It was supposed to be a good trip.
I have never read anything about Mumbai. I have never even tried to, nor do I know much about it. But I think it was the best thing I could have done.
The first notice that Mumbai slapped on me came directly to my nostrils. It was clear from the amazing stench of fish that I had arrived in the city beside the sea.
I call the stench amazing because of the fact that till the time I reached Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, BARC, (where one of my dearest friends, Baba, lives) it never lost me. It almost seemed that it was following me, omnipresent from Mumbai Central to CST and through the further ten-eleven stations before I finally reached my destination. Wherever I went the fishes followed. However, I have to admit, not once in the following days did I find the fishes again. I guess they only attack the freshly arrived.
For over the next two days I saw a bit of Mumbai. The first day it was dinner with another old-friend, Raunak, after having roamed around Bandstand, and juggling with the name of the restaurant we were going to, (Just Around the Corner or Out of the Blue), while the second was spent playing Holi and exploring Colaba and its alleys and doing a lot, a lot of travelling in the locals.
Observation No. 1: People in Mumbai KNOW traffic rules, very unlike New Delhi/Gurgaon.
Observation No. 2: I don’t give a damn about the high-rises, though much higher than in the Capital.
Observation No. 3: Even the air carries with itself a sense of fast-paced city life.
Observation No. 4:
The incredible pride and elegance with which Bombay carries itself amidst Mumbai. Everything, yes, everything worth noticing lies in the old, time-tested parts of the city, from the Gateway of India to the 1871 established Leopold Cafe, the palatial Taj to the paved crossroads which glisten and shimmer in the golden yellow street lights, exuding in profundity the majestic feel of the vintage roots it has.
We did quite a lot of things on the second day, the day of Holi and holiday. We stood beside the Gateway of India, explored the Marine Lines, roamed around and found Indian handicraft stores in the streets of Colaba, bought a brilliant copy of the Gitanjali, enjoyed donuts while looking for the Leopold Cafe, found it, first its location and then the delicious flavors it had on offer and discovered the desserts of the Taj before finally taking a walk at the Nariman Point & sitting with our feet dangling from the concrete tetrahedrals.
I went, I saw, I ate. In Bombay nothing was done is small measures. Old friends met with the same vigour tey used to. Old tales clicked and were recited all over again. Times now gone were missed and more memorable moments were created. Everything was done in plenty.
However, there is one thing I can’t seem to have had a fill of. The paved cemented roads glistening like golden crocodiles basking under the sun, reminding and shouting with intense vigour that even in this modern city of Mumbai there still lives and beats a heart that cries Bombay. I went there with an open canvas of a mind for Mumbai to paint upon, and it splashed a whole lot of Bombay on it.
It was supposed to be a good trip. It turned out to be an incredible one.