Mumbai Meri Jaan
London, Paris, New York, Tokyo, Dubai and all other major cities in the world together couldn’t usurp the compelling beauty and love that is Mumbai (I can affirmatively declare this after having been to all the cities stated here). Being born and brought up in Bombay, I am a Mumbaikar at heart and every bone and ounce of blood in my body breathes Mumbai. And, to those who nag repeatedly about the torrid rains and the traffic, I say – complain all you want but there’s no place like Mumbai in the world or even in J. J Abrams parallel universes. It saddens me to know that in a month I will be bidding adieu to this city which has been so amazing to me. But, as I depart, I wish to share 10 reasons why Mumbai is – and will always be – Meri Jaan. And remember, this post aims only to talk about Mumbai, not to talk down any other cities. So, no offense, citizens of other cities around India and the world.
The nightlife at Mumbai is spectacular. First and foremost, an individual has a plethora of bars, lounges and clubs to choose from where they can unwind after a stressful day of work or just enjoy a glass of his or her favorite poison with some satiating viands. When you’re partying in Mumbai, it’s a guarantee that your nights will be long and your hangovers will be heavy. In addition, besides the array of options available to have a crazy night, each of these offer happy hour specials so it wont be too heavy on your wallet. I am definitely not comparing the party scene at Mumbai to that at Ibiza, but if you’re in Mumbai hanging out at a bar with a bunch of friends or even alone, I promise you that you will have a great time and a night to remember.
- Alone But Not Alone
Ever had that feeling when you’re walking amongst a crowd of people or in a train, but you can just delve in to your favorite rock star on your iPod and have a few quality minutes in your busy day all to yourself. On the contrary, ever been in the situation where you’re sitting alone at a bar with a pint of Budweiser and watching your favorite cricket or football team play and some complete strangers (or a cute girl/guy if you’re lucky) come along and strike up a stimulating conversation with you. Or, the same situation in a crowded local train. Makes you feel like you wont ever be alone right? Well, Mumbai has a unique charm of being able to provide both these feelings to its Mumbaikars. Even when you’re in a crowd you can be all alone and even when you’re alone anywhere you can be a part of the crowd. In part, it is largely due to the way the city impacts on its citizens. Were friendly, looking for some intellectual conversation and always willing to make friends and meet new people.
- Activities, Activities, Activities….
A lot of people claim that there’s nothing to do in Mumbai. But, in my opinion, there’s so much to do in Mumbai. In addition to restaurants and clubs (which will solely take up all your time if you plan to visit even 10% of the popular ones), an individual has the option of frequenting gyms, shopping malls, movies and statues or places of heritage such as the Gateway of India. The quantity and variety of recreational activities offered by Mumbai are innumerable. They vary from dance workshops, martial arts classes, various sports, arts and crafts, dramas, live performances by musicians, stand up comedians and other artists and many more. And, to those who are worried, if you look at the right places, you will get both quality and cost effectiveness.
No matter where you are in Bombay, you will never be far from public transport such as a bus or train. And, in a worst case situation, a cab or a rickshaw will generally be available in case the former options fail. If you’re even more finicky (and your wallet is heavier than mine), you can always opt for prepaid taxi services which are offered by a large amount of service providers.
Besides restaurants and transport (and people of course), if there’s one thing abundant in Mumbai – it is schools, colleges and universities. Mumbai has some of the finest I.C.S.E., S.S.C., I.B. and I.G.C.S.E. schools available which are modeling and shaping young lives and minds from tender ages. Right from nursery, any Mumbaikar will have a headache in deciding which school,college or university to opt for his children. The variety of courses offered are amazing and any child has an abundance of options from which he can chose a career path of his interest. Not to brag, but we’re one of the cities which has an I.I.T. too. Mumbai is shaped, in terms of education, by its Mumbaikars, all of whom believe that a quality education is the path to success. A quality education in the company of quality peers is something Mumbai will surely provide for your son or daughter.
To those who feel that Mumbai is a concrete jungle filled with buildings for trees and people for animals, they definitely are left to experience the beauty in Mumbai. Besides the innumerable number of parks and gardens which offer green ambiances for jogging, walking or just enjoying the scenery, there’s Marine Drive, the Carter Road promenade and the Powai Lake and Powai area. These are just some of the many available places which have beautiful scenery (check the Facebook cover photos or Blackberry display pictures of most Mumbaikars if you don’t believe me). In addition there are some picturesque beaches such as Juhu and Chowpatty with pristine sand to enjoy a sunny day or a good sport like volleyball or football. The city cleaners are doing well to keep the beaches litter free. My personal recommendation – regardless of the weather, an evening walk along Marine Drive or simply sitting along the shore (for the lazier one’s) is literally chicken soup for the mind and body.
This is my favorite part of being in Mumbai. No matter what hour of day, if you’re tongue and stomach need some comfort, there will always be a satiating solution. No where in the world will you get the mouth watering street side eating options such as rolls, sandwiches, chaats and other snacks that you get in Bombay (and definitely not at such a cheap price). For those hungry after a long night of partying or an even longer night of studying, Mumbai’s 24×7 restaurants will deliver to your doorstep to satisfy your needs. Every nook and corner has multiple restaurants, fast food outlets, quick bite coffee shops, fine dining bistros, romantic diners and grand restaurants where you can savor sumptuous meals. Mumbai will cater to a food enthusiast’s every need in terms of cuisines – Chaats, South Indian, Mughlai, Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, Thai, Burmese, Italian, American, Gujarati, and many, many more. Mumbai is truly a foodie’s heaven.
You may need directions to a location, change for your Rs. 500 note, a lift in the rains, a shared cab or even some help carrying a heavy load in a train or bus – a Mumbaikar will be pleased to oblige. The average Mumbaikar is friendly and amiable. And, for those who don’t know this, try striking up a conversation with your cabbie or street-side sandwich provider. Mumbaikars are warm at heart and always looking to make new friends. Need proof? How often have we struck up random conversations with strangers at the gym , at work or at a restaurant? If you’re in Mumbai, you’ll never be short of friends and definitely never be short of opportunities to make more friends.
Mumbaikars display an enormous sense of unity. No matter what the cause, Mumbaikars unite and strive to fight for what they believe. Whether its meter jams, saving the environment or standing up against the government, against terrorism, against corruption, against social evils or even against Dhoble, Mumbaikars will always walk shoulder to shoulder in support of each other. I cannot count the number of times I have been to the Carter Road promenade to rally for a cause I support with my fellow Mumbaikars (most of whom are complete strangers). To see such unity, in the form of a clenched fist, fills me with a sense of pride of having been a part of the community of Mumbaikars. We will make you believe in humanity.
- Never Say Die – Dont Believe me? Try holding us down
I’ve saved the best for the last. This is one of the most admirable qualities about Mumbai. And, I owe the city for instilling this quality and belief in me too. Come what may, nothing can hold this city or its citizens back. If you push us to the ground, we will stand up and fight. Days of flood and torrential downpours will not bring the life in Mumbai to a standstill. Terrorist attacks will not be able to pin us down. Even Kasab couldn’t deflate the “never say die” and “never back down” attitude of this city. The city and its citizens have an indefatigable spirit and if one ever tries to puncture this spirit only one thing is guaranteed – we will fight and they will fail!
Leaving this city brings me great pain, for it has given me so much more than what I have stated above – and I am grateful to Mumbai for the same. As I write this piece, I mentally vow to come back to the city where my roots as a person were established, for this city and its citizens have imprinted and influenced my thoughts and life. My fellow Mumbaikars will be able to level with the thoughts I have stated above. And, for the non-Mumbaikars – Mumbai is a place like no other – a place truly worth experiencing. A concrete jungle where dreams come true. Millions come here to with great hopes to live them. In Mumbai, there’s nothing you cant do. My love and gratitude to Mumbai and my fellow Mumbaikars.
// Images courtesy Google