Monday, December 9, 2013

An Affair To Remember

My sweet short romance with the island city of Mumbai started just after a year of living there. It began in secret (as most affairs do). It crept into my life slowly, took over my very existence and now heart racing I recall my rendezvous, in the tree lined Altamont Road; in gorgeous buildings of Ballard pier and Fort; in grand Neo-Gothic buildings of Victoria Terminus; Mumbai High Court and University; in the easily accessible vintage Fiat cabs  with drivers ranging from amicable, crude to boorish;  the breath-taking view from the flyover at Marine Drive at twilight; the crowded and energetic Kalbadevi and Bhulleshwar; the turning from Babulnath temple towards Walkeshwar (takes my breath away each time); the view  from Kamla Nehru Park; racing downhill  towards Kemps corner from Malabar Hill; the crashing waves at Priyadarshani Park; the silhouette of lovers at sunset in Girgaun Chowpatti slowly working  its magic into me.

Victoria Terminus

Some of the simple reasons why I fell in love: The Mumbaikar- Functional, hardworking, unpretentious and practical- here is where I learned to appreciate life. The high energy outside local stations, the hardships and the struggles of the working classes, their long commuting hours, their lack of space and privacy inspires you to live life to the fullest. People let you be what you want to be.

Sunset At Marine Drive

Then it is the extremities of this city- Five star housing apartments with chawls for company, vada pau selling next to fine dining restaurants, MNC CEOs travelling next to the neighbourhood plumber! The list is endless and i have never experienced this anywhere in India.The other reason why I love Mumbai is for its weather- when it rains, it’s the most amorous thing I have ever experienced, the waves in the Arabian Sea swell up in the high tide and crash into the shores (near Haji Ali) and transfix you with their mystery and majesty! You don’t need layers in winter and the summers are tolerable.

Haji Ali

Mumbai has to be experienced during festivals to get a feel of the exuberance that brings out the spirit of the city (culminating in the mad frenzy of Ganpati Visarjan witnessed from the Kennedy Bridge)!

Flora Fountain

I love Mumbai because I feel safe here, it is the only city in India where a woman can safely take a cab at midnight and take the BEST buses without being pinched or gawked at; Can walk at marine drive at 1am and my teenage daughter has the freedom to take public transport and reach her college without feeling intimidated! How many cities in India can boost of this?

Ballard Estate

In Mumbai I feel free, free to go where I please, do what I want, wear what I want, with nobody judging me on my social class, gender or where I come from.

Read the following in a book on Mumbai, “The city is like a mistress- mysterious and engulfing. You can never understand her, and perhaps that is why you may never want to leave her side”

But I did have to leave- With hope that someday, one day, we shall meet again. Au Revoir.

Priyadarshini Park
(Photo Credits: My trusty Samsung phone)
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