Mumbai is my home. And I'm lovin it.
On the 3rd of January 2002 with my RX 100 on a train from Ahmedabad, I arrived in Borivali, Mumbai. From then, it has been such a positive ride.
Sure, I had my share of frustrations in the initial initiation to the big bad Mumbai. From getting the bike out of the Borivali train station to traveling in the local train to reach lower parel, the next 15 days were a nightmare. I was not used to such a fast life in Ahmedabad.
With optimism for life and no such great ambition, I started my journey to settle down in Mumbai, to get my rythm back and start my life.
In these 8 years, I moved from Borivali to Sewri (what a relocation; with of all that I had in my Yamaha to a place which is the other end of Mumbai), from Sewri to Shivaji Park, from Shivaji Park to Mahim, from Mahim to Sion and then to my own home in Tilak Nagar, Chembur.
Occupationally, I moved from advertising & media to making ad films, from marketing to online marketing to my current position of Head - Internet Banking, Deutsche Bank. Yes, I work in a bank handling technology after starting my career with an agency handling advertising.
Here, as surprised you might be as a reader, I am also surprised at the opportunities that Mumbai has given to me to discover myself, my talent and my latent interests. I followed my dreams and dreams became reality. With time, money ceased to be an issue for most of my waking hours. I do get greedy at times.
Now thats too materialistic a reason to love Mumbai. Thats not what I wanted to write today. I wanted to write about my experiences, my feelings with Mumbai in these 8 years of living here, of making such tectonic shifts in my life.
The essense is that I have never felt alone in Mumbai. I never felt insecure in Mumbai. It has given life to my will to hardwork, be good, have patience, have faith and keep going.
From that day in 2002, when I found a helping leg to push my empty tanked bike to the nearest petrol station to yesterday when I found a stranger helping my dad (a parkinson's patient) to walk in the dark theatre towards his seat (we were there to watch Aladin & I went ahead to find the row), I have so many good memories of Mumbai and its beautiful people that it fills my heart to become a better person myself. I wish thats an epidemic and everybody is therefore becoming a better person themselves.
Let me jot down a few of my everlasting memories of Mumbai:
# Borivali to Sewri for a 10 days old on a bike in Mumbai was tough. I didnt take a single wrong turn and I found my destination in around an hour and half. In Mumbai it seems nobody has time for anybody but I found time from everyone. Everytime I asked for directions from an autorickshaw driver to an office goer, I got clear directions. From dharavi, I actually found someone who told me to follow him till my destiny. He actually took an extra turn for me. It was such a great satisfying journey, which could have been the worst in my life with 3 bags in a RX 100 with no clue about road directions.
# I am a bit of a crazy bike fanatic. Once I stubborned my way to take my father to the hospital for his acupressure session. While returning, he was having problem in getting onto the bike. Two gentlemen came and help him get on the bike. It was good till then. On the way, he got uncomfortable and was not keeping his balance on the bike. I had to stop somewhere near Goregaon in the WE highway. The magic started then. In a matter of minutes, my dad was brought down from my bike, given water, a stool to sit and relax. After a good 15 minutes when my Dad was comfortable, they again helped him onto the bike and we reached home. I was overwhelmed beyond words. I decided to become a better man myself.
# The fact that I dont have to bargain when I get into an Auto / Taxi is such a relief that we can only realise when we go to Delhi/Bangalore/Chennai. There is of course a slight problem that I ocassionally face. The taxis standing close to office premises wont budge for shorter distances. Once it happened that two girls (quite good looking and so I was observing or you may say leering at them) were trying to hire a taxi. They tried the standing taxis. They didnt budge, so they started waving for the passing taxis. Suddenly I see these two traffic policemen riding a bike passing by the waving girls... What shock me is that they stopped after a few metres to instruct the closest taxi driver to take these girls wherever they wants to go. Now that changed my view about traffic police completely. It is actually such a good life sala.
# I am quite a party animal. And shoulder to shoulder brushes are quite common in any pub in Mumbai. So a few bad looks here and there is accepted to be quite common. For the past 8 years, I have only heard of a few pub skirmishes. I havenot seen them. In Delhi, every pub/party has one fight every night. I may be exaggerating a bit but fights, abuses and quarrels are so much lesser in Mumbai pubs. It is actually fun.
# Last night, in a fit of excitement I left my purse in a paan shop in Bandra. Can you believe that? Yes I managed to do that and fortunately remembered after about travelling 5 kms towards my home. Luckily I have the habit of checking for my purse and mobile every 10-15 minutes. I could only say "WTF, I am screwed." I reviewed my memory and the best chance was the paan shop we stopped. I am still under dis-belief that I have actually got back my purse. God bless the paan walla and I wish he open a paan shop chain and become a paan magnet. Really, that's how magnanimous my wishes are for him.
Let me not drag it now. Just one last line. Mumbai - its people, its spirit and its conscience is really something to be proud of and to be inculcated within.
Dont understand why we say BIG BAD MUMBAI sometimes.