The Three Faces of Mumbai

“I found Bombay and opium, the drug and the city, the city of opium and the drug Bombay.”
Jeet Thayil, Narcopolis

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Photo Credit: Marine Drive by Floyd Milan (deviantart)

There are more than fifty stars visible in the night sky and the sea breeze ruffles and messes up my hair like an old friend. The skin on my arms rises into goose pimples. The glittering Mumbai Skyline sprawls lazily before my eyes as I find my foot tapping to the happy, out-of-tune singing of the bevy of girls sitting to our right. An empty horse-carriage with more lights than it needs, gallops behind us, providing catchy background music.

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It’s a Saturday Night. And sitting in Marine Drive I can’t help but feel, Life can take us anywhere from here.

It’s dark and the inky waters of the sea look even more mysterious as I see the waves metamorphose into swiftly moving white snakes.  I take in a deep breath of that heady salt-filled air and feel my whims and fancies tumbling out of me.

Let’s go to Singapore.

Europe.

Greece.

Bali.

Madagascar… Yes! Madagascar it is!!

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I wake up and can’t shake off the urge to take a train that would take an hour to take me to the opposite side of the city just so I can sit and stare at the beautiful sea in Marine Drive and wait for the thoughts to flow.

This got me thinking. Why do we embark on these long journeys to seek short spurts of possible pleasure? But it isn’t the actual pleasure that drives us, as most psychologists would explain, it is the search for it. The journey. That’s what we crave and seek.

The hope that what will really make us happy is yet to come.

Because this can’t be it, or is it?

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Photo Credit: The Journey Begins. By Rwitwika Bhattacharya.

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                     Photo Credit: www.indiaunimagined.com

I push my way and swim thru the crowd at Colaba Causeway, my eyes dancing all over the wares for sale. This city has so much to offer. No wonder it attracts so many of us here.

My crowded city, where you’re more likely to get drenched in someone’s sweat rather than the city’s rains. Where space means that no one is stepping on your toes, not right now anyway.  Where the biggest challenges and victories begin and end in a crowded local.

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My free city where most waiters can’t resist the urge to ‘correct’ my order because of their patriarchal conditioning, they obviously know better of what I really want. Where one in every three men, think it to be the most natural thing to touch you more than necessary when walking by you. Where you’re so used to being stared at that you don’t really notice it anymore.

The city of so many colors and so much beauty that it is hard to bear.

The country where terrible things wait silently in street corners to pounce on you.

And so does joy.

My city.

Mumbai.

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