When I was 12, I remember reading a blog post, a lot better than this one, about someone moving to New York and living in an apartment above a French restaurant where the music was always too loud and leftovers always ready to be picked up at throwaway prices. In that ode to the greatest city in the world, this is the only bit that has stayed with me over the years. I wondered if I could ever write about a city like that. I wondered if I would ever want to write about a city like that. I moved to Bombay last year, right after graduation, and I didn’t like the city. It was too crowded, too crouched, too expensive, too fast. It rained too much. One could never find a house here. There was so much that I didn’t like then.
It has been more than a year now, enough time to sit and think about whether I like this city now. I think about the things that I learnt, the people that I met, the experiences that I had, and I am almost impressed with myself. One year back me would have been awe of this person who has successfully (almost) survived one year of adulting (Yes, ma, that’s an acceptable word now).
Most of it has to do with Bombay being the city that it is. I have come to realize that the things that I never understood about Bombay initially are the ones that impress me the most now. How does this city continue to function with heavy rains and bad infrastructure? Why does it function? Now, I am just in amazement of how the city does it. When I moved to Bombay, a friend said something which makes so much sense now, “If you can live in Bombay, you can live anywhere in the world.” Bombay makes you tough, it makes you a survivor, like the city itself.
It’s true that a city is made by the people, and I have met the strangest, nicest people here. Like the woman with the smart card who I approached to buy me a train ticket so I wouldn’t have to stand in line, who didn’t take money from me, and wished me a very Merry Christmas. Morning made. Or the many cool, creative people who are all trying to make a difference because Bombay lets them. Or the 50+ banker couple I shared a table at a bar with once, and we all did a crossword together. Or my favourite book club members (BombayBYOB, join the group, guys!) who meet every fortnight without fail to discuss their favourite reads over cold coffee.
You can watch a play, attend a stand up comedy gig/open mic poetry, or attend a book club meet in the same evening.
I remember how much I would crib about how dirty Bombay is, but now if I scroll down the gallery on my phone, all I have are pictures of sunsets, the sea during all times of the day, even the view from my cubicle (it’s a good view). Bombay is picturesque and dreamy, like everyone who lives here, maybe the city rubs off on the people, or maybe it’s the other way around.
It’s a good view.
Christamas in Bandra is a photo series in itself.
Can I write an ode to this city? No. But can I search for a house in this city? Yes. It still rains too much though, but my office has an umbrella cover dispensing machine (it’s a real thing) and it makes for the most amusing start to the morning.
Bombay from June-September.