Mumbai is a place where you either make it or you don’t. Especially if you are not born in the Mumbai mud.
I had the adventure of breathing the Mumbai air for about 3 years and believe me when I say that I still have not found a match for the life I spent there.
The city is fast, full of people, begins before the crack of dawn and who knows when it sleeps. Apart from all the skyscrapers, gap between the rich and poor, constantly running mela’s and chai tapri’s and road-filled lights at night, the city has experiences to offer that push you and pull you back just to get you started for a new day.
In my time there, I’ve had to build up guards and break down my walls for daily survivals. Being in the media field, my timings were always off. This helped me make friends in the most unique ways. Like when I had to leave early in the morning – I would often travel in the locals with the fisher-women with their salty stories and at times when I would travel back in the dead of the nights, I made a friend of a different kind. She; trapped in a mans body would tell stories of a world that I had never been introduced to and keep me company through the entire journey. Some of my now closest friends were introduced to me by the auto-walla’s and at the bidi stands.
Money was always tight but that rarely stopped us from having fun. Just that instead of going to all the good places, we went to cheap pubs, reached places with local transports, learnt how to cook, lived with people with different personalities in 1Rk apartments, did road side shopping – made it cool and SURVIVED!
Mumbai is sweaty, hot and when it rains, I’m pretty sure cats & dogs is a very small metaphor I can use – it rains elephants and giraffes. The Monsoons are amazingly beautiful or amazingly disastrous or both together in one day. At one point I found myself admiring the clouds and enjoying the pitter-patter and the next minute I was stuck in an over crowded train in the middle of the track that was unable to move due to the flood caused on the track.
You are constantly living in the fast lane and have no space or time to look back and ponder on ‘what-if’s’. If you want to stay in the game, either you move with the crowd or stay ahead of them. Competition in the working world is brutal and working in Mumbai made that very obvious to me. I had to constantly prove myself and make sure that the others were reminded of why I was working there.
During off days when I was done with cleaning and buying supplies, I would often just get on to random buses and trains and go where ever they would lead. Even on the same traveled road I would find new things that added to the charm of the city. I got lost in the crowds, in the market areas, in red light areas , in IT parks, dusty old buildings built by the British, mega shopping areas, beach sides with rolling waves & in the chowls that I never knew existed, and somehow used to find myself back at home un-rattled or maybe just a bit .
There were people everywhere at any point of time. At times I used to think that if only all of them would stop moving even for just a minute…the city would would know what silence meant.
Its been a few years since I left Mumbai but a piece of my heart still stays back in those misty narrow lanes and the encounters I faced.
I’m on my way to Pune from Chennai in a 9.45 AM flight – a perfect bright day, in the clouds with a view like never before.
Remember when we used to be kids lying flat on the ground looking up at the clouds and searching for animals and cartoon characters in them? The experience was always fascinating ; taking our imaginations to an unknown level of self created lands that would reemerge into something else with every passing cloud. What joy!
Unlike most of my other flying journey’s that take place either too early or too late, this time I am back into my cloud filled imagination land – my childhood memories – a sacred heaven. The only difference – I’m riding with the cloud horses rather than watching them soon going above them, through them with more rolling sands.
It’s amazing how I can still see a swimming carrot and a hippo riding a tire. Enjoying one of those few moments from an otherwise adult life when I am not thinking about anything else except those dancing cups and my next shaping clouds.
Have you ever observed how everyone keeps saying that they need to take a break for themselves…a little bit of ‘me time’? Well I am one of those everyone as well and I keep wanting a ‘me time’ almost every damn time. I know I ask for a lot!
Well I know how difficult and irritating it is to travel for hours to go to work and then to come back home just to cook and clean – but oh well…. sadly, we revolve around money and thus keep going around the routine again and again – grumbling and mumbling that we have had enough only to end up doing the same thing again and again. What a disgusting circle of life! Sheesh!
At one point, I realized that I was too tired of complaining of this loop and that breaking the monotony is not always easy – to take a small trip, have an entire day of nothing or practically everything (beach – beer- buddies – bods to drool at), to run away to lala land and blah blah. I decided to take my ‘me’ breaks during all those little specs of times when I know that I will only be with me.
Now then, the longest time I have with myself everyday (well almost) is when I poop – don’t roll your eyes – even you know that what I am saying is correct – when else do you sit in one place for about 10 – 15 minutes straight with absolutely no one else around (unless you have some weird fetishes) with all your thoughts with you knowing that whatever goes on in that twitchy brain of yours stays within those 4 walls?!?! Throw in another 10 – 15 odd minutes for a bath and you can find yourself in your very own fantasy land for a cool half hour. Nice eh?
Next are all those long signals that I HAVE TO WAIT FOR while going to office and coming back. It’s amazing what people do in all those little times – sing, shout at each other, scratch themselves, be a part of a drama, dig their nose, stare at infinity and I simply love to create a small story around them. Thankfully my face is always wrapped up in a scarf so they don’t find out that I am glaring, laughing or staring at them.
Then of course, while cooking – oh how I love those hot and fragrant moments between the stove and me – making me all sweaty and move fast on my tired and aching feet!
As I have mentioned before, I love daydreaming – so that takes up quite a bit of my day as well and how could I ever forget my Manga time! I love these little ‘me times’.
I have always (quite recently) started to believe that getting stirred up in nostalgia is a lot like getting drunk. On getting a little tipsy on both, you either start to laugh like a hyena, cry like there is no tomorrow, get depressed like you have hit rock bottom, get a blank page in your head or go completely tangent that you lose yourself to that time and day – teehee hee.
I mean we all just grew up doing so many things that it became hard to keep a track of it all. I remember us sitting up late through nights discussing how we were going to live our lives – oh how we were going to travel the world, become someone special, join weird circles, never going to get married, stand on the highest peaks and crawl into the bottom of hell and most of all – drag each other everywhere. Well as of now, we are all married (some even have kids!!) and no one even lives in the same city or even the country for that matter.
All those match – ups and break – ups, yelling and getting yelled at, pushing and pulling each other, being on the wrong side of the road let alone the bed – – we have been through it all and celebrated them all to our favourite songs and pegs & pints. I remember this one break up I had and as I was literally wailing in the bathroom, I called my best friend to announce the whole thing to her. Her first response to the commotion was ‘Wanna go for a movie?’ Believe me when I say that at that point, I didn’t know whether I should have pounded her or continued staying dumbfounded. If I remember correctly, we met, I yelled and screamed while she just stood there and then we went for that movie. And when another one us went through a crisis, we just ate tons of crappy food, smoked like chimneys and yelled at complete strangers. (-_-) Such friends and those memories at 42 – a place we all called home!!
The stupid fights we all had, all the sneak outs, of how we used to find the shittiest corner on the lonely road everybody knew and call it ‘our spot’, the 2am smoke breaks on the terrace and the 2pm hunger pangs during class, the biting and scraping, the ever changing hair styles and stories. Even after being in different streams of courses, we used to meet up under the pretext of studies and end up playing cards the whole day long – – we all passed out of sheer luck.
Sigh! What were we doing in those days? How did our brains work exactly? We all knew and then we all didn’t.
Suddenly I remember how we were thrown in the career caged circus that was called ‘PAY YOUR OWN BILLS’. Eventually we run past those whips of adult life and meet for that one drink – probably once or twice a year and even when someone is always missing – we still dance, yak, burp, fart, cry, complain and bitch, laugh, sing, pull each other’s hair and cheers like as if nothing ever changed. I guess that is what makes those memories feel even more special than what they started out to be. Siigghhhhh….
Where was I?? So much to tell and so much to ruminate about… but… well…that’s all that I can take in that one glass.
Oh well. . my eyes are still open and I can still see everything in static. I guess I’ll have another large one of nostalgia please. . .