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Sunday, February 18, 2007

AMCHI MUMBAI





The milling crowds were what that stood out in Mumbai on my recent visit ,they were vibrant , palpable and everywhere .
The city was alive and transmitted its cheer to all .
On a Sunday evening traffic came to a standstill as people waited for the big B to emerge out of his Juhu villa for the weekly darshan given when the great man drove to his old house in the next street from his new one ,once he passed away the crowd melted into thin air and life was back to its normal frenetic pace .
Very typical of the city which could spring back to life with renewed energy after any event like Jackie chan in his fights .
Railway stations were excellent for people watching if one could manage to find a niche to do so ,the overbridges were mini shopping malls laden with goods and haggling vendors .They had their own custom and so did the up station malls with their expensive wares.
Eating in the streets seems to be the national pastime for the Mumbaite whose culinary list began with patata vadas and ended with masala dosas sugarcane juices ,kababs ,and what not .
People ran ,ate ,spat ,smirked ,caught trains ,snoozed ,played cards ,jostled gawked and grumbled with equal intensity day and night .
Some finesse was required to alight on a suburban trains at peak hours ,the best way was to be alternatively passive and aggressive ,to be pushed by the crowd into the train and to resist with all force not to be pushed by the same crowd through the other doorway ,if one could manage this the art of traveling in Mumbai came easy and was even a pleasure .
The buses were less crowded but more slower as they grinded through the leaden traffic .
Towering skyscrapers dwarfed crowded slums of international repute like Dharavi where enterprise was as big as in Nariman point and where many a mafia don polished his skills .
Bollywood was always in the background as grinning Sharukh Khan billboards stared at you from railway platforms . .
youngsters dressed like their heroes ,women of different hues and colours and sizes ,topi clad dhabbawallas doing their world renowned balancing acts armless beggars and overdressed eunuchs were part of the collage and confusion .
The border between night and day were inconspicuous as people moved like ants late into the night under the brilliance of focused lights .
Marine drive resembled a diamond necklace adorning the blue neck of the Arabian sea ,pigeons fluttered a welcome in the gateway of India which echoed the resonant beats of many bands from the past .Distant ships winked their lights sad on leaving dame Mumbai and its pleasures .
The mahalaxmi temple shone resplendent in the morning sunshine as waters lapped just behind it ,the crowds were huge with people jostling in a sea of colours ,nearby haji ali durgah was a short walk up a causeway which would get filled up with tide ,huge cauldrons were being washed in the sea water for the days biriyani preparation and fishing baots kissed the causeway .
after the long dreary trudge back we gulped down the cold mango slice offered in a famous fruit shop at abominable prices
Wayside Gods went to sleep after the priests left them alone ,the solitary chime of a deserted church bade goodnight ,
Amchi mumbai is best remembered by these sounds ,sights , and tastes .
The curtain came down with the clacking sounds of a disappearing train stored in the subconscious for the sake of nostalgia .

Harimohan

1 comment:

Maddy said...

hi there,
sensed a bit of nostalgia - did u live in 'hamara bombai nagaria' as they called it then?
bombay appears at times in my blogs too, having spent a few years of my life ther!!
rgds
maddy

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