It’s the city of dreams.
It’s the city of dreams; it’s the city that never sleeps; it’s a mahanagri where people come to realise their dreams, struggle day in, day out, travel in local trains, go without food for days, travel on foot, risk dehydration, and wake up every day to do what they got to do, tirelessly. At least, that’s what they show in movies, print in articles and slip in conversations. Equally true is the fact that the city treats each person differently when they arrive here with a bunch of bags, and a lot of baggage.
It’s the city that never sleeps.
Wherever you look, you see a constant state of busyness & flux as if you have entered a scout camp where everyone’s got a job & no one can sit idle because that would mean that you are not fit to be in this camp, and belong elsewhere. When I came to this place three months back, I saw tall buildings, adjacent to each other, wherever I looked. This seemed weird to my territorial, North Indian mind that’s still primitive because it gets alert when someone breaches the boundaries & perceives a threat. Those boundaries don’t exist in Mumbai & people have learnt to live with shared spaces while building a universe in their minds.
It’s the city of crunched spaces & glorious 1bhks.
The first thing you do when you move to a city is to search for a place. Fortunately, I didn’t have to go house hunting, but I accompanied some & felt (what my mother tried to protect me from, all her life) – SHOCKED. Tiny apartments, with windows and grills only in place of balconies, tinier washrooms next to kitchen, and non-existent roofs. Mumbaikars have multi-purpose rooms that can be used for dining/ studying/ dressing and drawing people – all at the same time. These apartments remind me of my hostel days where we would share rooms & in the name of privacy, would have beds and corners and small almirahs to ourselves. That would form my universe, and everything I needed was there, in that universe.
It’s the city that runs on local.
I was born in Delhi NCR, grew up there, studied there, and did my post grad from Bengaluru, only to come back to NCR to work in Noida and Gurgaon. I was raised in traffic jams, pollution and dust (Nothing to be proud of, I know. But probably you don’t know who I am 😃). They warned me of the traffic situation here, however, I was confident that with my background, I can handle any fricking traffic jam.
After all, how much of a traffic jam can Mumbai have that can’t be contained in locals, autorickshaws, BEST buses, footpaths and personal. Turns out, a lot. This is a city that’s containing a volume that would have slipped through, long back if you go by land: man ratio. In Mumbai, 15-20 mins. is a regular wait time for an Ola/ Uber to arrive. Surge pricing is almost always on. And you end up paying a premium to travel in taxis here unless you are travelling in a Kaali-Peeli that stinks and almost always is in a tattered condition, or an autorickshaw that runs an inch above the ground. Local? I haven’t even mustered the courage to look at a railway station.
In Mumbai, it’s different. Autorickshaws go by meter, and meters work properly. It’s just the traffic jams that slow you down in an otherwise fast city. This is probably why people are always running in Mumbai, making up for the time lost in traffic jams, by staying awake till late, sleeping a little less & enjoying their weekends the most.
Mumbai, named after Goddess Mumba, might not entice everyone, might not be fortunate for every career, might not be urban enough for every soul living in the city, but it sure does accept you, give you a portion of space and sky – which you can call your own.