living in the midst of the madness called mumbai

monday madness with mumbai mondays. (posting it a day late this week, but plan to make this a tribute to the city i live in, every monday!)

the sun sets in the sea at bandra bandstand
the sun sets in the sea at bandra bandstand
(c) bhavani

reporting from mumbai. to the west of india, in the state of maharashtra. i have lived here for 1/3rd of my life! was here for the first three years of my life, then my parents moved out. i came back to mumbai when i was 23, and left with a ‘good-riddance to bad rubbish’ tilt of my head and vow in my mind to never come back. but i did, again! it seem’s like i am here to stay this time around!

there are many things to dislike about this city. but, let me talk about all the things i love.

i do love the crowd. the chaos. the janta!
it sounds nuts. visitors shudder about the number of people. but love the janta that mills around in even when you land at 12 midnight. last week, i got stuck in a traffic jam at 12 midnight. and this makes me feel safe. on a recent trip to gurgaon, i was alarmed, and uneasy by the emptiness of the roads once the sun sets. i do understand its winter and its cold, but it’s also dark, dreary and very scary for a lone woman on those silent streets.

i like that my neighbours don’t know my name.
they don’t know if i am married, they don’t know if i cook, or work, if i have kids, if i am living in, if i work. and they don’t seem to care. and in all the flats i have played musical chairs with over the last 8 years in mumbai, no one has bothered me. you can come and go as you please, give your guy a quick peck as he leaves for work in the morning and know that the woman opposite your house is not peering into her peep-hole. i don’t know if mumbaikars are just busy, or not interested! and then a crisis hits. whether the floods, bomb blasts, terrorist attacks and suddenly, the people on the roads are your friends. as i walked home from office during the July floods, wet, tired, pained, with my wallet and phone wrapped in a plastic cover and held high over my head, jeans drenched given the waist-high water that i had waded through – at every street corner, women in their nighties, men in shorts, little smiling children stood with small tables in front of them. they handed out water, hot chai and if you were lucky, some of them gave you maggi, or something else to eat… to gear you up for the 2 hour walk home!

i have my independence. intact.
i moved here at 23 and i would come home at 2am, sleep off in the cab and wake up only when i reached home. i could walk on roads at 1am and haggle with autos drivers and cab drivers, without a worry. even today i can go anywhere and come back home alone at any time and i don’t feel worried, nervous, i am not always turning over my shoulder waiting for someone to attack. i don’t need to report in every 15 minutes if i get delayed, my family knows i will be fine. i feel this safe as a woman.

this IS a city with a strong love for all things cultural
though not many people acknowledge it. though delhi is always the known cultural capital. though maharashtra is not culturally the richest state in india.
but every weekend, mumbai comes alive. there are at least 3 different events, apart from the regular stand-up comedy shows, classical concerts, plays. bombay also catches onto the latest trends like cooking classes, tea tasting sessions, art workshops… and every month almost seems to have an annual ‘festival’ of arts or music or cinema or theatre or all of this combined.

it’s a city that supports!
anything and everything. if you have a dream, and even if it’s a bizarre one, there is space here for you… it supports you, in all your wholeness, in all your weirdness. and i hope that never changes.

so what do you love about this city?

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