By Aishwarya Iyer
Every city has a story and irony behind the name of places it incorporates. Since, every city has, let’s throw some light on the names of places our beloved city, “Aamchi Mumbai,” incorporates. Just like how Churchgate, which has neither a church nor a gate, is just a railway station but still, this place is heart of South Bombay. No king ever stayed in King’s Circle, but still ancient Irani Cafes in the area take you back to the kind of fiesta Kings use to enjoy. Lower Parel is at the same level as Parel is; there are no Marines or Drivers in Marine Drive but is the best place in Mumbai, where everybody comes looking for serenity! “For those who are lost, there will always be cities like home,” said Simon Van Booy (Everything Beautiful Began After) and rightly so! The quote captures the very essence of luxury cities like Mumbai.
Mumbai is not about the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, it is in fact about the very luxury and status quo it provides! There is a prejudice about the place. The ones who live here cannot adjust elsewhere and the ones who are new to the place, find it very difficult to adjust here easily. There is a craze in the air; it is a mesmerizing experience that you can’t buy anywhere else. The city moves at a very fast pace; people here crush you with their speed, no one looks out or awaits for one another but at the same time everybody you see around is ready to help. Each day is a battle with time.
Indeed, the city looks out for you. I never cease to wonder how beautifully this part of our country is adorned by moderate climate. The rains that wash out all the dirt that your maid failed to clean, the moderate amount of heat that can actually make your head toss or spin and the winter that reminds you of chaats and paani puri – it is divine! This city loves food. Any place you go to, you will have a road-side eating place or ‘Khaau-galli’, and the taste you get in those pav-bhajis and Chinese bhel is mouth-watering, you will never get the same taste in any corner of the country! Every roadside food-seller is ‘anna’ or ‘bhaiya,’ everything that’s made here is (s)‘pecial’ or exclusive. Everyone has an imaginary crown for themselves.
Actors are gods who can’t be abused. There is an aura people living here have created around themselves and they all have thousands of fanatics coming to their door-step, to luxuriate in a minute of daily hand-waving from them. Mumbai, of all places in the country is one of those that can never stop attracting people. Luxury, is a necessity here.
There is no difference between needs and wants, because everyone needs everything here. I wonder if that’s what attracted the British emperors?! Why otherwise would Mumbai be gifted to Charles while he married Catherine, sister of Portuguese Emperor in 1661? In spite of all the prevailing madness here, there is an anonymous amount of diversity around.
There is a colony for Hindu-Brahmins, like that of the Parsis, not to forget the Nair colonies and pockets of Muslims in Masjid Bander. There is a sense of neglect within each community because one section has ‘attained’ the luxury of government privileges while the other claims to be more deserving. Alienation, is a heart-felt disease! Mumbai, is no different when it comes to the ugly leitmotif of politics and heavy fan following for opinion-leaders. Like they say, “every coin has two-sides,” Mumbai is no bereft of its cons.
And yet, this city gives you life, teach you about harsh realities of life, how to deal with them and overcome your failure. Mumbai, indeed is an intoxication that you can’t leave behind; it’s a legacy that shall prevail!