So I have been living in Mumbai for over 2 years now. And over this time, my love for this city has just, kept growing. It has infact, grown so much that it is now overflowing, and that is the reason I am spilling it here. And no, there was no thirsty crow who put pebbles in my jar of love, its all authentic! Ekdum dil se!
Mumbai loves you in its unique ways, it nurtures you in a fashion you might not understand at first. For instance, I do not understand why people keep on cribbing about the traffic on Mumbai streets, and the way they are stuck in traffic for...lets say, minutes in the 90s, hours in the 20s, and looking at the state of things, days might not be far away. Especially given the pace 'The Kid Brother' is building the Metro. Just imagine, stuck in traffic for a day. How exciting! At least we would have something to show off to those Chinese people. Ha! When someone asks you, where were you last Tuesday, your answer could be, "I was between Andheri and Ghatkopar". How cool is that. I mean, just imagine the things you could do stuck there which you would not get the time to do in your otherwise busy lives. For me personally, the time when I travel by auto is the time I catch up with my friends on whatsapp, whom I had long forgotten. I make repeated attempts at playing games on my phone in a hope to beat the mammoth score created on my phone by my friend (how unfair!), at the same time trying to soothe the anger of some birds who have lost it completely. This traffic does even more interesting things to other people. Take an example, how grandmoms can knit a full sweater in this time for their grandchildren, and present to them a token of their warmth and love, remembering that the grandchild had once said to her, "Yo Grans, Take a chill pill!", and all they could sense out of that was "It's chiilly, I might need a pill". So Mumbai essentially is bringing people close together, nurturing relationships, and also inculcating the spirit of healthy competition in them.
There are others who complain how autos would not ply in Mumbai. Leave alone ply, they would not even stop to hear where you wanna go, as if there's a race they are missing. Now stop here and look deep within yourself, have you been doing justice to yourself? Most of us promise ourself an hour of workout daily in order to stay fit, but we do not want to compromise on the wee hours of slumber. This is not acceptable! Mumbai, like a true guardian angel, therefore takes care of this. It ensures you get your daily dose of workout by walking for kms in search for an auto, and at other occasions running behind them. Not the best treadmill at even Gold Gym could give you that satisfaction. Most of all, its not an artificial environment. You are close to nature. All right, you cannot see it because of the 25 storied buildings, but its there, behind them. You can always smell nature, especially near Bandra when travelling on the highway, and of course, hear it..sometime it sounds like Pom-Pom, at other times, Honkkkk! Yes, that is nature talking to you!
Mumbai keeps you grounded. Literally. Almost fixed to the same spot on the floor. I am referring to the travel in a Mumbai local. Once you find a spot to stand there, you just hold on to it. On one foot. Leaving more space to the mankind. Accomodating everyone, welcoming them with open arms...and smelly armpits! You stand there against all forces. You defy the law of momentum. The resolute you. From outside, from within. And for people like me who happen to have a lean structure, it gives me another feel good factor. I do things which others cannot do. That is, fitting myself somewhere in the gap. And I look at the ones who fail to do that and remain outside with an air about myself, saying, "Try and beat that!"
Mumbai drives ambition in a man. An ambition, not to build a Tajmahal for the love of his life, but to provide his family with a decent space to live, yes, one of the average apartments with slums on either side, and a high 5 digit number as the rent quote. It teaches you never to give up, and keep chasing that dream of getting your own house one day. When you passed out of B-school, you thought you now need to take care only of the Top 2 items in the Maslow's hierarchy, and bang! It brings you to Ground Zero. Its always good to start afresh, right?
But most importantly, Mumbai is like a mother to bachelors. Or at least a Mausi (Mother's sister, for the uninformed), who happens to have a Service Level Agreement with your mother. If you are a bachelor staying in Mumbai, try finding a house. If you haven't, add it to your bucket list, and you can live eternally trying to make this happen. There is a stigma attached with bachelors, their lifestyle, their stability, and God knows what, and the pricing expectations from them turn out to be materially different; of course if we haven't been turned down like at the other 80% of the places. Why not keep a signboard, "Dogs and bachelors not allowed"? So one of the landlords' arguments is, that we will party at home excessively. Now even if we want to try to give them comfort that this would not be the case, in our hearts we know that might happen. Because if we would want to go out and dance at a good place, we would not be able to. The reason, no male stags please! At some places, male stags allowed at exorbitant prices only. It is almost a crime to be single in this city. Credits to my friend N who once put it beautifully, "The money that you are saving by not having a girlfriend, has to be shared in equal proportions with the Clubs". Hmm...now stop back and think, what is going on here? If you haven't guessed yet, it is the universe's conspiracy to get you married! Du-uh! You get married, your mom is happy, even your friends are happy, who could not go to half of the places because of you being single. One of my friends A had actually pleaded me, "If not for your sake, for our sake, please get married!"
So see, the world is a happier place, I am not so sure about your happiness, but then small sacrifices don't matter to make the world a better place.
In essence, if it were not for you Mumbai, I would not have learned the virtues of patience, affection, confidence, and perseverance, I would not have learnt how to dream, and I could not have brought a smile to my Mom's face. Hence Dear Mumbai, Thank You for caring!
Why does this song ring in my head right now? "Dekho sabka katega, sabka katega Raam....yun hi kat ta rahega..."
P.S. I genuinely love Mumbai. But no senti stuff here. There is no water problem in Mumbai which I want to solve by making my readers cry and fill up tubs. And yes, I do not want to get married so that I can get a house and go partying (someone had actually asked me that question)!