I am a born Delhiite, having spent my growing up years in Delhi. Mumbai always seemed fascinating from a distance as it was all along “Maya nagari” that was also the house of Bollywood, an industry selling dreams to millions of Indians.
It was much later in life that my first visit to Mumbai materialised. A short official visit, I was totally mesmerised by what I saw! Swanky red BEST buses plying in their lanes, shining metalled roads, traffic following lane discipline and a general openness about everything that were amiss in other parts of the country that I had been to. I immediately set my dream of coming to stay in this city one day. Little did I realise that not only my wish would get fulfilled, I would actually end up choosing the city to be my permanent home.
While it’s true for any megapolis of 20 Million plus people, Mumbai is like a cultural melting pot, which is much like pav bhaji, city’s favourite fast food. All of potatoes, tomatoes, beans, capsicum and host of other vegetables are used, but they all lose their individual identity when mixed in a melting point and what emerges a totally new stuff that has its unique identity called pav bhaji. Similarly in this cultural cauldron, Marathi, Tamilian, Kannadiga, Telugu, Malyali, Punjabi, Gujarati, Bihari, Bengali, Oriya, Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian, male, female, atheist, non atheist and even foreigners melt and what emerges out of the pot is Mumbaikar, a unique individual who leaves behind all his/her prefixed notions, beliefs, dogmas to pursue the dream to fulfil which, he/she has made Mumbai one’s home.
We cannot be complaining about it’s creaking and badly needing an upgrade infrastructure or traffic on its roads, distances, housing problems, water logging et al, which are not unique to Mumbai but common to any megapolis that was not originally planned to inhabit such large populace. Similarly, maintenance of BEST fleet and its punctuality might have gone down, Metro network may not be at par with Delhi, Airport may be losing its numero uno position, the fact is that spirit of Mumbai and that uniqueness of Mumbaikar cannot dilute or dissipate. We do see some regressive actions once in a while, but these don’t have approval of the ordinary Mumbaikar, who is free spirited and who values this freedom that’s not accessible to the residents of many other cities of not only India but the world over !
Mumbai has remained a progressive city and should remain so in future too to show the right path to other cities and towns so that the progress is not confined to isolated pockets but to the entire country.
I love you Mumbai meri jaan!