, tolerance and learning. Every city has a soul, meri Mumbai has one of its own too.”

Having had a plan of just 5 days, my Mumbai trip was packed beyond gaps and fills, the only time I had to negotiate within was how to get and where. Since my wife Nithya planned the entire trip, I was clueless over where we were heading to in any part of the day. The first step I took into the Airport thrilled me beyond recognition, Mumbai airport certainly rocks and my first glimpse was worth it. The newly done airport looked close to a very well done International airport, and I liked the fact that they had a huge viewing gallery as you walk past the lounges. I've always loved to stand by the lounges and glaze at the wonderful landings and take-offs, its something which is such a delight to watch.

I always imagined Mumbai as one of the greatest Indian cities and my imagination wasn’t wrong after all. From the daily chores of the people to its specialties, the city just has everything to offer for every class of the people. You can see anyone from driving a bicycle to someone roaring over in a Rolls Royce and you can watch it over on the same road. Mumbai is not a city, it’s a perfect class room for the whole world to enjoy. Its for people who want to survive, and believe me this city will make you learn life in ways of its own. One of my close friends told me one time that out of all the 40 years he has lived world-wide, his Mumbai living was the closest to his heart, because of everything the city taught him. He said "that city has given me a second life, and whatever I am today, I owe to that city; it ain't a city to me, she's my life's teacher"

I have heard so much about Mumbai’s cuisine and being there, I didn’t want to miss any of it, so for all the 5 days I stayed in there I made sure I never headed across into a restaurant and I stuck to the best of Mumbai's street foods. From paani puri’s to vada phav’s I made sure I never missed anything from the menu. One day it was pure chat, the other day it was something else and not to mention that you can never walk home hungry in Mumbai, every nook and corner of every damn street in the city you will see 4 to 5 people holding their hands with a small cup, waiting for the paani puri guy to give them a puri right on. It’s the fashion and it’s the way the city functions. All you need is a little money and your tummy is sorted out. From Linking road's Jai Jawan Kababs to Old Bombay's Bademia's wraps to the amazing biryani, each and every day filled me with immense amazement on how much a single city like Mumbai had to offer. Later one night, friends took us to Juhu beach at 12am in the night where we had malai gola and mouth watering rubdi. After 3 sittings of asking him for more malai; which he never denied, we finally gave into our tummies and moved on home driving through the wonderfully done Worli-Sea face.

In the following days I had the chance to explore the 4 corners of the city from places like Andheri, Mulund, Goregoan, Vile Parle, Dadar, Chedda Nagar, Chembur and there were so many more, and myself and Nithya literally criss crossing the entire city from all sides. From meeting friends to standing in Paani Puri queues it was an exciting journey all through from start to end. In between, there was so many buildings and bridge construction going on in Mumbai city, its like there is a huge construction boom heading out in full throttle and the prices of each home made me go bonkers. Mumbai right now is one of the costliest places to live in. That news literally shocked me; the cost of houses go up from 80lac to around 5 or even 6million rupees. I used to think millions are just figures people use when we hear about companies buying other companies, but here in Mumbai, houses are sold on these prices. I could see people who cannot afford the rates are moving farther and farther away from the city center, trying to buy affordable accommodation away from the city. Like i said, the city has everything from people living in a one room home, to billionaires building 20 storey houses just for themselves. 

I never knew too many people in Mumbai, I just had one friend and she was Isha. She's that one and only person I ever knew out of Mumbai. Isha never knew that I was coming down to Mumbai and it was a pleasant surprise that I arranged for her, by dropping in at her office and asking her receptionist to call her out for a courier. And I cannot explain that lovely moment when Isha did finally come out to see me and there was flabbergasted with excitement and stunned with shock, we both hugged each other and had a million stories to share with each other. Isha knows me for the last 5 years and we always dreamed and spoke about the day where we’d finally get to meet each other and finally December 27th 2013 was the date destined for it. Myself, Isha and Nithya wandered around in the Oberoi Mall in Goregoan area and later on went to do another sitting of paani puri. We sat and spoke all the years of talking we had with each other and it was so lovely to finally be in the warmth and likeness of someone I so wanted to meet and it was just unfolding right in front of my eyes. Finally I met my friend.

From weddings to parties to what not, the stay in Mumbai kept me busy all day and night with something happening all day long. On the final leg of the journey, we stayed at Ajhu’s place in Thane and it was just as amazing as Mumbai was, with all its lovely roads, mountain sides and awesome houses. I had the chance to meet “Chikkidoo” who was their Labrador; the sweetest and the bubbliest of its kind I’d say. Chikkidoo loves to be pampered and loved, if you run your fingers through her and suddenly take it off, she is so cute enough she will put her leg on you and ask for more… Thane gave me the opportunity to meet some amazing people, from Ajhu’s family to my very close ex-colleague Gaurav who came to meet us at 1am in the night and took us to his beautiful family who waited and welcome us at 1:30am with coffee and juice. I didn’t know how to thank them all for their lovely and warm hospitality, but its just amazing to know that these relationships exist and that’s all one needs in life. Happiness and people around is all what you need.

On the last day, Ajhu finally gave in to my constant annoying and took us to the Gateway of India, where I stood there amazed by this structure which was built for the King and Queen of England in 1911 to formally welcome them into India. Beside that was the amazing Taj Mahal hotel, which was badly hit by the terrorist attack of 2008. Both the structures complemented each other with their presence and it was a heavenly sight to stand amidst their presence and finally feel that delight of India running through you. After having a gulp of kabab wraps from Bademia’s we drove through the busy roads of Mumbai reaching Thane just to get on with the packing for the next day’s flight back to Chennai and from there on back to Dubai.

From crazy traffic snarls, to brunches on the roads, to people moving faster than life, to houses costing a million bucks, Mumbai’s got it all. The pace of the city transforms each of its citizens into this bubble of big hope in which each of them can survive in any city of the world if they have to. Mumbai is home to millions of people who have come in faith of this wonderful city and am sure, it hasn’t let them down. It’s a city with a soul and it has seen more than it could handle, but still the city has been moving and gearing on to welcome itself into the next century of the super cities. For me Mumbai is an amazing combination of love, excitement, craziness and humility, it’s a mix of a modern cultures blended with traditional values with a super speed economy driving it nuts. I really don’t know how many could handle the flair of living in Mumbai. But I did; just fine!

My sincerest thanks and love to all the lovely souls who in their own pleasant ways made this trip a most amazing one for me, and their names as I cheerfully remember them : Anand, Subha, Himani, Mansi, Mugdha, Dharshan, SriRaj, Nouvea, Ajhu & Roshni, Lakshmi, Vijayam Aunty, Rajini Aunty, Sunitha, Sameera and many more.

“There is something about Mumbai, the colors of the city, culture, the pace of its people and the way the city has evolved over time. Mumbai is a city full of life, tolerance and learning. Every city has a soul, meri Mumbai has one of its own too.”


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