Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Why am I in love with Mumbai..

A comment on Purba's post(my own about what irks me as a Mumbaikar),and it set 
me thinking..Before I knew it,it turned into a  full post about why I love Mumbai.
could go on and on but this space has its own limitations ,so read on a few lines 
about my dear Mumbai... 

                                                        courtesy google images                    

After a long struggle, when I finally got married to Hobbs, we decided to shift base to Mumbai. This was in the early nineties and we were being fed on stories about big bad city of Mumbai by almost everyone who was even remotely connected to this city. Hobbs always dreamt of making Mumbai his home but waited for me to finish my post-graduation before we tied the knot. I was secretly hoping he would change his mind but in vain.

Hindi movies those days had scenes depicting a bechara /bechari being duped as soon as he/she arrived at VT station  ( CST now) by a thug or a taxi driver circling the city to fleece a hapless passenger. Mere mention of Bombay would elicit a negative response from almost everyone- ”Arre Baap Re!!” being most common of all. Some reactions would read thus:
-        Arre… you will be looted as soon as you step inside the Mahanagri !
-         Bhookhe mar jaaoge! You live like a king here,in your own house, but out there ,you will be paupers.
-        Have you seen the houses there…twenty people live in one tiny kholi and strangers share a bathroom.
-        You will earn for others. EMI bharte – bharte zindagi khatam ho jayegi.
-        Bimaar hoge toh roti khilane wala koi na hoga. You will die a lonely death.
-        One well meaning auntyji whispered in my ear “You are used to pears and Sunsilk and ready made napkins for ‘those days’ …do you think you will be able to afford these ‘luxuries’ after paying off your debts?”
-        Joote ghis jayenge beta Bombay ki sadkon par. Here you have gaadi-ghoda at your beck and call.
    The typical Marwadi style melodrama was to dissuade me both from my marriage to a Maharashtrian as well as the shift to Mumbai. Hobbs faced emotional blackmail of a subtle kind at home. His parents hoped that atleast,the youngest son would stay back at the ancestral property. The decision was already made and the shift was smooth with one sack full of useless wedding presents and one suitcase each of clothes.
I admit I fell in love with Mumbai as I gazed at the city during my first taxi ride to the suburban home of sis in law which we shared for a while . Her living room was our first bedroom . I loved the city more when I shifted to my own tiny rented apartment. Having spent most our growing years in bungalows surrounded by sprawling gardens ,the matchbox sized apartment was nowhere close to luxury. Shuru hote hi khatam ho jata tha. I loved the city all the more when the city gave me the independence of traveling on my own by public transport at an unearthly hour without fear. It sharpened my sensory perception, I could recognize local stations by their smells and sounds even in sleep. Mumbai taught me the value of a fraction of a second of my time. I learnt to  recognize the person at the door by the time of his arrival even before I opened the door. 7am –milkman,7.30am-paperwala,7.45-car cleaner and so on.. 7.30am bell can not be your dhobi’s bell unless informed well in advance. I fell in love with the gastronomic delights, ranging from, sabse sasta ,filling, street food to the exotic,  ridiculously priced , bland platter. The street shopping grew on me, and so did the AC confines of the swanky malls. Most important of all,I loved the anonymity in the crowd that Mumbai gave me. No one gave a damn about who I was ,what I wore, where I came from or where I was headed. All my life I was aware that I was a girl, and hence was aware of how I walked, what I wore, where I came from and where I was headed. I was aware of my being a female in a sea of humans and unconsciously crossed my arms in a crowd to avoid being touched ‘unintentionally’. Mumbai made me feel human and I could hang my arms by my side and swing them for all I cared, without attracting a single eyeball. Mumbai grounded me and taught me to stand in a crowd rubbing shoulders with a fisherwoman, a scrawny looking but energetic sabjiwali, a CEO or an IAS from Mantralaya . Once in the local, they are professionals and homemakers rolled into one and can be seen preparing for evening meals while chatting, bitching about in-laws or singing bhajans. This city gives aam aadmi  the recognition of being anonymous at some level.
Is that an advantage or disadvantage? Go figure!
For me, wherever I go, I need to and long to come back and Mumbai welcomes me with open arms. This is the city of my dreams,so what if the politicians choose to use and abuse it .The common man however, has nothing to do with politics and does not boast about his ‘connections’while crossing the road or while peeing in public. One day, people will wake up and move on from being more than mere spirited Mumbaikars and bring on a change.
For all of the above and much more beyond the scope of this post,I Love Mumbai!!


  1. It's the city that gave you wings Sharmila. Where you had the freedom to be you and not somebody's wife or daughter.

    No wonder you love Mumbai so much.

    Loved reading your ode to amchi Mumbai.

  2. I have never been to mumbai, but this post makes me want to visit the city....

  3. Purba,you said it!

    Chintan,please do visit and allow me to be your host:)

  4. Good god. I read your comment on my post. I had few controversial statements which I removed before publishing on my husband's suggestion. One was what you mentioned...another that why did girl not fight for the boy and blamed onlookers. strangers would rarely get involved. It is media's way to blame people and not the system. I feel for the family who will be dragged for ages and not be given privacy.

  5. Glad to know you liked the city.
    Your post reminded my of the movie Piya Ka Ghar released in the late sixties (Starring Jaya Bhaduri)

    I hail from Mumbai and was born and brought up in Mumbai/
    I left Mumbai at the age of 18 and have not returned except for short visits to see my parents.

    I have a soft corner for the place still, though I am now settled in Bangalore for the past 37 years.


  6. To me it is the ordinary folk who create the magic - they are confident in themselves and don't try and use anything else - culture, who they know, family name, what they wear etc as a crutch. But there is the other side too - the communal minded, the low lives who do try and cop a feel etc.

  7. wow! lovely post Sharmila ...and every word true.
    and for me, the anonymity is an advantage

    """"""No one gave a damn about who I was ,what I wore, where I came from or where I was headed""""""". this feeling is liberating but not many get it



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