Often, we seem to let go off things thinking that maybe it is just not perfect for us. But then, is there anything that just screams perfection? I think Mumbai does. Maybe that’s why somehow I always find myself returning to Mumbai: The city that makes me write about her, again and again.
I can easily bet that whoever comes to this city, even for a day, will not leave as the same person as he had arrived. You might get bedazzled by the pace of the city. You might be disgusted by the dirt and garbage by the roadside or near the bus stops. You might be mesmerized by the Arabian Sea that surrounds the city. You might feel irritated by the traffic jams and on your inability to cross roads. You might have a filling meal of Vadapav for as low as Rs. 10/- or a sumptuous meal at the Taj or at any high-end-café established in the city. But whatever may be case, the city will leave you breathless. It can be either because of CST station at night: all lit up or because you had to catch “that” local as it was less crowded!
It is the almost consistent ratio of glamour and humility that makes the city perfect for everyone. Rich or Poor. Literates or Illiterates. Artists or Professionals. Bungalows or Chawls. Pub-lovers or Night-by-beach-lover. Mountain lover or Water-body lover. And still more people flock to this city every day in numbers. Looking at Dadar station and CST station I always wondered, just how many more people will she be able to take in?
But despite all this there are blunt edges to the city. Even though the city has everything, we complain about rains, floods, jams, locals, heat, etc. There are instances while in local I have heard commuters complain about the rush. As if they have entered Virar local for the first time or are not aware of the reputation of the local. Every day at bus stop there is a man who frets about missing the bus and the traffic that would have ensued if he catches the bus 10 minutes later.
Still every hour at CST station there is at least an individual who comes to Mumbai to realize their dream. They come. They complain. They stay. They leave. And they leave with a memory of Mumbai that might be not-so-perfect for them but they still went through what every Mumbaikar goes through.
Every Mumbaikar, even non-Mumbaikar, like me waits for the city rains. It is the rains that makes Mumbai the city as we know it. The rains gives a dreamy look to her, being true to the name given “City of Dreams”. You might not like when you would have to go to work with pants or shalwar that are wet at the bottoms, but would surely enjoy the walk with an umbrella in shorts or three-fourths on beach. Rains and umbrella in Mumbai works as a charm. For some reason I cannot adjust to wearing a raincoat in Mumbai Rains. But despite umbrella, there are times that I had gone all soaked to work. I have never complaint about it. It taught me to use the dryer in restrooms more effectively! We know how bad and serene Mumbai rains can be. Sometimes both at same time. To know how much be at Marine Drive during one of those high tides time and you can know why? The seasonal rains are just 2 months away.
Every Mumbaikar would rather take locals to commute for work than by private vehicles. And sometimes when they do have to take ricks or cabs to work and are packed in a jam. They would rather strike a conversation with the driver and discuss and/or debate about Mumbai traffic and about anything under the sun, than complain about the jam with their fellow traveler. And sometimes the fellow traveler too joins in the discussion. And what about me? Well the jams gives me a little more time to finish the chapter of the novel that I would be carrying that day.
So perfect or not, Mumbai or rather Bombay is one city that might chew, swallow or spit you. But you cannot forget her. Ever.