An expat friend, on his trip to India, once told me that every state in India feels like a different country. I couldn’t agree more! I would like to add, according to me Bombay (I choose to call it this rather than its rechristened name, Mumbai) is a different country as well. Born and brought up in the city of dreams, my love affair with Bombay began many years ago.
Today, I list down the things about this infectious city that make me go weak in the knees for Bombay.
Culture & Vibe
For me, Bombay equals a vegetable Biryani because of its various ingredients that lend a palatable aroma and perfect taste. A biryani is essentially cooked with rice as the main ingredient but it is the vegetables, the dry fruits, the masalas and secret ingredients added and cooked on a slow flame which lead the flavours to blend in perfectly and result in a mouth-watering meal. Similarly, Bombay has Maharashtrians as its core populace along with an eclectic mix of people from all communities possible, which when thrown-in together lead to its cosmopolitan culture and the positive vibe revelled by all. It is colourful, unique and addictive.
Touted as one of the safest cities in India for women, it has largely stuck to this persona apart from a few cases here and there. One can be free in their own ways in this city built on seven islands. Freedom to a teenager might mean the freedom to party every weekend, to a just-married woman it might be the freedom to talk to a male friend at night, to a working professional it might be to go home safely after late hours at work or to a 60-year old freedom might be to participate in the annual marathon run. Freedom definitely has myriad meanings for everyone in Bombay. Take your pick.
Foodies are spoilt for choice in Bombay as there are endless eateries for both, vegetarians and non-vegetarians. Name the cuisine that you are a fan of and you are most likely to find that somewhere in the nook and corner of Bombay. There are holes-in-the-wall, bistros, restaurants, lounges, takeaway services serving Greek, Mexican, Asian, Italian, Chinese, Indian and Lebanese cuisine to name a few.
Head to a gastronomic trail over the weekend to experience what I mean. The best part about food in Bombay is the convenience that comes with it. One can order food online to be home delivered at their convenient time. Some companies take food orders from midnight till the wee hours of the morning to satiate the needs of the party animals in the city. There is definitely something for everyone.
In the rare case where you are not able to find your preferred cuisine there is the super tasty, spicy and addictive vada pav which is easily available in all places at Bombay. It is the staple diet of many Bombayites, who just love its taste too much or cannot afford any other meal option.
Actually, this is a contrast. Some people might love the crowd of Bombay and some might abhor it completely. Yet, both the spectrum of these types of people resides in Bombay and makes it what it is today. Go to the railway station, bus stop, auto rickshaw stand, restaurant, theatre, park or market, the crowd in Bombay is inescapable and will ensure that you are standing in a line wherever you go. Love it or live with it, the choice is yours!
The air of Bombay has a feel and persona to it. The various coastlines and beaches add to this feel, literally. Be it Marine Drive, Chowpatty, Worli sea face, Madh island or Manori beach, Bandra Bandstand, etc., there are numerous options for people to go and spend time with friends, family and their spouses. The beauty of doing nothing and just lying on the beach staring at the horizon, waves, sky and/ or stars is the best pastime of many residents of Bombay.
They are avoided a lot; the beggars, the urchins, the balloon-seller and the eunuchs but also are intrinsic parts of the DNA of the city. Photographers love to click them, people love to shoo them and some just like to ignore them. They are colourful personalities, innovative at selling techniques, street-smart and quick at calculating and therefore worth a mention in one of the things that are an intrinsic part of Bombay.
Speed & Spice
Speed and Bombay go hand in hand as everyone you meet here will be in a hurry to reach somewhere or speeding up to meet someone urgently. Regardless of the age, everyone is busy and rushing here. You may meet a child who is running for his swimming class, a teenager rushing for her dance class, an office-goer panting but walking fast to reach office on time, a mother doing grocery shopping at the maximum speed possible to be able to catch the movie with her friends or an elderly man talking to his friend on the phone in a hurry. That is why in Bombay; people are known to be ‘Busy’ and ‘Always rushing.’
Interestingly, spice is not only a food trait but also the overall aura and feel of Bombay. There is something spicy about the food, the people, the places and things in Bombay which makes it a spicy concoction of cultures!
To an extent, I can say Bombay defines Bollywood and vice versa. Most of the actors and industry technicians live in Bombay. The glitz, glamour, drama and action are synonymous to both equally.
Conclusion: The diversity that Bombay has to offer in terms of its people, food, cultures, languages spoken, friends, shopping avenues, is comparable to only a select few cities of the world. I am proud that Bombay is a beautiful spot on the world map which attracts a lot of attention from everyone across the globe!