There is a silly line which I mutter every time I get down on the VT station (okay! CSTM for the MNS and SS) with my friends. Watching the crowd, I’d quote innumerable hindi films:
ये है मुंबई शहर. सपनो का शहर. यहाँ सबको जल्दी है. खाने की जल्दी. ऑफिस जाने की जल्दी. पैसे कमाने की जल्दी. जीने की जल्दी. रोज़ यहाँ हजारो लोग आते है अपने सपनो को पूरा करने..
I arrived in Mumbai around 6 months ago, for my job required me to. I had always believed that if one could survive in Mumbai one could survive anywhere. I had been here before, but always as a visitor, an outsider just for short trips. But this time, I was meant to stay here and live the place.
Within a week of my landing here I ended up living in Dadar. Oh yeah! I was living in the townside as a Mumbaikar would say. For them anything ahead of Sion is a part of the suburb! I guess I had well avoided the most stressful activity for any newcomer, of finding a ‘decent’ place to stay, thanks to an old friend.
Like Morgan Freeman once talked of life being institutionalized my life started oscillating between the 8.41 AM Thane Fast from Dadar and the 6.27 PM CST Slow from Thane back home. Within 15 days I was the champion of the Central Line with a good awareness of surviving Western and Harbor too. I could tell you how much time in exact minutes it takes between point A to point B. I could lounge myself or squirrel through crowds to get in the trains. You could quiz me for any station sequence and I’d ace it!
In between work and trains, the endless stream of people and constant acitivity at any time of the day made it so alive…nothing like the sleepy towns I have been to. Between the extremities of lavish homes at Khar and the people living off the city streets I was amazed by the ‘in your face’ nature of life here.
Hundreds of Mani’s Dosas(What! you never been to Mani’s Cafe in Matunga?) and Filter Kapi fueled my mornings enabling me to be a corporate labor each day, with Mani never realizing how he was fueling India’s GDP through an able manager like myself!
Our weekends were sprinkled with our Foodie desires and frequent visits to the Marine Drive. That stretch of Queen’s Necklace would continue to be one of the favorite places of the city, almost an oasis of peace in bustling city. It was a part of my first evening here and I hope it shall be a part of my last evening here too.
Did I love the city? Do I want to leave it? These questions keep coming, but I feel they are irrelevant…afterall the choice has been made, my preferences do not matter. But, I do know for sure that this city allows one to dream and pursue them…it is both kind and ruthless to people….Like Sinatra once sang:
“This town is a lonely town…Not the only town like-a this town…This town is a make-you town…Or a break-you-town and bring-you-down town…This town is a quiet town…Or a riot town like this town…This town is a love-you town…and push-you-’roundtown”
I survived Bombay…and I know I can now survive anywhere.