Have taken up this tag from Broom..my top ten favourite things (in no particular order) about Bombay, a city I lived in for less than a year, a city that feels like home.
1. For the longest time, Bombay has been this Promised Land for me, a chartered accountant student who lived in Madras (where every other job is in the IT sector). So to anyone who wanted to know my plans post my CA, I would reply that I’d go to Bombay and find myself a job in corporate finance. The train blasts happened two days before my results came out and typically my mother said that I can stay put in Madras and take up whatever job comes my way. But I went away anyway and was a single girl living alone in the big city. I don’t think any other city would have thrown its arms open to me like that. And I managed a crazy job and my home reasonable well and Bombay helped me prove to all the naysayers that I would be unsafe there and wouldnt be able to manage all by myself. That is the real beauty of Bombay, welcoming and open.
2. Nariman Point. Yeah I know its not exactly a Manhattan or a Hong Kong. Yes, they’re mostly ugly old buildings with paan stains all around. But for me from a city where the tallest building still remains (?) the LIC Building, I was in awe. Of the country’s most important CBD, of the power that was encased here. I was proud to be a part of it all.
3. The NCPA. My main source of entertainment. Friday evening plays. Photograph / art exhibitions during lunch break. I loved the place and still rue the fact that we don’t have a similar establishment in Madras.
4. Marine Drive. This is cliched I know. But still it is one of my favouritest places in the world. The day I left Mumbai, I really wanted to take a walk down the area one last time. But I was working really late and had to rush home..to my absolute delight my flight passed by the area the next morning and I took in the oh so familiar sights, the Air India building, The Oberoi, the cricket stadiums and the beautiful ocean. I’ve never before and since then flown over the area. I remember my afternoon post lunch walks, the walks in the evening taking in the beautiful lights, the watching the place getting transformed in the night with the horse carriages and the peanut sellers.
5. I know this is wierd and is not exactly what I love about Bombay as much as something I was fascinated by. The shoe shine boys. In every station, on the roads in Nariman Point..they to me represent enterprise…the way they sense opportunities..of harried office goers rushing out from trains, bringing their appearance up to speed. The vigourous polishing, the sounds of their implements…
6. The Vashi bridge. Bombay to me was South Bombay and Vashi. The bridge was literally that, between those two worlds. That flurry of cool fresh air, blowing in my face, looking down, trying to guess the tide, the sight of Centre One mall, the station, signalling the end of yet another train journey..
7. Strand Book store. Books were my faithful friends in the time I spent alone in Bombay. A friend took me to this quaint little book store and I was hooked. By the number of books, the variety, the discounts and Mr Shanbhag. I found it so touching when he’d run after me in the store, offering me a chair to sit.
8. The Wankhede and Brabourne stadiums. The cricket lover in me was delighted to realise that both of Bombay’s main stadiums were a stone’s throw away from my office. The jobless creature that I was I’ve watched Ranji matches and some vague twenty twenty matches between Indian state teams and Tamilnadu won much to my happiness!!
9. Naturals Ice cream, specifically the one on Marine Drive again. A place where we’d run away to whenever we could afford a longish lunch break.
10. The yellow and black cabbies and the autowallahs. Coming from a place like Madras I marvelled at these guys, who were obviously living in a much more expensive city than mine and would yet not make an attempt to fleece (trips originating from the airport were horrendous and those guys do not come under this). They would return change of even a rupee and I’ve done so many trips from Nariman Point to Vashi late in the night and have not come to harm even once.
I have so far painted this oh so romantic picture of my time in Bombay. It was most certainly not all rosy, I was lonely, homesick, had long long commutes, worked crazy hours, had lousy food (cooked by me, a complete novice), missed KT, had bad bais, had some bad experiences, bad bosses et all. Returning to Chennai, I was given the royal treatment, like I’d been kidnapped for the months I was away..like I’d survived some trauma. Everyone who knew me thought the kind of life I’d led was really bad, the non stop running, surviving the trains. Looking back even I’m amazed at my the life I had and wonder what I fuss about sometimes here..Yet I have come away with so many happy memories (the fact that I had plenty of alone time with KT for the first time in my life and that he lived with me whenever he was in town has a lot to contribute to this. The only city in India I would like to live in other than Madras is Bombay. Love you Bombay for welcoming the starry eyed girl that I was and keeping me safe and happy.
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