Mumbai is my heart. Bombay is my soul.
Mumbai or Bombay??
It’s a simple question and has a simple answer. If you have come to Mumbai before 1995, it’s Bombay. If not, it’s Mumbai.
Mumbai – the bewitching queen of India still offers true seekers the chance to unravel their mysteries. In the local language, Mumbai is also known as Mayanagari, meaning the mystical city.
Sitting on the parapet, wind blowing on my face, wide-open space and enjoying the beautiful sea-calmness; this was Marine Drive at 0200 hours (also known as, Queen’s Necklace). I finally understood why people over the decades have exaggerated this intoxicating appeal of Mumbai.
“I heart Mumbai.” This ain’t just a sentence. This is one emotion that grows on you when you walk on the streets of Churchgate, saunter around at the Bandra Linking Road or brush past the sweaty locals of Mumbai.
I still remember the day I first stepped in Mumbai. I hated the fact that I had left my friends and hometown behind, only to move to another city. After an overnight journey from Vadodara, I and my family reached Mumbai. At 5 in the morning, this city looked as fresh as dew to my eyes.
People traveling in the locals of Mumbai at this hour came as surprise to me. They were office-goers, fisherwomen, college students and most of them, people like me, who had traveled from a different city/state to come to Mumbai. We got down from the train and hired a taxi.
Commuting on the streets of Mumbai, I was absorbed in its serenity. Till now, there are no words to describe the morning picture of Mumbai. Magnificent buildings rose high. The leaves on the trees lay still in silence. The newspaper vendors distributed their work in a group. People waited at the bus-stops. The aura of freshness and a new feeling. Yes, a new feeling – the feeling that attracted me instantly to this place – Mumbai.
I lived here for a decade and a few months. I was living alone now. Probably the best times I have spent in this city. The last six months were magical. Living with best friends, working with a great MNC, shopping on weekends and spending most of the nights visiting pubs and clubs after work hours. Yes, the typical life of a Mumbaikar.
But the day had come. And here I was, with my closest friends, in denial of leaving this beautiful society. Today was my last day. Leaving Mumbai was as difficult as nailing jelly to a tree. A flashback of my life played in my mind piece by piece.
I visualized all the years I spent here like a rolling film. There was ME walking alone on the streets of Lokhandwala with happy pride. There was ME with my building friends playing in the compound, remembering those friends whom I now missed very much.
There was ME with my first day at College and how happy I felt making new friends. The attendance, the bunking, the birthday parties, the college fest. There was ME getting my first job with an MNC. A sense of achievement at a young age. Life had suddenly changed after my first job.
The entry of my best friends. How I met them and never thought to be so close to them. They were here; besides me and today I still felt lonely. Tear rolling down my right eye; I hold my friends tight and told them – NO, I can’t go. Everything was changing. But the smell of Mumbai was still the same as my first day here.