Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Magic of Mumbai

(First of all let me say that Mumbai to me is always Bombay, but I wrote Mumbai in the title simply because it alliterates with Magic! )

Long long ago, I belonged to Bombay and Bombay belonged to me. We left Bombay in ' 77, but the sense of belonging remains. Whenever I've visited Bombay afterwards, I realised that I still relate to the city as mine. However to the current generation I might seem like an outsider or at the most a mere visitor. 

I've also felt that when Bombayites- when they meet outside Mumbai- the sense of bonding they display makes the rest of the junta feel alienated. Don't know if all this is just a distorted perception of an over working mind.

However, I must admit that I'm not sure if I would be able to match the pace of Mumbai living anymore. 

My memories of Bombay is remote but distinct- during the 70's- our Building society, our neighbours from all states, our celebrations of Diwali, Holi, Ganesh Chaturthi, Janmashtami. The VT station, the little shop which sold Amar Chithra Kathas for just 2 Rs!  

Our flat was situated in some interior area of Ghatkopar, and I remember taxi walas would hesitate to ply to our place. The road from the highway, to our building was kuchha and on either side were jhoppadpattis/ slums. People would be attending to calls of nature on the roadside, and the stink was awful. Once I reached the beginning of this road, I would refuse to budge an inch and Achhan was compelled to carry me all the way home! However, there was a private road which by passed the dirty kuchha one, and we usually opted for this one. 

Those were the days of the Indo-Pak war, and Achhan (father), had covered all the windows with brown paper. An eerie siren would bellow at random times ( I can still remember the wail of the siren)  and then whether at school or at home, we had to plug our ears with cotton and crouch under tables/ chairs. I was too young to be afraid, and rather enjoyed the adventure. At night, we were not supposed to switch on the lights, but everyone would go up on the terrace to watch the spectacle in the skies! It was great fun for us kids. 

Those were the days when ‘Chitrahaar’ used to be ‘Chaayageet’, Tabassum’s ‘Phool Khile hain Gulshan Gulshan’- the first of the star rendezvous…Paintal’s “Laddusingh Taxi wallah”, Santa kukdi, Amchi maati, Amchi maanas…
Initially I would go to my neighbour's home to watch T.V and later when we bought a T.V set, I remember how we kept our doors wide open during Prime time and how proud I felt  when others trooped in to watch Doordarshan at our place! 

All said and done there is a certain magic of Bombay that makes me a trifle envious of Bombayites...I guess  You can never take Bombay away from you, even if Bombay is taken away from you. :-)  

 (The above words began as a comment on Janani's post but morphed into a blog post!)


Janani Sampath said...

wow nimmie... a very befitting tribute to the city of dreams...

Anonymous said...

My memories of Bombay are different but it still remains a favorite city. Love this multicultural, happy, never really sleeping city.

Mindsurfer said...

Hey Ardra,
Nice post. Though I've mostly seen Bombay through the eyes of a transit traveller, I've always enjoyed it. Only once did I stop for a few days with friends and that too in the innards - Kalbadevi Road, near Churchgate, and it was a great experience.
Kinda similar to my transits through bloggerland :)
Hope to keep in touch...
Mindsurfer :)

Ardra said...

thanks janani.
Yes IHM, there is something incredible about the city.
Good to see you here Aditya, it been a long keep in touch.

Arunima said...

because of what i have been reading about this city, i was once tempted to go n work there. I am settled in Bangalore now and changed plans.