Mumbai Diary: Love, not at first sight
Notions and assumptions may not always prove right. That is what I thought when I got my first sight of Mumbai - the city of dreams - as they call it.
With all my bags packed, I was all set to fly from Delhi to Mumbai. High on excitement, all pushed by the number o things that I had heard about the city, I just could not wait to be there and was wishing to land as early as possible.
Thanks to the pilot of Indigo's flight 6E 185, I actually landed half an hour before scheduled time.
Just when I was on my way from the airport to my guest house at Sian, I saw Mumbai for the first time. And I was disappointed, with no feeling of 'love at first sight' for the city. If a Delhiite sees Mumbai for the first time, it won't seem like a full-on metro city. So, with this little disappointment, I slept my night with plans for the next two days of exploring Mumbai.
The next morning I woke up and drew the curtains of my room to peek out of the window. I saw a city with tall buildings and huge water bodies surrounding it. Suddenly, Mumbai became beautiful, and my hopes for these two days went high.
I started my day with a visit to the Sidhi Vinayak temple. Mumbai was well awake by 6:30 early morning to seek the blessings of Ganpati Bappa. And with coconut and 'modak', my day began. On my way back to Sian, I picked up my best friend from Bandra, who was with me every second of my stay in Mumbai.
We had 'Ussal Pav' in our breakfast and headed to Andheri. A friend of mine, also the lead guitarist and lyricist of the pop band SQS Supastars met me at Mega Mall at Andheri. I was proud to see his posters displayed inside and outside the mall. There I met another girl, who took me to a local Mumbai food joint Shrijee's. She knew I wanted to eat 'Mumbaiya' food and took me just at the right place and with her, I made a lovely new friend at a place that I was visiting for the first time.
When we entered Shrijee's, I spotted Roadies and Big Boss winner Ashutosh, with his ex-Roadies contestant Sonel. The last I read about them was that they had parted ways. But to my surprise, they seemed to be so much together. Now, that was a good scoop. With that scoop, I enjoyed my Mumbaiya food with 'Chinese bhel' and 'Pav Bhaji' on my menu. It indeed was a perfect meal, 'finger licking good' as I may tag it.
After this amazing lunch, we went to a beautiful place called 'Band stand'. With an old fort and rocks, followed by a sea, the sight was relaxing and pleasing to the eyes and the Mumbai wind just enhanced its beauty. Sitting by the sea, looking at the waves, was a therapy in itself and I wished Delhi had such a place to relax too.
Done with Bandstand, I then headed to 'Haji Ali'. Built in 1431, the dargah is located right at the centre of the sea. It is a place where hundreds of people offer prayers everyday and that day was no different. I offered prayers at the dargah that was filled with the piousness of the Qawwali that was being sung there. Before leaving the Haji Ali spot, we had roadside fruit cream, right outside the Dargah road. I took the 'Sharifa' fruit cream, ad with one spoon itself, I said to myself. 'This is the best fruit cream I have ever had.'
This was followed by a great shopping session at Colaba and a short visit to the grey, yet great place, Leopold Café. The day ended with a long drive back to my guest house.
I started the next day with some bargain street shopping at Linking Road, followed by a lunch at 'Candies' in Bandra. The food joint Candies is dedicated completely to music and has a 'Message for Michael Jackson' graffiti for visitors just when you enter the place. I had lunch with another friend who is passionate about flying and aspires to fly one of our airplanes soon.
After the lunch, I had a calm and serene walk at the Juhu beach. The sound of waves, and the wind, yet again, made my walk my best stroll.
I then visited a friend in Goregaon, and together we headed for dinner at InOrbit mall's food court. Here again, I met the lead guitarist and this time, also the lead vocalist of SQS Supastars. And the best part was, that they met me as they were before Supastars happened, as my friends. I also met two other friends who have moved to Mumbai from Delhi and are doing a great job independently in the city. I had delicious Shawarma for dinner, and for once, I praised Shawarma from a place other than Al Bake.
The post dinner drive at 2 o' clock at night brought me to the end of my Mumbai journey.
In all this, I was accompanied by my mother, who also loves Mumbai, our cab driver Raju uncle, who made sure I explore Mumbai well; his language was also something very typical, 'Apun idhar pahaunch gaya hai, jaldi vaapis aane ka'; and my best friend, who made sure I went at the right place at the right time and get great pleasure wherever I went.
Another thing about Mumbai that made me smile was that though Mumbai people have an immensely busy life, each one of my friends, and even my new friend, took out time to see me. The other Mumbai people, from the cab drivers, to the shopkeepers and restaurant managers, they were all warm.
I did not feel unsafe even while I was roaming around Mumbai at 2 at night.
At the Mumbai airport, waiting for my flight back to Delhi, I thought Mumbai is not just about Bollywood, Gateway and Marine Drive. There is much more to it. While I discovered a portion of the 'much more' part, Gateway and Marine drive remain on my 'to do' list. So, to complete this, I want to visit Mumbai again. A 2-day visit was certainly not enough to explore Mumbai, but was surely enough to fall in love with it.
An announcement for boarding my Indigo flight got me out of my 'come back to Mumbai' thoughts and I headed towards Gate A5 for boarding. The Indigo staff suddenly changed the boarding gate to A6 and the place became a mad rush. This was not enough. Just as we stood at the entrance of the airplane, another Indigo official said that was the wrong flight and told us to head back to A5 for boarding the right flight - again a mad rush and people cursing low-cost airlines.
Well, all that done, I am now back in Delhi, but a part of me remains in Mumbai. I never thought I would fall so in love with the city when I first saw it. But then, Mumbai people and places of utter peace and serenity, now call me back to Mumbai.
After living in Ludhiana, that has warm people, and Delhi, that has a busy life, I wouldn't mind moving to Mumbai, which I believe, is a combination of both.
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