Tuesday, August 12, 2014


Picture Courtesy : www.worldtop7.com
One of the first things you'll hear as a new immigrant in Mumbai, even before the "Maya Nagari" cliche will most probably be "Once you've lived in this city, you can't or won't live anywhere else." And true to form, I've heard this since my childhood when I'd visit my grandmother here, up to 2007 when I set up base in this big, bad city with my own dreams in tow. 

But as the years have gone by, I've failed to find that love & lust for the city that many swore on their mothers I would (peace be upon their mothers). Perhaps the city is not to be my muse, and I neither its master nor its slave.

Then again, I hear such wonderful stories from & of people who've lived their entire lives in this city and realise that the dictum is more a romanticised memory of a bygone era when this megapolis really was something else. I vividly remember lovely childhood vignettes of Dadar by my friend Sidd Coutto. My buddy & co-actor Anand Tiwari has a treasure trove of Bombay stories. I've visited friends' & relatives' ancestral homes & bungalows in Mumbai and experienced first hand the history & character bursting through their every line, crack & beam. Heck, I have personally witnessed the growth of the city over the years, first through the innocent eyes of a child & then a cynical view of an adult. And yet, when I return to the ruins of the rest of the crumbling city, I find it very hard to peer at Mumbai with a rose-tinted perspective. I rant about the pitfalls of the city more than I'd like to admit. Yet, I cannot take it when it comes from an outsider; as if I alone have the right to declare how ridiculous this city is.

The Mumbai of today is safer & boasts of deliverance from many social ills & restrictions. It is a free, modern city; a veritable utopia amidst dystopia. But for old times' sake, I wish some Bombay would seep back into Mumbai. Because the suburbs of Mumbai is a city, but the old city of Bombay is a person. I would like to meet that person more often, have tea together, talk about a romantic yesterday and the day before. Perhaps then, yes then, I too would fall blindly & hopelessly in love with that person, this city. 


  1. Wow! That appears like "Bombay" narrating its own poetry, expressing transitions and feelings of sorts! For many, like you, and a few other friends who've been brought up or at least spent a huge chunk of life in the maximum city, it is still Bombay or as my grandma says it in Hindi: "Bambai" ! The Mumbai Dilemma has conveniently remained to be the Mumbai ignorance, for we simply don't want to look at that side. Pardon the outside here!

    Bombay or its reflection Mumbai, has been a living reality, I've always adored from far: Never been a part of it and yet there's a strange sense of belonging that connects me to the place. What amazes me is the sheer brilliance with which it captivates my senses!

    Thank you for this post that is serving as another motivation to revisit those myriad railway lines and bylanes of the city.


  2. Mumbai has a world of it's own! Much beyond the skirmishes and filth on the outside! The subtlety in the vibe of the city can possibly be interpreted with highly pithy pep-talk but yet it remains a esoteric emotion which many fail to understand but strive for it! Much like pilgrimage! That's food for imagination now :)