Sitting on the parapet of Marine drive to see the beautiful necklace light up in the evening or star hunting around Bandra Bandstand to catch a glimpse of Bollywood cinestars Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan, Rekha or any other… Bombay , a hypercity with an anglicized name and gloss attached to it due to Bollywood! Now both are passè.
But leave the gloss and glamour aside, circumambulating the deity at Siddhi Vinayak temple in the backdrop of reverberating chants, walking up to Haji Ali in pious reverence, once even betting on horses at Mahalaxmi racecourse, eating Irani stuff at Kayani, to die for Biriyani at Bhendi Bazaar, Roomali roti and Reshmi kebabs from Bade Miya, Pav bhaji from Juhu, Vada pav at Sion, Dabeli from Dadar, Bhelpuri from the kiosk on the JJ school of Fine Arts boundary wall, the green chillies ice-cream from Bachelor’s, strolling up and down the Colaba causeway, queuing up at Zaveri Bazaar to visit Mumba- Devi (the presiding deity) and even relishing a pomfret fry from Mahesh Lunch Home; if these were the “to do” for imbibing Bombay- we did it all!
I even jostled in and wrestled out of the local trains on the harbour line as well as the Western! All to get the feel of the Bombay DNA! But to no avail! You need to be born and bred out there in a god gifted special bubble… You cannot belong to Bombay in the true sense by only perching atop the city in condominiums! So checking off the boxes above don’t make you a Bombay-wala or the Bombay-ite, or a Mumbaikar.
This Bombaywala ( mumbaikar in Marathi language) is a positron. He buzzes full of life at all times, gets swallowed in and belched out of the local trains on a daily basis, can wade in knee deep water to reach his waterlogged home and doesn’t mind his 10X10 living tenament being called a kholi (covering), barsati (protection from rain) or just a kamra (room)! He lives on and you don’t notice him and he dies as simply by going off (off ho gaya! local reference to death). Just to keep his untiring dynamo running, we have coined a wonderful term for these faceless limbs that run Bombay “hail the spirit of Mumbai”… From media to polticians, you will see them chanting this phrase very soon!
This post comes in the wake of the IMD ( Indian Met Dept) predicting heavy rains for Mumbai and we in India know what it means… a drowning Bombay year on year, mercilessly, relentlessly… the rich shall romance the monsoon showers and the Bombay man shall put in his life and soul to running the machinery!!
While the world sings paens to the Spirit of Bombay… Never mind the apathy; thou shalt wade on common man💪