There has been so much written and said about Mumbai that I really have nothing much to write. So many songs, articles, books and movies have been dedicated to this city that writing something new would be difficult.. However, having stayed there for 4 years I too get a privilege to sing in the honour of the city.
What is so unique about this city? What separates Mumbai from Maharashtra? Why is it called the city that never sleeps? Why so many movies are shot in the backdrop of Mumbai? What makes it so liveable that once a Mumbaikar always a Mumbaikar? Why a Mumbaikar takes pride of being a Mumbaikar? Why everyday thousands of people come here and still this city welcomes everyone? Who is the real Mumbaikar? Why despite having only two seasons most of the Indians want to settle here?
Mumbai is the financial capital of the country, the second most populous city in the world. What makes it the most unique city? The marine drive,the Ganapati festival, the street food, the night life, the local trains or the skyscrapers. According to me the one thing that separates Mumbai from rest of the Maharashtra, is the lovely people of the city. People in Mumbai are extremely friendly, outgoing,smart and quick witted. It’s very difficult to fool a Mumbaikar. They are best at bargaining ( I can bet on this). Only a Mumbaikar knows how and where to get the cheapest stuff. I am sure if you knock the door of a Mumbaikar even at 2 a.m in the morning he/she will be ready to help. The spirit of mumbaikars never dies, be it the blasts in 2008, 2002 or floods in 2005 we have all seen and admired it. I don’t think any other city in the world has faced so many problems and yet has moved on so easily. There are a few politicians who have tried to separate the Mumbaikar from Mumbai but have terribly failed.
“You can take the boy out of Bombay but you can’t take the Bombay out of the boy you know.” Salman Rushdie
Oprah Winfrey in one of her interviews about Mumbai said, this city is an irony. When you land at the Chhatrapati Shivaji airport on one hand you see the skyscrapers and on the other hand you see Asia’s largest slum, “Dharavi”. Mumbai boasts of having the most expensive house in the world on the other hand there are millions in the city who are homeless. Mumbai boasts of having the riches of Birlas, Ambanis and Tatas while on the other hand thousands of youths come to Mumbai in the search of their dream job.
“More dreams are realised and extinguished in Bombay than in any other place in India” Gregory David Roberts
Mumbai rains…it’s one of a life time experience. After the scorching summer season everyone in Mumbai waits for the rain. I think gods shower their love to this city in the form of rain. Mumbai rains remind me of the hot vada paav, cutting tea and a beautiful umbrella and a romantic Hindi movie song. At the beginning, Mumbai rains seem like the initial stage of a love story when everything seems plutonic. After a week or two, when the potholes on the road make everyones life miserable, one starts cursing BMC which ironically is the richest municipal corporation in Asia
The Marine drive…when a Mumbaikar gets time from his busy schedule, he prefers to spend his valuable time on the marine drive with his loved ones. (Well in Mumbai time is more valuable than money) I guess it’s the place where one can sit,relax and enjoy the serenity. In my words marine drive is the Jannat of the city.
The first train that ran from Thane to Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus is still the life line of million Mumbaikars. The local trains here have seen the rise and the fall of many Mumbaikars. The local trains have witnessed the success of the likes of Dhirubhai Ambani to Shahrukh Khan. Everyone who lands in Mumbai starts his struggle from getting in to the local train. During the rush hours getting inside the local is one in a million experience, one doesn’t need to push himself to get into or out of the train, the crowd automatically does that for you. Mumbai boasts of being the best connected city in the country, and all the credit goes to the local trains. From Panvel to Dahisar there are thousands of trains running daily without fail. For the millions of Mumbaikars local trains have become the inevitable part of their life.
The Dabbawallahs: Most of us have seen the documentary made by BBC on the dabbawallahs of Mumbai. There are several PhD theses done on these people. Many entrepreneurs have tried to understand their business model. Dressed in the white pyjamas and Gandhi cap these dabbawallahs are certainly the most professional people I have ever met.
The Taxi: The yellow and black coloured taxi mostly found in the south Mumbai are the cheapest and most easy transport option available. Unless you are having a bad day you may find someone who is rude or a cheat otherwise they all are friendly and helpful. They won’t deny when you ask for lift and would advise you to walk should the place be at a walkable distance. Just use the word sir instead of bhaiya and they will be all yours!!
Mumbai’s’ street food: Street food of Mumbai is the food sold by hawkers from portable stalls in Mumbai. It is one of the characteristics of the city.The city is known for its distinctive street foods.(Wikipedia) The Vada Paav, sev puri,dahi puri, Chinese bhel, samosa, kachori, panipuri, the veg sandwich, the kebabs , the chaat at Juhu chowpati, the gola, kulfi, ice cream, the bade Miyan (the list in endless) are definitely worth experiencing. Considering the hygiene standards of the street food one should not be surprised if he is affected by food poisoning or stomach upset.
The Nightlife: After working their asses off during the day, people in Mumbai let their hair down after the sunset. The night here is all about fun, delirious mayhem, and a good dollop of managed mischief, with some of its defining adventures happening after sunset. Being called as the city that never sleeps, it truly defines what nightlife should be. The most amazing clubs/ pubs (where you accidentally meet at least one of the Hindi movie star), the exemplary music, the enthusiastic and carefree people, all make Mumbai the most livable city in the country.