Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Yeh hai Mumbai meri jaan....

This is my third consistent attempt on writing something about my complete experience at Mumbai & every time I started the article, I would run out of ideas and words on how to express myself because of the unbelievable no. of incidents that have occurred during these 11 months. I was told to put my thoughts on this  blog a couple of times and finally I have been successful in penning down a few things without going overboard. 
I had always  heard bizarre stories about Mumbai. I wouldn't be exaggerating if I exclaimed that it had everything that would freak out a  "non-mubaikar"... Dirty, over-crowded, insensitive and "fast". Moving to this city was one of the hardest decisions I ever  had to make. I was advised against taking this step by well-wishers; Warned about the "fast-paced life" and the brutality of  this city and yet, I chose the hard way... Usual ain't it? 

My reasons sounded lame and intangible to people around me but I was on an adventure spree. Living away from friends and  family was not something new to me. Independent, survivor and a fighter were common terminologies denoted to me by my loved  ones. I had lived alone (in the figurative sense) for a long time and presumed that Mumbai wouldn't be a "big deal". What I  didn't anticipate was the big picture. :) I was moving to a city where I had literally 'No One'! I thought I was tough; what  I forgot was, I was naive! :)

The city of dreams does not have time for your fears and tears. It has people from all classes, creed and kind. There are  fair, dark, tall, short, insensitive, sentimental, the dreamers, the aspirants, the atheist's, the believers, the vegetarians,  the egalitarians, the jains, the artists, the geeks, the nomads, the natives, the homo-sapiens, the 'wanna-be's', the poor,  the rich and the royals! In short, a perfect match of mismatches :). Yet, they all are surviving the wave of livelihood,  together! I see pride, condescension and belief in people who call themselves "Mumbaikars". The question was, Why? What  drives this city to call itself "Different"! What made people fall in love with it that they never looked back? Was it the  "Move on!" factor or was it "time is money" or the sense of belonging or was it simply the culture?! 

On a casual Sunday afternoon, I decided to explore the famous south Bombay and headed to the remarkable gateway of india. On  one of the local trains ladies compartment (the lifeline of a million people, over which I would for sure want to write a  dissertation or at least try and understand its exceptional management system[No puns intended]), I noticed a 'bora' mother  with her son and daughter standing quiet away from the door. There were laborers to students to working women to house wives  in that packed compartment, all eager and rushed to reach their destinations. As the train approached a station, the mother  held her son on her waist and held her daughters hand and advised her to push the crowd and make her way through. "Mera  haath chodna nahi aur dhakka maro doosre haath se!", was what she said. As a silent spectator I watched the little girl make  her way through even before the train stopped at the railway platform. That's probably the first step to their training  towards surviving in this exemplary city. As the train stopped, a mob of 40 women got off in 10 secs and another mob of 30  women approx. boarded the train in the next 5 secs. Unbelievable, yet true! I have known a few women at my work place who  avoid the lifeline as they believe, to survive the local you should be a local. :)..And i couldn't agree more.

I have always been lucky to live in 'Big' houses (the stress on the term is the after effects of mumbai experience of  cramped up concrete jungles) closer to nature and the small town living has today made me realize, What "cost" of living  essentially means! :)

Spending exorbitantly high amount of money for an old, dilapidated, freakin'ly small place with tiny bedrooms shared by 4-5  people has made me appreciate the Govt. of India; :) for providing the Indian defense officers with beautiful houses which  at once upon a time I used to crib about. The sense of achievement that people receive after buying a 1BHK or a 1RK (a  few terms which I learnt after moving to this place as there existence is negligible in any other city) here is remarkable, as though their life's goal had been fulfilled. You better not be thinking that am kidding my friend because  this is the reality of this city which hosts about 12 million people and today am part of that crowd! Acceptance has been  tough -- blunt yet true; whether it was from the people or for the people. 

Nevertheless, there are always two sides to a coin and optimism being my core nature I won't loose an opportunity to  appreciate this city for its open culture, the sea side, vada-pav n poha and the amount of respect that they have for the  female fraternity. This is one city, I literally feel safe, even if it was 1 AM. Although the feeling is relative yet the  sheer existence of such a city in this country makes me feel proud. Apart from being the financial capital, the city upholds  an amazing cosmopolitan outlook and various traditions which may not be visible in the other parts of the country. On one  hand, the vast geography may cause traveling hiccup's on the other hand the connectivity is astonishing. The complete experience of dealing with humble and  benevolent natured 'Rickshaw-wala's' (at least the majority of them), is so overwhelming especially for a single woman. This  is one city, where you ask someone for help and they are ever ready to guide you/even accompany you until you can manage by  yourself. I had literally 'no hopes' that I would ever make friends in this insensitive and deplorable place but I was pleasantly surprised that not only I made friends but one of my most precious memories and people today belong to this city. From work to relationships, I have had my share of joy and woes here and when I retrospect the past one yr and make a comparison to the rest of my life... This year seemed  to have been the biggest roller coaster ride I have ever had! Reason: There's no time for tears, When you live in the real world! :)