Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Mumbai Meri Jaan(translated 'I Heart Mumbai')
Mumbai-the land of opportunity, the city of a million dreams, hopes and fears. They say that once you come here, you can’t leave this place and it can’t get truer than that. The city’s inhabitants are mad about her. They love her; they hate her but just can’t help falling in love with her.
Mumbai as everyone knows wasn’t Mumbai so long ago. Bombay was rechristened to Mumbai in 1992 and most people know it by one name or the other. As Shakespeare said ‘What’s in a name?’-the new name hasn’t diminished its popularity one tiny bit.
The metropolis is a melting pot of so many cultures that no one person can lay claim to the city as their own. You have the Gujarathis, the Bengalis and the South Indians all conversing in the common language popularly known as ‘Mumbaiya Hindi’. It’s Hindi with a generous sprinkling of bindaas ‘bole tho’ tapori talk. The Mumbaiya Hindi is a mish-mash of popular terms from all the Indian languages to make up a very unique dialect.
The trains are the city’s lifeline ferrying millions of people to and fro. A typical morning in the city has its millions of office goers kick-starting their day with the general Olympics. The railways stations give you a ringside view of the myriad tests (read pushing, pulling, hanging on for dear life etc) that the common man has to face to reach his destination. There is a popular saying that you don’t need to iron your clothes, when you set out to travel in the local trains. The rush is so much that by the time you alight from the trains, your clothes are pretty much ironed out.
The ladies compartments in the trains throb with a life of their own, where you can see people do everything from knitting sweaters, cutting vegetables to catching up on the latest in their favorite Saas-Bahu drama. But the major fun starts if one lady jostles or pushes another lady by mistake. What ensues then is a free for all, with the warring ladies eventually involving all the onlookers in the verbal duel. Of course when the station arrives, the ladies get down and it’s just been another day in the life of Mumbai.
If there is one thing that’s a trademark of the city it is the ubiquitous vadapau. This humble dish is one thing that’s filling as well as a staple diet of most people on the move. It’s been consistent in its position on the people’s popularity charts retaining its humble ‘avatar’ through the years.
The night life of Mumbai is very famous and truly lives up to the adage ‘the city that never sleeps’. So come nightfall, you have the party animals frequenting the very happening clubs, lounges and impromptu ‘Page 3’ parties. You learn a thing or two about energy levels from people who sometimes attend as much as 2-3 parties in a night and still not call it a day.
There is no denying that there is a gaping class difference amongst the city’s populace. The affluence of Pali Hill bears a striking contrast to the depravity of the largest slum in Asia-Dharavi. Finding a home in this concrete jungle is very difficult so most people end up living in cramped quarters that could barely qualify as houses. Everything is borne with a smile on the face in the hope that one day they will earn enough moolah to own a decent accommodation in the city.
It’s said in Africa when dawn breaks out, every animal is running-from the king of the jungle to the smallest creature-it’s the basic rule of the jungle. The aforesaid example so aptly describes the madness of Mumbai-a concrete jungle where the only thing that matters is the survival of the fittest. If you have to describe Mumbai in a word it would be ‘fast’. Here people have so much to do and so little time, that life is just a never ending race against time.
The magic of Mumbai is an undeniable element that attracts people from all over the country. Once you reach here, you become a Mumbaiite forever. Everyday thousands of people land here clutching on to their hopes of making it big. Life here is tough but its one hell of a joyride. As the famous Hindi number goes, “Ae dil hain mushkil jeena yahan, zara hatke, zara bachke, yeh hai Bombay meri jaan”.