Why do I Love Bombay? Part I

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Mumbai (or Bombay, as many of us like to call it) is known by its many names. It’s the city that never sleeps, the city of dreams.

Even though I wasn’t born or brought up here, Bombay has been home to me and over 11 million people, for a long time. I am what they would call an “outsider”, but Bombay is made of “outsiders”, it’s a city that accepts anybody brave enough to survive it- no questions asked, no prerogatives.

No place is perfect, they all have their flaws. This city does too, maybe too many, but I, and millions of people from around the world who live here, love it despite those shortcomings.

Here’s why I do-

  1. The People
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CST at anytime of the day

If you’ve ever been to this city, you know how over-crowded it is. From local trains to restaurants, there are one too many people occupying every little space and corner. I’m not saying that I love the number of people here but the kind. Mumbaikars will smile back at you. Even a rickshaw-walla will lend you his phone to call somebody if you’ve lost yours (like I once did). Very few people will cheat you here and even if they do, there will be 10 others on the street to help you. It doesn’t matter here how much money you have, what cars you drive or who your “connections” are. People of Bombay have heart. There are no judgments here. And if you’re lonely, you can be sure of making friends in this city, no matter who you are or what you like or where you come from.

  1. You’re Safe Here
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Girgaon Chowpatty at night

If you’re and Indian and have ever been told that it’s not safe to stay out after dark, there are only two possibilities- one, you’re a girl/woman and two, you don’t live in Bombay. I have lived in quite a few cities, and I can say that Bombay is the only city that doesn’t scare me if I’m out at 2am. There might be a guy or two who annoys you by being a little too friendly but nothing happens that makes you worry about your safety. This is one of the positives about there being too many people around, you’re never alone, nobody could dare to do anything wrong to you in sight of 50 other people and get away with it. You could be out at midnight and see college kids goofing about, young couples taking a stroll by the sea, dog owners and new parents spending some alone time outside, joggers and old and new lovers, all out, just like you, enjoying some calm before their day ends.

  1. You’ll Never be Bored
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One of the many graffiti walls in Bandra

Bombay is brimming with creativity and life. No matter what part of the city you’re in, there’s always something to do, see, take part in, and experience. We have sea-views, lakes, hills if you’re a nature lover; epic street shopping hubs if you’re indulgent; famous street food selling opposite five star restaurants; museums and heritage buildings for history buffs; art galleries and tasteful graffiti for art lovers; stand up comedy and low-budget plays for those who love theatre; from celebrity spotting to being a movie extra. The list is endless and the choice is yours. You’ll never be bored here. All you have to do is step out and explore!

More reasons why I love Bombay in my next post ( :

(Disclaimer: The last three images aren’t mine)

 

 

Matheran: From Taxis to Horses

I, like everybody else in Mumbai, am in dire need of a break come weekends.

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The fast life takes a toll on you. Even five days of commuting to work, slogging in a heavily air-conditioned workspace, breathing in the occasionally mysteriously stinking polluted air, sweating and walking shoulder to shoulder with millions of people trying to make ends meet, just like you… Just five days of this are overwhelming enough to make you scamper away for a while, just to gain perspective on life.

There are several tiny weekend getaway places around Mumbai. The more popular ones get so crowded that you find yourself right in the middle of the chaos you ran away from. But that doesn’t mean that these places aren’t beautiful. The only thing is, timing is essential to enjoying and soaking in the richness of these places.

SarahSays 1350Matheran is one such place, a popular little hill-station just a local train-ride and a cab-hire away. It’s so close to the city and yet such a contrast, that you forget about the city you’ve been calling ‘Home’ as soon as you reach. One of the most noteworthy things about Matheran is its No-Vehicles Policy. There are no vehicles allowed in Matheran beyond Dasturi Point. In Mumbai, sometimes I wear my headphones even without music, just to cut out the traffic noises. In Matheran, wearing headphones feels like a sin because the only sounds you will be drowning out would be the wind and birds and the clip-clop of the horses passing by.

There are two means of reaching Matheran from Dasturi Car Park- walking or horse ride. Alternately, there are also hand-carts for older people or those with a lot of luggage. SarahSays 1357 I have never ridden a horse before for more than ten minutes, so I jumped at the idea of riding one for almost 4 kilometers, to the hotel. D, my travel partner, and I found a guy with two horses and started our journey through the mulch and trees. During the horse ride, the horse-owner talked all the way to our destination. He talked about how people like him, from the mountains, feel suffocated in cities. He told us about about the prices of the horses, how they are traded in Nagpur, how they are brought all the way to Matheran and trained… My horse, named Abhimanyu, was a favourite amongst tourists, he told us. D’s was called Mowgli who was a little stubborn but was liked by kids because of his name.  

The horse ride was one of my favourite things about Matheran. There was a nip in the air and I could smell the trees and the wet, red mud. These smells are hard to describe but those who know how a forest smells in the monsoons, know how precious these little things are.

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