I have just arrived home after visiting Bombay. Again. For no particular reason.
I do not know, but I am attracted to Bombay. I am not aware of the source of this attraction- is it Bombay- the religion, Bombay- the attitude, Bombay- the spirit, or just the green sea water and the smell that comes with it which so often sweeps Bombay- more so in the rains. Maybe it is a bit of everything and we get to hear similar emotions when authors Rohinton Mistry and Salman Rushdie talk about Bombay. Have you noticed? ‘Bombay’? and not ‘Mumbai’. And why not? I think “Mumbai” is more political. It does not reflect the metropolitan character that Bombay- the city has. I do not recollect people calling Chennai as Madras.
Amidst the local trains which pass through limitless tracks submerged in smells of uncountable variety, near the Gateway of India that stands tall facing the Green Arabian Sea and in the vicinity of Haaji Alli, is a culture to experience, a city unfolding its metropolitan attitude.
And do not try and speak Marathi here, in downtown Bombay for you are most likely to get blank stares in return. The city caters to a never ending stream of visitors, many of them prospective permanent residents who come from different lands of the country. Downtown Bombay is a brew of various cultures. Probably this is a fact that has annoyed the Shiv Sena here- Not being able to speak Marathi and often outnumbered by people from other states has Sena crying in agony. But I believe this is a small price to pay for being the most “metropolitan” of the four metros in India. If not a common language and a flux of different people from all over the country, how else would you define being a “metro”?
My visit was centered around my hot spots of yesteryear’s. The Victoria Terminus, Flora Fountain, Lion Gate (a visit inside that, to have a look at some new ships), The Gateway of India, Marine lines before going back to Dadar via Thane where I had to go to meet a friend. Deprived of Vada Pau’s in Bangalore, we ate countless number of Vada Pau’s, Pav Bhaji and what not. The street vendors along the Fountain area never fail to catch my attention.
The people everywhere here never fail to catch my attention. Bombay never fails to catch my attention…