My second time around living in Bombay started off very differently. I came prepared with all its ugly sides that I’d seen before. But this city gave me so much knowledge before, taught me so much, I wanted to give it another shot.
A friend of mine happened to to shift from Gurgaon to Bombay at the same time. Settling in to this city, like I’ve mentioned before, is not easy. But I didn’t want him to see only the ugliness since there is a lot. Especially now, when Bombay is on the verge of crumbling. He luckily had an open mind too and was ready for adventure.
I made him travel from one northern end of the city, to the suburbs, all the way to South Bombay. Mind you, I made him go on this crazy journey in one day itself. Oh man what a day it was. I personally feel the only way to truely experience Bombay is when you travel by all its public transport systems. Yes, we did them all, and he was so enthusiastic about trying them all too.
I’ve known him for a few months now. Met him at all possible social gatherings, even on random weekends just because he was my best friend’s flat-mate. But this one insanely long day brought out a side in him that I’d never seen before. He shared stories about all his athletic interests. I was aware of a few, but some were such inspirational milestones that he’d experienced in life. I won’t reveal those, I think it’s best if you ask him really. All I would like to remember from that day is this crazy athlete ready to walk across one part of the city to the other.
We walked what, some, 15000 steps, as far as I remember. I managed to tire out an athlete which was my happy end to the day! I’m the laziest person you can find, but when it comes to walking, I can walk till my feet are soar. I’m a camel!
Coming back to the main plot though, I took him to places in the city that I was forced to go visit at one point in time. Architecture can be painfully beautiful, brutal(ism). Took him to the narrowest streets, showed him the real bombay, the bombay that I fell in love with at one point in time. The side of bombay that keeps calling me back. We did have a mission in mind though when we started out, but those distracting streets just organically took us to our mecca. An old record store, that we just couldn’t help but go inside. That for me is what a library is to a writer or avid reader.
There was too much information to absorb and too many things we wanted to buy. If we were billionaires, we would have bought the entire store! But we made some hard choices, and reminded ourselves that we can always come back. I know for a fact that I’m never going to go back there with him again, maybe another person, another time.
That is another memory frozen in time for me forever. The joy of discovery.
How important in discovering something you didn’t set out to explore for you?
How important is exploration for you?
Bombay has too much to see, even for an enthusiastic athlete. Our final decision was between going to the sea or going further south. I love the sea, ocean, any water body really; even a waterfall, a shower, a glass of water is enough to make me feel at peace. But since he’d grown up near a water body, we chose the later. I’d still like to share my brief halts near the sea.
Our final halt was to be at The Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, that I’d already visited 3 times in the past week. But I’m always happy to show people around, especially people who are ready to walk in any direction to basically nowhere.
But my navigation skills are worse than apple maps. So, he took over, didn’t really help because we were so distracted in sharing information. We did how ever make our final halt at Azad Maidan. This large green oasis in the middle of a bustling Bombay transforms itself after each hour. It took me one week of visiting this place to experience them all.
How ‘Azad’ or ‘Free’ is Bombay anymore.?
That’s a discussion/debate that can go on forever. Meet me sometime for more on that.