Mumbai – A Home, A Vibe, A State of Mind.

A city of dreams. A city that never sleeps. Its soul rises from the lucid dream lit by sodium streetlights into the smog of dawn. Within a few hours, the city’s mirage seekers move from households with sirening cookers into a traffic broiler in their swanky cars, those Kaali Peeli taxis or the massive overpacked BEST buses that come with constant reminders to “Pudhe chala”; the exhaust spewing and shimmying upwards as they mechanically tune to the channel broadcasting fitness advice they’ll never follow. Some use the local trains. Push and pull, “kidhar utarna hai”, and bulldozing into the crowd with your body weight to get in or out sounds like the quintessential ‘Common Man of Mumbai’ workout. A city where there isn’t a method to the madness, but madness is essentially the method itself.

But amidst patient negotiation through the chaos, one discovers the true nature of the island city.

A city survived by yin and yangs in all walks of life- where the intense mayhem is swiftly navigated by the Dabbawallas, an age old nearly errorless system of the delivery of home cooked wholesome meals to many a breadwinner. Where the Colonial-Saracenic Taj Mahal Palace Hotel and The Gateway of India- a scene that every Bollywood enthusiast is familiar with, boasts of a coastal view of the modern era of skyscrapers and opportunity. Where a commuter in the incessant rainfall finds a peaceful moment in a glass of masala infused cutting chai and Vada pav. Where a struggling actor looks at the celebrity in that magazine cut out and finds hope in the idea of “One day”.

It is Bombay that Krishna could have been describing in the Tenth Canto of Bhagavad Gita.

‘I am all destroying death

And the origin of things that are yet to be…

I am the gambling of rogues;

The splendour of the splendid’

it is a maximum city….” A bird of gold’’, a man living in a slum, tells me why he came here.

Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found by Suketu Mehta

This golden bird of a city feeds its people their hopes, dreams and aspirations, and dare to follow them, ploughing through the intense competition and uncertainty, shrugging and moving on from many a tragedy that come visiting.

And in this nest of uncertainty, we Mumbaikars place our faith in The Supreme Souls of Siddhivinayak Mandir, Haji Ali and the many other deities guarding this mixing pot of innumerable cultures. Because this bird expands its wings, welcoming everyone into its nest, imparting each missionary a piece of itself-whether he’s a resident of the exclusive Malabar Hill or from the maze-like alleys of Dharavi, whether he bargains in the local Macchi market or for that Prada rip-off on Linking Road; or showers the much coveted Rupiya on the even more coveted Prada. Whether it’s that barber sets shop on the footpath or the silver spooned child in a school uniform that walks on it. Whether it’s a maid, a driver, a cabbie, a teacher, a sweeper. Mother. CEO. Topper. Failure. Dreaming on, ploughing on with hard work and jugaad, as this bird sings on,
“Ae Dil Hai Mushkil Jeena Yahaan, Zara Hatke, Zara Bachke, Ye Hai Bombay Meri Jaan”

A tale of multiple personalities. It’s Bombay. It’s Mumbai. It’s both.

7 thoughts on “Mumbai – A Home, A Vibe, A State of Mind.

  1. Hi Kareena! Good writing! For me, Mumbai….in my times ‘Bombay’ has always been for me about the ocean. I grew up near it and if I eliminate all the clutter and noise and man made sh#t , I am left with the regenerative peace of the sea…Nariman Point..Apollo Bandhar…miss them so much.


    1. Thank you for the feedback, Sir. I’d say I miss the chaos and the fast paced life the most. I’ve barely been in Pune, and I’m planning trips home half the time. 😂


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