Mumbai or Bombay as I still like to call it is a city of dreams for many. And again, many lost their hopes. No matter what happens, the city along with its people stands tall with pride, glamour and humility.
I have been to the city many times as a tourist, sometimes as a professional. But what I felt this time was different. This time people in Bombay inspired me. Spread across a 603 sq. km and with over 18 million population, people smile despite their stress, cumbersome travelling (which takes most of the time of the day) and hectic schedules. While I was in the traffic, what struck me are these two women crossing the road around 9 in the evening, walking and smiling and talking about what they will be cooking. They were working women. These two women, once they reach home, would cook dinner for their entire family, eat, and then get ready for the next day, to do all over this again and with a smile! That kind of motivation and drives comes from the city.
It’s a city where it doesn’t matter whether you are rich or poor. Whether you have a million-dollar car or you travel by local train. Everyone is equal, or unless you are Mukesh Ambani, then that’s different. The rich and the poor is not defined by their financial standards. It’s defined by their will to strive, to enjoy and to feel the sense of achievement every day. That’s one of the biggest reasons for humility in people. It doesn’t matter where you come from, Bombay will never discriminate you.
Bombay is more than that! It’s resilient. It always springs back. Even if the external forces try to put a brake to this well- oiled vehicle, it doesn’t stop. It gets back on its feet with double its determination to fight through the situation. And that passes on to the people of this city. And let me tell you, this relationship is symbiotic. People and the city work together and together they get its grandeur back (and it comes back in no time).
Yes, Bombay is grand. I admit it; I took its grandeur for granted. Bombay’s grandiosity is not intimidating. It rather enticing, it asks you to be part of it, asks you to draw inspiration from it. Once again, you can see that in the people of Bombay.
I have known people who lived in Bombay and miss the city terribly. I have known who didn’t want to go to Bombay and settled there, never to move to any other city, ever again. I could never understand their appeal towards the city.
But this time, it was an eyeopener. As if an invisible hand just removed the blindfold I always had on my eyes.
I have never lived in Bombay. I have always been a tourist in the city.
But this time while I got off the car, I looked back towards the city and said now I am trying to understand you. You have a beauty few will understand, but once they did, they will be under the spell for the rest of their lives.