Another Trip To Bombay, But This Time As A First Time Observer
I have been to Bombay many times, on “tours”, college fests and what not but this time I just took off for a break for a week through a crazy 7pm-3am shift (don’t ask!) and stayed at a friend’s place in Bandra.
There are a lot of countries I’ve been to, but I’m proud Bombay is in mine.
That’s what Bombay does to you. One just has to be sitting on a bench at Carter road, across the Arabian sea, watching the world come to you and pass as quickly by.
The place comes alive in the evenings with us young ones, health fanatics on a run, rich kids doing tricks in their fancy cars, ATVs even, kids frolicking about in the small parks and everyone else. The air is thick with activity, energy, love, and a sense of absolute peace in a city infamous for its fast pace.
Since I was in Bombay through Valentine’s day, these places were also thronged with lovers across ages/profiles out on the roads, by the beach, bandstand (of course) busy in multiple levels of PDA, Shiv Sena be damned.
And that’s not just Carter road. Take a stroll alongside the beautiful marine drive, the cream of Bombay, at 2am after a drink at a pub, Ghetto in our case, and you think noone ever calls it a day here.
The beauty and calm of sea waves crashing over the thousands of tri-forked rocks over the bay combined with the palm-lined promenade, which by the way, is the 2nd largest sea facing promenade in the world. Have a chai from one of the cycle vendors on the road. If you’re lucky you’ll spot a Bollywood celebrity or luckier if you happen to be audience to an impromptu live performance or a guy singing out paeans to noone in particular. Don’t worry about getting home late, cuz unlike Delhi where I’d be scared to take an auto or now a bus in broad daylight, Bombay lets people hop into its cabs/autos any time of the night, without a worry. And the cab guys are helpful. Some will even give you a unsolicited tour of the city, happily showing you the houses of ‘Bollywood celebs’ as you ride past. The auto guys are also the most honest( return the change down to a rupee) without any tantrums.. If you’re from Hyderabad, Bombay or heaven, Chennai, you know how that’s a new kind of human gene.
Sitting by the beach and sipping a chai or munching on a famous bhel puri is the best thing you can do for free in Bombay but what about when you can spare some money for fun?
Unlimited options. Most places in Bombay are dotted with both mainstream and quaint hole-in-thewall cafes and pubs throughoput. Just head to any and you’d find something alien to your taste. A cupcake from theobromas or a frozen yoghurt at some other yippie joint while watching Bombay folk and travellers mingling about alike, feeling at home.
One of my favourite places in Bandra though is the very awesome Candies, a big bungalow turned cafe with seating across multiple levels, wrought iron furniture and the mosaics on the wall ranging from Steve Jobs’ to Marley.
I met a few people I knew off Twitter here and a bunch of strangers were buddies in no time. (Ah one of the other great things about Bombay is the sheer number of interesting people on Twitter)
The local trains here are a microcosm of the world in motion. Small markets running smoothly, Aunties chatting about their clan and its eccentricities, peeling vegetables and knitting, no wait, not knitting, bombay weather would never allow a sweater, college/school students studying before an exam, a general sense of ‘having places to, things to do” in the train. Though being the local train n00b as we were, we got fined some 600 bucks for having innocently settled in the rather-empty first class, instead of the 15rs worth of the regular class we paid for, such rebels.
If you’re a girl, the shopping here excites you with its sheer variety. All of India’s famous designers to up n coming kitchy boutiques interspersed with rows and bylanes full of the latest street-fashion along Linking road and Colaba causeway. This time though, I also visited the famous “chor bazar” of the city. Located rather inconspicuously in the bylanes of Byculla, the market surprises you with the sheer eclectic-ness of the ‘items’ it has on offer. You’d find rows of “spare parts, ball bearings and tools of machines you never knew existed And the best part, a lane full of antique pieces, legendarily “stolen” or smuggled to sell. So find a lamp from the Byzantine era or a toothpick from the Beatles dinner table if you will.
What does one say/write about the city that hasn’t been said/written yet?
Probably that for all that is known about this city, it never gets old or rather one finds a new way of celebrating it every time. And this post is me writing about the Bombay as I see it. Bombay with all its fame, all its contribution to history, literature, Bollywood, in literature, all its big cityness, its slums, it’s billion-dollar bungalows, where order exists in chaos and a place that never ceases to amaze