CITYLINE

Mumbai City Line

 

Decades back during my stay in Kolkata, we used to run away from the city during Puja holidays. Once it was to the lush green hillocks of Jamshedpur another time it was to Digha, the sea-resort, a few kilometers away from the main city. I still carry the jungle fragrance with me from the hills but my first love shall always be the salt spray of the seas. The long stretches of the shore knew my footsteps by heart, the roars of the waves filled my eardrums, the murmur of the breeze was caught in my saree pleats and the dark stooping clouds peered into my eyes like stern preachers of austere habits.

The next rendezvous was in Goa where I once again was enchanted by the enigma of the turquoise waves dancing in rhythmic unison. And then there was a lull for years when my eyes could only scan dead landscape of people marooned in their own islands of isolation, solitary in crowd and gregarious in silence.

Years I defied the inner spirit of a vagabond. Years I locked myself up in the cold, distant, sky-less dungeon of an attic. Then a sudden spurt of sunshine. And I was again free like a soaring bird heading towards the blue expanse.

This time Mumbai.

***

Mumbaithe City of Dreams.

It is also the city which eyes you like a total stranger, a little contemptuous, a little distasteful and a little wary. The Best Buses, the all-powerful locals, the bewildered novice of a metro and the curving, sinewy sea-link, its imposing frame dauntless in stance standing tall over the sea bed calm on the surface raging underneath. Its sturdy pillars entrenched deep into the bottomless depths. Man can really work wonders if given to proving their might taunting Nature and grimacing at God!!

***

After a chaotic rush against time I board the aircraft, stretch my legs in the little space provided between the rows of seats so closely placed one after the other and promptly go to sleep! Wake up a little while after and smile at my own self. Am I the same who couldn’t move her limbs or turn her head to either side without getting a terrible bout of vertigo and nausea the first time I experienced a flight taking off or touching down! That was half a decade back. Life pampers you not without a jolt here and there. Once startled out of that suffocating clutch of dread, you know you’ve won over another enemy inside you – your own self-created diffidence!!

At Mumbai airport, it is pretty much the same – luggage gliding down the conveyer belt, a sudden recognition and a quick haul before it skirts past you….a few steps more and you are out of that diving board positioned on the tarmac within the bowels of a modern architecture of brick and mortar and endless corridors of swift strides and impatient carriage, the only difference being on this slim plank you are volleyed straight up in the air and not splashing down into the cool bosom of the all-enduring liquefied Mother Earth!!

Outside, my nephew refuses to recognize me, “Where have you left your girth?” He asks smilingly. I feel like breaking into a desi-rumba when I glimpse that appreciative awe mirrored in his eyes. He reverses his shining black chariot as I sink in the plush comfort while the maestro’s sonorous voice serenades in an intricate taan in Raag Hansadhwani; the sun, now bleak in grandeur, winks knowingly before retiring to the west wing of his sprawling indigo mansion now brushed with pale violet, dim orange and a raucous red, quite out of place, in that palette of receding colours.

His house is on an unnamed hill. The road goes lopping in and around and then a dash up the incline making me giddy. Then suddenly a dead end. Home! At last!! We spend the evening watching TV and exchanging notes sporadically.

***

“Auntie takes too much tension!” He drawls without opening his slumber-glued eyes. The allusion is to the innumerable calls that Nil……has already and about to make since she is pretty sure that the city is going to gulp me down as soon as I take to the roads. I attempt at bravado, “You know I am a Delhiwali (the wickedest place on the globe) and have travelled far and wide (all bullshit, have always been a home birdie!!); I’ll be able to make it.” “Have you ever been to this city before?” She sounds stern. “No,” I confess, “But don’t worry.” Again that brazen self-confidence which I don’t normally feel deep inside. Yet….I think it has something to do with the fact that her flat is on the sea-face and am over-excited to have a glimpse of the blue.

The auto-ride is fun and expensive. And as usual the driver breaks into a friendly chat. Why is it that everyone finds me so approachable? Perhaps, it’s got to do with the expression on my face. The auntie-next-door!! I surmise. He tells me not to be too late as it is the Ganapati Visarjan day. I make a mental note to come back home early.

***

Nil

Dear Nil

Arunji

Arunji….Nil’s Hubby

With the ring of the bell, I hear hurried steps towards the door. A moment later I am lovingly ushered into the most aesthetically cluttered living room that I have ever found myself in my life (Sorry! Was too mesmerized to take a pic 😦 ) . Surrounded by priceless artifacts collected all over the world, the ornate décor flows seamlessly into a covered balcony overlooking the Arabian Sea. But what’s this?

I stare dumbfounded at the blue sky arching into an ever-stretching bed of dark, restless, muddied waves.

“Where’s the blue gone?” I cry in astonishment and anguish.

“Oh! It’s the pollutants which have lent their hue to the endlessness.” Came the unperturbed reply.

Aghast!!!

***

The sumptuous breakfast which is laid after a while is a nutritionist’s delight – a bowl of boiled Moong Dal with crispy multigrain toasts coupled with several helpings of delicious Saabu Daane kii Khichdi with a big, hot mug of green tea to sooth the palate.

A long walk down memory lane thereafter and I bid goodbye to my friend with a promise to reunite again in some other city some other time.

Such is Life…

***

GALLERIA 1

Galleria

My nephew hurries me up, “Evening in Powai! Get ready.” We cruise down the not-so-congested highway past the Powai Lake where a few of the deities are ready to be estranged from their ardent devotees. I remind my nephew that we have to be back home in time to avoid the maddening rush of the immersion ceremony. He shrugs his shoulders nonchalantly, “That’s way into the evening.”

HANGLAAS

Hanglaa’s

Powai showcases the upbeat Mumbai. Broad undulating roads flanked by malls and glitzy outlets of the latest brands in town. But we drive past these and enter into a kind of a desolate heritage building which reminds me of those run-down medieval churches. Parking the car on the ground floor we walk up to the first to find a sprawling market heavily dotted with interesting food joints. “You get lovely maachh bhaaja (fish fries Bong style) here. Ilish, Pomfret, Bhetki… ” I am awed. Miles away from the Eastern hub we get what we crave for the most. It is at Hanglaa’s (the Bong word for gluttony) that we get our fries packed and walk down to have chilled lime ice soda at KFC crossing over to the other side of the road.

 

Our chariot swerves homewards just as the benign sky takes on a duller shade of greyish blue. Oh! Do I miss out on the name of the structure that stands tall and proud at the main crossing housing the local bazaar redolent with fish smells and noisy with cheerful chirps of weekending men, women and youngsters?

Its Galleria……….!!

GALLERIA

Galleria

***

Wee hours of the morning! Am wide awake excitement surging up my veins. Though Ola makes me fret for a few hours by refusing to provide a suitable vehicle to transport an impatient traveler from Goregaon to Navi Mumbai, however, I don’t allow my buoyant mood to deflate.

It’s tennish that I finally relax inside the comfort of the four wheeler careening through peak-time traffic towards the outskirts of the city.

An hour and a half later I am watching spellbound the range of green hills fringing the sunlit skyline.

A spectacle unexpectedly serene and beautiful!!

***

IBIS

Hotel Ibis

Four or five? I know not the count. The stars are immaterial. Ibis, to my sensory perception, is posh, plush, caters to a niche clientage and lavish in its meal spread. But what is priceless is the bonding of three lone orbiters after light years. Three and a half decades is more than an epoch for a human life span. But we meet as though we were never separated. We laugh, talk and make merry till we forget that we have to lose ourselves again in the concrete jungle of urban survival.

Two days seem like a lifetime….

Every moment is history that we chronicle with our hearts moulded in love and joy. The will to live is exponentially compounded as we bask in our newly rejuvenated togetherness.

The three Musketeers. The three childhood mates. We scour the malls, gorge on fast foods, shop till we drop and share the untasted chunks of sweet and sour delicacies of the past when we had been strangers to each other’s happinesses and sorrows, without a choice, of course!

Parting is poignant. So is togetherness when we know it is short-spanned.

But we make up for the ephemerality of everything by making those nano-moments memorable. When we hold hands and sing in chorus, “Puraano shei diner katha bhoolbii kii re haai …” (Shall we forget those days of yore…)

And the silence in the room echoes, “Encore! Encore!”

THE LONG LOST MUSKETEERS.jpg

The Long-Lost Musketeers

 

***

Two more days in Mumbai.

Restive. Boring. Caged.

Am not used to lonely living.

I pray I don’t have to anytime in future.

***

06.00 AM.

We are again on road.

Dawn is yet to spread its smile over the shrouded face of Mother Earth.

Streetlights are still on.

The roads are empty.

And the booming mellifluousness of the maestro renditions a wishful chant to bring in a glorious morn.

SEALINK3

Bandra-Worli Sea Link

 

The Bandra-Worli Sea Link that connects the Eastern and the Western parts of the city is a grand manifestation of human engineering and expertise. It’s impressive diamond shaped pylons bear down on us as we speed through the cable stayed bridge. On our left are the tall columns of sky scrapers rising up along the seascape. What wonders man can achieve if he is not given to destruction!!

A quick tour of the city. The helmet clad cycle riders, the morning walkers, the regular temple goers…the health freaks and the beach scouts. We breeze past Marine Drive.

SEALINK2

Bandra-Worli Sea Link

The Gateway of India loses its charm in broad daylight.

A reverent salute past Siddhi Vinayak Temple

Mahalakshmi Temple….the sea waves crash onto the boulders behind the sanctum sanctorum as the sun pours down its blessings on the city line.

Haji Ali…. an oasis of divinity paying obeisance to the sea.

Once again I try to figure out the love-hate relation that I nurture for this City of Dreams. The old world charm preserved alongside the jet-fast razzmatazz of a buzzing metropolis. The simmering underbelly of organized crime and the mirage-like magnetism of the tinsel town. Sapnon ka shahar indeed! A city which lures as much as it leads you astray. The dwellers wrapped in themselves and running against time.

SEALINK1

Will I ever wish to come back where I feel not so comfortable and less confident?

Time will tell…

***

Later in the day the airport raises my heckles.

The unfriendly counter girls, the apathetic security, the congestion of fliers.

Someone informs that a second airport is under construction near Navi Mumbai to divert the traffic.

I am optimisticthat  the next time we come to meet R we’ll take a flight straight to the suburbs so as not to lose on time..

Plans for the future up our enthue and add to our vision. Certitude is the greatest figment of human imagination.

Yet we cherish hopes …

Hopes to meet again

Till then….

Goodbye Mumbai….

Goodbye To Mumbai

Goodbye Mumabi!!!

(Excuse the pics….compromised on sharpness as most of them clicked from moving vehicle 😦 )

Deva O Deva

Deva O Deva!!

 

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About gc1963

A working woman with interests in reading, writing, music, poetry and fine arts.

32 responses »

  1. Rakesh Pandey says:

    Wow! What a detailed travelogue! Why didn’t you let me know that you were coming to Mumbai!

    Loved the pictures and details! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Joseph says:

    Wonderful posts. I absolutely love India having had the privilege to visit Mumbai, staying in Anderhi East 4 times but getting all over the city. Many pleasant evenings spent on Juhu beach, walking around the gateway, worshiping in Shree Siddhivinayak, shopping in the bazaars, dining at the Taj Palace, and wandering around the explosion of colour in Dohbi Ghat. So many great friends and such welcome I experienced; I cannot wait for my next Indian adventure.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. jmathur says:

    Well Well Well . . . So you have had a memorable trip to Mumbai and so many places of this great country are eagerly awaiting Geeta The Explorer. These places include Hyderabad also which is the present place of residence of yours truly. May I request you to include Hyderabad in your next vacation plan.

    Nice travelogue with nice pictures. You are lucky to enjoy Mumbai so much. I have visited this City of Dreams many times but could enjoy my trips only twice – once in December 1995 when I had visited there with my newly wed wife as a part of our honeymoon tripand thereafter in June 2000 when I visited there with my wife and little daughter from Tarapur (Atomic Power Station) which was my place of posting at that time. However these were brief trips. My other trips were purely business trips in which I could not find time to explore this city and seek resultant pleasure.

    Jitendra Mathur

    Liked by 1 person

    • gc1963 says:

      Mathur Sahab Namaskar!

      Thanks for the invitation. Hyderabad is really on my travel list, believe me.

      Mumbai is a city which one can only enjoy if one has enjoyable company. For that matter, I suppose you can say that for any place. I have visited the city thrice and have been able to like the city only partially.

      Hope you and your family are well and about.

      All the very best.

      Regards

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow, so you have already been to Hangla! My house is just a 7 min drive from the place. Would love to meet you sometime. Loved your travelogue. I now realize that more than the characteristics of a place it is what a person feels when at a particular place is what makes a travelogue interesting. And feelings are more pronounced when you visit a place for the first time or may be after a long time.

    Liked by 2 people

    • gc1963 says:

      Somali, this is not my first visit to Mumbai. However, I could only enjoy the city thoroughly once before and partially this time. However, I didn’t consciously think about my reactions to the city or try to feel the pulse of the city during my previous visits to Mumbai. But it is only now when I have started putting my thoughts in black and white that I have become more aware and conscious of external stimuli – be it a new city or where I have been residing since childhood.

      Oh! I did not know you stay so close to Powai. Of course! I would also have liked to meet you. Someday definitely we shall.

      This is, I think, my first attempt at travelogue. Yet, I didn’t try at it very hard. Just wrote what I felt at the moment. You are right in the sense that I did chronicle my feelings more than the places I visited. I do not, therefore, know whether this piece can technically and truly be called a travelogue or not. As long as my keyboard taps out the truth … I suppose its okay. What say? 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. malinymohan says:

    Gripping account! Happy to be hear after a hiatus 🙂 Oh and I love Mumbai although I have visited the place only three times in my life. The place is so happening.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gc1963 says:

      Hi Malini!

      Very, very happy to find you here after a long, long time.

      Glad that you like Mumbai so much but I fail to share the enthue because I feel that a place becomes enjoyable and likeable if you have right company to be with. The first time I visited Mumbai, we were in a big group of likeminded enthusiasts and we actually scouted the city like true touristy way. The second time, it was an all-woman group and every one had their own agenda; so naturally, the trip was not so happening and spirits were rather damp. The third time, i.e. this time I enjoyed being in Mumbai as long as I had company of my friends and nephew. Otherwise, am not sure I would have been able to spend so much time there.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Amit Agarwal says:

    Who says this lovely piece was written in prose? The opening lines are sheer poetry and the brilliant traces are felt strewn all over the post…this is the first time that I found Bombay so beautiful although I have been there at least 30 times since 1985…wonderful write with great pics..perhaps because it does have something we generally don’t put in while writing a travelogue: Feelings!

    Liked by 1 person

    • gc1963 says:

      Amitji,

      A pleasure to have you on board.

      A true poet finds poetry everywhere.

      Mumbai is not actually beautiful. It is, I would say, a functional city. However, I have only seen just a part of the city. There is the cultural side which is yet to be explored and which actually gives a place its true colour and identity. Perhaps next time…..thanks for being here and your appreciation.

      Like

  7. A detailed and wonderful travelogue. I liked it more because it holds not only mere informations or mundane discussion, but is’s soaked in emotions and personal feelings… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. sabujpotro says:

    A sonorous blend of words, snaps and a song! good blog gc!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Alok Singhal says:

    Huh, my travel to Mumbai was filled with similar emotions…a city with hardly any space (whichever way you take it)!
    But then where else would you go to fulfill your dreams!

    Liked by 1 person

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