Dear Mumbai,

I moved here from Ahmedabad, almost exactly ten months from today. People have often remarked that it’s difficult to adjust here, and to my knowledge, most people who immigrate to Mumbai go back to where they came from, unable to cope up with the speed of Mumbai. People have told me that Mumbai is terribly glamorous surprisingly simple at the same time – I just want to say that I’ve always been fascinated with your glamour and simplicity in equal measure. Be it the sprawling beaches of Juhu or the hills of Mulund, I love the hidden spectacular views in an otherwise seemingly overcrowded city. I have enjoyed watching the sunsets, the never-ending rainfall and even the long, kafkaesque dwindling roads. As I write this, I’m reminiscing all those little moments that are eternally etched in my memory.

‘Never Skip Breakfast’ In Mumbai

Do you remember my first day at work? Everyone was so surprised to hear that I  wasn’t a breakfast person! It’s true – I was never in the habit of eating breakfast prior to my Mumbai escapades. My colleagues force-fed me breakfast regularly. I remember getting emotional, telling them how much it meant to me that they cared, but they unanimously responded that it wasn’t completely a care-driven exercise. They were just making sure that nobody had to lift me up in case I collapsed or fainted without food. So, that’s Mumbai for you!

Taking A Bus In Mumbai

That other day, when I took the bus (thanks to the Mumbai auto strike)? I didn’t know which bus-stop I was supposed to get down at, and when the conductor yelled out the second-last stop’s name, I got a little worried, remembering the Delhi rape incident. Also, I was feeling vulnerable because by then, everyone in the bus knew that I didn’t know where to get down. I had to ask the conductor which stop to get down at, so that I could get home. By this time, I was the only passenger in the bus.

My anxiety escalated pretty fast, since we were travelling on a  deserted road and it was getting dark. The bus conductor, almost as if he could sense my fear, approached me and said, “Don’t worry madam, we’ll make sure you reach your stop safe and sound. If it was possible, we would’ve dropped you at your doorstep.” I let out a deep sigh, and did a little hop-skip-and-jump in my head. Mumbai, you’re certainly one of the safest cities that I’ve ever lived in. There are exceptions of course, but your cosmopolitan environment ensures an unmatched level of gender equality, which I think is an awesome contributor to the low crime rates here.

Mumbai’s Metrosexual Men

Speaking of equality, I remember this one time when I met a friend-of-a-friend who lives in the city. I think it was the first time that I ever met him. He owned a bike, and I wanted to visit a few places that I had never been to. He relented to show me around, mainly because it was Sunday, with an added condition – I was supposed to cover his fuel expenses for the day. I agreed, of course! This is where the old rules of chivalry take a comfortable backseat in Mumbai. I’m very happy for your metrosexual men, who’re cool with bending a few norms here and there to restore balance to the gender universe.

Celebrity Lifestyle In Mumbai

Since we’re talking about you, dear Mumbai, it makes sense to talk about celebrities! Alas, I don’t have a real celebrity story to share, but this one’s pretty close. You see, there’s this ultra-popular Bollywood star (who will remain unnamed in this narrative), living and breathing in my residential society.  To be politically correct, it’s his society and I’ve rented a room in his vicinity. Once, when I returned home in an auto and paid up, this star was gearing up to head out somewhere. The auto guy saw him, glanced at me and decided that he wasn’t going to return my due change. He assumed, because I live in the same residential setup as this aforementioned celebrity, I was someone who never asks for change. Don’t feel bad for me, Mumbai. I asked for my change soon after, and he obliged.

Having Fun In Mumbai

You really know how to have fun! You watch people let their hair down every weekend, which must be pretty entertaining, I must say. Most clubs offer free entry and drinks for us ladies, which is pretty much the key to getting everyone else out there and party. From our bemused observation of the queue of women waiting to puke outside washrooms, to the brilliant shopping sprees, from the greatest cinematic and theatrical experiences to partying, munching on your delectable cuisine, tasting your wine, attending your workshops, I haven’t just enjoyed you, Mumbai – I’ve learnt the art of living with you.

Most importantly, you have helped me in finding myself again (not in the way of corny Bollywood witticisms, but a very real disclosure). I’ve learnt how to trust myself in a city that I’m not completely familiar with, but I’m in the process of discovering it, forevermore.

Sure, there’ve been difficult times. A few friends turned into foes, I got into a few ugly fights, bitter arguments, lived amidst workplace politics, got stranded during auto strikes, and the infamous monsoons did their best to contribute to some of my horrid evening experiences.

But as I continue fighting the odds, I’m happy that you’re right besides me. Thank you, dear Mumbai.

Yours truly,
Tvara (The girl from Ahmedabad)