Tuesday, December 02, 2008

My favourite city...

Mumbai will always be Bombay in my head. Mumbai somehow never struck me; much like the new horribly spelt and pronounced Bengalooru doesn't ring a bell in my head.

Bombay was this magical city for me while growing up. One because the only person I knew who traveled often to Mumbai was Dad's friend Bhandari uncle and he always went in an aeroplane (Flight is a new word in my vocab). So the place that one can go only in an aeroplane has to have magical qualities right? The second reason was that my family is from Dakshina Kannada and anyone in the 70s and 80s who wanted to make it big (read rich) just simply escaped to Bombay (not Bangalore) and came back with suitcase full of expensive goodies in a few years. That sealed Bombay's magical qualities.

The song "yeh hai bombay meri jaan" always played from the old radio at grandfather's house just before going to bed and conjured happy thoughts.

Later when teenage hit me and I thought of being this independent woman who lived on her own terms, I always saw myself in a well appointed Flat in Bombay living all alone with great joy. Of course the Flat would definitely be facing the sea I told myself. All this when I had not even seen anything other than Bangalore, parts of Dakshina Kannada and bits of Mysore. I hadn't even seen a train up until I was 20 let alone travel! But well imagination doesn't have any boundaries does it?

Then of course reality took over and I forgot all about living in Bombay. Also, I realised I am a hardcore Bangalorean nothing enticed me enough to stay away from here too long. Then I met G2 who was from Kerala but was a HUUUGE (believe me she was) of Bombay and after college she started work there and told me all about the glory of the magical city. I decided I should at least visit the city. Though it wasn't until 2007 I managed this. And who better to show me around than G2. The four days I spent there is something I can never forget. We stayed near Colaba and I was thrilled to bits that I could walk down and see the sea! Was awestruck by Tajmahal hotel and it's lore. Went crazy over the Colaba Causeway shopping spree. Loved all the hangouts! Most of all I loved the fact that I felt secure in that city. I walked around the city all by myself by day and never once I felt I was in a strange city. But what sealed the deal was when G2 took me on a night safari of sorts across Bombay post midnight that ended in Marine Drive. I was awestruck at how many people including lots of women were there at that time. It was an exhilarating feeling to be by the sea at midnight with no male company and none was staring at us. I wasn't the least bit scared. I decided that if anyday I decide to move out of Bangalore, Bombay would be my first choice.

But all that changed on 26th November. My security blanket was breached. My safe haven was torn open. I feel like I have no place to go. I know this is nothing compared to what people went through first hand. But I am angry, grief stricken, lost....just plain angry!

What makes people do something so unthinkably cruel for no personal reason? I thought I could talk about the anger and frustration I felt once it was over. But I can't. It hurts to think of what they did to the people in my favourite city. My fear is we will forget all this and move on...carry on with our lives doing nothing about what happened. It hurts to think about it. It physically hurts.


Which main? what cross? said...

:( I don't think Mumbai will change much

Samba said...

Bombay is definitely a city with a magical personality. And yes, it's "Bombay" to me as well. What impresses me about the city is the drive of the peddlers to sell whatever they sell. And yes, I love the 24/7 availability of cheap taxis. And then, the hard rock bars (not the hard rock cafe) are less noisy compared to those in bangalore. You can go to a bar enjoy hard rock music and yet talk to your company. But I don't feel as much at home there as I do in Bangalore. May be because the spoken language is not English unlike most cosmopolitan cities of the world. The rich/poor divide is not as strong in most other places as well. And lastly, Bombayites don't tend to appreciate whatever they see outside of Bombay.