Bombay; The city that never sleeps, the city where dreams turn into reality, the city that says No to no one; it is a city which happens to be only 150 kms away from Pune; and yet I had not visited it in the last one and a half year during my stay at Pune.
Even though I have stayed in a metropolitan city all my life and I understand the nuances of everyday life in big cities, I have always felt scared of Mumbai. The fast paced movements everywhere, the overcrowded platforms of local train stations point towards me and tell me that everyone is struggling here for a gasp of breath, struggling to find a spot for their feet, a place where they cannot even stand calmly and for once look at the wide sky above them.
It seems that everyone is waiting here, waiting in long queues, for their turns; patiently. It seems like it is going to take a little longer achieving what they desire for. I hope it does not turn into an eternal wait.
But my wait to visit Mumbai was surely not eternal. I along with a friend set out from Pune on a train journey to Mumbai (yes, my love for trains will always be above my love for that expressway, even though it is just next to my campus!)
Trains are comfortable and economical to reach Mumbai. The railway track runs parallel to the expressway for quite some time and finally enters the suburbs of Mumbai. We reached Thane in about three hours where another friend joined us.
Even though I wanted the journey to start on a pious note, it started on an adventurous note. Before I could visit the popular Sidhi Vinayak Temple at Dadar, I lost my iPhone on the local train. Somebody just slipped it out of my pocket and in no time I was flabbergasted.
This is how fast and yet smooth, Mumbai city can be. I imagined it to be more welcoming to me than what it was proving to be. I sensed it to be a merciless, ruthless place with no civic sense. I was left awestruck at that very station within no time.
Anyways, I moved on with the incident as quickly as possible after of course a little bit of public display of sobbing. In the journey from Thane station to Sidhi Vinayak, there was a blank face travelling in the train thinking if there is even a need to go there anymore. Only a few moments ago was the inner peace lost along with my phone. But may be Lord Ganesha would provide me with the strength to smile again.
Meanwhile, my friends did everything to make me happy. They treated me with the best food available in the city.
The food journey started with “Candies” on the Pali Hill, near Bandra. It is a multi storeyed eating joint on a hill. It is built like a castle whose spiral staircase takes us to various floors with people sitting and chit chatting at every nook and corner. From the ambience of the place, it seems like they must be talking about friendships, life and philosophy. The whole place has a youthful and a bit romantic aura around it. And yet, strange enough, they do not accept cards!
My friends bought me my favorite coffee and favorite pastry and every possible thing was done to calm me down, to distract me from my phone loss. I demanded some fresh air and there I was at Carter Road, strolling near the seaside, gazing into darkness above it.
The sea breeze touched us and finally it felt good. Finally there was something to like about this maddening city.
It is a perfect place with a perfect weather to have conversations with friends. And just in case, you are hungry, the famous Shawarma is right across the road. Funny thing, they do not have any other branch except one in Dubai! Nevertheless, it was a yum yum treat topped with donuts and the company of another friend from a nearby locality.
Soon the day got over and the last train ride to home was also done. Suddenly a phone rang and as my friend pulled it out from his pocket, he saw the call coming from my number. He was taken aback and so was I. As he picked the call, a lady voice said politely, “This handset was found on Thane Station, you can collect it from me tomorrow morning, I stay at Vashi.”
Neither he nor I and nor anyone else there could believe what just happened. A wave of happiness and surprise passed through us but the night was still tough for me. I kept wondering, what if she changed her mind by the sunrise.
By now, I started feeling a little positive about Mumbai; maybe it was not all that bad. May be the philanthropic side of Mumbai was yet to be discovered.
The next morning started on a good note. They call it to this day, “The Return of the iPhone”. My friends could not stop taking pictures of me and my quirky smile that was back on my face. I silently praised Mumbai for its good deeds.
Celebration time, as it was declared amongst us, everyone was treated with great food. And so the rest of the trip was all about food and great food. From Sukh Sagar’s Pao Bhaji to Bade Miyan’s Kebabs, it turned out to be a gourmet evening.
And soon we all were found in Colaba. At the Gateway of India, we sat and discussed the history of Mumbai. The Leopold Café served us with fine coffee before we made a move from Colaba.
Finally the final destination and the most awaited destination before ending the trip was the Marine Drive at Nariman Point. As we reached there late in the evening, as they fondly call the curvy street lights besides the three sides of sea; the queen’s necklace; was shining bright. There were dangling Christmas lights in the city everywhere.
The beach is a peaceful place in the night. Sitting there in solace, digging deeper into the directions that life is taking with music plugged into the ears; all this happens innately on a beach.
As much as life appears to be a struggle in this city, it is seen that people have their heart and soul deeply attached with this city. Another city, Another tick in my list, Hats off to Bombay.