Tag Archives: Bombay

Bombay diary chapter 2

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Tender Coconut Image

Bombay they say is what you make of it. However, I think Bombay itself has a fairly humungous role to play in the making of its residents. Like one day, It takes you for a surprise with its monsoon downpour, the very next instant, leaves you suspended over salty seas to dry and drench with sweat. It takes you to the 23rd floor of the biggest corporate agency in India; it makes you walk as a part of the crowd while travelling in the locals. It’s the city where the elite cherish, the poor subsist and the rest are merely lost in the crowd.

It’s overwhelming. You can’t be in Bombay and not think about it in one way or other. Existence itself in Bombay engulfs you. You can’t be mentally present elsewhere while crossing the road in the insane traffic or while securing a seat in the overflooded locals. Nowhere else in the world can you find such a peacefully chaotic coexistence of the richest of the rich and the poorest of the poor. Neither any city has such faded lines of distinction between the two. The shack like  seemingly wobbly brick and mortar structure by the side of the road is equipped with a LCD T.V, the penthouse owner of that majestic society down the posh Worli seaface lane is debt ridden down to his throat.

Despite this disarray, despite the grim realities of struggle in the city and the mad rush for the pursuit of power, money and endurance, there is humanity and compassion. Even in the hustle of the traffic and the mob of people, someone will come up to you and ask you if you’re lost and need help. Randomly some car driver would screech his car to a halt so that you can cross the road comfortably.  Another stranger will put a protective arm around your fractured hand in the Local train and yet another will help you figure out the bus route for your destination.

I often wonder what makes Bombay dissimilar to the capital. No, you thought it wrong if you think it is the sea. It’s not even the sweat and the local trains which scuttle as the veins of the living immortal called Bombay. It’s the fortitude of its residents, the never say die attitude of its masses that splashes colour into its pale, mundanely rigorous black and white urban life. It’s undeniably legendary how Bombay bounced back after the terrorist attacks in 2011 in less than an hour as people scurried to work like any other day. Ramesh reminisces that the bomb blast happened a few metres away from his tender coconut stall. It’s been three years now, he hasn’t shifted a centimetre from his usual spot. The coconut that he sells me for an initially -overstated and persistently -bargained -now -decent  price has its crust dried and stiff from outside, but the water inside is surprisingly  sweet and thankfully refreshing  in the scorching heat. Like Mumbaikars. Like this city. 

Bombay Diary : Chapter 1

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Photo Credits : Shanu  Babar

Photo Credits : Shanu Babar

 

The pigeons of Bombay are so fearless…..

The pandemonium of Mumbai pigeons

The pigeons of Bombay are fearless; they won’t flutter a single feather if you pass by. They are conditioned to this city, to people scurrying around, sometimes aimlessly, sometimes with an urgent purpose. As a lone woman traveller, it’s not easy to manoeuvre your way on the streets of one of the most crowded Metropolitan cities in India. The pulse of the city can be felt by travelling by the local trains in rush hour or steering your way through the densely inhabited streets which paint the ironic juxtaposition of the tallest corporate skyscrapers and impoverished, old cramped buildings or “Chawls” as my taxi driver would call them.

The Lower Parel area houses eminent corporate buildings, chaotic yet colourful “chawls” and provides sustenance to street side peddlers who sell everything from snacks to daily household items and peculiar garlands of green chillies and lemons to ward off evil.  After a long excursion on foot, I board the famous honeybee coloured Bombay cabs and we steer our way towards Bandra, Bandstand, the elite residential area which is famous for its party culture and is home to many Bollywood stars like the indisputable “King Khan”.  The taxi glides on the Bandra worli Sea link that bypasses 23 traffic signals in merely 8 minutes and when I gaze out the taxi window, the pleasant sea breeze plays with my raven coloured hair as the gigantic pylons frame the most mesmerizing sight any eyes can fathom. The waves crash loudly against the gigantic pillars and the sea gleams and reflects traffic headlights in the night merging into the breathtaking skyline of zenith smooching high rises twinkling in the dark. I get goosebumps and the awe inspiring beauty that flaunts the skyscrapers silently shoves the “Chawls” and the roadside peddlers, the lifelines of the city, the very memory of their existence in Mumbai to a dark underbelly.