Yeh Hai Mumbai Meri Jaan

I still remember the day when I walked out of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) dragging a suitcase which was bigger than me:  here I was, just another teenaged girl who left behind a comfortable, protected environment to make her dreams come true- dreams that I myself wasn’t sure about, but all I knew was this was the promised land where anything is possible.  As I hummed the Bryan Adams song, “Here I am, this is me, there’s nowhere else I would rather be”, I could feel the pulse of the city that was strange, yet warm; unfamiliar yet welcoming, scary yet exciting…
Nine years down the line, I am still here, albeit no longer the clueless, gawky teenager and I am overwhelmed with a sense of nostalgia.  Have my dreams come true?  To some extent, yes.  Has the city embraced me as its own? In a way, definitely. Have I become a true Mumbaiite? In my independent, indifferent lifestyle, of course! Staying in a tiny pigeon hole in the heart of the city, overlooking the Marine Drive, I would stare at the waves crashing on to the Queens Necklace…  Walking for miles through the bustling streets of Churchgate, Fort or Nariman Point, I would relish the old architecture… Bargaining my lungs out with the roadside vendors at Fashion Street, Colaba Causeway or Linking Road, I would come home with a lot of “stylish” junk… Tired out with all the walking and the bargaining, I would savour the roadside pav bhaji, sandwich and the panipuri, missing the ‘puchka’ back home… Struggling through the local trains at peak hour or arguing with the autowalas everyday, I would wishfully stare at the well-heeled Malabar Hills ladies, stylishly getting into their chauffeur-driven Mercedes Benz, with their Zara shopping bags… But then, I would look at the little girl selling gajras at the traffic signal or the dilapidated shanties on both sides of the Wadala bridge, bemused at the great divide that can only co-exist in this city… Exhausted and drunk after a night of partying at Colaba, Parel or Bandra, I would crash at some friend’s place, only to wake up the next day, battling a hangover and a poor memory…
Intimidated by the tall buildings masquerading as banks in the country’s financial capital, I would dream of working in one them, and now that I do, I dream of something else… So that’s Mumbai, it makes your dreams come true, but it also makes you dream bigger; it makes you rich, but it also makes you understand that money talks; it makes you fall in love, but it also makes you realize that like everything else, love is also transient…
But, even after so many years, it continues to be a new world, a new start, alive with the beating of young hearts…
—- Simanti
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