Sunday, 20 June 2010

Mumbai meri What?

Almost six years ago, on a summer night, Mom, Aashrai and I alighted the Konkan Railway service and headed to Appa’s outstretched arms, who proudly said, “Welcome to the city that never sleeps!” It was my first visit to the commercial capital of the country, or as the indigenous folk calls it – Aamchi Mumbai. Half-dozen years ago, I thus spent my vacation in Andheri, opposite Leela Palace – where Dad used to work, in a rare apartment building (in those days, at least) complete with Swimming Pools and a Sporting Complex – hardly something one expects in a city like Mumbai!

But a few days and an Amoebic dysentery (courtesy: Juhu Vada Pav) later, to say that I absolutely reviled the place and was dying of claustrophobia would be an understatement. I wanted to get out and was glad when I finally did.

I returned to the port city today after risking my life in one of the fastest landings I have ever experienced. The pilot, being absolutely reckless, hit the ground hard enough to sink Mumbai a few feet into the sea. The air hostess smiled at our alarm and said, “Welcome to Chattrapati Shivaji Airport – Domestic Terminal”. I would be lying if I said that my initial feelings of apprehension were subsiding.

I was welcomed, however, by one of the most beautiful overcast skies I have ever seen. The airport having undergone a major face-lift had me standing in awe in the middle of the pick-up bay. The cabbie from Schlumberger told me that I would be going to a Thane guest house. And so we left…

I have seen a lot in the past hours: the winding road around the Powai Lake, the scenic Hiranandani gardens springing out of nowhere, shanties and malls juxtaposed, rather friendly people and a young lad by the slums with no shoes leaping through the puddles in dazzling blue Samsung – Ballack number 13… Even if all these didn’t influence me, the fluent Hing-lish conversation I had with my Tamilian driver did!

I sit here on the 24th floor now, wondering if I’ll have to revise my ‘Favourite Cities’ list real soon…

12 comments:

  1. I've always had mixed reactions to Mumbai- didn't see the city on my first trip, hated it on my second trip, loved my third trip, 4th and 5th also good.

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  2. @ Lefty,
    I guess it's the same with me... Though I need more time to form an opinion here!

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  3. @ Shreyaas,
    Going green, are we? It's a nice monsoon theme, anyway!

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  4. I have been to the city only on 4 occasions and they've all lasted a single weekend. Even so, I liked what I say and people go about minding their own business, unlike their counterparts in some other parts of the country (*cough* Maddus *cough*).

    The monsoon theme is random. Another seasonal whim of another minion comes to mind, but I'd rather not mention it here.

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  5. I hate Mumbai summers, and there are way too many annoying power cuts. Do make it to Hiranandani , its lovely (even so, with a date :P ). and Colaba. You get jumbo vada pavs in the Dadar Rly Stn, they're awesome. and amazing sandwiches in this bakery near the station in Gatkopar. Then there's the Inorbit mall in Vashi.
    And then of course, there's the Sameer Hill in IITB from whose summit, the picturesque scene that the powai lake is, is romantic.

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  6. I have stayed in Mumbai for a grand total of 3 hours, waiting for a connecting flight to Calicut two years ago. I have no opinion of the place as a result, but I do feel it's better than Delhi. Then there are the monsoons too. Not to mention random Tamil drivers and young Chelsea fans to lit up one's mood.

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  7. @ Vixie, let's see...

    @ Dela, i'll have to agree there. Though, I don't like it as much as I did at first... This place is too frikkin' crowded! And the monsoon theme da... I think i know what you mean.

    @ Shagga, we live in controlled environments da... Screw the weather conditions. There's infinite food. And TV. And nice girls around the locality.

    @ mK, This over Delhi any day... At least, for the realism!

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  8. Have a great great time! Mumbai IS the place to be. Especially during the monsoons. =D

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