Yes, I’m not in Mumbai now. If you’re one of my Facebook friends, and still following me, there is a good chance that you’ve been annoyed more than once by the fact that I’m not in Mumbai anymore, may be because of overflow of my pictures in your timeline. 🙂 I’m in a different place, about which I’m not going to write here, because of the respect I have for these posts of mine. Too much, right?! 😉
I left Mumbai on 26th July. I don’t like to call myself busy. Never! But, I don’t have any other word which can better describe my state of being during the last one-month stay in Mumbai (bad vocabulary may be!). And that’s the reason I didn’t get a chance to write a post on this diary although I really wanted to share the interesting experiences I had during the last few days. So, here it is…
I’m going to jump directly to the part which, I think, will remain as the most memorable day in Mumbai – The day I went for the Biometric test for Visa. It was on 2nd July at Trade Center, BKC. Everyone has heard, at least once, about the famous ‘Mumbai Monsoon’. Mostly, how beautiful it is, to have bhajiya aur chai, the breathtaking scenic places around the city and blah-blah. Till that day, 2nd July 2014, everyone in Mumbai was waiting for that beautiful monsoon. I, myself, was one of the herd. Well, God obliged, on that very day. You must have heard the famous Hindi dialogoue which starts with something like “Bhagwan jab deta hai toh chhappar phaad ke deta hai“. I literally lived through it.
I think this is shortest duration between two entries under ‘Mumbai Diary’. Some of the things which contributed to this post are:
- Mumbai summer which, seems to me, is the hottest summer in last 4 years. All the enthusiasm that I had, to explore new places in and around Mumbai, has evaporated in the heat
- Holidays. One for the general election and the other for Labour Day. Both on Thursdays, one less day with formal dress in 2 consecutive weeks. 🙂
- Few things which I had missed to include in my previous post. Every time I have written under ‘Mumbai Diary’, my main aim has been to use this website as a journal; to write the minute things about my stay in Mumbai. I hope and I believe it will help me look back and relive a few moments even after I have left this beautiful city.
The Band-stand Nuisance
One of my colleagues, Sharath, who works from Bangalore, visited Mumbai in December. Since I happen to be the best guide in the team, I took the challenge of making him experience the city. We started the ‘Mumbai Darshan’ from the Bandra fort. I wanted him to show the nice view of Bandra-Worli sea link from top of the fort, but the first thing he noticed was the ‘nuisance’ in the nearby garden. 😉
It’s been long since I made an entry to the diary, 8 months to be specific. I have been busy. Well, ‘busy’ might not be the right word; I was just giving a conscious effort at spending every holiday and weekend doing something special. My friends who follow me on Facebook know what I mean. 🙂
I wish I had made this entry a few months back. Now, I have so many things to write and I don’t have the patience to write so much (like always). Anyways, I will try to cover everything and try to be brief.
So, we planned and executed another trip to Goa. This time, it was me, Deepak, Tarani and Prashanta. In 2012, it was September first week; In 2013, it was mid of November. If the crowd in Goa follows similar trend every year, then it can be best described as changing from ‘U’ to ‘A’ in just two and half months (in terms of rating system in Indian cinema). Besides a lot of bikini-clad foreigners, we discovered some places which we were not able to visit in our previous trip, including a secluded beach which, looked like, was reserved only for foreigners… We didn’t mind. 😉
My last entry in ‘Mumbai Diary’ was exactly a year back (19th August 2012, to be exact). Let’s begin from where we had left then :).
So… we were having a very nice time with friends enjoying the beautiful monsoon of Mumbai. Another grand plan, since the time we reached Mumbai, was to go Goa. It was materialized on September first week of 2012.
The journey to Goa started with an adventure we had not anticipated. (Careless that I am) I lost my bag in a auto-rickshaw on the way to the bus stop. This bag had everything I had planned to take with me to Goa; my shoes, my Goa-specials t-shirts, shorts and most importantly, my camera. My roomies started questioning about our plans to go ahead with the Goa plan. But, I, though with a broken heart, insisted that we should go ahead with the plan and not waste the money we had spent for booking the hotel.
Finally, we boarded the bus. We were 5 people (me, Tarani, Deepak, Uttam and Venus). Just after 5 minutes, we realized one of the five is missing. We had to fight with the bus conductor and driver to wait for our friend while he chased the bus with an auto. We won the war and he joined us after an action-packed 20 minutes.
It’s 19th August, 2012 – more than 28 months in Mumbai and 2.5+ years of job life.
With all the things going around the world it feels like 21st December, 2012 could really be the last day we can see. New levels of corruption, inflation, violence and insanity – that’s what in news everyday. But, with all that, we just can’t forget that we can live our life happily if we have our loving family and some awesome friends around. Can we? 🙂 Exactly!
Last two weeks have been just awesome. The places surrounding Mumbai are no less than heaven (if exists) in monsoon. So, with the few days left for this year’s monsoon to end, we decided to make the most of whatever is left.
On 11th August, we went to Tungareshwar. This is Temple of Lord Shiva situated amidst gorgeous greenery all around and river flowing in the way. The nearest railway station is Vasai Road from where you can get an auto for around 25/30 rupees per head, which can take you to the base of a small dam from where you can start a nature trail. So, we did. It was a walk of around one hour in a very beautiful road surrounded with greenery and river streak along the way. On the top is the temple of Lord Shiva and another Jagmata temple. On the way back, we had a nice time bathing in the flow of the river.
On 14th August, things were more interesting. We had planned for some ‘Palasdhari’, which is near Karjat. We missed one of the few trains to that place and in 5 minutes, plans changed. We were suprised at how well everything settled up. On the way to Badlapur, we got another place ‘Kondeshwar’ near to the Badlapur railway station. So, we got into the lets-explore mode and set out for the place we had never heard of from anyone except that mobile browser. Kondeshwar is again a temple of Lord Shiva. After a 30 minutes travel by auto, we reached the Kondeshwar base village. From there, the road to the Kondeshwar village is around 2.5 kms and is very beautiful to walk in the fresh air. The temple is again surrounded by a waterfall and a hill. Then we went to explore the surroundings. While writing this one, I realized that the beauty of that place can’t be expressed with words. It was one of those places we imagine the paradise to be. We had a great time and it was the end of another awesome weekend.
On April 19th, I completed two years in Mumbai. Not just have I survived, I have learned a great deal of things in these two years. Whatever the city goes through every day and how a common man feels in daily life, while travelling to and from work or may be while shopping in some crowded place, that is the essence of the life in that city. I have not lived in any other metro in India for such a long time, but I feel the spirit of a common mumbaikar can be an inspiration to most of the people in the country.
Sunrise at Taramati
I, with one of my roomies, Deepak went to a ‘tough grade’ trekking to Harischandragarh. I must say it was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. No doubt the physical exhaustion we were going through was unbearable at times, but eventually we ended up with an awesome life-changing experience. There were times when one wrong step could bring disaster. There were also times when I thought I won’t be able to move my feet a single foot forward because all the bolts in my knee joints had melted. But then, we had to move ahead, and we did. We conquered the second highest peak in the Sahyadri range, Taramati, where we watched the sunrise. The previous evening, we went to Konkan Kada to enjoy the sunset. We made some nice friends. Also, we re-discovered the singers within us while playing antakshari in the bus while returning back 😉
The fact that I am writing a post (Mumbai Diary) after such a long time (almost a year) doesn’t mean that I was very busy with anything. I just have a feeling that I am currently moving towards the wrong side of the creativity curve. What I have to share in this post will look, to most of the readers, very similar to the previous three posts. In fact it is, but again these are just open pages of a diary. I write for myself and I like to share.
In another two months I will complete my two-years stay at Mumbai. Now, I rather feel travelling in a packed local train as my daily routine than a difficult task. I have started loving my job or at least I have learnt how to lie to myself… that too with a good degree of precision because I really can’t find the difference. There has been another terrorist attack and several attempts. This year Mumbai had the best winter ever. And so it goes on like this… Mumbai is as thrilling and exciting as ever.
I had amazing trip to Malsejh Ghat and Matheran with friends. Both the places are have breath-taking scenic beauty. I visited both the places in rain and I found it perfect. Mumbai is surrounded with such small hill stations (I don’t know how many of them are officially named so; or what the criteria is). Nothing new but taking a break from the madding crowd and getting lost in the greenery is really an awesome experience. Walking amidst the cloud and passing through the fog in a dense forest gives an idea what paradise might look like. Also, it is in these trips that I found how great my so called lower-end digicam is ;).
It has been a few months now after the day of the ‘Ayodhya Verdict’. More than anything, people (including me) at work were very happy to find a surprise half-day at office. Again, there was fear. Everyone was trying to reach home and be safe. Everyone was genuinely alert. Outside my office, I saw a very beautiful scene though; something which could have relieved many a people from that fear. I saw a lady with a burqa and a lady with saree getting in to an auto-rickshaw. More than anything about what the verdict had for their own religion(s), they wanted to go home and be with their family. There was definitely something in what I saw which gave me a feeling that everything is going to be okay; that somewhere in our hearts, we (all) still believe that all human beings are of the same genus and species.
Recently when my elder sister returned from a nice holiday trip to Hongkong, Bangkok and the south China, she was short of words to describe how good those places were and how well-organised their tourism is. I could well figure out what she meant from the photographs too. But, when it came to metro transport, somehow I just could not make myself understand how any other netowork be better than the ‘Mumbai Suburban Railway’.
Every working day, I commute to and from my office by local trains. More than once I have felt that these local trains can give someone the worst experience of a train journey. More than once, I have been kicked and punched by the crowd and tried to reciprocate with the best of strengths. I understand that I have not seen what the Bangkok Metro has in it but I still think there is no match to the local trains in Mumbai. I say so because I can somehow feel in what constraints of resources it works on; the density of population it carries and the sincerity it maintains under difficult circumstances.Wikipedia says –
The system carries more than 6.9 million commuters on a daily basis and constitutes more than half of the total daily passenger capacity of the Indian Railways itself. It has one of the highest passenger densities of any urban railway system in the world.
One evening when I was in a bus, returning from office, stuck in traffic as usual, I heard a very loud sound of explosion. It was not only me who was scared; everyone in the bus looked numbed for a few seconds. In places like Mumbai, you can’t be sure of anything. But then, looking through the window, everyone knew that it was the celebration for ‘Murti Visarjan’ after Ganesh Pooja. No one discussed anything about it but everyone seemed to have taken a sigh of relief after knowing what it was, and more importantly, what it was not. Moments of this kind, which may not seem worth discussing with anyone, makes you thank God for everything you have got in life, the beautiful life.
It is more than eight months now at Mumbai. Now I don’t have to ask strangers to confirm which railway station I am in; I don’t have to look into the map on the back cover of ‘Pocket Local Mail Train Guide’ every time I get out to some place. It is a phase when one starts advising people about the places, routes, markets and timings. In the small hotel where I have my breakfast on weekends, I don’t have to ask for the ‘Cutting Chai’ (still wondering what ‘Cutting’ is all about…) after I have two tasty samosas; they ask me if I needed. Similarly, I don’t have to ask for a cold coffee after the dinner on weekends in another hotel. It feels nice when people start recognising you at unknown places; does not matter if that is concerned with business interests.
I have noticed an extra-ordinary sense of dining etiquette in the people in Mumbai. It may seem funny to some people but really, they use spoon and fork to a very great effect. I had never imagined how someone could have samosas using a spoon, but now I know it. They can even have rotis with spoon. Another thing I noticed is the way the fast food is served in Mumbai – it is really an example for others to follow. You can notice the hygiene they maintain around, with clean gloves in hand while serving pani poori, and with cooks’ caps on all the time.
A Traffic Jam
Almost four months back (on 18th April, 2010) I reached Mumbai to join TCS. This is not my first visit to the most stylish city of my country. In fact, I had seen most of the beautiful places in this city in the visits I had made before. This visit is obviously very different from those; I am here for work, to build a strong foundation for my career. When we got our posting options as Hyderabad, Chennai and Mumbai, it hardly took 10 seconds for me to decide what I was going to choose. I was already fascinated by the life-style of Mumbai, and with friends around, it would always be fun. My elder sister being there, I was sure I would be able manage things easily. After coming here I found that it was much more than that. I have not been able to visit the famous places in the city with friends, but I have seen and realised what it takes to be in Mumbai and what you get in return.
On my very first day in Mumbai, I found a very helpful man on my way to office who helped me reach the railway station. Taking time out of his fast walk to his work, he took the pain to divert and get me to my place. I was very happy and that is the first time I realised that people here are very helpful. After four months also, I feel exactly the same. It is not like I have not had any bad experience till now, but you know, that all count as parts of experience. It really seemed very wonderful to me to find people so professional yet willing to help strangers around without making any business analysis (in terms of time and resources utilised, if any).
When someone like me, from a small and slow town, comes to a huge and fast city like Mumbai, it takes time for adaptation. Travelling in local trains and BEST buses gives a new idea how professional and accurate in time travelling services can be. I used to ask at least four or five times about the stations and timing to different people (taking care that the person I have asked once does not notice it) in a single part of my journey. Continue reading