Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The city that is

9.30 A.M. on a Monday morning. I am in a cab inching its way towards Worli. The cab driver asks me, “Tilak Bridge se nikaaloon?” And, I give the obvious response (more so obvious since I have no idea of which ‘bridge se nikaloon’ to get to Worli). “Kiss raste pe traffic jam kam hoga?” And, he says, “Is city mein kahin pe bhi traffic kam nahi ho saktha.’
That is Mumbai for you!
Where people and vehicles together throng the roads at comparable magnitudes. Where a measly 5 km drive might take you around an hour if you are lucky. Where there is no time to stand and stare, for time is money here.
But, with all its drudgery and pain, it is still a beautiful city!
Beautiful because it is the city of everyone’s dreams. Beautiful because it welcomes everyone who comes to it with open hands and still has space for more. Beautiful because of its never say die spirit.
The cab is still inching its way towards Worli, now having crossed some bridge like structure which I presume is Tilak Bridge.
I look out and back at those good old days when there really was time to stand and stare, even in this crazy, mad paced city. Perhaps, if I had been thrown into it with no time to inhale its spirit but just time enough to run from home to office back home again to sleep all through the weekend (as is the case these days), I would have hated the city for the turmoil it had brought me. But, no, I was introduced slowly and steadily, to sea faces, to town and its enjoyments, to eat outs and hang outs, to these and much more.
Maybe that is what has made me fall so much for the place that would have meant nothing to me a year and a quarter back.
Maybe, sometimes, it has nothing so much to do with the place as to how and through whom you get absorbed into it.
Maybe, it is plain old first impression.
My initial impressions of the city were molded by experiences with cabbies and auto-wallahs who used a meter to tell me rates (Chennaiites would understand my excitement) and took me where I wanted to go without worrying about how interior a colony it was (people from Bangalore would definitely empathize with me on this one). And there on grew my respect for this city filled with ‘round-the-clock active people’ who did not have time enough to poke their noses into others’ businesses.
Today, this respect and love has gone up to such proportions that I do not regret having relocated here when I get up early to leave for office so as to save some major time on the traffic jam front.
Finally, the cab has reached destination Worli. And, I gear myself up for another of those longish work – laden weeks in the hope of catching a better glimpse of Mumbai Meri Jaan this weekend.


மணிகண்டன் (Manikandan K S) said...

Good post..mumbai is a microcosm of India..I would like to visit the city soon though I am not sure whether I would like it to be made my home.I would always prefer a slower paced Chennai (though I have been away from Chennai for five years now and have to figure out if it is still the same old Chennai!!) with all its failings, autowallahs included :)

And talking of traffic, our own Bengalooru is giving a tough fight for being the crown champion..This Saturday I left with my cousins in a Toyota Innova to visit Tata Star Bazaar..We left at 6.15 from Bannerghatta Road...managed to navigate through the traffic jam..reached Tata Star Bazaar at 7.30 only to be told there is no parking space left..we hunted for parking space in the nearby bylanes only to find they are full too! So we began our journey back and reached IIM at aroun two and half hours on shopping done!!

Vinay said...

Wat abt the trains? Anything about Mumbai would be incomplete without talking about the trains

Jagdish said...

butiful description... cud actuaaly visualise your journey in the cab. For once, felt like being there in the city itself :)

kavity said...

@mani: Yeah, I still remember one of those days not so long back when we left well in time for an evening show of a movie and reached an hour late for the same! Also, remember to go by auto next time so that at least your mission gets accompolished without hurdles like lack of parking space :)

@vinay: I have very conveniently avoided trains in Mumbai except during weekends when they are not crowded. But, yes, I agree with you! they are this city's lifelines!

@jags: thanks man :) you would also start exeriencing it in its fullest form in a month from now!