In the past couple years I've found that people are reluctant to visit Bombay. They want to come to India to ride an elephant, to see the Taj Mahal, maybe even to go to Delhi, but Bombay never makes it onto their list. Those who do make the trip are completely overwhelmed by the city- it is big and chaotic and often unwelcoming. And I get it, I hated Bombay for the greater part of my life. It has been a symbol of inequality, aching wealth and a get-rich-or-die-trying lifestyle. I have judged Bombay for its traffic, its corruption, its absence of solid infrastructure, for just about everything. Now, I will admit that I live in the safest, cushiest pocket of the city, so my complaints were a little hollow and showed my slightly elitist, wannabe-western attitude. Oops.
Well now I absolutely love this city.
Mainly because I've started taking it for what it is. Looking for organic, freshly picked rucola to toss onto your Sunday brunch? Not gonna happen here, stick to dal-bhat-rotli-shaak. Looking for a calm drive to let off some steam after work? Not gonna happen here, stick to your morning yoga. Looking for a fermented Korean chili paste to cook up an exotic meal at home? (I was) Not gonna happen here, stick to masala fried rice and chicken cutlets with some chutney. However, if you're looking for roadside idli-dosa stalls and Maharashtrian housewives who teach you how to pick the best fish at the market and shoe repair-walas who also recite poetry and the yummiest pav bhaji of your life and an ancient temple complex in the heart of the city and a game of cricket in the hallway of an old British apartment building and a cartoon-like Portugese settlement and a mosque in the middle of the sea and an open air laundromat and the 125 year old dabbahwala lunch box service, and the worst drivers in the world and a severe surplus of potbellied policemen, and the twisted beautiful bylanes of Bhuleshwar and a former powerlifting world champion who is now a painter/proud father and more stories and interesting characters and colorful chaos than you ever imagined- you should come to Mumbai. It's a pretty amazing place to be. It is flawed, and it is changing, and it is in the process of becoming. But it is mind blowing.
Here are some pictures-