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Maximum love for Mumbai

When I first landed in Mumbai in 2014, a family friend settled there told me, "You may leave Bombay (Yes, he said Bombay and not Mumbai). But Bombay never leaves you." Now I realise how true it is three years after I left the city of dreams. Little did I know how badly I would miss the crowded Colaba lanes, the spicy bhel and pakoras of Crawford Market, Id shopping on Mohammed Ali Road, the economical weekend movie catch-ups at Regal and many more. The four years I spent in Mumbai remain the best part of my life. 

I was fortunate to have lived in the two so-called ends of Mumbai — the plump, posh South Bombay, or So-Bo as it is better known, and the outskirts of Borivali. Colaba was the over-caring pampering mother to me. This was also because I was staying in one of the best women’s hostel in the heart of Colaba, with the best mess service. Yes, food tops everything else in your priority list when you are away from mom. Food, travel, relaxed commute via locals, everything was taken care of in Colaba. But what it also did was spoiling me for any other place. 

I had the shock of my life when I shifted to a rented apartment in Borivali with my husband two years later. The overcrowded locals that come and go at Borivali station with men and women hanging out reminded me of ripe mangoes about to fall off the tree. The struggle to emerge alive from the train once it halts was real. The murky lanes outside the station, the sombre, uninteresting line of shops with flies hovering around were in stark contrast to the well-tarred roads and glitzy pubs in Colaba. My heart sank at the choice I have made for my further stay in Mumbai. But Mumbai surprised me in a whoosh, in no time. 

The owner of our little "1-BHK" was a very cordial Gujarati family which always had a smile and an ear to every need of ours. In no time they became family away from home, always a call away, never complaining. We were lucky to have a friendly neighbour too who knew where to draw the line — friendly yet not fussy. The flat soon turned out to be our cosy space, our little corner of joy we yearned to return to after a tiring day. It was where we had so many firsts — first furniture, first kitchen, first flop and successful cooking experiments and so on. 

Leaving Mumbai was not easy for the both of us; especially for me. This was the first city I started my career in. The city that made me independent and helped me find my voice among scores of people. The city that to me was an exact replica of how it was depicted in movies. A city that jarred your eardrums with endless blabber on one side, but where you found peace within, amid all that madness. 

Years after I left Mumbai, I still want to go back. I truly get the meaning of what the friend said. Yes, Bombay never leaves you. 

farhanps1@gmail.com

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Printable version | Mar 7, 2021 11:42:47 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/maximum-love-for-mumbai/article33424734.ece

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